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May 28, 2004

SDvP Part 5: The Climax

There was a strange, blurred, fuzzy sensation, and Slamdance slowly opened his eyes. What…? Asleep? I don’t remember going to…

Something was wrong, very wrong, obviously. All he could see was the odd, pitted gold surface he was lying on. Glowing. Visual malfunction, or is this surface actually luminescent? Strange. And this mist… where is it coming from?

This is very strange. I don’t remember falling asleep here. The last thing I remember – he sucked in a breath. This odd, sharp sensation of worry was new to him. Combat. There was combat. I was fighting – and then… then I felt a shock, like electricity and…now I’m waking up.

He pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. A pounding sensation reverberated in his head. It was indistinct, like everything else, mixed in with a strange soreness he seemed to feel with his whole body. He inhaled deeply, through his nose; the sensation began to resolve, shape itself into a quick rhythm, then faded again. The floor was still there, although the mist had closed in around him again, encircling his arms until halfway up the tricep. This must be a hangover. This must be what they call a hangover. But how did it happen? I don’t remember being at Callahan’s or anywhere else, and my filters would have taken care of the alcohol. This is a problem. I must be malfunctioning.

Head still down, eyes on the floor, Slamdance shook his head from side to side. No. Not a malfunction, at least not yet. But something is definitely wrong here. There was…

A blur, a moving blur, and then combat… blades of some sort, something swinging something at me… I remember…

Thick atmosphere. Moist, tropically hot. This can’t be Sydney. Or maybe it’s a sauna. Maybe my bio-filters temporarily malfunctioned, I got drunk and Toby or Steve or someone dragged me off to some weird sauna with glowing floors and…

…it came out of nowhere, and there were blades, and I remember damage, and this is very, very wrong, because if I was attacked, what am I doing waking up in a strange place in compact mode? Slamdance looked down at himself. Instead of the red-and-blue armour plating he was expecting, his eyes met flesh-covered muscle. Somehow, he’d compressed himself back down to his Mike Ryan guise.

I think I need to deploy right now, in case that whatever attacked me comes baAAAAAAAAA! For the first time he could remember, Mike Ryan doubled over in agony. It lanced from his back and arms up and down to the rest of his body. Somehow, with his arms wrapped about him, his chin tucked to his chest and his eyes screwed shut, he didn’t collapse back onto the floor; instead, he wrapped his arms around himself. The pain disappeared, leaving only another dull ache layered atop the first.

Then his fingers found something. Instead of meeting his skin where his arms were wrapped aobut his body, they met something… hard, unyielding. Mike opened his eyes again, and looked down at himself again. A dull grey, ribbed plate was wrapped about his torso, an armoured vest that covered his rib cage and the tops of his shoulders. About his arms were odd looking greaves of the same material, like a metal but duller, less smooth. Whatever it was, it was effectively and thoroughly preventing Mike from deploying into combat mode.

It was night. Middle of the heatwave. I was patrolling between the scenes of the murders, trying to find a pattern. There was a blur, and it came out of nowhere, and whatever it was, it was fast and tough, and I couldn’t see it for an instant, and then it was coming right for me, slashing across my chest with blades, and they went straight through my armour, and I fought back – we knocked each other through walls, and it threw something at me which I barely got out of the way of, and it must have been either a Boomer, some sort of custom model made up to look like some poor lunatic’s idea of a tribal warrior, or... and I managed to cold-cock it somehow, and I was going to try taking off that mask thing it wore, and then there was the pain and now this place and the mist and the drumming…

Drumming. That’s what it is. Something hitting something, sounds strange and echoing, and metallic and…

For the first time since he awoke, Mike looked up.

And around.

And, perhaps, he knew fear.

The chamber was huge, vaulted, the same glowing gold as the floor, but shaped into strange patterns. It curved down, then away and up and over, with arched exits leading… elsewhere. Below the raised platform on which he stood was the floor, crowded with more of those things like the one that attacked him. Strange creatures they were, with mottled grey-yellow skins, huge heads with lank black fibrous tentacles like the “dread-locks” he saw some people wearing. They had no lips, instead having odd, crab-like mandibles, two above and below, waving before mouths that seemed more like exposed throats between teeth-lined jaws. They growled, snarled, yelled, and as Mike looked up, he saw a raised tier that ran around the room against the wall and above his head.

