Monday, March 26, 2012

Thoughts on 2112

I ran Microscope with two other people for the first time on Friday and I loved it... but of course I immediately wanted to fiddle with it! I recognized in it some writer's tools which I've never used; writing facts, characters and scenes in index cards, among other things. We've done similar things in previous campaigns when we do a world-building session.

I'd like to world-build the future. 100 years to be precise. 2112 is a palindrome, reading the same forwards or backwards. What do you think?

To paraphrase Pratchett, people want tomorrow to be like yesterday, only better. Warmer, better fed, nicer job. People want to scare us, it goes without saying, want us to do things and possibly for all the best reasons, as in that one cartoon, 'What if we make a better world, for no good reason?' Climate change within our lifetimes is fact, though, whether it is caused by human action or something else. Anecdotal evidence for human culpability lies in the fact that we had a dip in energy use after the recession hit, followed by colder winters, and yet now that the world economy is on a rebound and demand is back up, we've had the mildest winter which I can remember. Cold winter in Europe? There is some evidence that the Gulf Stream is failing...

I'm not worried, over the long term, but I wonder what disaster will do to the psyche of a world becoming ever more tightly knit together. Cynicism is weak tea, to paraphrase Churchill and my favorite Captain. It definitely isn't much of a way of life.

So, what happens if it all goes to shit in a big way? The global economy has no 'give' to it, and a pandemic would kill more people indirectly than ever might die of plague. Other threats which tantalize and titillate readers and audiences could do the same, and over the long term, something will bring it all down.

Then what?

Lots of people die. Billions. And then a few billion people pick up the pieces, go on having babies (or not; babies are a bad return on investment... 8-), and the world keeps on turning, reduced to some fraction of the nonsense we now take for granted.

What would a post-global world look like?

Suddenly the Global Village Construction Set ( makes a lot more sense, and I really do hope they succeed in pulling it off. They are more of a lifestyle choice, maybe even a 22nd Century version of the Amish and Mennonites. Opting out of the global rat-race, downsizing, reducing, unplugging and possibly surviving. Necessarily these folks would set up away from major cities, even possibly in the remains of 20th century rust-belt cities like Detroit... wouldn't that be a kick in the ass?

The other thing which they are figuring out is key, if we are ever going to colonize other worlds; figuring out how to down-shift into a viable industrial and information society. I kid you not, their children are Martians!

Relaxicon 2012

I'm suffering the usual post-con depression, I guess, because I'm feeling just a little blah this morning.

I ran Microscope on Friday night for myself and two other players, and while we may not have run it correctly, we did have fun with a vaguely Traveller-esque future history.

I had a good breakfast at the 896 Diner across the street from HoJo's, then I went and gave blood on Saturday morning. I didn't do much in the early afternoon, but I did look at a hard SF board-game Jon Nicholas had brought with him while he was playing in John Corradin's Legendary Heroes game, a mish-mash of Xena, Friar Tuck and others; they were facing of with some Star Wars storm troopers when I looked in on it all. Then I was tired and took a nap.

For the late afternoon block I played in Neal's Dresden Files Game, Acts of Evil. It was pretty intense. A wizard  had gotten away with using black magic and was trying to get rid of his magic to save himself. It actually worked, but it wouldn't have if the players hadn't started acting unilaterally... one of the few occasions where group discord and confusion worked in favor of the plot!

No Styx this year. I got a pizza and beer and was down in the common rooms for a while but went to bed early. I would have come back down, but the room key got changed, I tried to get it reset, no-joy, and had to be let back into my room. So I had a few more beers and called it a night w/o doing the singalong 8-(

I got checked out, went and got some stuff from the Walgreens down the road and came back for my Black Lagoon Game (, Roanapur Midnight Special. That went fairly well with two signed up players, our Benny and Dutch, the boss, plus two more (swept up and press-ganged 8-) to play our Revy and Rock, so that I had all four main Characters.

The crew got pulled into a job through an old friend, survived an ambush by men working for Ling, a competitor of Black Lagoon Company, and got hired to rescue the client's daughter. The Client insisted on being part of the action and was needed to infiltrate anyway, with our heroes using one surviving ambush-er to help them. Rock, the Japanese salary-man, pretended to be one of the dead ambush-ers and the Client and his future son-in-law were loosely tied up for show (armed).

The subterfuge went well, until Ling, talked about 'paying off' the son-in-law. Dutch and Revy were in the back of the van for the infiltration and separated by a partition form the client and son-in-law, and couldn't intervene in the struggle and gunshot which everybody could hear coming from the middle of the van. Then things got quiet in the van while things got messy outside.

Predictably, Two-Gun Revy cleared the bad-guys and capped Ling. Dutch was not very happy about this, and had gotten shot in the battle, but things all shook out in the end. The Client had knifed his traitorous not-future-son-in-law and upped the pay for rescuing his daughter, who had been sold and would be exchanged off-shore. So we ended up with a marine battle, or actually a distraction while Revy and Rock scuba-ed over to Ling's boat, killed most of the crew and got the girl.

Fun for me, and fun for the players to play pirates, lighter shades of gray in a pretty dark world like the city of Roanapur.