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Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Mailbox Full of Fraud Returns!


I used to dream about all sorts of things when I was younger. Many of these dreams were of the typical sort, involving nipples and wheels and such. Of late I have been dreaming about food. Literally. I have dreams about freaking food. No wonder I am fat.

My longer form dreams are about finding a bag of money along the roadside.

At some stage your dreams suddenly lower their expectations and it all comes down to comfort… food or cash. I suppose that is why I write, why I focus on writing fiction, to express my own dreams, to help people guide their dreams. At times I have written fiction for money, which is sort of a dream convergence.  There are other people also engaged in this craft, although some of them do not label their works expressly as fiction.

THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF



I have been neglecting the whole MAIL FRAUD beat for a while now. Mostly this is because I have been submerged for months in the re-write of Weird Detective Mystery Adventures, the re-write of two novels, the marketing of another novel, a change of day jobs and other life events. I intend to make amends for this lack of blogger activity over the next few months. When it comes specifically to the Mail Fraud beat, not much new or new-fangled had crossed my path in a long time. The Sweepstakes Audit Bureau seems to still be in business, despite my various reports here, as is the goof ball with his bad magazine marketing program and the guy running a contest “of skill” using a twenty-five year old abridged dictionary as the final and sole authority of which answers are correct. Even this wonderful scam is nothing all that new.

The Pitch: A shipping container has arrived with your name on it. It contains a new BMW. Seemingly the Beemer is paid for and insured and now all you have to do is file a claim and it will be released.

For fun and snicks, my oh-so-official Valuable Insurance Notice came in this bread wrapper-like sleeve.

No, Fedex has not expanded its services to a ground group called Pedex. And ‘Pedex’ as word or concept has not been copyrighted—because it can’t be, © or no ©. It could be trademarked, if the Fedex people or their lawyers were suddenly rendered deaf, dumb, blind and bankrupt. In any case, it’s not even a proper shipping label because it cannot be printed on.

The bread wrapper envelope is the most credible part of the presentation. Generic or not, a run of plastic sleeves takes some forethought to set up.  My guess is that was remaindered from some other junk mail run. The rest of this is the product of a good color laser printer and a professional folding machine—high end office automation, but nothing out of the ordinary. The fascination with long pieces of paper escapes me except that they are perhaps kin to other legal documents.

The skinny: He wants twenty bucks for processing. In return for this, he will release your claim on this shipping container. Inside the container are a BMW, a laptop computer, a Sony Theater system and “one Professional Maid Service.” That’s right! They’ve shipped at least one human in the container, which would be an admission of some sort of crime, if this pitch made any sense whatsoever. So for $20.00 you get one of these items—or—“over one million pieces of jewelry.” Which is to say that you will get “a” keyring. Very amusing.

(I held off on posting this for two years, partly because my examples were so underwhelming. Although the cost of producing semi convincing scam material has now fallen into the reach of everyone with a temp job as office help, the increase in postage rates has curtailed much of this activity. The scamsters can only afford to target the elderly at this point. My love for big band music not withstanding, I am not quite the geezer demographic sought, so a lot of my mail of this type has slacked off. Another thing holding me off is Microsoft’s new operating system eliminated my photo altering program. I used to doctor these things with the Ajax Telegraph logo to disguise my name and address. Now I have to use the silly paint program to run blue lines through things. I hate it when my blog looks like crap.)

This is another laser printer produced long form asking for twenty bucks. As with Emerson Publishing (DBA Sweepstakes Audit Bureau), our pals at Consent Advisory Services (of either Las Vegas, NV or Gilbert, AZ) are offering a report on where you can win money. They do not have $250,000.00 in ‘Monies & Durable Goods’ nor are they running a contest for such. It would not surprise me if it was the same report Emerson is so fond of offering. But it could just be a packet of coupons.


At least Emerson and Consent Advisory are offering something proprietary. This group of scammers is offering me a government grant, perhaps reselling me a government document. Although it says GRANT all over this silly phony replicant of a computer form, the plagiarized fine print on the back says it’s a report about sweepstakes. It’s a near word for word copy of Emerson and Consent Advisory’s rules, so maybe these guys are former cell-mates.

The upswing of our GRANT broker’s pitch is that he would like you to send him a check or money order made out to ‘AM’. Like all true scammers, he’s left a box to check, should you feel the need to just send him ‘Cash’.

