Tuesday, 28 April 2015

#OVERRIDE: Wetware Part IV - A Short Story

The Southern Express pulled into it's docking port with ease and it's passengers began to disembark. One by one they left the carriages and took in the sights of The Block's docks. Each port was roughly two hundred feet square and was lined with all manner of cables, wires and tubes running electricity, water and recycled air to the various trains in the many dock ports.

Among these passengers was Akio who kept his eyes to the floor and his head low as he disembarked the train an headed towards to port's collection point. Keying his unique code given to him by his supplier, Akio clenched his fists in anticipation. Within the collection point there was a whir of motors and movement, and after what felt like far too long a time the point opened revealing a very familiar box.

Akio quickly lifted the box out of the collection point and wasted no time in ripping through the box revealing his heavily anticipated Eagle Deck. In Akio's hands it felt exactly as it had in the 'Mantiverse. The simulated equivalent was a spot on replica of the real thing, and Akio felt his fingers getting itchy as they twitched with excitement over this new equipment. Without even moving from his spot in front of the collection point, Akio plugged in a series of cables into the Eagle and then connected those cables directly into his patch. In that instant there was a shock of energy through his spine and he felt the feeling of falling.

Akio looked down at himself and saw that he was indeed falling. The air was forcing itself against him and far below he could see the hard concrete rushing up to meet him. It was with a sudden realisation however that Akio noticed his own body. Gone was his tattered clothes that he had worn for three weeks solid, replaced instead by a skin-tight black faux-leather bodysuit embossed on it's chest with an emblem of an eagle with it's wings spread wide. His Eagle Deck had disappeared and the ground that was quickly nearing with every moment was not Honos but the streets of 'Mantic Space that he was so familiar with. He was back in the 'Mantiverse but he was no longer himself, here and now, connected via his Eagle Akio was gone, he was Jinn, the wish maker, the Deck Jockey. The whole digital world was at his finger tips, and he reached out to touch it.

With a thud he was back in the Block Docking Bay, he was sat hunched in front of the Collection Point and was staring down at his Eagle, his fingers instinctively moving over they keys and tapping out commands. Akio looks around him, there was something different about the world. He was still jacked into his Eagle, and the Deck was feeding information to his patch over the top of what he could see with his organic eyes. If someone had asked to explain what he saw it would have been impossible. He saw the Collection Point before him, but it was overlaid with 'Mantic information. He was not seeing the 'Mantiverse, instead it was what could only be described as a 'Mantic Overlay. He looked over the Collection Point, something that only minutes before had been a flat box with a keypad and opening cabinet. Now it was plastered with information and notifications. In a matter of milliseconds Akio knew exactly the power requirements of the Collection Point, exactly how many items the Point held, and with a gasp he realised that the Eagle was even feeding him information on how to hack this device and take the secured items for himself.

Reaching out, Akio began to touch the Collection Point and a warning flashed before him. Carefully Akio reached down to his deck and flipped a switch. In an instant he was back in the 'Mantiverse, his dirty clothes once again gone and replaced with his eagle jumpsuit. Looking around he could see he was in a digital representation of the Block's Port and stood in front of him was a digital representation of the Collection Point. It looked almost the same as before, but the digi-labels his deck had provided him him now appeared almost tangible. He reached out with a black gloved hand and touched one of the digi-labels. Lights pulsed down his arm and onto the contact point before spreading across the Collection Point and slowly the Point began to move. It split and twisted, looking more like a Rubic's Cube than the large machine it has previously been. Jinn-Akio reached out again and began to manipulate the cubes as the span and floated. He rearranged them into a new configuration, all the while being guided by prompts provided via his deck that floated in the air telling him exactly what to do. After what felt like a minute of pure digital bliss, the cubes realigned and started to flash a bright vivid green. Prompted by the deck once more Jinn-Akio reached across his chest and slammed his hand down hard on his eagle emblem returning him to the physical world.

Once again Akio's bodysuit was gone and replaced by his usual torn baggy clothes. In front of him, no more than maybe a foot or two was the Collection Point, it's dispatch hatch wide open as it began to cycle through all of it's cargo allowing almost anyone to just reach in and grab. At first Akio saw a credit box, then a hand gun, a collection of digi pads and finally a child's cuddly toy. Akio grabbed the guns and digi pads, allowing the Collection Point to finish it's cycle and lock itself again. He figured that whoever was waiting for the credit box almost certainly needed it, and he wasn't about to steal from a little kid. The guns and digi pads however were fair game.

"You must be Jinn"

The voice came from behind and startled Akio. It had the melodic harmony of a Hydan, but sounded like it had smoked sixty smokes a day for the past twenty years. Akio turned.

Standing uncomfortably close to Akio was what appeared to be a male Hydan. He stood at just under six feet tall in a dark red long leather coat and thick brown trousers. Under the coat, Akio could see the top half of a Hydan armoured suit, it was skintight and covered in their patented flexi-pads, capable of stopping most small arms fire and stray automatic bullets as well. The Hydan's face was largely uncovered except for a pair of wrap around shaded-glasses which covered the alien's large eyes. The top of his head was also uncovered revealing his large bone-like scalp which appeared at a glance to have symbols carved into it; something Akio had never seen before but had heard was common place amount the religious members and those belonging to gangs.

Akio's vision lingered on the carved bone scalp and in doing so his Eagle deck began to feed translations directly into Akio's vision. He saw the symbol for loyalty, and spiritual wealth, under that was the symbol for revenge and discipline.

"You know it's rude to stare?"

The Hydan sounded like it's words tasted bitter.

"Sorry" replied Akio and bowed his head in respect, the traditional greeting amount Hydan.

"Lift your head Ape-Boy!" Barked the Hydan "I already know who you are, now come with me".

The Hydan turned away and as if in unison Akio felt a twinge of pain in his neck. Reaching to the afflicted site he felt a thick derm-patch and a numbing sensation as the derm-patch began to inject it's paralysing contents directly into his blood stream. Akio staggered and reached out for something to steady himself with. His visual interface, the organic stimuli crossed with the Deck-Feed was going crazy as information began to cross and blur.

With a pang of white hot agony Akio fell to the floor, his knee caps striking the solid metal floor. Through the blurring vision Akio saw the Hydan stand over him.

"You ape-boys are all the same" the Hydan spat "maybe a few hours with the boss will teach you some manners".

The last thing Akio remembered was a large military boot heading straight towards his face and then nothing but black.

Outside of the memory birds Angel sat mere inches from Akio's face. Akio was still tied to the same hard metal chair in the steel encased room.

"So that's how you get involved with the Block's crime syndicate eh?" Asked Angel "who were they? The Holy Fist? The Burning Dove?"

With white eyes Akio stared through Angel and slowly muttered a single word "Trydan".

Angel stumbled back only barely keeping his balance.

"Impossible!" The interrogator shouted "no Human has ever dealt with the Trydan! None!"

The white eyes of Akio continued to focus past Angel as a thick string of saliva dropped from his drugged mouth. Eventually the doped Akio smiled and managed to utter two more words.

"I did..."

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Week Off - General Update

Greetings friends!

I'm going to take a short break from the Wetware story to give you all a general update on how things are at Chez Loxley.

