Theme Is Important

I’ve been working on a sourcebook for The Artifact for a long time. I’ve written about it before, it was actually the first sourcebook I started on for the game. A few things about it bugged me but I couldn’t really figure out why.

I started to hate the introduction I wrote many years ago. It sounded weird, something was just off about it but I didn’t know exactly what. Slowly I realized that I was telling more than showing. Writing advice always says to show the reader what’s going on with action and not just tell them with exposition.

So I tried rewriting the introduction, again and again. Nothing seemed to work and it puzzled me. I’ve written a bit over the years and I’ve never had to rewrite this much. Sure I’ve written things that weren’t the greatest but this stunk and continued to stink.

Recently I realized why I wasn’t making progress. Because the sourcebook is chronological, it picks up The Artifact’s story five years down the line, it’s a mismatch of events that happen without a particular theme. In my mind, I just assumed that picking up the story and carrying it forward would simply work. That’s not how it happened though. There are a lot of cool things going on in the sourcebook but they head in two different directions and it’s nearly impossible to tie them together. I have two main themes going on, the advancement of Earth’s forces and the advancement and the Chezbah. I’ve developed them, fleshed them out, improved them but they were always fighting for attention and pulling against each other.

What I may have to do is split them into two separate books. I’m not sure I have enough content for each, but thinking about them individually might help build on what’s already there. Honestly some of the content is really huge to the setting and needs more attention but was always fighting for narrative space. I can already see some places where each theme would benefit greatly by being given more attention individually. It would be cool to release them as companion books.

Well, the case of the unwritable sourcebook is one mystery that I think I’m on the track to solving. Remember theme is important, find yours early and avoid a twenty year problem like I’ve got myself stuck in. Lets see what happens.

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ASO Vanguard Pilot

A Vanguard Pilot is a character occupation that I’ve repeatedly thought about putting into a book somewhere but never found a place for. The Vanguard is an attack helicopter that is stated out in the main book, but no PCs get access to it. I imagine that putting the pilot CO out on the website would at least make it available until I could find a proper place to put it.

The Vanguard pilot is the calvary that is called in when everything has gone wrong. They rely on their unparalleled firepower to repel enemy forces as they have very little in the way of defensive capabilities.

Equipment

Standard Issue: 9mm Pistol, 9mm Ammunition (5 clips of 10), Knife, Five (5) ASO Uniforms, ASO P.R.T.R.S.D. (Personal Radio Transmitter/Receiver Scrambler/Descrambler), ASO Light Armor, Binoculars, Night vision goggles, Vac-suit.

Clearance Upon Assignment: P.E.T., ASO Vanguard attack helicopter, Grenades (5 standard but more if allowed)

Standard Skills: Read/Write (1 Language) +50, Mathematics +30, Pilot Automobile +40, Radio +10, First Aid +10, Computer Operation +10

Skills: Artillery Operation +20, ECM +15, ECCM +5, HTH Combat +5, Melee Combat +5, Navigation Land +10, Pilot Helicopter +30, Sensors +15, Weapon Repair +5, WS Grenade +15, WS Gun +10, WS Pistol +15, plus 10 skills at +10

Attribute Bonuses

Str +5

Con +5

Dex +5

Starting Rank: Private

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Gravity

“Matter warps space and space tells matter how to move.”

“In what direction does light reside?”

“E=MC²”

“Gravitational waves may make permanent changes to space.”

Gravity, in some ways some of our oldest technology is based on it. Dropping a stone on another. The pendulum. A counterweight. The waterwheel.

We gave up on gravity and started a romance with the electromagnetic. The lightbulb. The motor. The transistor.

Then came the strong nuclear. The bomb. The reactor.

We forgot about gravity until The Artifact, and then we learned that mass warps space but the electromagnetic and the nuclear are aspects of space. Their fields are like up and down and gravity effects them.

Gravitational waves change the shape of space. Even small waves can reinforce each other into larger standing waves, those waves spread out and tell matter how to move. Matter is energy, energy becomes matter.

The smallest of black holes, microscopic, orbiting each other, and crashing together to build a gravitational wave to its crescendo. Understanding how to do that was the real trick. Loc taught us that.

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New web host

We recently switched to a new web host, I thought I had all the links working but just found out a good number of them don’t. My apologies. I’ve fixed the core rulebook download so that works again. The Players Handbook and the setting book links all work but some of the other downloads still don’t. I’ll be hunting these down and fixing them shortly.

Update: I found the problem. It was a small configuration error which has been corrected.

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Queen City Conquest

I will be GMing a game at Queen City Conquest on Saturday September 9th. If you’re interested and in the area come out and play!

