More future software

Going back to my future software ideas, here are a few more.

Streamers – entertainment software
These are the programs that compile the various entertainment suites of today. Watching documentaries, listening to talk radio, Uservid feeds (think Youtube), the latest fashion idol show. They all feed into the Streamer.
Using the scrobbler function of the Blackbook, and a basic Fetch, you could pull the content you want to hear to you. With a veto function, you could override what the program recommends if you think it’s wrong. Pull in the soaps you want to watch, the boytoy band you love, veto the cooking show because you usually get takeout, veto the Uservid that your friend recommended but you hate. Subscribe and your scrobbler can drop related news into your feeds.

Manager – control software
This is the basic software that tells you what your bots are doing at any given time, especially useful if you have a more limited system. Would likely also include your system firewall, the permissions list for sharing across your various devices, and some form of antivirus.
If you have multiple in depth fetches running, this program would let you check in with them and their progress.

Irregular/semi-legal software
Chaff – the re-routers and additional firewalls often employed by hackers, but also by those who need extra security such as government employees and celebrities.
Hunter/killers – the angry antivirus bot in charge of following an intrusion on a firewall back to source, and in some cases neutralising with various viruses and trojans under its command. It’s defensive counterpart would be a Cleaner, removing offensive or malicious software from the system it is in.

I was thinking about the depth of information accessible via the World Wide Mesh, and how IP addresses might change. I considered the idea of adding letters, both lower and upper case, but that seems unfair to people using Cyrillic or Chinese keyboards (although maybe we all would by then?).
Either way, extending an IP from a four part to a six or seven part makes sense. Home would now be 192.168.0.0.0.1 or something.
Thoughts and comments, feel free to add anything too.

EDIT: IPv6, which I’d come across before and was nicely reminded of, covers this well.

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New Year, New Dresden Files Campaign

It’s the new year, so we began a new story arc in our Dresden Files characters’ lives.

First up, the underhanded criminal duo, the Mortal and the Lycanthrope, have become fine upstanding businessmen, owning several nightclubs and bars. Although, they do of course have a side dealing in supplying places they don’t own with narcotics of some form.
They headed to The Bar, what has become of the café bar from our previous adventures. With my Champion of Baltimore now a co-owner, they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The Mortal returned a book on magic to the small library housed on the premises too.

The Apprentice of the possessed cuddly bunny has started to get frustrated that her master won’t translate his ‘Sumerian’ text when she asks, and is drip-feeding her various pieces of magic. She’s now a sorcerer, and would be on track to be a wizard if she weren’t learning from a particularly nasty necromancer.
She headed to The Bar to get a borrow a new book on spirits.

A man with a terrible sense of fashion (shades in a dark room, black leather jacket, jet black hair with his blond roots showing) had appeared in The Bar to write a review for the local paper. He called himself Harry (too cool for a surname), and annoyed the Champion by repeatedly ordering craft beer not in stock.
After a short while, the Tanninomancer arrived and began an argument with the Apprentice over her evil lessons, and how she should have her head removed. Harry noticed the argument and made a note.
Hoping the review hadn’t been affected, the Champion took a quick glance at the man’s shorthand. It talked of an infestation of warlocks that had yet to be dealt with.
The Champion offered to get the man another drink, used the antique phone behind the bar and called his new business partners, ordering a couple of heavies to come over. They arrived just before the next beer was finished, and went to sit on either side of Harry.

Confronting him about the ‘infestation’, and asking exactly how it would be ‘dealt with’, Harry claimed to have seen a cockroach. Threatening to instigate a new dress code, regarding Harry’s sunglasses, one of the heavies removed them. Harry closed his eyes up tightly, and on hearing the words ‘lock the doors’, he shortly had a fit and fell to the floor, foaming at the mouth. He had managed to secretly swallow a poisonous pill.