So Monday saw me and my wonderful wife taking our annual 3 day break to London. This is pretty much the highlight of my year and something we both look forward to pretty much all year round.

Monday evening took us on our usual trip to the cinema. In years gone by we have seen a couple of films, first being the Evil Dead remake where at about 3/4 through I had to vacate the cinema and get some air. The film was not too gross out or scary, but it piled the tension & stress on and just never let up, and I knew that if I didn't get out of there then and there I was going to pop. The second year we saw Amazing Spiderman 2 which the wife and I loved, but no one else seemed to.

This year was a more serious film; Child-44 which consisted of a stellar performance from Tom Hardy. It had pretty much everything in it; humour, sadness, tension & action. But because it's a serious film and not the popcorn crap the public apparently love, I'm sure it'll bomb.

Day 2 comprised of a shopping trip into Camden. This is something I know the wife really looks forward to and I normally go along for the ride and be supportive. This year however I found a little games shop nestled out of the way in Camden Market called Village Games.

This was a lovely little place with walls packed to bursting with all manner of card game and board game despite the place itself only being just big enough for the sales table and about enough space for 2 customers to stand in front of it.
- I hope to write another little write up of this place in the near future, as I really cannot stress how great this shop was!

Following on from our shopping trip was our annual visit to Gilgamesh Restaurant & Bar. Surely I have written about this place before? It sells pan-Asian cuisine for a reasonable price considering it has such wonderful chefs onboard making it a regular venue featured on Master-Chef.

Everything was as we could have hoped and more this year, with a private booth usually reserved for parties of 4 or more, a personalised message & fireworks on the dessert and even free champaign (all because I mentioned in the booking that it was our 8th Anniversary).

Following on from this was the trip home complete with freshly squeezed orange juice from the market.

Roll on the rest of the week!

Thursday saw the latest test game of Override with me playing the new Trydan gang and Tom playing our revised Raiders.

This was a super fun game, with the Trydan being a very tricksy and subtle gang, and the Raiders being similar but in a drastically different way.

As per usual I failed to use my own gang to it's true potential, but that has nothing to do with the game or its subtlety and everything to do with me being a ham-fisted gamer. If you give me a scalpel, I'm going to use it as a hammer and then wonder why it snaps and stabs me in the eye.

Friday was a pretty uneventful day, mainly house work.

Saturday however was this year's Salute Wargaming Convention held at the London Excel centre.

Some of you may be surprised to read that I attended this year after last year annoyed me so much. Now, I have asked people and there is a general consensus that last year sucked balls. There was nothing new, no real new hotness and was following on from a series of years that did have lots of things to get excited about. With this in mind the problem with last year was very much the disparity (for me) between expectation and reality.

This year was different. I went out with a simple expectation: I was going to pick up some new Infinity Morats to use as Red Claw proxies in #Override. I was also going to look at the different ranges of terrain available for scifi games, ranging from the plasticard and mdf Infinity terrain, to the plastic Deadzone stuff.

The new Plasticard stuff for Infinity looks great, it is prepainted and modular, but it comes at a price premium as a result.

The older mdf stuff is also great, but again has a large ish price attached to it. This is largely due to the supplier and the Designed for Infinity stamp which appears to drive up the price notably. But as with everything else, often you are paying more for the branding than you are the product itself.

Then I saw Deadzone. This stuff looks good. It's non-descript and a lot more modular than the other stuff allowing for a greater variety of shapes and frames. It also comes with a price tag attached to it, with the starter set which if you build it as per the serving suggestion on the cover allows for a guard gate, a tower, a large room and a small room. This comes in at about £25. Cheaper than the alternatives for sure.

Then I stopped off at the Troll Trader stall where my mouth dropped. They were selling the Deadzone starter box complete with Nexus Psi campaign book for a total of £30. That's the previously mentioned terrain, plus premium grade 2x2 playmat, rule books and miniatures for only £5 more than the terrain by itself. It was a no-brained sell for me.

The remains of Saturday consisted of me building all of that, which I would be lying if I said it was easy. I'm intending to pick up another set of terrain & some more connector clips and will write a post covering my experiences with them as I try and build some more terrain pieces and then you'll be able to see for yourself how difficult an 'easy to assemble' kit really can be, and boy is it infuriating as you are trying to attach two walls via a connector only to have the connector snap in your hands.

Sunday was wind down as I prepare to return to work on Monday aka today!

So yeah; lots happening with every part of that week capable of being it's own blog post. With hope I'll be writing more of Wetware for you all soon - after all tomorrow I have a dentist appointment and an inevitable wait while there; perfect writing time!

Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 20 April 2015

#OVERRIDE: Wetware Part III - A Short Story

Angel smiled as he made notes on his digi-pad, before taking soft strides around the steel room. This was working perfectly. Everything had been laid out and it was all falling into place. In mere moments the infamous Ghost known as Jinn would be revealing all the dirty little secrets that his employer desired. Careful not to damage, knock or even touch the drip feed into Akio, Angel leant down towards his subject’s ear once more.

“Yes, she died didn't she” Angel smiled to himself “but what happened then? What brought you to the Ghosts?”

Inside the dreamscape the memory birds were back again. The world melted away and Akio’s thoughts sped before him once more. He saw how months turned into years as he sought out his new drug of choice, his new high. He was a Technomancer now and he belonged inside the Mantiverse, Mantic Space, the great digital plain.

Akio’s funds were drastically dwindling and although his skills as a hacker, a wet worker, a deck jockey, whatever they called themselves that week, desire these skills improving he was struggling to survive on what little data he could steal and then fence to an appropriate buyer, what with the imposing living tax he was required to pay while living in New Brasilia. So Akio made up his mind and decided to do what everyone else did when they couldn't afford to live in New Brasilia and took the Southern Express down to The Block.

The Southern Express was a high speed monorail that connected New Brasilia directly with The Block. The entire journey took only two days and for those interested they would be treated to such sights as the Midland Lowlights, and the Badland dust storms, sights that most people would never see with their own naked eyes due to the harsh storms and radiation swirls that flooded those regions at almost random intervals. But it was not the sights of Honos that interested Akio on this day. Instead he was wired directly into the Southern Express’ Digi-Port, jacked straight into the ‘Mantiverse and lavishing every moment of it.

The ‘Mantiverse was not so much a physical place as such, but a digital dimension that existed alongside our own physical world and across the numerous other worlds comprising the Outer Fringe. The ports from which you connected into it were real alright, and inside the ‘Mantiverse those shon like giant pillars of pure light. Everything in between however, that did not exist in the physical form. Instead it consisted of data; pure, raw, digital data. That said, it did have a footprint of it’s own. When the first user connected into the ‘Mantiverse, their own consciousness, the stream of electronic signals initiated by their brain connected with the digital environment. It moulded it to how it expected the digital landscape to appear, and when the next person connected, their consciousness joined with it as well. Every time someone joined with the ‘Mantiverse, regardless of age, gender or even species, their own consciousness merged with the place and effected it’s appearance. After a while this began to stabilise as images of the ‘Mantiverse was publicised for all to see, so the new users jacked in expecting it to look as it did and for generations it remained that way. That was until Humans arrived on Honos.

