Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thieves, Soulknives, and Inventors

A continuation of occupational templates for Atlantis.

Mystic (Martial Artist class)
Template cost: 15 points
Stats: Str 15, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 11

Combat Mastery +1, Damn Healthy! +1, Heightened Awareness +1, Highly Skilled +2, Speed +1, Special Attack: Raging Thunder Dragon Fist +1 (1d8 damage; Incapacitating, Extra Energy, Melee)

Choose 2 Defects:
Attack Restriction (Code of Honor) +1, Marked (Tattoos of Dragons around both arms) +3, Nemesis (Mystic from a Rival School) +1, Unique Character Defect (Poverty) +1

Acrobatics +5, Climb +6, Craft: Votive Objects +7, Knowledge: Area (Lemuria) +7, Knowledge: Area (Atlantis) +7, Knowledge: Area (Khittan) +7, Knowledge: Religion (Mysticism) +7, Linguistics (World Wide Language) +7, Perception +5, Sense Motive +5, Swim +6, Unarmed Attack +1, Unarmed Defense +1

Feats: Combat Martial Arts, Power Attack

When Cain killed Abel in order to gain what he owned: his flocks and his wife; man's inhumanity to man had showed itself.  Since then, man has always worked hard to find ways of killing each other.  To our credit, we always worked out ways of defending ourselves from those that would do us harm.  During the Age of Leo, this is not even different.

Wandering Mystics from Khittan (China) believe in a circular philosophy.  Although they come from a barbarian Kingdom, they may wander to Atlantis or Lemuria or both to teach them the secrets of Mysticism.  Some Mystics feel that they have an adventurer's heart and join an adventuring party to see more of the world and to increase their knowledge of cultures outside of Atlantis, Lemuria, or Khittan.

Necromancer (Dynamic Sorcerer class)

Template Cost: 15 Character points
Stats: Str 13, Dex 11, Con 9, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 17

Aura of Command +1 or Exorcism (Undead) +1, Dynamic Sorcery (Class Feature) +1, Extra Energy +1, Highly Skilled +1, Magical Technique (Magical Blood) +1, Personal Gear +1, Pet Monster (Skeleton) +1

Restriction (Aura of Command to Undead) +2 Choose two Defects:
Easily Distracted (Corpses and Ossuaries) +1, Marked (scars) +1, Not so Strong +1, Not so Tough +1, Physically Unappealing +1, Reoccuring Nightmares +1, Skeleton in the Closet +1

Appraise +6, Craft: Likenesses +6, Intimidate +7, Knowledge: Arcane (Spellcraft) +6, Knowledge: Biological Sciences (Human Anatomy) +6,  Knowledge: Occult +6, Survival +3, Ranged Attack +1, Ranged Defense +1

Feats: Dazzling Display, Power Attack

Spells (Choose 12 slots of spells from 0 to second level, see Dyamic d20 Magic for DC casting costs), spells can come from these schools and from the Cleric list --
Abjuration, Divination, Conjuration, Necromancy, and Universal

Necromancy, the art of communicating with and summoning the dead, may have had its start in the Middle East.  Excavations have found that the Natufian culture had carefully buried their dead within their own homes and removed the skulls sometime afterward.  In Leonine Jericho and 'Ain Ghazal, the inhabitants there would plaster the skulls of their dead to create a likeness of the dead person.  There was definitely an Ancestor Worship cult in the Middle East.  This eventually spread to Europe with the building of Ossuaries, where the dead where kept.

So, Necromancers come from the heathen nations of Europe and the Middle East.  While not necessarily evil, his or her grim demeanor often does not win them very many friends.  Most would distrust the necromancer, seeing him as "unnatural" or even blasphemous in their dealings with the Spirit World. Nevertheless, necromancers can be quite useful, since they can create armies of minions from dead bodies, as well as gain information by speaking with the spirits of the departed. They will sometimes choose to become adventurers as a way to test their abilities, as well as to acquire powerful Items of Power to aid them in their grim research.

