Issue #33, December 2016

ISSN   2206-4907 (Online)


Interview with Rob Boyle … Designer's Notes for Cryptomancer… Reviews of Eclipse Phase and supplements …. A Cure for Aging? GURPS Transhuman … Aeorforms for Blue Planet … APP setting for Big Damn Sci-Fi .. RPGaDay 2016 … Morlocks for GURPS … Doctor Strange and Arrival Movie Reviews … and much more!


Administrivia, Coop News, Editorial many contributors p2-6

Interview with Rob Boyle with Rob Boyle p7-10

Transhumanism is Total Nonsense by Karl Brown p11-13

Have We Found A Cure for Aging? by Karl Brown p14-15

Cryptomancer Designer's Notes by Chad Walker p16-17

Cryptomancer Review by Lev Lafayette p18-19

Transhuman RPG Reviews by Lev Lafayette p20-40

Aeroforms for Blue Planet by Karl Brown p41-42

Sue Gurney, Infomorph Slave Robot by Adrian Smith p43-44

APP for Big Damn Sci-Fi by Nic Moll p45-46

Morlocks for GURPS by Gideon Kalve Jarvis p47-48

RPGaDay 2016 with Lev Lafayette and Karl Brown p49-57

Doctor Strange Movie Review by Andrew Moshos p58-60

Arrival Movie Review by Andrew Moshos p61-63

Next Issue: RPG Design by many people p64


RPG Review is a quarterly online magazine which will be available in print version at some stage. All material remains copyright to the authors except for the reprinting as noted in the first sentence. Contact the author for the relevant license that they wish to apply. Various trademarks and images have been used in this magazine of review and criticism. Use of trademarks etc are for fair use and review purposes and are not a challenge to trademarks or copyrights. This includes GURPS for Steve Jackson Games, Eclipse Phase by Posthuman Studios, Big Damn SF by Owlman Press, and others. Doctor Strange is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios and Arrival produced by Lava Bear Films et al., and distributed by Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures International. Financial statement image (German ledger) from Andreas Praefcke (public domain image).

Cooperative News and Editorial

RPG Review Cooperative Committee Report 2016

The founding meeting of the RPG Review Cooperative was held on Sunday December 20th, 2015 at the VPAC officers. At that meeting the association established its objectives, adopted the Model Rules, and decided to incorporate. The application for incorporation was accepted on January 7th, 2016. All our activities throughout the year have been in strict accordance to our objectives. The committee managed the association through a combination of email correspondence between members, and real-time committee meetings as allowed under the Act. Ten committee meetings were held in the year.

In the past year we have published five copies of the RPG Review journal (Issues 28-32, inclusive), constituting some 320 pages of material in total. Guest interviews included John Snead, Steve Kenson, Ken St. Andre, and Frank Mentzer. The Cooperative applied for, and received an ISSN from the National Library of Australia, and all issues from this year have been submitted to the NLA. The journal itself is primarily and canonically available on the RPG Review website. The website received an average of 3980 unique visitors per month in 2016. Putting out the publication is an incredibly time-consuming activity, especially for a volunteer organisation, and much gratitude is given to all our contributors.

The Cooperative has also published a monthly newsletter for members and potential members, 'Crux Australi'. This newsletter has outlined the various RPG campaigns being run by members, which has increased from 10 at the start of the year to 13 at the end of the year. Starting in February, the Cooperative also organised 10 visits to the Astor Cinema as a regular non-gaming social event. In addition, the Cooperative offers an online store for members to sell their second-hand or new games to the public through QuickSales, various IT support mechanisms (github, mailman mailing lists etc) with hosting donated from one of our members. For would-be game publishers, we also offer discount ISBNs which we gain an advantage from bulk purchasing.

In our advocacy role, we initiated a petition to WotC, suggesting the use of an Open Game License for D&D 4th edition, and wrote to the BBC concerning proposed changes to a new series of 'Watership Down' (our association with the Bunnies & Burrows RPG is strong). It is also appropriate to mention that game sessions run by Cooperative members have been used a playtest material for upcoming publications, including Eclipse Phase and John Carter.

There are two other very significant items of note. The first is the establishment in April of an RPG library for members, now based on two locations (Melbourne and Perth). This library was initially sourced from donations, but received a massive boost in December with the arrival and collection of the former games library of the Murdoch Alternative Reality Society (MARS) which folded several years ago. As the catalogue has not caught up with the influx of items we're not exactly sure how large it is, but we suspect somewhere around the 350 mark.

The final item, of course, refers to our very successful Kickstarter for 'Papers & Paychecks', allowing for a forty year joke to come to a punchline. We received permission from WotC to use the original image in our advertising, the designer was interviewed as part of the RPG.net series, and we received recognition in BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow. With a goal of $5,000 AUD, we surpassed this by 36%, reaching $ 6,814 AUD with 351 backers.

For a small volunteer association in its first year there are obvious limits in what we can be expected to achieve. It is not unreasonable to say however that we have achieved well above expectations, especially given our resources. In the coming year, the Cooperative will be looking at the following:

* Completing our Kickstarter committments, consisting of two publications.

* Releasing between four and five issues of the RPG Review journal.

* Establishing branches of the Cooperative in other states (Western Australia is a particularly good candidate).

* Increasing coordination and communication with other like-minded gaming clubs with a view towards sharing resources and reducing overheads.

* Completing the library catalogue

* Increasing the membership of the Cooperative by 50%.

* Maintaining our existing membership services, including library, discount ISBNs, store, and IT services.

