The Godnet

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Greymarch2000
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Greymarch2000 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:40 pm

From a setting point of view I think that there are thematically two different GodNets (though deep down they are linked and the same thing - bear with me!): First you have the entire communications network of Cyberfrance. When the invasion happened everyone's cellphones displayed a message saying "GodNet installing". Everything is now connected through the church's network. Everything. Making a call, checking an app, using a holo-sign, the button to change the signal at the crosswalk, your microwave - everything.

Secondly there is the VR experience of the GodNet. I feel that there are again two important elements to this part of the GodNet: It needs to be accessible (but not too accessible - more later) and it has to be amazing. When you go to a cyberchurch and the the priest performs a benediction upon you and hooks you into the GodNet for the first time it should be a moving religious experience. It should bombard you with sensations and feelings and be something the general population strives to experience more and more.

At first the population of the Realm experiences the glory that is the GodNet through church services and blessings by cybper priests using TempTrodes with the understanding that it is merely a taste of what grace the CyberPope can bring to true believers. If they build up enough reputation with the Church by using their PrayerWare, performing community service and turning in heretics and deluded resistance members they can gain the privilege to have neuraljacks installed and experience the GodNet in its full glory.

The GodNet should be almost addictive and should seem like a free and open wonderland for people that don't peer to close. I'm not personally sure what I would want it to look like - and I really like the idea of it changing despite itself over time, but even if you made it a virtual perfect France the entirety of that virtual country could be the equivalent of a single webpage. Find a link leading out and it could lead somewhere totally different.

Here's where the tough question comes in. In many other games like Cyberpunk the Net is a place that was built. Every single datafort was created by someone (or an AI) for a specific reason and was programmed as such. In other games like Mage the Ascension or Corporia the Digital Web/MUDs are reflections of ALL computer systems that are hooked up to the internet. They were not programmed to be accessed in a virtual manner for the most part, but it's all part of a reflexive magical reflection of the data. All data can be found if you know how to look.

I imagine the GodNet as being between these two extremes. Because pretty much everything is connected via the GodNet in the CyberPapacy you can make a case for every piece of electronics being accessible via the virtual world. On the other hand however, this network was designed so for the most part people entering the GodNet should not have easy access to everything. The vast majority of users would experience only the very public outer skin of the GodNet, much like how most people today only see Google and a few trusted websites with no idea of or how to access the Dark Webs.

In my mind I see a user logging in and being transported to an idealized version of the location they are in. Perhaps the architecture has been modified to be a clean ivory and chrome with even more crucifixes and other symbols. A warm light basks the entire area in a comforting glow and the hymns of monks can be just barely heard in the background. Other users can be seen going about their business, most too fast to really watch but some just enjoying the miracle that the Pope brought to them, they pass as idealized versions of themselves. I know that I want to shop at the local mall so I whistle a built in tune that summons a cherub (as mentioned above :)). Telling the cherub what I want to do in plain English (well French - no special computer experience needed is the point) it will find my a route and lead my through the GodNet at blistering speed until we reach the mall which from the outside appears as a great and glorious cathedral. Moving inside there are thousands of fellow shoppers, and unlike buying online now I can actually touch and feel the products I decide to buy. I may stop to listen to a sermon from the priests in the food court or catch a virtual passion film. By the time I log out my purchases have already been delivered by drone.

And I think that's the big thing. Because it's also a spiritual place the GodNet should feel real. It's not just going in to blast some ICE and grab some data, it's a living breathing virtual world that people want to be in - that they will beg to be in.

But our Storm Knight decker wouldn't do it the same way. He may still log on and rez in the same building but from there things would change. He wouldn't be using his own face and his deck would be rigged to not be auto-traced like most. It will fool most, but he needs to make sure a cherub, cyberpriest or god forbid a Host doesn't get a close look at him. Instead of all the pageantry with the cherub he runs a program that instantly searches the malls Net location and shifts him there. In the mall he still visits virtual shops but uses programs to spoof the delivery codes and charges everything to Belleview corporate account and has the drones deliver to a remote site. He gains access to the back end and finds building schematics, security details, control over the cameras and drones. All of this could be represented by a chart of Computer Use difficulties, the GM doesn't need to write up a datafort or take up too much time with it really.

