The Godnet

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TorgHacker
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The Godnet

Postby TorgHacker » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:28 pm

Hey all,

Doing a bit of market research here. :-)

Specifically I'm asking for your opinions about the Godnet...what you liked about it in Original Torg, what you didn't like about it, and what elements of the GodNet do you think is critical to keep in Torg Eternity.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
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ZorValachan
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Re: The Godnet

Postby ZorValachan » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:59 pm

I have a big writing I just finished. On the GodNet and Grids (Tharkold)

Gist: I think it should not be a DSR (that's more Grid)
I liked that they keep a "middle age" thought pattern and have information stored in cyberpapal computer archives physically in churches, cathedrals, convents and monasteries. Might not make sense in today's "cloud" world, but the GodNet is not the internet.
Different cyberdecks to help do different things.
I loved how the "blocks" CP used could not be translated into real-world examples. Nippon Tech ruined it adding 64-bit computer game consoles, which got obsolete.
Godnet is Spirit based and Grids are Mind Based.

I can PM you with a link to my dropbox. It has my Otherverse (Infiniverse Exchange project) draft in it. The Cyberpapacy chapter has what I felt essential was needed for the Godnet to work.
- Leamon Crafton Jr.
Infiniverse Exchange author:

The Paraverse: An entire alternate Cosmverse
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237607/

The Knights of the Road: Archtypes designed as a Storm Knight group
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/228365/

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Kamelion
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Kamelion » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:22 am

Seconding the church-oriented structure, with data cathedrals and the like - really important to give it that religious feel. I also really like the way that there were areas that Malraux doesn't really understand. Different types of AI, ice, and other free-roaming programs were also very cool.
The name that can be named is not the true name.

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Gargoyle
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:38 am

Never really used the Godnet rules; I wanted to like them, but they were complex and I felt like they just weren't designed with cinematic adventuring in mind like the rest of the game. It felt like a separate mini-game rather than an extension of the game world.

What I liked:

The idea of it. A VR world where citizens of the Cyberpapacy gather to worship, and where there are different threats.

Physical structures like Research Monasteries and Program Churches that act as physical entry points into the Godnet.

That you may have to break into a physical place to enter some parts of the GodNet.

That ordinary citizens use the Godnet in their daily lives.

That Cyberpapacy hard points in Free France offer access to the Resistance.

That everything electronic is connected in some way, you can't trust your toaster.

I liked that magic and miracles work as normal.

I liked areas like The Deep, Trash, Heaven and Hell, but I wish they had more detail about what was actually there, and that they weren't so hard to get into and out of.


What I disliked and changes I would make:

I didn't use the rules for cyberdecks because I didn't have a player who cared to have one. I think anyone should be able to "jack in" with a non-invasive piece of tech 26 gear, sort of like the "headphones" that were used in the Agents of SHIELD Framework episodes. If someone takes a perk to get a neural jack, then maybe they get some sort of significant advantage in the GodNet, but it shouldn't feel like a requirement. In the 90's there wasn't much in the way of wireless networking. But now this sort of connectivity isn't a stretch for the imagination, especially for Tech level 26.

I don't like the attributes being assigned so that mental attributes are favored. (your Strength = your Mind score in the Godnet for instance) I think they should just stay the same. I get the reasoning, but it just splits the party and makes it too good for some, and terrible for others. I can accept that someone with a high Strength in the real world has a high Strength in the Godnet because they think they do. (Like in the Agents of SHIELD's Framework). It keeps things simpler and doesn't penalize anyone...generally if someone picks a character with a high Strength it's because they want them to be strong all the time, if they aren't, they won't want to go into the GodNet.

I know that new skills are being avoided in supplements, and that's good, really greatly dislike the "Net skills". Also disliked the different handling of the drama deck approved actions, etc, but with no new skills that shouldn't be needed.


Other stuff I would do differently:

My favorite elevator pitch for Torg Eternity:

TorgHacker wrote:"Imagine a role-playing game with an adventuring party consisting of John McClane, Harry Potter, Van Helsing, Captain America, Lara Croft, and Jackie Chan. One week they travel to New York to race against Belloq to find treasures in Land of the Lost. The next week they go to Cairo to fight ninjas in the world of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The following week they go to France and fight the Spanish Inquisition in The Matrix. And all three of those settings are in the same world. That's Torg."


