Omnium Gatherum: June 7, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 7, 2019

  • YouTube Has Only One Rule” — Max Read, New York Intelligencer

    “This kind of inconsistency and lack of clarity makes it very difficult to treat YouTube’s intricate scaffold of policy — and its endless promises to “reexamine” that policy — as anything other than a cover for YouTube’s actual rule, which is: “Don’t do anything that attracts negative outside attention.”

    Platforms like YouTube act (and generally “feel”) like liberal democracies, with nods to “free speech” and a quasi-judicial moderation process. But they’re corporate dictatorships that can and do moderate however they please, regardless of what their rules say.”

  • Harry and the Potters – Hermione’s Army (Lyric Video)

    “A new song from Lumos, Harry and the Potters’ first full-length album in over a decade. Lumos is out 6/21/19.

    Who is that witch?”

  • Weather Factory Reveals New Game, Book of Hours and Announces Cultist Simulator: Anthology Edition. Meet the occult librarian simulation you never expected to want so badly.” — Joe Skrebels, IGN

    “Book of Hours began life as a speculative tweet …

    Book of Hours has you taking on the role of a librarian for a repository of the occult, and is being designed as a more contemplative, less punishing take on Cultist Simulator’s narrative card game approach. Players will be tasked with talking to visitors to the library, finding books to serve their needs and, in the process, altering the tales of those characters and the world outside your place of work.”

  • Akira Release Date: Taika Waititi-Directed Movie to Open in 2021” — IGN [HT ENDESGA]

    “Fans of Akira and dynamic Hollywood director Taika Waititi, rejoice! The release date for Waititi’s live-action Akira film has finally been announced.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, the live-action adaptation of the iconic manga/anime is set to hit theaters on May 21, 2021.”

  • Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment. From now, house style guide recommends terms such as ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global heating’” — Damian Carrington, The Guardian UK; from the Global-Climate-Chaos dept. [HT Julie Carrie Wong]

    “The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world.

    Instead of ‘climate change’ the preferred terms are ‘climate emergency, crisis or breakdown’ and ‘global heating’ is favoured over ‘global warming’, although the original terms are not banned.

    ‘We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,’ said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. ‘The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.’

    ‘Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,’ she said.”

  • Who Wins, Who Dies: Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019)” — Sady Doyle, Dangerous Characters [HT Lilith Saintcrow]

    “No matter what women told themselves, Game of Thrones was never our story.”

  • Adventuron. A Fun Way To Learn To Code. [HT Konstantinos Dimopoulos]

    “Designed for children (8 – 12) working with parents, Classroom’s colourful lessons demonstrate how to create an interactive story game playable on laptop, tablet, and mobile devices.”

Omnium Gatherum: May 23, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 23, 2019

  • Jinn, an ominous, supernatural teen drama, the first Arabic-language “original” for Netflix, due June 13

    “A group of high schoolers’ lives are disrupted when a jinn arrives seeking their help. High school will never be the same. Coming June 13. Only on Netflix.”

  • Playdate is an upcoming handheld gaming system from venerable and laudable macOS developer Panic

    Panic Playdate  handheld game console

    “Hello. We made a brand new handheld gaming system.

    It’s yellow. It fits in your pocket. It’s got a beautiful black and white screen. It’s not super cheap, but not super expensive. It includes brand new games from some amazing creators. Plus it has a crank.

    So Playdate isn’t just the hardware.

    It’s twelve brand new video games, one each week.

    We weren’t kidding about the crank.

    It flips out from the side, a rotating analog controller that puts a whole new spin on games.”

  • World’s first living organism with fully redesigned DNA created. Researchers create altered synthetic genome, in move with potential medical benefits” — who, where; from the DEPT dept. [HT Michael Szul]

    “Scientists have created the world’s first living organism that has a fully synthetic and radically altered DNA code.

    The lab-made microbe, a strain of bacteria that is normally found in soil and the human gut, is similar to its natural cousins but survives on a smaller set of genetic instructions.

    The bug’s existence proves life can exist with a restricted genetic code and paves the way for organisms whose biological machinery is commandeered to make drugs and useful materials, or to add new features such as virus resistance.”

  • Lyft executive suggests drivers become mechanics after they’re replaced by self-driving robo-taxis” — Graham Rapier, Business Insider; from the New-Boss-Same-As-The-Old-Boss dept.

    “‘Something happened when software would allow long-distance calls and that was you could dial an 800 number, but you needed somebody on the other end of those calls,’ McNeill continued. ‘So overnight, hundreds of thousands of operator jobs were replaced literally with millions of call center jobs.’

    In the same fashion, McNeill said that while the rise of autonomous vehicles could create the need for other types of high-paying jobs, including mechanics.”

  • Kickstarter will not voluntarily recognize its employee union. ‘I know this position is disappointing to some of you who were hoping the company would voice support for this effort,’ CEO Aziz Hasan wrote.” — Bijan Stephen, The Verge; from the New-Boss-Same-As-The-Old-Boss dept. … again

    “In the email, Hasan notes that there is a rising current of worker activism in America, and that what’s happening at Kickstarter ‘isn’t taking place in a vacuum.’ The members of Kickstarter’s union recognize that too: in the memo they published when they announced their plans to unionize, they said they were interested in union protections for themselves as much as they were interested for them for other tech companies. ‘We can do better together — for ourselves and our industry.'”

  • Fabula by Sefirot Srl

    “Writing your story has never been easier

    Fabula is based on the Hero’s Journey and helps you analyze, organize and build your stories.

    Fabula is a tool consisting of 40 cards which you can utilize wherever you want, helping you to analyze, organize, and build your stories.