Okay this is turning out waaaaay longer than I intended (which seems to be the theme), but the other thing I wanted to cover was the "Runner Problem" and how to giver a Decker some extra oomph without making everyone else useless in the Net.

I agree with others that everyone should just use their regular stats in the GodNet. It's partly spiritual again, so think of it as your "true self" (which could be interesting if Aylish Light/Dark and Orrorsh Corruption are also shown :D) and changing everyones stats around is also annoying. But then you get issues where the combat characters are the best at combat again. So there's a few options.

The first is something they did in Corporia which I think would work well in this situation. Basically any character connecting to the GodNet can take their adds in Computer Use and form a pool of points. They can then spend these points to increase their stats while in the GodNet only. If they wanted to change the distribution they'd have to reset and log back in. Potentially you could also allow users to include their adds in Faith as well which would make cyberpriests pretty tough to face virtually.

You could also allow the Decker to distribute those points to other people he brings in with him. So the tank of the group could be buffed to unimaginable heights, the clumsy made dextrous. Truly a miracle of the GodNet ;)

The other side of keeping everyones stats/skills the same aside from a buff to the decker is that while you may be a great shot with a rifle you probably don't rez into the GodNet with one. Keeping with the "idealized self-image" concept I'd say any gear a character has as the result of a Perk would also exist in the GodNet, but otherwise you have to either find a virtual version of gear you want to use in situ, or have a program for it installed in your deck. This can help the "collector spellbook" mentality that many hacker character players seem to have but not make it too crazy. Besides, resistance members meeting secretly in a dive bar somewhere to trade gear chips seems like such a cyberpunk genre thing to do. "I'll trade you the AR-15 pattern for Church Police Helmet. Yeah man it's legit, a Storm Knight from the states was visiting and I scanned it in my 3D-Scanwave, we can fire off some test bursts in a virtual if you want?"

Mind you in the GodNet a lot more is possible, you could in theory have equipment programs for all kinds of things. Tanks, Star Destroyers, Magic Wands, whatever. But it brings us back to the original point - everything is connecting and the Church Police are always watching. Using such blatant things would bring the wrath of cyberGod down upon you almost immediately.

Or something like that.

mystic101
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Re: The Godnet

Postby mystic101 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:14 am

Lots more good comments. I'd like to continue to advocate for a mostly-plain Godnet that mirrors the real world in most places (and this won't be as boring as it sounds!). Here's why:

Yes, VR can be utterly wondrous, and bursting with imagination, but the Church doesn't want it to be that way just anywhere. It wants to reserve that level of awesomeness only for itself. If you log onto a cafe's website, in the Church's eyes it's right that it's a plain, humdrum experience. You want to experience something that'll knock your socks off instead? Then get yourself to a church event. That's where everything will burst into Technicolor amazement. That's where you'll see Moses parting the Red Sea, gigantic walls of tsunami-sized water off to either side, and you. are. THERE. Living it. Exulting in it.

Coffee shops, toasters, and your desktop PC don't get to be that cool. If you want that kind of virtual rush, you go to your local church, Sunday school, Cathedral mass, or authorized Bible study group. And when you go, and you get those amaze-balls experiences, you keep coming back for more. It's addictive. Better than physical life, and church is the only place to get it. It doesn't exist in the secular parts of the Net.

Unless you know where to look . . .

Hackers know where to look. And it's in all the places you're not supposed to be. It's in the Church's private sanctums, where they keep the data for their own consumption. It's in the personal sites of fellow hackers, jaw-droppingly creative wonderlands hidden behind the humdrum façades of normal apartments or front businesses. It's in any openly rebellious areas that lie outside of Church control . . . physical Paris might be overcrowded, dirty, and desperate; but virtual Paris could be a gleaming, hi-tech utopia, giving its middle finger to the Cyberpapacy by openly sharing its boundless creativity and wonder with all who enter. Free of charge, free of addiction. Free of control.

