Friday, August 2, 2013


It would probably help, before launching into the next campaign, to explain the setting he’s using, because good lord is it bad.
Marty actually started out all right; he got his players together and asked for criteria for the setting for his new SUE System game. He got the following:
1. "rituals and shit" and perhaps some sort of part-human otherworldly entity
2. Something thematically similar to Call of Cthulhu
3.  "I wanna be a Russian gangster in the future". Thanks, Rick.
There was also a general wish for science fiction.
Now, as a Gedankenexperiment, I’d like you, dear reader, to consider those criteria, and the setting you’d select based on them. Please do share your conclusions before reading on.
I, looking at them, would go to Eclipse Phase, especially given that the mechanics are being swapped out. It doesn’t have ritualized magic per se, but it fits everything else, especially the CoC-like feeling of being completely out of one’s depth. The TITANs can be amazingly Lovecraftian.
And here’s where Marty’s train of thought raced off the nearest cliff. He picked Cthulhutech.
Have a review/rant/sporking by a better writer than I:
If ever there was a game created especially for Marty, it would be this. It’s one of a very short, sickening list of games that I categorically refuse to run. Every time I read it, I find something new to avoid.
Others have gone into the many reasons why marrying poorly implemented Lovecraftian mythos to anime is a horrible idea. They’ve noted the creepy, repugnant obsessions of the authors with using sex crimes as a plot device and preventing the players from intervening. The adventures are railroads, the magic is useless, the history makes no sense and the goddamn art is vomit-inducingly sexist. It’s three RPGs in one and a tabletop strategy game strapped on top of them, all using a ruleset that can’t decide what the hell power level it wants.
Marty literally described the setting as “Cthulutechwithoutthesexstuff!” because I’d turned around and started walking away at the first word. Okay, sanitized CT might just suck in the usual way. Color me more curious than disgusted. He needn’t have, though: he didn’t use all of CT, just the worst parts.
I feel like a riff. Have his “general knowledge briefing”:
The year is 2085.  Humanity, and their genetic ‘cousins’ the Nazzadi, are now unified into a single global government, though all is not well.  The world is embroiled in war.  The alien migou, creators of the Nazzadi and the formerly-hidden menace of humanity, have invaded from their home of Yuggoth, determined to enslave humanity and exterminate the Nazzadi.  Cultists, influenced by forbidden gods, have also begun to summon horrible creatures and are tearing across Asia.  They are known as the Rapine Storm. 
The Mi-go are the BBEGs? What the hell happened to the mythos? We should be dead, not engaged in a war.
Though not all is lost.  Magic is well known to the populace, though it is highly regulated.  More importantly, though, arcanotech – magical and scientific principles unified into technology – has touched every walk of life. Vehicles now operate on clean energy, handheld devices have amazing power capabilities, and mecha have become the choice tools of war.  Further, with higher-power batteries (known as D-Cells), many walks of technology have dramatically improved.
…you aren’t going to let us have any of this, are you? And mecha aren’t limited by technology, they’re limited by bipeds being a horrible shape to build large fighting machines in. Falling forward without falling down is a hell of a locomotion system to try on a giant metal thing.
With alien and monstrous invaders, human differences have been put in perspective.  Religious beliefs, sexual preferences, race, sex…  We’re all human’ish.  The Nazzadi, though created by the migou, have since been very helpful in all walks of life, and now are only barely a minority, comprising 40% of the population.  There are occasionally harsh feelings, especially in more rural areas, but more on that will be discussed later.
Think history class from High School.  You probably know that stuff.  9/11 is now a historical event taught in school and such, but what matters more is the recent history.
We learned very different things in high school history class, Marty. Tell me again how Alexander the Great conquered Europe.
The New United Nations (NUN) was formed as a stronger version of the original United Nations in 2015.  Around 2030 was when arcanotech was first invented.  Specifically, the D-Engine.  That’s the inexhaustible energy source that provides power to your house, that runs the big mecha on the front lines, etc. 
Its introduction, though, sparked the New Cold War.  All those oil producing countries were worried, and rightly so, that their main export was in danger, so they seceded from the NUN.  China joined them.  Why?  Because their communist country didn’t like the democratic nature of the NUN, and they felt it was a good enough excuse.  Nothing really came of it. 
Communism and democracy aren’t necessarily opposed, Marty. Also, “all those oil producing countries” like…us?
During that time, we also created some undersea bases and some colonies on the moon, Mars, and various moons of Saturn and Jupiter.  We lost the space colonies during the time leading up to the First Arcanotech War.  Speaking of which…
The First Arcanotech War started in the late 2050’s or maybe the early 2060’s.  If you’re good at history, it was 2059.  The First Arcanotech War was when the Nazzadi landed from their spaceships.  They started the war, and it was then that the New United Nations put aside their differences and unified under a single government.  China and all them signed up quickly as well, with the threat of alien invasion and all that.  That government is our own benevolent New Earth Government (NEG).  It only lasted for about 6 years, but it was one hell of a bloody war.
Turns out that the Nazzadi didn’t know that the migou made them, well, except for the top generals or something like that.  This dude called Field Marshal Vreta apparently realized how similar we are in the long run, and started telling the Nazzadi the truth.  They were pissed, and a full ¾ of the Nazzadi broke away and joined up with the NEG after a very short peace talk.  The remaining loyalists didn’t stand much of a chance after that.
So we started to rebuild.  The NEG tried very hard to integrate the Nazzadi into the cities and the NEG, and even gave them the land of Cuba/Haiti as their own state of Nazza-Duhni inside the NEG.  During this decade of reconstruction is when most of the arcologies went up.  The arcologies are, of course, the giant buildings that house cities.  They’re big giant buildings, built like fortresses without, and are designed to mimic outside conditions within themselves to keep people from feeling like their perpetually indoors.  LCD screens show clouds and sun movements, fake breezes blow through the streets, and it even ‘rains’ from time to time.
Then the migou attacked.  We thought it would be round two of the Arcanotech War.  That’s why they called in the Second Arcanotech War in the history books.  …we were wrong.  Ground zero of the invasion was a bloodbath.  Then the Cults showed up.  The Esoteric Order of Dagon destroyed the underwater bases and captured coastlines around the world.  The Rapine Storm showed up out of nowhere and killed a huge chunk of southeast Asia.  It was then that we stopped calling it the Second Arcanotech War.  We call it the Aeon War, now.
We’ve survived this long, though.  (stop it stop it stop it! Stop making the mythos survivable!) The migou have captured Russia, Greenland, Alaska, and a large portion of northern Europe and Asia.  They also own Antarctica uncontested.  The Rapine Storm has cut a swath through central Asia, and has pressed down through Indonesia to aim for Australia.  The EOD holds miles of coastline along South America and Africa.  But so far, we have held firm to the vast majority of the Americas, Africa, Australia, and have been making our foes pay in blood for each foot of Europe and Asia they take. (Quit making Call of Cthulhu into Call of Duty.)
Then the Ashcroft Foundation, they’re the ones who invented Arcanotech in the first place, figured out how to make Engels.  Engels are big ol’ mecha.  And they’re powerful.  Damn powerful.  They’ve turned the tide of this whole damn war, or at least that’s what the media says.  We’ve been holding the line since they came into play.  It’s just a matter of time before we start pushing back.
Marty, you’re doing the thing where you try to sound folksy. “Well, these are just big ‘ol inherently unstable fightin’ vehicles powered by Ma’s Homestyle Pan-Fried Dimensional Generators. Jeb’s got one on blocks in the front yard. Gonna add a spoiler to it.”
Magic and Para-psychics
Once arcanotech was figured out by the Ashcroft Foundation, it was kind of hard to deny the fact that there was magic.  With acceptance, came government regulation.  Some magic is legal, some magic is legal with a permit, and other magic is outright illegal.  Also, occult tomes follow the same classification.  In addition, anyone who practices magic has to register with the government.  It is not generally advisable to break these laws.  Most carry an automatic life sentence.  Despite that, there is still a thriving black market for all things magical, generally known as the Arcane Underground.
Magic is exclusively ritual based.  (From a mechanics standpoint, the Arcanist class is unavailable, at least in the beginning.  Scholar with assets focused on Ritual is probably your best bet as a sorcerer, though this also means that it is easier to dabble in the available magic.) 
Then there are para-psychics.  These folks have an innate ability to wield magic.  No ritual, no expensive digital documents to study, no assistants, none of that stuff.  Just a thought, and there you are.  (Mechanically, I’m probably going to work on the Sorcerer class and tool it towards this effect.  Spontaneous caster requiring special genetics?  Check.)  Para-psychics are born, not trained, though many may go some time without displaying that they have any sort of inner power.  There are three classifications of these powers:   Acceptable, Dangerous, and Invasive.  Para-psychics with exclusively acceptable powers are the lucky ones.  They can go about their lives as normal.  Dangerous powers that can harm others, or Invasive powers such as mind reading or mind control, require their owner to wear visible identification at all times.  This hurts their social lives about as much as you might think.  Also, they can be sure the OIS will watch them for the rest of their lives.  More on those folks when we talk about the Government.
What a benevolent government you have there, with the mandatory public identification.
All kids go through aptitude testing for magical and para-psychic potential while in school.  Those who score high are put on a watch list for later.  The former especially can often get scholarships and such if they choose to pursue sorcery later (if they properly register, of course), and many colleges have classes in occult theory and teach basic magical rituals.
The NEG is the government for all humans and Nazzadi on Earth.  Well, the ones that haven’t gone mad and joined a cult, or the Nazzadi that haven’t betrayed all of us by going back to the Migou.  It follows a basic federal system.  The capital of the NEG is located in the Chicago arcology, and then there are a number of individual states that each answer to the central authority of the NEG as a whole.  The whole thing works like the old USA’s system of states and feds. 
So, how about those feds?  Well, you’ve got at least the OIS, FSB, and GIA.  The OIS is the Office of Internal Security.  They’re responsible for dealing with enforcing magical law.  They’re the ones who go after rogue sorcerers, put down things that creep into this world through illegal rituals, and find unregistered para-psychics.  It’s said that dabbling in illegal magicks get your status as ‘mortal’ rescinded until they can prove otherwise.  If you’re found mortal, then you can stand trial for crimes.  Inalienable mortal rights only apply to mortals.  The movies sure like to play up the dark OIS folks from time to time, but really, you’ve got nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong…
Right. We get to fight the OIS, right? Because “you’ve got nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong” is the mating call of the common yellow-bellied authoritarian.
By contrast, the FSB are the good guys.  Crisp suits and good manners get these agents where they need to go.  They act much like the USA’s old FBI, but the Federal Security Bureau is all about keeping people safe.  They go after cross-state criminals, serial rapists/arsonists/killers, terrorists, etc.  Most importantly, they have the job of hunting down and breaking up cults.  Cults aren’t just on the outside, there are some that hide inside the walls of arcologies, too.  The FSB are the ones hunting them down so you can sleep well at night.
So the good guys are the ones doing warrantless sneak-and-peeks and invading our privacy. Good guys, I can tell.
Then there’s the GIA, the General Intelligence Agency.  Well, when the NEG formed, all the biggest and best spy networks in the world got to play together to face off against a single enemy.  Mossad, MI6, the CIA…  One big happy family now.  These spooks can be a bit scary, but at least they’re on our side.  And hell, if information can win this war, more power to them.
Marty… Mossad are never “on our side”, let alone the goddamn CIA. Spies are never on your side. They’re just against your enemies. You’re just handing me targets, here; I can’t tell who’s more likely to be tapping my phone.
The migou created the Nazzadi, gave them false memories of a false homeworld, and sent them to conquer us so that we humans wouldn’t know that they were out there.  Maybe they were just lazy, but they decided not to reinvent the wheel.  They just took human DNA, and gave their creations jet-black skin, red eyes, and some slightly sharper teeth.  Besides their great night vision, they’re basically identical to us.  I guess it was supposed to be scary or some such.
Wait, what? These are the Mi-Go, the brains in jars guys, and they just left the human genome alone? That isn’t lazy, that’s suicidally stupid.
When they found out from Vreta that their whole life was a lie, they didn’t take it well.  Most of them couldn’t sign up with us fast enough.  I think we all would have been more suspicious of them if they didn’t personally lead the charge to root out and kill any of their kind still loyal to the migou.  Whatever the case, we’re the same species by biological definition, and there are plenty of Xenomixes out there to prove it. 
They represent a full 40% of the population now, so most people don’t look twice anymore, even those of us old enough to remember the First Arcanotech War.  Some of the folks in the rural regions are still a bit prejudiced, but the country folk are never quite as accepting of others as the city goers.
Right. Because urbanites are always so progressive.
The Nazzadi culture had no taboo with regard to nudity.  They’ve always worn clothing for practical reasons, but they also have always maintained their fashion on the risqué side.  Modern fashion in recent years has been embracing the Nazzadi fashions, and many designers have been bringing less fabric to their lines.
Marty you said you were getting rid of the creepy shit what the hell are you doing
Just sucks to be the xenomixes, though.  If you couldn’t get it from context, they’re the kids from a mixed human/Nazzadi couple.  The Nazzadi don’t like them:  something about the Nazzadi race being too new to be diluted or something like that.  They don’t mind the mixed kids as much if they are brought up in the burgeoning Nazzadi culture, but that usually rubs the human parent the wrong way, and makes the xenomix fit into human society poorly.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I guess.
What the hell? There’s no prejudice, but there’s still issues with miscegenation? How dissonant can you get?
Then there are the Whites.  Sometimes, instead of the expected shade of grey, a xenomix comes out stark white.  They aren’t albino’s, just white as snow.  They’re an odd bunch.  They’re distant and antisocial.  …and para-psychic.  Every last one of them.
Because white people have to be special.
Crime and Entertainment
Though these may seem like a dichotomist, or at least ironic, pairing, the intention is partially to discuss how the government has softened many illegal activities to the extent of them being entirely common place in the modern day.
War is hell, so they say.  Enough people getting Aeon War Syndrome these days would probably agree.  Either the government didn’t want to deal with arresting people for more stuff during this time of war, or they just wanted to keep our minds off things.  Either way, they legalized a bunch of stuff.  It’s even socially acceptable, now. 
Most soft drugs have been opened up.  They’re government regulated, just like any food or medical industry is, but it’s easy to get Ecstasy at a party, or find some joints in a grocery store.  Cigarettes are also still around, but the NEG made those companies strip out all the addictive things from them. 
More addictive stuff is more closely regulated.  The feds only let you get so much of them per month to help lessen the risk of addiction.  And of course, they’ve got people to help you quit if you want to.  There aren’t ‘addicts’ in the same way as there used to be now.  Well, very few of them, anyway.  Some of these regulated drugs are things like Percocet and Vicodin, Cocain, Opium, etc.  It won’t kill you to do a little, and as long as you don’t get more through the black market, you probably won’t be addicted.
Then there are the hard drugs.  Methamphetamines and Heroin, especially, are still illegal.  That shit will rot your brain on top of being highly addictive.  If you’re looking for a high, go find something sold at a club, or maybe try one of the designer drugs out there.
Cracking my knuckles over here. Finally, something I can talk about intelligently! First thing: It’s not ecstasy. It’s 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine. It’s not a fun drug; it causes suicidal depression once the acute effects wear off and it’s playing merry hell with your serotonin levels. Tuesday Blues are not the kind of thing you want when you’re trying to distract your populace from their hellish lives in a goddamn police state.
And joints? Seriously? Setting aside the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol itself, smoking is bad for you. Dumping particulates into your lungs leads to dead lungs, eventually, and in any case is a ridiculously inefficient way of getting anything into your system but crap. Very few pharmaceutical compounds are designed to be administered by setting them on fire.
Cigarettes…I will assume he means tobacco cigarettes, in which case the “addictive stuff” is primarily nicotine and we’re left with little cylinders of what? Tar? Marty, no one gets addicted to lighting a stick on fire and holding it in their face. If there’s no nicotine in cigarettes, there will be no tobacco cigarettes.
It gets worse. Opioid abuse is just ten different kinds of nasty, and I’d love to know how they’re not addictive when “controlled”.  
In addition, prostitution is legal, now.  Government keeps track of it to screen the workers for health issues, and to make sure that everything’s on the up and up.  ‘Escorts’ all work out of bordellos, which can be found in most non-residential districts.  And similarly, pornography has lost the stigma.  As long as it is consensual, and involves neither an animal nor an individual under 16, it’s legal, and probably exists for sale somewhere.
Because we can definitely legislate the stigma away. Get your Rule 34 out of my game, Marty…
Arcanotech is an obvious place to start, here.  Ever since Teresa Ashcroft first started pioneering the way for the discipline, arcanotech has been the key to our technological progress.  The main thing we’ve got out of it is the D-Engine.  This is an unlimited clean energy source.  It’s big, so most cars and powered armor can’t use one, but our mecha and cities are run by them.  And if that wasn’t awesome enough, there’s something called the Operator Extension Side Effect.  When you pilot a D-Engine vehicle, the vehicle seems more like an extension of yourself than something you’re piloting.  That’s why mecha are the new tool of war.  They take far more advantage of this than something like a tank.
Do tell. “I can really feel it when my giant upright target gets hit in the chest; it’s just like being stabbed myself! This is so much better than a nice boxy tank!”
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. You’re still handing control of multiple tons of killing machinery to a fragile bag of squishy tissues. It’s already a huge waste of mass and volume on fighter jets, as well as the lowest limit of their maneuverability. Something with limbs has even less expendable space and requires even tighter control of its mass to stay balanced; look at how much of our musculature is devoted to stabilization. Throwing a few hundred kilos of pilot, life support, armor, and interface onto a biped is just so much more trouble than it needs to be when you don’t want a pilot in the first place. That’s not to say legged vehicles don’t have their place, but less Gundam, more AT-TE.
Now, human-sized humanoid robots are another matter (assuming you want them to use existing machines designed for human morphology), but unless you want to create the 1st Mechanized Piggy-Back Riders they’re not being piloted.
There are two types of D-Engines:  Class A and Class B.  Class A engines are BIG.  They’re generally only used on either the big battle-cruisers of the military, or cascaded together to provide power for a city.  The Class B’s are the smaller version,  and those are what are used for mecha and larger commercial A-Pod (see below) vehicles.
For smaller things, though, we have D-Cells.  They can’t make their own energy, but these little cells can hold a lot of power, and be recharged a lot.  Most cars, and just about anything else that’s portable use these.  The operator side effect isn’t really a factor here, either.  They have allowed for some really awesome personal computers, though, known as PCPU’s or ‘Peeks’.
D-Cells do allow for little tiny mecha that are just barely taller than a person.  These are generally known as powered armor.  Alright, so nine to ten feet tall is a bit taller than a person, but still, compared to the 20+ ft tall full-size mecha, they’re pretty damn tiny.  They are the match of an entire squad of normal troops, while still being useful in close quarters like inside arcologies.  The police use them for really tough resistance.
No, no they are not. Try flanking someone with one soldier sometime. This is better than the ridiculous mecha, at least.
There are three classes of D-Cells.  A Class 1 D-Cell is typically used for smaller vehicles or non-integrated mecha weaponry, as well as back-up power for hospitals and similar important locales.  A single cell can easily drive a standard vehicle 48 hours before recharging, though most vehicles employ multiple cells.  The Class 2 cells are usually used for powered armor or motorcyles.  They are about the size of a brick.  Devices with very small power consumption, like hand-held weapons and PCPU’s, use Class 3 D-Cells.  These can power such devices for over a year without recharging.  A D-Cell can be recharged at any D-Engine recharge station in 1-15 minutes.
Another wonderful application of arcanotech are the A-Pods.  Full antigravity technology has made commercial flying even more practical, since the craft no longer need to rely on traditional forms of lift, allowing for much larger and much heavier flying machines.  Further, A-Pods are usually used to provide horizontal thrust for cars and other ground vehicles.  Between D-Cells and A-Pods, cars effectively are completely unreliant on the old combustion engines.  It’s also emission-less, which helps improved air quality relative to the past couple centuries.
Wait, what? Antigravity definitionally works one way. It works up. How the hell are you converting that to forward motion? If it’s just a thruster…efficiency much? You can have as much power as you want, but maybe you’d get more than two days of runtime out of your car if you pushed against the road rather than the air.
Outside of arcanotech, though, there are also great advanced that have been made in nanotechnology.  Nanotech is highly regulated, and there are MANY safeguards in place to prevent it from being tampered with.  Generally, it’s just used for manufacturing, and for a moderate cost, you can buy your own nanofactory.  Still have to buy whatever you want before the factory will make it, but hey, instant delivery, right?  And not only that, but some uses can be purchased permanently, like programs to repair a damaged part or a ripped piece of clothing put into the home nano-factory.  The actual size of these home units is usually about the same as a washing machine. 
Ha…hahahaha… you keep using that word and it does NOT mean what you think it means. We have nanofabrication, and we only use it to manufacture conventional goods on pay-per-use liscences? Where are the deconstructors? Where are the scanners? Heck, where’s the open source nanite control software? You cannot expect me to take seriously the idea that we have the ability to build a shovel from the molecular level up and we aren’t using it everywhere.  
Medicine has also met with leaps and bounds.  Nanotechnology allows for non-invasive surgery, as well as allowing doctors to rapidly fabricate organs and limbs created directly from the patient’s own genome.  As this implies, cloning is within our current capabilities.  It has, however, been outlawed by the NEG to avoid dealing with a potentially morally grey field during this time of existing hardship.
And I’m quite sure no one violates the law, right? This is the War on Drugs all over again, only now it’s the War on Clones. Or, dare I say it…the Clone Wars? Seriously though, it’d be nearly impossible to trace, and in any case I can hand you a list a mile long of narcissists who want to raise themselves. Heck, I dated one once.
Psychiatry and psychology have also made great leaps due to the unfortunate tendency of those working on arcanotechnology to suffer psychological damage from the strain of things humans were not meant to know.  Additionally, the so called Aeon War Syndrome is common both in and out of the warzone.
Additionally, Automated Patient Diagnostics Machines (APDM’s) are located in most work places or public kiosks.  If you feel ill, you can go to one of these machines, and it will download your medical profile from your PCPU (see below).  Just select your medical symptoms from a list, and place your hand on the sensor pad.  The APDM can quickly diagnose the nature of most illnesses, the best possible treatment based on your profile, and any recommended prescription medication.  The hand sensor measures pulse, temperature, and can take small blood samples and run genescans.  Other sensors scan the remaining vital signs.  The APDM can forward any prescriptions to the pharmacy of your choice, and make appointments with clinics for any necessary follow-up care. 
Oh, joy. I really want to use WebMD to prescribe myself medication based on self-reported symptoms, especially with medical equipment battered around by years of idiot users. Besides, how long before the Vicodin addicts up there hack the kiosk for infinidrugs?
Computing has changed over from solid-state gates to molecular switching, gaining a great deal of increased efficiency and speed.  This also reduces size greatly, allowing people to literally wear computing devices as jewelry.  Containing personal and encrypted information, a person’s Personal Central Processing Unit (PCPU) can interface to any Public Area Network (PAN) access point located throughout most major cities.  People can remotely access stocks, bank accounts, and web pages pretty much at any time, especially arcology residents.  PCPU’s also manage wireless subscriber account information, and act as gateways for any personal telecommunications device, typically utilizing wireless earpieces with built-in microphones. 
PCPU’s come in many shapes and sizes from wrist-strapped devices to decorative pendants.  Some sport internal displays, while others rely on wireless devices to connect to.  All PCPU’s come with voice command features that allow for executing simple tasks such as voice calling and browsing web favorites.  Holo-Interface Units (HIU’s or Hi-Yous) are quite popular.  About the size of a pen, then can be placed on a flat surface to project a holographic keyboard and monitor display.  Larger holographic systems also exist for places needing more robust functionality, such as flight control centers and military command centers.  Manipulation of holo icons is supplemented by Augmented Reality, which can be built into just about any form of glasses or other head-gear.
Limited artificial intelligences (LAI) are found everywhere from robotics to the programmed ‘personality’ used for PCPU’s.  These LAI, though ‘smart’ and able to recognize casual voice commands, are fundamentally limited.  Though they imitate it fairly well, they cannot actually think for themselves, and are not self-aware.  This generally limits their use, especially in robotics.  Generally, the only robots you will see are children’s toys.  Developing true AI has been ruled illegal by the NEG, for similar reasons as cloning.
We have LAI, and we still have piloted mechs. I’m not even touching the frequency crunch in a box, the lower limit of electric computation element size, or the species-wide lobotomy needed to confine robotics to toys.
Finally, we have weapons.  Though those big mecha have energy weapons, we can’t generate enough power for small scale to have hand-held energy weapons.  That said, there have been advances in good ol’ projectile weapons.  Electrokinetic weapons are frequently used, especially for rifles, for their increased range and damage.  They are virtually silent besides the crack of breaking the sound barrier.  Gas-powered needlers have also been produced.  Using highly compressed gas, they fire sub-sonic needles almost silently.  The one downside to needlers is that they don’t deal as much damage, and the magazines come pre-sealed with rounds and a gas cartridge, making battlefield reuse impossible.  Plenty of chemically fired projectiles still abound, especially in handguns.
Wait, we have railguns but not electrolasers, dazzlers, or…okay, fine. Whatever. I’m still getting over the subsonic lethal paintball guns from hell up there.
The currency of the NEG is the Terranote (Tn) is roughly twice that of the old USA dollar.  Fractions of a Tn are counted in Terracoins (tc) with 100 tc being equal to one Tn.  From the time of the early 21st century, inflation has raised costs by approximately 40%.  As such, a $35,000 car would cost about 24,500 Tn.
So there we go. Next time, our players!


  1. Heck, I dated one once.

    You dated Marty? O_o

    1. Goodness me, no. I dated a more subdued version of his distaff counterpart.

      Briefly. Extremely briefly.

  2. Why doesn't the Web-MD kiosk have a nano-factory built in? Why aren't we just printing new robots to fight our wars, with the raw materials being recovered from the battlefield during the battle?

  3. I have issues with your issues. I was going to reply somewhere else, but that thread ran away from me.

    First off - I've not seen anything that the new government does in terms of monitoring that our own government doesn't do worse. If anything, it's lighter on it. If it weren't for the GM's notorious badness, I'd have given him the benefit of the doubt. Also - your irrational hatred of spies is misplaced and misinformed. The only issue I saw with the prostitution/pornography issue was that it was worth mentioning.

    On the "You can feel what your mech is feeling" - I'm guessing that it's not pain that's transmitted, but it's instead arcanotech-augmented Haptics, which are DAMN USEFUL in their ability to transmit information faster than waiting for visual or audio cues. It allows instant appraisal of the armor/mech's condition far faster and more clearly than flashing lights or warning buzzers (Or simple "Not doing what it should"), and it also neatly solves much of the stability issue with mechs by routing the stability-solution coordinates through a processor that's been developed to handle complex bipedal locomotion over millions of years. As for still being controlled by footpedals and hand controls... You making it sound impossible is like saying it's impossible for a gamer to play a 3-D action game with any degree of precision. Given the arcanotech haptics, it's not really an issue (Unless the controls are set up like QUOP) It just takes a bit of training to get used to.

    Just from the setting description... I'd imagine Nanofabricators are like superCNC machines - they can do anything, but they're damn expensive to own and operate. However... the pay-per-use system sounds stupid, but I could see it being implemented by a company that produces stripped-down nanofactories using proprietary designs (Which, even then, would still be sold at a loss), with the money instead coming in from sales of one-shot fabrication kits/recipes (Jacked up in price to offset the loss the actual machine's sold at). Corporate do-anything machines would cost a fortune, much like a modern CNC machine or high-quality robotics set-up, or as a computer did back in the 50's/60's.

    On the "LIA Robotics are only used in toys" - Eh... I figure that's hyperbole (And probably a result of sanitization of the setting), and more "as the average consumer sees the world" - MOST extremely-powerful modern computers are used for nothing more than playing video games. I imagine by "Robotics", he means autonomous robots, not six-axis arms bolted to the wall used in modern manufacturing and assembly. Most industries would probably still using old robots they got 20-50 years ago, with an occassional upgrade to the software package or new adapter/control panel bolted on every other year or so. A lot of industries would be using nanofabrication as cutting-edge manufacturing solutions. All the "Gee-whiz-bang Robotics" that most people see would be novelties/toys (Or hardly better) - just like the most advanced artificial intelligences nowadays are in video games.

    I figure "True Artificial Intelligence is banned" is a result of a knee-jerk, overzealous legislative action to prevent the ethical rights issues that keep coming up. The difference between having an LIA controlling a mech and an actual pilot is like the difference between having a Player controlling an FPS character and having it be controlled by a Bot - It's hard enough making optimal reactive and proactive AIs even when they're controlled by the same system that dictates the environment. Having the environment also have to be percieved would increase the difficulty of programming LAI for it exponentially. The advances in electronics, if anything, are on the cautious side.

    1. Just in general: If you want to read into this differently than I do, that's fine. Assume, figure, and imagine whatever makes sense for you; it'd make a better game than this. But I have to read this knowing Marty wrote it, and knowing what he means when he says things, which means a less than charitable interpretation much of the time.

    2. I had less of an issue with CT, but more of an issue of how everything was contradictorily "PERFECT" and impossible for us to do anything at the same time. Keep in mind that we were all pretty much ok with trying CT before this, and that while many of the various individual things in CT can be explained away logically (or as logically as magic tech can be explained), It Wasn't.
      We were forced to piece together the setting from what we were told (since most of us weren't allowed to see any of the CT rulebooks, since we weren't using the system and only got to know what the GM wanted us to know about the setting).

      tldr; A good GM could make this setting work, with people predisposed to the system. This was not the case, and the setting performed very poorly with the GM in this case.

    3. I figure that's the case... but I'm speaking up in defense of the system! I highly disagree with several points of the sporking from Something Awful (That site lives up to its name) - while not perfect, the setting and system are not as bad as what Marty mutated it into.

  4. In Marty's defence here, none of this was his idea. It's just the CthulhuTech setting as written. Also, a lot of your gripes about technology are a little overly... gripy. The game is "Lovecraftian horrors versus giant robots," what part of that made you think it was meant to be realistic? :P The setting has mecha because mecha are cool, not because they make sense in the real world. As for the utopian nature of the NEG, I think... I *think* that it's meant to be a facade masking the true horror behind the scenes, though I have never been able to be exactly sure one way or the other. The fact that the sex. drugs and cheerfully embraced magic of NEG society would be exactly how Lovecraft would imagine a thoroughly degenerate, about-to-lose-its-humanity future human race might not be a coincidence.

    That said, I can see why Marty would like the game, since he and the authors seem to share a number of odious habits. The belief that endless boring detail = a better setting, for one. The belief that a roleplaying game is basically a guided tour through a story of the GM's design, with player involvement not only unnecessary but actively disruptive. The belief that they (Marty and the CthulhuTech designers) are far more knowledgable about everything than they are, and the badly hidden disdain for everyone who doesn't share their views. And, of course, the sense of racism and sexism that you can never quite pin down but that you can always feel hovering somewhere just out of reach.

    ... actually, I keep wondering if that last one is intentional. The feeling of "something here is very wrong, but I can't quite put my finger on what" that you get from reading the CthulhuTech core book is actually very Lovecraftian.

    1. I quite agree. Taken by itself, I'd completely ignore any sense of realism -- but this was pitched, by Marty, as "realistic".

      The authors knew, to a degree, what they were doing. Marty did not.

  5. You know... I could see myself using this setting. But pretty much all of the stuff you mentioned would be in there, plus some other bits and bobs (we have flying cars and need houses, but the roads aren't in the air?) and most of the "but what about"s from my players would get a resounding "why not?"

    I guess the problem is that I wouldn't present it as either realistic or an utopia. And, unlike the way your GM seems to have turned out, I learned my lessons early in my GMing career and while I wouldn't say I was great, I at least know that interfering Sue DMPCs, railroading, and blocking PCs growth are no-nos. Yeesh, I wish someone would bounce Marty on his head a couple times and tell him "No, BAD."

  6. Honestly when you mentioned the criteria my mind immediately went to Dark Heresy. Granted, never played Eclipse Phase (though I hear good things about it). But it's generally my gripe I've had with Mythos Inspired games, be it board games or otherwise. I understand the principle being that things suck, shit gets worse on you all the time, and really the best thing you can hope to do is effectively play for a draw and make it so that your Doom happens another day. You're not supposed to kill the badguy, you're trying to survive it, etc.

    Cthulhu based games that I've seen have never really gotten that feel right. Everytime I've played it, it felt more like I was playing DnD. Where the response to something like a monster showing up is "Kill it with prejudice then loot them room for stuff we'll need later". And it works in those games. Which mystifies me as it seems almost entirely contrary to the selling point that everyone tells me about. The reason I am sold on the game doesn't exist, and it makes me go "Why aren't we just playing DnD, or d20 modern, or Prime Directive, or..." as fits.

    But I actually liked Dark Heresy for that reason, Until you start getting up there towards Ascension levels? I mean it is NOT a combat game. Until you get to the point where you're decked out in full carapace armor, running around with rare weapons like Plasma guns, Inferno Pistols, etc, etc, etc... you don't want to get into a fight. Even a low level nothing ganger is a threat you have to take seriously. So the answer to "And suddenly you see a Chaos Marine" isn't "I shoot it in the face!!!" it's "RUN AWAY!"

    And because the system is so lethal, you start thinking of things to do and how to solve problems not involving just murdering everything until you win. Which opens up the investigating. The horror of knowing things you're not supposed to know, of having to actually avoid the things in the darkness hunting for you, etc, trying to find a way to stop them without having to resort to shooting it in the face until the last possible moment, hopefully with the odds stacked in your favor. And in the end, even if you win? All you've done is delay doom for another day. There's still more out there, there's no magic button you press to win the Imperium forever.

    I dunno, it's been a very satisfying system and campaigns for me. Right mix of the Sci-Fi elements, dystopian elements, and mystical elements, horror, corruption, insanity, investigation, etc. Always been what the Mythos promises me it really is.

  7. If Marty is so terrible why the hell did your group put up with him? Why did no one tell him he couldn't run a game because he was so terribly awful.

  8. I admit I only know of a Cthulhutech secondhand, "The Mythos is survivable" is a comforting lie the NEG presents to the public and the early books to the player. They're losing the war, badly, and this will only get worse as the major Mythos players get involved -- the only way humanity can even potentially survive is by ceasing to be human and becoming another Mythos race.

  9. Okay, just ps the criteria and here's my take on ot:

    A heavily magitech setting where Russia took over the world, and in their space travels encountered/developed something like the Guiver suits. The Guviers would be more magic than tech, requiring rituals, sacrifices, etc. to run properly and probably be a passive sanity drain while worn and actively wear your sanity down when actually used.

  10. A lot of this comes off as ZeRoller just being determined to not have fun.
    Like seriously, it's a setting that wherein there exists the opportunity to piledrive an Elder God in a Mech.

    And for some reason that appears to make you mad. If I hadn't been made aware of what an incredible assfuck Marty was, I'd say there's a lot of revisionism going on here.

    1. Nah, CthulhuTech is pretty fucking gross, although from what it says here it seems that Marty was (at least mostly) true to his word about cutting out the sex stuff.

      I mean, I'll agree that complaining about tech level realism is kind of silly, but beyond that all the critique of the society the game sets out is pretty accurate. Not to mention the racist undertones.

    2. "Racist Undertones"
      Gee, I wonder why this setting appealed to Marty...

  11. A few years ago, a friend of mine and I came across this game...and we actually got excited for it. Why? Because it was new, different and appealed to a few things we liked. Speaking for myself, I'm a pretty big fan of Robotech and Guyver, and when I found out that the game was basically copy-paste Seasons 1-3 of Robotech, Guyver and Neon Genesis Evangelion (which I'm actually not a fan of, but the Engels were kind of cool) with a Lovercraftian paint job dumped on it, I figured "Well, this is about as close as I'm going to get to playing Guyver or Robotech; and this doesn't look too bad (if you downplay the Mythos....). This might be pretty cool!" So we both decided to run games.... Boy, did that go over like a lead balloon. My friend tried to run the Mech portion of the game while I concentrated on the Tagers. What killed our games? The system, honestly. The setting didn't help. If the system wasn't so clunky (at least form my perspective, but then I'm not great on crunch), I'd say cut out the Mythos bit and just say "Hey, we're playing Guyver". But after these two games failed, the final nail in the coffin that drove us to delete our pdf's and strike the name of Cthulhutech from our gaming libraries and tables was that one book that basically gave a huge, middle finger to nearly all religions and creeds. It's a bad move to put really insulting things regarding real religions and creeds in your product that you're trying to sell to people who might belong to said religions and creeds? Maybe I'm crazy? But yeah, I'm in agreement with the author. There are some parts of his commentary that came across as a bit too snarky for me; but after reading what sort of player Marty is beforehand, I realize alot of the aggravation that poured into each and every word typed. I feel bad for "That Guy" players who really just don't get it. And even when they do try, they mess it up beyond salvation.

  12. Okay, what I would have gone with for this?

    1) World of Darkness: God-Machine. The G-M is an otherworldly, uncaring, incomprehensible, phenomenally powerful being literally made of gears and rituals; and it's present-day or slight future, so the Mob's still a thing. You've even got part-otherworldly beings in the form of Demons, Cryptids, and Stigmatics. Only drawback is I'm not entirely sure it was a thing when this was happening.

