Thursday, 13 March 2014

YOU'RE WELCOME, terrorists!

There are good reasons why cyberpunk gaming is less popular than fantasy (and why I can't play CP2020 with my regular "RL" group). Not least of which is "it's too close to reality". 


Running a game set in the near future (ostensibly based on reality) means researching stuff. Games tend to be about criminals, for better or worse. 

These two facts combine to mean that my search history must flag up every single iteration of ECHELON or Optic Nerve or or or. If the news is to be believed the NSA have everything, even the dirty web camera footage that ... well, I've never actually sent naked pictures of myself to anybody, over a webcam or otherwise, because i'm not that cruel. But if I had, they'd have it!

In my search history: the Pirate Party! Automatic weapons! Every terrorist organisation to ever come up with a stupid acronym! Japanese criminals! Futuristic body armour! Hacking drones! Uranium smuggling! Detailed maps of the Pacific Northwest! "How to illegally enter Belize!"

Between that and being a member of Stop the War! GCHQ must think i'm an enemy of the state, if not an actual terrorist. "Socially awkward nerd! Apparent interest in firearms! Delusions - thinks "drone hacking is a game!" Was once so unexpectedly polite to a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that the Ikhwan member ran into a shop and brought him four bars of milk chocolate!"

I've decided to embrace this issue. If they want to spy on my ludicrous hobby, i'm going to put it all into the open. The following post will contain a miscellany of suspicious material.

One problem: in my normal life i'm a mild mannered geek who cares about machine guns about as far as I can throw them (which isn't very far, because i'm a mild mannered geek). So this may not live up to the promise above. I'M SORRY, readers!

This post contains:
  • Futuristic mortars!
  • Japanese terror manuals!
  • A guest post about hiding your knife!

By Ciamoslaw Ciamek 
Smart mortars of the future

If I were a Ruralpunk rebel out to kill police officers and soldiers (IN THE GAME), I'd want to find a way to increase the efficacy of my cheap mortars. I could buy automortars from CP2020 Firestorm: Shockwave. Or I could use a cheap "burner" smartphone with google maps and a free app distributed by The Revolution. It would have a simple mathematical algorithm calculating the angle of fire, using the consumer sensors to calculate wind speed, azimuth, etc. Select the target on the map and the app shows you the angle to point the mortar. Launch a barrage with almost no training! YOU'RE WELCOME, insurgents!

If you've got 3d printers, I imagine things like the US army's smart mortar rounds could be produced relatively cheaply. The future of warfare is all about cheap street versions of high tech equipment multiplying the power of insurgent infantry.  

And if a 'runner can't think of something to do with recon rounds they should hand in their cyberbadge.


Hara Hara Tokei

Have you ever seen the movie Battle Royale? The only adult with any positive impact in the entire film exerts his influence from off-screen. This would be Mimura's uncle, the Japanese Red Army (?) terrorist. 

In the film, Mimura - the hacker with a plan to organise his friends and get some revenge - surprises his friends with a copy of Hara Hara Tokei - "the Ticking Clock" (the name works on multiple levels - Hara Hara has connotations of heart-pounding suspense, and the command form of Hara denotes written instructions in Korean). This is a Japanese version of the Anarchists Cookbook - except, rather than being written by a hippy, the writers actually wanted to kill people. The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front were a Japanese left organisation who believed that the roots of Japanese fascism lay specifically in Japanese culture, which was irredeemable (There are versions of this creed in German anarchism too - Deutschland has gotta die!). Japan has never had a revolution, you see. 

This rather ignores the fact that just about every country has produced some kind of murderous right-wing totalitarianism given half the chance, not just some specific national history. Who am I to argue with armed lunatics? At any rate, the EAAJAF believed that Japanese culture was corrupt and had to be destroyed. They also believed that anyone not actively against Japanese culture was complicit in Japanese culture, and so a viable target.

The book contains simple instructions for creating bombs out of cheap sodium chlorite herbicides, in addition to various guidelines for passing in ordinary society by downplaying political affiliations and keeping up a daily routine. It doesn't contain any instructions on destroying evidence, to the detriment of the EAAJAF!

Hara Hara Tokei turns up in a variety of pop culture, often in the hands of some schoolkid smuggling proscribed books on campus. It's loaded with symbolism, when placed in the hands of rebels and 'runners alike. It's exactly the kind of thing which would turn up in Revolt City.

Where to hide your ceramic knife

"A VFTE member" contributes this short guest guide to concealing weapons about your PC (not a euphemism):
  • "The modern folding knife is ridiculously, terrifyingly compact and concealable. Really, the only real problem is the age old balancing act between ease of access versus concealment. 
  • A secret compartment in your ridiculously huge cyberpunk boots is unlikely to ever get spotted, but you're not gonna quick draw that sucker unless you're a contortionist break dancer.
  • If you got the luxury, figure out the security routines of where you're looking to bring some sort of far too lethal implement, then return at a later date, with their security measures in mind.
  • If you know they're just waving the metal detector wand, bring non-metallic weaponry (and don't forget, bullets ping too) and sacrifice a little concealment for access.
  • If they snap on the rubber gloves for every visitor, go for social concealment rather than physical. Sure, they'll spot a knife no matter how deep you shove it, but will they crack open your somewhat outdated smartphone and spot the slim-fit ceramic folding knife?
  • Advice for dealing with gangers: tape it as high as possible in your inner thigh and trust in the innate homosexual discomfort of your average gangbanger bodyguard to keep it concealed.
  • Don't hide a knife in your rectum. There's better places to put that blade than where the sun don't shine."
YOU'RE WELCOME, terrorists!