Nerdarchy at Philcon 2016 – Panel Synopsis – Artificial Intelligence: Should We Fear The Rise Of The Machines?
Panel Date – November 19, 2016
Attendance – Approximately 30 Convention Goers
Convention Detail – Philcon is a small Science Writer and Reader Convention that occurs in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in November each year. In recent years, the convention has expanded to include a robust anime track and a cosplay track.
Panel Premise – From Philcon Program “What would it take for a real Terminator threat? Come for a discussion of what is being proposed as the five components required for humans to make themselves obsolete – and how close we are to each.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PANEL (Synopsis of the Content the Presenter Covered)
Bob Hranek (Moderator, Intelligence Analyst and Systems Engineer and Program Analyst) – For Real functioning AI to emerge these are needed; infrastructure where machines can make machines, automated weapon systems, automated sensing system, practical integration of all of these You cannot make Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics work as robots will always act to satisfy their programming Artificial Intelligence is being worked out right now with driverless car.
We have automated weapons systems with automated sensing systems and human interaction in that loop only because we are still choosing to keep it there; the work it would take to entirely remove humans from that loop would take one month Google is on the forefront of Artificial Intelligence research.
If an Artificial Intelligence actually became a threat to Humanity, it is likely that it would not be because of malice on the part of the Artificial Intelligence but how it was programmed (e.g. a system that was programmed to make as many paper clips as it could and destroyed resources and land we needed to live by accomplishing that set goal) Yes, there is reason to fear the rise of the machines
Solnar Swift Arc is a new Tabletop Roleplaying Game that I am currently developing. Other articles on Solnar Swift Arc’s game development can be found on Nerdarchy here – Genesis Die Pool Impact Rolling Races Combat PC Moves.
DIFFICULTY LEVELS – GENERAL
Solnar (Swift Arc) presents Players with three levels of difficulty, specifically numbers that must be met or exceeded to succeed at a task that requires a roll.
- Drudge 6
- Veteran 12
- Elite 18
These Difficulty Levels correspond to the NPC Levels of Drudge, Veteran and Elite. These Difficulty Levels indicate that accomplishing this task would be possible if that level of NPC did everything possibly could, expending all their available resources to accomplish the task. A Difficulty Level is set by the Gamemaster after the Player declares what their Player Character (PC) is attempting to do and lists all of the resources they are bringing to bear to accomplish that task. When the Gamemaster (GM) declares the Difficulty Level they will also specify all of the obstacles that are present to make the Difficulty Level the value it is set to. If there is an obstacle (or multiple obstacle) that the GM is keeping secret from the Players to allow the story to unfold in a dramatic way, the GM will declare that there is an Obscured Obstacle (or Obscured Obstacles).
ROLLING TO MAKE A SET DIFFICULTY
Panel Date - November 19, 2016 Attendance - Approximately 20 Show Fans Convention Detail - Philcon is a small Science Writer and Reader Convention that occurs in Cherry Hill, New Jersey that occurs in November each year. In recent years the convention has expanded to include a...
Solnar Swift Arc is a new Tabletop Roleplaying Game that I am currently developing. Other articles on Solnar Swift Arc’s game development can be found on Nerdarchy here – Genesis Die Pool Impact Rolling Races Combat.
MOVES – GENERAL
Player Characters (PCs) in Solnar (Swift Arc) have access to moves, special abilities that the Player can choose to occur when Prerequisites are met. Here is the template for a PC Move.
- Title – Prereq: Always apply to the PC and all must be met for the PC to trigger the move – Class (*) Level (*) Situation (*) Limit: Use of the move is limited to none or once per Action or Encounter or Session or Campaign Effect: On the moves’ Target and sometimes on the PC and-or the PCs allies
Level Prerequisite always refers to that Level or higher, unless stated otherwise.
Each Character Sheet contains a Class move for each level (from the lowest Level (1) to the highest Level (10)).
Here are specific PC Move examples for each of the four primary types of Solnar (Swift Arc) Classes (Warrior, Mage, Thief and Devout).
- Melee Counterattack – Prereq: Class (Warrior) Situation (Melee Attacked AND Melee Armed) Limit: Action Effect: PC melee attacks the Opponent that melee attacked them
- Blessed Healing – Prereq: Class (Devout) Situation (In presence of a living creature) Limit: Action Effect: Ally or opponent is healed one wound for each level of the Devout
- Mine – Prereq: Class (Thief) Situation (Adjacent to a creature and both of the PCs hands are empty) Limit: Session Effect: One item in possession of the creature is now in the possession of the Thief
- Firesphere – Prereq: Class (Mage) Situation (Within medium range of an Opponent) Limit: Encounter Effect: PC hurls a sphere of flame that strikes an Opponent, dealing 1 wound to that Opponent and all Enemies within medium range of that Opponent
Solnar (Swift Arc) is a new Tabletop Roleplaying Game that I am currently developing. Other articles on Solnar (Swift Arc’s) game development can be found on Nerdarchy here – Genesis Die Pool Impact Rolling Races.
