Illustrious Company

The Ogre Cave

Over at the Ogre Cave, they’ve put Shock: on a 12-item Christmas shopping list with some really fine company. I can’t imagine a greater honor than to be placed alongside Burning Empires, Spirit of the Century, and Kill Doctor Lucky. Thanks, guys!

Spione to Music

Swedish Rhapsody

The Conet Project is a really creepy collection of number stations, which they’ll be happy to explain to you. I was sufficiently charmed by their sinister strangeness — enhanced by the use of music boxes and toy pianos — that I made a piece of music to go with one of them, Swedish Rhapsody. Give it a listen. It’s part of a larger music project I’m doing in my noisy basement studio. Some of it’s noise, some of it’s trancy music.

Here’s the first track good enough to show around the neighborhood, Mädchen, Endut.

The Least Fun Part of Publishing

Alphagraphics Fucks Up

A couple of months ago, Alphagraphics purchased RPI, my printer for Shock: Social Science Fiction. I’ve been hoping that the takeover would mean little to me.

Instead, it’s meant a lot. My rep retired at the same time, leaving my ass in the breeze. They’d lost my previous order, so I had to send them the very receipt they’d sent me so they could know what to reprint.

My shipment of Shock: just showed up with multiple screweups on their part. It’s a week later than the week they told me it would be late. The text block stock is all wrong: thin and translucent, it makes the spine too thin and the illustrations show through to the opposite page. The cover laminate is high gloss. It’s a mess.

If they make this right fast then I’ll keep using them. Mistakes happen. But I’m out of stock and was expecting to be able to do shipping two weeks ago.

All of this is sort of passing the buck to soften this apology: if you’ve ordered a copy of Shock: from me in the last month, I haven’t sent it. I know Brennan’s almost out, too. This would normally be very good news; it means that I’ve sold 200 copies of Shock: to my fellow enthusiasts of science fiction creation.

But it also means that the people who want to get a copy, can’t, at least from me. You can probably get a copy at IPR for a little while, at least.

So, I’m sorry. I’ll let you know as soon as this is sorted. Right now, this is making for a supercrappy week (what with my cat getting hit by a car and lots of money not coming through for work I’ve done on top of this. “Dear Livejournal…”).

So, lessons to learn:

1: Alphagraphics has so far been a pure poochscrewer. We’ll see if they make good.

2: Cats are expensive to put back together again. Not like Legos at all.

3: Be clear with your clients about what they’re paying for.

Voice of the Mukunli


Last night, Paktali freedom fighters struck a blow for righteousness as they hit deep inside the heart of Tarkut. Rasil’s puppet dictator Mukhawat Nuttun was leaving his court of effete whores in his expensive bribe of a limousine when five of our brave Paktali, armed only with construction tools and the steel will typical of our people, leapt from the truck in which they had been hiding and grabbed his vehicle. Unprepared for such an attack, the Rasili guard there was weak, underestimating as they did the preparedness, ferocity, and resolve of our brave Paktaliya.

While even our greenest recruit fought hand-to-hand with one of the Rasili death machines, treacherous Tarkutli boys stumbled into battle in their ill-kept machines, throwing their own soft, milk-fed city boys at the Paktali engine of righteousness that challenged their ill-gotten might. Many of their boys died needlessly and we hope that others will see their pointless sacrifice and will convert to the Paktali cause that is their only route to freedom from this foreign empire with its iniquitous ways.

As a gesture of goodwill, we have allowed the Tarkutli the honor of executing Mr. Nuttun. They now see that we are without fear and that we can strike anywhere. If their forces join ours, becoming Paktali themselves, the Rasili will run home, their noses bleeding again, like little girls who shouldn’t have tried to fight in the first place.

Today, the Rasili whores were struck a blow that will no doubt make them reconsider the wisdom of their stumbling into this nest of swords. To date, they have not even admitted this defeat. No doubt, they are trying to figure out how to tell the uncommitted, sisterfucking backstabbers that make up the population of their “mighty” empire.

