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Open Forum » Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon! » December 12, 2017 04:46:20

beholdsa
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Today in Inspirational Media for Dime Adventures, we present: Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon!

https://youtu.be/p8W9tObWc3o

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Dime Adventures Open Beta 3 » November 20, 2016 14:42:04

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Today have again updated the open playtest of Dime Adventures, our upcoming pulp alternate history roleplaying game! This will be the final open beta test of the game before its January Kickstarter. Anyone can sign up for the open beta today, and download a fully-playable draft of the game rules! Just enter your email into the signup form here!

Want to know more about Dime Adventures? Here's the blurb:


Pulp Tales of an Alternate Earth!

The year is 1904, but in a world that never was!

Dinosaurs still roam forgotten corners of the land. Alien influences operate from the skies. Mystics wield ancient powers, while strange new sciences promise to change the world. The dead rise from the grave. All the while, modern movements sweep the globe, and bold explorers venture deep into the unknown or delve into forgotten ruins.

The world is ripe for adventure!

Dime Adventures is a pulp alternate history role-playing game using the Saga Machine system.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Dime Adventures Open Beta 2 » September 06, 2016 15:45:13

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We have updated the open playtest of Dime Adventures, our upcoming pulp alternate history roleplaying game! Anyone can sign up for the open beta today, and download a fully-playable draft of the game rules! Just enter your email into the signup form here!

Want to know more about Dime Adventures? Here's the blurb:

Pulp Tales of an Alternate Earth!

The year is 1904, but in a world that never was!

Dinosaurs still roam forgotten corners of the land. Alien influences operate from the skies. Mystics wield ancient powers, while strange new sciences promise to change the world. The dead rise from the grave. All the while, modern movements sweep the globe, and bold explorers venture deep into the unknown or delve into forgotten ruins.

The world is ripe for adventure!

Dime Adventures is a pulp alternate history role-playing game using the Saga Machine system.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Against the Dark Yogi: The Amitra Gemstone is released! » April 27, 2016 14:18:47

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Today we are happy to announce the release of Against the Dark Yogi: The Amitra Gemstone! This is the first adventure release for Against the Dark Yogi: Mythic India Roleplaying. It is also the first adventure funded by the Tab Creations Patreon project!


The village of Wershi has long been known for its legendary good luck. Tucked high up in the Fondhya Mountains, the village has resisted both famine and invasion. But now disaster has struck! The village has been poisoned, and it up to the heroes to ferret out the sinister figure who seeks to claim the secret of the village as his own.

Against the Dark Yogi: The Amitra Gemstone is an adventure supplement for Against the Dark Yogi. It features an epic tale that will send the heroes out on a mission of mercy. In the process they will be pitted against a powerful brahmarakshasa and uncover an ancient secret!

Open Forum » [Development Blog] Combat System Design » April 14, 2016 13:45:43

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I've been thinking quite a bit recently about RPG combat system design. After all, combat systems are a major emphasis in many (if not most ) RPGs.


Combat system design is a fun/time optimization problem.


These days I think about combat system design as a fun/time optimization problem. That is, ideally you want to maximize the amount of fun you get out of the combat system per unit of time spent. Obviously, how much fun you get out of something is quite subjective, and how much time you want the combat system to take up is going to vary with the design goals of the game, but I still think this is a useful optimization metric to keep in mind when considering potential rules for a combat system. Here are a few ways this can be applied:


If a rule in combat takes time to resolve, but doesn't add to the system's fun in some way, it's probably a bad rule. Example: If scoring a critical hit means rolling on a critical hit table, but most of the results are some variation of ‘add a few bonus points to damage,’ it might be better skip the table entirely and go right to adding a few points to damage. Alternatively, the table might be made interesting enough to justify the time it adds to combat.
If combat isn't an emphasis in your game, it's okay if the combat system isn't all that exciting, so long as it's super-quick to resolve. Example: If I'm running a game based after telenovelas, it's okay not to have an in-depth system for combat maneuvers, ambushes, suppression fire, etc. So if two rival suitors pull guns on each other after a shocking realization, it's fine if the combat system is just ‘make an opposed guns roll.’ The combat itself doesn't have to be all that interesting - just quick - so that the game moves on to the interesting parts.
Even if combat is a major part of the game, it's good to have a way for uninteresting combats to resolve quickly. Example: If a two-bit thug points a gun at Batman, this isn't an interesting fight, even if combat is a major focus in supers games. The GM shouldn't have to break out minis, initiative rules, counting hexes/squares, etc. Batman should just knock the gun away and take the thug out! A good GM will recognize this and run the situation accordingly, but it's amazing the number of games that recognize this situation in their rules as written.