There more of the creatures sat, cross-legged, some wearing masks that covered their alien faces and odd foreheads. At four equidistant points stood creatures, drumming on what resembled a cylindrical metal log-drum with yellow clubs.

And directly opposite him, on the other side of the platform, stood the creature he must have fought earlier on. Its fierce gaze shined hate at him past an ugly green bruise over its right eye as it fastened a set of greaves much like Mike’s own about its forearms, and Mike realised that these things had contained the blades it had used to attack him.

Between them and off to Mike’s right stood one final creature, taller than the rest, powerfully built, adorned with inhuman skulls of bleached bone, face hidden behind an ornate, decorated mask, shoulders and back covered in a cloak made of the hide of some unknown creature. The being croaked and growled, and a long spear with a blade at either end was thrown onto the platform, landing at Mike’s right. His opponent – for Mike realised that this was a match, quite possibly to the death – was handed a similar spear. It hefted the weapon, threw back its head and roared.

Mike picked up his own weapon, and when the creature brought its spear back to its side and its gaze back to Mike, he stood and lifted his own weapon above his head, returning his opponent’s gaze. Beings from another planet after all, just like Big Daddy Matt said, Mike thought. I thought it was impossible. I thought they were just modified Boomers on a rampage. But here I am, and here they are, and they want me to fight.

Mike lowered his spear. With that, the cloaked warrior yelled something, and Mike’s opponent crouched, intent on him, moving toward him.

Mike took his own spear in both hands and began to circle. They want me to fight. So I’ll fight. It’s what I do.

But can I kill? This is no insane Boomer. Can I take this being’s life, even if it seems glad to take mine? Even if it means saving myself?

Old Comments

You really are a bugger! You make me wait this long and then you pitch 2 of my favourite characters against each other and leave it hanging in mid air. NO FAIR!

Love V.

Posted by: Vickie at May 29, 2004 12:42 AM

I got another word for him, Vickie, but "bugger" will do for polite company.

Sheesh, Rob, have you got nothing else to do but drive us nuts?


Posted by: Peg at May 29, 2004 08:59 AM



Posted by: IMAGinES at May 29, 2004 09:01 AM

Lot's of pain!

Posted by: Simlauren at May 29, 2004 09:38 AM

May 27, 2004

What I said about Cyclones goes double for Diesel.

Okay, it's pretty common knowledge among the gamer set that movie action hero Vin Diesel is one of us. (One of Us, We Accept You, yadda, yadda, happy, Gav?) But a guy who:

  1. thinks Dame Judi Dench is awesome (as any person who enjoys acting should),
  2. begs her to be in his movie, and
  3. would even love to get her into a game of Dungeons & Dragons?

That's just...

I worship this man. Worship him!

UPDATE 3.50PM: And the bastard owns his own computer game development studio.

May 26, 2004

Cyclones are cool.

I've always believed that and probably always will; that's why I'm so jazzed at the announcement of Robotech: Invasion for the Xbox and PS2. While it's by the same crew that made the somewhat sub-par Robotech: Battlecry, but the screenies look good (no more of that cel-shaded crap), and the initial reports seem promising.

Well, I take that bit about cel-shading back; it did look very in-genre for the game. I just wish the rest of the package had been better.

Stuff Happens.

Hi all. It’s been a slow posting week, I know. I can't go into detail here, so let me just say that bad news comes in threes.

Saturday night went well. Lauren enjoyed the new Battlestar Galactica more than she thought she would, and I think Jason and Christian did also. The series is going to be airing in the US in January 2005, and hopefully we’ll start seeing it sometime soon after. If not, there’s always the inevitable DVD release!

The Lexicon is still ticking along well. The last turn was a little slow, with both Peg and myself not posting entries. With the Black Talon game coming up this weekend and some stress from recent events, I have the feeling I’ll be missing this turn also; trying to get the session ready for Saturday and doing an entry at the same time feels a little like pushing things uphill right now. Still, we had four full and good entries last turn.