Naturally, the Tarkutli city boys wish to make this sound like a victory. Allow them their boyish shouts of joy. We have shown that we can strike anywhere and without warning. Of their boys who survive to manhood, they will join our cause!

Let’s get Vin Diesel Down Below the Fold, Shall We?


We’re just about ready to get rockin’ on the first ever Mechaton campaign. It takes place in the Republic of Tarkut, just after the Democratically Elected Peoples’ Government That Was Totally Democratic has collapsed. Into the power vacuum come three factions. I’m playing the Paktaliya, a group of guerrillas of an ethnic minority called the Mukun. We’re tired of being pushed around by everybody and we have some nonsense legend about how “we” pushed out the iniquitous Red Circle a thousand years ago, who we think Emily’s faction, the Rasili Empire, resemble. Vincent’s sort of taken the Battle for Algiers route; his people are the people of Tarkut who have a network more than a capital. They’re the real government of the people of this country.

Here’s my army as it now stands. Continue reading “Let’s get Vin Diesel Down Below the Fold, Shall We?”

Shock: a Hit with both Albino Emperors and Intergalactic Beefcake

Vin Diesel

A fellow I don’t know (who is probably Paul Alexander Williams, whom I still don’t know) has written an excellent review of Shock: over on his Livejournal. He uses The Chronicles of Riddick as a running example, which is great. I thought I was the only person who liked it.

A List of Things I Like, Arrayed Before My Eyes for 128 Minutes

Here are some things I love, in no particular order:
  • David Bowie
  • Nikola Tesla
  • Illusion
  • Late 19th – early 20th Century stage magicians and escape artists.
  • Really twisty stories about people who get themselves in over their heads.
Here are some things that I like, also in no particular order;
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Christian Bale
  • Scarlett Johannson
  • Andy Sirkis
So Carrie and I went to see The Prestige. I really enjoyed it. It’s a really good time watching characters screw themselves over because they can screw someone else over in the process. They’re not bad people, but they do bad things, and the goodness of their souls is like a flashlight in the harsh and burning sunlight of their deeds. They wind up at the very edge of reality by the end, where still they are trying to extract from each other what none have to give, and if they’d only stop and breathe and have some compassion, they could have all they needed. And they don’t.
It would be fun to play something like this in Sorcerer, and indeed I may propose such a thing at the end of our current arc.

Under the Pyramid

There's something in my all seeing eye.

Steve Jackson’s (of GURPS, Munchkin, and Car Wars fame) Pyramid Magazine has posted a review of Under the Bed by Matthew Pook. It’s a very factual review and tells it like it is, warts and all. Pook is ambivalent about the amount of constant player input the game requires, which is totally understandable — I often think about that aspect of the game, as well — and he properly sees that it’s a serious challenge, but also a strength of the game.

Ben Lehman loves the game and he’s totally the target market for the game, so I’m satisfied with it. Pook is less forgiving but in all the right places. He correctly perceives that the game is hard to play but rewarding when it works out.

I do wish that I’d written more examples, but the manual was an experiment in purely procedural writing. That lesson’s already been applied elsewhere, though.
Shock: applies a lot of what I learned from Under the Bed in new ways: authority is very strictly assigned and subdivided into many types (Minutiæ, Protagonist, Antagonist, Shocks, and Issues) to guide the players in ways that Under the Bed doesn’t. It also reinforces its thematic direction more strongly than UtB. I happen to know that Pook owns a copy of Shock: so I’m hoping to see a review of that, too.

shock: the rocket boots compendium volumes 1 and 2


Well, the interview went great. I embarrassed myself to a bare minimum despite difficulties hearing each other. The Gamestas are great fun and you should listen to their podcasts.

They tell me that it’ll be episode 14, up in a couple of weeks. I hope they edit the shit out of it.