Another important realization about combat systems is to recognize that they are basically a just mechanism to resolve a particular type of scene in the game - specifically, combat scenes. Ideally, every action made in combat should contribute to progressing the resolution of the scene, or to making the resolution interesting in some way.


A Combat system is a mechanism to resolve combat scenes. Every action should move the scene towards resolution.


This is an important realization because in many traditional combat systems, a large number of actions don't significantly contribute to the scene's resolution. The quintessential example of this is attacking and missing in combat. When this happens no real progress has been made by either side to resolve the situation, the stakes have not been raised and usually the outcome of that attack isn't particularly interesting.

In our Saga Machine games, this is the primary reason that, defensive reactions aside, the math is heavily stacked in favor of attacks hitting. Attacks that connect progress the game state by reducing the defender's health, and bring the scene closer to resolving. Furthermore, most of the time that attacks miss, it's because the defender took a defensive reaction. Since those always have a cost in AP/prana, the game state is progressed in a different way, with the defender having fewer AP/prana resources.


A combat system is a cycle, within which are smaller cycles. Each cycle has its own resources and its own pacing.


That leads me to the final, insight that I want to bring up in this post: The vast majority of combat systems consist of some sort of cycle within cycles. These are repeated over and over again until the scene resolves. In fact, roleplaying game sessions themselves are a sort of cycle within which the the smaller combat system cycles are placed.

The most obvious example of this is the traditional combat round: everyone gets a turn, takes action(s) and then that process repeats. Each round is one cycle. Within that, each turn is its own mini-cycle. In Against the Dark Yogi, for example, that would be: take an action, resolve it, repeat until out of prana or until an action requiring a flip is played.

Each kind of cycle has its own pacing and its own resources. For example, in many combat systems, an important resource for combat overall is HP. As the combat progresses, HP is lost, moving the game state forward towards the resolution of the scene. Within a combat round, an important resource is actions. Each character gets some number of actions and then uses those to affect the state of the game.

Ideally, every cycle should offer the opportunity to do something fun that progresses the game state. For example, on her turn, a player wants to be able to do something interesting that helps out her side in the combat. One reason why stun/shaken mechanics are disliked in some parts of the RPG community is because they frequently are implemented in a way that denies players the ability to do this. Similarly, healing mechanics can be controversial because they can be seen as reversing the progress of the game state, giving the sense that state is just ‘treading water’ rather than bringing about a resolution one way or the other.

To sum up my post: Visualize combat systems as this interlocking set of cycles. Each cycle you want to squeeze out as much fun as you can in a timely manner. And every time you do this, you should be moving the game forward, towards the resolution of the combat scene.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol: Consequence Cards Released » January 26, 2016 11:21:16

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Today we are proud to release our second accessory for Shadows Over Sol: Science Fiction Horror Roleplaying! These would be the Shadows Over Sol: Consequence Cards.

A key component of the Shadows Over Sol rules are for characters to take consequences - the mechanical representation of various penalties, bonuses or status effects influencing the character. Different mechanics within the game can cause consequences, including special traits, critical successes and failures - or any situation where the GM thinks the consequence will heighten the tension in the game!

Shadows Over Sol: Consequence Cards are a quick and easy way to keep track of consequences in your game. Simply set them on the table in front of you as your character takes consequences, or hand them out to other players when you cause them! Each of the 14 consequences listed in Shadows Over Sol are featured here.

Status Report


The first printing proof for the Shadows Over Sol core rulebook had an issue with the lower margin. The files have been corrected, and sent to the printer for a second printing proof. See the DevBlog post here. We're hoping it will arrived and be given the OK next week.
The Small Mercy adventure is now finished with both editing and layout.
Printing proofs of the Shiny New Toys and Ready-Made Heroes supplements, and the Small Mercy adventure, have also been ordered.
The Small Mercy adventure is almost out of editing and will be entering layout soon.
The Beyond Human supplement is now in active layout. Both the Fatal Frontier supplement and the Eviction Notice adventure are waiting to be next in line.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol Released! » January 04, 2016 12:40:34

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We are happy to announce the public release of Shadows Over Sol: Science Fiction Horror Roleplaying! Available in PDF, EPUB and MOBI, Shadows Over Sol can be purchased from DriveThruRPG.

A hard science fiction future of conspiracy and horror!

Two hundred years from now what should be the shining beacon of the future is instead cloaked in conspiracy and horror. Humankind has expanded throughout the solar system, and there it has discovered mysteries older than humanity.

The culture has shattered into myriad subcultures; nation-states are the hollow shells of what they once were. Corporations and other groups wage small-scale wars in the streets or in space. Bioengineered horrors left over from these conflicts stalk the hulls of ruined stations and abandoned colonies.