It has been my experience that there is a bit more to these letters than meets the eye. Many of them are trolling for marks, attempting to locate the unaware or the elderly and unattended to. If you respond to them in any way you can count on some sinister follow up. My own last interaction with Emerson netted me a phone call from some scammer claiming to be a police officer. You don’t want to put yourself in proximity to these people.

My interaction with Emerson was a while ago and it seemed to me that the whole mail order contest scam was going the way of the Betamax. Given what I had collected, this is a beat I felt I could retire.

Until I got this.

This is flat out fraud, the product of a “professional” fraud ring. To be clear, this is not from Publisher’s Clearing House. There are some tell-tale clues to this, the weird and erroneous “International Lotto Commission” stamp just being the most obvious.  I invite you to read this thing carefully. True to their word, they did send me this wonderful check.


I have won six hundred thousand dollars, but they are sending me a check for another amount to cover incidentals. (Seven grand worth of incidentals?) The check is from an entirely different company. But in order to cash this check, I have to call Alex Gomez to make some sort of arrangements.

It’s an elaborate set-up for a pigeon drop. The check is no good. The company listed is out of business and the account closed long ago. (I have stripped the routing number.) Had Alex Gomez been in a position to make his pitch, he would have advised me to provide him with a credit card number or my own bank routing number or—if he and his pals are as direct as I think they are—simply hit me up for a “good faith” payment, probably for six grand. In the end, the only real money involved would have been the cash I sent to Alex and his pals.

I did call Alex Gomez at 4:00 AM in the morning. I got his none too convincing voice mail.  He left a message for his drug dealer on the system. I didn’t leave a message. The next day someone called me from his number and left a voice mail on my cell phone claiming to be a police officer. He was demanding a call back and threatening my arrest. Without using my name.

I did contact Publishers Clearing House and confirmed that I am not a winner. Truth be told, I have had dealings with them once before. When it comes to dispensing cash, they do not use any third parties. If there is even a chance that you are in the running for one of their contests, you will receive a form in the mail which you have to sign and send back to them.

Publishers Clearing House is used as a pretext for many scams of this type. It’s a daily occurrence. I also reported this to the postal inspector and Alex Gomez’s cell provider.

And now I’ve told you.

(Full disclosure: It would have been nice to win 600K. I could certainly use it. My detective work on Mr. Gomez and his idiot pals was fast-forwarded by my pal Terri, who figured out the letter as I read it to her over the phone. By the time I called Gomez, I knew the whole thing was fake. I called Publishers Clearing House not so much to report a crime, but rather because a man’s dreams die hard. By the way, I’ve lost two cars in one year, so the BMW would have been nice, too.)



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Weird Detective Mystery Adventures New Edition

The following will be the new format for powers in the game:



POWER NAME
A description of what the ability is supposed to simulate, how it functions, examples of its use in character descriptions or genre literature. A short history of the ability’s origins in literature.

Base Cost: a number  Min Link: a Basestat level from Good to Omega Suggested Link: Three Assigned Basestats Ability Type: Game Mechanics description of how the power can be applied Ability Class: A worded designation disclosing the power’s utility. Equipment Discount: Percentage of discount and the conditions in which it may be allowed. Other Provisions: Usually a listing of other abilities that may be related or required.

Attributes: Describes the power’s functions in game terms. Discloses bonuses to Derived Basestats, such as additions to HTK, STUN, MPS and REC.
·         Bullet points may explain the power’s individual functions. Other functions may be listed under their Own Bold Headings.
·         Bullet points, numbers or letters may be used to describe power attributes, such as Range, Damage caused or Duration.
·         Powers may also have listings for Power Additions or Options. These usually involve extra character allocation point expenditure.
·         Some powers have Alternative Powers listed with them. These are separate abilities, related in some way to the core listing.

Activation: Only some powers have activation requirements. This line would explain the conditions on the power’s deployment and indicate under what time frame the odds of activating the power are governed by. Typically states that the power is bound to a cycle of 24-hours.
  • Bullet points may describe what may trigger the activation of the power.
  • Bullet points may also disclose the type of stunt roll required to activate the ability, such as ‘First attempted application Double Ones Roll’.


Power Name: What the power is generally known as. We have attempted to give the powers designations which closely resemble their function, although some of them come off as garage band names. At times we are bound by what the ability has been called in the literature, especially in the case of the defined PSYCHIC POWERS. And we have occasionally resorted to Gamer Shorthand, such as with the listing for NRG BLAST. The game uses ‘NRG’ as shorthand for Energy.