Mind-bending wonders could be in all those places. And maybe, just maybe, in the very farthest, remotest regions of the Net as well. Data frontiers that casual users never see. Mysterious, mutating, inexplicable corners, where even angels fear to tread . . .

Anyway, that's my pitch to make 99% of the Godnet just a plain, dull, and accurate representation of the physical world. Because it's the hidden 1% that will make the players' visit worth it, with the storyteller's help.

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Gargoyle
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Gargoyle » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:23 am

Greymarch2000 wrote:From a setting point of view I think that there are thematically two different GodNets (though deep down they are linked and the same thing - bear with me!): First you have the entire communications network of Cyberfrance. When the invasion happened everyone's cellphones displayed a message saying "GodNet installing". Everything is now connected through the church's network. Everything. Making a call, checking an app, using a holo-sign, the button to change the signal at the crosswalk, your microwave - everything.

Good to point that out, I didn't mention it a lot, but yeah, your toaster is listening to you.

Secondly there is the VR experience of the GodNet. I feel that there are again two important elements to this part of the GodNet: It needs to be accessible (but not too accessible - more later) and it has to be amazing. When you go to a cyberchurch and the the priest performs a benediction upon you and hooks you into the GodNet for the first time it should be a moving religious experience. It should bombard you with sensations and feelings and be something the general population strives to experience more and more.

At first the population of the Realm experiences the glory that is the GodNet through church services and blessings by cybper priests using TempTrodes with the understanding that it is merely a taste of what grace the CyberPope can bring to true believers. If they build up enough reputation with the Church by using their PrayerWare, performing community service and turning in heretics and deluded resistance members they can gain the privilege to have neuraljacks installed and experience the GodNet in its full glory.

The GodNet should be almost addictive and should seem like a free and open wonderland for people that don't peer to close. I'm not personally sure what I would want it to look like - and I really like the idea of it changing despite itself over time, but even if you made it a virtual perfect France the entirety of that virtual country could be the equivalent of a single webpage. Find a link leading out and it could lead somewhere totally different.

Here's where the tough question comes in. In many other games like Cyberpunk the Net is a place that was built. Every single datafort was created by someone (or an AI) for a specific reason and was programmed as such. In other games like Mage the Ascension or Corporia the Digital Web/MUDs are reflections of ALL computer systems that are hooked up to the internet. They were not programmed to be accessed in a virtual manner for the most part, but it's all part of a reflexive magical reflection of the data. All data can be found if you know how to look.

I imagine the GodNet as being between these two extremes. Because pretty much everything is connected via the GodNet in the CyberPapacy you can make a case for every piece of electronics being accessible via the virtual world. On the other hand however, this network was designed so for the most part people entering the GodNet should not have easy access to everything. The vast majority of users would experience only the very public outer skin of the GodNet, much like how most people today only see Google and a few trusted websites with no idea of or how to access the Dark Webs.

In my mind I see a user logging in and being transported to an idealized version of the location they are in. Perhaps the architecture has been modified to be a clean ivory and chrome with even more crucifixes and other symbols. A warm light basks the entire area in a comforting glow and the hymns of monks can be just barely heard in the background. Other users can be seen going about their business, most too fast to really watch but some just enjoying the miracle that the Pope brought to them, they pass as idealized versions of themselves. I know that I want to shop at the local mall so I whistle a built in tune that summons a cherub (as mentioned above :)). Telling the cherub what I want to do in plain English (well French - no special computer experience needed is the point) it will find my a route and lead my through the GodNet at blistering speed until we reach the mall which from the outside appears as a great and glorious cathedral. Moving inside there are thousands of fellow shoppers, and unlike buying online now I can actually touch and feel the products I decide to buy. I may stop to listen to a sermon from the priests in the food court or catch a virtual passion film. By the time I log out my purchases have already been delivered by drone.

And I think that's the big thing. Because it's also a spiritual place the GodNet should feel real. It's not just going in to blast some ICE and grab some data, it's a living breathing virtual world that people want to be in - that they will beg to be in.