Thief (Adventurer Class)

Template Cost: 5 Character Points
Stats: Str 13, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 12

Art of Distraction +1, Sneak Attack (Special Attack 1d8; Accurate, Concealable, Melee) +1, Heightened Awareness +1, Highly Skilled +2, Organizational Ties (Guild of Thieves) +1, Personal Gear +1

Pick two Defects:  Easily Distracted (Wealth) +1, Not so Strong +1, Owned by Organization (Guild of Thieves) +1, Wanted +1  

Acrobatics +7, Bluff +5, Climb +5, Craft: Traps +6, Disable Device +7, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +7, Knowledge: Area (City of Atlantis) +6, Linguistics (World Wide Language) +6, Sense Motive +5, Swim +5, Melee Attack (Dagger) +1, Melee Defense (Dagger) +1

Feats: Dodge, Power Attack

Since men became sensual and devilish there will be thieves who lie and steal. The thief is a lithe, roguish, and often acrobatic outlaw who lives by his or her wits, charm, and light fingers. Some thieves steal from anyone, while others prefer to rob only wicked folk. They make natural adventurers. Both their skills and their general demeanours are well-suited to a life of dungeon delving. In addition, thieves commonly have a weakness for wealth, which is often found in great abundance in ruins and similar locales, making them ideal places to explore — and loot. Thieves often have a sinister reputation. Even the noblest among them (and there are such unusual individuals) find it hard to convince ordinary people that they use their larcenous abilities only for good ends.  Consequently, thieves are often unwelcome in civilized settlements. Agents of the law are never far behind them, making it hard for thieves to put down permanent roots.

Psychic Warrior (Adventurer Class)

Template Cost: 15 Character Points
Stats: Str 15, Dex 11, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 14

Aura of Command +1, Dynamic Sorcery (Psionics Based) +1, Extra Energy +1, Highly Skilled +1, Mind Shield +1, Metapsionics (Heightened Power) +1

Pick two Defects: Girl/Guy Magnet +1, Famous +1, Ism (Psionism) +1, Reoccuring Nightmares +1

Autohypnosis +4, Climb +6, Intimidate +6, Knowledge: Arcane (Psionics) +5, Knowledge: Physical Sciences (Quantum Mechanics) +5, Sense Motive +4, Melee Attack (Crystal Sword) +1, Melee Defense (Round Shield) +1, Swim +6

Feats: Power Attack, Focused Sunder

Powers: Choose 3 1st level powers from the Psychic Warrior list in Psionics Unleashed! or the Expanded Psionics Handbook, energy points are analogous to Power Points.

In Atlantis, Psychic Warriors are trained to be shock troops and Marines.  In effect, Psychic Warriors are the Atlantean answer to the U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Navy Seals.  They are often sent in when the battle needs winning.  Psychic Warriors are trained by both Atlantis and Lemuria to turn the tide of battle for their armies.  Psychic Warriors who leave the armies will often become mercenaries or adventurers in their own right.  Fighting for whatever cause, or whatever side.  Many adventuring Psychic Warriors are soldiers of fortune.

Engineer (Tech Genius Class)

Template Cost: 10 Character Points
Stats: Str 10, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 11

Aura of Command +1, Computer Scanning +1, Highly Skilled +1, Mechanical Genius +1, Personal Gear +1, Wealth +1,

Choose 2 Defects: Achilles Heel (wasp stings) +1, Concentration (Computer Scanning) +1, Nemesis (rival Engineer) +1, Significant Other +2

Computer Use +7, Demolitions +7, Disable Device +5, Drive +5, Knowledge: Electronics +7, Knowledge: Physical Sciences (Higher Mathematics) +7, Knowledge: Physical Sciences (Geography) +4, Linguistics (World Wide Language) +7, Profession: Mecha Engineer +6, Sense Motive +3, Research +7

Feats: Endurance, Lightning Reflexes

Whatever they are telling you, they are wrong about Man's ability to create and invent.  Mankind has had a big brain for at least 60 thousand years, perhaps more.  Atlantean Engineers are every bit as smart, or smarter, than our Engineers.  To say that the Stone Age lasted longer and there was a gradual evolution is a terrible conceit.  Many artifacts that are out of place (including the World Wide Language itself) attest to man's ingenuity in prehistoric times.