Base Cost: This is the number of Character Allocation points required to account for possession of this ability. This cost may be added to by increasing the power’s attributes. Typical additions would be for extra Range or Damage inflicted.
  • Base Cost may scale up depending on the level of the basestat the power is linked to. This is generally expressed as ‘Base Cost: 25 plus SAVE’ or ‘Base Cost: 40 plus ACT’. This means that the SAVE Total or ACT Value in points are added to the cost.
  • Occasionally the base cost will reference a multiple, such as ‘Base Cost 25 plus Double SAVE’. This indicates that a multiple of either the ACT or SAVE should be added to the number when factoring the base cost.

EXAMPLE: Nat has the power NRG BLAST which he has linked to his CON basestat of Mutant level (ACT 10 SAVE 35). The listing for NRG BLAST reads ‘Base Cost: 20 plus SAVE’ which means that the power’s allocation cost is 20 + 35 = 55 points.

Min Level: The minimum level required for a basestat to be linked to this ability. The basestat must be this level or greater. The abilities are an expression of various extraordinary character attributes. All listed abilities are at least somewhat unusual. Abilities rated from Good to Heroic are ones that a normal, though exceptional person could be endowed with. Abilities requiring a Mutant or higher level are ones that no normal person would possess. This door bouncer ranking is necessary for game balance.

Suggested Link: Any power can be linked to any basestat, provided that the basestat is at least the minimum level. Our suggested links are optional, included to give the judge or player a possible guideline on a power by power basis. Listed are the first three basestats which the designer believes apply to the ability. All abilities need to be linked to a basestat. You may generally link an ability to only one basestat.

Ability Type: Deals with how the ability is generally applied. Is it always on or do you turn it off and on—and then how many times in a given span of time may you do so. Following are the designations and their meanings.

  1. At Whim: Power is not always on, but activates on a hair trigger or like a blink reflex. Powers of this type may be applied at any time during the action—before, during or after the character’s initiative order in the action. This is a rare and special property endowed to only a select number of abilities.

  1. At Will: Most abilities are listed as At Will. They are not always on. They may be activated at any time. In combat, the power activates on the character’s initiative. They are slower to activate than At Whim abilities.

  1. Innate: Ability is considered to be always on. If deployable as an attack, they go off on initiative order as per an At Will attack. Most abilities of this nature are defenses, such as ARMOR or INVULNERABLE. Such defenses always function, regardless of the character’s initiative or activity status.

  1. Limited: Ability is restricted to so many attempted deployments over a specific time frame.  The chance of successfully activating the ability decreases during the time period specified. Most require an activation roll. Limited abilities otherwise deploy on the character’s initiative during an action. Limited abilities may also require the successful completion of some sort of activity.

  1. Triggered: Some condition outside of the user’s direct control creates the circumstances necessary for the activation of this ability. You cannot sense danger when there is no danger present. Most triggered abilities are also Limited in some sense.

Ability Class: A general indication of what the ability is useful for. All abilities have a focus, an application, a primary utility. We have classified our abilities as follows

  1. Attack: Ability is primarily a weapon, a means to cause bodily damage or impairment.

  1. Bonus: Ability bestows a bonus to derived basestats, such as DEFL, REC or MPS. It may also provide Conditional Advantage to certain stunt rolls, increasing the likelihood of success with certain stunts. It may also create or boost a basestat level for the performance of certain tasks.

  1. Control: Ability’s focus is in the control of people, places, things, time or the nature of reality.

  1. Creative: (Creative) This is an imagination ability. Most focus on the custom creation of an effect or producing things out of thin air.

  1. Defense: (Defense) Ability is focused on the user’s personal protection.

  1. Family: (Family of Abilities) This listing contains a number of separate powers, related either by theme or game mechanics. Usually the character will only allocate for one ability under the listing.

  1. Form: (Fantastic Forms) An ability intrinsic to the character’s body, generally detailing an extraordinary physical function or malleability.

  1. Feat: Possession of a unique trait or advantage. Capability in a narrowly defined grouping of activities. Can also relate to ownership of special equipment or any ability which does not quite fit into our other classifications.

  1. Info: (Information Gathering) Primarily psychic powers or abilities conveying enhanced perception. Provides directions or advise or details.

  1. Suite: (Ability Suite) An assortment of supernatural functions all relating to a single theme.  Although we do not have set classes in this game, we do have quick set ups for certain character archetypes. The suites themselves can be broadly defined, such as MOLECULAR CONTROL, which could apply to ghosts, robots and super speedsters, or narrowly, as in the case of UTILITY BELT, which is a stock trope for all comic book and pulp heroes.

