Farcast - An Eclipse Phase Yearblog

140 posts / 0 new
Last post
Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Apologies to Mike Mignola
Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Goodnight Yuri
Joe Joe's picture
Brain bug

Didn't they cap the 7 basic stats at 40? I seem to remember this, but can't find the rule... Otherwise -> Eeeeeeewwwwww :)

-Joe

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Brainbug

Herr Brainbug is a unique biomorph, which means I get to make exceptions to the rule because it's a two-foot cockroach with a giant pulsating brainsac balanced on top.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Content Serving Schedule

Stealing a phrase from Scott Kurtz, sometimes with Farcast I feel that the content is serving the schedule. I ate most of my lead in February and March working on another project, been treading water for a couple of weeks and am just now getting around to rebuilding it. If it feels like I'm pushing a lot for feedback sometimes - well, fuck it, I am. I like to keep the entries tight, interesting, and fresh if possible; I hate to repeat myself (and the same mistakes) or get sloppy and lazy. I don't feel bad if I hit 500-600 words and feel that there's more left to write; I do feel bad that maybe I'm pissing away words on how a GM can use X instead of providing some adventure seeds.

Which is long way to ay that I'm not sure if I'm happy with today's entry, The Faceless or not. I mean, I didn't want to do a Transhuman Slenderman or anything, but I did sort of want the idea of an internet legend that Eclipse Phase players and gamemasters could play around in, the kind of thing that Martian Scouts can tell stories about while baking protein tubes over an open heater while camping out in the dust plains for the weekend.

Joe Joe's picture
Feedback

I'm a 'robot' in that I am very logical and so appreciate the creativity of others, and I want to encourage you so I haven't been negative so far, at least in my mind.

When I look at entries, I most need consistency with the world and the rules set before I can appreciate the content, and thus my previous comment about the bug entry and the whale entry before it.

When I look at this one, I start out interested, wondering where you're going with it, and feel I am left floating without fear or resolution, just an 'um, OK' kind of reaction. I think the problem for me is that there is no feel of immediacy of something otherworldly. We see hoaxes all the time, and what is described is a lot of people playing on others fears through websites or doctored photos. If you'd turned it around in the GM section and said something like "In reality it's this, and do these really nasty things to the characters." instead of providing a bunch of possibilities, I think I'd have been a lot happier because it would have given me a lot more direction and the 'or's' would have become more detail on how to mess with the players.

I guess a second way to approach it is that the thing is laid out as an adventure, but as a firewall agent, I'd take one look at it (the first paragraph), yawn, and ask where the titans are and move on to something else. The GM would then need to introduce more material beyond what is in the first 4 paragraphs that my character can't easily dismiss as "oh, more hoax, stop wasting my time", since my character may be a fighter type instead of an archaeology researcher type.

Given this second assumption: If it were me, I'd have tuned the second paragraph to be more like: "Of course the site is real, but the reality is much more sinister. Since the fall, 3 sites have gone up to further the "hoax". One became corrupted beyond repair within only a couple days. The second was a black hole for infomorphs: It appeared to be a hoax for anyone with a physical morph, but after the first 15 minutes of operation, no infomorph who entered was heard from again, and the site disappeared without a trace after 29 hours of operation. Now a third site has just gone up and has been drawing a lot of interest from thrill seekers, and Firewall wants to know what the hell is going on!" Now you've caught my (out of character, and thus in character) attention, and I have a reason to do the research to find out the material in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs instead of just jumping in blind. This also puts the specifics up front so you could leave the GM portion with a lot of options.

And for me, the key to setting up fear is danger + inconsistency + unknown. Why have there been 3 _different_ sites? Why did only the second of the two sites eat ego's (or did the first one too and no one noticed?), and why only infomorphs? What happened to the first and second sites? I think there's danger, but I don't know in what form, or how to protect myself, or what motivates the dangerous element, and Firewall is shoving me into the middle of it.

Hope my $0.02 is helpful.

-Joe

nick012000 nick012000's picture
Ancient History wrote:A Word

Ancient History wrote:
A Word on Language
When referring to genderless or intersex characters, I've chosen to use the formulation ze/hir/hirs/hirself rather than he/him/his/himself or she/her/hers/herself. Hopefully this won't cause too much confusion.

Just use the masculine or it/it/their/themselves. There's no reason to use tumblrfag PCspeak.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Joe wrote:I'm a 'robot' in

Joe wrote:
I'm a 'robot' in that I am very logical and so appreciate the creativity of others, and I want to encourage you so I haven't been negative so far, at least in my mind.

When I look at entries, I most need consistency with the world and the rules set before I can appreciate the content, and thus my previous comment about the bug entry and the whale entry before it.