But for an enterprising team willing to brave the horrors, there’s always a profit to be made.



Shadows Over Sol is a hard science fiction horror roleplaying game using the Saga Machine system. Its features include:


Discover the secrets of the Sol system, with multiple GM options to keep players on their toes.
Support for a wide spectrum of play in the science fiction and horror genres.
A fully-realized setting with a detailed breakdown of both social dynamics and the solar system, from Mercury to the Oort Cloud.
Systems for personal combat, engineering, hacking and more!


Status Report


Printing proofs of the Shadows Over Sol core are being ordered and print copies should be available later this month.
Character sheets are available here!
The next items for release are, in order: GM Screen Inserts, Consequence Cards and Ready-Made Heroes for Shadows Over Sol. They should be made available, one ever couple weeks from this point forward.

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Shadows Over Sol: Engineering » July 18, 2015 11:18:52

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Engineering to solve problems is a common trope in the science fiction genre. I can't count the number of times in sci-fi movies, books or TV shows that I've seen characters whip up a technological solution to the problem at hand through the expert use of improvisation and engineering know-how.

Shadows Over Sol supports this common genre trope through the engineering subsystem. This system allows players to design, assemble and use new technology of their own design. Sometimes these solutions work as designed, sometimes there are bugs that cause unforeseen complications and sometimes these designs can fail spectacularly.

Mechanically, engineering is divided up into two stages. The first is the design stage. In this stage the player describes what she is trying to achieve. The GM then assigns the task a difficulty, timeframe, cost and other requirements. The player then makes an action to perform the actual design work, draw up the blueprints, do the required math, etc.

The second stage of the engineering subsystem is the prototype stage. In this stage the character gathers the necessary components and then does the actual assembly. Engineering jobs can be rushed, which reduces the required time, but increases the difficulty. Players may also choose to only use whatever makeshift components are on hand, which reduces cost and increases the possibility of complications.

Throughout this process there is the possibility that the design or prototype will work, but still have unknown bugs. These issues can provide further complications when the technology is used. This can make for a fun narrative hook as characters deal with the unforeseen consequences of their untested tech. This also makes a good hook for the horror genre tropes in the game. The technology may be successful, but at what cost?

Shadows Over Sol is our upcoming science fiction horror RPG. Its Kickstarter is scheduled to begin September 1st. In the meantime, you can download the free Quick-Start, or sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter is ready.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Against the Dark Yogi: Ready-Made Heroes Released! » July 14, 2015 10:11:03

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This week saw the release of the next supplement for Against the Dark Yogi: Mythic India Roleplaying!

Want to run a quick adventure, but don't have the time to write and stat out a full party? Are you starting up a new campaign, but your players don't know what they want to play? Here are five pregenerated heroes ready for anything!

Against the Dark Yogi: Ready-Made Heroes is a supplement for Against the Dark Yogi. It's features include:


Five pregenerated heroes ready to run, perfect for a one-shot adventure or full campaign!
A full portrait and backstory for each hero.
Two character sheets for each hero: a starting version and a high-powered version.
Fleshed out connections between heroes, as well as connections to published adventures.

Open Forum » [TabBlog] Tab Update: Q3 2015 » July 05, 2015 11:19:36

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After the roller coaster which was March-April-May this year, things have finally gotten back on track. While a number of Tab Creations members have new positions, the toll from all these administrative shifts, however, is coming to an end. We didn’t have any releases in Q2 this year, but we are now set for the upcoming quarter.

Downloads of our Shadows Over Sol: Quick-Start are still going strong, which is a positive indicator as the Shadows Over Sol Kickstarter continues to be on target for a September 1s launch. At this point we’ve gotten back all of the edits for the game, and are in the process of reviewing those edits. Meanwhile, we’ve received all of the preview artwork for the Kickstarter, written a draft of the profile and we have the audio track for the Kickstarter video in hand. We still need to match the audio to the visuals. The Shadows Over Sol open beta test also came to a close.

The Against the Dark Yogi core rulebook continues to sell, and we have a new release for the game in the works, which should see publication later this month. Ready-Made Heroes (working title) will be a supplement featuring pregenerated heroes that are ready to play at a moment’s notice. This supplement includes low-enlightenment and high-enlightenment versions of each hero, as well as backstory and hooks for involving the heroes in any of our published adventures. Also relevant to Against the Dark Yogi: we’ve just green-lit several new adventures, which should see publication late this year or into next year.

We’re still going to have a presence at GenCon this year, although our presence will be minimal. Additionally, we will have a minimal presence at TopCon.

That’s about it. As the Shadows Over Sol Kickstarter launches late this quarter and will extend a few days into next quarter, expect the next Tab Update shortly after the close of the Kickstarter! Keep on gaming!

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol: Hacking » June 29, 2015 10:41:53

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Often roleplaying game hackng systems are designed in such a way that it is easy for hackers go off to do their thing while the other players are left sitting and waiting. The hacking and encryption system in Shadows Over Sol is specifically designed to help alleviate this problem.

Any computer system can be "brute forced" given enough time and processing power. This is theoretically effective, but usually requires too much time to be reasonable. After all, no one has the time to wait around a millennium as every possible input is attempted.

The key to defeating encryption in a timely manner is the acquisition of exploits. Exploits can be any number of useful pieces information which can be leveraged to gain access to a computer system. They include personal insight into the computer's primary user, technical knowledge of the system in use, corp protocols surrounding network use or anything else that might glean important information. Exploits are designed so that the entire party can help pursue them. One member may interrogate the computer's user, thereby gaining insight into her thought processes. Another member might dig into restricted corp knowledge to gain acess to their standard practices. Yet another member may test her knowledge of faulty computer memory management schemes.

Put all of these insights together, and the amount of time needed to compromise the computer system drops down to days, hours or even minutes. In this way all members of the team have the chance to feel like they participated and helped out. All players were able to remain engaged, rather than a single member going off to play the hacking subsystem.

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Shadows Over Sol: Combat » June 22, 2015 16:30:49

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Shadows Over Sol is a science fiction horror roleplaying game. A good horror story is all about the tension. It’s about the impending doom, the oncoming desperation, the inevitable moment of shock and terror. Then—once the moment of violence arrives—it’s swift, it’s brutal and it’s a game-changer. Frequently characters in horror stories spend more of their time trying desperately to subvert, trick or improvise against the subject of their horror than they do confronting it directly.

The combat system in Shadows Over Sol is designed to model this sort of tense, desperate conflict. Plans can go awry, bones can break, improvisations can be made or characters can be left to bleed out in the cold.

Every character in Shadows Over Sol has a wound threshold. Once the total severity of their wounds passes this threshold, they are in desperate need of medical attention. Rather than simply incapacitating the character, someone wounded to this extent may continue to act, but in doing so they gain the Bleeding consequence. This consequence causes them to take further wounds should they act, thereby risking death and feeding into the sense of tension. If they take too many more, they will die.

The order of the phases in the Shadows Over Sol combat round is also intended to emphasize the sense of tension and threat. Impending attacks are declared in the first phase of the round and executed in later phases, giving players time to worry and sweat about the upcoming devastation. GMs may want to declare enemy attacks near the end of the round, giving players an opportunity for improvisation and desperate actions to prevent the impending doom—but only if they gamble and go “all in” the first phase. This sort of round-to-round dynamic draws out the tension and increases the desperation, playing up the element of horror.

Finally, a well placed hit can be devastating. When a player in Shadows Over Sol scores a critical hit, they have the ability to choose a powerful critical effect that comes with the usual damage. Critical effects can range from crippled limbs to shattered weapons, or from a moment of stun to being pinned down.

Shadows Over Sol is our upcoming science fiction horror RPG. Its Kickstarter is scheduled to begin September 1st. In the meantime, you can download the free Quick-Start, or sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter is ready.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol Open Beta Ends » June 18, 2015 11:58:35

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In preparation for its September 1st Kickstarter, the open playtest for Shadows Over Sol has now ended. Those wanting notification when the Kickstarter opens can still sign up at the following page. Additionally, those wanting to preview the upcoming science fiction horror game will find the Shadows Over Sol: Quick-Start available at DriveThruRPG.

About Shadows Over Sol

Two hundred years from now what should be the shining beacon of the future is instead cloaked in conspiracy and horror. Humankind has expanded throughout the solar system, and there discovered mysteries older than humanity. The culture has shattered into myriad subcultures; nation-states are the hollow shells of what they once were. Corporations and other groups wage small-scale wars in the streets or in space. Bioengineered horrors left over from these conflicts stalk the hulls of ruined stations and abandoned colonies. But for an enterprising team willing to brave the horrors, there's always a profit to be made.

Shadows Over Sol is a hard-science fiction horror roleplaying game using the Saga Machine system.

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Shadows Over Sol: Dark Future (Part 3) » June 14, 2015 15:03:05

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This post continues the Shadows Over Sol Dark Future setting preview started two weeks ago and continued last week. Those interested in Shadows Over Sol are encouraged to sign up for the open beta test or to download the Quick-Start. The full game is scheduled for a September Kickstarter.

All About the Money

Okay, here's something that should be familiar to you: It's still all about the money. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. Most people don't have enough of it, and a few people have too much. Sound familiar? Good. Here's where things begin to change.

Most money in your time is backed by a nation-state. They print it. They try to control inflation. It's good as long as the nation-state remains solvent, or at least until the political leaders change their minds. But money is a complicated fiction. It's valuable because people say it is; and because people treat it as valuable, it continues to stay that way. If one currency begins to tank, you trade it in for another currency—or at least you try, hoping that there is the available liquidity to do that.

Currency today is an even more complicated fiction. A few nation-states still issue their own money—usually in the form of bonds rather than physical currency. But most common notes are back by corps—after all, they're the major players on the political block now. A few subcultures have even tried issuing their own voucher currency, but those haven't worked out so well.
The corps are where the money's at because they are where the employment is at. Every major corp has its own credit system used to pay its employees and many of its debts. This credit is redeemable at any corp-affiliated market. Naturally, a variety of exchanges exist to trade one type of credit for another. Most trades on these exchanges are made automatically, done in real-time with the swipe of a credit chip.

Money is rarely physical. It's mostly a series of bits sitting in various centralized accounts and transferred back and forth between computer systems as transactions take place. On a planetary network this is almost instantaneous, but in space these transactions require synchronizing with financial databases minutes away by broadcast.

It's different on Earth, but out here the de facto standard for currency is the Unitech microcredit. That's because of Unitech's commercial dominance in space.

Shiny New Toys

You are the third person we've resurrected from cryo. None were from as far in the past as you are, but each of them have seemed very interested in one particular question: What sort of shiny new toys do people have to play with now? That is, what new bounties has technology brought the world? Let's cover that.

I understand that in your time the world was still undergoing a revolution in computing and networking power. Today those technologies are mature. We have basic micro-computers everywhere, in everything from toasters to clothing. Most of these machines are dumb—even by the standards of your time—but they network regularly with more powerful machines, and this makes for a good deal of intelligence. Shops can take digital inventories, with the small computers in every product reporting their location. Refrigerators can provide alerts when staple foodstuffs get low. AIs can plan a person's evening wear from the chips in her wardrobe.

The biological sciences have also undergone a considerable revolution. Most of us have had our genomes sequences before birth and been screened for common genetic defects or developmental issues. Many, going on most, of us have also been genetically upgraded before birth for enhanced attractiveness, reflexes, durability or cognition. Out in space upgrades tend towards not suffering bone degradation in microgravity, suffering less from radiation exposure or decreased life support requirements. These can be life-savers in the environments out here.

Where computers and cognition meet is the realm of Augmented Reality (AR). We're currently in the middle of an AR revolution, just as you were in the middle of a computing revolution in your time. Many of us have implanted AR interfaces or cheaper external interfaces. This lets us look out at the world and see it enhanced with tags and other metadata. I have an early AR interface model, and even I no longer have to remember people's names most of the time—they just appear in my vision floating above their heads. I also no longer have to keep a tablet with notes. It's all in my head.

I don't have time to go into all the other technological advances, but they are many: thorium fission reactors, cloning, vat-meat, trans-genetic modifications, biological implants, tissue engineering, low-sapient AIs, asteroid mining and quantum encryption. It's all too much to name at once, and I have limited time.

A Final Word

Now pay very close attention: this is perhaps the single most important thing I have to say. I am not a doctor, and this is not a hospital. We are a resistance group based out of Mars. In a very short time—perhaps a few minutes now—Unitech troops will come bursting through that door, guns raised.

I'm going to be arrested, but I'm sure my ties at the university will pull me through. You, on the other hand, have no ties in this time. You have no electronic records. You have no established identity. In this pan-optic day-in-age that is very rare. The troops are going to take you and they're going to ask a lot of questions. They will likely even lie to you and tell you many half-true stories about our time. Remember what I've told you. Remember that they're another point of view out that—in fact, many of them.

At some point in the future we will contact you again. Don't worry, we have ways. Then we will come to collect on having revived you from your icy death.

This concludes the Dark Future setting preview for Shadows Over Sol. Stay tuned in future weeks for more information and different previews of the setting. Meanwhile, remember to check out the open beta test or download the Quick-Start!

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Shadows Over Sol: Dark Future (Part 2) » June 07, 2015 15:49:19

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This post continues the Shadows Over Sol Dark Future setting preview started last week. Those interested in Shadows Over Sol are encouraged to sign up for the open beta test or to download the Quick-Start. The full game is scheduled for a September Kickstarter.

The Transient Population

I understand that geographic location once meant something culturally. People broke themselves up into communities and post-tribal affiliations based on it. Neighborhoods. Cities. Baronies. Nation-States. I guess geographical location still means something today—if you're living in one of a handful of backwater undeveloped locales. But for the most part, more than two centuries of the Net, and of migrations, and of telepresence has lead geographic location to mean very little beyond what to wear when you're going outside.

With orbital flights that can take anyone anywhere on the planet within a few hours, and high-speed long-distance communication systems that can let a user operate remotely from almost anywhere on the globe (and even from the far-flung reaches of the solar system, if one allows for a few minutes light lag), where one is physically located often means very little in determining one's opportunities. It also means very little in terms of what culture one absorbs. I might not speak the same language as my neighbors. And that might have once posed practical problems. But no more.

It also means that people don't feel as much of a connection to some particular geographic place or nation, and are much more willing and able to move where the winds may take them. This has resulted in a population that is very transient and fairly spread out. One no longer looks to the cities for jobs, as many jobs can just as easily be worked remotely. Population centers have spread out. One can no longer look at a region and say that region has some sort of homogeneous culture.

Decline of Nation-States

Once nation-states were the major actors on the world stage. The globe was neatly carved into its various geographical regions, each region had its political leaders and most people lined up behind them, as if those invisible lines called borders were more than just a collective delusion.

Well, nation-states are still around. But they're now the washed-up has-beens of the world stage. The comparative meaninglessness of geographic location and the readiness of the population to move across borders had lead to people not strongly identifying with nation-states. Sure, most people are a citizen of one or another—sometimes three or four. I'm also a citizen in three MMOs (massively-multiplayer online games). But few people are going to fight and die over that—at least in meatspace.

Couple this decline of identification with nation-states along with the general gutting direct public powers, and you get to where the world is now. Most people identify more with their subculture or corp then they do with that imaginary line they were born behind. A lot of people will keep the same citizenship their entire lives and not really think about it. Others will play the citizenship market, seeking the best tax-for-social-benefits deal available to them at the moment. They'll switch citizenships a thousand or more times in their lives.

I'm sure many nation-states familiar to you still exist and have long traditions behind them. But today they are mostly shells of their former selves. They still collect taxes from their citizens and persons operating in their territories. They still can employ military forces to protect their borders—although in practice that is mostly contracted out to private entities now. They provide some legal protections, and they have a court system—although this is also frequently contracted out. Almost all other social services come from a person's employer or are privately purchased.

Corporate Rise

With the decline of nation-states it was just a matter of time until something stepped up and fill the power vacuum. Subcultural and ideological groups did that to an extent, but the corps filled most of that vacuum. This was less of a revolution than a gradual handing off of power. Prisons handed off to corps. Schools handed off to corps. Retirement plans. Healthcare. Police forces. Road maintenance. Courts. The nation-states held onto their national armies for a long time, but eventually even those were handed over. In the last few decades the corps have even been realizing that they can skip the governmental middle-man, and get people to pay them directly for those services.

The effects of the corporate rise manifest in many ways. Children are educated in corp schools, which take the opportunity to cross-market to them other products produced by that school's parent corp and business partners. Militaries are manned by contracted corp soldiers whose first loyalties are to their paychecks. Oftentimes contracts are subcontracted out several levels deep, leaving accountability behind in a trail of paperwork.

All this is doubly true in space. The corps funded most of the early space exploration, and the grasps of Earth governments were never very strong out in the void. Most corps in space have gotten used to operating as a law unto themselves—much like the British East India Company of old.

Crime & Punishment

Here's something you might soon find relevant: If you run afoul of the powers that be, punishments are rather different than they were in your time—especially out here in space. Don't look at me like that! This is serious!

The good news is that capital punishments are a lot more rare—at least for the sort of crimes where a trial actually occurs. Back on Earth they'll mostly fine you or put you into stasis. Keeping a lot of criminals in stasis is expensive, but certainly less so than incarcerating them while awake for long periods of time. Fines tend to snowball indefinitely, and if you can't pay them you're looking at a term of indenture.

Out here in space, though, things are a bit different. Living space and life support are at a premium. Fines are still common, but when they don't suffice as punishment authorities look to exile or corporeal punishment. Exile is exactly what it sounds like, and the convicted party may not have a lot of say in where they're sent. Corporeal punishment: well, the removal of body parts is considered rather backward, but society has gotten rather good at inflicting large amounts of pain in a very cheap manner.

Crimes committed with the aid of implants will usually result in the forcible removal of those implants as part of the punishment. This is often accompanied by the offender being barred from legally attaining any similar implant from the same colony in the future.