As per the requirements of incorporated associations, a summary of our finances and future budget is also provided:

Financial Statement 2016

Income $330

- Membership (24 full, 3 half) $255

- ISBN sales $75

Expenditure $334.60

- ISBN Purchases $143

- Quicksales store $55

- Domain Name Registration $19.95

- Consumer Affairs Registration $34

- Post office box $42

- Transport $41

- Advertising $40.85

Balance carried forward is ($45.60)


- ISBNs $75

- Library (estimated) $3500

The Committee proposes the following budget for 2017.

Income $8989

- Membership (30 full, 10 half) $350

- ISBN sales $75

- Kickstarter Sales $6814

- PoD/PDF Sales $250

- P&P Sales $1500

Expenditure $4889.65

- Kickstarter Printing $4000

- Kickstarter Fee $340.70

- ISBN Purchases $143

- Advertising $150

- AGM BBQ $100

- Quicksales store $60

- Domain Name Regsitration $19.95

- Consumer Affairs Registration $34

- Post office box $42

Not a Love Letter

Some people didn't like our AGM notification with BBQ. I can only thank the universe providing me the opportunities to respond to such correspondence.

Please remove any and all email addresses from your database as I am no longer a member due to things like this, where funds are spend only on members able to attend your little get together. It's dishonest to claim to be a nation group when only locals benefit.

The unsubscibe system is badly coded and broken, so please manually remove my addresses. They should be Trade_contact@@pointypony.net and reg_[something I forgot]@pointypony.net.

Cold Regards,

Kieran Brannan

Sat, December 31, 2016 12:57 pm

Dearest Kieran,

There is nothing in the Association's objectives that states that it is a national organisation. Certainly we accept members from all over the country and internationally even, but as it obvious to all (it's even on the front page of our website) the Association is incorporated in Victoria, Australia. Ninety-two percent of our members are in Victoria, Australia. Surely it's not so shocking that we're holding our Annual General Meeting in Victoria, Australia?

It is astounding that you have the asininity to claim that “funds are spend only on members able to attend your little get together”. What expenditure are you referring to?

Our ISSN-registered journal is produced entirely from volunteer labour, and is available for free from our public website and from the National Library of Australia. We're just in the process of establishing a scenarios and supplements library on our website too, which will also be available free to anyone who visits. We do spend money on the website for domain registration (hosting is provided free by an individual donation), which is available to everyone no matter where they are. What expenditure are you referring to?

Our not-insignificant RPG library has two branches, one in Melbourne, and one in Perth and consists entirely of material that has been donated from members, friends, and other organisations. Members who are outside of Perth and Melbourne can still borrow with at-cost postage charges). So that too is available to everyone no matter where they are. What expenditure are you referring to?

Our newsletter and journal is available for all members to contribute too, regardless of where they live. Our advocacy efforts (including to WotC and the BBC this year) is carried out for the benefit of RPGers everywhere whether members or not. What expenditure are you referring to?

Our social events, such as gaming and movie nights, are paid by members who attend them when an expenditure is involved. Our discount ISBNs are available to all members at cost, regardless of where they live. Our online store is available for all members to sell their second-hand RPG games, regardless of where they live. What expenditure are you referring to?

All members, both local, interstate, and even international, have full access to the Cooperative's benefits, modest as they may be. Even if they can't attend official decision-making meetings in person they have the right to submit proxies, or even attend electronically (yes, the rules of incorporation allow that). So again I ask, what expenditure are you referring to?

Is it the fact that less than $100 is being on a BBQ for the AGM? A full 1.11% of our income?

I didn't realise you were so hard up. I'll personally shout you a sausage in a pair of buns; it sounds like you need it.

As for the “badly coded” and “broken” unsubscribe system, as you call it, is GNU Mailman, perhaps the most used mailing list software available, first released 17 years ago and still in active development, with its lead developer winning the Pizzigati Prize for his efforts. To unsubscribe you simply go to the webpage that's on the bottom of every email sent out and enter your address in the appropriate box, and you'll receive a confirmation. If you've forgotten the password, you follow the same procedure. It really isn't that hard.

Good luck for your future endeavours.

Editorial; Transhumanism

The basic argument of transhumanism revolves around the theme of a visceral technological change to the human species. Whilst the ideas found some earlier expression in eugenics (e.g., JBS Haldene), and cybernetics (JD Bernal) in the 1920s, it was, as a matter of course, science fiction that introduced the concepts to popular culture first through the cyborg, then through cyberpunk science fiction, and most recently as a cultural-political movement such as the Humanity+ organisation. Perhaps the earliest example of a cyborg in literature - well before the term was coined in 1960 - was Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Man That Was Used Up", from 1839, referring to reclusive famous war hero who actually consists of a collection of protheses. Protheses themselves have been around since the dawn of civilization; an artificial toe has been found on a body from the New Kingdom (c1550 BCE to c.1077 BCE), and the warrior-poet Götz von Berlichingen (1480 to 1562) famously had an iron hand. Of course throughout the twentieth century (due to some rather impressive military conflicts) the prothetics industry went through a period of rapid advancement, both in technical capability and aesthetics.

What is special about the 1980s cyberpunks and contemporary transhumanists however is their argument that the advancements can reach a point where the technological replacements are better than than the natural items and, at least to the advocates, that this is desirable. There is of course a transistional period, where various technologies advance from being a poor replacement, to being nearly as good, to being as good, to being better, to being far superior. Cyberpunk, in both its literary and ludological expressions, concentrated very much on the latter scale of the continuum. A narrative conceit to provide tension within the game and the literature was often a sense of dehumanisation as a result (Cybernetic Implant Rejection Syndrome, or CIRS, in Cyberspace, Cyberpsychosis in Cyberpunk, Essence cost in Shadowrun).