No worries Joe, if there's one thing I can handle it's a little negative feedback. Thanks for the great feedback!

Quote:
When I look at this one, I start out interested, wondering where you're going with it, and feel I am left floating without fear or resolution, just an 'um, OK' kind of reaction. I think the problem for me is that there is no feel of immediacy of something otherworldly. We see hoaxes all the time, and what is described is a lot of people playing on others fears through websites or doctored photos. If you'd turned it around in the GM section and said something like "In reality it's this, and do these really nasty things to the characters." instead of providing a bunch of possibilities, I think I'd have been a lot happier because it would have given me a lot more direction and the 'or's' would have become more detail on how to mess with the players.

Ja, it's a problem older than the X Files - how to present something that's the stuff of campfire tales in a way that isn't blatantly silly. I think, in retrospect, I should have gone whole-hog with one of the options instead of keeping everything nebulous and a little boring. Not one of my best.
bibliophile20 bibliophile20's picture
well, I've been following the

well, I've been following the blog since it started, but I've been lax on giving feedback, so I'll have a go, because I want to give incentive to you continuing.

First, the bad:
I have one major complaint regarding the content of Farcast: Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale. By this I mean is that you've been inflating numeric values beyond reasonable expectations, which makes the entries harder for me to use as a GM. I'll give a couple of examples of what I mean.

First, I will cite 082, the Breach, which is a staggering third of a light-year away. That's over three trillion kilometers. To get out that far on plasma rocket engines only capable of 0.01 g acceleration, you'd have to launch nearly ten years earlier and accelerate constantly to get that far out. And since it is specifically "a station" or "an outpost", it's just too impractical a distance at this stage of transhuman expansion. A closer distance of 0.03 light years, while still far, is much more believable.

Another example is most of the NPCs have absurdly high skill ratings, especially for characters that are supposedly self-taught or mildly inept. I'll point out 066, Dewitt Y. as an example. Here we have someone that is explicitly self-taught in intelligence gathering, and he has multiple skills--most of his listed skills, actually--at levels at or exceeding 60, which, by book, is "Expert competence (competitive driver, marksman, PhD)" and some that exceed 70, which is "Experience from expert-level work, has had unique innovations or insights". Looking at his skill listing, this is someone capable of competing with James Bond, not someone that is suggested to be used as an annoyance or comic relief. So, my suggestion for this is simple: when you write up your NPC entries, look at your initial impressions for skill rates and drop them by 10-20. That'll make them more believable and less super-transhuman.

Alright, enough of the bad, time for the good!

The good is, simply, there are alot of really awesome character and setting ideas in here. I love the self-educated spy idea--a cross between the neighborhood busybody and the conspiracy theorist. Ideas that make my life as a GM easier, such as the Solnar, are a boon and help flesh out the setting. The Planet Killer has my players rubbing their hands in glee and shitting their pants in terror, often at the same time. Token started an hour-long debate on the legitimacy of her lifestyle, and got one player trying to purchase her to set her free. There are great and awesome character concepts here, which often inspire my own thoughts and ideas in directions that I know I wouldn't have taken on my own.

I love the variety of exsurgent viruses that have been shown on the blog and at least a couple of types will be making an appearance in my game.

Little ideas that help flesh out the setting, such as the k-flask or $ense are wonderful details for me to be able to throw into a session. Technology gone wrong, such as Shedder or the Eternal Puppy, got me thinking for my own ideas how things might go wrong in my own game; right now, my players are blessing the critical success that the nanotech programmer got on his programming test, because the design of the deconstructor swarm that they were fabbing had been originally modified from a smart acid, and the conversion had been sloppy, which would risk the swarm reverting or going haywire. I wouldn't have thought of that twist without those examples pointing me in that direction.

NPCs such as Innata Jayne, who I already yoinked for my game, and groups like the relicteurs, help point out sociological niches that I would never have considered.

So, to summarize, I love the ideas and the unique directions they point me towards, but I occasionally have issues with the precise details of the implementations, typically because those details feel like they were inflated from a reasonable level that feels both in line with the setting and the stated skill level of the character in question.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
bibliophile20 wrote:well, I

bibliophile20 wrote:
well, I've been following the blog since it started, but I've been lax on giving feedback, so I'll have a go, because I want to give incentive to you continuing.

First, the bad:
I have one major complaint regarding the content of Farcast: Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale. By this I mean is that you've been inflating numeric values beyond reasonable expectations, which makes the entries harder for me to use as a GM. I'll give a couple of examples of what I mean.


Yeaaaah, this is a real fault of mine. I was better at it in the beginning but as time went on I did notice the unsubtle inflation of a few numbers. I will try to watch out for this.

