29 May 2020

Virtual Appearance

A few adminstrative notes.

The big announcement

I will be on a panel at Renaissance Press' Virtual Conference.  The conference runs June 5-7, registration is free, but panel space is limited due to technology.  I will be on the panel, "Why the book was better... and why it wasn't" Saturday at 4pm Eastern.  Check out the rest of the panels to see what else looks interesting; I've signed up for a few already.  There will also be a vendors room through Discord.

I haven't been able to get back to painting minis again.  Between heat and an attack of gout, I've had other things on my mind.  I did find some day-glo orange paint online, so I've ordered it to use with the modrons and possibly other uses, such as magical effects like /fireball/ spells.

I'm still working from home.  No word yet on when that will change, so I'm assuming that I'll still be sheltering-in-place until at least the end of June.  Better be safe than be sick.  But whoever said residential neighbourhoods were quiet never lived in one, especially one filled with toddlers and yappy dogs.

To close out, have a melted kitty.

Model: Jewel.  Photo by author.

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, Scooby-Doo.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Live-Action Adaptation.

22 May 2020

Painting Minis - Coming Up

I haven't been able to continue painting since the last minis post.  Part of it is lack of energy when I've had the time and lack of time when I've had the energy.  Go fig.  This year is not normal.  However, I am keeping an eye out for interesting minis.  I have a bulette to go with Sharkie, but I'm not ready for that.

Instead, I have two modrons, a monodrone and a duodrone.  Modrons are Lawful Neutral, coming from the plane of Mechanus.  They are geometric, from the one-sided monodrone to the five-armed pentadrone.  One thing that struck me was their appearance

Modrons with elf for scale.  (Photo by author)
and how they correspond to the binomes from Reboot.

From the Reboot Fandom Wiki
And the spark ignites here.  Why not paint the modrons like binomes?  My minis, my decision, right?

That means planning the colours.  Let's start with the duodrone first.  As can be seen above, the one binome has three sections, the upper head with eye and hat, the lower head with mouth, and the body/pants.  The upper two thirds are silver or blue-grey (ignoring the viral binomes who are Megabyte blue).  The mouth and arms are gold or copper, the eyes are white with a black pupil, and the hands are red though fingerless.  The lower third depends on the costume.

A better look at the duodrone.  (Photo by author)

The duodrone has a big difference from the one binome - it has two main sections with a connector.  Might work enough for my plans, though.  Two eyes instead of one, with goggles.  Not too bad.  Colours I'll need - grey or silver for the head, gold or copper for the arms, some sort of red for the hands, brown for the bottom portion and legs, and green for the feet.  The same green can be used for the spear's haft and gold or copper, matching the arms, for the spearhead.

The zero binomes are a little more tricky.  They have three sections, a large middle that is blue-grey or silver, with exceptions, and two end pieces the same colour, acting as a shirt.  Arms and legs are gold or copper, and the hands are red.  The exceptions are binomes like Jean-Luc, a Captain Picard parody, and Hardboot.  I may have more room to maneuver, really.
This guy gets around.  (Photo by author)
The monodrone has wings, one less eye, and less stubby arms and legs.  It also looks like the the figure has armour, with a guard infront of the eye.  That adds to the complexity of colour.  Arms and legs are still going to be gold or copper, as will be the wing supports.  Hands again will be red.  The eye will be white with a black pupil.  Inside the armour, I could got with red, to match the hands.  That leaves the armour itself.  Silver or grey may work, to give the proper impression.  Feet might get brown, to imply boots.  The spear, I may go with a reversal of colours for the duodrone's weapon.

Will this work?  No idea.  I'm aiming for impression, so accuracy can be off as long as people look and think, "Hey, Reboot!"  That's the goal.  Colours could change as I get the details done.  Even as I'm writing, I remembered the exoskeleton suits that Dot and others used.  Instead of silver or grey, the monodrone's armour could be yellow or orange.

Dot showing off the latest in exoskeleton fashion.  (From the episode "Infected".)
Sure, it's not a binome, but the only zero binome to wear any thing resembling armour was Hardboot from "Icons", and his was makeshift.  But Hardboot is also why I'm going with red for the visible part of the monodrone in the armour.  So, who knows?  It's worth a try.

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, Alien Nation, the series.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Scooby-Doo (2002).

20 May 2020

Security in Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun - Part 2 - Response

Oops.  Meant to post this last week.

What follows is a discussion of how security in a near-future science fiction setting would work, not a how-to on breaking into a secure facility.  Some of the information comes from my personal experience in working in public- and private-sector offices.  The rest is imagination.  Any similarity to a real location is coincidental.

Last time, I wrote about the layers of security that can be expected at a megacorporation in Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020.  This week, how the layers respond,

Security response will depend on how far the PCs have gotten into a facility and the time of day.  Ideally, heists are done when there aren't as many witnesses, but sometimes there's a deadline looming and a daytime break and enter is needed.  Given the levels above, here's what the PCs can expect to run into.

During business hours, intruders will warrant a quiet response to avoid panicking workers.  Last thing security wants is workers running through the line of fire.  Security control will use cameras to locate the intruders  Drones could be sent in to follow the intruders. A few guards, lightly armed and armoured, will walk into the area to isolate the intruders to deal with them away from the workers.  If the intruders begin a firefight, the first guards will fight a holding action to ensure most of the workers escape and to hold the intruders in place until the second wave arrives.  This new wave will be using firearms and won't care as much for collateral damage.  Depending on the setting, heavily armed drones will accompany or even lead the way.  If the intruders are able to make a stand, more guards will arrive, though the average team of expendables are going to cut their losses at some point.