Dan is working on the next session of Bubblegum Crisis, and looks to be setting the session up for either the first or second weekend in June. Boots is getting thoroughly stuck into his thesis (best wishes, mate, and I still have those magazines for you if you need them), so he probably won’t be able to make it. I’ve done some work on Vickie’s and my characters (God love the Hero System rules), and it’ll be interesting to see how they shape up. I did up a cheat-sheet for Vickie based on Bryant Durrell’s introductory D&D character sheet (if there’s any system that needs a cheat sheet, it’s Hero), as well as ones for both Vickie and Charisse for Black Talon.

Pierre should be back from the Sunshine Coast sometime today. Vickie managed to get tomorrow night off (she's working Friday instead), so I'll try calling him this evening before getting stuck into Wednes[DA] night to organise tomorrow.

It appears that Madam Lash's smoking problem may have been fixed. We checked her oil a couple of days ago, and she was almost totally dry. I nearly emptied our bottle of Valvoline into her, and the smoke seems to have disappeared as a result. We definitely need a new bottle of oil soon...

I think that's about it for the moment; I can always put another post up if I remember something else. In the meantime, all the best.

May 22, 2004

RIP Hilda Farquhar

I got a phone call from Dad about an hour ago. His mother, my Grandma, passed away in hospital.

You might remember a post in December of 2002, when my Grandad passed away. I like to think that wherever they are now, they're giving each other grief. :-)

Rest in peace, Grandma. We'll miss you.

May 21, 2004

What Would You Prefer - Yellow Spandex?

I'm sorry, I know this is posting from work, but I just had to let you all know about this thing I found during my lunch break as soon as possible. Once again, mad props go to The 20' By 20' Room for linking to a new gaming blog, Gamethink. I specifically wish to draw your attention to this posting by contributor E. Burns, where he expounds on why the character creation system for the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game City of Heroes is quite simply the best ever for any superhero RPG, whether computer or tabletop, and why it ought to be stole - (ahem) licensed by tabletop RPG companies as the character-portrait part of their computer-assisted creation programs.

You'll see my thoughts on the posting in the seventeenth comment. But look at the character pictures that E. Burns links to. Just look at them! The captions are worth the price of admission!

May 20, 2004

Conversations in a 20' By 20' Room

The 20' By 20' Room has had some intersting stuff go up lately; I thought I'd commit the blogging sin of linkage and let you know. If you like what you see, or have any ideas, why not enter them into the comments of those posts? The 20' By 20" Crew encourage discussion.

  • Last month, Bryant Durrell posted a prototype introductory character sheet for Dungeons & Dragons. I'm tempted ot put something similar together for Vickie's character in Dan's Bubblegum Crisis campaign; a character sheet written in real language that, while short on detail, will give her the basics and tide her through most situations. Maybe it'd be handy for Charisse as well. GMs: Do you think it could come in handy for your campaigns?
  • This month, Neel Krishnaswami, whose brilliance in coming up with the Lexicon format is unparalleled, provides six Tricks of the Trade for Non-Player Characters. (RPG.net regulars may recognise the article from there.)
  • Jere Genest polls the readership for how they get into the mood for roleplaying each session.
  • And Bruce Baugh asks how much you're gaming nowadays as opposed to how much you used to, and how satisfying your games are.

May 18, 2004

Just When We Thought Our Car Problems Were Over...

Got a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency today. Seems someone reported our car for producing excessive smoke on the Pacific Highway at 4PM, Saturday the 8th of May, probably when we were driving home from shopping. It seems I'll need to put the Madam in for a service or else face a $200 fine if an EPA officer lodges a smoke report on her after the third of June.

They sent along a book of suggestions to help make sure the car is in fact producing excess smoke, including driving five kilometers across varying conditions. I might have to ask the Cazman to follow me around in his car sometime in the next week or two, just to check.

The Mad Catch-Up Update of May

Darn it; yet another long time between posts. I hate it when the sidebar stretches across the whole window like that. It’s always a good reminder that I need to put a new post or two up.

