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Interface Zero: True20 Cyberpunk
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Luke
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Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 2697

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Masada wrote:
sophmelc wrote:
Sounds interesting. If you're thinking of running anything I'd be keen to have a go.
I'm kicking around ideas for one-shots. I have a natural fear of commitment though... If I get enough time and inspiration, I'll try to have some thing for a WARGS meeting. If the family plans on being home for Kapcon, then I may sign up for a session there. But it will probably be mid November before I can do anything with it.


Bring along the family to Kapcon Wink That's certainly my plan when my little padawans are old enough (which is 5 years old by my reckoning).
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Masada



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My fear of commitment is dwarfed by my wife's fear of looking dumb in front of "expert" gamers. My son is just 9, but I don't think he'd have the attention span for 16 hours of gaming. However the notion is not entirely without merit... I will ponder and suggest and see where it goes.

I'm training the kiddo on True20 with a 1930's Pulp game designed to feel like Indiana Jones style adventures.... but that's another thread.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Masada wrote:
My fear of commitment is dwarfed by my wife's fear of looking dumb in front of "expert" gamers.


My own wife would be puffed up with pride at being considered an "expert" gamer Smile

I understand Cons can be intimidating, so that's all cool. However, NZ Cons (and Wellington ones in particular) are very friendly and inviting.
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Highwayman



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 787
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:

I understand Cons can be intimidating, so that's all cool. However, NZ Cons (and Wellington ones in particular) are very friendly and inviting.


They can be anyway, sometimes. I think they have probably been getting better over the past five years or so.

More to the point Masada, you've now met a good chunk of the people who go to these cons, I think you'll find that there will be many people around on the day that you'll know, particularly if you come to the two more WARGS meetings before KapCon Smile

Cheers
Grant
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Masada



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am completely satisfied that I have found a good game community. My wife is a different critter. But you are correct, folks were hugely friendly and open. I think my wife is mostly a good sport about gaming... I don't think she really loves it enough to get out to a Con. But I can always ask.

But back on topic of Interface Zero... here's what I'm pondering for initial set up.

What is consciousness?
Is it self awareness?
How can you tell that another thing is self aware?
What makes human self-awareness different?

These are the questions I pose in a series of explorations in Interface Zero. IZ is a world projected along our darkest future. A world where nations have fought many "limited" nuclear wars, billions have died from biological weapons and the human race is simultaneously saved and doomed. The secrets of gene modification, nano re-fabrication and Artificial Intelligence have been unlocked. But these miracles have not fashioned a new Utopia--they only seemed to have pushed the human condition to grotesque extremes.

The human-machine interface has blurred to the point where all people perceive both reality and virtual reality at the same time. The information network that started with the Internet has spread to become a ubiquitous network of everything overlapping the whole world existing in both real terms and as a separate plane known as "the Deep". Some choose to live in absolutely virtual worlds, but most live in an enhanced reality blend from the two--a very few have no ability to sense the Deep. The Deep is everywhere, everywhere you look, every object you touch can have a representation in Deep that you perceive through your eyes in exactly the same manner as you perceive this message. If you could see in to the Deep you might see these pages as ancient parchment or perhaps in floating neon blue lettering--all based on your preferences. The real document might simply be a stack of white papers or perhaps a small data chip with nano transmitters connected to and part of the Deep. The Deep is powered by the mass networking of all CPU's of all devices known on Earth. Most objects right down to paperclips have small CPU's buried in them. Some places in what used to be called Japan have released processors so small they float in the air like dust. In these places the Deep is thick and impossible to filter out. In the nuclear wastelands between China, Pakistan and India, the Deep is but a faint echo where you'll be lucky to raise a single voice comm.

Nano technology has progressed to the point where nearly everyone has access to a fabricator that can re-assemble similar matter in to what ever the user requires. Grass clipping, rotting protein, and a handful of dirt can be re-assembled in to edible healthy foods--even flavorful foods if your fabricator is an expensive model. These wondrous machines can even create clothing from nearly any fibrous materials. Style-patterns are downloaded from the Deep (for a price) and the user can choose whatever she wants in whatever simulated fabrics she wants. All machines can make the basics necessary to survival for free. But despite these daily miracles, the human race is not better off. It seems all these machines really do is perpetuate squalor and suffering. The world economy can not employ the vast majority of workers. Billions are left idle, clothed and fed. Gangland wars are perpetual. Most are essentially homeless living in derelict urban districts below the upper cites where the luckier wage slaves live. Only your friends care if you're hurt and some of them might be more interested in your stuff after you're dead.

