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Topics - Cramulus

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As my Dungeon World campaign wraps up, I'm looking for the next tabletop to check out. I've landed on The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power (or SCUP for short). Here's the thumbnail:

► It uses the Powered By The Apocalypse rules engine, which is the same mechanics as Dungeon World. That is, for any action, you roll 2d6, add a stat. If you get a 10+, you succeed, 7-9 is a 'success with a cost or consequence', and 6- is fail. Very simple, lots of narrative control.

► The game is styled after Game of Thrones. The characters are all powerful people, major figures in the setting. Most of the game's drama takes place between the characters. (as opposed to D&D or Dungeon World, where the group is assumed to be a party cooperating to overcome challenges set by the DM)

► Like Dungeon World, the setting is generated by the players at the first session. You do this "mythology creation" workshop, in which the group talks through a world myth. You start with a prompt, "In the beginning, _______" and then fill in the blank. The book gives you some options, and if you want, you can roll a die, but you could also make something up.

1. The world was pristine and unsullied.
2. There was peace between all.
3. We lived in harmony with nature.
4. It was a golden age of prosperity and knowledge.
5. Dangerous things were sealed away.
6. Times were hard, but we got by with what we had.

1. A never before seen threat arose.
2. A new power emerged in the land.
3. We meddled in what we should not.
4. Rightful rule was challenged.
5. Our ancient ways were cast aside or forgotten.
6. Supernatural powers unleashed their wrath.

There are six beats to the world myth. After you've set it up, then you flesh out the details and talk specifics. From this conversation, the setting emerges.

► Each player may choose one 'playbook', which is essentially the character classes....

"The Sword" is martial power...
The Gauntlet is an amazing fighter (think: Jamie Lannister)
The Spur commands a force of warriors (think: Jon Snow)
The Black Hood is an assassin (think: Arya Stark)
The Screw is a torturer, inquisitor... can get info out of people (think: Ramses Bolton)

"The Crown" is social power...
The Crown playbook lets you play a king or queen. (think: Cersei)
The Voice is an advisor (think: Tyrion)
The Bloodletter is a doctor or academic, who Knows Things and holds power over life and death (think: Sam Tarley)
The Lyre is like a bard, celebrity, influential type. They deal in information and can spread rumors (think: Varys)

"The Unspeakable Power" is magical power...
The Beloved is basically a cult leader. There's something special about you, and as a result, you have a cult of 20-30 people that follow you around and think you're the chosen one. You can tap into the Unspeakable Power. (think: Daenerys)
The Adept has magical powers, see things that should not be seen. (think: Bran)
The Hex is a witch or sorcerer, who wields powerful curses (think: Melissandre)

► And then at session 1, when you create characters, you thread them together. Each playbook has a few built-in relationships... you choose two of them and then assign them to other characters at the table. For example, the bloodletter (doctor) character points to someone and says "You need me to keep someone you care about alive." Then you work out who that is. It might even be another character at the table!

► Most of the plot will have to do with intrigues, power plays, and betrayals. There is combat, but it's not handled in super-fine detail... when you fight somebody, it's usually about dominance or power rather than actually killing them. A whole combat is resolved with 1-3 dice rolls. You roll dice, it gives you a mechanical outcome, and then the players involved fill in the fluff about what actually happened.

► Each character has a faction that you generate at the beginning of the game. Some characters have patrons, people they work for -- in many cases, this is also another PC. For example, if someone is playing The Crown, then someone playing the Voice will be their advisor, someone playing The Spur will be their general. At the beginning of each session, yo make some die rolls which indicate your current status with your patron and faction. You could begin the session in good graces with bonus resources, or in a bad state where you're going to have to do some tasks or favors to get back into favor.

The factions are also tools to drive drama. They mean that each character has a group that expects something from them. And even if the characters are not at odds, their factions probably are.

► You have a pool of "honor" points, representing your reptuation and the value of your name. You can spend honor to get favors from your faction, or use moves like DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? --- when you're talking to any character, you can spend 1 Honor and say "Do you know who I am?" -- the target then has to improvise something impressive they've recently heard about your character.

► The Unspeakable Power is an intelligent evil force. In any given setting, it could be different things. If a character has magical abilities, whether they know it or not, that ability actually comes from the Unspeakable Power. It is a force of temptation and sin. Every character has a move called "Whisper to the Unspeakable Power". If you whisper "I'd sell my soul to humiliate that guy", the unspeakable power will hear your request, and whisper something back, possibly granting you what you desire. This is a game where you can always make a deal with the devil. And eventually, it will come back at you.