It’s also been a while since I put any new reviews or editorials up, which is a worry. I’m really slacking off. Still, we’re coming into the Winter stretch now, so you can expect some cabin fever-inspired bouts of prose over the coming months. Including that next fragment of Slamdance I’ve been promising.

Still, it’s not like I’ve not been keeping my fingers exercised. The Lexicon of the Whisperers At War is still on Turn E-F; as the entries were trickling in and Marcus needed to do some server maintenance yesterday, I extended the turn a day. It was a decent buffer for Vickie and I, as we’d been slacking off enormously over the weekend. We’re still producing some interesting stuff, so please drop by and have a read!

On the topic of exercise, Vickie picked up an un-used piece of gym equipment called a Power Rider for $40 on eBay. It gives us the opportunity to work out whilst remaining indoors, which I quite like. Frankly, I do find exercise tedious, which is probably why I don’t do push-ups or even use the skipping-rope as I’ve intended at various times over the past year or so. Being able to do three sets of forty repetitions of stand-up-rowing-thingies whilst watching TV is a bonus in my book.

And another tangential similarity in subjects allows me to segue from buying stuff on auction at eBay to the auctions I’m running on eBay. As I write this, they should be about to complete, and it looks like each one is going to earn me $50 after postage. I was hoping for a little more for Night City, as it’s something of a collector’s item, but I did pencil those street names on the page maps. (Not including street-names on those zone maps was a criminal oversight by the designers, I think; I like the idea of being able to look up one of those places and just say “It’s on the corner of Williams and Varney.”)

From selling to buying: I mentioned a little while ago that I bought the Hero System SideKick for $20 at Games Paradise, and that the game store near where I work was getting a copy of the main rulebook in. I had a phone call last week from them, to let me know they hadn’t been able to get any copies in, so I asked them to cancel the order. Then I get a call today; they weren’t able to cancel the order, and it turns out a copy just arrived. They did assure me they could put it on the shelf if I declined, but they’re offering it for $75 instead of the $90 it normally goes for, so what the heck, eh?

From one RPG to another: I bought a pre-owned copy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the Xbox on Saturday. I know, I know, I said I was going to wait for the PC version so I could get patches and bug-fixes, but I figure my Xbox has languished un-used for long enough. Besides, the pre-owned copy I got was in pretty darned good nick, so I’m happy with my purchase. Gameplay is very reminiscent of Neverwinter Nights (not surprising, as BioWare developed both), and I’m keen to complete it as there’s a sequel on the way next year.

From video game on DVD to movie on DVD: the Battlestar Galactica Day is still a firm go for this coming Saturday. Sim is a lock, unless she’s gone and double-booked or work's swapped shifts on her, but the other respondents in the affirmative to the original invitation have been conspicuously silent. One wonders what they’re up to?

And finally, from local friends to international ones: Pierre of the IMAGinewS list and usually of San Diego is at this very moment over here! I just called him earlier, and we had a quick chat; his wife and kids are still battling the jet lag, and tomorrow they’re off to the Sunshine Coast for a few days. Vickie and I are planning to hook up with them sometime next week. It should be fun; I'm looking forward to catching up with Pierre and finally meeting his family!

And to take us out this evening, here’s a little linkage that might elicit a little laughter!

P.S.: The Night City auction just ended, and a very nice gentleman squeezed in at the last minute with a winning bid of $81.00! Well, that covers the Hero System!

May 15, 2004

RIFTS on the N-Gage

Some interesting news from E3. There's been talk of movies and computer games based on Palladium Books' RIFTS universe for ages. Now, it's official: A RIFTS game will be published - on the Nokia N-Gage platform.

Very little info is available on the game; no screenies or video just yet. Still, there's GameSpot's E3 interview with Palladium honcho Kevin Siembieda, who's understandably pleased.

May 13, 2004

The Virus Is Spreading

First, there was the PC game.

Then, the mobile phone game.

Next, an Xbox version.

A Mac port.

And now, Tron 2.0 is coming to the GameBoy Advance.

All I can say is, I hope the franchise takes off in a big way!