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Working For The Chezbah

Sometimes not getting things done right away is a good thing. I think I’m going to change how I approached the last sourcebook for The Artifact. There’s a lot of seemingly random elements that I’ve put into the book, each hints at something but I think in a final sourcebook it’s time to end the hints. I think it’s time to show where things are going. To that end, I’m going to accelerate a process that I envisioned taking longer. The Ken-Telex incursions were going to start slowly and be mostly a concern for the Chezbah. Later on they were going to ramp up but they were going to be a footnote for this sourcebook. Now I’m thinking that should be accelerated and change the focus of the book to the increasing rate of the invasion.

The Chezbah are a closed society and that works for a menace, they seem like arrogant bullies. My players that know where the timeline is heading don’t see the Chezbah like that. The Ken-Telex are just part of the reason players have changed their minds.

They are such a threat, that the Chezbah might give a pass to anyone that helps fight them. I’m not just talking “We’ll let you go for now.” I’m saying that if a person says they’ll fight the Ken-Telex, the Chezbah will give them harbor and supplies.

I imagine that some earthers may leave their military commissions and fight with the Chezbah.

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Ken-Telex

On January 9th 2090, the I-CA encountered another never before seen life form. A group that numbered into the hundreds was found moving through Chezbah territory. They displayed social grouping and used technology. Attempts to communicate were unsuccessful. At first, the creatures ignored the I-CA communications officer but when more vigorous attempts were made to communicate, the creatures killed the officer.

The I-CA platoon followed the creatures for two weeks where the aliens were intercepted by a large Chezbah force consisting of a sea of Hounds, several hundred Warriors, A hundred or more Hunter E-suits and Eleven Demolishers. In the ensuing battle the aliens were defeated but only after heavy losses on the Chezbah side.

After the battle, a broadcast was sent to every functioning terminal on The Artifact. It translates to the following.

“I am Loc. The time that I have had to prepare for the events you will soon witness have come near to their end. I am very close to finishing my work that has spanned three thousand years. An enemy of man is trying to stop this work. I will do everything in my power to protect you but they are powerful and are making their way here. They are the Ken-Telex. It is in the best interest of all that they be stopped or all of man(kind) will die.”

The name “Ken-Telex” Loc has given these creatures is a Chezbah name meaning “Thoughts bound to the master.”

The I-CA has not released any photographs of the creatures and descriptions redacted from the documents made available.

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Imbalance of Power

I just got my new art tablet working. I have a big backlog of art to do and in amongst that backlog is the art for The Artifact’s last sourcebook Imbalance of Power. This is a chronological sourcebook rather than location-based. It’s events happen five years after the initial arrival on The Artifact and things are really changing.

The biggest hurdle I’ve had with this sourcebook is core to the story. In the quickstart The Warp and scattered in other sourcebooks and the website are hints to what’s happening in this book, but I’ve struggled with getting the feel just right.

As far as art, I’ve had the book fully illustrated for a long time now. Only the art looks dated now, so I have to redo a lot of it. I’ve been frustrated with my old art tablet, it works, but not well. It made drawing a frustrating process. This new tablet is much easier and I’m feeling like drawing again.

So watch this space, a new sourcebook might be on the way in the next few months.

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Interested in Translating?

I’ve been seeing a lot of international traffic to the website, welcome all! If you are reading this and would like to do an official translation of the book for your language, I can provide source material like maps and images. Technically you don’t even need my permission since the game is creative commons, but I’m willing to go a step further by providing my higher resolution images to make things easier.

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First Strategies

I was reading something I wrote a few years back and pulled a thought out. I’ve been thinking about reducing the kinds of actions a player character starts out with to make games less complicated for beginning players. That turns out to be a complicated thing to accomplish. I realized while reading, that maybe it’s not the specific actions that need to be narrowed down, maybe it’s the goals.

My thought is that a character in this hypothetical game would have to go through a right of passage that is their first goal. Once the character has accomplished this goal, they are more free to move in a direction they make up for themselves.

In simple terms, lets imagine that this right of passage is hunting your first bull elk. Imagine a society that requires you to take down the elk to make their weapons from, to pay back their family in food and hide. Now the child is no longer bound to their parents and can go out on their own.

I don’t have much interest in making that game, but it serves as an example of what the first goal could look like.

Why do I feel this is important? I am frequently asked “How do you win?” A question I usually make up some long and complicated answer to. If the answer was the first right of passage of a society, then the game becomes more concrete.

Now imagine a string of societal goals that a character can go after, each which give a character specific rights in the society. The goals of the players are defined and the reasons they go after them have to be clear too.

I have heard of a game that does this explicitly. The players have to first gain a title that allows them to move up in society. I don’t think it helped in the game’s adoption, but that may just be an anomaly. Maybe it means that the thought is garbage.

It could be said that in a lot of games, the first goal is to amass wealth to become a formidable opponent. The point where the PC has reached this point is fuzzy though and makes it hard for an early player to know when they’ve arrived at their goal.

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