► After many sessions, you'll have accumulated enough "advancement" (this game's version of XP) to buy stuff from a list... one of the things you can purchase is "end of season" moves. These are big narrative events like Game of Thrones' Red Wedding. Using an End of Season move delivers a big twist or dramatic conclusion to a character's story. It will probably end the campaign, or at the least, significantly change your character. After an End of Season move, the king might lose all of his power and end up as a beggar on the street. Or a mage might finally succumb to the temptation of the unspeakable power and ruin their own lives.

It seems like a really wild game. I like the idea that the GM doesn't really create the story, they just facilitate the threads that players put out there. Lots of agency, lots of room for plot to emerge.

Apple Talk / Mid-Apocalyptic Fiction
« on: April 13, 2020, 10:02:03 pm »
I can imagine a sci-fi genre (which probably already exists) in which the world is ending, but not uniformly, and not in a big dramatic crescendo. The world doesn't end due to wars or bombs or aliens or a big comet or anything... it's ending slowly, slowly being strangled by bureaucracy and reliance on systems that no longer function, or have long stoppages.

Like, picture Mad Max, but 7-11 is still open.

There's raiders and slavers... but also, there are still normal police...?

The Government is still there, it's just completely ineffective, if not actively malicious.

TV still exists, but no new shows are coming out, and nothing is filmed live anymore. All re-runs.

If you need medical attention, you have to barter with some shaman.. but you're at a mall kiosk.

One day, when I lived in Yonkers, a bunch of big-box stores in the same mall all went out of buisness in the same 4 months. The smaller businesses followed - it was like the mall was dying a slow death. I went to a bunch of GOING OUT OF BUISNESS  sales, and it eventually started to feel surreal... empty parking garages, dark store fronts, one lone light somewhere.

what are some other mid-apoc images?

Apple Talk / Myspace is back
« on: April 13, 2020, 01:38:03 pm »
This is the new thing we're doing.  Be my friend:

RPG Ghetto / Long Time Listener, Last Time Caller
« on: April 10, 2020, 03:09:19 pm »
Here's a Larp that you can play over a video call. Thanks to Cainad for the share.

Short version: One person plays as a host for a call-in radio show. The players take turns Calling In, gradually escalating the absurdity & chaos going on in the outside world.
(file is also attached at the bottom of this post)



Long Time Listener, Last Time Caller is a game for 4-10 players and 30-60 minutes about a radio show at the end of the world. It is inspired by great moments of radio where a crisis has enabled broadcasters to transcend the constraints of the medium and help their audiences on a personal level.
As the game goes on, the host gradually abandons the artifice of broadcasting, untileverything is stripped away and all that remains is two people talking to one another while the world listens. This game is designed to be a meditative experience where listening is as important as acting.

One player will play the DJ (the Host). While this player will be the only one constantly playing and will be able to control the game’s pacing, they also have the least power to shape the narrative. This role is recommended for the most experienced player, the facilitator, the organizer, or whoever feels most comfortable assuming the responsibility.

The remainder of the players will play dual roles: they will act as one or more callers who establish facts about the cataclysm taking place in conversation with the host, and they will also serve as the radio show’s audience, listening carefully during the remainder of the show.

The game is designed to be played on Skype or a similar group voice chat program, but can be adapted for in-person play.


After determining who will be the Host, each player should review the section pertaining to their role, and take a few minutes to and understand what is required of each role.

As a group, agree on a general tone of the cataclysm that will serve as the backdrop of the game. It is not necessary to work out details, as that is a large part of play, but make sure that you’re all generally agree so that one player doesn’t add zombie aliens to a game that the other players thought was about the final stages of a global famine.

Then decide what kind of station this is: Where does the station broadcast? Maybe some people listen online, but part of the magic of radio is the regional limitation, and this can give you some additional framing information.

Finally, decide what sort of show this is under normal circumstances. Setting the game at a freeform station will create a very different experience than a game set at a conservative talk radio station or a Top 40 morning zoo. A college radio station is an excellent default setting.


While the game is best experienced in an online theater of the mind setting, it can be played live! Set up two chairs back to back, one for the host and one for the caller. The listeners should sit in front of the host, and when they are ready to call, they should hand the host a slip of paper with their caller name and location, and move to the caller side of the room to wait their turn to call.