May 12, 2004

If the Shirt Fits...

I keep forgetting to mention that I reckon I've found the ultimate T-shirt for Boots.

May 11, 2004

Lexicon of the Auction

It might be a bit premature, seeing as we're only on the second turn, but I think the Lexicon of the Whisperers At War is doing pretty well so far. Granted, we've lost one player, but I think he might be up for the next Lexicon we do, and it looks as though another one might be joining us. The entries thus far have been good quality, and we're taking some interesting directions!

Also, as promised, those R Talsorian auctions have gone up. You can find the Night City/Rache Bartmoss' Guide to the Net auction here, and the Mekton Zeta auction here. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the CyberGeneration auction is absent; I'm suddenly loath to part with those books at the moment.

A Guilded Halo

Two interesting pieces of computer game-related news today:

  • A couple of days ago, I made mention of the Guild Wars E3 Trial. It turns out the buggers have decided to roll a day early! That's right; if you've downloaded the Guild Wars client (which is actually very small; you can even e-mail it to friends) you can log on and play the game right now! But you only have until the end of E3, so get in quick!
  • After god knows how much prevaricating, Bungie and Microsoft have finally released a date for Halo 2; the Xbox game will be in stores on November the 9th (no idea whether that's worldwide or just US). Not only that, but they're releasing the game in a limited edition metal box, with an additional DVD with making-ofs, featurettes, art galleries and other assorted stuffs. It's mine, even if I have to pre-order.

May 08, 2004

Upcoming R. Talsorian Auctions

Vickie and I are spenidng some time getting the computer room back into some sort of order today, and while we were (well, Vickie was) fossicking around, I started eyeing my RPG shelf, wondering if there wasn't anything else I could be rid of. As a result, I'd like to give you folks advance notice that I intend to sell most of my R. Talsorian RPG books on eBay.

These auctions will consist of:

  • CyberGeneration Collection: The complete R. Talsorian product line, including both editions of the main rules, all three Front sourcebooks (EcoFront, MediaFront and VirtualFront) and the Bastille Day adventure!
  • Cyberpunk Sourcebooks: Two classic pieces of source material for the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG: the Night City Sourcebook, one of the most detailed city-settings for an RPG, with sector-by-sector notes on locations and personalities (including the full-colour, eight-panel map) and Rache Bartmoss' Guide To The Net, the posthumous memoirs of the world's greatest Netrunner, inlcuding descriptions of Net regions and city grids!
  • Mekton Zeta Core Rules: the latest version of R. Talsorian's Anime Mecha RPG, including Mekton Z, the character and basic mecha creation rules, with GM and genre notes and sample campaigns; Mekton Z Plus, the in-depth mecha creation system, allowing you to create anything from Hardsuits to Heavy Space Cruisers; the Mekton Z Tactical Display, a GM's screen complete with booklet containing errata, rules, FAQs, an adventure idea and the new, cinematic play style: Mekton Zeta The Movie; and finally, Mekton Mecha Manual Volume One (of one), the bridging product between Mekton Zeta and the previous edition, Mekton II, containing ten campaign ideas and two mecha for each (except the tenth, which has six!)

The auctions themselves won't start until closer to the middle of the month (i.e. when us hard-working permanent full-time people get paid). I'll be sure to link to them here as soon as they go up.

And while we're on the auction vein, I'd like to direct you to a successful auction of a classic 1980s air guitar. (Thanks to Wil Wheaton and TotalFark for finding this.)

Guild Wars

I think some of you have already heard of Guild Wars, a new massively-multiplayer game by some of the guys who created and managed Battle.Net, the online service Blizzard uses to run Internet games of StarCraft, WarCraft and Diablo. It's more of a tactical battle game than a roleplaying game, but it does look to have a certain elegant simplicity.

With this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo coming up, the Guild Wars team are offering everyone a chance to hop into the Alpha version of the game for a few days. You have to sign in and download the client, but the client is actually a rather light downlaod; in fact, it seems the meat of the client downloads itself on the fly as needed!

The game will only be available from May 12th to 14th - so, I imagine the evening of May 12th until the evening of May 15th for us OzBods. Anyone interested?