    You can place Fabula on walls, tables, floors or any other available surface, with the help of ADHESIVE PUTTY or TAPE. Each card is like a box to fill, so you can just arm yourself with post-its and a pen, and start inventing!”

  • Spire’s End by Favard

    Favard Spire's End

    “A Choose Your Own Adventure Card Game

    Spire’s End is a card game that harkens back to the Choose your own Adventures of the ’80s with enemy encounters, interactive story-driven scenarios, and high-end art & design. On Kickstarter late 2019.

    It’s a unique gaming experience without a lot of baggage. Simple set up, intuitive rules and minimal components. No DM, no bookkeeping. Just you, a deck of cards and some dice and cube markers. It’s the grisly tale of a strange tower that emerges in the heart of a bustling Viking city. The townsfolk have vanished. It’s up to you to mount a rescue and unravel the mystery at any cost.

    You move through the game like a book. But in this case, it’s a stack of ominous cards instead. Flip them over, make difficult choices and let the story unfold.”

  • Desolate [also] by Grey Gnome Games

    Grey Gnome Games Desolate

    “You are stranded on a distant space station on a moon… You are not alone…
    There had been no communication with station 04 on the distant moon X483. A rescue mission was mounted, and you were on that ship as it lost use of its controls and crashed but meters from the station’s entrance. After the smoke cleared, you realized you were the only survivor.

    You made your way into the station in hopes of finding help, only to be shocked by the horrors within. You are alone. You must escape. You must survive…

    What is Desolate?

    Desolate is a solo-play card and dice game. You have many choices that will ultimately equate to your survival or your demise. Do you explore the first room you reveal, or press-your-luck and skip it to move on to another, and be forced to resolve the second? When you encounter an alien you must decide how much ammo you want to spend (Each ammo equals 1 die roll) in order to defeat it. Do you over-spend for a certain victory, or take a chance a spend less? When you defeat a foe and open a crate, do you take the larger more valuable resource, or the lesser valued resource that may be more useful now? Do you use a powerful one-use item early on in the game, or wait?

    There are many choices per game, and when you die, and you will often, you will not be able to blame the roll of a die or the draw of card as much as you will have to blame yourself. You will be invested. You may yell at the dice before rolling. You may jump to your feet when you find that final power cell and fire up the escape shuttle for a sweet sweet victory.”

  • Dark Venture by Gilded Skull Games

    Gilded Skull Games Dark Venture

    “Welcome to Dark Venture! Explore a dark-fantasy future with your hero, playing competitively, cooperatively or solo in this retro 1-4 player adventure game. The Dark Venture core set includes over 145 cards, five rule and story guides, six giant ancient hex cards, thick player boards and tracks, cubes, one set of custom etched dice, over 30 character standees and many, many tokens!”

  • Pre-Orders for Free League’s Alien Rpg Begin on May 25 With a Surprise Debut of Their First Cinematic Module” — Free League / Fria Ligan

    Free League The Alien Roleplaying Game pre-order bundle

    “In celebration of the official 40th Anniversary this Saturday, Free League will offer a meaty 168-page Cinematic Starter Kit for their highly-anticipated Alien RPG – debuting their first Cinematic module Chariot of the Gods written by Alien RPG setting writer and sci-fi novelist Andrew E.C. Gaska – as a complimentary bonus gift for anyone who pre-orders the Alien RPG Core Rulebook at alien-rpg.com. The Cinematic Starter Kit will be available for download as soon as the pre-order purchase is confirmed.

    The 40th Anniversary Edition of the Alien RPG Core Rulebook is exclusive to the Free League store and its 40th Anniversary Pre-Order Event, which begins 5/25/19 at 9am EST and ends 8/4/2019 at 11:59pm EST.”

  • His Dark Materials: Season 1, from BBC with two seasons funded, distributed by HBO, coming in 2020 [HT Michael M. Bind Trump Hughes]

    “Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, which is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, the first season follows Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets Will, a determined and courageous boy. Together, they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.”

  • Terminator: Dark Fate – Official Teaser Trailer produced by James Cameron, directed by Tim Miller, with Linda Hamilton, returning as Sarah Connor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger from Paramount Pictures

    “Welcome to the day after Judgment Day. Producer James Cameron returns with director Tim Miller for Terminator: Dark Fate. Watch the official trailer now. In theatres 11.1.19.”

Omnium Gatherum: May 15, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 15, 2019

  • Fate of Cthulhu. The stars are right for Great Cthulhu’s return—and it’s your job to make them wrong again in this Fate-powered roleplaying game! A crowdfunding presale by Evil Hat.

    “The stars are right for Great Cthulhu’s return. It’s up to you to make them wrong again!
    The Great Old Ones reach out from the future and into their past—our present—corrupting the timeline such that events and individuals turn towards the apocalyptic and lead to their inevitable rise. A small and battered resistance effort mounted by time-travelers and present-day heroes stands in their way.

    You are those one-way travelers from a dark future and their crucial allies from the present day, working together to save the human race from looming apocalypse. Armed with foreknowledge of Judgment Day, you must succeed at a series of vital missions aimed at restoring hope to the future.

    But the clock is ticking. The corrupting influence of the Great Old Ones is sure to affect you before the end, twisting you slowly and inexorably into something alien and unrecognizable.

    Can you defeat the vast unknowable evils of the Great Old Ones before you become a monster yourself? Find out in Fate of Cthulhu, a new stand-alone tabletop roleplaying game from Evil Hat Productions!”

