Quiet Riot

I’ve never lived in London but I’ve spent a massive amount of time there and have plenty of friends there as well as the other cities affected by the unrest that we’re experiencing in this country. I’m not the kind of person to shy away from talking about things or exploring them just because they’re ‘close’ but I am finding it hard to do some of my work as it relates to London in the wake of unrest and destruction and seeing it happen for real and how ineffective the forces of law and order are in protecting people really brings it all home.

Part of the reason I create is in order to affect people, to make them think. When I run games I like to examine moral issues. When I create settings I try to think about the plausible political and social implications of those settings an the effects of things like magic, gods, monsters, multiple intelligent species and so on.

When I wrote @ctiv8 I hoped that people would take it on board and think about applying some of the ideas of the heroic adventurer in their real lives and make a genuine difference. Naive? Probably. I took some of the ideas from Warren Ellis’ global frequency but where GF is very much based around a hierarchical structure around Miranda Zero, parallel to more conventional structures @ctiv8 was deliberately more of an anarchistic, self-organising structure, inspired by some of the earliest Anonymous actions and the early use of social media in protest movements. If anything those ideas and speculations have been shown to be inadequate compared to what has happened in just a few, short years.

There’s as much bad as good going on using these communications methods. The rioters are using BlackBerry IMs to organise flying raids and to group up to attack places but equally others have used Twitter to organise cleanups and pictures of rioters and looters have shown up all over social media to be identified through crowd sourcing.

The problems that have lead to these riots are societal and exist top to bottom. There are no excuses but there are reasons. Reasons that are being swept under the carpet by the narrative of ‘lawless scum’ and the PM has already made reference to ‘phony human rights concerns’ which is an appalling thing for a Prime Minister of a free country to say. People are being rushed through the courts, there are going to be miscarriages of justice.

@ctiv8 is a game that’s supposed to be about making a change and a difference in the real world and it’s worth just thinking about how that might be done or what might be done. To that end here’s some adventure seeds and ideas for @ctiv8 based around the problems we’re facing.

During the Riots

  • Vigilantism is rarely a good solution but @ctiv8 members who are part of the security services themselves or have appropriate experience may be able to more effectively counter riots and looting in a direct, physical manner.
  • Police and other forces are behind technologically. They’re even behind uneducated street kids when it comes to social media and are restrained legally and technologically from tapping into their information. A skilled @ctiv8 hacker has no such restrictions.
  • Police are often heavy-handed and evidence gathering can prevent miscarriages of justice. An ad-hoc citizen surveillance network, perhaps run over wireless from a cluster of cheap webcams, could protect people from false accusations and help finger genuine culprits.
  • There’s a big threat that the issues that are the root causes of this civil disobedience and thuggery, the reason that there’s these social problems are going to be forgotten in the mainstream media in the overriding scourge of Daily Mail outrage journalism. An @ctiv8 cell with the right skills could insert messages or get information out there that subverts the main narrative.

After the Riots

  • People  have lost a lot and many of them don’t have insurance or a way to rebuild. Some don’t even have homes. They might have had more than the people that robbed them or burned down their shops but now they have nothing. A ‘Robin Hood’ scheme to steal from those who genuinely have too much to help those who have nothing would seem to be the thing to do. A ‘caper’ against the bankers and politicians who created the crisis to redistribute the wealth.
  • People aren’t going to ‘dob in’ those who did these things. Either through fear or a sense of loyalty. There might be other ways to find them that are available to @ctiv8 members and aren’t available to the Powers That Be.
  • So long as the disconnect between the people involved in the rioting and greater society exists these problems will continue. A more long term solution/campaign might be based around trying to re-engage the community with society, deal with some of its problems, ‘take out’ the problem people, drug dealers etc and create a more stable and invested local structure.

 And, if you want to make a real difference in real life, think about these issues. Think about the ‘why’ without excusing the ‘what’. Find local charities and groups in London and the other affected cities and make the world a better place, one gamer at a time.

Interview with Brad McDevitt (200 clipart critters!)