Up until that point the only users of the ‘Mantiverse had been Hydan and Kratel, with a small smattering of less involved races. When the first Humans arrived and began to jack in they brought with them their own consciousness and expectations, for it was important to remember that the ‘Mantiverse looked the way it did, not because it was, but because those who used it expected it to be.

The first Human users were a group of hackers, possibly the most famous of all Human hackers; The Ghosts. They had been raised on media and entertainment from their predecessor’s youth and they knew how they expected the ‘Mantiverse to be and as expected, so it was. The data highways were dirt filled streets, the lights; strips of neon and the social hubs as pole dancing bars. It was as if the Human films; Blade Runner and Tron had bred and the ‘Mantiverse was their offspring. It was so very, 1980s.

To the Hydan who had established themselves as the unofficial presidents of the ‘Mantiverse, Humans were a plague that corrupted their pure land and needed to be purged, but it was too late for that. The Humans had already joined and their consciousness was already one with Mantic Space. And so the Great Divide was established. It was agreed well in advance, that at a certain time, at a certain place, an immense wall would be constructed dividing the ‘Mantiverse in two. On one side would be the original Hydan controlled side, while on the other would be the Human space. Both sides would become what their users desired, and as planned at the exact time and space the Great Divide appeared, not because it was built nor because it was actually there, but because the users jacked into ‘Mantic Space expected it to be there.

It was the Human side of the Divide that Akio currently walked. He didn't fly, or super speed or super-jump, because everyone expected travel within ‘Mantic Space to be like travel outside. Akio had heard of those who could do these things, of certain Ghosts who had spent long enough within ‘Mantic Space that the rules didn't fully apply to them. He had never met any but he knew that they existed because it was believed, and in Mantic Space, what you believed; was.

Currently Akio was walking at a leisurely pace down Akira Avenue, a three thousand mile road filled with shops and boutiques that catered to every type of Anime taste. Some had blacked out windows offering within your own life sized digital mannequin to play with however you liked. Others were garishly lit with random assortments of strange animals and some message stamped on the windows about ‘gathering all of them’ or something to that effect. Akio wasn't interested in Anime, what he was interested in was his broker who used shop number 864 as a place of business.

864 was just another anime shop, no different to the others on Akira Avenue. The front window was filled with cardboard cutouts of teenage schoolgirls all with impossibly large eyes and even larger breasts. Inside was row upon row of shelving racks that sold everything you could ask for, as long as you were asking for Japanese animation and behind those racks was the till area controlled by it’s own AI construct in the form of a girl who looked not too dissimilar to the cardboard cutouts. Akio approached the counter.

“Hey Asami!” Akio called to the construct who fluidly turned towards him while resting on the counter, her folded arms pushing her enlarged chest out as far as it could go “Is Tangle in?”

“Not yet sweetie” replied the AI construct, but I can buzz him if you’d like?”

“Thanks Asami, ok if I go up?”

“Sure thing cutie! Just come see me after, right?”

Akio smiled, he knew that Asami was nothing more than a digital presentation of consciousness, she wasn't even a user, but he liked the attention all the same. Following Asami’s lead, Akio stepped past the barrier blocking off the first floor and climbed the set of stairs to his broker’s office. The door was unlocked as always and Akio took a step inside before sitting down on the cream leather sofa nestled against a wall in the waiting room.

The room itself was white with cream furniture. It looked like what Akio remembered of New Brasilia’s dentist waiting rooms. The thought made him uncomfortable and he wondered if that was intended. After a short pause Tangle, his broker opened a door and stuck his head out.

“Ah! Akio!” Tangle called out welcomingly. The man was short and wore a dark grey suit with slicked back dark hair and a pencil thin moustache “I've got your order ready and waiting in the back!”

Akio nodded and quickly strode past Tangle and into the adjacent room where to his delight on top of a small plastiglass table was a three foot by one foot cardboard box. Without hesitation Akio began to pull at the box until it was nothing but a pile of shreds revealing it’s presidio us cargo. Inside was what appeared to be a matte black computer keyboard with a protruding neck and series of levers that sprang out of the bottom like guitar distortion bars. Along the neck, stamped in vivid red were the words EAGLE 95.

“Holy shit-balls!” Exclaimed Akio, unable to contain his excitement “you did it! You actually got an Eagle!”

“It wasn't easy ya know” replied Tangle pulling a large cigar out of his jacket pocket and half flicking it into his mouth “those things are all serial’d and tracked, but that was what you asked for” Tangle raised a lighter to his cigar and sparked it, puffing deep to get a good light “you got the creds?”

Akio smiled “of course I do! It should be winging it’s way to you” Akio paused and pressed some buttons on his wrist mounted PDA unit “now!”

Tangle pulled out his own PDAS and smiled “You came through alright kid, so where you want it? Usual drop point?”

“No can do” Akio replied “I'm on the Southern Express, left New Brasilia is morning”.

“The Express eh?” Tangle smiled “tell ya what, leave it with me and I'll have it waiting for you at a drop point when you reach the Block, yeah?” Tangle paused and began to look off into the distance, his eyes reading something that both was, and was not there “Drop Box 1265, you got that?”

“1265, got it”

The thing with the ‘Mantiverse, no matter how real it felt, it never was real. So while Akio held that Eagle in his hands, felt it's hard pressed plastic shell with aluminium feeds and resistor chits, it was not real. Only a representation of what the final product would be like. This form of ‘try before you buy’ was very popular, not to dissimilar to taking a car for a test drive, but your not actually using the car itself, only a digital representation of it.

“You know kid” Tangle called to Akio as the boy began to leave Tangle’s office space “you're going to make a real name for yourself with that deck, you’re going to make someone’s dreams come true! Or break them” Tangle puffed hard on his cigar “back home we got a name for people like you, you’d know them as Genies, but we call ‘em Jinn, so get outta here eh? Go grant my three wishes eh?”

Akio smiled broadly as he made his way back to the street. Jinn, Akio thought to himself. Had a nice ring to it. Yeah; Jinn.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 17 April 2015

#OVERRIDE: Wetware - A Short Story Part II

Memories flitted before Akio’s vision like so many tropical birds. Before he realised it he had seen so much. For a moment Akio was seeing through his own eyes as his childlike self attempted to survive on the streets of New Brasilia. Moments later he was seeing himself being chased down by UEF street security and being hauled off to juvenile reeducation. Akio almost cried as he set eyes on his childhood sweetheart Julie. Her face exactly as he remembered. It was the first time he had seen her in nearly 20 years and despite knowing exactly what was going to happen he was happy.

In the filth ridden steel chamber the man continued to ask Akio questions. Each of them appeared almost irrelevant: what were your parents like growing up? Who was your first girlfriend? Did you have any pets. Each of these questions recited over and over until the lifeless shell of Akio, still tied to his rusty chair would reply: strict, Julia Green, a German Shepherd. After only five minutes of questions a voice sounded from a comms unit located next to the man’s other tools.

“Geutez! Geutez pick up you son of a”
“Angel here” came the reply from the man “what’s up? Can’t you see I'm busy here?” The man; Angel looked in the direction of a wall mounted digi-cam and made a rude gesture with his fingers.