Emphasis, mine. That line about the Matrix...that's what I want the Godnet to be more like. I want it to be like a real world on the surface but with angels and demons, hosts and viruses, and programs of all sorts doing their thing, and lots of secret areas, back doors, etc. I want the whole party to be able to stay together and explore it. I also like Inception as a sort of inspiration, and perhaps have it interact with the Dreamtime of Core Earth, and the Seeker tunnels of Aysle. I want it to be somewhere scary, but also have some great incentives for Storm Knights to go there, get what they need, and get out.

I think I'd like for the Godnet to present them with a virtual France, rather than mapping it out as a bunch of cells. The cell thing could work for strongholds, but I would think that for the most part, the map should just be a map of France.

I'm ok with the Godnet France looking like medieval France btw. I think that would be interesting. Some high tech stuff should still be there, it should still be Tech 26, but everything might look different, with a pistol looking like a crossbow or something. I'm ok with it not looking like medieval France too; But it should look different than real France, a lot cleaner in most places, even sterile. Using a map of France to depict what the base of the Godnet is would be great though, one of the strengths of Torg is that you can base it on real places and use Google maps etc. The borders could extend only to where the current stelae are, and beyond that, there might be primitive tunnels to the Internet, with much less resolution and capability for travel speed and communication, maybe just represent them with data terminals, guarded of course by something nasty.

I'm also cool with the player characters being able to do more in the Godnet than in the real world. I like that they can look different "We call it residual self-image", and that maybe they can temporarily gain some a super power or two while jacked in.

I like the idea of Augmented Reality being a big thing in the Cyberpapacy in the real world with some free cyberware (not free if you don't want the Godnet connection that comes with it and spies on you), btw and have it reflect the tip of the iceberg of what's in the Godnet. A heads up display showing your current Piety score and "quest markers" that show you how to improve it, and where to go to jack in to the Godnet would be a fun detail, as well as virtual nagging nuns and priests. These same characters might be in the Godnet too, and appear more real there.

I'm also open to making the Godnet its own reality, with different cosm cards. I would think the axioms and world laws should be the same as the Cyberpapacy unless a good reason exists in the design to change them, but I'm certain new cosm cards would be fun and would add some flavor to it.

To sum up, fewer rules and special mechanics, the ability to keep the party together (if you want), use the same rules as the real world for the most part, and make it more like the Matrix, and more fluff and adventure hooks than rules. Should not need to do a whole GodNet book to play in it, but such a book could be great in the future.

Edit: and I forgot to mention, you can have travel be a lot quicker in the Godnet. Maybe there are teleportation gates, usually disguised as normal doors or whatever, or they are guarded, and enforce exiting where you jack in. So if you want to get out, you have to find an exit in your area. This could be done a lot of different ways, but I like the idea of finding an exit being a thing and bad things happening to you in the Godnet affecting your physical form.
Last edited by Gargoyle on Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ZorValachan
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Re: The Godnet

Postby ZorValachan » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:26 am

Temp-trods were a thing in OT where you had a headset to hook you up without a cyberdeck/jack.

I think holoports are another way around this. Little phonebooths for individuals or large rooms for groups, working like a star trek holodeck work to keep the party involved. They wont have the bonuses the cyberdecker has, but they can participate. It also gives godnet constructs an exit out of the Godnet :evil:

I think skill adds + attributes should be fluid, and like the idea of the Godnet being Spirit and not Mind.

I thought the cell maps were easy and intuitive myself, but agree all the skills were a pain. Computers or normal skills modified in some cases should handle everything.
- Leamon Crafton Jr.
Infiniverse Exchange author:

The Paraverse: An entire alternate Cosmverse
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237607/

The Knights of the Road: Archtypes designed as a Storm Knight group
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/228365/

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Spatula
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Spatula » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:00 am

Hm, I would be down for a GodNet that is more like the Matrix or Inception, as a virtual world where the rules of reality can be "hacked" by those with the knowledge. The whole party could participate but the computer expert gets a boost or is extra-useful.

I could see that playing out, in part, kinda like how the Dreamlands worked in Paizo's recent Lovecraft adventure path for Pathfinder. There the players could get some really powerful items or face some really powerful foes because they couldn't bring them back into the real world, or could wake themselves up to escape the encounter.

