Gesture-Based Nanite Magic

After the apocalypse, when the nanite swarm blankets the world, only a few of the gestures capable of activating its various functions survive, passed down as jealously guarded secrets in mystery cults and esoteric orders. They are not dissimilar to mudras as Mage: the Awakening used the word.

Depending on the mudras one knows, experimentation could be the equivalent of issuing all sorts of system-rending commands, without necessarily knowing if the manipulator has authorized themselves as a super-user yet. The nanite equivalent of rm -rf could be utterly catastrophic, depending on what it considers files and directories.

LibraryBox of Role-Playing Delights

LibraryBox logo.This year at Carnage, I’m trying something new: a LibraryBox serving up free role-playing content wirelessly. The LibraryBox is a wireless router with custom software loaded that turns it into a self-contained data repository. In the context of a game convention, I’m collecting materials like quickstart packets, character sheets, system reference documents for open games, and whatever else has been released under a Creative Commons license allowing redistribution and similar frameworks; Held Action Theatre will be in there, of course. Anyone in the router’s signal radius will be able to access the LibraryBox with a wifi-capable device, download what interests them and leave a note in the chatbox, if they like.

The idea for this application came from Ross Peyton, over at Role Playing Public Radio. He set up a PirateBox at a convention recently to make his podcast more readily available to people than relying on shaky hotel wifi. The more gadgets gamers bring into a room, the less anyone can actually access. So why not lighten the load and provide the chance for people to discover something new?

Setting up the LibraryBox was a snap. It was about fifteen minutes between unpacking the router and being able to browse the LibraryBox for files. Now I’m filling up the storage with whatever free to distribute materials seem like they might be of interest: public domain fiction like Lovecraft, Dunsany and Hodgson; freely available role-playing games like Pathfinder, Eclipse Phase and Basic Fantasy Role-Playing; and whatever else I can fit in there.

If you have any suggestions for role-playing content to include that is freely distributable, please mention in the comments below.

The 10,000 Year Clock

The clock will run for ten millennia — at least, that’s the plan. Jeff Bezos, founder of, is building a clock designed to run for 10,000 years. It’s a monumental undertaking, to be housed in a 500 hundred foot shaft drilled into a mountain ridge, incorporating massive metal gears and other elements of equal stature. The project is “a symbol of the power of long-term thinking. [Bezos’] hope is that building it will change the way humanity thinks about time, encouraging our distant descendants to take a longer view than we have.” You can read more about the clock at its own web site.

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Flying Saucers of the Third Reich

A Nazi prototype or someone's backyard project?

Following on from last week’s discussion of hexes, Hitler and cultural appropriation, Phantoms and Monsters brings us a double-shot of Nazi UFOs. That links to a pair of articles about Nazi experiments with UFOs or UFO-like craft. The first, originally published in the Daily Mail, relates the assertion that a “bell-shaped craft was being created by the Nazis” during World War II. The article has some interesting photos, like the one to the right, where the disc-shaped part of the craft is a ring of overlapping vanes that spin to provide lift.

The second article in the blog post relates “Hitler’s Roswell,” an incident in Czernica, Germany — now part of Poland — where some kind of flying craft crashed in a farm field. The Nazis, like all good regimes, gathered up the bodies and scraps, intending to reverse-engineer the technology.

For some reason, Nazis and ultra-technology initiatives go hand in hand in so many role-playing games. Probably because some of their real world efforts were so frightening. Suppressed Transmission‘s column on the topic, “A Dish Best Served Cold: Antarctic Space Nazis,” even worked Neuschwabenland into the mix. The linked articles provide some really excellent documents and images, including German language diagrams of the craft, and some more shots of the alleged Nazi prototype. That would make a great dossier prop to pass around the table.

A Cry in the Darkness

The craft is still there, in the collapsed rubble of the complex in the Gory Sowie mountains. And it’s alive, slowly healing from the injuries wrought by the Nazis’ attempts to reverse-engineer its secrets. Without light or sufficient density of biomass, it’s taken the craft sixty-five years to rebuild its systems to the point where it can call for help. Now its psychic distress signal tears through the mind of every sensitive in eastern Europe. And the reach of its call is growing, at the rate that it will fry the mind of every person with psi talent on the planet long before anyone arrives to deactivate the beacon. A team must descend into the abandoned complex, find the ship and somehow silence it before it liquifies any more minds. Only no one expected that as part of its repair efforts, the ship has co-opted the local biosphere, creating plants and small creatures designed to assist in repairs. And they’re very eager to acquire fresh, well-fed biomass for their work.

Mr Hughes’ Plane

Far from being an extraterrestrial space craft, the prototype bell-shaped craft was based on plans stolen from Hughes Aircraft. The photos leaking out of Germany show that the Nazi aeronautical engineers are unsettlingly far along in realizing the potential of Mr. Hughes‘ design. The special projects division of Hughes Aircraft has scrambled to get their own prototype functional, as it’s the only craft with the speed, maneuverability and stealth capabilities to penetrate that far into Nazi Germany. Its crew, a combination of civilian specialists and military operatives have to not only recover the plans, but extract the prototype or otherwise nullify it.

Friends in the Future

The Czernica crash was the first of a dozen — and unfortunately for the Allies, the only failure. Eleven flying spheres landed somewhat more gently across the German countryside in the summer of 1937. They proved instrumental in the blitzkrieg campaigns of the early days of the war — and the fall of London shortly thereafter.

None of this matches Time Agency mean history, of course. These spheres represent an extra-temporal incursion into the history of twentieth century Earth, presumably instigated by a downtime agency with an interest in altering the course of events to benefit the Nazi regime and their descendants. The Time Agency dispatches a squad of field operatives to the era with a two phase operation: backtrack the spheres to their arrival point, calculate their temporal trajectory from there, then unhappen the secret allies before the changes in the timeline ripple forward far enough to change the Time Agency itself.