You are responsible for setting the pace of the game. You choose when calls begin and when they end. The callers are important, but this is ultimately your show.

Take a minute or two before the game starts to think about two things: your on-air persona, and the nominal topic of the show. The persona is key. Are you crotchety, goofy, patient, or a know-it-all? It doesn’t have to be in-depth; it’s just a springboard to start your interactions. A topic is also highly recommended as a guide, especially early on in the game. Talk about something you care about: baseball, superhero movies, politics, or romance. Finally, consider having some music cued up; a high-energy talk show is fun, but playing 45 seconds of a song can give you the chance to breathe between calls and give callers time to think of something to say.

Most importantly, this is your job, or at least your responsibility, and you have a set of rules to follow. At the beginning of the game, you should follow all of them rigidly, and impose them on callers. You have the ability to“hang up” on a caller, ending the call. The first two calls of the game will be normal calls that set a baseline for the show. During these calls, follow all the rules. After that, each call will reveal the nature of the cataclysm; after each call and new revelation, cross one rule off the list and act accordingly. You are no longer bound by that rule. Once you’ve crossed off the last rule, take one more call, after which the game, the show, and probably the world come to an end. Keep this pacing in mind as you cross off rules, and especially during the final call or two. As the game goes on and the situation seems out of control, your polished radio persona should begin to show cracks.

It is recommended that you announce when you have time for one or two more calls to let the players know that the game is winding down. At all times during the game, you should try to give each call a couple minutes, unless it has hit a clear endpoint before that. Remember: the game is about conversations, and you are the facilitator.


You will play multiple roles: one or more callers, and the audience of the radio show.

When you are an audience member, you should mute your microphone or remain silent, and just listen to what is going on. Listening is an important part of your role, and you should be mindful of your response to other callers, as this can be a springboard for your own call.

When you’re ready to call in and contribute, use the text function in your VOIP program to indicate your character’s identity by typing in “(First name) from (town).” You may call in more than once, but you will be a different character each time, and no one should call a second time until everyone has called at least once (unless someone has indicated that they don’t wish to call).

During the first two “calls,” your job is to set up the normal dynamic of the show and the world. After those first two calls, you will introduce new information about the cataclysm affecting the world in each call. Try to build up somewhat gradually; each revelation should be dramatic and build upon prior callers’ contributions.

Don’t just call in to give information about the disaster. Consider the following before the call:

• What makes your call interesting? How will you get and keep the host’s attention?
• Why are you calling a radio station at this time? What need is it fulfilling, and what do you want to communicate?
• What is your relationship with the host? Are you a regular, a listener, an antagonist, or someone they know?
• After you hang up the phone, what will happen to you?
• Most importantly, you want to be on the radio. Enjoy it, and take your time exploring the role you’ve created. You may never use it again.

Apple Talk / messaging apps are obviously a discordian conspiracy
« on: April 07, 2020, 10:44:48 pm »


Apple Talk / Things that make you feel old
« on: April 07, 2020, 09:18:47 pm »
For me, it's TikTok

After Vine (which I loved), I knew it was just a matter of time before I went totally Grandpa Cramulus because of a teen software fad. I have a ton of friends who are super into TikTok and I can't wrap my liverspotted head around it.

From what I can tell, TikTok is a video platform which consists of people lipsyncing some random dialog from a TV show. And while you do that, you have to make EXTREME EXPRESSIONS. Like take whatever normal expression you'd be making and turn it up to 50. Sorta like silent-movie acting.

« on: April 07, 2020, 12:58:47 pm »

If you just registered on the forum, or are dusting off your old account, check the fuck in.


this is me:


What is you?

Or Kill Me / Prepare for Aftermath
« on: April 05, 2020, 08:32:57 pm »
As Discordians,
As Popes,
As People,
As Cabbages,
As it comes to pass,

We know that history doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes, and the song goes

  • CHAOS, the raw and uncut -- becomes
  • DISCORD, the 0 and 1, which creates
  • CONFUSION, in which the pressure builds into
  • BUREAUCRACY, which grinds and grinds until it collapses into
  • AFTERMATH, the sunrise we watch together on the beach

and today, I tell you that today we are deep in SEASON FOUR, and the season finale is coming.