“I can see what you’re doing you rat-fuck!” The voice sounded increasingly angry “asking about dogs and cats! Get the info and let’s get the fuck outta here!”

“In time” replied Angel “we gotta work the wetware. We go in too hard and it’s going to resist to strong. Either it locks us out for good or it burns his brain out! Then he’s no good to noone!”

Back inside the memory time was passing quickly. Years had gone by and Akio was growing up. Both him and Julie had been discharged from reeducation at the same time and regardless of their teenage years were trying to make a future. They thought they had the world at their finger tips, all they had to do was reach out and grab it. Neither had jobs of course, but Akio’s parents had taken them both into their home and allowed them to stay until future plans were made. If they wanted to remain in New Brasilia they would need to get jobs or return to education, but that was something neither had any desire in following.

It had been Julie who first suggested the Patch-Job, it sounded simple, go to a surgeon, get some human-hydan hybrid tech inserted into your brain and then bam! You are ‘patched’ and companies would pay a lot of credits for someone patched. The only issue was getting the initial surgery, there was no way they could afford it themselves and Akio’s parents had outright refused when they had initially suggested it, and so together the young lover’s left Akio’s family home, but not before arranging for a large transfer from Akio’s father’s account directly into his own.

Akio saw what had happened as a loan, in a matter of days he would be patched with his first bit of wetware and be earning the big-creds! In no time at all he’d be able to pay back his father, with interest! At least that was the plan anyway.

Angel leaned in towards Akio and whispered into his ear
“What happened to the girl, Jinn?”

Memories flashed in Akio’s mind once more. His operation had been a success and he had recovered in record time! Julie had even arranged for patch too, at a reduced rate of course. It finally looked like things were going to go their way. That was until it reached the time to broker work. Akio was angry at himself, how could he have not anticipated this? Sure companies loved employees with wetware, but only those with experience! And here he was, someone not even an adult yet with no experience, no qualifications and no hope of getting any of the ‘big buck’ jobs he had dreamed of.

Again it was Julie who came through with the solution, and as the memory birds flittered through his brain they began to settle on that night.

It was dark, wet and Julie had been out all night. When she finally returned to their cheap rented suit she was accompanied by someone else. A Hydan covered in layered armour who carried an ornate spear like weapon in one arm. No soon had the Hydan arrived did Akio know that something bad was going to happen. He couldn't explain it, but like cows sitting down before rain Akio had a sense of foreboding.

“This is… Kre-otka?” Julie said, introducing the Hydan to Akio “he’s got a job for us!” Julie looked extremely happy with herself as she said this.

The Hydan went on to explain the job, a simple data theft, just using Akio’s wetware to ‘borrow’ some information, getting it back to his own clients and then after a short break, returning it to the original owners. If they did a good job they would be paid handsomely. Akio, still unable to shed the dread of what was to come reluctantly agreed.

That night was the first time Akio used his wetware and for the first time in his life he had ‘jacked in’ to what was colloquially known as the ‘Mantiverse, the virtual space that connected all data on Honos. Back then if he had tried to he would have been unable to explain what he was experiencing. It would be impossible to truly understand what it means to join the ‘Mantiverse unless you've been there, and many have tried, but somehow Akio managed to navigate the twists and turns of the virtual world, to leave his own body behind and share in the digital consciousness of the Technomancers.

To Julie and the Hydan it was as if no time had passed when things started to go wrong. It was almost instantaneous when Akio fell to the floor, his entire body twitching and spasming violently.

“You must help him!” Shouted Julie at the Hydan who remained silent only watching as Akio continued his seizure while still plugged into the digital world.

“Fuck you!” Julie shouted as she reached for another set of cables and plugged them directly into her own patch.

Akio observed all of this from his seizing state. All this and more. In the Mantiverse he had been travelling for what felt like hours but had managed to locate the data vault he was told of.

The vault appeared as if a massive skyscraper that dwarfed the digital cityscape and had with relative ease travelled through the abandoned building to reach its pinnacle and bring back the data required. It was to Akio’s dismay however that the data was not unguarded as he had thought. Safe guards and biofeedback wracked through his neurons and tore into his psyche until he could take no more. In that moment it stopped and he was awake back in his apartment. Laying at his feet the body of Julie motionless but with her own wires and cables plugged into his. The Hydan was sat on one of Akio’s chairs a small rectangular data stick flicking from finger to finger.

“You have my data” the Hydan said solemnly “and you will have your payment within the hour” standing slowly the alien left the apartment quickly leaving Akio in his apartment.

It made no sense to him. What had happened? When suddenly fro the deepest recesses of his brain something came through. It was as if his wetware was speaking to him with words only he could understand. It was these words that he recognised without realising, accompanied by a voice that seemed both alien and familiar at the same time. The words were streams of digital information, in that moment Akio saw everything that had unfolded before him, how the data heist had failed, the security counter measures were frying his brain be only by transferring the effects to her own wetware was she able to save him.

Akio sat on the floor and looked at the scene before him. Julie lay dead on the floor, but that didn't concern him, all he could think of was the rush he had felt when he had entered the Mantiverse. He wanted that feeling again, no he needed that feeling again and he was ready to do whatever he needed to get it.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 16 April 2015

#OVERRIDE: Wetware a short story - Part I

Akio was tied to a chair. The rope around his wrists burned as they cut into his flesh with every struggle. The room he was trapped in was small, no bigger than a walk in freezer and the walls appeared to be made of stainless steel, or at least had been before the years of dirt and other foul substances had built up on them. Opposite Akio was another man, this man appeared to be late twenties in age, same as Akio but did not share his Japanese parentage. Akio tried, but was unable to place this man’s race, possibly Brazilian mixed with Caribbean. The man was dressed in a suit, clean and recently pressed and sat in a rickety old chair with one leg kicked over the other, one hand nestled on a hip mounted pistol, the other stroking a neatly trimmed van-dyke beard.

“Jinn, Jinn” the man signed Akio’s other name like it was almost painful to say. “Why you gotta do this to me? You know the boss doesn't like excuses, and here you are giving them to me!”

The man leaned in towards Akio and quietly whispered.

“You wanna hear a secret?”

Akio nodded slowly, in doing so the man opposite quickly swung in with a large fist punching Akio straight in the nose. Akio heard a loud crack and felt the warm sensation of blood as it instantly began to poor from his nostrils. The man feigned a spit on the floor.

“There!” The man shouted in Akio’s face, his spittle splattering against Akio “there’s your fucking secret!”

The man grabbed Akio by his arm and pulled at his tight fitting t-shirt, tearing off in a single tug one sleave. Akio braced as he knew what was coming next, and as predicted the man followed through exactly.

First came the needle with it’s bright green liquid, after this came the vein tap and the drip. The bag that was placed above Akio’s head filled with something luminous and yellow. It was memory enhancer. There was something in Akio’s past that interested this man, or more likely, this man’s employer and Akio was scared. Not of what was going to happen to him, no, there was nothing they could do that hadn’t already happened. Akio was scared of the memories he would be forced to endure. Thoughts that had been forcibly repressed behind well crafted and expensive firewalls and Jack-Gates. Already he could feel the goo from the bag entering his blood and it was burning his veins. Then came the first question.

