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30 Mecha Design Flaws
Systems  (Combat/ Warfare)   (General)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-21 01:09 PM
Disclaimer: Before reading this know that this is not an attack on Scras. Scras, like all of us, should be able to post these self-indulgent lists and rants on this website. Yet this list has been exalted, via the votes, as a near perfect submission. If we want to reward and praise Scras for his writing and creativity he has been kind enough to give us numerous opportunities to do so on this website. This is list is a not a genuine opportunity for such praise and indeed praising this list calls into question the other high scores and positive remarks that Scras has received from the current panel on his other posts. Hell. Even part way through the author admits to giving up.

Why this list missed the mark.

1) It fails to illuminate the subject matter (mechs and the cosmic era). We all understand that there is nothing new under the sun and "great writers steal". But the above post is a not creation but a catalog of other items. Not all posts need have to a magnus opus quality to them or even need have a lot information in them. Yet this one has ton of information and why? That information has not be fused to the concept of the mech in an enriching manner. Instead we get a laundry list of things that you may apply to cosmic era mechs.

Example: The M-16 could jam mech guns could jam,

Example: There was an aircraft with a bad ejection seat a mech could have a bad ejection seat,

Example: In Battletech the scorpion fluff describes a rough combat-well it could true for the cosmic era quad mech as well.

Thus this list could just be a list of vehicle problems. Dozus says this expands the usefulness of the list. He is right. But this post is not more than a list of vehicle problems.

It would be a greater creative exercise to take the above list and then reshape into a mech specific list. Also, by failing to bridge the gap between the real world and the imagined world it also does not deserve to be a cosmic era post. Never do we get pulled into the cosmic era with this post, and we cosmic era 'facts' are mentioned they are jarring. You could take the word mecha out of this post and replace it with vehicle and not lose a thing. Also, only when discussing the LAI do we get any real science fiction. If my imaginary mech and my real life car are having the same problem where has your game taken me? The list brought the mechs down to the level of cars, which is fine if it then raise the mechs or the world back up.

2) The original content lacks any human element. The short blurb about the M16 could be used to extrapolate a lot about the nature of the war in Vietnam and has human elements as well. We have a list 30 items that purports to be about mech design flaws but I don't think there was one mention of mech designers. What the designers intent was and what the reality turned out to be would have given each point a small narrative. With the life and death drama of mech combat, could not each these flaws included a vignette on how those flaws played out on the field? You could mix and match these as well.

But it doesn't have to be an in-game human approach. One could discuss these flaws as they relate to the players and the role-playing experience. The closest we get to this is some discussion of what the modifiers should be and how they should be applied.

3) It does not have a consistent voice and tone.
I get that these are the ramblings of drunk amateur military historian. In fact I would prefer a post with that title to this one, hell just drop the mech aspect and write a post called 'Broke Guns: the ramblings of drunk amateur military historian (episode 1)'. Scars even admits that around number 21 he was just running rough shod over his content. In that last group he discusses a bunch of in game modifiers and how these things should be applied to the game. At times even in earlier points he discusses how Logistics cost are 10% more or parts cost 10% more. I assume he is talking about the cosmic era but he talking about on meta-level. Because unless there is one universal mech supply company in the cosmic era than realism demands a little uncertainty in that department. The list lacks a voice.

This is a sad point cause the post starts out kind of amusing and flippant, but it doesn't keep that up. If this had been 30 mechanical problems and the whole write up had been intended to just be an amusing than we would have something awesome. But instead we get a scatter shot of tones and a poorly defined voice. Is this a technical gaming document or piece of literature? Are we supposed to read this in order to learn how to play a game or are supposed to read in order to be entertained and inspired?

4) Numbers 8,9, 10 and 28 are pretty much the same thing.

5) It does not have the slipstream, genre bending or fantastical elements of the cosmic era. As a subtler point it does not the touch on any of the modern fantasy elements of the cosmic era.
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Military Clones
NPCs  (Extras-Horde)   (Combative)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-21 01:12 PM
This is a fun list. Go to Comment
The Town of Inexplicable Babies
Locations  (City)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-11 04:35 PM
A nice idea. But the content here seems to be little more than the idea alone. Go to Comment
The Town of Inexplicable Babies
Locations  (City)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-11 10:14 PM
I believe you're trying to bait me into further critique of this thing, well I ain't. Go to Comment
The Town of Inexplicable Babies
Locations  (City)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-20 06:00 AM

It is fine, I was wrong to suggest that it is little more than the idea. It is a fun useful idea with some plot ideas and 'possible' things tossed into to make this a tool as well as idea.