  • A New Harry and the Potters Album. “Lumos” is Harry and the Potters’ first full-length album in 13 years. A crowdfunding effort by Harry and the Potters.

    “We spent the last year working on our first full-length album since 2006. The album is called “Lumos” and it’s our first time writing substantively about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There are 16 songs on the album.

    This album means a lot to us. It’s political. It’s funny and weird. It’s dramatic and emotional. We tried to build on all the things we put into our live show and, for maybe the first time, it feels like we really nailed it on these recordings. We are so proud of this album and cannot wait to share it with you.

    One of our good friends listened to it and said to us: For years and years I’ve struggled with how to introduce your band to new people. I saw you live before hearing any of your recordings and while they do hold a place in my heart now, they do not do your live shows justice. This album changes all of that.

    If we’re being honest, we weren’t sure if we’d ever make another full-length album. For the past 12 years, we’ve been living in different states and really only saw each other when we were on tour or doing family stuff. That schedule didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for this type of focused creative work. But then the systems started to break down, authoritarians came to power, and it seemed like it might be a nice time to reconnect with a world where good can triumph over evil through collective action. Maybe there’s a few things left for us to learn. “

  • Dice Charger by Q WORKSHOP. The device that will charge your glow in the dark dice! A crowdfunding presale from Q-workshop.

    Q-workshop dice charger

    “This futuristic dice cup is packed with electronics engineered by our partner design studio, specializing in innovative projects and concepts. The UV light placed in the lid of the dice cup charges your dice in seconds and makes them glow longer than anytime before!

    With the premiere of the Dice Charger we present new dice design inspired by numbers from oldschool clocks and retrofuturistic illustrations. Say hello to Digital Dice Set! For the first time we will introduce same design in multiple new manufacturing methods.”

  • Monster Prom 2: Holiday Season. The long-awaited sequel of the popular multiplayer dating sim “Monster Prom”. A crowdfunding effort by Beautiful Glitch.

    “Monster Prom 2: Holiday Season brings you more of the world’s best (and maybe only?) multiplayer dating sim; but in a way you’ve never expected!

    The original Monster Prom is a multiplayer dating sim that shines for its beautiful art and unapologetic humor.

    The sequel is… something different. It’s 3-games-in-1. Because we weren’t sure which kind of vacations to take, we chose 3: Summer Camp, Winter Retreat and Roadtrip. So each game is smaller than the original one, but they’re the same size when put together. And each time you play, you can choose which game suits you better that time. “

  • Scouts of the Wyrdwood Forest. A family-friendly, storytelling adventure game about modern kids exploring the enchanted forest, helping Fae Folk, and earning badges! A crowdfunding effort by Robert Turk.

    “Scouts of the Wyrdwood Forest is a family friendly, rules-lite, storytelling adventure game about modern kids exploring an enchanted wood.

    This is a game about emracing myths and faerie tales, testing your limits, earning badges, becoming heroes, meeting strange new people, and finding non-violent solutions to the challenges you face as you travel through this magical Faerie realm.”

Omnium Gatherum: May 9, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 9, 2019

  • TTRPG Achievement Badges. Patches to help mark your achievements as a PC or DM in D&D 5e. A crowdfunding effort by Samantha Darcy, with 28 days to go.


    Darcy TTRPG Achievement Badges

    “Are you prepared?

    Roleplaying games and Scouting both tremendously impact many lives. Unfortunately, RPGs lack patch-covered fashion-statements showing everyone exactly how awesome you are…

    Until now!

    Introducing Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TTRPG) Achievement Badges! From the crazed minds of Samantha Darcy and Stephen Rowe, these patches allow you to forever memorialize pivotal moments from your games!

    TTRPG Achievement Patches

    Produced by Pin Game Strong, each badge is a 2-inch, sew-on, 100% embroidered patch, with unique art, and an accompanying PDF. Included for each are requirements to earn the badge, and optional reward mechanics compatible with 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons!

    With your help, we plan to initially release EIGHT (8) Common and EIGHT (8) Rare achievement patches, plus TWO (2) extremely exclusive and super secret Legendary patches! And that’s only the beginning. We can all work together to make this project a success, and there’s a LOT more we can’t wait to share!”

  • Lancer. Lancer is a mud-and-lasers RPG about mechs and the pilots who crew them. Narrative play, gritty tactical combat and deep customization. A crowdfunding effort by Massif Press, with 42 hours to go.

    Massif Press Lancer

    “Lancer is a mud-and-lasers tabletop roleplaying game centered on modular mechs and the pilots who crew them.
    Ten thousand years after the climate crash that ended the Anthropocene, a survivor humanity rebuilt itself and spread to the stars. Numbering now in the trillions, they are a polyglot, cosmopolitan people, organized under a central hegemon: Union. The galaxy is vast before them, and humanity is its mirror. For some, it is a golden age of post-scarcity utopia. For the rest, that golden age remains a dream to be attained.

    Into this roiling galaxy you take your role as a mech pilot — from cold-blooded mercenaries to honor-bound Baronic cuirassiers, hardscrabble Union regulars to professional Constellar Midnights, Far Field teams at the uncanny edge of known space to the ever-wandering Albatross. Operating with a wealth of licenses from one of the galaxy’s Big Five fabricators, you and your friends play a tight-knit squad of pilots on campaign — comrades together in a galaxy of danger and hope. Will you fight for Union, working to rectify the crimes of previous administrations? Will you run contracts for a corpro-state, working to advance private interests while lining your pockets? Will you fight to liberate your people from all masters, human or otherwise? Or will you fight only for yourself?