Whilst the bar was in a panic, the heavies moved Harry’s body to a back room, and the police were called. They weren’t happy that the body had been disturbed and moved, or that there were so many traces of different people. The heavies, both with long criminal records, had already fled, but would have to be called back. After all, they’d only been ‘working’ as bouncers at The Bar for a few days…

The Apprentice’s master told her of a spell that might allow her to find out who Harry had been working for. Against his better judgement, the Champion was talked in to sneaking in to the morgue so she could perform her spell.
She managed well, but found out nothing more than Harry’s feelings at the time of his death. Whilst the bunny cackled that the spell functioned exactly as it was supposed to, and the Champion realised it had been, if not black magic, then extremely morally grey. He seized the bunny and began to leave, threatening it with the incinerator.
The Apprentice got very angry, and began using her new powers to try and take back her master. Whilst causing her own ears to bleed and the ground to shake, she didn’t manage much. The Champion, still angry at the necromancer (and since he had been Under the Doom for far too long because of the evil old spirit), pulled the stuffed toy apart as best he could and handed it back to the Apprentice. Another powerful spell sucked the Champion into the sidewalk, stuck in place whilst she hit him. And then she ran off into the night, promising to fix the stuffed rabbit as soon as she could, whilst the Champion had to shout back to the morgue and hope they didn’t ask too many pressing questions about his feet being encased in solid concrete.

Sands of FATE development

Hello potential new readers.

My pseudo-Arabian Nights game is currently sitting in a folder on my desktop marked Sands of FATE. I’m not happy with the name, it’s far too close to Strands of Fate, but it will do for now whilst I continue the development.

I’ve run a couple of playtest games with my Dresden Files group. We’ve managed to use the new skills I’ve had set up, and the mish-mash of powers taken from both Dresden Files and Legends of Anglerre, and then some more twiddling. I need to run some more social scenes to see how the powers fare.

Since running, I’ve decided to change how spells are cast by adding a second component – using Arcane or Elementalism to know what you’re doing, and Resolve as the actual casting skill. That way, rolling really well might allow you to cast a spell well beyond your ability, but you’d take extra mental fatigue for it. Debating whether to add a skill like Tactics that would allow physical characters to come up with something similar despite not having a power or maneuver in their arsenal that would normally allow it.

I’m really pleased with the response to the system though. Everyone seems to like how the Jinn live and work, and how the world fits together. In play I’ve realised I’ve added in a whole third kind of sentient, so there’s humanity, Jinn and the Peri, a sort of Persian spirit/faerie. I had them in, but had to expand them a bit more off the cuff. Now there’s two kinds, and one of those is akin to a mermaid. I’ll see if I need to diversify them further.
I was glad to see the FATE system worked so well in the setting too. Exactly what I’d hoped. Now if we can only sort out the customs and laws of the setting, I think we’re on to something good. So far I’ve got indentured servitude as a punishment for some crimes, as a way of letting criminals see the error of their ways and make amends. A bit soft, but I didn’t want the only punishments to be death and mutilation.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the players have understood my terms, since our physician character has decided he has one as an assistant and isn’t treating her too well. I think I can fix that if I remind him that the sign of a good man is how he treats others.

Oh, a roll call.
A wealthy physician who is attempting to inaugurate the field of psychology, he has talked about training indentured workers a trade in nursing to better themselves (however he is rather arrogant and treats his current servant little better than a slave in most respects).
A dao town guardsman who ‘almost caught the infamous bandit the One Eyed Demon’ once, whilst riding ‘the horse of the old hero Panther’. During his ride, he saw a falling star. As luck would have it, ‘he knew the finest blacksmith in the known world’ and so ‘had the metal of the fallen star made into a sword’. He’s known for telling outlandish stories among the townsfolk. So far, all his outlandish tales are actually true. Knows some rudimentary earth magic.
A former adventurer known as Panther, now an old man and fisherman. He is known for his knowledge of coffee, and distant lands. He used to have a wildly fast horse with improbable stamina, said to be able to run from horizon to horizon. He recently won a wager by harnessing a giant fish to pull his boat.
A widowed caravan merchant, known for her ruthless business acumen. Sadly she was the second wife, but manages to keep the business afloat. She’s recently hired a caravan guard who is rumoured to be the One Eyed Demon.
A janni caravan guard, capable of some moderate wind magic. He has only one eye, lost in a fight many years ago. Rumours abound that he is the bandit prince, the One Eyed Demon, although he’s not as tall, his eyes don’t glow, he has no horns or wild hair, he doesn’t drink the blood of his enemies, and he looks after a young janni boy like a son. Sadly, he really is the One Eyed Demon, but has turned over a new leaf, and is attempting to find peace and prosperity.
An astronomer and arcanist, who lives in seclusion, but wanders into town to order odd pieces of equipment from the caravan. He teaches esoteric lessons to the children in town.