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Re: The Godnet

Postby Kuildeous » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:14 am

Very little I can say that wasn't already said.

I'll also say that I didn't use the decking rules in oTorg. I was intrigued by them, but I agree that it was like a mini-game. And I wouldn't mind that so much if it wasn't for the fact that it was a mini-game exclusive to certain characters. It's the same problem Shadowrun and Cyberpunk had: The other players sit on the sidelines while the hacker does his thing.

I liked the threat of death (or coma) within the GodNet, and I'd like to see that continued. VR was such in vogue back then, and it still holds a place in our hearts. There are some interesting shows with fully immersive VR, such as Black Mirror and Phillip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. I like that concept, but I also like the idea of a combination of tech and spirit where the PCs are literally inside the machine. Or at least their consciousness are while their bodies sit at home drooling. If they are literally in the GodNet rather than being represented by an avatar, then that can explain away how you still use Strength and Dexterity, though I do like Mind being used here.

Implementing Augmented Reality could be really interesting. I refer again to Black Mirror for some AR ideas:

[li]"Nosedive" featured facial recognition that also displayed your popularity (piety score). This let people know at a glance if the person they are interacting with is worthy of their status or not. This even affects their credit rating and whether they are worthy of the express line.
[li]"White Christmas" has a concept where you can "block" people. They literally show up as a patch of static within your vision with their voice muffled beyond recognition. I can see the faithful blocking people below X piety score (or since the piety score can be brought up by the penitent, maybe another variable, such as number of days since last confession). Imagine the Storm Knights trying to navigate in a town where the residents don't even see them.
[li]"Playtest" has an AR system where the person sees convincing fakes in the real world. It's like Pokemon Go within your head.
[li]
► Show Spoiler

[li]"Arkangel" takes the AR concept and applies it to the V-chip. A child's mother can adjust what the child sees by blocking harmful content. Much like "White Christmas", this results in the child being oblivious to swear words, nudity, and troubling dogs. It might be tempting to block out sinful behavior, but since citizens gain more piety points for reporting sinful behavior, that seems less likely to be embraced.

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there, but I can see AR being a big part of everyday life. The VR aspect may still be used for processing data. I like the idea of moving to different cells. The idea of "hacking" your way into one of the great cathedrals is thematic as hell. I just want to make sure that it's something that everyone can enjoy. And I don't mean just access like temp trodes. I want all players to feel like they can contribute, which is an argument against defaulting everything to Mind.

I feel the medieval motif was mostly a callback to the origins of Magna Verita before the tech surge. Since the history of Magna Verita has changed in TorgE, I don't think that it would all be medieval France, though undoubtedly, it may be a popular motif for each church to adopt. I can also see cartoon motifs to appeal to kids or some bishop putting his love of racecars into his cell. Some cells may represent some personal tastes not related to the church; maybe a resistance member always includes a calling card of James Bond to indicate that this is a heresy-friendly zone.

I probably wouldn't miss the VR aspect if it goes away. Technology is scary enough today that it doesn't take much to envision a dystopian future with enhanced tech. But I do like the idea of a net run for everyone.
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ZorValachan
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Re: The Godnet

Postby ZorValachan » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:06 pm

FWIW, i never considered it a mini-game where others sat around waiting. While the netrunner was in the GodNet, the others were defending his body. If church police werent beating down the door to get to the decker's body there was no need to play it out. The fact that fights in and out could happen using The same drama card and happened in real-time appealed to me.

My middle age remark was mentality, social axiom. Storing data in a specific location that could get taken off the 'net if needed, and possibly cause a decker in the net problems if he was cutoff from his body.

I see the decker going into the GodNet, while others use holoports to bring visuals of the GodNet to them and interact with it
- Leamon Crafton Jr.
Infiniverse Exchange author:

The Paraverse: An entire alternate Cosmverse
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237607/

The Knights of the Road: Archtypes designed as a Storm Knight group
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/228365/

Wakshani
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Wakshani » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:09 pm

I have a lengthy version of this that I can go into later, but, a couple of key points on the short, for now.