    Lancer features a mix of military science fiction and mythic science fantasy. In the setting, conscript pilots mix ranks with flying aces, mercenary guns-for-hire brawl with secretive corpostate agents, and relativistic paladins cross thermal lances with causality-breaking entities.

    In Lancer, there is promise in the potential, but the hard-won gains of humanity are under serious threat. From the internal: ruthless corpro-states, bitter anthrochauvinist reactionaries, and ponderous oligarchs, to the external: MONIST 1, or RA, an anoriginary being with unfathomable power and unknowable goals; the Aunic Ascendancy, the unbroken heirs of Old Humanity; and more.

    Having only begun the project of recovering from its own internal political revolutions, Union now scrambles to reassert its control over a galaxy that would fall to chaos otherwise.

    Who will you fight for, pilot? “

  • Sundown. A rules-light tabletop roleplaying game set in a pre-industrial transhumanist frontier. Think Cyberpunk goes Wild West. A crowdfunding effort from Grasswatch Games, with 39 hours to go.

    “We’re Grasswatch Games, a partnership of two queer disabled folk.

    We’re making our debut with Sundown, a low tech science-fantasy set in a transhumanist frontier. Think cyberpunk goes wild west. It’s an episodic game that focuses on otherism, class, and colonialism.

    Sundown is a dyslexia-friendly, campaign-length rules-light tabletop roleplaying game for 2-6 players, one of whom is the lorekeeper, with a suggested session length of 3-4 hours.

    Sundown tells political stories of a small and intimate scope. You play multiple campaigns and characters in the same world, your next one inheriting the world from your last. Your actions, though small, will ripple across history.

    You play a drifter: a queer, punk outcast taking work wherever you can from folk that hate you.

    Fiends, the monsters of this world, linger at the edges of civilization. There’s always someone who wants some fiend dead.

    Autocrats and Lords point their fingers at each other while Syndicates and Revolutions rot their thrones beneath them. Drifters who don’t slay fiends oft find themselves slaying folk instead.

    But maybe you prefer to keep your hands clean. You’re a spy, stealing secrets from one corporatist for another, or you’re a thief, liberating the hoarded wealth of lords and bankers.

    Maybe you’re lucky. One of the few of ‘legitimate’ employ. You work for the Merchant Protections Guild, a diplomat and ambassador to the townships of Sundown, struggling to keep the highroad from crumbling… and Sundown’s delicate peace with it.”

  • Astrologaster. [also] A Comedy Written in the Stars. A game by Nyamyam. [HT The Guardian]

    “London, 1592. A great plague sweeps through the capital. When doctors flee the city in fear, a hero rises. His name is Simon Forman, “Doctor” of Astrology, Astronomy and Physick. Not only does he have the power to cure the sick, he can find their lost pets and predict their futures! All by reading the movements of the stars.

    But when the plague ends, Forman’s problems begin. The real doctors return to London and they will stop at nothing to bring him down…

    Astrologaster is a story-driven astrological comedy game set in Shakespeare’s London. Based on a true – and truly ridiculous – story.

    • Solve Hilarious Problems: Consult on problems ranging from Elizabethan terror plots and foul diseases, to romantic entanglements and stolen pies!
    • Change Lives: Win your patients’ favour or ruin their lives. Advise 14 characters who return 5-7 times. Patients have their own ongoing stories which often overlap with each other.
    • Win A Medical Licence: Convince patients to write letters of recommendations. Collect enough letters to exchange them for a medical licence.
    • Fully Voiced Character Dialogue: Sitcom-style comedy brought to life by a cast of over a dozen actors.
    • Sing Along – Enjoy Renaissance-era music and sing along to each character’s theme song.
    • Casebooks Come Alive: Simon Forman’s cases are presented as a beautiful pop-up book. Turn pages to delve deeper into your patients’ stories.

    Simon Forman was considered a sage by some and a charlatan by others. What will your legacy be? Will you put your faith in the stars?”

Omnium Gatherum: May 5, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 5, 2019

  • Paths: World of Adia tabletop RPG. Paths: World of Adia is a tabletop RPG that supports both classic Game Master group play and Solo Gameplay. A crowdfunding effort by Smunchy Games with only 17 days left to reach their modest funding goal; with in development print-n-play available that you can check out right now

    “Join us in Adia, a young living world whose political landscape shifts as drastically as its physical growth. This planet of extremes is in constant flux as its three moons influence the magical Spirit that flows between Adia and all of her living creatures. In Paths: World of Adia, players adopt the role of a denizen in a rich, multicultural world, a denizen who has decided to embrace and pursue their goals to become more than just another face in the crowd. Our lush, developed environments and evolving story are designed with immersion and interactivity in mind as players move and grow with a unique blend of both new and familiar game systems.”

  • Vorpal Board. The platform for playing your favorite tabletop games with friends online using the actual pieces. A crowdfunding effort by Vorpal Enterprises with 29 days left to meet their funding goal; and check out their demo site for an idea of how it works to provide a kind of “augmented reality” for board games.

    “Vorpal Board is the platform that enables you to play your favorite tabletop games with friends online using the actual pieces. Whether you live halfway around the world or two doors over, we know how hard it can be to get your gaming group together. With Vorpal Board never let life or distance get in the way of playing the games you love.”

  • The Ghosts Betwixt. Dungeon Crawling in the Haunted Heartland. A tabletop funny horror drawl board game in development by Dustin Freund at Innocent Traveler Games. Available in Print-n-Play now and coming to crowdfunding this year.

