Human Contact: Alone at PAX East

Shock:Human Contact:Alone

As I gushed in another thread, I'm going to be at PAX East on the weekend of the 26th with Luke Crane and John Tornotlukin at the Compleat Strategist booth, demoing our games and, when possible, rocking out.

The original Human Contact book was a modest success for me, with more orders than I had books, but not that many books printed. I wanted to make more, but that was a special thing I did for Dreamation. PAX is a big fun experiment for me, but Dreamation is sort of home. I wanted it to have a special thing.

So I made a new thing. This edition is called Alone. It's about what happens when the Academy does a "covert ops" kind of insertion, rather than everyone rolling down the space elevator and waving like big damn heroes that are going to save the world.

There's a reason that the starship crew doesn't want to do that. There's a war, or perhaps a xenophobic regime. So they need to do things real quiet-like.

On the one hand, you take three Academics, put them in a tiny, high-G landing craft, and drop them onto the planet (a two-month process) as the starship whizzes by, silent as it can, at a fifth the speed of light. Those three guys land and infiltrate the society: gaining trust, sharing technologies, manipulating politics, starting religions. They're probably looking forward to everyone coming back.

On the other hand, there are still a hundred or so Academics on the starship. Because they took the long route, they can't get back here for seven to eight years in addition to their 2.5 year trip. Much of that time will be spent almost a light year away. That's a lot of lag time. That's a lot of time for a hundred people to be locked in a building together, incommunicado, with nothing but year-old missives from the envoy team to entertain them.

Those envoys had better do a good job. Cuz that crew is going to want to get off that ship so bad.

I'm taking pre-orders this time to help me pay for my trip. There's some new setting material here, some new rules, and new illustrations. I'll be publishing a summary of the Dreamation edition's rules so Alone readers can get up to speed, but I won't be fully republishing that material until the complete, stand-alone version of the game is done in a year or so.

If you can't make it to Pax East (which promises to be a lot of fun) but you'd like a copy anyway, PayPal $10 plus $4 s&h in the US, or $6 s&h elsewhere, to and I'll get your copy out just as soon as I can, probably within the week after PAX.

(As before, I reserve the right to change the cover illustration at my whim!)


  • Hey! Just sent the money! Glad I can secure a copy of this release. I totally dig these alt covers and versions. Lets me feel super special. :-P

  • Thanks, Noah!

    They're not so much alternate versions as new content. I'm writing them so that they each concentrate on a different aspect of the game. There should be as little overlap as I can manage, with material that would overlap being on my website after I get the next one out.

    That is, the rules for controlling Protagonists' minds isn't in this one, because it's not about that; this one's about changing an entire society, so it's got rules for that, instead. Dreamation had a bunch of stuff about going into orbit, sliding down the elevator, and waving (which doesn't always work well, as seen on a planet visited with Remi Treuer and Buddha Davis: the linguists came down the cable and were immediately murdered). This one's all about dropping three Academics off in secret so they can ready the society for the return of the starship seven years later, so that's what the text covers.

    I don't know how many of these I'm going to do. It seems like my "plan" is to do a new one for each convention that I care about, but who the fuck knows? It's not really a plan. It's more like "That was fun! I'm gonna do it again!" I bet there will be times when I wish I had the time to do one for a con, at least. And there might be times when I'm really excited about a phenomenon that emerged in play, and write a little book about it just because I'm jazzed.

    So I don't know how big the complete collection will be, in the end. It looks like at least two, though!

  • I wish I could be there with you.
  • This looks cool, but I don't completely understand what it is. I've only got the Shock: rulebook - will I be able to play Human Contact with that? Or do I have to download some stuff as well?
  • edited March 2010

    Rob, me too!

    Matthijs, Human Contact is a setting (read: detailed seed Minutiæ) with new Shock: rules that add to or supplement the existing rules. Some take the place of the d10/d4 resolution system, some alter how Intents work, some change the way World Creation works.

    In the Dreamation edition, there was a new rule for seduction, mind control, and stuff like that. I was experimenting with changing the way players interacted with Protagonists. There are also illustrations giving a pretty good idea of what things look like — some Academics, a picture of the habitat ring tethered to a planet, some alien life. In The PAX East edition (AKA Alone), I'm experimenting with ways to alter a culture. In all cases, I'm looking at ways to enhance the aesthetic impact of every element of the story, often by changing the way players can interact with Minutiæ.

    When I finish this, I'm going to put up a short summary of the Dreamation edition in a file that you can use to add to Alone so you can play Human Contact outside of the Alone context if you've only got the second booklet. It will be terse and un-illustrated, and likely only one page so you can stick it into the back of your copy of Shock: or Alone.

    Does that answer your question?

  • Yup, it does, thanks!
  • Joshua:

    Oh. OH! Awesome! This is even cooler than I had previously realized! Thumbs up for effort excellence! Can't wait to see what else you put out for this.


    p.s. Beyond a compilation in the future, will you be publishing any more copies of the Dreamation edition? Or do we just have to find someone who has a copy, and beat them till they fork it over?
  • edited March 2010

    I'm glad you're excited! I am too! What part are you excited about? What did you think it was, before?

    The Dreamation edition is done — that's the point of a limited edition. It's getting me thoughtful feedback, which is its objective. You won't see any non-essential rules from that book again until the full version of Shock:Human Contact comes out, which will be a completely stand-alone game using Shock: styles rules.

    In the meantime, whenever I feel like it — most likely when someone asks a question that requires a book to answer, I guess — I'll publish one of these preview booklets in a limited edition.

    So, the moral is: begin the finding and the beating.

  • As last time, I had some extras printed so I can have some copies of the Shock:Human Contact preview edition to sell if anyone else wants one after the con!

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