Gaming Resources: Lost Cosmonauts

Ah, Fortean Times, what would we do without you?

Both Warren Ellis and Ken Hite have referenced the work of Charles Fort frequently. There's wacky stuff all over the Fortean Times website and almost all of it is excellent for gaming purposes.

For example, check out this article about a couple of Italian amateur radio operators who claimed to have recorded telemetry from Soviet and American spacecraft in the 50s and 60s. The trick with using stories like this for games is to turn off your critical faculties and ask, "What if it's true?". What would that mean? A secret Soviet space program has all sorts of possibilities.

Here's the money quote:
There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going.

What if the cosmonaut is in suspended animation, waiting to wake up when a specific trigger is hit?

What if there's no cosmonaut at all? Maybe there's a payload of a different kind designed to deliver something to an extrasolar address. Maybe someone needs to send a message.

Maybe there's something so horrible and so indestructible that it had to be sent off-planet with extreme prejudice. Maybe there are more of them still here. Or maybe that was just the first one and others are on the way.

Or maybe, just to drop back to something slightly more mundane, the Soviets really did screw up and there's a corpse floating away from our star system. Is he the only one? Were there other, more successful launches from the USSR or any other country? Is there a vast city on the dark side of the moon? Is there a man-made structure orbiting the sun that we can't see because it's always on the other side?

OK, that became less mundane but you can see how far these ideas can be taken. If X is true, that leads to Y and Z. The weirdness level of your game depends on how far you want to go. Double-R, perhaps?

Have fun!


Gaming Resources: The Blood-Brain Barrier

This is the first in a series of posts featuring stuff from the real world (for varying values of "real") that you can use in your games either as a player or a GM.

Mindhacks has a link to an article discussing various ways to get past the brain-blood barrier.

Not only is the brain-blood barrier a cool phrase, it's also the way things get from the bloodstream to your brain. The methods listed (such as implantable devices) are very cyberpunk but they could be used in any setting that has a reason to put something into someone's brain for good or ill.

Take it a step past drugs and you could implant memories, emotions, or even erase them with these methods.


Hypericon Gaming Schedule

The Hyperion 2009 game schedule has been posted. We've also added some new guests.

Hypericon 5! June 5 - 7. Nashville, TN.


The Good Citizen

Here's another one that sprang fully-formed into my head. I don't think I'm going to be able to do anything more with it as a piece of fiction but I thought it would make a good RPG seed. Let me know what you think.

Marco moved quickly but calmly through the intersection of Victory and Absolute. He picked up a latté at the corner kiosk and sipped it as he nodded to those he passed. He knew more people than he didn't in this part of town. Some of them wished him luck. Others just touched their forheads briefly. He was warmed by such an outpouring of emotion. Thus, he was smiling as he opened the doors to Magnum, Inc.

After a brief wait, which Marco took as a good sign, he was called into the office of Altus Magnum himself. The spartan furnishings and modest size of the room were diametrically opposed to the image of the office Marco figured the Great Man should have. Altus moved forward in a kind of gliding motion and extended a hand towards Marco who shook it firmly.

"Sit down," said Altus heading for a seat in front of the desk.

Marco sat in the not-too-hard-not-too-comfortable chair and took a deep, cleansing breath to calm himself.

Altus smiled as he took his own seat, "Academy training."

Marco nodded, "Yes, sir. That's why I'm here."

Altus' smile continued, "Indeed." He relaxed his broad shoulders and ran a hand casually through his thick, black hair. "Your instructors speak very highly of your skills and of your potential."

Marco cleared his throat. 'Potential' was instructor-speak for 'lousy grades but excellent ratings'. Marco opened his mouth to explain some of the specifics of his first couple of semesters but Altus raised a hand to cut him off.

"No one cares about your academic performance, son. We're more interested in your extracurricular activities."

Marco's brows raised but he remained silent.

"How much do you know about the Scouts?" Altus asked.

"Next to nothing," Marco answered.