  1. Travel: (Travel Power) Fantastic methods of getting from one place to another. Travel powers may have some applications in combat, but they are primarily a method of transportation.

Monday, June 11, 2018

LIFE COLOR OUT OF TIME




Failure comes to everything, eventually.  Ideas simply stop working.  Fashionable notions find their days and dim, replaced by others.  Only ideals and needs endure—and each time will find some vehicle for each.  It’s not always a happy process, but it is the essence of progress.

We have covered half-life’s here before: ideas which come back as nostalgia items or are repurposed for a new need.  There are more horses being kept in this country than ever before. And not a one of them has an actual use.  Even cowboys drive trucks. They’ve come back as pets, affordable pastimes for the rural-inclined. It’s the biggest comeback ever, if the numbers are right.

Sadly, not everything which has outlived its utility is finding a place in our world. Our beat here is the magazine, in general, and pulp fiction, in specific.  Pulp fiction is doing well and will probably never die. Most of what is currently passing for entertainment in big time media has its roots in pulp fiction. Its previous container, the magazine, however is on a straight downward trajectory with no uptick potential evident.  Gossip and fashion are holding on, but everything else seems to be on the endangered species listing.

We previously covered the death of Newsweek in these pages. After a series of tragic-comic fits, America’s second favorite news weekly bit the dust as any sort of going concern.  It is now a cult’s trademark, used sporadically to dress up oddball stand-alone publications (which we have dubbed neo-pulps) and give credibility to a website which deserves none.  It’s a new vampire stage, an existence predicated on the desire to fool the unwary.

I fear Time Magazine, the last of the news weeklies, is now heading down the same wobbly path Newsweek did in its death throws. Let me make this clear: Time was never in all that exalted of a position to begin with.  Although they have shied away from sensationalism or the plastering of celebrities on pages, Time long ago developed a penchant for stunts. Time will raise stupid issues. Time will create controversy. Time invented the ‘stunt issue’ with their Man of The Year branding and listings of the world’s most influential, powerful people. The only thing that keeps them from doing a swimsuit issue is that its parent firm also owns Sports Illustrated.


Selling the cover, however, is sort of a new low. Sometime back we covered Conde Nast’s seeming attempt to break into the advertorial market with the creation of a magazine custom tailored for a specific advertiser. It was sent free, as additive material, to the subscribers of Conde Nast’s many fine periodicals.  All in all, it was a fairly nice magazine, a bonus, a fine value-added proposition for all involved. This is not. This is being a whore. This is sending me junk mail in place of the magazine I have subscribed to.

There is nothing newsworthy about drones. As a class of items, they have done nothing interesting lately of note. They are not new, even as a subclass of little radio-controlled helicopters. Even their commercial deployment and other attempts to figure out how to make money on what is essentially a toy is old hat at this point. Other than their possible future use as a method of tracking me down and killing me, there is nothing relevant or interesting about them. Moreover, even as a method of my potential demise, the subject is dated. People have already been killed by drones. Thousands of them, in fact. So what’s the sudden buzz? Other than Intel parting with cash in your direction?

Time’s one-time stable-mate Life Magazine has similarly been guided to some lesser stage of existence. Few living people have ever seen an actual regularly issued copy of Life Magazine. It went into some sort of stasis field about the time everyone got a color television. It has been intermittently revived as a brand for vo-tech libraries, oldies collections and coffee table takes on short subjects. It was a leader in the neo-pulp field until recently, shovelwaring out old coffee table book contents in magazine form. Here we see it in the form where a cow turd becomes indistinguishable from mud, the heretofore unheralded harmonic convergence of the neo-pulp and the coloring book.


That’s right. It’s a coloring book. It’s not a flippy book coloring book—otherwise I would have immediately ascended, achieving critic’s nirvana, and thus I am here to recount this. I did not believe it at first. Mind you, Life has already done tours as a Sunday section (like Parade) and as a shill for crosswords and word finds. I saw the ‘LIFE’ logo and did not make any connection to the fine world of adult coloring. It could have as easily been related to LIFE the breakfast treat or LIFE the board game. The cause for being a coloring book is stated as ‘inspirational coloring book’. I kid you not. The inside is a coloring book, done in the style for adults, but not particularly inspirational as it is architectural. The connection to LIFE, the once magazine, is that the artist of the coloring book is drawing scenes of buildings which were previously photographed in Life. She’s drawing the same subjects. Cow turd is now mud indeed.