Eris charges us: Go Forth! and make preparations for AFTERMATH.
For lo, the next world,
though it is still just a dream,
is coming.

And it may be great, or it may be terrible,
but it is up to each of us.

And we tiny neurons in the sleeping mind of a giant,
I dream
you dream
and our dream is its dreams

And the giant was afraid of itself, so it divided itself up into tiny little parts, and the parts hated each other, and now it has self loathing and chronic pain.

And the giant was in love with itself, so pushed its ugliness under the surface, where it grew uglier and uglier and its beauty grew terrible.

And the giant didn't think about how it was going to die some day, so it trodded on and on, and it grinded itself down until it was sick and desperate and it forgot about what matters.

and the giant wants to change

and resisting that desire is all of its habits and patterns

and it's begging us now,
a quiet prayer,
in a dark room:

Light a candle.
Prepare for Aftermath.

Principia Discussion / Robert Anton Wilson Stand-Up
« on: April 03, 2020, 06:54:35 pm »
A classic discordian work: a stand-up set by Robert Anton Wilson.

Wilson's stage routine shares chords with George Carlin - he's funny, but he's also got a point to make.

This performance also explains Discordianism and ordains its viewers as Discordian Popes.

Aneristic Illusions / Sneak Preview of the Coming Surveillance State
« on: March 29, 2020, 02:06:38 pm »
Russia under President Vladimir Putin has pioneered authoritarian tech: Last year, the Kremlin leader approved measures that would enable the creation of a "sovereign" Russian internet, able to be firewalled from the rest of the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now giving Russian authorities an opportunity to test new powers and technology, and the country's privacy and free-speech advocates worry the government is building sweeping new surveillance capabilities.

Perhaps the most well-publicized tech tool in Russia's arsenal for fighting coronavirus is Moscow's massive facial-recognition system. Rolled out earlier this year, the surveillance system had originally prompted an unusual public backlash, with privacy advocates filing lawsuits over unlawful surveillance.
Coronavirus, however, has given an unexpected public-relations boost to the system.

Last week, Moscow police claimed to have caught and fined 200 people who violated quarantine and self-isolation using facial recognition and a 170,000-camera system. According to a Russian media report some of the alleged violators who were fined had been outside for less than half a minute before they were picked up by a camera.

"We want there to be even more cameras so that that there is no dark corner or side street left," Oleg Baranov, Moscow's police chief, said in a recent briefing, adding that the service is currently working to install an additional 9,000 cameras.

The system has also been used to analyze the social networks of those who have or are suspected of having coronavirus. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin described in his official blog how municipal authorities tracked a Chinese woman who flew to the city from Beijing back in February.

While a test eventually came back negative, Sobyanin said the authorities located the taxi driver who took the woman home from the airport, a friend she met outside her apartment block in violation of the quarantine, and collected data on all 600 people living in her building.

And then there's the use of geolocation to track coronavirus carriers. Epidemiologists see tracking and data-crunching as one important tool for tracking and localizing outbreaks, but Russia has taken a distinctive approach. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier this week ordered Russia's Ministry of Communications to roll out a tracking system based on "the geolocation data from the mobile providers for a specific person" by the end of this week.

In other words, the data hoovered up by the system will not be anonymous: According to a description in the government decree, information gathered under the tracking system will be used to send texts to those who have come into contact with a coronavirus carrier, and to notify regional authorities so they can put individuals into quarantine.

Such measures have prompted little public debate.

it goes on to describe similar (but less invasive) measures in South Korea, Israel, and the EU.

"The difference lies with the countries that have a higher culture of privacy and a significant limitation of access and use of this data," said Sarkis Darbinyan, a lawyer with Roskomsvoboda, a non-government organization that tracks online freedoms in Russia. "The scariest thing is that the epidemic will end someday, but these measures I'm sure will stay."

Apple Talk / Official Edict and Decree
« on: March 24, 2020, 06:18:52 pm »


Apple Talk / Quarantine Larps
« on: March 19, 2020, 02:49:04 pm »
I'm trying to come up with some ideas for silly little 2-page games you can play while under quarantine. I've got this idea I'm still braining through, and I figured I'd just toss the pieces up here and see if any of you brain-geniuses have any ideas. I don't know if anybody would actually play this, but as we go insane from boredom, it starts to get more likely.

