Category: Fiction

Tabletop Game Review – 6 Minutes of Power Remaining

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to personal experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes.

6 Minutes of Power Remaining is by Kris Ruff

A lot of the games in the Emotional Mecha Jam focus on humanising the mech in these mecha stories – often through making it a role played by a player, whether or not it is actually a sentient AI. This opens the theming of the games up to wider questions touching on those explored by cyberpunk fiction; whether or not a meaningful bond can exist between a human and an inanimate, or non-sapient object. And, indeed, when one considers the relationships forged in war between human and AI, there is the question of whether something made as a weapon can feel friendship or love.

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Tabletop Game Review – Death Sentence

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to personal experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes in detail.

It took a lot longer than I initially assumed it would for me to find the right words to review Jeff Ellis’ (@manyeyedmonster’s) Death Sentence; I thought it would be a straightforward review, as I had very easily discussed the thematically similar 36 Minutes as an exploration of unglamorous death in military science-fiction. I think I needed time to unpack my thoughts, and perhaps the immediacy of my response to 36 Minutes was part of why I couldn’t launch straight into forming opinions on Death Sentence. Any game that goes into death beyond killing as a natural mechanic of conflict resolution is going to be personal, and potentially troubling, for the player. You could very well say that even in a game where the expectation is one will fight death should be personal and troubling.

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Tabletop Game Review – 36 Minutes

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This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

Note: This article also includes some references to experiences of death and loss, and discusses those themes in detail.

Christine Prevas’ (@cprevas) 36 Minutes is not an enjoyable game to play. It sits strangely within the genre it evokes because it plays out in real time a very particular sequence of suffering and death that absolutely would have a huge, unwelcome emotional impact on some players. You could roleplay it differently, and if anything make it more fitting within its genre, but I think doing so would require a significant distancing between player and character that the game does not necessarily encourage. Perhaps that is the intention; it certainly feels like something intended to take players out of the safely expected bravado of what is often a heroic, noble kind of war story. On the other hand, if you are trying to do something like that, something that wholly subverts the usual methods of a genre to question its implicit associations, that in turn is an act which needs interrogation.

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Two Illustrative Playthroughs of “Alone in the Station Remnants”

This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

These two pieces of short fiction are my attempts to play the solitaire RPG Alone in the Station Remnants.

The most interesting thing I found about the experience was the challenge it presented in holding two registers or prose voices in mind and being able to switch between the two, presenting a narrative from two very different and incompatible approaches.


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Tabletop Game Review – Alone in the Station Remnants

Note: This article was originally written for Who Dares Rolls (www.whodaresrolls.com) and is reproduced here with permission.

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A screenshot from Ace Combat 7 (2019), illustrating perhaps the sort of derelict military spaces that AitSR is about exploring.

Alone in the Station Remnants by caro (@seaexcursion) is, a very interesting solitaire writing exercise/character piece; solitaire roleplaying games, in the form of journalling or letter-writing games, are fascinating to me as a writer and fan of fiction and I greatly enjoy trying them in their various forms. A modification of Takuma Okada’s Alone Among the Stars, a game of space exploration and painting expansive, dreamlike worlds, Alone in the Station Remnants brings the scale down to the intimate level, and adds an interesting parallel narrative aspect that absolutely sold it to me as good.

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“Planet With” – Strange Cat-Based Festum Antics

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Planet With starts unusually. It looks unusual, it feels unusual, and this elevates its quite usual premise. It plays with visual language in ways that feel smart and slick, and explores more interesting than usual themes than a lot of alien invasion stories; my first impression, from the opening episode, was that it was taking a similar angle to Fafner in its handling of an unusual, incomprehensible alien entity. I liked many aspects of Fafner, primarily its depictions of broken families and the pressures of social achievement overlaid on military service, but something that did stand out was the weird, cloying aesthetic of the Festum, its alien enemies. While the relatively early CGI was ugly and turned their unusual angelic designs into amorphous gold blobs, their whole motif, unnatural movement and particularly their catchphrase – Are you there? – was very unsettling.

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Full Thrust Project Continuum Battle Report – Scouting Mission at Itomori Star Zone

Fleet Lists

EFS Taskforce Itomori:

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Artemis-class Cruiser EFS Adamant

Tsukuyomi-class Cruisers EFS Repulse, Revenge and Resolute

Nephthys-class Destroyers EFS Jupiter and Juno

Chandra-class Frigates EFS Crisis, Critic and Castle

AISN Forward Group 3185:

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Meridiel-class Cruisers AISN Fiora Froleya and Caldis Varden

Chiithan-class Destroyer AISN Dethan

Irivel-class Frigates AISN Mabaris, Cavaris, Theliris and Levitris

The Scenario

March 2146, three months into the Astoran invasion of human space. While the Itomori system is a relatively lightly populated one and would seem to be a reasonable buffer between the advancing Astorans and vital EFS infrastructure, its numerous gas giants are strategically significant mining operations. A reinforced cruiser group, led by Commodore Tachibana, had been sent by the Earth Fleet to defend Itomori – and had been waiting several days to see action.

Tachibana’s fleet encountered what was presumed to be an Astoran patrol on the 23rd March; a small flotilla of Irivel frigates was detected by long-range sensors on the cruiser Adamant, and the decision was made to advance into the magnetic clouds on the system’s edge to investigate. There, Tachibana encountered – apparently with the element of surprise – a small Astoran task force. Battle was joined…

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Short Story – “On Ice”

In writing a continuation of Night / Morning I decided to change the perspective and tense slightly; I wanted to keep my idea of trying to write something about the senses, about how it feels to feel alive, and indeed the discomfort of the setting, but to expand it slightly in scope. It has moved from one person in one room, in a way; it is now about someone trying to turn their current situation over in their mind.

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Short Story – Gardes

I have been reconsidering what can be done with lost-world and ancient civilisation narratives. And I realised that an imagined setting I was working on, of a magical school in an ultimately colonial age, could stand to be shaken up a little.

Thus I wrote this, about an emissary of a lost civilisation making his existence known to the world. It is a direct sequel to Lunch at the Real…

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