First: Beware the Decker Problem.
If you've ever played Shadowrun, you'd know the pain of having a decker. It's not that it isn'ta fun archetype, it is, and doing Matrix stuff is essential for good cyberpunk, BUT, what you get from the decker going into a deep dive and rooting round is a solo adventure for one guy while the rest of the table grows listless and bored. Turning it around into just a Computer roll can shortchange the guy who was looking to the sool immersion realm and how all of his code does neat stuff (This one looks like a lasso, but crackles with electricity! Mydistraction program's a little rabbit that sniffs around, whose scent draws the guard dog programs like a moth to a flame... it then multiplies and runs off in different directions, drawing the guards away, so I can sneak in. This one...) ... hitting that middle ground's really, really hard. With Torg, you have a handy side-approach tho: Dramatic Skill Resolution. Keep MOST actions mobile, in an Augmented Reality (Angel Reality?) type interaction, with holographic pop-ups, finger-swipes, etc ... just make a roll, do the thing, move on with everyone else. Make Dramatic Skill Resolutions something that you can do in VR (Virtuous Reality?) with a bonus but otherwise you rarely do VR... it keeps everyone doing things at the same time instead of a solo run.

Second: Ignore real computers.
Too many games want their computer stuff to work just like real computers, with hosts and virtual machines and whatnot. Great for the computer programmers and systems administrators, but most of the group likely won't fall into that category and you don't want to overwhelm someone with a massive database of rules. Instead, run with "You're plugging a wire into your brain in order to interact with a shared hallucination with millions of other people. Your Bachelors in Computer Science can be left at the door." When you want to pop the lock on a door, to have your team escape while the rest of the group is exchanging gunfire with Church Police, you want to handle it by saying, "I'm gonna pop the lock!", make some rolls, and move on, just like a barbarian would say "Kick the door down!" in fantasy (or a thief type would pick a lock) ... if, instead, you're handling things by going, "Okay, first search for wireless signals. Okay, your turn ends. Okay, identify those signals to see which one is this emergency door. Okay, your turn ends. Now, see if you can get the password right. Okay, your turn ends. Okay, now you have to upgrade your account to a security command protocol. Okay, your turn ends. Okay, now identify the proper pathway to-" auuugh! Gibson didn't know jack squat about computers, but it was fine because the story flowed and you didn't need to get tied down in the details.

Finally: Don't be afraid to spray color around.
This goes somewhat against both other points, but remember that style counts. Players *like* having rabbitshaped code or dodging disco ball priest attacks. People adore good use of brand names in the game. (This isn't a crummy "computer", this is a Cranston 23X! What, you think I'm going to use some Isidore X? Pffft! and just yammering about the Next Big Thing replicates the constant push for new technology and soulless advertising that really kicks the dystopia up a notch. Toss brand names on *everything*, leave room for scratch-built franken-machines (And, honestly, you can use the same stats for things, just reskin them and it's fine), and you're golden. Skills, status, posers, all that fun "cultural touchstone" stuff can be woven to make some excellent stories.

The biggest part is that computer stuff is a moment when the hacker player gets to shine, but it shouldn't break the table. Keep it short and punchy, but give them plenty of chances to influence stuff. Heck, you wouldn't be wrong to make cyberdecks and hacking work like spells.miracles.etc. This is the "Loop cameras so we can sneak around" program. This is the "turn off all augmented aiming" program. This is the "Command the room do do something, like turn off the lights, hit the fire sprinklers, bring down an elevator" program. Mostly, just one roll during your initiative pass then go, saving the complicated stuff from Dramatic Skill Resolutions.

Everybody wins.

Except the Cyberchurch. Heck with those guys. They're jerks. :D

mystic101
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Re: The Godnet

Postby mystic101 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:00 am

There've been some excellent comments so far. Here are my suggestions:

1. Make a very low barrier for entry, when deciding how easy it is to use the Godnet. Don't require a neural jack or anything like that. The Cyberpope wants to make it easy for anyone to get in, so that more people will be brainwashed into converting. Have it be as simple as slipping on a set of wireless VR goggles, and have vendors in the CP giving them out everywhere, free of charge. (Storm Knights will obviously want to use hacked models instead). That way, non-cybered pcs will be able to join in on the fun as easily as dedicated deckers.