Quote:
The good is, simply, there are alot of really awesome character and setting ideas in here.

Thanks!

Quote:
So, to summarize, I love the ideas and the unique directions they point me towards, but I occasionally have issues with the precise details of the implementations, typically because those details feel like they were inflated from a reasonable level that feels both in line with the setting and the stated skill level of the character in question.

Ja. One of the down sides of working fast. Hopefully as I build my lead back up I'll have time to give entries second-overs before they post and tweak the numbers a bit. On which note, I'm going to try and squeeze out a surprise in a couple weeks. We'll see how it goes.
bibliophile20 bibliophile20's picture
Well, I'd happily give them a

Well, I'd happily give them a look over as an editor before they get published. *innocent look* No, seriously! It's easier to keep up a stream of ideas when you've got a sounding board! :D

All joking aside, though, the offer stands, if you want someone to look them over beforehand.

Beyond that, a surprise? I love surprises! :D

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Communion of Re

An excuse (if any was needed) to go playing on alien suns...

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/06/156-communion-of-re.html

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
The Neptunium Skull

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/06/172-neptunium-skull.html

A bit silly, but I like it. If anybody missed it, don't forget Farcast 151, also available on Scribd and Google Docs.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Apologies for this one

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/06/177-brauchen.html

I feel like I haven't really been hitting it this last week. I'll try to do better.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
183/366

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/182-relativisitc-time-travel.html

Half way through the year. All downhill from here.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Beano Just Wants A Hug

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/185-beano.html

I don't know if this came out quite right, but mwa-ha-ha-ha anyway.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Durian!

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/189-printfruit.html

A bit silly, but I think it worth it for the seed.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Not For Every Game

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/195-forever-virgins.html

Loosely inspired by Mike Resnick's Kirinyaga - which, if you haven't read it, you really should - this is another of those Farcast entries that is a bit more grown-up and maybe not appropriate at every table. But hell, if I can't stretch the boundaries every once and a while, what's the point of this exercise, right?

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Entry 200

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/200-thermal-sword.html

Arbitrary big round number celebration!

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Couldnae resist

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/204-lunar-pimps-hos-ball.html

Not Safe For All Descendents of Bipedal Plains Apes

...

This might apply to the rest of the week too.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Ice cream

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/207-af-ice-cream.html

I couldn't help myself. Anyway, last of the Farcast foodie entries for a while. Promise!

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
I expect a nasty email any day now

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/07/211-corps-wall.html

"Less jarhead, more head-in-a-jar. In a giant mech. Kickin' your ass."

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
It's a NanoSTD! Run! Run!

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/217-gash.html

Not for every game. Just sayin'.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Matrix/Inception/Vanilla Sky/blah blah blah

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/224-earth-beta.html

If Morpheus was an Eingerost, Neo would have had his ass dragged out of Earth Beta kicking and screaming.

kingsley_zissou kingsley_zissou's picture
I've commented on a few posts

I've commented on a few posts, but I have to say I love the blog. It feel in-universe, but still in a unique voice. Can't wait to see it in totality.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Thanks K_Z! I'll try to keep

Thanks K_Z! I'll try to keep it up. More than halfway there.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Ants...and isotopes!

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/229-isotope-ants.html

I identified a distinct deficiency in atomic-powered or radioactive ants in Eclipse Phase. This could not stand.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Sutton Lao

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/232-mercy-wing.html

If I'd decided to only do this four days a week, I'd be past done by now.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
I hope you can keep it up, I

I hope you can keep it up, I really like them :)

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
http://www.farcastblog.com

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/233-eden-ventures.html

Haha "Adam & Leave". What came first, the concept or that phrase?

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
http://www.farcastblog.com

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/229-isotope-ants.html

These remind of when I studied computer science, there was a student made game called "Ant Wars". You'd write a C program for your ants' behavior - each ant had a 16 byte memory and could only sense and communicate over very short distances, and you had to make your swarm perform a coherent strategy with that. Then our swarms would do battle, competing for resources and trying to eliminate each other. It was great fun.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Smokeskin wrote:http://www

Smokeskin wrote:
http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/233-eden-ventures.html

Haha "Adam & Leave". What came first, the concept or that phrase?


More or less simultaneous.
Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Sistemy

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/236-sistemy.html

I don't do straight optional rules that often, but I think this is basically workable.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
8/12

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/08/241-bailey-y-goch.html

Two-thirds done! Home stretch. Might have to start thinking about my next project soon.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Da Crypt

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/09/246-crypt.html

For all your sealed-evil-in-a-can/mysterious warehouse needs.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Economics!

