Porky’s Wild Bore – Ain’t ascending to no plane, fool?
The H-Team’s Porky here, with no plan but to riff off the rolls. Let’s see how that one comes together.
This past week ian!!!! at Quarantine World posted a review of a card game, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards. If that doesn’t give you a hint of the general tone, the subtitle is Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre!, and the cards themselves paint a clear picture.
It might seem more at the Murdock end of the spectrum, but this is clearly an approach that could be adapted for spells and psionic powers in other systems, and for a lot more besides.
Not so much in larger-scale wargaming maybe, but certainly in skirmish and tactical roleplaying, or blends like Inquisitor or Inquisimunda.
The essence would be the flexibility, that rather than a caster receiving preset spells or powers, or receiving these fully formed and ready to go, various possible aspects of those spells or powers – trajectory, pattern, material, charge etc. – could be gained at each stage of development or period of study, with various possible ways to combine them. These could then be mixed and matched, either before a game or while underway, to create new spells or powers tailored to the circumstances.
A bit like the approach for Bujilli again, where Jim is very open to the many and weird spells being reworked on the fly. Want to adapt the classic Listen to the Walls or Protection From Aethyrial Intrusion to trap portal users, or modify Thought Wall to listen in on a fungal network? Why not?
Of course, the same reasoning could be applied to other abilities and technologies, or even to individuals. Rather than building a force or creating characters by picking from lists, the individuals and their equipment could be constructed freely in a similar way, with cards or not, and maybe from templates or features specific to a given faction or species. Factions or species themselves could be constructed.
Webway-travelling Chaos Squat genestealer hybrids? Just line ’em up.
In the case of equipment, and for wargaming especially, this approach could be integrated into an existing system or campaign by having it represent adaptations made between encounters, or for new theatres. After all, carpenters, engineers and mechanics did and do accompany forces, and in certain settings the tech and skills might allow for complete restructuring on the move, with the equivalent individuals in a reasonably near future potentially having access at least to 3D printing tools, and presumably fast and powerful ones.
We’re getting there now. Last week SandWyrm posted at The Back 40K on carbon3D’s so-called ‘Clip’, or ‘continuous liquid interface production’, a new 3D printing technology.
Imagine the A-Team going into a cave with that. Or with the next step up.
It’s almost magic.
Maybe a wannabe wizard of the real world, and one with a wedge of money and a strong belief in salvation through technology – they must exist, right? – wouldn’t look to some essential natural force or source of planar energy, but to known or knowable mechanisms. It’s fairly easy to imagine a transhumanist project admittedly a few years down the line in which this kind of 3D printing resin is laced with metallic particles and secreted from bio-engineered glands, to be shaped and cured by superconducting and photo-emitting tissues in the hands, the whole process managed by subcutaneous supercomputers. That’s your standard projectile spell right there. Conjuring lightning bolts could be easy enough with capacitors and maybe gases secreted for a controlled plasma. With a varied enough range of glandular production the wizard might be able to self-shapeshift, and with the right sensors and transmitters better commune with other lifeforms, or transform into one.
It might be a rather materialist and reductive approach to transcendence. Almost as if it’s wrestling transcendence from nature, rather than looking to reach a more lasting understanding. But would you bet against there being someone working on it right now?
Which might mean the future looking very different than we tend to visualise it. And by extension also settings for roleplaying and wargaming. Imagine a force extruding their weapons as they need them, or actually becoming their landscape.
At Da Long Wayz Dezert Groop last week Da Masta Cheef posted about a roughly humanoid alien, calling it “weird and neat all at the same time”, and I agree.
But still, for all the imagination this miniature shows – and that’s arguably more than a lot of the standard humanoids or humanoid-likes we see in fantastical gaming – it’s still a very conservative approach. Certainly by comparison with the transhumanism suggested above.
But then maybe the species in the pic is to some degree lucky it doesn’t need its weapons integrated into its body, that they’re still only tools it picks up only when it has to. Maybe it’s lucky too that it has one big directional eye, openly signalling to others what it’s looking at, and perhaps unhastily, free of predators even among its own kind; the luxury of one simple sense, apparently with little need even for depth of field, as opposed to a more grimdark body modification, with omnidirectional sensors scanning on many spectra, restless in study.
It’s a creature that seems to suggest a certain contentment with itself, and with the world, even a reversion to more primordial forms; maybe through a sense that its essential nature is too precious to lose, or to lose in a hurry.
If the weirdest future visions we can conjure up are not really so weird at all, does that mean we’re future-proof? Or an endangered species?