2. As an extension of #1, people shouldn't need any computer skill at all to use the Godnet, because the Net is doing all the work, translating the computer-based actions for their brain into perceptions that are understandable to them. Like how someone doesn't need to know anything about computers to use current tech such as an Xbox. They can just pick up the controller and start playing. The Godnet should be just as user-friendly. (Hacking the Net, of course, is a different story).

3. Rules-wise, for ease of play, make everything in the Net work just like it does in the real world. Is your character big and strong, and knows how to swing a sword? Then in the Godnet, they're still big and strong, and still know how to swing a sword. Maybe the sword's really an attack program, but a sword is what their brain understands, and so that's what the Godnet translates all that programming gobbledy-gook into, for their brain's benefit. Do they know how to pick locks? Then maybe their virtual "lockpicks" are de-encryption progs, but they're interpreted by the character's brain as something they can actually understand. The advantage of doing this is that the player can just use the exact same character sheet, with no alterations or calculations required. Super easy, and it keeps them good at whatever the player designed them to be good at, which is presumably what the player will have the most fun doing. So a net run stays fun for everyone, not just the decker.

4. If they're going into the Net, just say it's standard operating procedure for a fellow teammate or a friendly Delphi Council contact to have written them programs that duplicate their $1,000 of starting equipment, or their current equipment, or whatever. In-game, making the "programs" (equipment) that's loaded into their VR goggles identical to their real stuff helps, because that's what their brains are familiar with using. Out-of-game, it's because it makes their character sheet stay exactly the same, for ease of play.

5. Deckers should shine in the Godnet, not because other characters are worse off than in real life, but because the decker is just plain better here than in real life. The sum of #1-4 is that non-technical characters function just the same in the Godnet. That keeps them from having their fun spoiled. But as for the decker, I'd give them several advantages in the Net, probably a combination of equipment-related and perk-related. They should be able to substitute their Computer skill for any other skills that they have a program for, the same way a vehicle driver can substitute their vehicle skill for attacks, interactions, etc. With an attack prog, say a "sword", they can use their Computer 5 as a Melee 5. Or an encryption program "cloak" to have Stealth 5, etc. They're "operating" their avatars and their simulated environment, like a driver operates a vehicle. And while non-techies would be stuck with the Godnet's default physics engine, and a basic point-and-click level of understanding about whatever "equipment" programs they carrying, true hackers could go all Matrix-y instead, doing "there is no spoon"-type things. Which leads to . . .

6. Have decking function like a system the players already know. Maybe it's like spellcasting, and a perk gets them a number of spell-equivalent things to "cast" inside a computer network. Or maybe it's like Nile pulp powers, but ones that only work in VR. I'd take into account that net-related special abilities are much less universally applicable than a spell or a pulp power in the real world, that you can use anywhere, anytime. To make up for that, I'd make the abilities work on any computer network of any realm's tech level. Maybe also make them cost less, or get more spell picks per perk, or a "bundle" of cyber-pulp powers rather than just one, or something similar.

7. Have the Godnet look exactly like the real world . . . mostly. By that, I mean have any non-church sites, and any non-hacker users, look exactly like they do in the real world. The Cyberchurch is all about conformity, not creativity. A cafe's website should be a virtual copy of the café, its users should look like their real physical selves, and the data paths to get there should look exactly like the real roads outside. That has the benefit of allowing storytellers to use a wealth of real-world location knowledge without having to change anything for the net run, and for non-techie characters to use their in-character knowledge of the local area and its people, without feeling left out.

8. Go just the opposite for Church-owned holdings, and hacker-controlled areas. Church buildings could be far more grandiose, imposing, and fantastical than in real life. This is where the storyteller's creativity can come out, and really let the Godnet capture the player's imaginations. Hacker holdings could look normal on the outside, but anything goes on the inside. They could be far larger than they appear, gravity could be weird, what have you. And inside those sanctuaries, or in the midst of a hacking run, they could let slip their mandated, "looks like me" avatars for whatever wild, fanciful forms appeal to them.

So basically, I'd try to avoid many of the pitfalls that have already been mentioned by having the Godnet operate by the normal rules of the game, and characters inside operate as they normally do, but have hackers stand out as extra special. No one gets hamstrung in the virtual environment that way, or sits around twiddling their thumbs in the real world while the decker does their thing, etc. Just my thoughts.


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