“Who are you?”

The question seemed to come from a disembodied voice. Akio knew it belonged to the man sat opposite him, but he could no longer see him. He could no longer see the steel room or in fact anything at all. His vision was a blur of fog and neon and the man’s voice sounded different. It was commanding and all knowing. Like God’s voice if it had travelled from the heavens to ask him such a trivial question.

“Jinn” came Akio’s reply. His anti-hack wetware automatically kicking in, putting up barriers and coding. “I am… Jinn, motherfucker!”

Another burning, this one more intense as the dose of yellow drip fluid was increased.

“Again! Who are you?”

Akio’s vision began to clear, he saw his father in the mist of colour before him, remembered how disappointed he was when Akio told him that he didn't want to go to University at NB-U. Then he saw his old girlfriend and the look on her face the first time she asked him to go to bed with her. Somewhere outside of all of this came the voice again. It commanded his very soul to release it’s secrets and tell it everything Akio knew.

“What is your name?”

Now Akio saw his sister, the look of fear on her face as she saw Akio being hit over and over again by her boyfriend.

“Your name!” The voice commanded again.

Akio’s wetware was trying everything it could to keep his thoughts from going where the man wanted. Emotional response after emotional response tore through his psyche until the burning in his veins stopped and Akio’s vision cleared. Before him was his old bedroom mirror but the image with it was not him as he was, but instead a twelve year old boy. The same twelve year old he remembered that had intervened when his older sister had been beaten by her boyfriend and received an even more savage beating as a result. This boy stood before his mirror topless, a series of large very purple, very painful bruises marking his chest and face.

Away from the memory, back inside that steel room the physical shell of Akio lifted it’s head and with hollow words began to respond to the man.

“Akio Sampson. Son of Charles Sampson, founder of Sampson Industries”.

The man opposite rested back in his chair and stroked his beard once again, smiling. Couldn't be done he thought to himself. Couldn't be done! No one can break the great Jinn’s wetware! But here he was, the great Ghost Jinn ready and willing to spill every bit of personal info he could have ever dreamed of.

The man stood and walked behind the stiffly animated shell of Akio Sampson arriving at a table with all manner of electronic devices. Picking one up he pressed a physical button and began talking into it’s discreet microphone.

“Jinn Interrogation stage one complete. This subject is pliable and prepared. By my estimations we’ll have our data before the close of the day”.

The man put the device and turned back to Akio and shook his head in disappointment.

“Akio was is?” The man asked. Akio’s neck twisted with a snapping motion as his body responded almost mechanically to the sound of it’s new master’s voice. Akio’s eyes were now pure white and his jaw hung limply.

“Akio, you know your problem?” The man asked. The shell that was Akio shook it’s head violently. “Your problem is that you rely on technology too much. You prefer your wetware and ‘Mantic-Space too much” the man strokes the top of his own closely shaven head with his hand “me? I prefer to go eau naturel none of this cyber crap. Just me and my spirit”.

The man leaned in towards Akio’s face once more. “That's the problem with you fucking Ghosts! You’ve forgotten the strength of the Human spirit!”

Akio’s eyes stared back at the man as vacant forms of nothing. Any sign of Akio’s personality or previous identity, gone. Back inside the mists of memory however Akio’s spirit was very much alive.

Akio stared in horror at his own hands covered in blood. He was still his twelve year old self and his living memory had played out exactly as it had when it originally happened. Akio had been furious, a dirvish of pain, angst and righteous vengeance. He had seen his body in his mirror, the bruises from the beating, and had remembered the similar received by his sister. Yes her boyfriend was much older than him, and even more in height but that hadn’t held him back. Even now he could recall in stark detail how he had left his bedroom, walked quietly downstairs to the kitchen and picked up one of his mothers ginsu knives.

Quietly he had approached his sister’s bedroom where he could hear the continued shouting of her boyfriend and the quiet sobbing of his sister and ever so slightly he had pushed open her door. His sister and her boyfriend had both looked at him in unison, but neither noticed the knife he clutched behind his back. He remembered vividly how the older boy had laughed at him and told him to go back to his room. That was when he did it. When he had launched himself across his sisters room screaming over and over which stabbing the older boy repeatedly with his tightly held weapon. If anyone was to ask him now he couldn't say why he had did it, all he knew at the time was it was the right thing to do.

That time had passed, the knife still stuck in the older boy’s chest had joined the boy as they simultaneously fell to the floor with a clatter and his sister had begun screaming. Akio didn't know what to do. He was literally standing in a crime scene red handed. So he did the only thing he could think of. He ran.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

#OVERRIDE: Memoirs of a Glass Cannon

Greetings friends!

Back again with what is probably going to be the last post of the week and possibly for next week too as I'm due a week off work and with it my daily commute (prime blog writing time).

Which means there is a big chance next time you hear from me will be after this year's Salute convention with feedback both negative and (hopefully) positive!

Anyway! Earlier this week me and my collaborator (who I've been given permission to refer to by name; Tom) played our latest test game via Vassal. This game was testing our initial 0.1.6 rules which as I covered in my previous post is introducing the Wraiths and Trydan gangs.

It was a most interesting game with Tom playing as Wraiths and me as UEF Humans.

As you would expect, Tom's Wraiths were all equipped with varying degrees of stealth tech and from a cinematic view was most interesting to observe how it played out.

When the Wraiths were cloaked they were almost impossible to hit, but when those cloaks went down and my gunfire was able to zero in on those Wraiths they fell over very quickly!

These guys are pretty much the definition of Glass Cannon! Capable to eating me to pieces with strong ranged weaponry and an assassin class that just tears everything into ribbons with an absolute art, but they are almost incapable of taking any damage themselves - not good!

But we did find something else - our change to Hacker duels, now meaning the opposing Hacker can duel when within range of the Hack Target rather than other Hacker allows for some great protective positions to be established.

It also makes completing objectives very hard.

I'm just spitballing at the moment and I'm thinking of how this can be addressed, as we still suffer from the issue of it being easier to simply 'muller' the enemy rather than focussing on objectives.

It was also the first time I got to get my hands on the UEF DigiCom and pair it up with an RPG. Holy shit is that a great combo!
- What's more is that it doesn't feel OP at all, only effective and thematic. In this case the Commanding/Senior Officer is calling in heavy support from his troopers and pretty much carpet bombing a site with missiles to try and deal with a cloaked stealthy target!
Is getting 3 shots a turn with a single RPG good? Hells yeah! But the stats being used to fire this RPG is based off the lowbie trooper and not the advanced stats of those issuing the order, so despite all of these missile bombardments that were called in, all that managed to happen was a single Wraith Sniper was taken down, and then later on resuscitated by it's own leader.


I've said it before, but I love this game! I have played plenty of games before and have enjoyed them all, but never has a game been this fun.

Yes luck is almost always a factor, but the AtD mechanic is designed in such a way (by accident I must point out) that a massive part of the game is ensuring that you are maximising your dice while minimising the opponents. So if you are rolling 6 and your opponent is defending with 2, then you have a much greater chance of inflicting damage to that enemy target.

In the past 2 games I have been wiped clean off the map, and I have looked at how it happened and the results have been either that the random drawing of the game didn't work in my favour (it happens) or I made poor decisions and allowed my opponent to play to his strengths.