The boon of technology has fused biology with machine. All humans have TAPs installed in their heads for interface to the Deep. But this meshing with hardware extends to full prosthetics, eyes, internal weapons and skill upgrades. How far this can go has yet to be fully explored.

But mankind was not satisfied with just the Deep and nanofabrication. Humanity also choose to alter itself. The genetic code has been solved, mapped, rendered to component parts and fashioned anew. Humans can now select exact traits both before and after birth. In the Amazon Wars, genetically enhanced warriors are used for the first time taking science in to a darker art form. The goal in warfare is to eliminate the enemy--no semblance of humanity is required. Chimera are born. These radically altered "humans" possess a variety of outlandish features designed to kill--period. Generally only used in battle and always with gruesome effect, these creatures are often shunned by society. But still the pride of man was not complete. Man created Simulacre. Wholly biologically copies of humans with artificially limited mental capacities to be an endless source of labor--a new race of slaves. Each Simulacrum is designed to fill a purpose and die in a limited time. The new labor force quickly replaces any need for Human workers. Simulacre are cheaper, require nothing but nano-replicated food and clothing, and are fully recyclable. Any tasks considered too unsavory for humans to dirty themselves with directly including prostitution and suicide combat squads are given to Simulacrum. Lastly, man created AI. A necessary technology to administrate the vastly complex Deep and civil systems to control the exploding populations of the major cities. AI control all traffic systems, power, communications, entire manufacturing facilities and even some military applications. However, science wasn't entirely naive. AI programs are closely and intensely monitored. If any sign of self awareness and creativity are expressed, the AI is brutally eradicated and copies burned.

Corporations control the world's economy. City-states and nations are cowed before policies of embargo and arms races. Humans lucky enough to work inside the megaconglomerates are the elite of the world. These individuals are rich beyond the wildest dreams of "sprawlanders" (those that survive on the toxic streets of the new cities). These executives make decisions that doom millions to death, starvation or war. Anyone working for a corp as a wage slave only knows that they could be instantly cast aside in to the gangs wars, nuclear wastelands, or (worse) experimental biological testing. Employee satisfaction surveys are high... always high.

This is the world, such as it is...

My proposal is to create a few iconic characters based on IZ (True20) to explore both character abilities and a few philosophical questions. Since it would probably be impractical for folks purchase the True20 core rules and the Interface Zero setting, I would create characters for use in certain one-shot stories. These stories are likely to explore the Deep, sentient AI, Simulacre and Chimera. Based on free time / interest I would bring these to a Con or a WARGS.

Interface Zero is a setting based on the cyberpunk genre seeded from inspirations like "Ghost in the Shell", "The Matrix", "Neuromancer", and "Blade Runner." The characters I want to test are Hackers, Martial Adepts, heavily modified humans and AI's. I might foray in to heavy military machinery. The setting doesn't spill over in to Magic, but a lot of the effects work out the same with the Deep (much like Astral space... Hackers fill a Mage type role).
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sophmelc



Joined: 10 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks very cool. If you'd be bringing along a scenario to WARGs I'd totally be keen.
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Masada



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Section-9-Agent looked around the shabby, dirty apartment and considered real cleaning, but it had been a long night and it could wait. She dumped her bag on the cluttered floor and flopped into a tattered hammock.

<Command: init Tranquilty-script-114>

The dirty walls flashed and became lush hanging gardens on a sunny day in a light breeze. The apartment now seemed to be an open atrium with the ocean rolling over white sand beaches on all four sides. Three suns set on the horizon in a spectacular rainbow sunset. Small exotic birds flitted silently between branches. She breathed in the flower scents and reached out from her comfortable hammock to touch the virtual controls on her mini-nano to order strong cappuccino. A steaming cup appeared on the table.

