Body without Organs (Transplant)

This is a refit of the climax to Black Dog Dérive: the last version didn’t quite look right and didn’t quite play right.

I’ve been wrestling with an apparent discrepancy between an old school approach – allowing the GM to improvise using random factors – and one in which the players are given clear mechanisms by which to affect the outcome of the story. I’ve decided to move some of these decisions to the epilogue, Black Dog, which will be next.

Black Dog Dérive is fan material for STALKER: The Sci-Fi Roleplaying Game by Ville Vuorela.


Black Dog Rewrite

The players at last Saturday’s Mini-Campaign Indiemeet were everything I could have wished for: engaged, enthusiastic and clear about what worked and what didn’t.

The good news is that the set-up and journey into the Zone worked very well. The bad news is that the dénouement with the Body without Organs pretty much stank up the joint.

Sridat helped me with some of my wonky pseudoscience and agreed with James that the conflicting agendas among the characters (PvP) were insufficiently supported by the way I’d hacked the system. James preferred the survival horror set-up to the quantum flim-flam climax. Tom said he said felt adrift at the end because characters had to spend attributes to act: yes, I’ll change that. And Christel made the point that the first half of the story felt like the book and the second half like Tarkovsky’s film adaptation, becoming “a bit too metaphysical”. Spot on.

We’re hoping to get together for a sequel using new characters.

The consensus on Stalker seems to be that the setting is great but the system difficult to apply. I like the system: I think it’s a case of using its toolkit to develop the playstyle you want. This is easier to say than to achieve, as I’m no kind of game designer. The game has me in its grip, however:-

“To be in the Zone is to be part of the Zone.”

Body without Organs


  • The Body without Organs is constant: its form may change but never its essence.
  • The Body without Organs changes in one direction, from available to unavailable or from an ordered state to one that is disordered.

Body without Organs Image Left 3Body without Organs Image Right 3

Data Centre

Language, just like thought, proceeds from the binary arithmetical functioning of our brain. We classify by yes and no, by positive and negative. The only thing that my language proves is the slowness of a world limited to the binary. This insufficiency of language is obvious, and is strongly deplored. But what about the insufficiency of binary intelligence itself? Internal existence, the essence of things, escapes it. It can discover that light is continuous and discontinuous at the same time, that a molecule of benzene establishes between its six atoms dual relationships which are nevertheless mutually exclusive; it accepts it, but it cannot understand it, it cannot incorporate into its structure the reality of the profound structures it examines. In order to do that, it would have to change its state, machines other than the usual ones would have to start functioning in the brain, so that binary reasoning might be replaced with an analogical consciousness which would assume the shapes and assimilate the inconceivable rhythms of those profound structures.


The Rings of Saturn


It was a tough year. On the one hand I made the acquaintance of several outstanding people, took part in our best ever campaign of Mighty Empires and began submitting entries on film to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. On the other there was the hospital, the worsening political climate and the continuing trouble I had integrating into any of the various cliques and factions of the roleplaying community. That may well be for the good.

I expect several projects to come to fruition in 2016:


Encounters Image Left 2Encounters Image Right

We were never born. My sister and I were made by a machine. She is not my sister, but she is nearer than a sister and we belong together by machine rules. A lot of these things were taken out of my memory by a professor. The machine is called the ‘Body’. We do not know how it works. We do not see the machine. Sometimes it changes to a person then back again. Sometimes it becomes a light and we see the light sometimes.


Journey Image Left 2Journey Image Right 2

I’m about ready for another playtest.

The players at Concrete Cow last month pretty much rocked the first playtest but the system I used was a bit meh.

The collaborative set-up worked well but asking people to conduct challenges by stacking narrative elements seemed counter-intuitive. It slowed up play. I reckon I’ll run the next one using the Flow system in the Stalker rulebook and use a revised version of the cheat sheet to prompt players interested in shaping the narrative.

I like it when players have agency in the story as people as well as characters.

Cheat Sheet

This is the cheat sheet for the game I plan to offer at Concrete Cow this coming Saturday.

It may not run, of course: it’s a bit weird. I almost hope it doesn’t, as there are four or five games on the Concrete Cow games list I’d like to play. But if it does run, I hope it will be fun.

Black Dog Dérive Cheat Sheet