Friday, November 15, 2013

World's Edge Arena

If you missed it, be sure to check out the update on Corps and Criminals. The first draft of the book is now complete, and I"m awaiting feedback from some folks I've sent it to.

While waiting for that feedback, I decided to take some inspiration I got from reading Fields of Blood and Honor, a systemless guidebook to using arenas in your games, and begin work on another small supplement for Psi-punk.

World's Edge Arena is a gladiatorial blood sport which is televised worldwide and is quite popular. I drew a lot of inspiration from other modern/futuristic/Sci-Fi arenas like Mojoverse, Running Man, Thunderdome, and Smash TV.

Expect a distinctly Psi-punk twist to the World's Edge, though. There aren't many other arenas in which psychically-controled, cybernetically-enhanced panthers are the norm.

Here's the short introductory chapter:

World’s Edge Arena

At the edge of the world, in the still largely-untamed land of Patagonia, there is a place where athletes, soldiers, street runners, and thrill-seekers gather to test their mettle. The land is harsh, with relatively low average temperatures and intense wind, but that’s not what draws these people here. In this remote and unforgiving landscape lies a gladiatorial arena where men, women, and animals of all stripes compete in deadly blood sports far from the watchful gaze of governments and mega-corps.

Known as the World’s Edge Arena, this 50,000 square-foot stadium of death was built in 2085 by young trillionaire  Scott Turner. When asked why he built the complex in Patagonia, Turner responded:

“I heard about this place in Chile called Punta Arenas. Arenas. That’s just perfect for an arena, you know?”

The fact that Punta Arenas means “Sandy Point” was completely lost on Turner.
Regardless of his motives, Turner built the World’s Edge Arena to sate the public’s growing hunger for blood sports. Athletic competitions throughout the world are too safe, he said in an interview, and what the public really wanted to see was blood and gore and death. World’s Edge offers all three.

“Why do people watch American-style football, or ice hockey, or rugby?” asks Turner rhetorically. “For the violence, man! Deep down, we all want to see people get crushed. And with the restrictions on cybernetics in contact sports, we’re just not getting that anymore.”

“Sure,” he adds, “you can always tune into the cyberweight kickboxing leagues, and that’s cool. I really love Tommy ‘Two Tons’ Thompson as much as the next guy. But it’s like, at the end of the day, those guys just get slapped with a couple stem packs and they’re good as new. Everyone knows there’s no risk. People like risk. It’s exciting!”

At World’s Edge Arena, contestants enter a stadium with constantly shifting terrain and environmental hazards. Men and women from all walks of life enter in teams of one to eight and battle against carnivorous animals, androids, and—during the season finals—other teams of live humans.

Each event is broadcast worldwide to millions of viewers from any country where the matches haven’t yet been banned. An additional 100,000 rabid fans pack the stadium each night. Despite the broadcast already being in its 11th season, World’s Edge ratings are still climbing at a steady rate.

“I moved to Patagonia just to get to attend every match live,” says super-fan Allen Greenspan, 32. “I just couldn’t justify the travel expenses to my wife anymore. It’s like, I was spending so much time here, I might as well just make Argentina my home.”

When corrected about Punta Arenas being in Chile, not Argentina, Greenspan added: “Oh, right. Chile. Whatever. Hey, is this going to be in the news? Hi Lisa! Wish you were here!”

The Real Full Contact Sport

Turner’s arena features what he claims to be “the most realistic blood sport since Roman times.” Indeed, he modeled the competition after ancient gladiatorial combat, albeit with a modern twist.

“We just replace spears and nets with guns and Tasers. Instead of just throwing people to mundane lions, we pit them against cybernetically-enhanced, mind-controlled beasts capable of human reasoning. Those old-fashioned lions wouldn’t be much of a challenge against modern weapons, you know?”

It isn’t just an open battlefield where opponents clash and claw at each other until only one is left standing, either. Turner’s arena is an indoor jungle with plenty of room to maneuver and hide. It takes a skilled hunter to track and kill his enemy, and an alert hunter to avoid getting mauled to death by a panther.

The dense vegetation would make for a terrible viewing experience if it weren’t for the chase cams each contestant (including the animals) wears. Viewers are treated to a first-person view of all of the action, and real-time predictive algorithms are in place to ensure the best view at all times.