    Freund Innocent Traveller The Ghosts Betwixt

    “Dungeon Crawling in the Haunted Heartland

    Young Richie has been kidnapped! He was last seen taken into the Bennert family’s farmhouse, which transforms into the Worlds of Terror haunted house during the Halloween season.

    The Bennerts’ haunted attraction has fallen on hard times, as thrill-seeking audiences begin opting for more impressive haunted houses found in the city. However, the Bennerts own the ultimate wild card – and they will play it tonight to resurrect the family business.

    Join Richie’s family Bill, Joan, Avelynn and Maddox as they battle the Bennert family in this campaign-driven dungeon crawler!

    KICKSTARTER UPDATE SOON – SIGN UP TO OUR EMAIL LIST TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW!”

  • Xeno Dead Zone by Runehammer Games; though as I write this there’s two broken images and a typo in the description, so the inside probably still not well edited either. But, might still be fun as both a stand-alone Aliens / Space Hulk pastiche and an expansion of the rules and extra components for Index Card RPG. Or, as a play aid for a sci-fi bug hunt crawl scenario in your own game using whatever system you prefer.

    Runhammer Xeno Dead Zone

    “XENO DEAD ZONE is a one-stop solution to scratch your itch for a night of great gaming in the world of deadly space predators and the badasses who fight them.

    This package is power packed with rules and resources for ICRPG players and GM’s.

    -Play in XDZ mode: a GM-less board game ruleset

    -Play in classic ICRPG mode: 9 new classes, Xeno and vehicle stats

    -Dynamic Mission Objectives and Ecalations[sic] in any mode

    -A huge collection of print-and-cut standees

    -Tokens for use in your favorite VTT

    -32 map building cards and door standees to assemble your game map with flair

    Expand your ICRPG multiverse to include the deadliest creatures in the spaceways! “

Omnium Gatherum: April 4, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 4, 2019

  • Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head, By Yourself: Second Edition by J. Theophrastus Bartholomew, Sam Gorski, D. F. Lovett; from the I-Feel-Attacked dept.

    Gorski Lovett Top Ten Games You Can Play In Your Head By Yourself

    “YOUR MIND IS NOW THE ULTIMATE GAMING ENGINE. Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head, By Yourself, is a collection of visionary author J. Theophrastus Bartholomew’s most cherished mind-games, edited and updated by filmmaker and storyteller Sam Gorski and author D.F. Lovett. No peripherals needed. No controllers. No pens. No dice or boards. Everything you need to experience the forefront of game design is right here between these pages. What will happen in your game? It’s up to you to find out!”

  • Wrestlenomicon! A card game of the Great Old Ones fighting over the end of the world. Cthulhu! Hastur! Only ONE can rule the apocalypse! A crowdfunding effort by Arc Dream Publishing.

    “Wrestlenomicon!

    A card game of the Great Old Ones fighting over the end of the world. Cthulhu! Hastur! Only ONE can rule the apocalypse!

    Fire Opal Games and Arc Dream Publishing bring you the grudge match to end them all!

    Become a Great Old One and slam, smash, and obliterate your opponent. Wrestlenomicon is a throw-down to the doom. This furious card game of squicky battles sets up in seconds and plays in minutes—or longer, if tactics are your thing. This is the definition of brainy beer-and-pretzels fun, with plenty of tentacles.

    The Brawl of Cthulhu!

    Each deck of cards represents a unique Great Old One. The core game includes a deck for CTHULHU—the Ageless Abomination! the South Seas Smasher!—and another for HASTUR, the insane and unspeakable force behind the King in Yellow. More Great Old Ones are coming.”

  • Witch+Craft, a 5e Supplemental. A tabletop supplemental of crafting and magic for Fifth Edition games. A crowdfunding effort by Astrolago Press.

    “Witch+Craft, a beautifully-illustrated supplemental for 5e games, brings a new crafting system to your table. Designed to be fun to use and simple to implement, the domestic magic crafting system can be easily inserted into ongoing games without the need for rerolling characters or reinventing entire campaigns—perfect for the ragtag crew who want to repair an enemy’s shipwrecked boat, the cunning ensemble looking to build themselves an impromptu grappling hook, or the friendly bard wanting to spend their downtime baking a pie for their party. Whether you’re a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, Witch+Craft has you covered.

    But that’s not all: this new system also includes trade classes, a new character customization option that goes hand-in-hand with your characters’ pre-existing combat class and background. Trade classes allow you to define what makes your skills unique as you level up and make your mark in the world.

    We call this system domestic magic because it emphasizes the miracle of making. Even non-spellcasters can tap into the power of creation, forging beautiful and useful items with their hands and their heart.

    This content, and the crafting system we’ve designed, took inspiration from Studio Ghibli films like Kiki’s Delivery Service, where the acts of painting, baking, and inventing have a power as beautiful and unique as Kiki’s witchcraft. While many crafting systems are based around concepts like “stress” or “endurance”, we wanted a crafting system that encouraged rest, self care, inspiration, motivation, and collaboration.

    Make something, because the act of making brings you joy.”

  • Humblewood Campaign Setting for 5e DND. Humblewood is a campaign setting for 5e DND that includes new birdfolk player races, new monsters, compelling adventure and more! A crowdfunding effort by Hit Point Press / Deck of Many

    “Humblewood is an exciting new Campaign Setting for 5e DND that includes original birdfolk player races, new monsters, magic items, and a compelling adventure for 1st to 5th level characters.”

  • Welcome to Tikor | The Swordsfall RPG Setting and Art Book. An Afropunk Sci-Fantasy world brimming with ancient magic and future tech. A crowdfunding effort by Brandon Dixon.