Someone just asked me why other companies don't put out daily content like I do for Farcast (only, y'know, official). I think it boils down to plain economics. As a freelance writer, if Rob or Adam had approached me to do this I would have said "Okay, that's 366 entries with a maximum wordcount of 500 words per entry at a rate of 3 cents per word (pretty bog-standard industry rate)...that'll be $5,490."

That's no small chunk of change. I mean, that's the price of the writing on a good-sized actual sourcebook on something. Granted, by 31 December 2013 I'll have easily achieved the length of a prodigious sourcebook, but it's going to be all sorts of random content. Fair bit of money you'd be wasting on what amounts to a marketing blitz. So I can see why maybe the folks at Wizards of the Coast can get away with it, but not most RPG companies.

Moral of the day: Appreciate the free stuff you are given, for it cost somebody somewhere.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Arbitrary big round number!
Ancient History Ancient History's picture
My guts have more than shit for brains

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/09/256-urvinoids.html

I know this is silly, but I couldn't resist.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Ninja ninja ninja

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/09/262-grandmaster-of-mars.html

Yes, this was a silly attempt to justify "conservation of ninjutsu." I have no regrets.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Valhalla is full of newbs

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/09/267-white-room.html

This took a different turn from my initial plan. That happens.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Man Behind the Curtain

So, my long-suffering laptop has died. Fortunately, I had just backed-up my critical files to a portable hardrive, and after much bitching I've got something...I won't call it a laptop, but it's better than nothing...so we shouldn't see any disruption in service. Hopefully in a couple weeks I can afford to order a proper PC, but until such time I'll do what I can to stay on schedule. I don't see any reason why this should delay doing a full PDF in December, though it might mean a bit more work for me to get it together. So, just FYI, and if there's something weird in the formatting on the entries, give a holler and let me know.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Buffering

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/10/275-poison-kisses.html

Another month down, three more to go. If anyone has a request for something they'd like to see, now's the time!

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
It wasn't supposed to be this way

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/10/280-data-is-not-forever.html

Again, I feel a little bad for doing a concept piece.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
They Can't All Be Winners

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/10/285-mortal-diamonds.html

Heading into the final months, is there anything in particular anyone would like to see in an entry?

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Bad Words

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/10/294-af-slurs.html

Contains some offensive language. Because, y'know, slurs. I could have gone farther with this one, but it's actually difficult to come up with good future-sounding insults.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
No hypercorps were harmed in making this entry

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/10/299-corporate-totem.html

The 300th entry for Farcast is out. I know they haven't always been winners, but I've got at least a few good ones left before the end of the year.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
I think about these things so you don't have to

306 entries on Farcast blog; two months more and I'll be finished. If you've stuck with me this far, thanks. If you haven't read it yet...well, fair warning about tomorrow's: the nice thing about doing something completely unofficial is that I can post whatever the fuck I want. Mwa ha ha ha.

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
You can make your own entry! Just add "ego" to a suffix

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/11/315-egotaph.html

Tvtropes, in its infinite wisdom, has even included a link to Farcast on its "fanwank" page. Immortality is mine!

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Me again

A couple fans asked why I don't do a kickstarter to do a proper pdf with layout and art instead of a crappy export job like Farcast 151. My go-to argument has basically boiled down to: I don't own EP, so I'm not clear on the legality of a KS; and I don't currently have the capability. The latter is a bit of a cop-out I admit, since even when I did have a functioning laptop with Adobe Creative Suite the product I managed to push out (Farcast 151) isn't going to win any awards for technical skill and ability, not to mention aesthetics. I've honestly never put any real effort into learning layout or digital art - my own personal brand of doodling is a flat, spastic maze-like effort that shows I haven't had anything resembling an art class since about second grade - so when it comes to making PDFs I tend to stick to the most basic "I can't fuck this up" minimalist version of things that I can, and even then I know the finished product looks like a warm turd (but at least a quick-loading and legible one). I could ask Rob and Adam for permission to do a KS and get people that actually know what they're doing to turn my drabbles into something resembling a Real Game Product (TM), but t'be honest after all these years we're still more acquaintances than friends and that would feel like serious toe-stepping to me. I mean, I know they don't really follow the blog except when I shoot them the occasional update, but then they're busy with actual projects that make them money and leave them spiritually fulfilled, while this is a self-imposed challenge/hobby for me to help take me away from my tedious grinding chained-to-a-cubicle dayjob daymare while waiting desperately to hear back from the publisher to see if they'll accept my manuscript.

That said, if anyone else wants to do a project involving making Farcast pretty (or just borrowing entries for their own projects), knock yourselves out. It's free!

Ancient History Ancient History's picture
Flava

http://www.farcastblog.com/2013/11/322-soulless.html

Another flavor post. Thanks for reading!

Pages