But our Storm Knight decker wouldn't do it the same way. He may still log on and rez in the same building but from there things would change. He wouldn't be using his own face and his deck would be rigged to not be auto-traced like most. It will fool most, but he needs to make sure a cherub, cyberpriest or god forbid a Host doesn't get a close look at him. Instead of all the pageantry with the cherub he runs a program that instantly searches the malls Net location and shifts him there. In the mall he still visits virtual shops but uses programs to spoof the delivery codes and charges everything to Belleview corporate account and has the drones deliver to a remote site. He gains access to the back end and finds building schematics, security details, control over the cameras and drones. All of this could be represented by a chart of Computer Use difficulties, the GM doesn't need to write up a datafort or take up too much time with it really.


Sounds good. I'd like to think that the Church tries to control the experience as much as possible through cyberware interfaces, and that user access is basically just exposure to propaganda. The maintenance areas will be controlled, and data vaults even more controlled. Not sure where they will go with spirit chips or whatever, but that might be a thing too. And as others have mentioned, I'd like for a lot of areas off the beaten path that the Church can't control.

I would posit that there is a third aspect though, Augmented Reality. I think this is already a thing with hard holograms, but I'd like to see more of it. My thinking is that the Godnet "realm" sort of overlaps with the Cyberpapacy proper, so that locations in both realms correlate. It doesn't have to be limited to that, but for reasons I expressed earlier it would be fun, just adding that AR is another reason for it.


Okay this is turning out waaaaay longer than I intended (which seems to be the theme), but the other thing I wanted to cover was the "Runner Problem" and how to giver a Decker some extra oomph without making everyone else useless in the Net.

I agree with others that everyone should just use their regular stats in the GodNet. It's partly spiritual again, so think of it as your "true self" (which could be interesting if Aylish Light/Dark and Orrorsh Corruption are also shown :D) and changing everyones stats around is also annoying. But then you get issues where the combat characters are the best at combat again. So there's a few options.

The first is something they did in Corporia which I think would work well in this situation. Basically any character connecting to the GodNet can take their adds in Computer Use and form a pool of points. They can then spend these points to increase their stats while in the GodNet only. If they wanted to change the distribution they'd have to reset and log back in. Potentially you could also allow users to include their adds in Faith as well which would make cyberpriests pretty tough to face virtually.

You could also allow the Decker to distribute those points to other people he brings in with him. So the tank of the group could be buffed to unimaginable heights, the clumsy made dextrous. Truly a miracle of the GodNet ;)

The other side of keeping everyones stats/skills the same aside from a buff to the decker is that while you may be a great shot with a rifle you probably don't rez into the GodNet with one. Keeping with the "idealized self-image" concept I'd say any gear a character has as the result of a Perk would also exist in the GodNet, but otherwise you have to either find a virtual version of gear you want to use in situ, or have a program for it installed in your deck. This can help the "collector spellbook" mentality that many hacker character players seem to have but not make it too crazy. Besides, resistance members meeting secretly in a dive bar somewhere to trade gear chips seems like such a cyberpunk genre thing to do. "I'll trade you the AR-15 pattern for Church Police Helmet. Yeah man it's legit, a Storm Knight from the states was visiting and I scanned it in my 3D-Scanwave, we can fire off some test bursts in a virtual if you want?"

Mind you in the GodNet a lot more is possible, you could in theory have equipment programs for all kinds of things. Tanks, Star Destroyers, Magic Wands, whatever. But it brings us back to the original point - everything is connecting and the Church Police are always watching. Using such blatant things would bring the wrath of cyberGod down upon you almost immediately.

Or something like that.


I dunno, I like the idea of Hacks as a spell-like system, I find it more interesting than buffs. Not really against buffs for deckers, but I find buffs in general to be boring. Have even thought of removing the spells that buff stats.
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Gargoyle
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Gargoyle » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:59 am

Jim wrote:
Okay, now that has some legs. I could see the gradual transformation as being a very cool thing. Especially as part of the meta-plot, where the PCs only first notice the change on their second visit to GodNet. Like something that is happening in the background of other unrelated missions and adventures..culminating to where the PCs want to specifically enter the GodNet to study the 'evolution.'