Obviously when the drawings end up against me, there's little I can do about that, but rules of chance say that will happen just as often to the opponent, and there will, without a doubt, be some missions that one Gang is better at than others. But when every other result has been me making silly mistakes and the opponent exploiting that, that is something I am very happy to have occur. It tells me that the game's balance (while not quite there yet) is certainly shaping up well and we are managing to keep the gang varieties in line with the basic human template.

What is more, every mission feels like a story. In this case it was a hold out, with my UEF holding onto (something) that the Wraiths wanted. Maybe we had acquired the details of a secret Bastion Spy Satellite that they were using to track Human activity, but regardless of the reason they had made their way to the UEF compound and were preparing a full on assault. One thing was clear: they were not leaving without whatever that data point held!


Anyway, that's it for me for now. I hope you're enjoying reading about how this game is developing, and with hope in a couple of weeks time I'll be able to share with you the Hyden rules for both Wraiths and Tyrdan gangs.

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 13 April 2015

#OVERRIDE Keeping Fluid

Greetings friends!

So over the weekend, me and my collaborator have been working on v0.1.6 of OVERRIDE. What we are currently working on is the next Gangs for the game.

So 0.1.5 saw the splitting of humans into UEF, HMC and Raiders plus the introduction of the Red Claw Kratel however there were 2 groups we had yet to see which was what we were looking at for 0.1.6.

I am of course talking about the Hydan and Reborn.

So it started with the Hydan, or more importantly; Wraiths. This was actually quite easy - the fluff was pretty much tied down and from that came a theme with special rules that tied in very well to the game and mirrored the existing Gangs well.

Then we moved onto the Reborn, and more importantly; Unity.

Yeah, there were problems here and I honestly have no problems admitting that.

It's not that Unity sucked ass, far from it! As a result of tooing and froing we have come up with some pretty awesome units that should be fun to play. BUT! They are massively left field.

I'm not going to go into detail about exactly what is different in these guys as we will hopefully see them in what is currently WiP'd as Wave 2, but they are very very different to the other Gang template and despite being awesome, they just didn't fit in with the rest.

So I made a suggestion:

"Let's put a pin in them now and bring in another gang to replace them"

This felt like a bold move, in particular because at this point I had never axed an entire race before, and I was being asked to create a replacement pretty much on the spot.

I could have gotten precious over the whole thing, saying that the fluff and story is my baby and my dream and that we were not going to axe or pin anything out of gameplay or balance reasons. And a couple of years ago I may have done exactly that. But I didn't. Instead I set about putting those cool but cumbersome cyborgs to the back of the pile and creating something new for the world.

So I looked at what we had:
Humans - Three groups spread over 2 Factions. I could give the Reavers another Human group, but that just seemed... Boring!

Kratel - 1 Group in 1 Faction. There was room for expansion there. After all in the fluff the Kratel Empire does belong to the Accord, maybe do that and have the Praetorians. Hmmm but how to make them different from the Red Claw, and that would give the Accord 4 groups to the Reaver's 2.

Hydan - 1 Group in 1 Faction. Like the Kratel there was room to show another side of these guys, and after all; isn't 0.1.6 showcasing the Hydan? Plus the Wraiths are Accord, so if we put in an anti-wraith Gang that makes it 3 all again to both factions!

Hydan it is!

Now what's an evil Hydan like?

Wait... Why evil? Does that mean the Wraiths are good?

No, not good or evil just different. One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter - that sort of gumpf.

So back to the fluff. What do we have?

Well we have the regions.
- Frozen North (not really a good place for a gang to call home).
- Nova Casa - a good setting, jungle utopia and all that, but a Reaver group operating literally in the UEF's backyard? Unlikely
- Midlands - Could work... But it's currently a little bland.
- Badlands - It is already a little overpopulated. Put it in the maybe pile.
- Dead Zone - It's called the Dead Zone. DEAD zone. It's for a reason...

Then it hit me. The Block!

I love the Block! It's where pretty much anything can and does happen!

We already have the Wraiths operating out of there in order to spy on the Red Claw and instigate covert ops against Freeport. Plus we have the Red Claw acting as smugglers and inhabiting the less pleasant lower levels of the hive complex.

In the fluff The Block is described as a den of villainy, where no Faction owns and so those with the guts to do what is necessary to take control can do so. In the bottom reaches it's the Red Claw with their control of the toxic levels and air purification controls. Higher up it's the Human corporations such as Core-Gen as featured in my short story back in December last year. What about the mid-regions? The ones where the Kratel don't have such a strong control and anyone with any wealth just doesn't give a shit about?

This is when it all started to fall into place! Enter: The Trydan!

A Gang in the truest sense of the word. The Trydan comprise of Hydan members who reject the law of The Bastion and live instead in the Block. They operate not as noble creatures of higher intelligence and superior technology as we see with the Wraiths but as cruel beings who utilise these strengths to prey on the weak.

Masters of manipulation and threat they control their levels of the Block via money laundering, assassinations and protection rackets. To many they are evil, but to others they are the only way to survive.
- When the Humans arrived at Honos with their Hydan allies, many of these Hydan wanted to remain with the Humans after their time on Earth and the relationships established within this time, however many humans still saw the Hydan as alien freaks and the mixed race offspring of the two as abominations. In this environment it is not hard to imagine why someone would choose to join a group like the Trydan to escape persecution.

So here we had it! Unity was out (temporarily) and Trydan were in!

Where the Wraiths were masters of martial arts and elegance, the Trydan were masters of subtlety and dirty deeds.

There's always the issue of why would they join the Reavers, but that makes sense when you look at the other 2 Groups; the Red Claw and Raiders. Neither are particularly wealthy and would struggle to compete with the Accord in this field. In comparison the Trydan are very wealthy and would have no problems being the Reaver's benefactor, especially as that would give them leverage over the Faction on a scale they would never be able to achieve on the mid levels of the Block.

And so here we are. I'm now very happy with what we have at the moment. It feels natural, organic and most of all fluid.

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

#OVERRIDE v0.1.5 is released!

Greetings friends!

Like a wild beast trapped in a cage for far too long before being released into the world in order to reap carnage and bloodshed; this morning saw the latest version of OVERRIDE being released onto the Internet.

If you want to grab your copy of these rules you can do so here

No doubt you're going to want to know what we've seen change in this build?

Well where to start?!?

Possibly the most important is the introduction of Gangs/Sponsors/Organisations (need to settle on a name) and we currently have FOUR lined up for your use:

Three Humans including the Military Might of the UEF, the Scientific Research brains of the HMC and the pirating Raiders!

And One alien in the form of the Red Claw Kratel.

Every one of these groups play out differently but are all capable of performing well if you play well. They are also easy to create good combos with should you want to get tricksy!


Next up is melee!

This has been tweaked and adjusted in some major ways. For starters engagement now happens with every model within your melee range, however due to flank attacks and backstabs your facing becomes very important.

What is more is that shadowing, now known as Pursuit has been tweaked and makes melee a truly troubling experience if you are not gifted with the stats and/or abilities to easily get away from the enemy.