That’s it for now. I should be running a social experiment involving the court of the Sultana of Mawjabad, the City of Waves. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rules and abilities hold up.

Computer-assisted living

I’ve been thinking about a futuristic setting recently, and specifically about the computer programs available within it. The setting comes from a series of novels, and they’re told from the point of view of a deck jockey, a computer programmer, but he makes a point that most of his job is management of various programs that act on their own algorithmic agenda.
So I’ve been coming up with programs that would follow these different fits, based on what I think a character would want.

Aggies – aggregator bots.
A cross between a search engine and a RSS feed, you could keep them running at all times or send them out on a specific task. Examples would include:
Fetch, the basic searchbot. Would go out on request, crawl through the World Wide Mesh and collate what it found into a hyperlinked digest, similar to what we see on Wikipedia. Depending on the nature of the search query, and the nature of user/fetch, the data mined might appear immediately, or added to over time once various darknets are trawled, or even securities bypassed.
News, the basic feedbot. Would collate headlines from topics that the user has already inputted. Could collate data in a similar format to a news website or in a similar hyperlinked digest to Wikipedia. Would be programmed to pull from different sources, so an engineer or biologist could pull from journal publications, a glamour-bopping tween could pull from various celebrity magazines and so on.
Shopper, a feedbot that brings you the best deals on the products you want, groceries or tech. Would also have a fetch function.

Blackbooks – organiser bots.
The trend in online software suites makes me think this would be the natural extension of certain parts of Google’s products, as well as Apple’s Siri.
Would naturally include a calendar/organiser function, a contactbook for keeping phone/mail addresses (I don’t think we’re far from them being the same things, looking at Skype or Google Talk or Viber). Would collate emails for the user.
Would also likely have access to basic business or work software, so could produce documents or spreadsheets and so on.
Might include a scrobbler function, collating various pieces of data across different programs, so allows a news feed to update based on user location with local events, or a shopper bot to pick up on recent developments in tech that the user has been looking into via a fetch, or concert tickets for the latest boyband craze based on music preferences.

I’m currently working on others. Any ideas people think everyone would use in the future?

Queenstown part 4

The pseudo-district of Outwall is a shantytown built up along the main approaches to the city, as well as around the walls themselves. By far the largest outpouring is along the Old Kings Highway, west towards Kingsmead, also close to the Midlands River.
The poorest of the poor and those scraping the bottom of the barrel of their luck are to be found hereabouts, though some residents work inside the city walls and choose to stay by choice (or in some cases, coercion).

The place has none of the amenities of the city – no sewage system, no space for cellars or the frosthouses sometimes built within them t store food, and certainly little to no militia presence. These shortcomings are somewhat made up for by a can-do attitude of many of the residents, as well as beings able to openly bear arms without a formal writ. This loophole is what has let various streetgangs flourish, and it is ironically these and an overarching guild of thieves that keep the streets of Outwall safe (or as safe as anywhere without real law can be).

Hidden within the piecemeal markets, stench of tanners and crash of forges (for there is much industry in Outwall), there are several landmarks hidden away.
The Kingsroad Gate is among the grandest pieces of architecture in Queenstown. The Pit is an illegal coliseum, frequented by the rich and poor alike. The Thieves Guild operate out of Scabber’s Den, a secret safehouse-cum-bar-cum-marketplace. The Riverwitch’s Bridge is an old, now collapsed bridge that crossed the Midlands River at a wider but shallower part of its estuary, and some say the crumbling ruins are haunted.