COMBAT – GENERAL
The Solnar (Swift Arc) combat system works differently than the vast majority of Tabletop Roleplaying Game combat systems. Most Tabletop Roleplaying Game combat systems show the action of a combat sword swing by sword swing and spell by spell, approaching combat in 5 to 10 second rounds. The Solnar (Swift Arc) combat system shows the action of a combat in one to many PC to NPC clashes, each clash ending in a miss, a wound or death. Instead of 5 to 10 second rounds, all Solnar (Swift Arc) combats occur in 4 distinct phases (detailed below).
- Bid – Players can bid (wounds or equipment) to win the combat If the GM accepts the bid, the combat is decided in the PCs favor and narratively detailed by the GM
- Strike – If the Bid is not accepted, Players divvy up the NPCs and clash with them in a one to many manner, with the NPCs wounded or slain, based on the PCs’ success
- Contest – If a single NPC is alive at the start of this Phase, a break check is made for the PCs and the NPCs and if neither side breaks then either side can reinforce and change tactics and try again to best their foes
- Resolve – If a single NPC is alive at the start of this Phase, a Grit check is made for the PCs and the NPCs which results in the death of a PC or the scatter and/or death of all of the NPCs
Solnar Swift Arc is a new Tabletop Roleplaying Game that I am currently developing. Other articles on Solnar Swift Arc’s game development can be found on Nerdarchy here – Genesis Die Pool Impact Rolling.
RACES OF SOLNAR
Beyond the animals and monsters that reside on the world of Solnar, five races populate it – Solnar, Shrouds, Humans, Elves and Cinderfang. All of these races are available as Player Characters.
Origin – Native to Solnar Beings of Pure Light 8 millennium hence, a Nalfeen Comet scraped the sky of a verdant planet that teemed with wildlife Shards of that comet rained down upon the planet and 19 years later the first Solnar breached one of the shards that was buried in the planet’s surface
Characteristics – (Average) Size Same as Human Lifespan 19 years
Racial Features – d8 Vigor – d8 Agility – d8 Presence – d8 Intellect Sol Shine – Radiate a bright light up to medium distance Sol Aura – Radiate life (heal one wound of any living humanoid within medium range every three rounds) Sol Optim – Increase attributes of any living humanoid within medium range by one step ~ Heal any and all diseases contracted after birth of a living creature within 1 to 3 months if that creature is within medium range of the Solnar for that majority of that period Sol Light – Radiate bright light to medium distance at all times Sol True – Lies cause Solnar intense pain (applying the Rattled condition on them for 10 rounds) Sol Understanding – Solnar do not speak a language, they communicate telepathically mind to mind with any living creature up to long distance and are understood in the living creatures language ~ All Solnar are able to communicate with all other living Solnar regardless of distance Skilled Solnar Lore
IMPACT ROLLING – GENERAL
Impact Rolling is a foundational concept within Solnar Swift Arc – specifically, every die roll in Solnar Swift Arc has impact to a Player Character. If a die roll does not impact a Player Character (PC) in a significant way than the roll is not made and what occurs is decided by the Gamemaster (GM) or determined by the Player if the Gamemaster asks the Player what happens. (Whenever a Gamemaster asks a Player what happens and the Player responds with an answer, the Player is rewarded immediately with experience points proportionate to how well the answer advances the story for all the players at the table and the Gamemaster.)
Let’s look at how this works through a classic Tabletop Roleplaying Game combat situation. Zeresi, a 5th Level Human Fighter with a longsword (played by Sarah) is being attacked by a 1st Level Goblin. Gamemaster Theresa declares that the Goblin raises its Axe and charges Zeresi and asks Sarah what happens. Sarah declares that Zeresi draws her Longsword, kicks the Axe out of the Goblin’s hands and knocks the Goblin out with the butt of her Longsword.
Wait! What? Where was the roll? There was no roll because there was no significant impact to the Player Character, Zeresi. At worst the goblin could have deeply cut Zeresi, a wound she (at 5th Level) would have been able to fix by drinking a magical potion. There is a minor effect for Zeresi (a wound), but no significant impact, no chance for death. In this circumstance the game is sped up by the the Gamemaster asking the Player what happens and the Player quickly responding in a way that advances the story in a logical and exciting way.