Weapons & Gear!
Yup! We have new equipment available to all such as explosive grenades and Plasma Rifles, along with exclusive weapons such as Heavy Plasmas, DigiComs and Gashwa blades!

Add to this the Kratel Unique armour and a hint at armour worn by the as yet unreleased Hydan and we have lots of possibilities for making your own Gangs truly unique to you and your play style.



Hacking has also been tweaked slightly, mainly in the form of the Hacker Duels. These changes streamline the process but also make the process of hacking itself a greater challenge and gives your hackers more of a defensive role in the right situation.


Special Units

Now every Gang has access to special units. What these are depends on the Gang. UEF and Red Claw both get combat vets who will take the fight to the enemy. HMC get their mining namesake as they can recruit miners to act as effective meat shields and he used as the disposable assets their employer sees them as. Lastly is the Raiders who take to the battle lines with their own answer to the combat veteran; reverse engineered AI mechs! These boys known affectionately by the Raiders as Big Bros are powerful and imposing however they are kept in line by their Raider Hackers (or Ghosts as they call themselves) take the Ghost away from the Big Bro and it's only a matter of time before the Big Bro reverts back to it's old AI programming and shows just how overridden it's First Law programming is.


This game is really shaping up nicely and moving forward we will be creating rules for the past 2 starter Gangs; The Hydan Wraiths and Unity of the Reborn. Along with this we'll see new weapons and equipment plus a re-write of the scenarios to bring them in-line with the rest of the rules.

So until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

#Override: The World of Honos

Greetings friends and welcome to another feature post for First Law: Override!

Today I'd like to introduce you to the different regions and locations featured on Honos and how when put together they allow for almost any existing wargame board to be used to play Override.

The Badlands
Designation: Region
Location: Central Equatorial Band

The Badlands is a landmass strip that covers the equatorial band of Honos.

As a region the Badlands is still in the process of being teraformed and over time it is hoped that the current dustbowl will be replaced with a vibrant green paradise.

Most of the Badlands is dead land where nothing grows and is therefore cheap and largely undesirable to the Accord; however the Honos Mining Corporation (HMC) have shown the occasional interest in mining sites. Due to it's lack of financial interest, it is generally considered the property of the Reavers who protect what they view as their home severely and violently.

Within the Badlands are countless shanty towns comprised of settlers unable to live further north however it is the Eastern and Western points of the Badlands which attract the most attention due to the Block and Freeport cities.

Those who live in the southern Badlands live a life of constant fear. They occupy space near the 'soon to be terraformed' Dead Zone making it both valuable but also dangerous.

The Block
Designation: City
Region: East Badlands

The Block is located within the Badlands but due to it's size in both height and diameter you would be forgiven in not realising this.

Originally comprised of seven mega towers used to house the poor and destitute, these were quickly expanded on via custom buildings and a complex series of walkways and supports that turned the separate mega structure into a single massive hive-network.

The lower levels of the Block are attacked with continued corrosion from polluted precipitation and noxious fumes making them inhospitable to all but the Kratel who's unique biology allow them to tolerate the hazardous environment in ways not possible to Humans or the Hydan.

The higher you travel in the Block the cleaner the environments become as does the amount of natural light increase. Because of this the top three hundred levels are exclusively reserved for the wealthiest of Honos' inhabitants while the lower levels are squabbled over by the rest of the population.

The Block is a focal point for both democracy and aggression between the Accord and the Reavers due to it's neutrality. Because of it's original undesirability, the Block was declared as a haven for all and therefore the property of none. As such it is the central operations base for both the Red Claw and the Wraiths who both use it's neutrality to instigate and follow through with operations deemed illegal within their own respective cities.

Designation: City
Region: West Badlands

On the opposite side of the Badlands strip lies Freeport.

Originally designated as Honos' First Free City it's founders, the Raiders have turned it into a den of vice where anyone's desires for either pleasure or pain can be fulfilled.

Freeport despite it's humble beginnings boasts some of the greatest entertainment sites, attracting the wealthy from across the Outer Fringe to spend their hard earned cash on anything from Pleasure Palaces to the Freeport Arena where contestants daily battle it out to the (apparent) death.

Despite it's claims as a free city, registered members of the Accord are not welcome to walk freely within it's walls and are restricted to tourist ghettos making them unfortunately easy targets for attacks from less sympathetic members of the Reavers.

The Midlands
Designation: Region
Location: Mid-Northern Landmass

Located above the Badlands lies the smallest region on Honos called the Midlands.

Largely unpopulated it is stricken with savage storms at night and vibrant blue skies by day.

The land is comprised of steep mountainous ranges separated by flat plateaus of which plans are already in place by the Accord to begin construction of new housing for the ever increasing population faced in the Accord capital of New Brasilia.

Nova Casa
Designation: Region
Location: Northern Hospitable Landmass

Nova Casa, the first location on Honos to complete it's terraformation and as such the first claimed by the Accord as their base of operations.

Meaning New Home, Nova Casa is a lush jungle with the freshest of air and cleanest naturally occurring water. To the average Human it is the closest this side of Earth to paradise.

New Brasilia
Designation: City
Region: Central Nova Casa

New Brasilia is the political home of the Accord on Honos and populated almost exclusively by the United Earth Force (UEF) and it's citizens.

It's gleaming city spires stand in stark contrast to the shanty towns of the Badlands or the rapidly decaying Block.

Those citizens of New Brasilia are given the luxury of a new life often held separate from the rest of Honos. It is within the city's armed walls it's citizens experience the luxuries of advanced healthcare and a top class scholarly program.

It was shortly after the city was established that their Homeless problem was eliminated by the creation of a living tax meaning only those who's income and savings allowed them to pay were provided with security passes allowing access past the automated sentry guns that lined the city walls. Those who could not afford the tax were instead sent to the area now known as the Block. This heavy handed approach towards the disenfranchised has been a constant point of conflict between the UEF and Raiders.

Frozen North
Designation: Region
Location: Northern Inhospitable Landmass

North of Nova Casa is a region known colloquially as The Frozen North. It's day time summer temperature peaks at -5 degrees Celsius, while it's night time winter drops to -120 degrees.

Because of it's extreme temperatures the Frozen North is largely uninhabited except for a handful of HMC sites who hold residence due to valuable minerals located beneath the ice and the lack of other living organisms within reasonable distance allowing for the corporation to test some of their more unorthodox experiments and equipment without risk to civilian populations.

Even before the terraformation of Honos began the Frozen North existed and as time has passed it's temperature has risen by a solid 5 degrees. It is hoped that in time this can be increased further allowing for general colonisation and greater resource collection by HMC and it's competitors.

As the temperature of the Frozen North behind to rise however, there are fears that the region may become unstable if not hazardous due to a steady increase in seismic activity that HMC have tracked which correlates directly with the increase in temperature of the region. The actual cause of this activity is yet to be made known and some speculate it may be fabricated by HMC themselves to discourage others from exploiting the vast riches of mineral wealth located within the region.

The Dead Zone
Designation: Region
Location: Southern Inhospitable Landmass

Located at the southern most point of Honos lies the Dead Zone. This region is most similar to what the entire of Honos once appeared prior to terraformation. It's surface is covered in sharp rocks and alien structures that resemble mummified trees or perhaps the remains of gigantic creatures.