    “Swordsfall isn’t just a story, it’s a world. It’s a dive into pre-colonial Africa for all the rich lore you’ve never heard of. It’s an exploration into a world where the majority of the faces are dark, yet isn’t constrained to one corner. It’s a world where women hold power equal to men and the merit of ones soul is what propels them through life. It’s a world where spirits aren’t to be feared, they are to be embraced. In a time where we know that representation matters, this project is an effort to add to that spirit in the way I know best. Narrative fiction in the nerdiest of flavors.

    Swordsfall is made up of three key parts; World Anvil, Tabletop RPG and Stories/Novels. Each of them telling a different part in the lore that is the world of Tikor. This Setting and Artbook is part of that synergy and the first step toward realizing the Tabletop RPG.”

  • Hidden Oddities: A Witch’s Primer. A Witch Class for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition with worldbuilding, 50+ spells, 2 backgrounds, and 7 Archetypes for the class. A crowdfunding effort by Eva Brown.

    “Hidden Oddities: A Witch’s Primer contains 100+ pages of new game material and world-building content for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. In this book you’ll find the brand new Witch Class, 11 new Archetypes called Sacred Secrets, 2 new backgrounds, 100+ new spells, new items that any spellcaster could benefit from, and advice how to place witches into your world. This supplement is designed to work inside the system and to expand the options for Dungeon Masters and Players.

    The Witch is a full caster without spell slots and instead uses Curios as minor magical items that can be filled with either spell slots or wondrous effects. These Curios can be kept all to the Witch or be handed out to party members to help increase their effectiveness. Improved Ritual Casting lets you cast any spell inside your spellbook as long as you have enough time and people to perform a Greater Ritual. Instead of preparing spells after every long rest you get to choose which Curios to recharge after any rest,

    The content itself is built around the concepts of making a Grim and Strange world. The spells that are currently in the book help expand spell selection options for Arcane and Divine spellcasters alike.”

  • Arcana of the Ancients, a 5E science-fantasy sourcebook. A sourcebook that brings the science-fantasy stylings of Numenera to 5E, written by designers very experienced with both games. A crowdfunding effort by Monte Cook Games.

    “Arcana of the Ancients is a sourcebook for 5th edition players and GMs to bring the wonders of mysterious technology and weird science-fantasy elements to their traditional fantasy campaigns. Designed by Monte Cook, Bruce R. Cordell, and Sean K. Reynolds, all of whom have years of professional design experience working on the world’s most popular roleplaying game, this gorgeously illustrated hardcover sourcebook gives you everything you need to add a whole new element to your 5E game.”

  • The Seas of Vodari – 5th Edition Swashbuckling & Sorcery. Everything you need to run exciting seafaring campaigns full of swashbuckling action and magical adventure for Fifth Edition. A crowdfunding effort by Tribality Publishing.

    “The Seas of Vodari is a full-color book that we are offering in hardcover and PDF. This book provides 200+ pages of material for gamemasters to run exciting seafaring campaigns for 5th Edition. Your players will get tons of options for creating characters and you’ll get support to run a world full of swashbuckling action and magical adventure. “

  • Calico: Magical Girls Running Cat Cafés~. Calico is a calm and cozy cat cafe simulator where you pet cats, decorate your cafe, and hang out with witches and magical girls! A crowdfunding effort by Kells.

    “Calico is a day-in-the-life community sim game where you are given an important and adorable task: rebuild the town’s cat café and fill it with cute and cuddly creatures! You will journey to a small village filled with magical girls and other fantastical friends, where you are placed in charge of a run down cat café. Build up your café by filling it with cute furniture, fun decorations, yummy pastries, and get it bustling with animals again!

    In Calico, you play as a sweet magical cutie. There are two playable characters to choose from: Heartgirl and Flowergirl!”

  • The Ultraviolet Grasslands. The Ultraviolet Grasslands (UVG) trpg is a rules-light psychedelic metal trip to the Black City on the edge of space and time. A crowdfunding effort by Exalted Funeral.

    “The Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City is a tabletop role-playing game book, half setting, half adventure, and half epic trip; inspired by psychedelic heavy metal, the Dying Earth genre, and classic Oregon Trail games. It leads a group of ‘heroes’ into the depths of a vast and mythic steppe filled with the detritus of time and space and fuzzy riffs.”

  • Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina Animated Special. Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina reunites your favorite heroes for a professional-quality animated special! A crowdfunding effort by Critical Role.

    “Vox Machina is back, baby — but this time they’re cartoons! Here’s the amazing creative team that’s gonna take our tale from imagination to animation… “

Omnium Gatherum: February 27, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 27, 2019

  • Detecting Pessimism: Thomas Ligotti and the Weird in an Age of Post-Truth, a Symposium, June 2 2019, 70 Oxford St, Manchester Metropolitan University

    “This free symposium centres on the fiction, theory and impact of the acclaimed American horror fiction writer Thomas Ligotti. Ligotti is increasingly seen as one of the key literary horror and weird fiction writers of recent decades whose works present a unique, bleak and controversial portrayal of both human existence and society. This symposium follows the republication by Penguin of Ligotti’s award-winning non-fiction work The Conspiracy Against the Human Race in 2018 and the recent re-release of his first two volumes of short stories, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe.

    Making the most of the expertise at Manchester Metropolitan, the symposium will comprise of two panels with papers delivered by our staff and students on Ligotti and the weird mode, and will include a keynote delivered by weird expert Prof Roger Luckhurst. We will explore the works, philosophy and influence of Ligotti within a diverse range of contexts, from philosophical nihilism and pessimism, weird fiction and horror to his impact on film and television.