Atlantean Engineers were able to build the Pyramids, carve the first lion statue (the Great Sphinx) and calculate Longitude.  They were also able to build Weapons of Abomination (nuclear weapons) and create Nuclear Plants.  Also among their accomplishments was domestication: Atlantean Engineers genetically engineered the grasses (rice, wheat, rye, barley) into domesticated forms and create the dog, the feathered Troodon, and the Dairy cow.   They were able to perfect the crystal technologies that Atlantis was famous for.  Adventuring engineers are tech geniuses: specializing in maintaining mecha, doing surveys for Megalithic building, or doing field experiments.  Unfortunately, a fraction of Engineers are Mad Scientists.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barbarians, Battlemages, and Thieves -- OH MY!

The BESM d20 System is probably a great evolution for the d20 System if the DM knows what to do with it.  First of all, people say it's unbalanced.  Well, with what it did to the System, yes it's unbalanced.  BESM d20 removed some of the restrictions that makes up d20 3rd edition -- by removing class features.  Generally, the players make their own class features.

As an example, I'll provide a couple of character types you can create with the system using the Adventurer class and the Dynamic Sorcerer class.  Note though, the second class will be using the spells from Advanced d20 Magic.  These are really templates.  Adventurers have all non-combat skills as class skills.  These templates will appear in my Atlantis book.

Barbarian (Adventurer Class)

Template Cost: 5 character points (still attainable at level 1)
Stats: Str 13, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 13

 Combat Mastery +2, Damn Healthy +2, Heightened Awareness +1, Highly Skilled +2, Personal Gear +1, Rage (Special Attack: Muscle-Powered, Quake, Uses Energy, Ongoing Limited Use +1)

Pick any 2 Defects:  Girl/Guy Magnet +1, Easily Distracted (Wonders of Civilization) +1, Marked (Tribal scars/tattoos) +1, Nemesis (Clan Enemies) +1,

Skills: Melee Attack +2, Melee Defense +2, Acrobatics +5, Intimidate +5, Heal +3, Knowledge (Own Tribe) +4, Perception +3, Swim +5

FEATS (choose any 2): Cleave, Power Attack, Endurance, Improved Initiative

A brave warrior from a more primitive culture, barbarians are reminiscent of Japanese Ainu, Celtic
Gaul, and Norse Viking rolled into one. The barbarian might be a wandering mercenary, or an exile
fleeing a tribal feud or seeking to avenge the destruction of his or her clan by sinister forces now residing in the country. He or she is loyal to friends and deadly to foes, and has no tolerance for cowardice among warriors — an attitude mitigated by a lack of respect for the fortitude of civilised folk.

Tempered by their lives in the unforgiving wastes, barbarians are superior physical specimens,
with exotic looks that attract the opposite sex. Barbarians often have a love-hate relationship with civilized folk, finding them effete but liking some of the benefits like steel swords and hot baths. They tend to be spendthrifts.

Battle Mage (Dynamic Sorcerer Class)

Template Cost: 10 Character Points
Stats: Str 10, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 11, Cha 13

Damn Healthy +1, Dynamic Sorcery (Class Feature) +1, Extra Spells +1, Highly Skilled +1, Item Creation (Scribe Scroll) +1, Magical Technique (Magical Blood) +1, Pet Monster (Familiar) +1

Pick any two defects: Easily Distracted (Magical Items) +1, Magical Restriction (Battle Spells) +1, Nemesis (rival magician) +1, Ism (Magicianism) +1

Skills: Ranged Defense +1, Ranged Attack +1, Appraise +7, Knowledge: Arcane (Spellcraft) +7, Knowledge Military Sciences (Tactics) +7, Knowledge: Occult +7, Swim +1

Feats (choose any 2): Combat Martial Arts, Endurance, Iron Will, Dazzling Display