Continued in the final Dark Future Shadows Over Sol preview next week… Meanwhile, check out the open beta test or download the Quick-Start!

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Shadows Over Sol: Dark Future (Part 1) » May 31, 2015 18:23:07

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The text of Shadows Over Sol is scheduled to be out of editing soon, the Quick-Start is doing well on DriveThruRPG and the open beta test is in its final weeks. It’s time to begin previews of the upcoming science fiction horror RPG in anticipation of its September Kickstarter. We begin with a preview of the game's vision of the future.

The future holds a million wonders and a million horrors. Two centuries from now humankind has spread into space, taking our rivalries and struggles with us. We've conquered diseases, but created others. We've built new electronic networks, but let the old ties atrophy and die. And with each new rise and fall, we keep changing.

Welcome to the Future

Don't try to get up. I've been told you're going to be too weak for that. I'm not a doctor, but take it from me that you have some recovery to go through. Don't worry, I know you're disoriented, but with all that's happened to you that's only to be expected. Physically, you're going to be strapped to this bed for some time, but I'm more concerned about your social recovery.

As I said before: I'm not a doctor. I'm an historian. I've been told that they found you frozen in your ship near one of the Lunar Lagrange points. According to our estimates you've been in cryo almost two hundred years, since the early twenty-first century. It's now the early twenty-third century, and things are very different. They've called me in to help you adjust socially, as I specialize in understanding your era.

No, don't try to talk. Your tongue won't be fully working yet. Just lay back and let me try to fill you in on what you can expect from the brave new world. As I said before, many things have changed, and you're going to have to adapt to them quickly.

The Networked World

We're plugged in, turned on, networked and wired in a way we never were before.  From toddlers we tune into a world of instant access and far-ranging communication. We see into the lives of others, we read their blog posts, stalk their friends lists and comment on pictures of their breakfasts. Just this morning I had a conversation in a random-match chat room with a man from Brussels. We talked about education. But he's a Heed and had different views than I.

We may never see our neighbors. We may not even speak the same languages, though they live just a hab cell over. Through the miracle of telepresence, telecommunication and telecommuting technologies, physical location means less than it ever has. I have more in common with people of my subculture in Tokyo than I have with those down the street.

If there's a linchpin of our society it's the Net. It's how we structure our lives, track our friends, jack into the social networks and pass our free time. Some of us spend more of our waking life in simspaces than here in meatspace.

Splintering of the Culture

The thing about the Net, though, is that it's easy to wall yourself off from the things you don't normally seek out. We all hit up our favorite news feeds, follow our favorite subcultural celebrities and cruise our favorite forums, but these are all places we self-select. They're likely to be places that feed back to us our own confirmation biases, and that market to us our own subcultural trappings.  This means the media I consume, and the lens through which I obtain information about happenings in the world may be radically different than what my neighbor sees. These sorts of differences divide the culture.

Often the places we visit on the Net are the same sites, or descendants of the same sites, our parents were jacking into in their own youth. Sure, the generation gap may give rise to new forks of the profiles or new subforums, but views and habits tend to pass down through family lines. Over the last couple centuries or so the individual subcultures that people live in have diverged so much that they're becoming non-geographical cultures in their own right.

Language Shift

While nation-states may be on the downslide, languages remain as fractured as ever. However, due to the widespread use of real-time translation software, the language barrier—while still present—is less of a problem than ever before. Almost all Net profiles have translators built in, and most anyone actively doing business across a language barrier usually has translation software running on their hand terminal. While these translations aren't perfect, the software is pretty good at what it does, and as long as a speaker avoids obscure euphemisms or slang, the point usually gets across.

Still, sometimes software or hardware malfunctions, information is lost in translation or one comes across a speaker of a language for which they don't have software installed. In times like these one must fall back to the old-fashioned methods of learning the language.

The ten most common languages today are: English, Mandarin, Wu, Arabic, Spanish, Hindi, Russian, French, Portuguese and Bengali. Many hundreds of others are spoken as well, while many hundreds still have died off in the last two centuries. Generally speaking, today Mandarin is the typical language of trade, while French is used in diplomacy. English is typically used for scientific works, although much scientific terminology is still drawn from Latin.

To make matters more complicated, individual subcultures often have their own dialects of languages. How varied these are differs from subculture to subculture and language to language, but at their most extreme two speakers of the same language from different subcultures can be almost incomprehensible to each other. Automated translation programs still mitigate this somewhat, but subcultural slang is typically handled less well than the more common baseline words of a language.