This is what happens when you rehash something so many times that people forget what was originally attractive about it. Hint: in Life’s case, it had giant full color photographs of interesting stuff. When you take  the ‘giant’, ‘full color’ and ‘photograph’ out of the product, it becomes unclear what Life is supposed to be a brand name for.  Thankfully, the thing seems to be a failure. I picked up my copy at the dollar store—a place for the last sightings of misplaced old brand names.


Han Solo seems to have gone the way of Life also.  Although Han will probably not be mistaken for Solo Cups anytime soon, the fact that he’s the title character in a new Disney movie has escaped the public’s notice. Shades of John Carter Warlord of Mars, no one care. While Disney seems to have scored big with its acquisition of Marvel Comics, the incorporation of the Star Wars properties is petering out. That there aren’t too many shades of difference between John Carter and Marvel and Star Wars gives one pause. The material is rather reflective of each other, pulp fiction John Carter having directly inspired Marvel and Marvel having inspired Star Wars. (Kind of.)

A few things could be happening here. John Carter had numerous strikes against it. It is massively dated material, and not really timeless. (Tarzan and Conan are timeless.) John Carter is a space opera which takes place at the turn of the last century. We’ve been to Mars. No one is there. Of course Edgar Rice Burroughs didn’t know that, but I suspect someone at Disney did. It might have worked a bit better if it was modernized. Put Carter on present day Earth, just as a starter. Move the action to somewhere other than Mars. Otherwise the thing is irrelevant. Marvel’s stuff works because it’s science fiction with a heavy dose of the here and now. Although there isn’t a Marvel character younger than the Star Wars band, having stayed contemporary gives the likes of Spider-man and Thor a continual edge. Star Wars could always overcome its ‘long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ movie serial trope through the magic of telling new stories—ones people don’t already know the ending to. We know Han Solo dies. We know every interesting thing he’s ever done. How about something new?

We are continuing with the revision of Weird Detective Mystery Adventures and should have a new ‘Living Edition’ online within a month or so. We also have a fiction piece slated as well as a new Pulp History work.




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Weird Detective Mystery Adventures Project Notes

A new "streamlined" edition of Weird Detective Mystery Adventures is now in the works. We have been posting some of the new and reworked abilities here, but our intention is to place a live edition on the website.  We anticipate that this will be the last edition of the game, or at least the last full re-write.  The re-write has a revised mechanics system and a greatly expanded listing of abilities.

In the coming months we hope to post a new "live" edition of the game on our website. This will be followed by the issuing of a new edition in PDF Format, E-Book Format, Print On Demand format and, at some future point, a limited print run.

We hope to have the live edition up shortly and invite your comments. 

WDMA Abilities Arsenal Update


6th Sense
also known as danger sense

This power warns its user of present or potential danger. The user can sense evil, danger, bad intentions, circumstances gone awry. The unerring psychic warning  system gauges the immediacy of the threat, becoming intense in urgent situations or simply ringing a mental bell for future reference.  This power is largely a self-centered ability. All of its readings reference danger to the user primarily. The power’s range is the user’s ‘world’—people, places and things that the user finds himself in proximity to. The nearer the proximity and the greater the familiarity, the more acute the power’s readings will be.

Base Cost: 60 points plus Double SAVE. Min Link: Champion. Suggested Link: IQ, PERC, WILL Ability Type: Innate, situation-activated. Ability Class: High End Psychic Ability, Defensive Ability.

Functions

Omega Dodge against all physical attacks. Factored into the Omega Dodge is a bonus movement. If the user has the capacity to move out of the range of an attack, he will do so at the time of the attack, regardless of whether or not they have moved in a given action. It is a spontaneous boost in movement using either the character’s base MPS or a power.

Life Flashes Before Eyes: If the user is unable to get away from an attack or event, 6th Sense will disclose, in vivid detail, the nature and scope of whatever circumstances are about to befall him. Not that this might help much, but it may come into play later.

Boost Active Level or ACC to Omega: At the sacrifice of a single action of activity, boosts the active levels for one of the user’s attacks to Omega level. Requires that the user not move, attack or use a power during the previous action. Does not boost the output of the attack, only the stunt roll to affect the target.

Points the Way Out: Automatically detects potential escape routes. Finds good hiding places. Detects enemy blind spots.