The Dead Zone's background radiation is constantly high meaning those without anti-rad suits are unable to spend more than a few hours in the region without becoming unwell however it's real threat lies deep below the surface.

When Humanity first arrived on Honos, it was commonly believed to be uninhabited. Scans revealed no signs of life, oxygen or water. The planet was; as far as Humanity was concerned, a dead world and ripe for terraformation.

The reality however was that Honos was inhabited by a race of subterranean, animal like, six limbed creatures.

The current theory is that these creatures are able to survive for an extraordinarily long amount of time due to their abilities to put their bodies into a deep hibernation acting almost like an organic form of stasis, allowing them to awaken when a new food becomes available, use that time to breed before going back into hibernation.

There are others who while agreeing with this theory take it a step further. That these were created by one of the races in the Outer Fringe as a weapon, and acting like a plague of locusts they stripped Honos of all it's resources before going dormant; not so they could await their next meal but so they could wait for their next convenient transportation off world.

The Kratel in particular have a name for these creatures; Pha'Nur or Eternal Hunger. They claim their homeworld of Krata Prime was once a lush jungle a kin to Nova Casa but it was the Pha'Nur which turned their world into the wasteland it currently is where the only way to survive is to be the strongest and toughest.

Regardless of origins, the Pha'Nur are a threat that many on Hobos believe must not be ignored, but due to the current lack of value within the Dead Zone the organisations north of the equatorial belt have little vested interest in the region beyond being the first to claim it once it's own terraformation is complete.


An so ends a brief overview of the different regions of Honos.

As you can see, almost all terrain is accounted for, and with hope you have seen some hints that have been dropped regarding some new game modes that are currently being planned for the future.

I hope to be back tomorrow with not only a new post but a brand new build (0.1.5) of First Law:Override!

Until then; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Attack of the Black Eyed Monster

Greetings friends!

Today I'd like to talk to you about emotions; the good such as the joy of seeing a dream of yours gestating into life, and the bad such as the doubts and worries that come with it.

This is where the titled Black Eyed Monster comes in. They say to feel jealous is an attack of the Green Eyed, well then surely doubt is black?

So in recent weeks things have gone from good to great to amazing!

It all started when I released the ruleset for First Law: Override (then known as the Working Title: Gang War). It received some pretty good responses talking about how the ruleset seemed interesting with lots of potential.
- Yes this is far flung from "AMAZING!! 10/10!! Game of the Year!!" but it's a start, and it's a hell of a lot better than "Boring, Repetitive, Predictable which without any form of self depreciation or seeking of attention, was the reactions I was expecting - mainly due to knowledge that most of the 'fun' stuff I had left out of that rules pack.

Then things began to progress. We saw further rules packs being released as well as the first in-house test plays coming out of the woodwork. I started to see with my own eyes that change was coming, the rules were fun and cinematic with dice rolls being as dynamic and tense as I had hoped they would be.

I started to get excited. For the first time ever the dark recesses of my brain had birthed something that was turning out to be as good as I had imagined it would be (normally it's missing some x-factor that stops it being great).

What followed was input from a good friend of mine. What I think for him had started off as a punt "yeah, let's give your game a try" turned into something with clearly visible enthusiasm.

We played two games making a few changes here and there and simply from deployment itself the enjoyment for the game was pouring off him like heavy rain.

- At this point I need to declare, the game as it was, was no longer my own creation. I had received regular support from notable people and each one had helped take a raw idea and make it better.

But somehow these rough ideas had created a game that caused this friend of mine mid game to blurt out "I LOVE THIS GAME!" I think we can all agree that it is a rare occasion that this happens in any game when it is intentional, never-mind involuntarily.

What followed was a further build change with more tweaks and adjustments all the while my friend was making more and more suggestions that gelled with my own ideas so well. I knew that there was only one logical progression from this stage:


To some people this might be seen as a dirty word, similar to compromise and handing over the rains to someone else. Far from it. I could see that the two of us wanted the same thing, and this person could provide something that I just could not: a different view point!

So the offer was made and thankfully accepted under the caveat that there are no demands for involvement. If he was unable to play test games at any time then that would be fine and similar. I explained that this was fine, that this is a hobby of mine and that I am a fickle creature. For all I know in 6 months time I'll have grown bored of the Outer Fringe and Honos and instead be creating an underwater game like X-Wing only with Fish (or whatever) all it was, was a declaration of partnership and ownership. The game stops being mine and becomes ours.
- This by itself has many beneficial rewards for us both. For starters with a stake in ownership, both parties have a greater reason to contribute and any suggestions/ideas are put forward as peers rather than 'Owner vs Tester'.

Since then the game exploded!

I mean almost literally!

In the last couple of weeks I have seen the rules expand, contract, tune & tweeze in ways that I could never have achieved by myself. I have had suggestions made that were so far left-field I would have never thought of, but when I see them on paper I realise how perfect they are. I see my own suggestions being either agreed with completely or being tweaked slightly, and likewise I tweak the suggestions I receive. I've seen a single idea passed between hands each time being moulded and pressed so it ends up almost entirely different to the original idea, but the result of this combined moulding is something so much better than it would have been if only one of us had played with it.

Clearly my collaborator, who for ease of reference will be referred to only as G (I haven't asked him yet how involved in public he wishes to be, so would rather not 'out' his involvement without prior permission) had been bitten by the game design bug and the passion and ideas were there.

Everything was fantastic, and it still is! My brain is buzzing I ways I can not imagine and G is a fantastic person to collaborate with.
-In everything I do I need someone to temper my chaos. At home it is my wife, at work it is a colleague of mine, and here it is G.
G's brain clearly works in a different way to mine, and I've known that for a long time based on how he plays games. He's like the chess champion who when you get to the end of the game you realise that you thought you were making your own decisions, but you were not, their actions in game were making your decisions for you and because you couldn't see that you were actually playing their game; you were just along for the ride. It was this sort of brain I needed and has resulted in the rules progressing more in 2 weeks than I ever could in 2 months!

Then the black eyed monster attacks!

It pulls out it's Heavy Plasma Rifle at short range, aims and releases all 7d6 of damage complete with exploding 1s into my brain!
To use an #Override reference

I see these suggestions and contributions coming from G and the Black Eyed Monster speaks to me (metaphorically) telling about how I could have never come up with something this good on my own.

And I know that it is right...

...but isn't that the point of collaboration? To use each other's strengths to complement the other's weaknesses? That without me the game wouldn't be as good as it currently is either?

And so I pull out my two-handed Kratel Blade coated in Pha'Nur Venom, switch to Offensive Stance and cut into the black eyed monster with my own 7d6 of DOUBLE DAMAGE!

The beast is not Out, but it is Incapacitated.

I go to strike the Black Eyed Monster again, take from Incapacitated to Out but decide against it.

Sure I could remove it now and it won't bother me until the next game where as in an Incapacitated state it is possible it could be revived. But it's down, it's not going anywhere any time soon and my next Action could be better spent actually trying to Hack the objective and bring home a win for our team.


And so ends my long, drawn out explanation of the past few weeks.

Until next time; stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley