Having a Cathex / Muse seems like having a familiar, but in the digital world of the Cosmic Era such a familiar would have access to an entire world of information and resources through the internet. This makes them much more complicated from a role-playing and game design perspective; that comes with great potential.
A slight comment - projecting something a few inches in front of your face seems less useful than onto your retina or directly into your visual cortex via your brain interface.
Is the internet in the Cosmic Era driven by advertising money in the same way it is in the modern world? One could conceivably download `skins' for your Cathex that replicates characters from your favorite shows, business mascots, etc. Your brain interface might also constantly give you annoying ads you can't get rid of unless you upgrade to a subscription model. Go to Comment
This submission is ripe with setting. The writing style really brings the sights and sounds of the Geofront to play out and flow uninterrupted.
The communities you create fit into the setting in a sort of balanced, justified manner. One can see not only why they persist and what their motives are but also what chain of events over the ages brought the mixing pot into the state it is now.
Inclusion of the Pandor box is a particularly great touch. Go to Comment
@Scrasamax: are these akin to deities in non-tech settings? As in, are these beings that are worshiped? Or, by avatar, do you mean more like what people show up like when you plug into the matrix / online interaction? Go to Comment
Thanks for the feedback. You are right, my stuff of late has been a bit academic.
I have been trying to find puzzles that are interactive. It is easy to give out logic problems that people solve on their own. The goal of role-playing is to have challenges that involve interactions with other PCs and NPCs. Phantom Paths, guard riddles, and this one try to follow that vein.
I stumbled upon the barbarian horde challenge to come up with location-specific puzzles. Most puzzles are Dungeons/Any/Puzzles simply because you can re-skin them. That being said, trying to come up with location-specific puzzles provides a nice lens that ends up spawning all sorts of other ideas I wouldn't have considered before. Go to Comment
This post made me think of the Morlocks from The Time Machine. Subterranean dwellers who were once the servant class and over millenia developed to prey upon those who live on the surface.
The patchwork men seek Paradisio - is that the surface world (which they could probably easily reach) or more of an abstract concept?
Patchwork men conjure up some good images. Hacking and piecing together components is a great way to develop regional differences and allow for variety among patchwork men of a certain area. The big boss might have taken apart some sort of high-profile target, for instance, and would have their weapons systems embedded in its hulk. Go to Comment
Interesting post; there is a lot of neat territory here that can be explored.
AI can take on vastly differing forms; various level of intelligence, various levels of physical mobility, of digital mobility, etc. How to portray AIs in a game will also be heavily influenced by the setting.
Many works of fiction portray AI differently. Some of my favorite depictions of AI come from A Fire Upon the Deep. This includes a set of transcendent AI that habit farther reaches of space and don't concern themselves with the mortal races. Other genres present AI as viscous robots that infiltrate society, or large computing boxes that dictate orders to malevolent cults. Nowadays AI are becoming increasingly present in our day-to-day lives, with digital assistants like Siri, driverless cars, and drones.
The central question, similar to what Aramax mentioned, is the same as with any character. What are their motives? Do they seek world domination, acceptance, or love? Do they have some alien, otherworldly concept that humans just can't relate to? Are they merely mechanical scripts; no ghost inside the shell? There are a surprising number of deep questions, ethical and otherwise, that can be explored in a campaign. Many of these questions are being explored right now in developing real-world regulations for artificial intelligence.
I like how the post covers several levels of AI ability. It would be neat to see it dive deeper into what specifically an AI would be good at and how to tie this into a game from a design perspective. What does it mean if the malevolent AI can lock all of the doors and dispense nerve gas? How do you even deal with something that can directly enumerate the outcomes of all possible actions and choose the optimal method to destroy you? What happens when you allow sunder attempts to be made against an opponent's sensors? How does battery power come into this? Lots of neat stuff.
I like your post but caution in the specificity of the portrayal. It as about as hard to write on portraying arbitrary NPCs in a game - there are limitless possibilities. I think the post could be improved by dropping the campaign-specific keywords. Go to Comment
This has got me thinking: how does one portray very intelligent beings in a roleplaying campaign? DnD characters with an 18 intelligence are what, 4 standard deviations above the norm, and many monsters exist with even higher intellect. Human players are, unfortunately, just not going to be as smart.
AIs are pretty much nothing but intelligences, and are often portrayed with an abundance of reasoning and computation power. Playing an AI as a player or DM runs into the same problems.
As a player one wants their character to play smart in addition to merely having the magic boost that comes from a high intelligence score. The other core stats do not have the same issue - physical prowess is trivially acted out and charisma can generally be implied. Intelligence, and wisdom to some extent, is a direct extension of the player and is difficult to fake.
As a DM one would like the same thing for their villains. It often happens that the players come up with a sneaky workaround to the challenges you give them. Would the evil Archmage ever have overlooked such a loophole? No! You want the players to respect your intelligent enemies, but having them live up to it can be a challenge.
I suppose a major component of the solution is going to be a two-fold interpretation of "its a game." On the one hand one can take difficult tasks and assume that your entity can solve them without actually solving them as a player - such as automatically beating others in a game of chess or memorizing complicated passwords, and these abilities can be reflected in feats and skill bonuses. The other end is that everyone at the gaming table is going to be "normal," so your lack of super-intelligence isn't going to be glaringly obvious to anyone as long as you give it your best. Plus, you can nudge the character in the right direction and ret-con things as a DM if you really need to.
There was a game once where the players were trying to get into a dragon's lair. In this game dragons were considered highly intelligent. The players didn't want to confront it directly, so they made a hole in the dungeon wall from the outside with stone shape and then passed the party in through the hole by having one part member pass everyone else sitting in a bag of holding into the dungeon. The DM thought this was clever but nevertheless reasoned that the dragon would have though of this ahead of time. The dragon was on the other side of the hole and devoured the bag before they could get out.
I suppose that sums up my conundrum - you have a tradeoff between not being able to perform at the same capacity as the entities you would like to portray such that the game is entertaining, but on the other it is important to not leave the players powerless such that the game is entertaining. Go to Comment
Really nice presentation.
I really like the imagery that goes along with this, and that you staggered the knights instead of just having them in increasing numerical order. The 25th in the center is a nice touch too. Go to Comment