So well done.

However, The post-starts with a description of a village that one might find in a travel log in the world of Hairy trees. But you don't realize a village in the write up, and with no resolution, narrative or strong imagery (aside from the teaser) this write up doesn't paint a picture or tell a story. Thus you have a bit of false advertising with the title cause we don't get a village, we get the baby idea. It could be the apartment building of baby cabinets or the space station of baby bulkheads.

But it is a FANTASTIC idea, this plot device could be used to explore issues of affection versus paternity, racism, maternal instincts, the right to have a child versus the ability to raise a child, the fear of being saddled with a family or the inexplicable nature of life itself. I would love to colab on a bigger write up.

Go to Comment
Locations  (Ruins)   (Plains)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-24 12:37 PM

There is lot of information presented in here. I love that we get a lot of the information through the backchannels of the piece and not in the direct delivery. We have natural born wizards, a constant battle between the will of men (or ten year old boys) and the will of nature that wants to burn up the citizens, and shadow beasts the make are agents of human sacrifice. We also have consistent voice in the piece.

You see the person telling us about the road and the city is same person who knows all the secrets. But that is unknown to us at the beginning of the pieces, because the speaker uses a very passive voice and asserts almost a second person perspective. He also tends to repeat himself and by repeat himself I mean say the same thing two different ways, like saying it twice or three times. You see this repetitive voice, it gives you the sense that there is a bit a folktale quality to story. You are a little more tolerant of uncertainty when your narrator is a little folksy.

But what is the narrator’s point? Why is he telling us this story? I am 100% behind writing game stuff like a writer first not a like a gamer. That demands consistent voice, considerations of perspective and bias. You have done that here, and I love it. But I don’t know what the narrator is getting at besides few cheap surprise moments (clean skeletons, the guy coming back after the event, or the boy blowing up his town). Using this narrator’s voice, you use twice as many words or more than you probably need to describe the town.

The use of voice would be even stronger if there was more back channel delivery of information and you might achieve this if we knew a little more about the narrator and his intentions.

How does the narrator know all this?

How can this narrator, who drops so may little “surprises” on by taking the round about way to get to his/her point and not end this story with climax or a hook? You have weak ending that does not fit the tone of the rest of the piece. The piece by its nature promises a reveal and it does not give us one.

Here is a plot idea:

The people get sent back 500 years and rise to power: spreadout, conquer the world and all that. They then begin to actively support the human sacrifice in Litwell to maintain their defiance of the personified force of history you mention. Thus a plot may be to overthrow the tyrants, you have to stop the human sacrifice in the Litwell, this will pull the tryants ancestors out of time, burn them and eliminate the ruling class. Screw that Litwell return makes everything right idea. HOW CAN YOU HAVE A TIME TRAVEL STORY WITHOUT A PARADOX?

Go to Comment
Systems  (Divine/ Spirit)   (Specific)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-31 11:17 PM
I love it.

One of the greatest achievements in world building is a genuine and believable pidgin. Go to Comment
Organic NPCs (and PCs)
Articles  (Character)   (Gaming - In General)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-19 07:16 PM
Nice idea and a neat writing challenge. Might a character written from this perspective in this style tell you as much about the observer as it does the observed? Give that question to your adviser. Go to Comment
Organic NPCs (and PCs)
Articles  (Character)   (Gaming - In General)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-19 07:21 PM
Bullet points and score leveraging *snicker*....oh should be ashamed of yourself. lol Go to Comment
The Eye of Seenu
Items  (Jewelry)   (Sentient)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-09 09:00 PM
This really well done, reads like an encyclopedia entry, if an all knowing god wrote the encyclopedia....ah the citadel.

The idea that Gem has a personality and a goal is really interesting. I obviously didn't want to stay in the earth though, other wise why not just tell the miners to put it back? Did you imagine that it knows where it is going? What if it finds others of its kind? Could this type of mind control be how the ancient wars were once fought? How can it be destroyed? But I admire your choice to be purposefully vague and unclear about the nature of thing.

Also you jus sold a copy of Flynn's book. He should send you a commission. Go to Comment
The Belts of Parkour
Items  (Clothes)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-08 04:53 PM
Nice item. Go to Comment
Adventures Beneath the Waves
Plots  (Crisis)   (Mini-Campaign)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-12 10:16 AM
well organized and well thought out...

lets just hope you have a bunch of pro-establishment PCs who don't mind working for the man. Go to Comment
Lifeforms  (Constructed)   (Any)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-04-16 05:17 PM
Good, you needed some robots with that classic sci-fi feel in the cosmic era.

