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.”

Omnium Gatherum: February 5, 2019

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

  • Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs” — Linda Kinstler, WIRED

    “Every morning, Lena Forsen wakes up beneath a brass-trimmed wooden mantel clock dedicated to “The First Lady of the Internet.”

    It was presented to her more than two decades ago by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, in recognition of the pivotal—and altogether unexpected—role she played in shaping the digital world as we know it.”

  • Tweet by Dick King-Smith HQ

  • Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA” — Andy Greenberg, WIRED [HT Geoff Manaugh]

    “… a group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it’s possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer.”

  • Secrets of Silent Streets by Monte Cook; due in February, is, afaik, the first component for Invisible Sun that’s available for purchase separately as a digital download, and not even the game itself is available separately from the premium Black Cube [also]; also due in print in March

    Cook Invisible Sun Secrets of Silent Streets

    “Secrets of Silent Streets is a guide to this vast, rich, and unique city—the epicenter of the orders of magic and, to many, the very center of the Actuality. Visit the Great Observatory of Zuin, where mystical astronomers equate the movement of the stars with the ebbs and flows of magic. Meet the Phalanx of Liquid Granite, who have turned absurdity magic into a martial art. Enter the Citrine Court, a secret conclave of vislae devoted to transforming themselves—physically and metaphorically—into famous novels from Shadow.

    These are just a few of the experiences you’ll discover as you travel the seventeen districts of Satyrine and beyond, each detailed through dozens of points of interest and illuminated through its own unique atmosphere, social expectations, and traditions. Along the way you’ll find scores of plot hooks, NPCs, creatures—and of course plenty of magic.”

    “Like any metropolis in any realm, Satyrine isn’t one city but many. Fartown, the Marquis Quarter, the Strangeglass District, the Hollows, and the vast abandoned stretches—all offer different experiences and moods as well as unique landmarks, resources, denizens, and dangers. Secrets of Silent Streets is a guide to this vast, rich, and unique city—the epicenter of the Orders of Magic and the very center of the Actuality. Travel the seventeen districts of Satyrine, each detailed through dozens of points of interest and illuminated through its own unique atmosphere, social expectations, and traditions. And along the way find scores of plot hooks, NPCs, creatures, and of course loads of magic.”

  • Humble RPG Book Bundle Numenera by Monte Cook Games is in its last day, and includes, even at the $1 tier, both of the very recently crowdfunded Discovery and Destiny core books, and lots more. Honestly, I know I probably won’t ever play Numenera, but it was tempting enough to grab these to add to what I already have. I came for the Discovery and Destiny core books, and stayed for Shanna Germain’s Love and Sex in the Ninth World

    Monte Cook Humble Bundle Numenera

    “You’re invited to the world of Numenera, a tabletop roleplaying game of exploration and discovery set a billion years in the future. The game is easy to learn and fun to play with this bundle of digital corebooks, adventures, bestiaries, maps, guides, and more. The Ninth World awaits you!”

  • Sunless Skies [also] by Failbetter Games has released

    “SAIL THE STARS. BETRAY YOUR QUEEN. MURDER A SUN. Sunless Skies is a Gothic Horror roleplay game with a focus on exploration and exquisite storytelling for PC, Mac and Linux.”

    Failbetter Games Sunless Skies

Character progression isn’t fun

You may be playing the wrong game, at the wrong table, with the wrong group if …

You gain enough experience to level up your character, but when you look at all the cool and interesting new character and narrative driven things you could do now, you realize that none if it will ever happen in your game because everything that happens in the roleplaying game at your table is tactical wargaming. So, you give up and decide to minmax, as that’s all that matters.

Last 48 hours to back Matthew Lowe’s Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground

Already fully funded, but in the final 48 hours, stand-alone sequel to Labyrinth of Souls, Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is something of interest.

Lowes Vandel Dungeon Solitaire Devil's Playground-48-hours

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is a new stand-alone Dungeon Solitaire game that can also be used as an expansion deck for the Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls tarot card game. The game is once again designed and written by Matthew Lowes and illustrated by artist Josephe Vandel. Delve into the deepest corner of the darkest dungeon with the Devil’s Playground stand-alone game, or use the Devil’s Playground cards and rulebook to expand your Labyrinth of Souls games in a variety of ways. You will experience new challenges and unexpected surprises with every delve.

Starmancer

I’ve been watching tweets about Starmancer for a while now, and it has always looked really awesome and interesting. But just now, today, the crowdfunding campaign has started.

You are a Starmancer, a human who has irreversibly fused their brain and body into a machine.

You play these games for the stories that you can tell about your station. We want to place you in a living world that feels tangible and gives your station purpose, without restricting your freedom of choice.

We also designed Starmancer around the idea of consequences, “cause and effect”. When something bad happens, it should be because you failed to prevent it. It’s not fun when a random dice roll causes your colony to fail. You should be able to learn from your mistakes.

Paint the Future

New trailer for Chevy Ray’s Ikenfell featuring the track Paint the Future. Also, apparently, I’ve been mispronouncing this game title? Oops.

With a brand new song by Aivi Tran & Surasshu!
Vocals & lyrics by Sammus!

In this turn-based RPG with a tactical twist, you’ll explore a vast magic school full of colorful characters, monsters, puzzles, and mysteries!

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is a new crowdfunding effort for a “dungeon-delving adventure game with custom illustrated cards.” It’s by Matthew Lowes with illustrations by Josephe Vandel, and is a follow-up to the tarot-like card game Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls.

A new Dungeon Solitaire game,
Where your soul is the devil’s playground …

Dungeon Solitaire is a narrative fantasy card game. With each turn you defeat monsters, disarm traps, and open doors as you delve the depths of a dark dungeon. The original game, Tomb of Four Kings, used a standard deck of playing cards, and is still available free on my website. The followup tarot game, Labyrinth of Souls, was launched with a hugely successful Kickstarter. That game has gone on to win even more fans and has inspired a series of stand-alone novels published by ShadowSpinners Press. Now we’re launching a new Dungeon Solitaire game called Devil’s Playground!

Dungeon Solitaire: Devil’s Playground is a new stand-alone Dungeon Solitaire game that can also be used as an expansion deck for the Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls tarot card game. The game is once again designed and written by Matthew Lowes and illustrated by artist Josephe Vandel. Delve into the deepest corner of the darkest dungeon with the Devil’s Playground stand-alone game, or use the Devil’s Playground cards and rulebook to expand your Labyrinth of Souls games in a variety of ways. You will experience new challenges and unexpected surprises with every delve.