Category Archives: Random musings

Gen Con’s Letter to the Indiana Governor

Just two days ago Gen Con’s owner and CEO Adrian Swartout sent a letter to Indiana’s governor Mike Pence and basically threatened that Gen Con will leave Indianapolis in the future if SB 101 becomes law.

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So what is SB 101 all about? It’s called an “religious freedom” bill but in my opinion it’s not about freedom at all. Basically it prevents the state from taking any measures that “burdens” a person’s exercise of religion unless it’s proven that there’s compelling interest and the measures taken are as restrictive as possible. Critics fear that the bill will basically allow citizens and businesses to discriminate against people particularly against gays and lesbians among others.

In my opinion a state should strive for equal rights for all people and provide equal grounds for everyone. But Indiana wants to create a law that limits its abilities to create that open ground because religious people get special rights.  In my opinion such a law is against the US constitution, but I am neither a lawyer nor an American citizen, so that’s for other people to decide.

But I was very pleased when I read that Gen Con LLC openly speaks out against such legislations. As I was in Indianapolis in 2010 I was welcomed with open arms and I enjoyed the “warm Hoosier hospitality” everywhere I went. But I would think twice about going there again, if I felt that Indiana business and citizens are basically allowed to discriminate against people based on their religion. And I always thought Christianity was based on tolerance. But as soon as you’re merely feel “burdened”, your precious faith is more important than the rights of your fellow man? That’s bullshit. Religious freedom includes the freedom from religion as well. Equal ground is non-existent if everyone got their way based on their world views.

In my opinion Indianapolis was a perfect fit for Gen Con. The convention thrived there for many years and I felt welcome there. I really hope governor Pence does the right thing and puts this bill into the place it belongs: the recyle bin! Gen Con is a convention where people from all over the world meet to play games, talk about their hobby, make business deals, and spent their hard-earned cash on gaming products, and of course in business all over the city and beyond. And I can fully understand if Gen Con moves to another city if it fears that some of it attendents are not welcome anymore.

Deus Ex Machina

Next month I’ll be running two games at a local con. Initially I planned to run D&D 5th Edition and perhaps even Traveller, but recently I reconsidered. For a con game which also should be newbie-friendly I think a game like Fate Accelerated Edition may be a better choice. So I started thinking about what settings I could use for the games. It quickly turned out that I have a very bad cyberpunk itch that is in dire need of some scratching, so I made the decision to run a game set into the Deus Ex universe.

The game is supposed to be set in the late 2020s or 2030, which is after the events of Human Revolution but way before the original Deus Ex. One of my ideas is that the player characters are member of a government agency looking into a recent crime and uncover a conspiracy (in true Deus Ex fashion). But since I only have a couple of hours the conspiracy is probably not as epic as the one in the computer games.

The player characters, which I’ll generate beforehand, will also be augmented, because you need to put some cyber into the punk to make things really fun. And even though the player characters are government agents they might end up fighting “The Man”, so that punk part of Cyberpunk can be checked off as well. To keep things simple, I’ll use the Fate Accelerated rules as written. Cyberaugmentations will be either part of the Aspects, stunts, or both.

I am also considering taking a new – at least for me – approach on the characters and what their roles will be in the game. Some of the players will take the roles of field operatives, doing the legwork, getting their hands dirty, while other players will support them from the background. This probably breaks a couple of unwritten rules, but I hope it might actually work. The people in the background will always be in direct contact with the field operatives and can support them by hacking into various systems, providing them with background information. There might even be scenes when the background people get in physical trouble as well. Just think of the bad guys attacking the agency’s offices.

Having the player characters in different places is always a bit tricky, but in a scenario like this it may not only make sense, but also add to the tension.

What do you think of my ideas? Can a Deus Ex-inspired game work in a con enviroment and with Fate Accelerated rules? What do you think of my “field operatives and handlers” idea? Is it a recipe for disaster or something that might actually work? Please share your thoughts below!

Some Thoughts on Technoir

Technoir, Jeremy Keller’s cyberpunk roleplaying game, was one of the first Kickstarter projects I supported back in 2011. The video he created to promote his game blew me away, and I was excited to get my grubby little hands on a modern cyberpunk game with easy to learn rules.

The Kickstarter was a moderate success (compared with the ones we saw later) with 622 backers pledging $24,255. This was almost 10 times the initial goal of mere $2500. During the Kickstarter several bonus goals had been unlocked including MechNoir (Mechas etc.), HexNoir (Magic) and MoreNoir (which was meant as a toolbox for GMs). Alas only MechNoir was released and the last official update on both the KS page and the official Technoir site is over 2 years old. Obviously the official support is dead.

Overall I don’t regret backing Technoir at all. The game itself has some interesting rules, the book looks good, and it’s the first game of its kind I’ve seen which focuses on story instead of combat, weapon stats and long lists of cyberware. Alas this can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. Technoir feels terribly generic. On the one hand that might be great if you have a strong setting in the back of your mind, but if you don’t, you’re basically on your own.

One of the plans I had when I finally got my hands on the book, was to run a Shadowrun game with it. But instead of creating some house rules for Shadowrun’s fantasy elements I waited for HexNoir instead – which never showed up. So Technoir ended up on one of my “looks-interesting-but-I-can’t-use-it-right-now” shelves.

I pretty much forgot about the game until recently. I’ve been playing in a Shadowrun 3rd Edition campaign which made me interested in all things cyberpunk again. So I checked the Technoir KS page for updates, only to notice that there are none. I still think that Technoir had and has a lot of promise but the lack of official support – please excuse my language – sucks!