Wednesday, July 31, 2013

212: A Thousand Words for Fire

ENTRY 212: A Thousand Words for Fire

For many, the Fall does not mark the period of rapid decline for transhumanity, but a new beginning—a time of challenge when transhumans can test themselves and push the limits of what they want and can achieve. A Thousand Words for Fire is a Mesh-based initiative to push the boundaries of transhuman achievement, a constantly-updating set of goals that mark the limits of what transhumanity has not yet broken…and everyone who publishes verifiable evidence of their achievement has received rewards in proportion to the difficulty of their task.

Using the Words

A Thousand Words for Fire is a set of adventures-in-a-can—but not your typical bounties or corporate jobs, or favors for a friend. These are tasks designed to push the limits of what egos and morphs can achieve, and all that the player characters are given is the goal itself. The plan of how to achieve it, the resources involved, are all up to them. Any difficulties that the PCs may run into and the actual award if they succeed is up to the gamemaster, but here are some examples and suggestions.

Sample Words

  • Agni: The bioconservative brinker community of Goblinhead suffers from a series of mutated antibacterial-resistant syphillis strains. Find a way to deliver the nanite-based cure to the entire community.
    Suggested Reward: Medichines augmentation for each member.
  • Blaze: A sunken TITAN-buster submarine lies in the deepest trench on Europa; fifteen missile children have been stuck there since the Fall. Rescue them.
    Suggested Reward: A brand-new submarine and +6 points divided among their rep.
  • Campfire: Spend an entire month camping out in the open at the mouth of the Iktomi Vault on Echo V without outside supplies or communication.
    Suggested Reward: Gatecrashing contract to explore new world.
  • Combustion: The Hero Necropolis in orbit of Earth houses the remains of some of the most famous astronauts, scientists, writers, thinkers, and military personal of old Earth, but has been abandoned since the Fall, when a stray missile damaged the power supply and forced evacuation. Restart the fusion reactor.
    Suggested Reward: Free drinks for life at Gagarin’s Rest and the Legitimate Bar.
  • Conflagration: Convince Vo Nguyen to adopt thirty-three political refugees from the Jovian Republic outcast because they accepted extensive augmentations to deal with crippling genetic damage.
    Suggested Reward: +6 points divided among their rep.
  • Inferno: On the surface of Mercury is an exsurgent factory-stronghold, dormant since the Fall. Built like a bunker, it is too tough to destroy with orbital weapons, even if it could be successfully target, and the crawling, masterless exsurgents inside made it too dangerous to storm. Slip into this Last Redoubt and set off the self-destruct on the fusion reactor.
    Suggested Reward: 250,000 credits, or the equivalent in grams of antimatter
  • Wildfire: Capture a piece of the sun’s corona and transport it intact to Olympus on Mars.
    Suggested Reward: First tickets to the first Martian Olympic Games. (Can be sold for 50,000 credits…each.)


  1. I really like this, it sounds like crowd sourcing for some reason.

  2. This can really help break up the monotony of a stranded game, and provide players with something to do beyond their main objectives. Then again it'd be a little silly to go off restarting a fusing reactor for a derelict habitat while there's a TITAN threat working to finish off humanity, or whatever your campaign may be; but for unwinding this is a really nice resource. I really like your seeds as well, very creative; I'd love to see more.

    A variant of this could become kind of an in-game achievement system whereby extraordinary feats are rewarded with rep or goods. Interesting proposition, though perhaps a bit dangerous given that your players might try every crazy thing you've thought of an achievement for; effectively derailing your campaign with silliness.

    1. Whether it derails things really depends on the nature and pacing of your game. If you're running a focused, high-intensity, Mission Impossible In Space game, this completely ruins the cinematic pacing.

      For more player-driven sandbox games, on the other hand, this is perfect. The campaign I'm currently planning isn't Firewall-based and there's no real time limit on the main plot (if things start dragging, adversarial forces step in to push things along). I've got a group of mature, veteran role players who want to explore the setting and their characters, and really resent on-rails gaming. Giving them what amounts to an in-game job board of side quests is a perfect compliment to the main plot to make sure they never get bored.

      Discovered this blog about a week ago and it's a gold mine. Kudos and thanks to the author.

    2. Thanks for reading dannykeen!

    3. I've been so embroiled in my own Mission Impossible In Space plot that it's become the focal lens through which I filter everything I read here. A more sand-box game sounds very fun, though I can see my group disintegrating rapidly under those circumstances. One of my players once spent an entire session sitting in a bar because I didn't give him a clear objective. He wasn't even motivated by resent or anything, he was just perfectly content sitting there because that's what his character would do.

      But reading that, I think I might try a sandbox campaign after this one just to see what happens. It sounds fun, giving the players a larger role in the collective narrative.

      Also, welcome to the club.

  3. I imagine this as the cross up between Xbox Live achievements and the X Prizes. But who gives out the prizes? I'd like to see goals emerge organically among the internet community that take off when donors offer up a corresponding prize. Making it just a standard job board seems a waste.