Section-9-Agent left her “real” name behind long ago. That name belonged to a system of control she had managed to escape. She began to think of herself as just NinA until she got tired of editing correction software to allow the capital A, then it became just Nina. She reserved her full sig for formal posts. Sometimes to her friends she was Nin. Some of her deebees (Deep Buddies) that knew she was female liked to call her Sexy-9, but that generally got them a meme bomb. If she was feeling particularly brief or the transmission was charged, she would simply sign S9A and then there were the jobs like last night that you just didn’t sign your name to. Still, as the golden oldie said, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Nina had the clothes on her back, the hardware in her bag, a few nearly empty anonymous bank accounts, and little else. Even the apartment was just an empty squat-plex. The mini-nano had been a lucky find and saved her from having to hit the public depots.

She was still subconsciously aware of the clutter around the apartment, but it was cleverly masked by potted plants or vines. Her real clothes were frayed, but sturdy. Her virtual clothing was near the same style although sharper and not frayed. Lean, hard living kept her reasonably physically fit, but her avatar definitely had enhanced feminine curves without tipping in to silliness. The stimulant mixed with painkillers and masked as cappuccino was finally having effect. She felt nearly human again. A virtual dragonfly hummed just outside the apartment as she opened a pipe for a new command.

<Command: init news-daemon>

Blue texts faded in to view all around her. She scanned various headlines, feeds, logs, IMs, texts, mail accounts, and forums for traces of what she had done just last night. There were two forum posts on underworld blogs about rumoured data break-in at Shinjo, but no one could confirm it. She smiled. “Good… if you didn’t see me… I didn’t do it.” She thought.

It had taken Nina about 3 days to fully code Tranquillity version 1.14. It wasn’t a proper SPORE (Small Purpose Online Reality Engine), but it was a nice USE (User Specific Environment)—even if she did say so herself. She had stolen an old copy of Tranquillity beta 0.7 and made all the usual custom modifications. She liked her version better than the market version. But as she finished off her cappuccino a nagging thought crept in to her highly enhanced brain… Her version of Tranquillity didn’t have dragonflies.

She kept calm and keyed another cappuccino with more stimulants but no painkillers. She carefully considered her options. She had to assume that someone had taken an interest in her and sent the bug to find her, but who? That was the 64 KLOC question… Given her recent activity, she had to assume it was Shinjo and that was Military Contract and that meant get the fuck out right the fuck now. Time to freak.

She kicked over a “plant” that was actually her apartment’s firewall. Her version of Tranquillity melted as a crash of background net noise flooded in to the virtual space. Her personal firewall flared blocking out the worst of the viral memes and port probes. But the full force of gigapulses of spurious data instapopped the dragonfly. She hoped that whoever ghosted the bug in had not thought to firewall the connection. That would teach some n00b Shinjo system slave to blip in to lowtown. She grabbed her satchel of everything she owned and fled to the street. At this level of the city infrastructure all was concrete, exposed duct work and steel. The stairwell only had two comatose bums in it—a record low.

The real street was a haze of fumes and smog. She had to pull a breather over her face as she signalled her eyes to drop their protective lenses. Most Upside folks didn’t consider the anti-irritant lenses worth the investment, but most of them didn’t drop below the 100 meter line in a versicar, let alone get out and walk around. Despite being an unliveable fume, the street still contained the usual breed of predators. Nina pulled her shiny, double-barrelled, “scatter and shatter” shotgun and swept it around. That would keep the shadows in the alleys. She paused in the doorway to case the street.

Without the Deep a body would be lost without a clue in the lower city sprawl. The ever present fog cut real vision down to only a dozen meters. Even if you could see, real signs had been abandoned long ago. But digital signals radiated at every corner to her blended vision. You could completely navigate in the dark with just the Deep enhanced tags and icons. Buildings with Upside access blinked with civic tagged red entry markers. The nearest was three blocks away.