You're doing a decent sales pitch, Gargoyle.


Thanks.

To spin off of that idea and off of Gargoyle's post, it could be interesting if the Avignon rebels started seeing new strange behavior from the GodNet for the first time. As if the GodNet has never changed and evolved this quickly before in their experience, which could be attributed to the influx of possibility energy that has started to infuse it since Day One. Maybe even Malraux is surprised and slightly taken aback though he would never show it and/or he thinks he understands it and has control over it.
Re: The Godnet
Post by Jim » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:19 pm


I do like this take on it. And someone mentioned the Godnet as a character, I like that way of thinking. To put a more literal spin on it, perhaps the changes include the Godnet itself attaining consciousness and it's something Ebenuscrux and Malraux grow to fear, and strive to control. The Storm Knights influence on the Godnet over the course of a campaign might turn it into an ally or at least keep it neutral.
Last edited by Gargoyle on Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:35 am

Gargoyle wrote:Maybe you have to pull a virtual stela too for the realm to collapse. I could see the horror of a group of Storm Knights pulling both a stela and a backup stela and reality doesn't change because they didn't go into the Godnet and pull that one.


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Re: The Godnet

Postby Spatula » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:49 am

The GM section of the core rules notes that part of removing a CP stelae is to disconnect it from the 'Net. I like that as it potentially makes the DSR more than "test reality 4+ times", and gives me ideas for other cosms. Like maybe one step of pulling a stelae in the LL is to beseech Lanala to have the world reject this dead thing (faith or maybe persuasion test).

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Re: The Godnet

Postby Jim » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:57 pm

mystic101 wrote:Yes, VR can be utterly wondrous, and bursting with imagination, but the Church doesn't want it to be that way just anywhere. It wants to reserve that level of awesomeness only for itself. If you log onto a cafe's website, in the Church's eyes it's right that it's a plain, humdrum experience. You want to experience something that'll knock your socks off instead? Then get yourself to a church event. That's where everything will burst into Technicolor amazement. That's where you'll see Moses parting the Red Sea, gigantic walls of tsunami-sized water off to either side, and you. are. THERE. Living it. Exulting in it.

Coffee shops, toasters, and your desktop PC don't get to be that cool. If you want that kind of virtual rush, you go to your local church, Sunday school, Cathedral mass, or authorized Bible study group. And when you go, and you get those amaze-balls experiences, you keep coming back for more. It's addictive. Better than physical life, and church is the only place to get it. It doesn't exist in the secular parts of the Net.


I agree with your interpretation of church spaces and events and their addictive, but the rest of it sounds really unappealing and redundant. The way I interpret what you've written is that you want many part of the GodNet to be boring so that the 'church related' parts of it are exciting by contrast. Where we disagree (I think fairly strongly) is that the Real World is what should be contrasted against the GodNet. Not a 'boring section of the GodNet contrasted with an exciting section of the GodNet.'

Note, I didn't rush to reply to your post. I thought it over awhile, and I do appreciate parts of what you're saying. For example, early discussions of the GodNet suggest it is connected to most modern appliances, famously including the toaster. That means there should be some corresponding connection between said toaster and the GodNet, in order to manipulate it and harvest data through it. I get that. What I am taking away from your suggestion is that there should be a perfect replica of the toaster on the GodNet to represent that connection. It's kinda logical, but its boring and the cyberpunk ambivalence and style is threatened by it. Style really matters here because this is a cinematic game and not particularly simulationist. Things need to look cool and imaginative, and interacting with the environment needs to be fun. Otherwise we don't need Darrell to write this book. Now another poster, Gargoyle, spoke up in defense of this concept and got a lot of traction in pitching it. He did that by pointing out that one could add a lot of style and aesthetic to it. I still like a more abstract Shadowrun style GodNet, but I found space to compromise in his vision. I feel you've taken a step backwards here.