Continued in the Shadows Over Sol preview next week…

Tab Games Forum » [Development Blog] Playtest Report: Shadows Over Sol #4 » April 29, 2015 09:32:49

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Work on Shadows Over Sol continues to go well. Word from our editor is that the text is about half edited. If editing continues to go to schedule, we hope to have the full text back in our hands by the end of next month.

Meanwhile, the final open playtest has been released and is now in full swing. At this point the core of the system has been nailed down and we are testing peripheral systems, such as the vehicular combat system or various character creation alternatives.

The Shadows Over Sol: Quick-Start has now been released on DriveThruRPG in both PDF and print formats. It has been doing very well, and we hope that it will help the success of the Kickstarter for the full version of Shadows Over Sol in September.

Finally, preparation for what will become the initial stretch goals in the Kickstarter are underway. We plan to continue these preparations throughout the summer. Unfortunately, we might have to cut some of the demo sessions we has planned at GenCon, but we will still be there, ready to support and talk about our games.

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol Final Open Beta » April 07, 2015 19:56:20

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Today we have release the third and final open beta for Shadows Over Sol, our upcoming science fiction horror roleplaying game. All this is in preparation for the game's upcoming September Kickstarter. A quick-start preview of the game is also available at DriveThruRPG.

This phase of the beta takes into account the feedback we received during the first two phases of the open beta. We have made numerous fixes and tweaks to the game. Shadows Over Sol uses the latest iteration of the Saga Machine system - the same system used by Against the Dark Yogi.

Anyone can sign up for the open beta today, and download a fully-playable draft of the game rules! Just enter your email into the signup form here!

Want to know more about Shadows Over Sol? Here's the blurb:


Two hundred years from now what should be the shining beacon of the future is instead cloaked in conspiracy and horror. Humankind has expanded throughout the solar system, and there discovered mysteries older than humanity. The culture has shattered into myriad subcultures; nation-states are the hollow shells of what they once were. Corporations and other groups wage small-scale wars in the streets or in space. Bioengineered horrors left over from these conflicts stalk the hulls of ruined stations and abandoned colonies. But for an enterprising team willing to brave the horrors, there's always a profit to be made.

Shadows Over Sol is a hard-science fiction horror roleplaying game using the Saga Machine system. It's features include:


Support for a wide spectrum of tones in the science fiction and horror genres.
Fully-realized setting with detailed breakdown of both social dynamics and the solar system, from Mercury to the Oort Cloud.
Systems for personal combat, engineering, hacking and spaceships.
Discover the secrets of the Sol system, with multiple GM options to keep players on their toes.


Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Tab Update: Q2 2015 » April 06, 2015 17:19:22

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The last quarter has been a roller coaster at Tab Creations. On the upside, we released the Print & Play version of our Ganjifa cards. We also released the Quick-Start preview of Shadows Over Sol in PDF. It’s now available for free on DriveThruRPG! The latter product has seen a great deal of popularity, and has received stellar reviews (pun not intended).

On the downside, we are on the third printing proof for the Shadows Over Sol: Quick-Start (we’ll get it right this time!). Also, our treasurer and marketing person has had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons, and this has resulted in a good deal of internal financial work we need to deal with. More time spent dealing with administrative issues means less time developing games, and you do the math.

Despite our setback in personnel, we still plan to have a presence at GenCon later this year, although we may have to dial back the events we had planned. We also are still sponsoring TopCon, although we’re having to rework out the details regarding our presence there.

Our Shadows Over Sol Kickstarter is still on target for September.

Speaking of cons and other things, we were sponsors of Intercon again this year. Our open playtest of Shadows Over Sol was also updated from Beta 1 to Beta 2 in the last quarter. We plan to update it from Beta 2 to Beta 3 - the final open beta - sometime in the upcoming week.

Work in this quarter is mostly going to focus on getting administrative issues taken care of, and preparing for the Shadows Over Sol Kickstarter next quarter. If we’re lucky we may also see a small Against the Dark Yogi release.

That’s it for now. Have a good quarter!

Tab Games Forum » [TabBlog] Shadows Over Sol Quick-Start Now Available! » March 18, 2015 14:53:45

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The quick-start preview of our new science fiction horror RPG, Shadows Over Sol, is now available on DriveThruRPG. The quick-start contains a brief overview of the Shadows Over Sol setting, a fully playable albeit stripped down version of the rules, four pre-generated player characters and a complete scenario suitable for an evening’s play.

Currently the quick-start is available in PDF format, with a print version on the way in the next few weeks. It comes in at 64 full-color pages. Did we mention that the PDF is free and the print version will only be $2.99? It’s a real bargain!

Look for the full version of Shadows Over Sol to be Kickstarted in September. Meanwhile, the open playtest is about ready to head into its final stage.

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