April 2nd, 2019

marcus 2013

Another RPG bundle offer - EABA

This is a "useful for any genre" system I've never heard of until today - it looks interesting, but it also looks like it will be a lot of work to get into:


"Across four decades EABA designer Greg Porter has sought the grail of Simulation. In the Threefold Model and GNS theory of roleplaying design, Simulationist games seek accurate modeling and consistent fine-grained replication of their setting's interactions; the campaign universe should operate sensibly independent of player concerns.

In 1983 Porter, an old hand with rules-heavy simulations such as GURPS and Car Wars, founded his one-gamer company BTRC ("Blackburg [Virginia] Tactical Research Center") to publish ambitious Simulationist RPGs such as TimeLords. Now living an isolated life atop remote Fork Mountain south of Roanoke, Porter still pursues his 35-year quest in highly individual designs such as Corps and, most recently, EABA ("Ee-buh"). That stands for "End-All, Be-All," a whimsically grandiose name for a thoroughly practical universal rules set.

EABA is a roll-over dice-pool system. Your attributes and skills determine the number of six-sided dice you roll; you total the three highest D6s, trying to beat a specified difficulty number. (The "Larger Than Life" advantage allows your best four rolls, best five, etc.) A Universal Scale relates dice to damage and recovery, mass and size, distance and area, time, money, quantity, and more. Using this one-page chart, you can easily determine most in-game relationships.

The chart also helps you set genre-appropriate baselines for your campaign world. Its default cost levels and "efficiency threshold" adjustments (for super-powers) help ensure characters have equipment and abilities suited to the setting's genre and technology. Once you've set the ground rules, the Universal Scale lets you craft powers, effects, and modifiers. EABA scales smoothly across many power levels, giving a nice range of variation for normals without going overboard for guys who can pick up a tank.

Combat uses an unusual initiative system where combatants bid secretly to see who acts first, and there's an action penalty for rushing. In a round, after you take one major action and one minor action, each additional action incurs a cumulative dice penalty. How much time does a combat round represent? That's EABA's most interesting innovation, a fusion of realism and drama.

"I started thinking about it when I tried to model cool scenes from movies as game turns," Greg Porter explained in a Hardboiled GMshoe online chat in 2014. "You just cannot do it on a second-by-second basis." The rulebook cites the lobby gunfight in The Matrix (1999): "From the first revealing of weapons to the final body falling is about 150 seconds. Even if the time onscreen was divided equally between the two protagonists, in a game with one-second rounds this would take 75 rounds to play, or about three days of your typical gamer wrangling, planning, and arguing. In EABA this entire scene would be seven or eight rounds long."

EABA rounds lengthen as the fight progresses, either as specified on the Universal Chart or to serve the Gamemaster's dramatic needs. The expanding turn scale accentuates the immediate in the early stages of a fight, then the dramatic later on. The first round lasts one second; later rounds double in length, up to 16 minutes at Round 10. Regardless of round length, you still get one major and one minor action -- but each later round grants an increasing "turn mod" bonus, representing your increased time for planning, focus, effort, or supplies spent. This means it's important you draw your gun faster than your opponent, and that can take a single round -- but running around the building, breaking into a car, hotwiring it, and driving it through the wall to surprise the bad guys can also take a single round. For players used to stopping the game for five minutes to plan their next one-second round, EABA's expanding combat turns inherently give their characters time to confer in-game.

EABA's combat system provides plenty of crunch, with rules for cover, opportunity and covering fire, weapon arcs, advanced aiming, special ammo types, explosions (fragmentation and blast), lethal and nonlethal damage, crippling and bleeding, technology level, and much more. The Stuff! equipment supplement adds extensive rules for weapons, vehicles, gadgets, and creatures. If you think it's important in combat, rest assured: It's here.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). BTRC publishes advanced .PDFs with interactive features that enhance tabletop play. The EABA core rulebook .PDF in this offer has a built-in dice roller; its character sheets do calculations automatically; you can generate characters and vehicles with one click; and you can draw and erase on the maps. .PDF readers that support the advanced features include Adobe Reader (desktop), Readdle's PDF Expert (iOS), and Qoppa Software's qPDF Notes (Android).

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to the charity designated by EABA designer Greg Porter, the RPG Creators Relief Fund. The RCRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization founded to provide financial assistance to tabletop roleplaying game creators suffering hardship due to medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic situations.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer is US$135. Customers who pay just US$5.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $57), including the complete EABA v2.01 corebook, the steampunk-Martian-dinosaur extravaganza Verne (and the beautiful Verne Maps set); and the post-scarcity nanotech setting grep.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $16.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with five more supplements and campaign sourcebooks worth an additional $78:

  • Stuff!: A comprehensive equipment construction set that lets you build anything from a penknife to an orbital bombardment platform.
  • Aethos: Hard-sf space opera, espionage, and political aboard a colossal alien worldship.
  • Agency: Modern magickal intrigue in a campaign where only you are Real, and everyone else is just Scenery. Includes the 1957 companion game that puts you at the heart of the setting's early history.
  • Eschaton: Realistic superheroics in the wake of a sudden event that bestows super-powers on hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

I might as well admit I'm not a big fan of the simulationist approach to RPGs, I tend to prefer simple rules and an emphasis on character. This looks very well designed and presented, but it's also a huge assemblage of PDFs etc. for each book, with javascript needed for some aspects, and that's a little off-putting to me. I'm certainly going to be looking at this, especially the Verne package, but I doubt I'll be playing it.

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marcus 2013

Tiny Octopus Fistbump

My energy provider is Octopus (Hail Hydra!) - they sent out a message today pointing out that they're reducing their prices in line with wholesale energy costs, unlike most of the other providers, which had a ridiculously cute gif on it:

Animated gif of tiny octopus in tin can.

I have no idea of the source for it, and hope they're using it legitimately, but I think it deserves to be shared...

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marcus 2013

Network Switch Recommendations?

I've been having some network problems at home which I'm pretty sure are down to the 5-port switch in my work room going flaky. At the moment I have the PC connected directly to the lead that usually goes into the switch and haven't had any problems in several hours, with the switch in there I've had problems with my computer, the network printer, and my backup RAID drive. I've tried swapping cables, switching off and on, etc. and nothing has worked for long.

I need to replace this ASAP, especially since I need to use the printer most days, so I want to pick up a switch from e.g. PC World tomorrow. They have TP-Link switches that seem OK for £12.99, everything else is much more expensive - and mostly made by NetGear, the makers of the switch that is giving problems.

So - does anyone know anything horrible about the TP-LINK TL-SG1005D Network Switch - 5 port

It seems to have a lot of positive reviews, about the worse thing I can see is that the casing is plastic which may mean heat problems. I'm prepared to take a chance at that price, unless someone has a good reason not to risk it.

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