The characters encountered in Outwall are some of the most colourful in the city, if also the least clean.
Shadrack is a scruffy beggar, often mistaken for a pile of rags when he sleeps. He also seems to know the in and outs of what goes on in Outwall, and in Queenstown itself, though he rarely converses with anyone who isn’t a beggar.
Scabber runs the Thieves Guild with an iron fist, and any who cross him soon find themselves joining the ghosts at the Riverwitch’s Bridge.
The Raven is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. A vigilante, he is only known by his raven-feather calling card, left upon the unconscious bodies of the crooks he encounters.
At any time, a wandering priest of the Traveler will minister to those that will listen, and sometimes more naive priests of the other gods and goddesses will attempt something similar.

That’s all for now, next up will be the nobles and their houses.

Further 12-sided Ramblings

I’ve been mulling over a d12 based system for a little while now, and I have the dice mechanic more or less worked out. My only big thing now is rolling doubles.

System so far is thus: roll 2d12, subtract the lowest from the highest, and add a skill value between 0 and 3. Compare that to a target number.
At first I thought rolling double 1 and double 12 would do something special, either bad or good, but then I thought about the poor numbers in the middle, and wanted to give them something to hope for.

The current idea buzzing around my head is have them play out for the 4 seasons. Only problem now is working out the spread. Do I have 1-3, 4-6 and so on, or 1 4 7 10 and 2 5 8 11 and so on as sets. I don’t want to make it too complicated, but I don’t really want to involve other dice like a d4 at all.
Avoiding complication is why I’m trying to avoid each double doing a different thing, but I don’t want it oversimplified with odds and evens or 1-6 and 7-12 (although I may give up and simplify to Summer and Winter if I have to).

Any feedback much appreciated.

A long gap in updates

First off, a quick apology. It’s been almost three months since I last wrote something here. I’ve been busy toying with ideas over at my other blog, and doing various other projects, with the Old Crown sat on the back burner whilst things stewed over in my mind. I’ll be resuming regular service soon. Today I’m focusing on some overall setting information that’s been stored up, and I’ll be back to more specific details shortly.

I’ve been toying with converting the setting to FATE but I think that most of that conversion should be handled by player. It shouldn’t just be up to me how different races and powers interact. The Legends of Anglerre has rules for everything from siege warfare to guild political machinations, so I’m sure there’s an easy resource to tap there, when I finish reading it all.

The different flavours of magic in the system have had a bit of a change, and therefore so have some of the adventurer archetypes.
Elementality was the magical style that directly manipulates the classical elements of fire, earth, water and air. I’ve recently been thinking that it made less sense to have Chi representing only the warrior monk archetype, so an idea of Chi being expressed internally and externally formed.
Internally focused Chi is what makes the warrior monk so powerful, making his fists more powerful, his muscles able to leap further or run faster. Externally focused Chi is now the expression of an individual’s connection to the world around them, and is always attuned to one element most strongly (therefore the element there are able to manipulate). The rules I had been working with come from a D&D 4E fan document of an Avatar: the Last Airbender setting, so I might be less stringent and allow multiclassing or hybrids of two elements, but not opposites (no air/earth controllers, no fire/water controller, but certainly space for earth/fire or earth/water etc.)

Next, I think some of the races might need to be culled a bit. Gnomes are gone entirely, since they barely registered at all, as are warforged. I may remove halflings from the Margravate too, but have them mentioned in passing as living in the Northern Imperial Republic, or appear among some crews of trade ships. They were going to include all manner of oddities like the now displaced warforged, mermen and dogmen (I may enjoy the film Treasure Planet a bit too much…)

Since there’s little to no extraplanar contact to any but Ascended beings (at least for the start of any adventures I had in mind), there’s a case for fauna to be touched in other ways. I had thought of any wild animal encounters to be warped by magic in some cases, perhaps dire animals, or perhaps oddities like owlbears or chimerae. I haven’t quite decided how that plays out, though I’ve a feeling I will when I develop the Raethmoore area in more detail.

And that’s it for that update. Next I’m going back to Queenstown to detail Outwall and the poorest parts of the city, and characters all over the place.