Spells: Choose spells up to 16 spell slots (1 first level, second level, third level, or 0 level spell is equal to 1 spell slot) from this list (see Advanced d20 Magic for casting DCs):

0 level Battle Mage spells: Resistance, Acid Splash, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Daze, Dancing Lights, Ray of Frost, Disrupt Undead, Jolt, Arcane Mark

1st level Battle Mage spells: Protection from Chaos, Shield, Corrosive Touch, Grease, Icicle Dagger, Mage Armor, Mount, Obscuring Mist, Anticipate Peril, True Strike, Charm Person, Delusional Pride, All Evocation 1st level spells, Color Spray, Shadow Weapon, Cause Fear, Ray of Enfeeblement, Burning Disarm, Feather Fall

2nd level Battle Mage Spells: Protection from Arrows, Acid Arrow, Dust of Twilight, Fog Cloud, Web, Hideous Laughter, Touch of Idiocy, all evocation 2nd level spells, Haunting Mists, Mirror Image, Scare, Eagle's Splendor, Pyrotechnics, Whispering Wind

The battle mage practices elemental magic and, in particular, specializes in offensive spells of lightning, fire, and ice. He or she also knows a few general-purpose spells (mostly learned in his or her apprenticeship). Battle mages usually have a fiery temperament to match their arsenal, and are equally likely to be good, evil, or mercenary in character. Those that do not earn a living as dungeon
adventurers are often found serving warlords, slaying bandits, or ruling the world. They also tend to eat a lot, perhaps to replenish their energy.

 Good Clerist (Dynamic Sorcerer Class)

Template Cost: 10 Character Points
Stats: Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 12

Art of Distraction +1, Divine Relationship +2, Dynamic Sorcery (Class Feature) +1, Highly Skilled +1, Organizational Ties (Church of Osiris) +1, Channel Energy (Positive Energy Special Attack: Burning (Undead), Healing (the Living), Spreading) +1

Attack Restriction +1, Magical Restriction (Works at pleasure of Deity) +1, pick one defect: Easily Distracted (Innocents in Danger) +1, Marked (holy ankh tattooed on forehead) +1, Nemesis (Evil Cultists) +1, Reoccuring Nightmares (tempted by evil) +1

Skills: Knowledge: Appraise +5, Knowledge: Area (Nile Valley) +5, Knowledge: Cultural Arts (Nobility) +5, Knowledge: Religion (Pharonic) +5, Linguistics (World Wide Language) +5,  Melee Attack +1, Melee Defense +1

Feats (choose any 2): Combat Martial Arts, Endurance, Iron Will, Dazzling Display

Domains: Good and Nobility
Spells: As the Battle Mage above, but choose 12 spell slots from the Cleric spell list.  At least 2 of these have to be related to your God's domains.  All DCs are per Advanced d20 Magic.

This occupation describes a priest or priestess whose powers come from a heavenly source, or possibly from benevolent nature spirits. He or she has sworn to help the innocent and fight evil. These characters are especially effective in battling evil spirits, undead, and demons, but otherwise their magic is primarily supportive and protective in nature.

Mystical Maker (Adventurer Class)

Character Points: 10 points.
Stats: Str 12, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 13

Attributes: Divine Relationship +2, Heightened Awareness +1, LRM (Unique Attribute, see below) 4 pts, Mechanical Genius +1, Telekinesis +2, Telepathy +2

LRM  4 pts for simple objects, 8 pts for complex machines:  Allows one to "pull" objects from the Ether.  Most any object can be "pulled" from the Ether.  Money, balls of string, pencils, parts for a vehicle, large quartz crystals, most anything you can imagine.  Note, it's also possible to pull complex machines from the ether (i.e. lightsaber, car, etc)., but such an ability requires 8 pts/rank (to overcome any mental or emotional blocks). 