    An afternoon of thought-provoking and genre-challenging papers will be followed by a wine reception and the launch of the new edition of Conspiracy. The day will culminate with an open floor discussion of a selection of Ligotti-influenced, weird and pessimistic monologues from the first season of True Detective (2014), a screening run in collaboration with Pilot Light TV Festival and Morag Rose (University of Liverpool). Tickets for this will be issued separately and will be available soon.

    Do please join us for what promises to be a vibrant day of events that aim to shed light (and an equal measure of darkness) on how the weird engages with contemporary politics and the human condition in an increasingly pessimistic age.”

  • Invisible Sun from Monte Cook Games, essentially an entire black cube in PDF now, as well as additional titles out now or coming soon.

    Monte Cook Games Invisible Sun

    “The Invisible Sun roleplaying game is an unprecedented production, filled with massive amounts of content for a unique roleplaying experience. The Invisible Sun PDF contains roughly 80 files, including (and this is not an exhaustive list):

    • Four books totaling over 600 pages of game and setting content, fully hyperlinked and bookmarked.
    • Roughly 1000 cards laid out in a printer-friendly format.
    • The Sooth Deck, a beautiful tarot-like deck that’s instrumental to game play.
    • The Path of Suns, used with the Sooth Deck.
    • A wide variety of tokens for tracking game info.
    • Several poster maps.
    • The Guiding Hand, GM’s notebook, in both a printer-friendly and form-fillable format.
    • Character tomes (similar in function to character sheets in other RPGs) for all four orders, plus apostates, along with grimoire sheets.
    • Five pregenerated characters.
    • Loads of in-setting handouts and props.
    • A gorgeous art book.
    • And the Invisible Sun app is free from the MCG Shop.

    Invisible Sun is a game about discovery and secrets. There may be other content awaiting discovery in your PDF.”

Omnium Gatherum: February 24, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 24, 2019

  • Tweet by Josh

  • Dichroic 3D-printing material changes color with point of view” — Ben Coxworth, New Atlas

    Coxworth New Atlas dichronic 3d printing material

    “In use since at least the 4th century AD, dichroic glass displays different colors depending on how it’s being viewed. Now, Dutch scientists have produced the effect in a material that can be used to create 3D-printed objects – and it’s not just a novelty, as it could have practical applications.”

  • Wollstonecraft The Role-Playing Game by Jordan Stratford; based on The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series, about “an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!”

    Stratford Wollstonecraft The Role-Playing Game

    “Based on the best-selling The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency adventure series, Wollstonecraft The Roleplaying Game empowers detectives as young as 8 to create their own characters and solve mysteries in 1820s London.

    With a simple d6 system and only 3 dice pools (one each for Plot & Events, Sets & Props, and Other Characters), the game is designed so that young players can organize and run the game without adult assistance. The game is set up rather like a tea party, with Guests who play an individual detective, and a Host who plays all the other characters in the world: a mysterious innkeeper, a scullery maid who may be an important witness, or an angry duck.

    Included is everything you need to know to run a game session, including a starter scene so players can try out their new characters – with Regency names, jobs, quirks, talents, and equipment. There are also tips on writing new mysteries and creating compelling scenes for your Guest’s characters.”

  • Our Twisted DNA” — Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books; about She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer

    Zimmer She Has Her Mother's Laugh

    “As long as chimeras and mosaics were detected on the basis of physical manifestations or blood type, they were considered to be phenomenally rare—indeed freakish. By 1983, only seventy-five cases of human chimeras, as detected from blood type, were known, while mosaicism was mostly known from medical cases. Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man,” suffered from a form of mosaicism known as Proteus syndrome, which left parts of his body deformed by monstrous growths, while other parts remained completely normal. For decades, his sad example defined the condition for many.

    Recent advances in genetic analysis have revealed that chimerism is common. In fact, chimeric individuals may be the rule, rather than the exception, among mammals. One Danish study of the blood of 154 girls aged ten to fifteen discovered that around 13 percent of them had blood cells with Y-chromosomes. These cells probably originated from an older brother and had crossed into the mother, where they survived before crossing into, and taking root in, the daughter. A Seattle study of fifty-nine women who died, on average, in their seventies found that 63 percent had cells with Y-chromosomes in their brains.

    As bizarre as chimeras might seem, they represent only the surface waters of Zimmer’s deep dive into the nature of inheritance.”

  • Tweet by Adam J Calhoun

Omnium Gatherum: February 17, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 17, 2019

  • Paradox Teasing a Potential Third ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ Game” — Mike Wilson, Bloody Disgusting

    “But now, it appears that the series just might get a third entry from developer Paradox Interactive.

    The questions in question involve some pretty not-so-romantic things, such as images of a bloody wall, a smiling clown, or some maggots, with the question asking you which image you identify with the most. Another question asks you about your blood type, and another your interests. Some of those interests include the Illuminati, Epicurus, thanatology, the unknown, chaos magick, sorcery, and demonology.”

  • Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Starter Set by Wizards of the Coast, from Hasbro

    Hasbro Wizards of the Coast Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set

    “The Stranger Things Dungeons & dragons starter set contains everything players need to embark on a Stranger Things adventure including the essential rules of the roleplaying game. It’s a great way for new as well as seasoned Dungeon & Dragons players to experience the D&D adventure Stranger Things character Mike Wheeler has created for his friends. … Prepare for just about anything, because the game just got stranger.”