Bad Vibes Meter: Accurate assessment as to the potential danger of people, places and things. That said, a target endowed with an applicable defense to this ability may screw up the meter. The user can’t be snowed—he can’t be convinced something is safe when it’s dangerous or a person is good when they are evil—but they can be fuzzed. The meter can be deadened. Mr. Bad Guy still moves the meter, just not as much as he should.

Psychic Booster: Access to the Extra Functions listed below at a cost of one full action of inactivity. Activates on a successful Weighted Contested Roll using the power’s linked level as the active level and the benchmark level listed for the function as the defending level. May be used up to the ACT in times per day. Failed attempts count as a use.

Extra Function at Mutant Level or Higher:

Advanced Bad Vibes Meter: the user will be able to sense if the danger is present or merely possible.

Extra Functions at Extreme Level or Higher:

Danger Scale: Will let the user know how dangerous a situation is likely to become.

Mini Oracle: Informs the user of the hypothetical consequences of a proposed action. Immediate options and simple choices only. Inerrant.

Demonic Level or Higher

Danger Dowling Rod and Timer: 6th Sense will tell the user the place the danger comes from and what time it is going to strike.

Wins Initiative: Persons with a 6th Sense at this level or higher are never surprised and always move first on any action.

Note: PRECOGNITION is a less intense version of this ability. It can be found in the PYSCHIC POWERS listing.

WDMA Abilities Arsenal Update


Master of disguise
(man of 1000 faces, chameleon power)

This skill gives the character the ability to adopt the mannerisms and image of another person, either fictional (made up by the character) or that of a real person. This is largely a cosmetic ability, a power/skill set/set of equipment which enables the user to assume to the role of another person convincingly.

This ability can manifest itself as an innate ability to change one’s form or a specialized set of skills, set of equipment or some mixture thereof.

Base Cost: 10 plus SAVE. Min Link: Skilled. Suggested Link: ATT, CHAR, KNOW
Ability Type: At Will. Ability Class: Uncommon Skill or Special Effects

Functions

Malleable Features: Allows the user to shape the contours and features of his/her face. User can change his/her weight and height within human range.

Background Investigation: User is a gifted snoop. They can glean everyday details of a subject’s life from observation, conversation with people familiar with the subject and searches of official records. Skill to do this is rated at the power’s level.

Forgery: User is adept at duplicating or crafting official looking documentation. Overall defending level is equal to the power’s level if using extraordinary methods are deployed to examine the work product of this skill. Otherwise the defending level is Omega.

Counterfeit Identity: As per the power, at the same level.

Mimic: Omega level imitation of voice, choice of words, mannerism and poise. Other details will depend on how well the user’s background investigation went and how much time the user has had to prepare. A perfect imitation takes 30 days of study minus the ACT, but starts at the power’s level. (Incorporates MIMIC the power.)

Options Available at Additional Allocation Cost

Perfect Match: User can match the subject’s finger prints, voice prints, eye retina pattern and DNA. Has a special SHIELD (as per the power) which seems to emulate the subject’s thoughts and personality as well as disguising the user’s own. Additional cost of ACT.

Versi Match: Functions as a method of imitating the abilities and powers of an extranormal.  The imitation is an illusion which can function to emulate the appearance of the subject’s powers, albeit minimally. Works on only one power at a time. Additional cost 25 points.

Maxi Versi Match: As in the LEECH POWER function Emulation, but does not require the user to have been the target of the subject’s power. User will have to have been in an area where the power was deployed by the subject within the SAVE in days. May also be used to emulate skills. Additional cost is 20 points plus ACT.

Note: Overall the user’s imitation has an Omega level for persons who don’t know the subject or know the subject all that well. The actual level of the imitation only really comes into play when the user’s imitation is put under the scrutiny of persons intimate with the target—siblings, parents and spouses.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

WDMA Abilities Arsenal Update


SWARM
Hive mind or Collective conciousness

This power represents a guiding consciousness endowed to a group of otherwise independently functioning entities.  It is seen in nature, expressed by schools of fish, hives of insects and flocks of birds. Some ordering force, a pack instinct, organizes the actions of otherwise autonomous individuals. In nature this ordering is done primarily for defense or some other group task, such as migration.  As an extranormal ability, the tasks and motives can be changed at whim.