I like the notable Autons Go to Comment
Fort Hard
Locations  (Fortification)   (Other)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-05-12 08:20 PM
Kind of reminds of that twilight zone episode with Robert Duvall and the Doll's house, but only as far as a tiny house goes.

What if included in the Fort Hard's furnishings was another miniature building...a church to an ancient and barely remembered diety, with tiny stone bed at the head of the chapel, little thimble sized cisterns of dark red liquid and a strange rune on the door.....

Not a bad place to stash one's mistress.....

What if not only the person shrinks, but their sense or experience of time also shrinks. What would be second to us appears to be an hour to them and so on.

Go to Comment
The Weeping Angel
Items  (Art and Music)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-08 05:01 PM
I would guess that he does. The attached picture has text links to the BBC and Dr. Who. Go to Comment
The Weeping Angel
Items  (Art and Music)   (Magical)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-08 05:10 PM
Very strong clear prose as far as I am concerned. I the drawback section though you seem to strike a very different tone and approach it with a very different perspective (second person) than the rest of the piece. It is a little jarring, and it sort of ruins the in game immersion of the piece in favor of game mechanics. Perhaps it call all be in a blockquote.

Good stuff, I like the plot idea of trying to fight a villain with this. Go to Comment
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Swamp)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-04-16 05:21 PM
This is really well done and nicely put a list of facts about imaginary bugs...but I get it. Go to Comment
What's Come to the Fair?
Society/ Organizations  (Artistic/Performance)   (Regional)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-06 05:57 PM
Great ideas: a central concept and brain storm of hooks. While not the most subtle or inspiring prose, it is clear and direct which fits this sort idea buffet well. Nicely done, others should revisit. Go to Comment
7 Things about Lovecraftian Fiction
Articles  (Fiction)   (Gaming - Genre)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-02-11 07:40 PM

I think this is a smart concise dissection of the genre. Insightful is a good word for it. But I think two things are left out that are very common to the genre.

1) I have noticed in Lovecraftian fiction that there is often a strong emotional detachment in the tone pieces. The works are often use an academic or clinical dissection of the events. The most obvious case of this is the afore mentioned Mountains of Madness, but also The Lurking Fear, The Dunwhich Horror and even Rats in the Walls all sort of have strong emotional detachment. Consider in Rats in the Walls when the protagonist discusses his invalid son with an almost off hand matter of fact tone. In modern Lovecraftian fiction there is a clinical tone to it. Consider reading the "The Ugly Chickens" by Howard Waldrop and see if this does not strike you as having a Lovecraftian tone.

However, this tone may not be Lovecraftian and something more about the puritanical English approach to horror. Certainly true in Bram Stoker's Dracula (the book) was that Western Europeans could use reason, discipline and a scientific method to describe and thus defeat the vampire. In something like the Exorcist it is the failure of reasoning that is scary. I think that this scientific view or psuedo-scientific view that I believe runs through Lovecraftian fiction adds strongly to the next point.

2) I feel that the second essential part of Lovecraftian fiction is the corruption. Somebody may claim this is what was meant by total party kill or secrete societies but they would miss the point of this. Total Party Kill is a sad ending and secrete societies are part of that horror in our own backyard theme. Corruption is the idea that horror and destruction are contagious. Take the story "The Lurking Fear" for example here you have the corruption of the Dutch settlers as the primary conclusion of the piece and the realization of which disturbs the narrator. In Event Horizon or In the Mouth of Madness you have the "turning" of the reasonable hero. The Color Out of Space the farm is corrupted, Rats in the Walls the Virginian is corrupted, and in Shadow Over Innsmouth of course you have the *spoiler* the narrator finding out that he is part of that gold mining fish cult-so kind of corrupted.

Thanks for driving this discussion.

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7 Things about Lovecraftian Fiction
Articles  (Fiction)   (Gaming - Genre)
axlerowes's comment on 2014-03-12 02:24 PM
I never liked the corruption aspect of the Lovecraft's stories though, and that is why I wanted to separate it. Did it really matter if they were brother and sister in the Dunwhich Horror or that crab armed mole people were the Dutch colonists in The Nameless Fear? Indeed finding out that there was human corruption that lead to these horror takes away from the nameless horror part. Go to Comment
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