“I just love when they cut to a shot of a panther stalking up on some guy,” says Alita Monroe, 24. “The last thing he sees is his life flash before his eyes, but we get to see the back of his exposed neck as the cat rips into it!”

“It’s a djungle  in there,” remarks Gunther P., a college student from the GEU. “You never know who ist going to get ze drop on whom.”

One might wonder how the arena manages to attract so many contestants, when they each know their life may be forfeit just for entering. To date, World’s Edge has a death toll of 4,257 men and women, not to mention many more animals. Despite the decreased life expectancy of anyone who enters, the sport’s numbers aren’t diminishing.

“We offer great cash prizes to all of the winners,” explains Turner. “If you win an evening at the World’s Edge, you’re set for a year at least. The lucky few who take first place might be set for life. However long that may be.”

When asked about the supply of animals, many of which are endangered species, Turner reveals his secret: “The animals, they’re all clones. We’ve got those stupid animal rights activists barking at us all the time as it is, there’s no way we could get away with using the real thing. But clones, there’s and endless supply of those. And we recycle the parts.”

Too Legit to… Wait, What?

Despite its popularity, many world powers have tried to bring an end to Turner’s operations. Governments, mega-corps, and local authorities have allmade unsuccessful attempts to shut down the World’s Edge, but Turner isn’t worried.

“We’re a totally legit operation, you know?” Turner said. “We pay our one percent tax to Chile, and we operate in a country where blood sports were totally made legal just before we moved in.”

Turner continues: “But other countries and companies want to shut me down. MarkeTech doesn’t like that I run a sporting event they don’t own. The NAU doesn’t like that I’m an expatriate and spending all my money in a foreign country. And Punta Arenas, well, their cops are a bit concerned about the increased crime rate as children emulate what they’re seeing on TV and at our stadium.”

Even though he has a lot of enemies in high places, Turner has a lot of friends in high places, too. World’s Edge is a popular sporting event in the Oceanic League, the Asia-Pacific Union, and throughout the Greater European Union. Only the Arab League and Sub-Sahara seem to have any complaints about his broadcasts, and Turner doesn’t seem bothered by that.

“You know, they don’t have to like it. IF it’s not for them, that’s cool.” Says Turner. “But the NAU, you know. They eat this stuff up, but their government just wants to collect. But they’re not getting any from me.”

The Future of World’s Edge

World’s Edge Arena is in its 11th season and still going strong. This year they expect to see less growth than in previous years, but Turner believes that’s because they’ve already reached their saturation point. Despite that, World’s Edge Arena is constantly looking for new recruits to participate in the sport.

“We’ll take anyone with combat training, whether it’s formal or informal,” says Turner. “We’ve had everything from GEU soldiers to cab drivers with a lot of pent up road rage.”

Turner assures us the next season of World’s Edge is going to be huge. “It’s going to be bigger and bloodier than ever. We’re still looking for a few more teams for next season. And we have this big new event planned that I don’t want to give away, but let’s just say it goes ‘RAAR!’”

This story brought to you by Celes Calderon, Independent News Network.

Hopefully you enjoyed this first look. This supplement is still in its early stages of development, but I look forward to fleshing it out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Corps and Criminals: Update #3

Remember back in September when I said I'd be posting more regular updates? Well, that was before I knew I had a baby on the way and an impending move. Sorry about that.

Just because I haven't updated in two months doesn't mean I haven't been working on Psi-punk though. The new Corps and Criminals book is coming along quite nicely. I have finished the first draft, and now it's a matter of refining, tweaking, and polishing.

The book now sits at 26,738 words, or about 71 mildly-formatted pages in MS Word.

Chapter 4: Mafias is complete with 7 mega criminal empires to add to your games. Each contains NPC write-ups for the mafia's leadership characters as well as stats for common mooks, thugs, and underlings.

If anyone is interested in doing some first-pass proofreading in exchange for a sneak peak at the book, let me know!

Fire Starters

In case you don't follow the Accessible Games Blog, I also recently released a systemless book called Fire Starters: 10 Adventure Seeds to Spark Your Cyberpunk Campaign. These adventure seeds are designed to help you get the imagination started if you're having trouble coming up with a plot for your cyberpunk campaign, and they fit particularly well with Psi-punk.

For more information about Fire Starters, check out the official page.