Things RPG designers missed, Part 2

Japan will take over the business world

This axiom was built into several systems due to the sheer unstoppability of Japan in the 1980's. It is for this reason that the unit of currency in Shadowrun is the NuYen. In the Cyberpunk literature that sparked the creation of these games, Japan always featured large. Part of this was due to the aforementioned sheer unstoppability of Japan in the 80's, part came from the simple fact that so much of our innovative electronics came from there, and no small part descends from the Japanophile tendendies of one of Cyberpunk's founding authors.

And yet, here we have this from The Economist:
New Year rally expected on Tokyo market next week. That was a typically boosterish Japanese newswire headline on December 29th 1989, the day that one of the world's biggest ever asset-price bubbles reached bursting point. Exactly 20 years later the Japanese are still paying the price for such hubris. The Nikkei 225 index, which peaked at 38,916, now languishes at just over one-quarter of that level.
Thus sparking The Lost Decade. Those of us who came of age in the 80's know what Japan looked like back then, so we get the cultural freight entrained in a currency on the North American continent called the NuYen. Looking forward from back then, you can see how it happened. The American economy faltered, as it was busily doing in in 1988, and Japan's private sector purchased outright large swaths of the American economy.

Your average 16 year old looking to get into table-top RPGs will not get this. They have never known a Japan that was an economic threat to the US. They're coming to the game because you can play a Troll on a Harley, not because of the interesting dystopia it presents. Someone who turned 25 this year is not likely to remember this rising Japan either. They're far more likely to end up playing D&D, because Elves and Dwarfs haven't changed a whole lot since the 80's (Elves got tall and blonde thanks to the LOTR movies, but otherwise very little has changed) and the reason you get involved hasn't moved much.

Yet again, we see that Science Fictional games don't age well.

Things RPG designers missed

SF RPG designers, like authors, miss technology trends. As I've been poking my nose into games written in the 80's and 90's lately, some of these are more glaring. Traveller, written in the 70's, is its own category. Games like Shadowrun work noticibly different if you presume modern cell-phone techology. Playing these older games with a modern mindset creates some challenges for the GM, and even game balance within the game.
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While a lot of the above focus on the 'near-future' games of Cyberpunk and Shadowrun, they also apply to other games. Like MechWarrior, supposedly set between 3025 and 3065, and Traveller, a thousand or so years after that. Traveller is especially bad since it was an extrapolation on a 1970's tech-base and is therefore even further off of true.

It's really hard to hack modern technologic progress into some of these games. It takes a lot of flexibility on the part of the GM. Later editions can be 'patched' by the games designers, but it always looks like a patch; much like the Digital Web in White Wolf. Fantasy games don't have these problems, which is a large part of why D&D is still playable 35 years later and Traveller is barely playable.

A notice

Dear Comcast:
I know full well you offer phone service now, and it comes with free long distance. Kindly stop telling me this every week. Your message has been delivered well and truly, and there is such a thing as too much. If telling me five times is what was needed to get me to do that, I'd have done it last year when this deluge started.

Bugger off.


Dear Qwest:

I know full well you offer internet service, and even wireless service. Yours doesn't come with free long distance (except for wireless), but it is cheaper than "the alternatives". Kindly stop telling me this every other week. Your message has been delivered well and truly, and there is such a thing as too much. Thank you for the restraint of not going every week like Comcast, but please desist.

Bugger off as well.


Surviving hot weather while running

My tips on how to survive hot weather when you have to be athleticly active. This is stuff I've learned the hard way over several years of doing it. Take it for what you will.

1: Water
Three days before you have to be out there running around in it, start drinking lots of water. This will get your body used to carrying around a lot more water than it normally does, so you have a much wider buffer between when you start sweating and when the heat prostration starts kicking in.

Also note that Gatorade (or equivalent) is not a water substitute. It is a water supliment. I've seen several people screw themselves up by consuming nothing but Gatorade (or equivalents). Me? I like a 2:1 or even 3:1 water to Gatorade (or equivalent) ratio. Also, Gatorade (or equivalent) has a metabolic impact, so drinking a lot of it at half-time and running immediately can do really bad things to you that just drinking lots of water won't. Those sports drinks have glucose in them, and your body has to spend water to break it into energy and that takes time.

2: Climate
This is somewhat counter intuitive, but avoid air-conditioned environments at least an hour before you have to be active. Preferably two. This'll get your body used to the temperature. Going from an AC building right out to your field and running right away is a great way to cause trouble. You need time to acclimate.

3: Know your body
This takes experience to understand, but the school of hard knocks is the only way to really learn this one. If you've been there enough, and I have, you know what heat prostration feels like from the inside. Perhaps even heat exhaustion. Know your warning signs. For me it starts as a feeling that my muscles aren't performing at 100%. The next step is a feeling of muzzy-head. The third step is a loss of coordination; I start tripping on things, and find it hard to make sudden changes in direction. And finally, I stop sweating. Been there. Don't need to go there again. But I know the sign-posts now. Get to know yours.

4: Food
Avoid running on a full, or even somewhat full, stomach. Digestion takes water, and when your body starts sweating heavily it can cause real problems. This is where side-pains come from, among other reasons. Light snacks are the way to go. And avoid full-out running for three hours after eating a full meal. Not the one hour your mamma told you to wait before swimming. Three. On the other hand, small snacks are handled quickly by the body and the wait is much reduced for those.

Getting out of trouble

This is hard. First it takes experience to recognize you are in trouble (see number 3 above) in the first place. Once you've gotten to the point where you are showing the signs of heat prostration or exhaustion, especially in the middle of a game, it can be very hard to deal with it. If you can, flag for a substitute and then get under shade and cool down with some water. If your game allows it, it may be better for you to take yourself off the field (without a sub) and deal with the problem. Perhaps your game allows you to signal to the officials that you need out for a bit. Whichever. The best way is to get off the playing field and deal with it.

But what if you can't deal with it? Perhaps your team has no subs. Perhaps your sport doesn't permit taking players off or playing short. Perhaps you're an official. What do you do then?

If at all possible, stop being so active and get some water. Slow down. Your team may take a thrashing, but it'll keep you out of the hospital. It may not fix the problem, but it'll go a fair piece towards keeping you out of critical issues. This is a hard decision to make, but keep it in mind. Pressure to stay at top exertion is very high and can be hard to ignore. But doing just that will keep you from being damaged further.

If you are an official with a defined position, such as a Soccer assistant referee that has to stay even with the second to last defender, about the only thing you can do is talk to the spectators or team on that side. Tell them you need water, and they'll almost always give it. You need to be at a high level of performance, and spectators and coaches know this and support this.

Air-traffic controllers hold an informational picket

Controllers at Sea-Tac airport (approach and landing) handed out information to travellers yesterday. They've been negotiating with the FAA for a new contract, and the talks have not gone well. Since controllers can't strike (thank you Reagan), it's up to the Legislature to figure something out. Not a good solution.

A friend of mine, resolute, has posted about this several times since it is her job. In Minnesota, but still, her job.

April 6
April 30

Serenity review from a non-Firefly viewer

I've seen about three Firefly episodes, not in order. So I have a faint idea for the characters, but zero sense of plot. Most of what I have I gathered second hand from the rabid Firefly fans (RFF), of which I know bajillions. You'd think that bajillions would allow a show to stay on the air, but I digress.

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