Archive for July, 2011

Timelines…Making Cool Stuff Up

I’ve been trying to ensure a weekly post occurs on this site and I’ve mostly managed to keep that pace. But I’m out of here next Monday to Gen Con and there’s no way a new post is going to happen next week…knowing Gen Con I’ve no idea if I’ll get a post up the week after that or whether I’ll still be curled into the fetal position recuperating from the long months of sprint to reach the show. With all that in mind, thought I’d simply get two posts in this week.

I once had a conversation with a co-worker who didn’t like maps in fantasy books. She felt that too often the author used it as a crunch, expecting people to know and follow up with the map and hence they were a little more lazy in their writing. While I did see her point…I’m sucker for a cool map. Always have been. In fact there was a time when an extra cool looking map in a fantasy novel would help tip the balance of whether I wanted to buy it or not. It’s just such a cool, immersive, visceral reaction I get from looking at a map. Read the rest of this entry →


07 2011

All Hail The Fictioneers!

I consider myself a person who reads a lot. Perhaps not as much as I used to (so often I reach the end of a day and am so tired I just want to veg with a show until I fall sleep), but I’ve walls and walls of science fiction and fantasy novels (with some thriller, horror and mystery dollops mixed in for good measure). Not to mention magazines from National Geographic to Scientific American, a solid shelf of theological texts (just wrapping up my latest Nibley book), various historical works (despite a gorgeous Folio set, I’m chagrined to say I’ve still not managed to make it all the way through Gibbons’ The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire) and of course a crush-a-rocketship wall of RPGs/game-related fiction.

As a fun side note, one of my great joys of the last year or two has been a 14-year-old son whose reached an age where he’s interested in all those books and he’s begun to work his way through a pile of classics as I did at his age: he’s got Dune (3 times), Lord of the Rings and the first Shannara trilogy under his belt and he’s currently working his way through the Rift War saga (gonna send him through the Dragonriders of Pern next, I think…).

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07 2011

Cosmic Patrol Development: Narrations

In Building The Story I talked about how the improv-style game flows in Turns, Scenes and Mission Briefs. And within each turn a player has a Narration, where he contributes to the building of the story.

But how does a player narrate? It’s simply about describing what the character is doing–exploring a room, repairing a device, engaging in combat and so on–that helps to build the current story. When ever a player runs into mental block and can’t quickly react to the previous person’s Narration, there are a host of Cues to spark a player’s imagination.

While some Cues exist on each Mission Brief, it’s the host of Cues directly on a Patrolman’s Dossier (character sheet) that should ignite an idea of what to say and how to proceed in a variety of situations.

Below is a preview of the two pages of the dossier for a Cosmic Patrol Heavy Marine, Ken Costigan.

Patrolmen Dossiers_HeavyMarine_Page1_Preview.jpg

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07 2011

Cosmic Patrol Development: Building The Story

Cosmic Patrol is all about Building The Story and doing so in a cooperative, narrative fashion. To do so, it makes use of improve-style play.

What’s improvisational theater, you might ask? This is a form of theater where actors improvise each of the scenes of play without recourse to scripts. Complete spontaneity and playing off of each other’s lines and physical cues creates a fast-paced, vibrant experience that twists and turns as each person continues to build off of what has come before.

This style of play meshes flawlessly with Cosmic Patrol’s themes of by-the-seat-of-your-spacesuit action, hyperbole-filled catch phrases and plenty of rockets and rayguns.

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07 2011

Cosmic Patrol Releasing Under Creative Commons

In some ways it doesn’t feel all that long ago that Catalyst didn’t know much about Creative Commons. Once again, big, big kudos to Adam and Rob at Posthuman as we worked together during the publication of the Eclipse Phase Core Rulebook for introducing us to this fantastic idea.

What’s Creative Commons? Well we’ve created a new page that describes it here, and has links to the nitty-gritty nuances of it all. But in a nutshell, here it is:

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07 2011

Cosmic Patrol Development: It’s Full Of Dice….

I like dice.

No…let’s be clear…I love dice.

I love their shapes. I love their colors. I love them in different materials. I love the way they rattle around on the table. I love the fantastic highs and crushing lows that can come as that final die spins endlessly on its tip before its momentum gives into the inexorable pull of gravity and the final value is laid bare, resulting in rousing cheers or forehead-smacking groans.

Many long moons ago a friend of mine, Scott, tried to introduce me to Amber: The Diceless Roleplaying Game by Erick Wujcik, based upon the Roger Zelazny Chronicles of Amber.

At the time it felt anathema…no dice?! But…but…that’s what RPGs are about…tossing those brilliant cubes of probabilities and watching them dance the bell curves fantastic….

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07 2011