This is an odd power, changing the nature of the character itself. The character is NOT one thing, but rather the organizing force of a collection of independently functioning entities. He is a flock of birds, a pack of rats, a collection of cars which form a giant robot. As such, the player should configure his character sheet to reflect the abilities of the pack as a whole. In the standard version of this ability, the components of the swarm are fixed, are a set defined group. The character is literally a flock of pigeons or a swarm of insects or a cloud formation or the contents of Uncle Steve’s steamer trunk. The power can also be additive to other abilities, such as FLUID FORM, NRG FORM, NRG BATTERY, SEPARATION, ELONGATION, TRANSFORMATION, DUPLICATION or PASS PRESENSE.  

Basics:

·         Limited Immortality: The collective consciousness exists as long as at least one of its members is still alive.

·         Pack Recovery: If diminished, the swarm replenishes naturally over a period of time. The power conveys no additional ability to rebuild lost pieces.  If your character is a flock of seagulls and you only have one seagull left, it’s going to be a while before you have more seagulls. The swarm can be repaired through outside agency or the application of another ability. You can always convince the mad scientist who created you to breed more seagulls, which is an example of using an outside agency. The power TRANSFORMATION would also aid your seagull in rebuilding his swarm.

·         Individual Autonomy: The basic abilities of normal pack members do not need to be accounted for. Seagulls fly, fish swim, ants dig. It is assumed that the pack members will function normally when not under the guidance of the collective conscious. It’s a pigeon. When not spying or attacking machinegun emplacements, he’s engaged in standard pigeon business.

·         Fixed Group: Once defined, the swarm does not grow, nor is it entitled to sympathetic actions from like individuals. Your pigeons may not go out and recruit more pigeons. Your pack of wombats does not have any special standing amongst wombat-kind, in general. The swarm, the collective conscious, only has the power to influence the individuals under its direct control.

·         Collective Reduction: The swarm’s abilities decrease as it loses members, in proportion to its losses. This affects all BASESTATS and abilities. We can use some fuzzy accounting on this, measuring losses in terms of 10%, 1/4th, 1/3rd, ½ and so on. The reduction primarily applies to attacks and is across the board. If the Swarm has lost 10% of its members, the damage potential of all attacks are reduced 10%, range is reduced 10% as is duration and so forth.

·         Immune to Mental Influence: Individual members of the swarm are immune to outside influences. The swarm as a whole cannot be controlled by anyone other than the character. Swarms cannot be affected by non-damage causing mental attacks. This immunity vanishes if the swarm is reduced to only one member.

·         HTK and Number of Members: The swarm should be configured as a regular character. Two factors determine the number of individuals in the swarm, (1) the SAVE that SWARM is linked to and (2) the SAVE of the character’s SIZE Basestat. Adding these two numbers together determines the swarm’s number of members. Each member of the swarm is endowed with HTK equal to the character’s SIZE ACT plus the ACT of the level linked to SWARM.

EXAMPLE: Captain RatHoard has a SIZE of Mutant (ACT 10 SAVE 35) and has his SWARM ability linked to a level of Super Human (ACT 12 SAVE 40). Per the character concept, the swarm is a hoard of rats. The Captain would have 75 rats in his hoard, each of which have an HTK Total of 22 points.

·         Attack Distribution: The SWARM may deploy any power the character is endowed with, either in distributed form or projected from a single member. You are free to have one pigeon fire off your full NRG BLAST or split attacks between several pigeons attacking several targets. Attacking several targets is effectively splitting dice and follows those rules. Most powers can only be applied once per action and should be treated as a standard attack emanating from a member of the swarm. Other powers could be construed as emanating from the entire swarm. The player needs to determine how each power is applied. In general, being in SWARM form does not convey any real advantage when determining the effect on a potential target.

·         Worldwide Broad Telepathic Control:  Members of the swarm may be controlled worldwide. They may scatter hither and yon and still be in communication with their host, still under the watchful control of the singular entity which guides all their actions. That said, any extranormal sense or power endowed to the SWARM may only be used by one member at a time.

·         HTH Attack: This attack is available in proportion to the number of members of the swarm which are present at the same location. The same is true for any attack which is dependent on the character’s form. If more than 2/3rds of the flock is present, the Swarm is entitled to make an HTH Attack as an area of effect attack. The area of effect of such an attack is equal to SWARM’s linked ACT in square meters. The swarm may make this form of attack once every other action.

·         No Recovery and Limited Invulnerability: Individual members of the swarm have a form of invulnerability. If the damage inflicted on a member is less than their HTK Total, they take no damage. If the amount of damage is greater than their individual HTK Total, the member is eliminated, considered dead. The swarm does not recover during combat and may not be replenished during combat.