She set off at a medium jog with the shotgun prominently displayed. Her TAP picked up other people near by, but none of them exposed themselves enough to get anything shot off. She spiked a mental query in to the traffic database to see if any heavy machinery had logged flight plans in to lowtown. That would take a few seconds to process. She focused on smooth navigation of the alley ways avoiding obvious ambush spots. When she got to the last block a subroutine from city AI responded “No records found”. “Well, that means no one is coming for at least 5 minutes or they have clearance to hunt me down and none of this matters…”

When she reached the relative safety of the street elevator she put the shotgun away. The air inside the building was filtered and theoretically non-harmful. But she kept the breather on anyway. The lower levels of public access buildings were generally more secure, but only in a rudimentary way. There was a single sec-cam with an unshielded access interface. It was locked of course, but locks only kept honest people out. Nina reached out with her TAP and manipulated the virtual lock software. In seconds she had it bypassed. Five seconds later the sec-cam was looping last week’s visual access file.

She needed a safe place to reboot. She tried the janitor closet, but (wouldn’t ya know?) it was an all physical lock—no software. Nina never had time for things that didn’t have an interface. The lobby would have to do. She mentally loaded her “get away clean” Avatar and keyed reboot. The next 6 seconds felt long with no input from the Deep. Being disconnected was like being dead and without the Deep, it wouldn’t take long. Life was easy when you could always order up what you wanted and pipe the charges to some dweeb middle manager or faceless corp expense account. But if she had to work for a living… with stuff that didn’t need RAM or CPU’s? She’d be a goner.

Twelve seconds later and she was in the lift feeling pretty fine. This Avatar was packed with “don’t look at me” mods. It was as tight and light as she could make it. Of course if it really was a Shinjo cleaning crew she ran in to, it wouldn’t be enough. She hoped that the booby traps she left back at her ex-home worked as well as she’d been told they would by her deebees. They were typical black-market log sweepers, virus bombs and meme scramblers. Nothing fancy, but also nothing traceable. She just needed to put some distance in and hopefully even Shinjo would be left with nothing.

She mulled over the idea that maybe she was just being paranoid. It was only one spy bug. But she knew what happened when you decided you didn’t need to freak out and they really were coming for you. She had a file of names—all contacts that now didn’t answer messages anywhere—dead contacts. The list was long. She kept it on the corner of her visual workspace all the time.

Nina pulled her real hood over her head and stepped out in to midcity. The lights of MC advertised happiness, bliss, easy loans, and cures for loneliness in all its forms. Whether your solution was pills, bang up, VR derailment or just straight up sex, it was here for you. Nina looked up and down the busy streets where only customers and hook-ups made eye contact and before anyone could really take note she stepped in to an alley and disappeared.

<Command: init Seek –F@Sector-9-Agent –ndr>
<Command: object not found…>

“Sir? She’s not in midcity. She stepped in to the Jackson Street public access, but didn’t get off. I’ve dispatched a physical team to lowtown. She must have hacked the lift system.”

The Captain looked at the Backup Technician in a disturbingly unemotional way. This made the BT uncomfortable—usually upper level stiffs got upset when they lost someone. The Captain nodded slowly and then glanced over at the Primary Tech. He was spinning in his chair chanting “Ding! Fries are done!” with both hand jammed down his pants. Viruses and memes had overrun his TAP. It would be relatively simple to repair, but why bother? That’s what backups were for. “Take him to Bio-Labs 3.” The Backup Technician paled. The Captain stared in to the weakling tech hoping for some sign of backbone. But there was none.

“Yeh… Yes, sir…” He stammered.

“You are now Primary Tech in charge of finding our mysterious hacker. I expect report of your success at your earliest convenience.” He strode off. Truth be told, he found the whole situation rather funny. The USE bomb had been brilliant. He had to suppress laughter when the Primary Tech popped. This ghost had better instincts than most. Hackers had a tendency to believe they really were Gods of the Deep. They almost always overestimated their abilities to counter-code against attackers. But this hacker was probably nothing. Another no-name burn-out hired to do a one-time job for which she certainly had no clue about. He doubted she would even remember exactly who hired her. She would discover, just like the other hackers had discovered, that the account which had looked full of cash was really empty and their contact ID for the buyer would be replaced with only the phrase, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was…” and nothing. But each new lead had to be pursued. He meant Section-9-Agent no harm, but he would kill her and data dive her deep memory. He had no choice.
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