Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Possible Future

Where is it going and how will it end? Will the Earth ever defeat the invaders? Will the CRC’s secret “Apostle Project” be the answer? What kind of world will we have afterward? Well, here’s one idea . . .

She was floating through starlight, a porcelain knight in silver armor, looking down as the pinpoints of light winked on and off passing between the fingers of her hand. A gauntlet that measured ten feet from thumb-tip to pinkie. As she drifted her mind roamed through the spectrum and listened for the voices of the Mayzor. The enemy. She could only just make them out, far off beyond the periphery.

“Are you sleeping, Benevolent Five?” the commander’s voice came through the MetaTron network.

“No. Just meditating.” she said; the typical reply of any pilot whose mind had been wandering. Continue reading

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The Bully – Part 4

Now, the epilogue to our short episode of Tears of a Machine.

The park was topside on the Arx. A place of greenery and flowers on a military base that floated in the sky above the mountain tops. The shield barriers kept it warm and the air pressure at ground level. Floating above the clouds it was always a sunny and bright day. Other pilots and cadets sat on park benches or tossed a frisbee on the lawns. From the top of the hill at the edge of the park Klaus knew he could see over the low buildings of the dormitories and to the sea of clouds below.

“Why did you flip his tray?”

“You knew?” Klaus dropped his eyes in shame.

“Of course. I might not be so smart as you but you don’t pilot with someone long as we have without seeing things.” Continue reading

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July 26, 2013 · 10:30 am

The Bully – Part 3

Klaus can’t stay lost in thought forever. It’s time for the next scene of the episode. This is a Trial scene, a prolonged conflict. It will take a series of Challenges and Actions for people playing this scene to work our their story. 

“Do you think I’m completely stupid?” shouted George.

George and his two toadies marched down the aisles. Klaus scrambled to grab up his things and run but it was too late. With a few quick strides they had him surrounded again.

“Just one punch,” said George. “Then I’ll call it even. You tell your commander you walked into a door or fell or something.”

Klaus stammered again, cursing himself on the inside for his weakness and looked around for an escape.

“I’m going easy on you, you know? You deserve worse for disrespecting me, and all just ’cause you’re a pilot. Because you’re so special. Maybe everyone else thinks you’re going to save the world but I know better. Without soldiers dying on the ground to hold back the Mayzor you’d never save anyone.” George leaned back, winding up a haymaker punch. Continue reading

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July 24, 2013 · 10:30 am

The Bully – Part 2

It’s time for the next scene. We’ll fill in the story with some of Klaus’ ruminations, explaining more about who he is and where he comes from.

Klaus went to physical training after lunch. He had been sheltered as a child, his mother terrified of the open sky overhead that had snatched away her husband. She worked two jobs to afford an apartment only three blocks from an emergency shelter. Klaus was left with little more than his books.

The months of training since he had joined the Preservation Force were toughening him up and he noticed the flab of inactivity fading but he was still short and nervous and never did very well in sports.

Today was worse than usual. No matter what he did his thoughts drifted back to George with mixture of anger and fear. What do I do now?

“Klaus!” He jerked back to reality just in time to reach up and bat a ball away from his head.

“Good reflexes. But this is soccer, not volleyball.” Trainer Levinson picked up the ball and handed it over to the opposing team. Bettina from Fortress Company rolled her eyes at him and smirked to her teammates. Continue reading

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July 22, 2013 · 10:30 am

The Bully – Part 1

Things are never cut and dried for a pilot, or any teenager for that matter. Add in the responsibilities of becoming the hope of humanity and even the simplest situations become charged.  Over the next few updates I’ll be posting some scenes from one pilot’s life. Each of these posts could be a separate scene in an episode of Tears. Enjoy!

Klaus swallowed hard and stepped back. The metal rails along the lunch counter stopped him by jabbing his kidney. George stared down at him, still shocked at the runny mess of beef stroganoff and whipped potatoes dripping down the neat creases of his cadet uniform. Klaus pawed at his pockets and tried to find a napkin or tissue to hand over but as he fumbled George’s eyes snapped into a brute’s scowl and he balled up his fists.

Klaus stammered out a lame apology while George reached out and grabbed his lapel. Franz and Jackson, George’s toadies closed in around them but not fast enough to block out the security officer.

“Cadets!” Her shout echoed off the high ceiling of the cafeteria. Other diners turned to watch and their voices dropped to whispers. Continue reading

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July 19, 2013 · 2:25 pm

The Cloistered Research Council

Some more world-building today. Get to know the most mysterious super-geniuses of the world of Tears of a Machine.


A shadowy organization of cutting-edge researchers and scientists, the Cloistered Research Council are responsible for the robotic SAInts, the floating Citadels of Earth’s Preservation Forces and the MetaTron telepathic communications system that ties them all together. Their knowledge demands respect because it is the best chance humanity has to survive the alien attacks and strike back. Continue reading

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If you can read this, help someone else to read it too.

You’ve seen it in the Tears of a Machine kickstarter project write-up and in the stretch goals, but I’m going to say a little more about the subject of an accessible game manual.

For 13 years I’ve worked at Learning Ally, a non-profit organization that serves students with print disabilities. I’ve gone through dyslexia simulation exercises and teaching sessions about the way that the brain develops to handle written language, all so that I could better understand the challenges that a student with learning differences must face. The simplest way for me to explain it is to imagine that you’re learning algebra but your book is written in a foreign language. You can understand the concepts and the symbols but have to puzzle them out from among the surrounding words, slowly. Bit by bit.

Now, go to your bookshelf or the folder of PDFs on your computer and open up an RPG manual (preferably one of those big 200+ page ones that cost you 50 bucks) and drink in the wall of text. That’s what it is for many people. A wall. Mild dyslexia is almost commonplace; as many as 1 in 5 students could benefit from having access to their school books in alternative formats.  There are imaginative and intelligent people who are held back by how information is delivered and by the stigma of “disability.” With the same information presented in a different format they are just as quick to learn as many others. I want to give them the opportunity to enjoy my game without barriers.

How will I make Tears of a Machine accessible? The DAISY Consortium is an international organization devoted to the same goals of Learning Ally, to remove the barriers of print comprehension from information. They provide an assortment of free and open source tools for the creation of accessible books and audio. Because I have access to the raw text I can use many of these tools to convert it into these formats: Continue reading

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