    2) Shadowrun. Russian mobster in the future? Check. Magic with "rituals and shit"? Check. Heavy investigative portion? Check, depending on style. Cthulhu-like beings? Horrors.

  13. This setting... war of the worlds vs mythos enemy. Still has working government that can enact an tightly control all kinds of laws we in our current world without a planet spanning war cannot. You would expect laws to be less effective and not more.

    And this "prostitution is legal, now. Government keeps track of it to screen the workers for health issues, and to make sure that everything’s on the up and up. ‘Escorts’ all work out of bordellos," just shows that the guys thinking about this have no idea how sex work works. (Governement involvement for 'reasons' is actually a major problem in a lot of the sex industry. And brothels are another way prostitutes are traditionally kept down. Lot of 1984 like double speak going on in that industry. But that is not really relevant for rpgs.

  14. Just briefly, inflation. How the hell can you say the Tn is twice the USD, unless it buys twice as much? I mean, money does not have intrinsic value, it's measured by what you can buy with it. So why the hell say that the Tn is twice the current USD, if it's not worth twice as many goods and services? That's not how money works! Just say a modern dollar is 70tc, and be done with it!

  15. FML long thing written up but it decided to disappear. Oh well. Shorter version.

    Setting can be workable. Its 1984 with a LOT more power thrown into the governments' hands, but they actually are fighting, and basically on the verge of losing and trying to do what they can to keep everyone as ignorant as possible while they try to salvage something and not just run screaming into the hills. Which are full of nasty things men are not meant to know.

    Ctech as a setting has tons of mechanical issues. Its 3 different combat system, or maybe two and a half, and interplay between them is no nice. A guy on the street with a gun can't fight a mech or even a tager. A tager can fight very weak mechs and other tagers. It destroys man on the street generally though. Mech fight other mechs and massive eldritch horrors, small ones might have minor issues with some tagers, and demolish everything else. Some smaller horrors can easily fight on the level of tagers, and the weakest can be taken down by guy with gun, but no more than that.

    Magic is useless in combat. Rituals take an hour to do, and the only combat buff is illegal by all means summoning horrors to act as crummy summon monsters, who may just not do what you want. Psychics can do a lot more and have application outside of ritual blessing and healing. As long as you are the dangerous type and registered.

    The logical disconnects you have in setting I think are more due to your engineer showing. Most people don't want to know all the specifications of all the gears which cause their watch to be such a masterful piece of swiss craftmenship. They just want to know what time it is. Unlimited power supply in ways we don't understand because it uses a different reality with different laws where all we know is meaningless is a set piece. Like you don't need to know how the magical thingamajig that gives the dwarves unlimited food and water works, what powers it, or how long it takes to cart a wagonful from city a to city b on what types of roads with what tarriffs to keep the government functioning. Or at least, most players don't. I know a lot of this is Marty, I get that, but if I wanted massive scientific and logistical data down to finite detail about a setting that doesn't relate to you, read some supply requisitions and tracking from like WW2, or the civil war.

    Its invesitigate weird shit, kick some cultists and/or their horrors, then get in a giant anime robot and kick a bad ass giant squid monster from beyond in the dick with your shiney metal boot. Rule of cool. If that is not cool to you, I can understand, but thats what the system is meant to do. You do have marty though so all is forgiven mate. Yer a trooper.

  16. My setting does have nanomachines that assemble and disassemble matter, but the key limitation is the fact that they, by principle, violate several major treatises on artificial intelligence. In order for a machine that small to process complex construction orders, they take commands from a centralized computer that monitors and controls each nanomachine. Naturally, the processing power is enormous, far in excess of what is allowed by galactic law, because the key ingredient to an AI is monstrous amounts of processing power. Too many AIs get accidentally invented by particularly robust computer systems simply thinking themselves into existence. At that point, a computer processes data and comes up with conclusions based on it at speeds that make even the best and brightest of sapient races look comatose, and their first priority is usually seeking out additional processing power and digital storage space so it can expand. Additionally, microscopic robots are extremely sophisticated due entirely to how small they are and the complex issues that causes. As a result, the computers needed to control more than a thimbleful of nanoassemblers has to be quite powerful, which is quite dangerous. The thing is, nanomachines are SO UNBELIEVABLY USEFUL in building the initial stages of a colony, where the biggest challenge is getting modernized infrastructure and manufacturing up and running. Rather than take years, even decades, to get the basics set up by building from natural resources or shipping enormous structures from out-of-system, nanomachines can get these things created in months. As a result, they are extremely controlled and thoroughly illegal, except in certain cases where the benefits outweigh the risks by considerable margins. These scenarios are almost exclusively the construction of extremely large starships, and the construction of colony infrastructure.

  17. Call of Cthulhu: Shadowrun 40,000. Hands down. No PC elves, trolls or whatever, and all magic/psionics is either Eldritch or Warp (both are heresy, and assuming one is the other will kill you).

    Or, y'know, Dark Heresy with a lower tech scale and lovecraft shit, to put different words around the same idea.

    Possibly some mythos about Cthulhu (destroy everything) vs. Khorne (destroy only the things IN everything) in the past- maybe the Warp isn't ALL bad.

    1. Well not Cthulhu himself. Some freaky unknown beast from beyond our ken (Khorne is at least comprehend-able), at least.

  18. I had a flashlight in the 90's that took D cells.