May 07, 2004

My Entry's Up! My Entry's Up!

Read the testimonial of Scholar-Researcher Nulf Marcketh (Posthumous) on the life and death of Vodis Balmot!

[EDITOR'S NOTE September 04: Although the Wiki and its contents were lost during the server move, I'm keeping the posts relating to it up for historical purposes.]

May 04, 2004

Turn 1 of The Whisperers At War Has Commenced!

The first Lexicon game of the Jake Robinson Lexicon Project has kicked off! Turn A-B will run until midnight Sunday, in which time players will write entries for either letter. We have two already, one on the fascinating lichen commonly known as Ahrneeka and one on the odd gentleman Benedict Abrille. Please stop by and have a read, and keep coming back; four more entries are due to be written this turn (so I'd better get to writing mine)!

It's good to know that the Jake Robinson Lexicon has already had one success: SimLauren has joined Jake's Bar!

[EDITOR'S NOTE September 04: Although the Wiki and its contents were lost during the server move, I'm keeping the posts relating to it up for historical purposes.]

May 03, 2004

Bubblegum Crisis Sydney 2033 Site Updated!

Well, folks, after Saturday evening's Bubblegum Crisis session, I finally got around to updating the Sydney 2033 web page. It's mainly a facelift rather than a major overhaul; I've applied a Cascading Style Sheet to the page, cleaned out all the .gif headings, fixed up a few links and graphics and edited some of the material. I think the visual improvement alone is worth it.

Dan is planning to write some content for his campaign, and I've aded sections for character write-ups. With any luck, the site shouldhave some new content soon.

Next up: overhauling the Bubblegum Crisis RPG Web Archive. As there are some whole pages missing and I want to axe the frames, that's going to take a bit more time.

May 01, 2004

Bale as The Bat

Check him out.

And again.

Car Trouble

Morning all! Just had to clean out four pieces of comment-spam from the archives. Wish there was some way to turn comments off on my older posts without having to go through all almost-290 of them... which reminds me, I still have about eight months of entries to go before I've brought all of my 2002 news items into Movable Type.

Had to take Madam Lash into the shop yesterday and last Friday; when she wouldn't start for Vickie in the shopping centre carpark on the 22nd, Vickie had to call NRMA Road Services, who reckoned we needed a new condenser and set of points. As Kmart was already booked until the next week, we got her in at the Bobbin Head Garage on Friday. Also, the rego check report had said she needed a new oil filler cap and PCV grommet, and that the front brake hoses were cracking. That got done at Kmart yesterday.

Lately, though, it seems the Madam has had some transmission problems; specifically, when going up a hill or around a corner, she'll slip out of gear, rev high, then lurch back in as if I'd dropped the clutch on a manual car (the Madam's automatic). It looks as though we'll need to take her to a transmission specialist, so I'll start making phone calls today and see who we can book her in with.

Anyway: Today I'm going to give the Madam a thorough wash and clean-out before we dash off to Dan and Lesley's this evening for Dan's next Bubblegum Crisis session. We'll be back there tomorrow, as they need the young 'uns babysat for the morning/afternoon; Dan's working and Lesley's going to be at the market, selling her dreamcatchers and other craft pieces.

Also, at the moment it looks like I'll have four players, including myself, for that Lexicon game. A couple of others have expressed interest, but haven't made up their mind whether they want to be in. What annoys me is that almost everyone who's been into Jake's and Robinson's lately has either ignored my posts on the subject or read them and not responded. I hope it's just because they're waiting to see how the first one turns out.

Oh, yeah: Boots, Vickie and I reckon we've found a great comedy for you. It's on Friday nights on the ABC at around ten, and it's called Posh Nosh. It's meant to be a husband-and-wife cooking show, but not only are the husband and wife filthy rich, but the husband (Richard E. Grant) is as gay as a picnic basket and the wife has no idea (seriously, in general). The dialogue is fantastic. You will love it, we're sure, probably as a send-up of the petty bourgeoisie. Heck, just go to the website; they've got RealVideo clips and all!