The game is called What The Fuck is the Matrix. Give it a read here:

Lemme know if you have any other ideas or jokes I could add.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Ancient Jericho
« on: February 26, 2020, 04:41:55 pm »
Recently watched a super interesting documentary about the city of Jericho. It's one of the most ancient cities in the world, perhaps as old as 10,000 BC. TEN THOUSAND BC! The mind reels to even imagine it.

The earliest ruins of Jericho are these circular houses. It seems like an extended family lived in one house, and there was a time that the entire city consisted of these dwellings.

The dwellings are interesting for a few reasons - one is that they're all the same. There didn't seem to be any class differences back then, or at least, we haven't found any evidence of some people living better than others. The organizations of houses suggest that there were different "tribes" within the city. Maybe independent tribes chose to live near each other and share resources -- that might be what the city originally was.

The other interesting thing is that each house has its own grain storage area, which tells us that everybody had control over their own food. This isn't true of other ancient prehistoric cities - in many of them, food was alotted and labor was organized by the priest class, who lived in opulence compared to regular people.

Many other ancient fertile-crescent proto-cities probably started as religious sites. Hunter/gatherers and eventually farmers would travel to visit temples and attend ceremonies. Likely, this is where/when agricultural knowledge was exchanged. Priests lived off of tributes, and it's possible that the world's first Ruling Class was a product of religious authority and central organization.

Jericho was eventually taken over by old empire Egyptians. At that point in the archaeological record, you see a big lifestyle change - there are no more of the round houses, and you start seeing temples and palaces and the signs of central organization.

In my imagination, this represents a fork in the history of humanity. Maybe there was a time when we lived in happy anarchy, with no incentive to war on each other or serve a ruling class. I mean, I'm sure people still murdered each other, and tribes probably had rivalries, but there might not have been WAR in the sense that we know it. The original people of Jerico shared space, cooperated.

But this style of civilization is almost defenseless against an organized military. It is a classic human pattern--a disorganized group is easily coopted and subsumed by an organized one. If, today, you start a commune where everyone is equal, it can only last so long until power is concentrated and culture is imposed from above rather than generated from below.

Those round, familial houses weren't unique to the city of Jericho itself -- there are settlements throughout that region which belonged to that culture. Over time, they were all conquered by the Egyptians, and that mode of living vanished from the earth.

The whole thing reminds me of the Coordination Trap. Like, the world would be better off without armies, but if one group has an army, then everybody has to have one or be conquered.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy reminds me of it too -- the martian colonists are originally scientists, who share resources and do not operate on capitalist logic. But once capitalists arrive, money is in the system, everybody begins to operate with money, private property, resource hoarding.... to ignore money is to become "poor". Private capital has a huge advantage over peaceful cooperative anarchy. A society of givers is vulnerable takers.

don't get me wrong, I would never want to live in the ancient world

but maybe, just maybe, we got it right--and then lost it

Apple Talk / Help me win some awards
« on: February 12, 2020, 03:13:53 pm »
Hey cats. So as most of you know, I work on this super wacky project whose name I don't want to write here, because I don't want this forum coming up when you google it. So I'm going to say the first word is Goat. The second word is Larp.

In the UK, there's a larp conference that has an award show. The owners told me that my game has a really good shot if we get a bunch of nominations in the "best international larp" and "best small larp" categories. (as they don't get a ton of submissions there)

Can you please go to this link, click on the form, and then nominate the game I wrote above? You don't have to fill in any comments, but it's also ok to make some shit up as long as it sounds like you might have been there.

Voting closes at 11pm uk time (6pm eastern time) tonight, so please do it!

Apple Talk / Nonviolent J Protest
« on: January 31, 2020, 03:42:22 pm »
2020 is already fucked

just opening a news website spikes my blood pressure

Government is broken

climate is broken

Humanity is broken

the insane posse is classified as a gang

I'm almost 40

fuck it... there's only one option left:

To become a fan of the Insane Clown Posse

I think that's what this world needs right now -- people in their 30s and 40s putting on bad clown makeup and spraying faygo everywhere

Honestly, it doesn't sound like a bad time.

We were just talking about it in #discord.. somebody posted some random ICP video and I was like "you know ... I don't actually hate this"

maybe we just hated them because it was fashionable, and also because of vanilla ice

And like, they're not even popular. There's no reason to get into them now. None.

But if you don't know how to relate to 2020, if you feel like everything is hopeless and frustrating -- this thread is for us

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