  • AI can write disturbingly believable fake news. Elon Musk’s OpenAI is keeping a tight lid on the technology.” — Jon Fingas, Engadget; from the Infinite-Monkeys dept. [also]

    “AI is getting better and better at writing convincing material, and that’s leading its creators to wonder whether they should release the technology in the first place. Elon Musk’s OpenAI has developed an algorithm that can generate plausible-looking fake news stories on any topic using just a handful of words as a starting point. It was originally designed as a generalized language AI that could answer questions, summarizing stories and translating text, but researchers soon realized that it could be used for far more sinister purposes, like pumping out disinformation in large volumes. As a result, the team only plans to make a “simplified version” of its AI available to the public, according to MIT Technology Review.”

  • Apocalipsis: Harry at the End of the World [also], a video game by Punch Punk Games, from Klabater, with Nergal

    “In Apocalipsis you play as Harry, for whom the loss of his beloved was the end of his world. Now he has to venture out into the strange, unwelcoming lands to get her back. On his journey he will meet fantastical creatures, straight from the minds of artists from the 15th century Europe, and ultimately conquer his own, personal demons. Featuring the narration by Nergal, leader of the band Behemoth, with the added atmospheric new rendition of Behemoth’s music, it will be a journey to remember.

    Apocalipsis shares with the Middle Ages its artstyle and the game’s world itself is inspired by Book of Revelation and steeped in medieval philosophy and beliefs, with the story taking cues from Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”. Every location and character in Apocalipsis was inspired by classical woodcuts by 15th and 16th century artists such as Hans Holbein, Michael Wolgemut, and Albrecht Dürer. This pairing of medieval art and philosophy with video games creates something unique, like you’ve never seen before.”

  • In the age of fake news, here’s how schools are teaching kids to think like fact-checkers” — Annabelle Timsit, Quartz

    “The authors explained that fact-checkers practiced ‘lateral reading,’ meaning that they checked other available resources instead of staying only on the site at hand. That, they concluded, is a practice at odds with available fake-news checklists, which focus on the outward characteristics of a website, like its ‘about’ page or its logo, and don’t encourage students to look for outside sources.

    … the checklists available to teachers often focus on abstract skills like critical thinking, which Wineburg says is not the right way to go. ‘The people who say ‘all we need are critical thinkers,’ I’m sorry, I could […] raise Socrates from the dead and he still wouldn’t know how to choose keywords, and he would know nothing about search engine optimization, and he would not know how to interpret the difference between a ‘.org’ and a ‘.com.’’

    Ultimately, as Petrone writes, 21st-century citizens need more than a checklist—they ‘need a functioning bullshit detector.'”

  • Peeqo – A robot that responds only through videos & GIFS by Abhishek Singh; about an ongoing crowdfunding effort for a DIY RasPi robot kit

    “Meet Peeqo, a delightful little personal robot that responds entirely through GIFs and videos.”

  • Turing Tumble

    “Turing Tumble is a revolutionary new game where players (ages 8 to adult) build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. It’s fun, addicting, and while you’re at it, you discover how computers work.”

Omnium Gatherum: February 10, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 10, 2019

  • Tweet by Patton Oswalt

  • Ursula K. Le Guin Was a Creator of Worlds” — Julie Phillips, Humanities; about the documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin by Arwen Curry [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “… Le Guin chose this ‘despised, marginal’ genre, she once said, for a reason she couldn’t acknowledge to herself at the time: Because it was “excluded from critical, academic, canonical supervision, leaving the artist free.””

  • Sex Robot Cuddle Party by David Raffin

    Raffin Sex Robot Cuddle Party

    “Sex Robot Cuddle Party is presented as a lost novel by the son of the author, a pornographer and a communist. He infuses his creative work with political discourses.

    It tells the story of RainyDay Tranquility, captain of the corporate surveying vessel Queen of Space, as she travels with her crew visiting dead worlds. In the future human touch has been rendered deadly.

    Later, she is transported inside her favorite book, Cuddle Party, which she loves because, in it, two people fall asleep touching.

    Sex Robot Cuddle Party is a comedy of loneliness, desire, and longing; and a tragedy of love requited.

    A loving homage to new wave sci-fi, absurdist theater, and erotica of the early seventies; featuring existentialist philosophy, Atheism, Greek Gods, artificial intelligence, and the miracle of fungi, in which all things are possible dreamt or un-dreamt.”

  • Neuroscientists close in on the brain signature for consciousness” — Rich Maridy, New Atlas

    “The research involved over 150 subjects, who were studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Some subjects scanned were patients in diagnosed vegetative states, while others were healthy individuals. The researchers ultimately discovered four specific neural activity patterns that could distinguish a person’s place on a spectrum from conscious to unconscious.”

  • Fish pass self-awareness test for the first time, raising questions about animal consciousness” — Michael Irving, New Atlas

    “It might not seem like a big deal, but the ability to recognize that the face in the mirror is your own makes us part of a pretty exclusive club in the animal kingdom. Humans obviously can do it (from about 15 months of age), and so can apes, monkeys, dolphins, elephants, and some birds. Now a fish species has passed the mirror test for the first time, which may suggest that the animals are smarter than we give them credit for.

    While these results suggest that fish are self-aware, the team isn’t jumping straight to that conclusion – perhaps they’re using other mental processes to figure it out. The fact that the fish have aced the mirror test is so surprising that the researchers are now questioning the validity of the test itself.”

  • “Immigrant Song” (Live) – The Cybertronic Spree

    “Robot rockstars in disguise, The Cybertronic Spree pay tribute to all time greats, LED ZEPPELIN. Talk about a bunch of bots who like to stay topical am I right?

    The Cybertronic Spree is a band of Transformers who perform classic cartoon, videogame, and anime theme songs at full volume.”