Altus nodded, "Good. First off, the Scouts are exempt from the Laws." Altus paused while that sank in then continued, "They are also rewarded for their service by a complete expunging of all former offenses against the Public Good."

Marco, despite his training, leaned forward, eyes wide.

"The City is planning a breakthrough and the Council has narrowed the coordinates down to four candidates. You will slip through to each of these and file a report from which will come our final decision."

"But, no one can slip that often," Marco said. "They'd die."

"The Scouts are exempt from a lot of things, son," Magnum replied. "Do you think you're up for this?"

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Jasper's Beast

This could be the beginning of a Horror RPG campaign or the start of a short story. Or both.

Jasper drove his truck like there was no tomorrow because, for him, there might not be. The great beast had been chasing him for miles down Old Mill Road. Jasper checked his rearview mirror and saw that the enormous dust cloud was still behind him. He floored his old Chevy around a hairpin turn and his head hit the roof of the cab as the vehicle lurched up onto the asphalt of Highway 42. He roared past one of the shiny, new Sheriff's cruisers. Might be Kelly or Tim, the new deputy, Jasper thought to himself. The blue lights came on and the cruiser kicked up its own cloud of dust as it spun wheels onto the highway.

"That's it," Jasper said breathlessly. "See that damn thing that's trying to kill me. Report back to Sheriff Mason."

The siren wailed behind Jasper. He risked a glance into the mirror again to see the enormous beast emerge onto the highway. The cruiser increased its speed even more but was quickly overtaken by the creature. It crushed the trunk of the car in its massive jaws and shook it like a dog with a rag. The siren wailed some more and then was abruptly silenced as the hood of the car smashed into a large tree.

Jasper surged forward, pushing his old truck to its limits but he had gained enough distance from the deputy's sacrifice to lose the animal and head into town.

He made it to the Sherrif's office and shouted for help.

"What's up, Jasper," said Jared Mason, looking concerned and wary at the same time. Jasper was known as a kook.

"I ran into a creature in the woods out past the Mikelson place," said Jasper, wild eyed. "It chased me clear out to the highway. Would'a had me, too if..." he paused then continued more quietly and reverently, "If one of your men hadn't distracted it."

The Sheriff's eyes widened and he grabbed the handset for the radio, "Deputy Carter, this is HQ. Come in. Carter, this is Mason, come on. Damn it, Kelly." He looked to the desk behind him and said, "Tim get out there and check it out."

Mason locked eyes with Jasper who looked to the young deputy and said, "42, about a half mile this side of Old Mill."

Tim nodded and nervously strode out to the street toward his cruiser.

The Sheriff's eyes hadn't left Jasper. He said, "All right, McCrae, you and I both know that you didn't run across any creature in the woods. Your family has been giving us stories like that since before my Pa was born."

Jasper opened his mouth to protest but the Sheriff cut him off, "You didn't run across it. You summoned it. Now sit down and tell me what we're up against."

Jasper's shoulders slumped in resignation and he pulled up a wooden chair.

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Weird War II or Beatniks In Space

I've decided to use Asymptotic Essence for game ideas as well as for fiction. All game information on this site will be under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license and will be marked as such.

--My first game seed is below --

Here's something I ran across in UFOs, JFK, and Elvis by Richard Belzer (he got it from a book called Alien Agenda by Jim Marrs) which screamed "make a game out of me!":

Ernst Kammler was highly placed in the Waffen-SS and was responsible for spiriting the Nazi's top-secret rocket programs (with scientists and V-2s and all) to a safe haven near Munich in Bavaria. He told the scientists at that time that his plan was to give himself up to the Americans and to offer them the scientists and the rockets in exchange for his life.

Kammler disappeared shortly after telling this to the scientists and was never heard from again. Of course, as we now know and as history records, when the Allies piled into Bavaria they captured Werner von Braun and the V-2 rockets and all that technology. So...what technology did Kammler know about that allowed him to bond with the Allies? What plans did he take off with? Were they pulled from German ingenuity or from a wrecked alien craft?