Choose 2 Defects: Famous +1, Ism (Makerism) +1, Marked +1, Significant Other +1, Skeleton in the Closet +2

Skills:  Ranged Defense +1, Ranged Attack +1, Appraise +7, Knowledge: Arcane (Psionics) +7, Knowledge: Physical Sciences (Quantum Physics) +7, Linguistics (World Wide Language) +7, Swim +1

Feats (choose 2): Combat Martial Arts, Endurance, Iron Will, Dazzling Display

This occupation describes a psion who is capable of making things.  His powers come from what he is, an energetic, infinite, vibrational being able to alter the "music" of the universe to his desire.  Makers are either famous or reviled, for they reject the Victim Mentality.   Most people either don't like it when they are told their belief that they are victims is flawed (which is true) or they embrace the truth that they are also creators of their own lives.  Adventuring makers choose adventuring to make their living, while others work to heal the sick and make blind men see.

Mystical Knight (Adventurer Class)

Character Points: 15
Stats: Str 15, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 15

Attributes: Art of Distraction +1 or Aura of Command +3, Combat Mastery +1, Damn Healthy +1, Divine Relationship +1, Organizational Ties (Church of Horus) +1, Highly Skilled +1, Servant (Squire) +1, Transmutation: Knight Power Up +3 (own clothes into Battle Armor with sword, 3 Energy Points)

Ageism +1, Magical Restriction (Must Transform) +1, and any 3 defects: Attack Restriction (Good Alignment) +1, Not So Strong +1, Red Tape (Orders from the priests of Horus or Horus himself) +1, Unskilled +1, Wanted (Forces of Set hunt the character) +1

Skills: Diplomacy +6, Knowledge: Area (Nile Valley) +4, Knowledge: Area (Atlantis) +4, Knowledge: Religion (Pharonic) +4, Melee Combat (Long Sword) +1, Melee Defense (Heater Shield) +1, Profession: peasant +5

FEATS (choose any 2): Cleave, Power Attack, Endurance, Improved Initiative

The Magical Knight is the fantasy equivalent of the magical girl. He or she looks like an ordinary
kid, often only 10-14 years old, but with an appropriate phrase can “power up” into an armoured
warrior with limited magical powers.

The Magical Knight transforms by using the Transmutation magic power to turn their own
clothes and a talisman of some sort into a suit of cheesecake armour (page 27) and finely crafted weapon(usually a longsword). Only after transforming can the Magical Knight use his or her other Magic Powers. The transmuted weapon also serves as a magic power focus for the Special Attack. This type of character usually has either a mystical guardian or talking animal companion as a patron and/or advisor. More often than not, the patron serves to rein in the Magical Knight’s youthful enthusiasm and channel it into more “productive” venues.

Mecha Knight (Mecha Pilot Class)

Template Cost: 10 character points
Stats: Str 11, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 13 

Attributes: Combat Mastery +1, Highly Skilled +1, Own a Big Mecha +2, Personal Gear +1

Pick 2 defects: Ageism +1, Conditional Ownership (Atlantean Defense Force or Lemurian Defense Force) +1, Nemesis (Wizard from Mu seeking the secret of Mecha) +1, Owned by a Nation +1, Red Tape (Orders from Superiors) +1, Wanted +1

Skills: Computer Use +6, Driving +6, Knowlege: Mechanics +6, Melee Attack +1, Melee Defense +1, Pilot +6, Ranged Attack (Energy Gun) +1, Ranged Attack (Mini Missiles) +1

Feats (Choose 2): Dodge, Skill Focus: Driving, Power Attack, Transform Mecha

The Technology of Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu are beyond us.  Their computers are an array of psychic or magical crystals, and they power their machines with crystal lattices beside the usual wiring.  Atlantis and Lemuria are the only nations in the world that have the capability to produce Mecha = machines that move with the fluidity of a human being; while Mu still uses jets, aircraft carriers, and mostly magic.  Atlantean, Lemurian, and Mu technology are highly resistant to EMP blasts from a Nuclear Bomb or some other source.

The Mecha Knight is a specialized warrior (often a young boy or girl) who uses a suit of clockwork or magical armour to overcome his or her own physical shortcomings (or enhance his or her natural abilities, if not a child) to fight against evil. The Knight’s “mecha” may be unique, perhaps the result of a mad wizard’s experiments or a secret project by a kingdom, in which case the character may be in the employ of its inventor, field-testing it as he adventures. Alternatively, he or she may have stolen it from its rightful owner (who may be evil) and is now wanted throughout the land for this crime.