Nerdarchy at Balticon 2016 – Panel Synopsis – How To Give and Receive Writing Critiques for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Panel Date – May 29, 2016
Attendance – Approximately 40 Science Fiction Writers and Readers
Balticon is a large annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers convention that occurs in Baltimore in late spring each year. Balticon 2016 featured George R.R. Martin as it lead guest writer. The Balticon 2016 Panel “How To Give and Receive Writing Critiques for Science Fiction and Fantasy” presented a range of advice from professional science fiction and fantasy writers on critiquing in the formats of Class, Group and Online.
Connie Willis – If one critiquer is telling you to do something in your writing, think about – if 20 critiquers are telling you to do something, do it You critique others work until you are ready to critique your own and make it better It is hard to hear negative critique on own work Don’t slap dash critique others while you are waiting for your own critique – be emotionally involved There were times when Willis said to herself that other critiquers of her work were idiots and then made all of their suggested changes three days later Zero Sum critiquers can kill a Writing Group (Willis witnessed two writer groups destroyed by a zero sum critiquer) Listen to everyone except zero sum critiquers Prioritize changes that can immediately be done Be aware of who is critiquing, someone who only likes Military Science Fiction is unlikely to be useful at critiquing your Urban Fantasy Romance story Lucius Shepard has a lush descriptive style that has grown to be his staple and workshops he participated in his early career told him to abandon this style (Willis was told to do more physical description in her work in early workshops) General critiques of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop is that it turns out B writers, but no geniuses Make sure you preserve your genius, if you are unique – to hell with all of your detractors Pitch shops (workshops with the structure of $500 for one weekend and 5 minutes to pitch an editor or agent) are a very bad idea – avoid these Don’t fool yourself – know what your writers group is – a critique group or a support group? Recommends attending the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop
FROM THE NERDARCHY GAME TABLE TO YOUR FAVORITE CONVENTION GAME TABLE
Nerdarchy Fan Kurt Garwood recently posted on Facebook that he would be taking the Nerdarchy Saves the World Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern Campaign (Intro Session 1 Session 2 Session 3) that took place in Fall of 2015 and running it is as a one-shot at the U-Con Gaming Convention based off the concept.
The concept for the Nerdarchy Saves the World Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern Campaign was that the Dungeons & Dragons world of Faerun was connected to Earth in the year 2015 and the Nerdarchy Founders (David Friant, Ted Adams and Ryan Friant) would help the people of 2015 Earth navigate the chaos that ensued.
The players would play themselves in a game world combining the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons Faerun and the risks of 2015 Earth. Machine-guns and Rocket Launchers versus Demigorgons and Liches. (This game was made possible from a rules perspective by the fantastic free Dungeons & Dragons Unearthed Arcana Material (Modern Armor and Weapons and Modern Magic) and the Modern Material in the Dungeon Master Guide.
Solnar Swift Arc is a is a new Tabletop Roleplaying Game that I am writing. Other articles on Solnar
Swift Arc can be found here on Nerdarchy – Genesis.
In this article, I will to define how Difficulty checks are handled in Solnar Swift Arc as well as the configuration of the Solnar Swift Arc Dice Pool.
Difficulty Checks are the the lifeblood of any Tabletop Roleplaying Game – the key part of the rules mechanics. Difficulty Checks are how your character achieves something significant. Classic example – a human fighter with a long sword attacks a human fighter (enemy) that is holding a long sword. This gets resolved with a Difficulty Check.
There are many Tabletop Roleplaying Games out there. In order for Solnar Swift Arc to be unique – not just another d20 Clone (or even a Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition clone) the Difficulty check has to be a rules mechanic that is fresh and innovative. Ideally that innovation has to be elegant and the rules mechanics needs to move to the resolution of the needed action quickly. (Moving the story quickly is absolutely preeminent in Solnar Swift Arc.)
In Session Three of Nerdarchy’s Cypher System Rules Shadowrun Liveplay Campaign on Youtube, Ted Adam’s character “Sticks” (Ork Technomancer) hacked into a motorcycle that was left near the site of a major AmerIndian magical ritual (the Verdant Five). Here are the Cypher System Rules Mechanics for that motorcycle (the Hatami Kei Shark) as well as the motorcycle’s history. You can use this in your Cypher System Rules Shadowrun Campaigns as –
- A Game Ready Custom Ride for a Player Character or Non-Player Character
- An adventure hook
- A source of five new Non-Player Characters
CYPHER SYSTEM RULES MECHANICS
Hatami Kei Shark – Level 5 Vehicle (Motorcycle) Value: 34,000 NuYen A standard Street Racing Motorcycle is a Level 2 Vehicle and the Hatami Kei Shark would grant the rider 3 steps (+9) to any roll in competition against a Level 2 Vehicle (Motorcycle) The Hatami Kei Shark is equipped with wireless transmitters (on Z88C hyper-frequency) that will open the wireless triggered entrances, throughways and exits that make up the secret route through the abandoned 2062 Seattle White Nester Line Project (which is now maintained by the Seattle branch of the Neuro Caspers)
Despite the advice given by Nerdarchy to not create your own Tabletop Roleplaying Game, I am creating my own Tabletop Roleplaying Game.
