The Internet – Not lawless… if you lay down the law.

I hate topics that due to their nature get very close to the political nature I hate to give them time of day.

However, I’ve kind of had enough of two lines being bounced around:

“The Internet is a lawless state.”

“Will someone think of the Children?”

Here’s my opinion while I’m assembling the troll proof bunker.

OK before we go any further, this post is aimed at parents and potential parents, so if you’re under 18, drag your parent or guardian here NOW!


Firstly the lawless state concept… it isn’t a lawless state if you know how to handle the fallout from it.

Parents have quite a powerful role in this however the ban hammer doesn’t work.  Telling a teenager not to do something is like putting a red rag to a bull (from personal experience).

However you need to do something and some would argue programmes like “Net Nanny” are the solution.

Yes that works however reality doesn’t have filters and having a kid protected until they are 18 leaves them vulnerable to real life, also, they won’t have the skills to make judgements about what the internet really is,

it is a temporary solution to protect the youngest in society that needs to be slowly removed so that teenagers can learn safe internet practice.


So what is the solution?  Its the classic responsibility and knowledge argument.  You are responsible for making sure that kids have the knowledge and smarts to safely navigate the internet.

The one thing you should teach your children from early age is the following:

“The Internet does not always have the right answers”

Two important things this means for you as a parent:

  1. Teach them that if they are not sure if they have a reliable source, compare it to sources you know that are reliable.
  2. You have to answer questions and in the right way so that the answer satisfies the child or teenager.

Eventually a teenager will see something that is over 18 and you will discover they have OR they will follow point 1 and ask you.

First, go and look at the site yourself and identify warning signs, any respectable journalist, editor or web designer will have an age gate confirming age so identify that first then talk to the teenager about the warning signs that this site is over 18.

Secondly, take advantage of the situation to teach them about something useful.  Teenager seen a violent action in war, explain why wars occur, teenager seen <shudder> porn, talk about relationships (all types of relationships).

Now I’m not a psychologist and I hope someone will tell me how far my opinions are off.  I’ve written a lot here about the “lawless state” so I’m hitting the breaks for now.

Wait…

…Ok debate can now begin and I can write part 2.

Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks – “Napkin, Pencil and Sugar Cube”

You know you’ve found a good game when the rules are limited to about 10 A4 pages and you can play it with “a napkin, pencil and sugar cube”.

This is a long essay breakdown of an RPG I have and will have examples.  This has also been handled from the perception of a player and GM who prefers story over stats and wants to get into play very quickly.


How you’d convert a sugar cube into a d6 dice I’ll never know, but I can’t argue with the simplicity.

The steam punk version of Victorian London and the flagship flying city of Atlantis (or the Cog depending who you ask) provides an interesting backdrop to play an RPG in.

How fast can you start?

This is a tough one as you can take two approaches, blank sheet and prepared.

All tests have two default stats, a Basic Skill that gives a +1 unless stated and Unskilled (you by default wouldn’t know how to do surgery) which is +0 as such you could in theory be in immediately.

If you choose prepared… well moving onto…

How easy is it to set up a character?

Cogs(making and modification), Cakes(social) and Swordsticks(combat), the name of both the RPG and attributes and all you have to do choose one skill range per attribute is pick which skill gives +3 to the dice roll (the other 2 are +2).  You may also choose a negative element but effectively this is all you need.

Compare this to pathfinder and D+D and you see almost no requirement to front load character creation.  You can actually start role-playing and ask players questions on how they would approach certain circumstances, you can then ask “is this normally how you would approach this?”, if they say No, then roll with the Base bonuses, if the say Yes, then you can offer the skill range bonuses to create their character.

GM: So what are you doing Dexter?

Dx: I’m breaking into this house at night.

GM: OK, how are you getting in?

Dx: I’m picking the lock in a back alley.

GM: is this your usual tactic?

Dx: Yes I know my locks

GM: OK, mark your Cog stat as Security, no primary yet so it can be +3 if you want, Jane are you with Dexter?

Jn: Actually yes, I’m watching the front in case the bobbies (police) show.

GM: OK so how do you deal with them.

Jn: Well I try to talk them away, I have the ability to charm anyone.

GM: How?

Jn: I make people believe me, one way or another.

GM: Deception huh?  Where did you get it from?

Jn: I may be from a rich family but I chose urchins as my associates.

GM: OK, street charm, you’ve baked your cake there, Street Charm, you’ve chosen your Primary so its +2.

How flexible are characters?

I think this is where CCS fails in relation to other games, in Pathfinder, you can place points in any skills when you level up meaning that if you know you’ve gone down the wrong path, you can adjust accordingly.