(Mecha can be made with d20 Mecha).

Next: more classes for Atlantis: Fantasy Adventures in the Neolithic Age.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Is clothing the hieght of Sophistication?

Trying to think over a costume dilemma for Atlantis citizens -- now that Advanced Dynamic Clothing Control is available for DAZ Studio users (which means I can probably get the Dynamic Tunic on DAZ 3D, which was the height of Fashion during the Neolithic through the Iron Age in the Middle East region).   Problem is . . .

Europeans wore the standard boots, tight fitting pants, multicolored shirts, and coats and gloves ensemble.  I don't know what it actually looks like but to me, that sounds like modern clothing.  Guaranteed, Europe and Africa are about as far away from America as one can get, but this creates a conundrum.

NO style, whether it is a flapper dress from the '20s, or an Ancient Egyptian styled dress from the New Kingdom, is ever novel and new.  Only we think we are at the height of technology (ironically).  But whether we have a computer made of integrated circuits or an array of crystals; one thing we can't get away from.  Nothing in fashion is ever new.  Never has been, never will be.  Even if you live in India before 400 A.D. when it was okay for women to wear just a sari kilt.

So the problem remains.  Do I romanticize, or what?  And why do we think of clothes for a level of sophistication?

Unbelievable but true, there are reports of men and women who have seen the Christ. Not unexpected but in their conversations with the Christ, the Christ asked one to take off his clothes (like he asked Moses to remove his sandals).

It was an object lesson for the man, actually.  But one would think that if clothes are so important, why would the Christ ask one to shuck off an article of clothing?

You don't need clothing to be sophisticated.

Atlantean Style

I may have to turn to Classical Painters for help on this one.  Atlantean style is a mix of the minimal and the classical.  But remember this: no clothing style is ever new.  Even if everyone runs around in short skirts, black pants, and shirts from Star Trek.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Atlantis RPG Cover

Mock cover, but a cover nonetheless!

The Atlantis RPG uses the BESM d20 System that has been updated to Pathfinder.  Enjoy looking at the cover. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is Free Culture?

What is free culture?
Free culture is a growing understanding among artists and audiences that people shouldn't have to ask permission to copy, share, and use each other's work; it is also a set of practices that make this philosophy work in the real world.

The opposite of "free culture" is "permission culture", which you probably don't need to have explained in detail because you're familiar with it already.  In the permission culture, if I write a book and you want to translate it, you have to get my permission first (or, more likely, the permission of my publisher).  Similarly, if I wrote a song and you want to use it in your movie, you have to go through a series of steps to get clear permission to do so.  Our laws are written such that permission culture is currently the default.

In free culture, you just translate the book, use the song, etc.  If I don't like the translation or the film, I'm free to say so, of course, but I wouldn't have any power to suppress or alter your works.  Of course, free culture goes both ways: I'm also free to put out a modified copy of your movie using a different song, recommend someone else's translation that I think is better, etc.  These are idealized examples, for the sake of illustration, but they give the general idea: freedom takes precedence over commercial monopolies.

There is plenty of free culture out there already.  In the past all culture was free culture; in today's legal environment, the way people create free culture is to put their work out under a free license -- a special copyright license that explicitly allows most of the activities that standard copyrights prohibit.  Free culture means you can perform it, record it, distribute it, use it in your own works, and anything else.  It does not mean you can claim credit for things you didn't do; that would just be fraud or plagiarism (fortunately, it turns out that allowing works to spread freely is the best way to prevent plagiarism anyway).

Free culture artists make money too.  Mostly they do so in the same ways artists always have: direct audience support, commissions, patronage, government and academic support, etc.  (Copyright-controlled distribution has never been a major source of funding for art, and wasn't designed to be.)  Free culture artists make a point of working with their audiences instead of against them.  They inhabit the Internet as natives, instead of stumbling around in awkward space-suits made of contracts and copyrights and permission forms whose real purpose is to cause enough friction that a corporation has to be paid off to reduce it.