Solnar (Swift Arc) is a fantasy based Tabletop Roleplaying Game. “Solnar” refers to the world the stories take place on and “Swift Arc” is the name of the Rules Engine. Both the Story (Solnar) and the Rules Engine (Swift Arc) are original content, not expansions of or source material for any existing Tabletop Roleplaying Game.
Solnar (Swift Arc) is specifically being built to accomplish two goals.
- Dramatically increase the rate of play of a standard Tabletop Roleplaying Game (decreasing the length of a single game session to exactly one hour and setting the number of sessions in a campaign to one of three values – 3, 5 or 7)
- Tell the story of each player character from their early adventures to the accomplishment of their ultimate end goal or their epic death
Solnar (Swift Arc) will preserve some traditional Tabletop Roleplaying Game elements – Gamemaster, 3 to 5 players, use of the full set of polyhedral dice, use of a table. It is likely other traditional Tabletop Roleplaying Game elements will be modified or abandoned.
Presenter – Sarah G. Rothman (Author of “Suicidal Samurai”)
Attendance – Approximately 200 Anime Fans
The Otakon 2016 Panel “Victorian Japan” presented a wide range of information on the Meiji Period of Japan (1868-1912), the time in which Japanese Emperor Meiji ruled and how that distinct period has influenced Anime.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PANEL (Synopsis of the Content the Presenter Covered)
Anime based on Meiji Period – Rurouni Kenshin (taking place in the Boshin War) Laughing Under the Clouds Gin-tama (technically Edo Period, but featuring strong Meiji ascetics) Otome Yokai Zakuro Sakura Wars (steampunk alternative history, a story about a musical group who pilot steam armor to fight demons)
Video Games based on Meiji Period – Way of the Samurai 1 and 4 Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai An Empire Under the Sun Victoria Dai Gyakuten Saiban (Japan Only)
Presenter – LostGamers Studios
Attendance – Approximately 100 Anime Fans
The Otakon 2016 Panel “Japanese Car Culture and Anime” presented an eclectic mix of data on car culture in Japan as well as how cars are depicted various Anime series.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PANEL (Synopsis of the Content the Presenter Covered)
Anime that Features Car Prominently – Speed Racer Redline Capeta EX Driver F GeGeGe no Kitarou Circuit Angel Machine Hayabasu Barbari Densetsu Gunsmith Cats
Pivotal Car Anime (Initial D) – Without a doubt the finest car anime ever produced Focused on downhill racing
Pivotal Car Anime (Wangan Midnight) – By the creators of Initial D Focused on racing the Wangan Loop (a huge circular highway surrounding Osaka)
Pivotal Car Anime (Next A Class) – A beautifully drawn anime that was fully funded by Mercedes Benz Features a group of friends chasing a magic noodle truck in a Mercedes Coupe
Presenters – Members of Anime Rest Stop
Attendance – Approximately 600 Anime Fans
The Otakon 2016 Panel “Mechapocalypse” focused on a succinct history of the Mecha (Big Robot) Anime Subgenre, as well as a discussion of the current state of the genre.
Garibay Note – I attended this Panel due to my long history of Mecha Fandom, which began with playing the Miniature Combat game Battletech and the Tabletop Roleplaying Game MechWarriors. I currently enjoy Gundam Modeling (which was discussed in the Panel) and also watching modern Mecha Anime Series.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PANEL (Synopsis of the Content the Presenters Covered)
Super Robots, distinct from Real Robots – Super Robots are functionally superheroes. Super Robots do whatever the story needs the robot to do. Super Robots are often powered by their Pilot’s Love or Willpower or Friendship or Angst. An example of a Super Robot Anime is Escaflowne. Real Robots are military equipment. The functionality of the robot is limited to what has been demonstrated within the story, to what has been established. (Exceptions to this are mysterious prototypes, which are foreshadowed, and then will expose a new significant power.) Real Robots are powered by energy or gravity or a rare fuel source. An example of a Real Robot Anime is Gundam.