·         Attack Battery: The Swarm has a base attack, which can be added to the HTH Attack. The attack is equal to the ACT in dice. There is also a bonus pool of dice equal to the SAVE in dice, which may be applied either as an attack on its own or to another power. This battery replenishes at a rate of the ACT in dice for every action it, or the base attack, are not used. Points from this pool may also be used to increase the range of a power or attack on a one meter per point spent basis. Points can be used to create a Conditional Advantage to attacks on a one point spent per +1 awarded.

·         Mutant ACC and DODGE: Individual swarm members have a fixed ACC and DODGE at Mutant level.

Mechanics: 75 plus SAVE plus SIZE SAVE. The basic set up assumes that the character is built with this power as its centerpiece. It assumes that the members of the swarm are somewhat normal on their own. It’s a pack of dogs or bees or some other common entity. The player should configure his character as if it were aspects of the swarm as a whole when it comes to the physical traits. (As a whole, the Swarm can lift a car or whatever.) When it comes to the derived BASESTATS, the player is free to add his REC Score to his MPS rating. The REC rating otherwise does not apply to SWARM characters. HTK, DEFL and STUN are also irrelevant to characters built around the SWARM ability.

We do allow for some flexibility with this power. The following are suggested alterations. The judge should feel free to customize the ability to match a player’s concept.

Additions and Alterations:

Increase number of SWARM members. At no additional expense, the number of pack members may be increased by reducing the HTK Total of each member. At Half HTK per member, the number of members doubles. By multiplying the HTK total per member to the number of members, you get the HTK total of the entire swarm. The player is free to subdivide this number as he wishes, as long as no individual has more than ½ of the Swarm’s total and that each member has at least an HTK Total of 1. The smaller the HTK Total is, the less substantial the individual swarm member will be. Additional members may also be purchased at a cost of the HTK Total.

Increase HTK Total of individual Swarm members: You may substitute SWARM’s linked SAVE for the normal HTK Total by reducing the number of members in half. Other bonuses to the HTK Total of alike swarm members cost 1 point multiplied by the number of swarm members per point of increased HTK per member.

Unalike Members: The basic set up assumes that all of members of a swarm are similar normal entities. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. As long as the members can be defined in terms of the basic rules above, the members can be anything from a pack of different animals to a gaggle of tween girls. NO SUPER SPEED INVULNERABLE PACK OF ELEPAHNTS. Anything somewhat touching on that is a SIDEKICK or SUMMON subject.

Merge Form: For an additional 100 points the swarm may merge to create a singular being. It’s probably going to be a big guy, something like a giant robot. The entity has an ACC and DODGE of Mutant. Its HTK Total is equal to the number of Swarm members multiplied by the HTK Total of the individuals. (Or is simply given a total HTK of all Swarm members.) This being has no DEFL and no REC Score. Its STUN is equal to its HTK. Alternatively, for 10 points, the swarm can form a rather ordinary person. This person’s only real ability is to turn back into a swarm. Having the ability to simply be a person can be a great advantage to a Swarm character.

SWARM Replenishment: For 25 points the swarm rebuilds its membership at a rate of the ACT in individuals per day.

Attack Battery: No modifications allowed, however the battery could be used to add to the point pools of other powers the character possesses.

DODGE and ACC Modifications: Increase both levels at a cost of 30 points per. Increase either DODGE or ACC at a cost of 15 points per level. Decrease ACC and DODGE reduces cost of power by 10 points per level, with Average being the lowest level possible.

SWARM SIDEKICK: (Alternative Power) If all you really want is a pack of rats to follow you around, may we suggest MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE. If you want to boss around some otherworldly creature and his entourage, you probably need SUMMON. But for those of you who would like to have a pack of flying monkeys or some other such neo-fantastic thing, a pack of normal critters with a few gimmicks thrown in, there is an option to configure SWARM as effectively a SIDEKICK. As with the character who has SWARM as his centerpiece ability, you configure a separate character record for the SIDEKICK. All of the basestats need to be accounted for, minus 60 points. You then pay for the SWARM ability and whatever other powers your SWARM SIDEKICK may have. Now you are not a pack of flying monkeys. Instead you are a person with a pack of flying monkeys.

NOTE: The suggested set up for a basic SWARM character would include also allocating for either the TRANSFORMATION or INTERNAL IMMUTABILITY. That said, most SWARM characters are monsters and not standard issue science fiction protagonists.



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