At the end of the war, Allied soldiers found plans for "flying disks" utilizing various propulsion systems in Germany.

The Game Idea

Lets say the flying disk was built and that it was based in part on alien technology.

Two interesting RPG scenarios could come from this:

1. The flying disk went into production before the end of the war.
2. The flying disk went into production after von Braun and the others went to America.

Scenario #1: would start with the Nazis gaining air superiority with their new flying saucer (or saucers). It could feature an intrepid group of Allied commandos who break into Nazi Air Command in order to either steal the plans for the craft or to sabotage it right there. This could be run as a straightforward mission behind enemy lines or there could be complications.

I always like complications.

For example, the Nazis might have salvaged all kinds of technology from that crashed ship. Maybe they have ray guns or automated defense drones or force field generators. They haven't figured out how all of it works, yet, but they are more than willing to use it to protect their new toys.

Add your favorite conspiracies to the mix and go for it!

Scenario #2:

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This scenario would begin shortly after a Golden Age in American science and prosperity had been ushered in. The advances from the use of alien technology along with the societal changes from the end of the war have made the 1950s look like those versions of the future that were prevalent in the '50s. Flying cars, personal jetpacks, food pills, the works.

But now the aliens have come back to retrieve their stuff. And they're not happy. This would be a much campier setting than that of Scenario #1. You'd have Wild Bunch-style bikers teaming up with straightlaced, pipe-smoking scientists to repel the alien invasion. See Tim Burton's Mars Attacks for some inspiration on this one.

Scenario #2a: Alternatively, the aliens could show up with promises of brotherhood and peace and actually mean it! A few humans would be selected to go into outer space with the aliens and go on wild adventures while acting as ambassadors for Earth. All with a cool, fifties-that-never-was attitude and a hip soundtrack.

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I...used to do, well, a lot of drugs.


I was messed up, man. I mean I couldn't get enough. I was insatiable. Constantly unsatisfied. Always looking for my next fix. Eventually it got to the point where the drugs weren't even getting me high anymore. They were just sustaining me.

I was happy.

But then I fell in with a new group of friends. They were...clean. I mean you couldn't tell it to look at them. They listened to slow, meaningless music. They wore second-hand clothes and said things that sounded really deep at first but once you had heard it for the seventeeth time you realized that they were pretty lame. So, I figured they were fucked up all the time.

Man, they sure had me fooled. Take it from me: Listening to Phish does not a stoner make.

So, I started not doing drugs just to, you know, fit in. I figured I could start anytime I wanted to. But abstaining socially became a habit before I knew it. I was not doing drugs more and more.

My other friends started to notice. At first it was the little things that just made them think I was on speed or coke or something. I had this alert expression all the time and I kept showing up when I said I would. I remembered important stuff like where I worked and how to drive on the right side of the road.

Let me give you some advice: Driving when you're straight is just like driving when you're fucked up, only you do it really well.

After a while, though, I wasn't able to hide my not doing drugs. I was in total denial but everyone else could see it. I started eating regularly and everyone noticed when I stopped "borrowing" money. And the non-drug paraphenalia around my place was a dead giveaway. You know, Billy Joel albums and baseball posters.

Finally my real friends decided enough was enough and they staged an intervention. I was totally blindsided.

Well, I would have been but only two of them showed up. And Larry was asleep the whole time.

Nonetheless, it really shook me up that my friends cared enough about me to intend to berate me into unstraightening up.

It's been a hard road, you know. I'm taking it one day at a time. The urge to lay off the heroin is strong. It's even harder to go back to the freebasing. I mean, that other crowd really messed up my thinking. I can hardly summon the self-loathing and depressed states necessary to lose an entire week to a series of hard drug use punctuated by unconsciousness and walking blackouts.

But, like I said, I'm taking it one day at a time. The first step is to deny that you have a problem.

Hi, my name is Allen...

And I'm not a drug addict.

(holds up coin)

Fucked up for 3 days so far.

I couldn't have done it without my support mechanism.