Distilled into a few basic principles, free culture means:
  • Artists can use each others' work without asking permission.  If you're not already convinced that freedom is valuable in itself, read this.  Or this.  Or this.
  • People can receive and transmit art by whatever physical means are available to them.  We've got an Internet -- let's not be afraid to use it.
  • The distinction between audience and artist is fluid, and should remain so because culture is participatory.  Free culture means anyone can engage with art and other works of the mind, however they want, without hiring a lawyer first.
  • Artists are paid for what they do, not for what other people do.  Artists should be paid up front for the work they do.  But charging again for music every time a copy is exchanged, for example, is silly.  The musicians didn't do extra work to make more copies, and the copies are transactions between third parties.  In the long run, making it harder to share art hurts artists as much as audiences.
  • Monopolies hurt everyone except the monopolist. Permission cultures tend to concentrate control in the hands of people who specialize in accumulating control, without doing much to help artists.  There's nothing wrong with running a business that deals with art and artists, of course; the problem isn't middlemen, it's monopolies.
One common argument you'll hear against free culture is that "it should be the artist's choice" -- that if an artist chooses to put their work out under a free license, that's fine, but they shouldn't be required to do so.  However, this argument is not as clear cut as it first seems.  When an artist (or, let's be realistic, a corporation) is given the power to restrict what other people can do with their own copies of things, that takes away everyone else's choice.  When two "choices" oppose each other, we cannot resolve the issue by appealing to choice itself as a value -- we have to actually look at which choice is better.  Free culture's answer is that freedom should take precedence; that since no one forces an artist to release their work, once they do release it, it should really be free to spread.  Remember, this isn't about credit: of course artists should be properly credited for their work.  But that's very different from controlling who can see and use the work.

These issues simmered until the Internet came along, and then they really started to boil.  Copying became physically so cheap as to be almost costless, and yet the laws against copying only got tighter and tighter, as a frightened industry lobbied for longer copyright terms and more restrictions.  This is the dynamic that has given rise to the free culture movement.

(By the way, it was that industry who invented copyright in the first place -- in the late 1600s and early 1700s, printers devised it as a replacement for an expiring censorship-based monopoly system.  I can't emphasize that enough: a system designed by business for business is not going to put artists' interests first, and that's why it never has. Free culture is not anti-business: there are lots of ways to make money, and if some of those ways involve helping artists and audiences connect, that's great.  In a sense, free culture stands for truly free markets.  It is merely against monopolies that force artists and audiences to get permission, usually for a fee and under restrictive terms, to use or access certain works.)

If you're interested in learning more about free culture, there's lots of material on this site and elsewhere on the Internet (the Students for Free Culture site is a good resource, though I think it could be clearer on exactly which freedoms are important).  There's an in-depth article here that covers the issues more thoroughly and with more historical context; and here is a good analysis of the harms done by permission culture.  If you like what you read about free culture and want to support it, there are lots of things you can do.  Whenever possible, support artists directly and by choice, not through intermediaries and under duress.  Help sponsor an art project on Kickstarter, and encourage your favorite artists to use direct audience support and release their works under free licenses.  Translate, edit, or otherwise contribute to a free cultural work.  Release your own works under free licenses.  Share this article :-).  Spread skepticism whenever you see special pleading, especially in word choice: copying is not "theft", "filesharing" is really "music sharing", a copied DVD is not equivalent to a "lost sale", etc.

Free culture is culture.  That's all it has ever been.  The question is simply how much we value freedom.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Entrepreneur Class

Well, in this class we write our own business plans while learning how to be an entrepreneur. The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you can bring an idea and turn it into a good or service.

Since I have my contracts with GoO (unsigned, of course, I got them when GoO was going under), I'm going to complete the contract. Guardians of Order won't be able to print them, but I can still use Guardians of Order's logos and so forth.

I'll just have to check with White Wolf.