In CCS, once you’ve chosen your 3 skill ranges, you can’t change them which limits you to specific style of play, however by paying 6 Reputation points, you can specialise in a specific area you have been using, at the same time Reputation also allows re-rolls giving flexibility in a different way when needed.

How much preparation does a GM really need to do?

Preparation is very quick, but really how much do you need to do in the first place.

When I talk about the Apocalypse and Dungeon World, I will be mentioning the First Session rules BUT I find that you can use them in this engine due to the nature of the mechanics and so to get into the play, the GM needs very little to get started.

Going back to the (bad) example above, anything in brackets states what the GM does:

GM: So why this house?

Jn: It’s the house of a famous art buyer who cheated!

GM: Who with?

Jn: My mother, made a laughing-stock of her… she recovered, but I want to give him two fingers. 

GM: Vengeful Spirit, take it as a Fioble.

Dx: Nah he recently bought better security with his riches, prove it worthless and get something good, win, win all around.

GM: Win, win all right, (the GM creates, “Art Buyer, Cog: eye for the art +3, Cake: Money Talks +2 Sword ??? +2”, the security he bought increases the score for picking locks from 4 to 6).

How much judgement does the GM have to apply?

Actually a lot in this case, the GM will have to decide whether or not player’s skills are allowed and disallowed, the GM also will have to set difficulties for each test individually, there are also no hints of what is considered easy, medium, tricky etc where I have seen hints and tips given by Pathfinder and D+D in their rulebook.

In the example above the GM assumes that locks are good in this world but anyone skilled in security can normally do it, however its assumed he was able to buy the extra security and so pushed the target up by the Money Talks value of the skill… other cases may not be so clear-cut.

So why do I like it?

Well I think its one of the most simplest and fastest RPGs I have seen on the market so far to get the players into and start playing roles.  You can start with nothing and through role-play have a fully fledged character whereas in games such as D+D and Pathfinder, you have to prepare a lot in advance so for new players, CCS is the better game, however more experienced players may hate CCS for the same reason.

At the same time, it is also easy for GMs to make stories up easily and effectively as all you need to do is think about what are they good at in specific fields and how they would use them in the same way as the players… you can do prepared adventures almost as good as improvised adventures and NPCs and enemies are your equal except maybe in different areas so they can provide a variety of challenges for the player and feel like they have their place in this world.

For those interested in Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks go to the website below:

http://www.modiphius.com/cogs-cakes–swordsticks.html

Feedback is welcome on this Breakdown below.

Psycho-Pass 2 – Hungry Chicken (Spoiler Central)

DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE BEHIND ON PSYCHO PASS 2 AS THERE IS A MAJOR SPOILER.

An interesting thing happened to me today when I wasn’t playing a game.

I was watching the new season of Psycho-Pass when the entire in show population played a game with a chicken on their tablets and PCs.

At the end of the episode it was revealed to all players that they had committed mass murder by removing a holographic overlay that had been placed on a military drone’s camera.

It was an actual shock to the players in the show and the mental health of the players suffered.

But how far off are we really from being those players in the show?

For this blog I’m going spoiler free and I will duplicate this with spoilers later on.

Far Cry 3 was actually the best example of the mind being messed with.   I’ll admit I was completely aware of the final choice at the end of the game and I knew it was coming.

Yet it really did mess with my head even knowing about it.  At the half way point I had an RPG epiphany… if I was in the protagonist’s situation would I want to go back to the life I lived?

The first thing I can clearly remember is when I was using a flame thrower in the destruction of the drug fields.  The power of the flame-thrower made me feel very powerful.

The next one that comes to mind was actually before this, in the escape from the burning building, it then became a car chase with a powerful grenade launcher, taking out car after car.

Finally the flashbacks to who the protagonist was.  He goes from being a jerk with a bunch of jerk friends to becoming a more decisive but dangerous individual.

In the end I found myself pressing both buttons at the same time (I got the “Good Ending” where you chose to leave the island but even that didn’t feel right as I have to ask is what the protagonist would do when back in civilised life after being forced to kill and then growing to like it.

Spec Ops: The Line also really messed with my head in a different way.  It was the final part of the episode that was encapsulated where consequences were revealed.

There were several occasions where I was forced to stop the game as I felt absolute hatred to myself and the protagonist.

The first that put the full breaks on it was the white-phosphorous mortar use.  The idea was to use the mortar to clear out enemy forces, however it was protecting a civilian population and they weren’t afraid to show the full picture and its gory nature.

There is also an element of being used in this game as well, on several occasions we were suggested one thing by the game only for it to be subverted by the characters.

I still need to complete this game but I know there will be more gut punches which I will have to take.