Outside business hours, the first line of response will be armed drones.  Unless there intruders area in an area of the facility that is in use 24/7, the drones won't hesitate to open fire, especially if the would-be thieves have obvious weapons.  Guards will follow, more to confirm that the intruders are down than to get involved.  The fewer live targets around, the more likely the drone will shoot intruders instead of guards.  However, guards can't be hacked line a drone can be.  Sure, there's social engineering, not quite to the point of, "these are not the droids you're looking for," but asking the right questions and carrying the right props can get an intruder into a facility past guards.  Drones, thus, are second level response.

If the intruders get past the drones, then out come the heavy hitters,  Heavily armed, heavily armoured.  The intruders are after the expensive, core business, and need to be stopped.  Traps are activated, lockdown and alarms go off, and security stops the pretense of caring about the average workers, though the braintrust and senior C-level executives get to see far more guards than normal.  The goal becomes directing the intruders into a designated killzone and making sure none survive.

The elite guard, like Renraku's Red Samurai and Arasaka's elite corporate soldiers, are only going to be in areas that are mission critical.  The average worker will know about them more from corporate propaganda pretending to me entertainment.  If they're around and get called in, they will be calling the shots.  They are the last line of defense.  And they will be combat monsters.  Player characters may want to think of running away if they hear that the elite guard are involved.

Shadowrun adds one more twist - magic.  Cyberpunk 2020 is the near future, with today's society having been shattered and destroyed by unfettered capitalism.  Pretty much today but worse, really.  Shadowrun tosses in the return of magic, so it adds a twist to how security operates.  The last thing any corporation wants is to be on the receiving end of a magical intrusion when they have no way to counter it.  Given that magicians and adepts of any tradition are rare and are worthy of being protected by security themselves, those who go into security are worth their weight in Unobtanium.  This means that they are never going to be part of the front line, especially in a setting where, "Geek the mage.first," is an altruism.

The security mage is going to be busy handling astral security, not physical or network.  Full mages and aspected mages focusing on conjuring can create weak spirits known as watchers to keep an eye on out-of-the-way corridors and report on any activity and full strength spirits to patrol independently.  The runners will have their own magical capabilities, so the corporations are going to try to get the magical edge.  Magical research is one of those categories that could bring out the elite, though the researchers may be better at defending themselves.

Next week, an example run from security's point of view.

Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Alien Nation, the series.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Scooby-Doo (2002).

8 May 2020

Security in Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun - Part 1 - Levels

What follows is a discussion of how security in a near-future science fiction setting would work, not a how-to on breaking into a secure facility.  Some of the information comes from my personal experience in working in public- and private-sector offices.  The rest is imagination.  Any similarity to a real location is coincidental.  If you choose to use the following in anything outside a tabletop RPG, it's on you, not me.
For GMs, figuring out the opposition is one of the tougher jobs in the role.  Too easy, and the players run roughshod over the plot.  Too hard, and it's a Total Party Kill and no one leaves the session happy.  Level based games, like D&D, have ways to help balance encounters, but games like Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun aren't so easy.  Being skill-based games, sometimes the lack of a skill causes problems, or a player gets creative or even lucky with their character's skill set and completely bypasses a challenge.

The issue in a stereotypical mission in the two games mentioned is that the characters are hired to be disposable, untraceable cutouts in the grand game of corporate espionage.  The opposition will be corporate security.  But even in a time where a corporation can expect a bunch of reshirted murderhobos to smash in to steal some cutting edge tech that isn't exactly ethical, the corp isn't going to put their best or most effective security up front.  They cost too much to cover the front desk instead of the multi-billion dollar research lab.

In the dystopias of the games, corporations are 24/7.  However, humans function best during daylight hours, so there still is a concept of business hours.  During business hours, when the bulk of the workforce is in, security's physical presence is going to be light.  There will be a small number of uniformed guards at the main entrance, three to five, making sure that commuters are able to sign in and checking ID badges.  There may be one stationed on each floor of the building, not obtrusive, but visible to reassure employees that they are safe.  They won't be in the cube farm.  An armed guard out of sight is one thing; an armed guard watching workers is another.  The goal is productivity at a low cost, and worried workers are inefficient workers.

The uniformed guards, though, are there as a deterrent.  They are a sign that the facility is under guard.  Deeper inside, probably in the basement, is a security room with banks of monitors.  Electronic security is handling the bulk of the work.  Cameras will be everywhere.  Privacy is not a perk; if workers wanted privacy, they can start their own corporation.

The light security will be in areas that aren't critical - parts of IT, accounts payable, HR, essentially, anywhere that counts as support instead of money making.  Network security will be covered and may work with physical security directly.  Deeper in, security is going to be more obvious, with weapons visible.  Critical areas, such as the multi-million dollar research lab, are going to have the best security the corporation has, to hell with how the scientists feel about it.  At that point, though, the scientists will appreciate having the beefier guard.  They, too, can be targets for extraction.

Short version?  The Renraku Red Samurai and Arasaka's elite guards aren't going to be found at the main entrance of a low-level facility with only support staff and rookie guards aren't going to be guarding an ultra-secret lab performing unethical experiments for fun and profit.  Unusual levels of security can act as a hint for players that something is not quite right, whether a run is too easy or too hard.

Getting a little long, so I'll pick up next week with security's response to PCs creating havoc,

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, Remaking Emergency!
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Star Trek Continues.

1 May 2020

Sneak Peeks

Serials are still on hold, though Greg Taylor is starting a new Epsilon Project soon, with plot voting open.  I didn't get a chance to do anymore painting this past week, either, so the elf and the marilith are still waiting to be finished.  However, I do have a few stories in the works, so why not a sneak peek of what's in the pipes.  Just an interesting scene or two, to entice.  This will get long, so everything continues after the break.