Anyway, on to business plan madness! :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ATLANTIS: Adventures in the Stone Age

A good title for an RPG book, don't you think? :)

Whatever the Historians are telling you about the Neolithic Age, don't buy it.  Atlantis: Adventures in the Neolithic Age will cover roleplaying in the Romantic Neolithic Age to the Weird Neolithic Age -- the Neolithic Age that the Out of Place Artifacts present.

This will be the coolest Atlantis setting.

Alantis as an Anime Campaign Setting

Anime Campaigns are ones that are based on the tradition of Anime.  Anime is often referred to animation that comes out of Japan.  Some of it is very good, and some of it is terrible.  That being said, way back on this blog you heard me mention something about an anime Atlantis.  New information has come to light that should make an Atlantis that much more exciting.

The scariest thing about basing a Campaign on good old Planet Earth is that good old Planet Earth is the most mysterious place in human imagination.  Our World is full of inconsistencies within the Archaeological Record and the neolithic was not all "Guys and Gals in Loincloths using stone tools."

That is a Romantic view of the Neolithic Age.  While there is a lot said in that video that could be true, there is a lot that had gone unsaid.  We promote the view that the time before recorded history men were unsophisticated, stupid, or otherwise blissfully ignorant.

Atlantis as reality?
According to the writers of Forbidden Archaeology and thousands of artifacts from earilier ages, there is strong evidence to the contrary.  Especially unnerving to certain groups, is evidence of a World Wide Language during the Neolithic Age.


Atlantis has appeared as Roleplaying Games over the years.  It is the most mysterious land in our tradition since Plato first wrote of it.  For traditional settings of Atlantis, I suggest GURPS Atlantis -- which is referred to on this site.

Anime Atlantis will take shape using BESM d20 (I'm still contracted to use TRI-STAT logos).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Phoenicia Player's Guide in Layout! plus FAQ

Yes that's right, the Phoenicia player's guide is now in layout!  One of the interesting things about this player's guide is that there isn't going to be an image of the city with it's falls.  The problem is: No one in their right mind has built a thriving city around a waterfall yet, especially one as big as a cataract fall complex.

The cataract waterfall is actually inspired by Iguazu Falls in both Argentina and Brazil.  Although Mosi-oa-Tunya ("The Smoke that Thunders"), also known as Victoria Falls, is also an inspiration. 

Why would a thriving city be built around a cataract?   Well, people do dumb things.  But the major reason is the Lemurian Obsidian pyramid located under the major spill way.  Made of Orgonite, the pyramid attracts both Arcane Spellcasters and psions.  Fortunately, the psions got there first and started to build a magnificent city.  However, in real life, the practical problems of flooding and noise pollution (from the falls) are practically tough to overcome.  So, city builders had too many problems with cities centralized around waterfalls.

Q. Why a city of Psionics in Pathfinder?

A. Everyone needs a city that they can drop in their campaigns without a fuss.  Phoenicia, and it's three sister cities -- Sybaris and Syracuse; are designed so that the Game Master can do just that.  This allows you to explore psionics at your leisure if your players or you -- the GM -- enjoys the system.

Q.  Why don't you just add it to Glorion?
A. Are you nuts?  No Author in his right mind would submit his work to Paizo and sign a work for hire agreement when the Internet -- the world's most powerful and easiest Copying Machine -- is still operational.  I'll take my chances with releasing it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Q. Why a Creative Commons License?

A. Why not?  With a creative commons license, major companies can compete with me directly.  So everyone wins.

Wizards of the Coast wins, because they can create a game book derivative of mine.

Paizo wins because they can do the same.

Same for Dreamscarred Press.

Steve Jackson Games.

And a host of other companies.   Plus, the city can reach an amazing amount of gamers.  So I win, and you win.  You can get an official 4e product and play Phoenicia with official 4e guidelines.  Or you can get an official Exalted product and play Phoenicia with Exalted.  Plus, gamers can translate it into their favorite languages and the translations can compete with each other.  Again.  Everyone wins.

Q. Are you nuts?

A.  No, I am not.  But please, don't flood my email box asking for permission, I'll get frustrated with you all.
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