Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Creative Brain State

I like listening to podcasts. In fact, I probably spend ten hours or more each week just commuting to & from work so I have a lot of time to consume them. Most of them are factual, though. It could be psychology, politics, philosophy, theology, gaming. Only rarely do I find an audio drama.

By the way, if you like audio drama then I recommend Homecoming by Gimlet Media. Wow. Beautifully done.

My monthly gaming group is also quite a drive away from my home so I tend to listen to podcasts on that drive too. However, I've begun to suspect that the podcast content is starting to affect my gameplay. There are ways to affect a human mental state; to guide it towards a particular way of thinking. You can set yourself up for an analytic mental state, or a creative mental state, for example. To get into a creative mental state you can let your mind wander. It needs freedom from structures to be able to do that.

When I'm driving and listening to an informative podcast at the same time then I'm imposing structure on my cognitive processes. To be a good driver and a good student, I need to maintain that discipline. However, when I've arrived at the game and am sitting down at the table to play my mental state is far from creative. If I'm honest with myself I think it shows in how I play. I tend to drive the plot around accomplishments more than around character and I think that's a bit less appealing to both me and the other players.

So now I have a plan; an experiment, if you will. I have a game this Sunday and the long drive awaits. Inasmuch as I don't want to drive in silence the whole time, I think I'll give at least ten minutes (or a little more) of silence or music just to let my mind wander. If everything goes well then I'll have the right mental state for a story game.

Edit: Actually, looks like I'm picking up a couple of the other players on the way. But still, the theory holds!

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Cells S01E04 Scene 10

Continuing the story of The Cells, a Primetime Adventures game.

Spotlight character: None for this episode.

Someone doesn't want the Council looking into government installations. Lazarus decides to hunt for them by visiting more and more facilities. Spending a lot of time looking at science and technology efforts, he finds his way to a hydroponics research centre. While there he discusses with the scientists how to accelerate food production. The men in coats nod along, especially when Lazarus suggests additional funding if they take it down a particular path.

While talking with them he gets a phonecall from the General.

"Mr Moore, I was wondering if you might join me at Citadel Centre hospital."

Lazarus checks his calendar and sees that it's empty. "I'm a little busy just now, but I could be there in about four hours."

"Mr Moore, I really will make this worth your while."

"Hmm. I'll be there a little earlier."

"See what you can do."

The military is taking a public relations beating. A sex scandal comes to the fore, with female officers coming forward with allegations. For once the media is raking someone else's muck.

When Lazarus eventually arrives at the hospital, a young officer greets him and says, "Sir, when you're ready, the General has requested your attendance. I have strict orders to take you to a meeting point at the back of the hospital. Please come with me, sir."

Still with a black eye from the events at the Cells, Lazarus has been seen in the media doing his job. He's made no attempt to cover it up for this meeting.

"Very well, lead on."

"Hell of a shiner you've got there, sir."

"Hell of a story too," replies Lazarus.

"Well, the world does revolve on stories, doesn't it."

"Yes. Do you have one for me?"

"I think you're about to go beyond my pay grade, sir. This is where I leave you." He takes Lazarus to an elevator. A man inside it is operating it.

Lazarus turns to the soldier who has walked with him. "I'm quite sure you don't want to pay the price for my pay grade."

The elevator descends, much deeper than it should. The doors open and the General is waiting. He's made no attempt to delay, unlike in the past.

"Mr Moore, thank you for joining us. Let's walk and talk. See, this attention we're getting in the media is causing us some trouble. We're wondering if you can making it go away."

"I think you said something about making this worth my time."

"I did, didn't I? Well, you see, Mr Moore, toward the end of the war I lost a number of high ranking officers due to a lack of youngberries. The fountain stopped flowing and lots of important people in the military got sick. So we realised the danger we were in and there were certain experiments conducted. One very brave soldier stepped up and he responded to artificial youngberry trials in an interesting fashion."

"What do you mean by 'interesting?'"

"You have to see for yourself." The General leads Lazarus into a small room. There's a man in a hospital bed, with a red line of infection running down him. He skull swelling out into grey mottled skin and one large unblinking black eye. Patches of the grey skin have taken both his hand and his leg and he kicks and twitches as he looks up at the visitor. His restraints hold him in the bed.

The General says, "This is what happens when you mix youngberries with a synthetic strain that our scientists developed. It seems to have brought out some latent element in the youngberry. This is what we saw as a result."

"Is it merely a deformation or have you noticed anything else."

"It's actually changed his DNA, as we understand it."

"As an improvement?"

"The process is incomplete as far as we can tell."

"I see," says Lazarus. "So this is a transformation in progress."

"I think the proper word might be 'invasion'."

"What are you suggesting, General? Be clear. Be specific."

"Do you know where the youngberries came from? They were first harvested from Tunguska. Massive meteorite site."

"Yes well if we're going to engage in fanciful speculations about alien origins of youngberries then we're going to need more than somebody who looks like the film adaptations of a bygone era. Certainly what has happened to this person is extraordinary."

"I thought you'd be impressed."

"But I'm yet to be convinced that this is of extra-terrestrial origin." Lazarus looks away from the General and studies the patient to see how aware they are, to see if they are blinking "kill me" in morse code or any other subtle clues. None of these suspicions have any evidence, but the man is quite sick.

"General, you said this is a process. Do you have photographs of last week, the week before."

The general hands him a file on the patient. There is clearly an interaction between the man's DNA, the synthetic, and the youngberry.

"Is this the only person this has been observed in?"

"That's the thing. We reached out quietly and we would have had to make a double of this officer before Global came down on us."

"There's another?"

"No, Mr Moore. This is the only example of this interaction."

"And Global doesn't know?"

"They're unaware. But if this media attention continues on us, Mr Moore, we will absolutely be exposed."

"What happened to this man's family?"

"They've been compensated."

"Adequately? Because this would require something significant."

"Think what you will of me, Mr Moore, but I take care of my people. This man's family will not want again."

"I see. And what are your plans for this man, this person?"

"Well, to be honest, Mr Moore, my lead scientist recommends that we get a sample of your blood with the possibility of a cure, seeing as you seem to have an immunity to the cancer-causing properties of the youngberries. You see this man before you? I understand that this is a difficult situation and I understand that you have leverage over us right now. We need this media problem to go away."


"Who has left my muck un-raked?!"

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Cells S01E04 Scene 9

Continuing the story of The Cells, a Primetime Adventures game.

Spotlight character: None for this episode.

Still at the home of Sergei and Sheila, Hal Turner shows her the wax seal and asks, "Was this a veterans group that Sergei was in that I might need to reach out to?"

Although the factions from the war are well known, this particular symbol is different enough to be unfamiliar.

She says, "Oh, um. Yeah. I have seen that. That was a group of guys that Sergei used to hang out with. Risers he called them."

"Over at the soldiers bar?"

"I really don't know. One of them was missing an eye and had some facial burns. The other was a red head with a long biker beard. I don't think Sergei liked them. I didn't like them. But they helped Sergei get his job down at the docks. I haven't seen them in over a month and I don't think Sergei was friends with them any more."

Even though the conversation goes a little longer, Sheila can give no more useful information. But after Hal leaves she picks up the phone, wipes the tears away, and calls someone and says, "Ok you bastards. I made it go away. I think... you can just leave my family alone now. I've done what you've asked. Just leave us in peace."

A distorted voice speaks back, "If you're seen talking to that man again, we will take your kids."