Northwind, The Contributor

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8/4/2020 3:47 AM

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Northwind is professor for various disciplines at various universities in various countries. He is the author of a number of books (although nothing that you would have read) and quite a lot of technical papers. You might have seen reporting about his work in National Geographic, Time and The Wall Street Journal.

He prides himself on a number of technical skills that are almost entirely useless outside his own imagination. These include extinct martial arts, programming languages (both ephemeral and antiquated), quaint webdesign, obscure algebra and the ability to make sense of almost everything

He spends his time on mysterious online sites run by a bunch of weird enthusiasts.


Short Stories

Please check out my short stories below:


I really like the following storygames by others authors:

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The Covid Assignment

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It is the end of January 2020. You are a network scientist who is asked to advise on possible responses to Covid-19, a new infectious disease that is just emerging. At this early stage much is till uncertain, but know what needs to be done. Can you get your numbers straight and will others listen to your advice at all?  

I have refrained from political commentary as much as possible and steered around some partisan issues. As a result all characters are purely fictional, and the game needed to be fairly linear. Nevertheless there are important choices and three different endings. 

Play this as a quiz about maths, epidemiology and communication skills. 

Recent Posts

Shared Universes? on 8/4/2020 2:17:16 AM

I was thinking about this recently. Obviously you don't want to accommodate bad endings in sequels, but you could accommodate possibly 2 or 3 different good endings.

In the sequel there could be some choices that basically allow the player to chose how the previous part ended. This can probably done elegantly as an introduction.

“We can't let just anybody in,” the guard says. “Did you hear that the orcs attacked Northwatch?”

  • Attacked is a nice word, they overran the place, but you are not going to tell him that.
  • Of course, they were slain but not before stealing the Aegis, that is precisely why you are here.
  • Yes, you had a pretty good view of the orcs while you slew the hordes. It was your actions that saved the Aegis.

Text alignment on 8/3/2020 2:35:18 PM
I am surprised that mizal hasn't pointed this out, but its a good idea to switch the editor to plain text.

Ideas for Basements on 8/3/2020 2:32:04 PM

No idea how it would tie into your story but here are some options:

  1. It is full of discarded furniture and moving boxes that never got unpacked. If you start cleaning it up you notice half of the boxes aren't even yours. You wonder if they have been here when you moved in. The oldest ones are covered in a think layer of dust. You find a diary labeled 'Mary Fuller, 1906'.
  2. You haven't been down here for years, but this was an old hobby of yours. In the center of the room is an almost complete model of your street. You wonder why you started making this, but back then you somehow felt you had to. Thinking about it again it occurs to you that you might as well complete it. There isn't so much work left to do...but then you notice that something is not right, the plots don't come together as they are supposed to. There is a sliver of space left, between your house and the neighbor's garden wall.
  3. The previous owner was a little bit deranged and he was building a bunker down here. You are not sure what his actual plan was but he carried a lot of concrete down here. The bunker project never got off the ground though a burst water mains flooded the basement and when they got the water back out all the concrete was setting. So you are now the proud owner of a basement that is a maze of irregular (and worryingly unstable) concrete pillars, still wrapped in moldy sack cloth. It's useful for nothing so you don't pay it much attention until one day there is an enormous bang followed by a splash. Exploring you find that one pillar has collapsed and fallen through a hatch. You wonder why there is a hatch in the first place; you never noticed it. Below is a room filled with water. Perhaps that bunker project had progressed farther than anybody thought?
  4. Talking of trapdoors...maybe your basement is empty. Well not completely empty but almost. It contains a billiard table, which has always stood at with slight tilt. When you finally decide to put it straight you discover a trapdoor underneath. The room below has been filled with earth except for the top foot or so. Not so remarkable, you think, but when you shine a torch into the subbasement you discover that the walls of the room are decorated with ornate wallpaper. In fact, you can make out a print featuring rainbows and cartoon animals.
  5. The basement is a bit of a secret. The previous owner used it for parties. Very private very extraordinary parties.
  6. Actually there is no basement. This is weird because all the paperwork says 4 rooms, kitchen, bathroom and basement. You even remember seeing a basement, or was that on a different viewing. You aren't sure anymore. In any case you think there should be a basement. Of course you aren't going to tear up the floor boards in the kitchen to check what is underneath, or are you?
  7. It may be the basement to some, you call it the maltings. Here you spent your evenings carefully roasting the barley before it goes in the vat. When the time is right you distill it and store it. It's hard work but somebody got to do it. It's another three years before the first barrel is ready, but then it will be the finest single malt outside Scotland.
  8. The basement looks a little bit like a machine shop. The center piece is an engine block of a Toyota Corolla, the last remnant of the trusty car that carried you around for twelve glorious years. Anyway, when you scrapped it, you kept the engine, and technically you are in the process of fixing it back up. It all started because you came across this website of people who built their own hovercrafts. That was 3 years ago and the plan hasn't progressed very far. But once you have some time you will finish on the engine and then the rest of the work will go quickly. For sure.

Need more?

Newbie on 8/1/2020 11:44:47 AM
Somehow I don't seem to fit into disciplines well. At the moment I am (technically still) professor of computer science at UC Davis, but I have taught maths and physics in the past and now have a position for biodiversity theory in Europe. ("Full professor", to quote from your very helpful tutorial.)

Newbie on 8/1/2020 5:20:40 AM
Llama is nice, she has potential. (Perhaps she will be Special Agent Llama one day) I am actually quite happy that the internet happened after I was out of school. So whatever stupid things I wrote in my youth were recorded in much more ephemeral media and are long gone. "Done and done, dead as dust", a character from the storygame that I am writing right now, would say.

Newbie on 8/1/2020 4:53:10 AM
Welcome. The final chapter of Ulysses seems to violate the 3 sentence rule, and that chapter is quite good. What kind of role-playing have you done? Any plans for making storygames? (Three sentences and a fragment, that means I am good, right?)

Brainstorming a secret organization's name on 7/30/2020 12:46:15 PM
SETI - Why invent something new if it got a name already.

Bound Rotation on 7/30/2020 1:52:47 AM
I think I read a few books about that by a guy called Arthur C Clarke ;)

Start with the protagonist on 7/30/2020 1:49:27 AM
Don't start with relatable, start with the turning point, what is the change that happens that turns things around. Thinking of who your protagonist is (i.e. which of your characters) helps with this.

Bound Rotation on 7/29/2020 2:15:06 AM

Thinking of this reminded me of a phenomenon that is under-explored in writing: bound rotation. In a nutshell: If two bodies orbit each other they eventually end up facing each other with the same side all the time. This typically happens more quickly for smaller bodies.

For example the moon is in bound rotation around the earth, which means, from earth, we always see the same side of the moon. (Ever heard of the 'dark side' of the moon. It's not actually dark, it has a day-night cycle much like the rest, but always faces away from the earth. So 'far side' describes it more accurately, but people would confuse it with Gary Larson cartoons, and 'dark side' sounds cool).

Now imagine a planet that is in bound rotation with a star. So one side has constant daylight, a scorching desert. The other side has constant night, a frozen wasteland. In between you get a habitable stripe of eternal dusk that circles the planet.