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Just ask my mom…I was (no joke) drawing before I could talk or read… so being an artist was pretty much a life-sentence! My parents used to joke that I was an easy one to raise: give me a pencil and paper, and they knew where I could be found for the next few hours… days… weeks…

What was your first, paying art gig?

That was in the mid 80’s, back during the heyday of literary zines before the internet took over that end of the publishing industry. As a horror geek, I zoomed in on the small press of the time, ending up doing some illustrations for magazines like Deathrealm and After Hours before moving over to gaming.

How did you come to work with Postmortem Studios?

Lol… it has been so long, obviously Grim doesn’t exactly remember either. If memory serves, Grim had posted hat the forums on RPG.net that he was looking for a logo for a sci-fi game; I emailed him, we hit it off, and that was 2004 or so. Clip Art Critters came a few years later after a company in Michigan stiffed me for some art, and I was looking for a way to recoup my “loss”… I really need to find that company and thank them!

Name drop… what companies have you worked with?

Err… GDW, TSR/WOTC, FASA, Atlas Games, Goodman Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Pinnacle Entertainment Group… the list goes on and on, not counting, obviously, Postmortem Studios. I have literally lost track of how many companies I have done work for since the late 1980s… thought that might just be senility setting in.

Of what work are you most proud?

That is a hard one to peg; I STRIVE to make each new piece a product to be most proud of, in terms of quality, or in terms of what I take away from the piece. For example, I am teaching myself Adobe Photoshop right now, and with each piece I finish in that program, I am learning a new trick, so I am proud of a lot of what I am accomplishing that way. I am particularly proud of my run on Ars Magica for Atlas Games, as well as my work for Age of Cthulhu for Goodman Games. But I am most proud, actually, of my achievements as the author of It Came From the Late, Late, Late Show, NightLife, and Haiiiii-Ya!

Any unfulfilled professional desires?

…not that spring to mind, except to get some of my books out of head/hard drive and out where people can enjoy them! I get paid to draw monsters, robots, and beautiful women, so I can’t complain.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

Give me something slimy and creepy to draw, and I am happy, which is why I am so happy to work on stuff like Age of Cthulhu, actual Call of Cthulhu stuff for Chaosium, or the re-launch of Dark conspiracy.

Do you ever get to game?

Not anymore…lol… I am usually working or too busy doing art to worry about it! I still read games whenever possible though. Usually, my wife and I just end up doing a card game, or board game or pretty standard video-game stuff on the Wii.

What’s your favourite game?

That is a good question… when I did game, I absolutely loved first Champions, then Shadowrun, but for the past bit, when I have had time to game, I have wanted to run (not surprisingly) my own games or games I have in the process of writing.

What advice would you offer anyone getting into the biz? (Other than ‘Don’t)

Two things: ONE… accept that you are not going to get rich being involved the tabletop gaming industry! There have been a few people, who did get wealthy doing this, but those are like the top 1% of the business… the other 99%, like me… this is the best HOBBY in the world. TWO… be patient (this applies to any field of endeavor, I know)… it took me five years to break from working for really small companies like Tri-Tac Games to getting a job at GDW… and the pay was, while better, still nothing to get terribly excited about. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with eating Ramen noodles, and having a sense of accomplishment over a fat bank account, maybe gaming is your path to Nirvana.

Brad McDevitt has been working with Postmortem Studios for a long time now and has very kindly been releasing his clipart through us in a very mutually beneficial way. Brad’s also a stand-up geezer, an incredibly hard worker and a good friend and he deserves a hell of a lot more recognition for his efforts and his artwork which has, quietly, defined the look of a lot of gaming products over the years.

I wanted to give Brad the chance to talk a little about his work and his time involved in the gaming industry and hobby and I wanted to pay forward all the great stuff he’s done for me by drawing more current attention to him.

You can see his great online portfolio and contact him HERE.








To celebrate the 200th (!) piece of art for sale by Brad McDevitt we’re knocking 25% off ALL clipart for sale at RPGNOW until the end of the month. Pick yourself up some lovely bargains by an RPG industry veteran and use them to liven up your games, your handouts and your products.

Check it