Wakshani made an excellent point about this. I'm a big fan of William Gibson, who is arguably the Grandfather of the science fiction ideal of cyberspace. Wakshani pointed out that Gibson (probably) didn't know too much about how computer networks function. Nevertheless, he employed a lot of style to get his concepts across to the reader so that it imaginative and facilitated the narrative. I'm hearing a lot of good ideas from him, Gargoyle, and others on how we need to not be hung up on certain tropes (like the decker is the only one who can operate in this environment) or worrying too much about realism. Their remedy for this is style. You certainly show a flair for it when it comes to church spaces, but I challenge you to think of all of the GodNet as stylish.

mystic101 wrote: Hackers know where to look.


Just a point of order. We're trying not to make this hacker / decker dependent. And I love those archetypes, but I'm deferring to playability for the whole group. So, as I wrote above, the trade off for maintaining playability is not sacrificing style.

Contrast the GodNet with something that is not the GodNet.

Mike McCall
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Mike McCall » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:31 pm

Reading over these posts, I'm starting to develop my own vision of the GodNet. We'll see what the Cyberpapacy book gives me to work with, but here are the ideas that connect with me for now:

  • The GodNet is Cyber-Heaven: VR-wise, the GodNet is a celestial realm of glowing, idealized forms. Not disconnected, and not (exclusively) the clouds-and-harps of cheesy Renaissance painters and bad greeting cards, but something that speaks of a Heavenly reality. I think that there will be a "divine reflection" of Avingnon and other major cities, a "City of God" reflecting the ideal they are to be raised to. I don't think I want that to be the default experience of logging into the GodNet, though.
  • GodNet is The Holy Spirit: In the physical world, the omnipresence of GodNet is something that should be felt by worshippers, and something that should be comforting to the faithful...except when it is terrifying. It should give the sense that the state of one's soul is always in the balance, and that " Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s watching."
  • GodNet Is Omnipresent: The line between physical reality and the numinous world of the GodNet should be porous. The Heralds and the Host, and other hard-light constructs, should be able to manifest using any nearby technology, at least briefly. Augmented reality should definitely be there, and it should have the feeling of "whispers of the Holy Spirit" instead of being a technological tool.
  • The GodNet Is A Pilgrimage: Your average member of the Faithful has never been into the GodNet, or perhaps once while led by a cyberpriest. It's seen as a place where only 'the holy' can go, a place one must prove one's worthiness to experience.
  • GodNet Is a Computer: For all the trappings of miracle-laden medieval Christianity, GodNet isn't innately supernatural. It's a highly advanced computer network. The big place of a decker is to be able to manipulate the GodNet in localized form, to subvert or transform the miraculous trappings and even the fundamental functions. The decker should be useful everywhere in the Cyberpapacy.
  • GodNet Is Accessible: Since it's a computer network, linked through ubiquitous electronics, then if you're not worried about the religious implications anyone can go there. Neural jacks are included in any cyberware upgrade (because how else could the GodNet perform upgrades and 'monitor performance'?) but even without a 'jack, temp-trodes ('halos'?) are easy to get for the righteous (or those who are good at shoplifting from churches). The advantage of the decker isn't that they can get to the GodNet, it's that they can manipulate the GodNet where others are locked into working within the framework the GodNet gives them.
Last edited by Mike McCall on Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jim
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Jim » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:43 pm

I really like what you've written here, Mike. I'm applauding.

I'd go through and comment on individual sections, but honestly I like all of it. Well done.

I realize that might sound like a contradiction because Mike describes divine reflections of existing cities, but I can bend on that (and I could see Gargoyle's perspective on it as well). I just don't want a carbon copy of anything real—unless of course, it's part of something like an isolated experiment.

Mike McCall
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Re: The Godnet

Postby Mike McCall » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:07 pm

You actually inspired me on the place of existing locations in the GodNet, Jim. You're right in that I don't think direct echoes do the GodNet any favours in the setting we have. But at the same time, it makes sense to have places which are echoes of real-world locations. There should probably also be a Jerusalem, and maybe a hell-Vatican.

I'm glad you like it. Hopefully it inspires you to do some cool GodNet stories. You guys have definitely inspired me to do some.


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