Thursday, August 31, 2006

Elthos History: Reducing Complexity

One of the original thoughts I had about D&D v1.0 (the original three volumes by Gygax and Arneson) was that it was too complicated. Haha. That's funny because soon after they came out with (from my point of view) the Insanely Complicated D&D v2.0. Oh LORD, I thought. That's the opposite direction from where I went with the game. I wanted simplicity and I wanted it in spades. I wanted to have a game system that did not require me to buy new books to keep up with. I wanted a system that provided me with a story telling framework without killing me in the process with the Death of a Thousand Charts. And I did not want to be constrained in the game with a rules system that required me to either A) memorize volume 39 subsection 398.B-3.2 in order to figure out what the chance to hit was, or B) make me look it up, which was far worse. No, no - not where I wanted to go. So very early on in 1978 I was inventing my own system that took all that I considered Great about D&D and threw the rest AWAY. Bye.

What I wound up with was a modular system that let me run the game in its entirety using one General Resolution Matrix. From my Gamesmaster's point of view this was ideal. My Players also liked the fact that the game was fast and smooth and easily understandible at the rules level. There were about 10 or so charts related to character creation (Requisite Bonus Chart, Skills List Chart, etc) but those only needed to be looked at once in a blue moon. Fine. All was well in the land of Elthos.

On the other hand I added a few things. One was that I made new requisites. Mine are:

Strength - Damage Point Bonus
Constitution - Life Points Bonus
Endurance - Fatigue Point Bonus (New)

Intelligence - Mana Point Bonus
Wisdom - Grace Point Bonus

Dexterity - Attack Level Bonus
Agility - Armor Class Bonus (New)

Appearance - Sex Appeal Bonus (New)
Voice - Invocation Bonus (New)
Charisma - Leadership Bonus

Well these Requisites made sense to me, and they in combination handled all of the attributes I found important in the game, though, to be honest, I have rarely ever used the Appearance requisite except on two occasions where Knights were seeking their True Loves (and WHY is that SO uncommon, I ask you!? Harumph!). That said, the other Requisites have been useful. The Voice requisite was a little confusing at first, but helps with magic and clericy and is used as a bonus for spells and invocations, and is required to be higher than average for all magic and clerical classes. The system was a little complicated with the additions, but I liked them and so they stuck. My players seemed to like them too for the most part as it added to the overall definition of the character and that was a good thing generally. Players like to create their characters I've found, so long as it isn't TOO complicated and doesn't take TOO long.

I has worked out a few additional things such as an Alignment System which over the years I tooled around with until I got it into a workable state. A few other special items in the engine of the game but nothing too complicated. Overall it worked well as a Story Telling Framework and I've played a LOT of Elthos stories with it over the years. It has been fun.

Then in 1996 I started programming my rules into a computerized system for myself as a Gamesmaster's Toolbox. It's called, unambiguously enough, The Elthos Gamesmasters Toolbox. I spent quite a few years working on it and its now, only now, nearly finished. Ok, well it's nice. It handles everything in the game that I need as a Gamesmaster, including combat, magic, movement, etc. It has monsters and races and powers and spells and clerical invocations and gods and the whole nine worlds. Great. I like it.

While I was doing this the world continued to spin, but I took little notice and less care. Then came the flood of RPGs. The FLOOD of RPGs. Ok, that's fine. I didn't publish mine. I worked on it and fine tuned it. I refused to look at other games least I wind up stealing ideas from others. Fine. Or not so fine. But whatever. That was my approach. Now it's pretty much finished, but needs some optimizing in the code and some minor finishes. Superior.

The only problem is, and I *knew* this would happen: What do I do with it now?!

In the meantime I condensed my Elthos Prime System (the one that is computerized) into a very small subset of the essential rules of Elthos. This system I call the Elthos "One Die System". It's the tightest little RPG system I've ever seen. Hah. I laugh because I've seen so miserably few. But still, it uses only one six sided die to run the entire system, so I seriously doubt it can get smaller and still have die rolling as an essential element of the game. So maybe it's a little claim to fame. The purpose of the ODS is to make the Elthos RPG as simple to run as possible as a non-computerized picnic table game. It has one central chart, a few ancillary charts for character building, two blank maps (hex and grid) and movement rules, and some advice about how to run the system and Gamesmaster with it. As mentioned I created the Elthos ODS for the Literary Role Playing Game Society of Westchester so we could play unobtrusively in the Cobblstone Pub when we meet to try out ideas. We never did use it because we usually got way to involved with the escoteira of World Weaving discussions, all of which were fabulous and instructive. And so the ODS exists, but I'm again at the point where I must decide: What will I do with it?

LOL. I'm not into competing for King of the Hill with my games. I don't care to promote my game as the "Best Thing Evar!!". It's a system. Some people will like it, some people will hate it. Some people may even absolutely adore it. I know I do. :)

Anyway, just some chatter about my game and its history for those who may someday wonder where the Elthos ODS came from. It was me. Sorry. :P

Dungeons: Tricks and Traps

Well, over the past day or so I've been considering tricks and traps in terms of dungeon design. My thinking is that a dungeon should be built according to a coherent plan by someone. On the LRPGSW site we have a couple of posts on Dungeon Design. The first was a series of Purposes for dungeons along with brief descriptions of what their natures are and what they generally are like. An example is "A Sapper's Tunnel". While not normally considered a Dungeon per se, it still fit into our general idea of "Places underground that can hold adventures". The description reveals it to be something like a short tunnel that goes under a castle wall. It may have corpses (who could be the basis for ghosts or undead perhaps) and perhaps tidbits of treasure and probably armor and weapons. It is probably hastily constructed, dangers, with no irrigation for water (fetid pools), and be populated by insects, rats, serpents, etc. Maybe a kobold lair. Etc. That's one example.

I then went on to discuss in a later (most recent) post some thoughts on tricks and traps in terms of dungeon designs. Now I'm considering fusing the two together to get a comprehensive Dungeon Builder's Guide of some sort. It's been interesting to contemplate. In support of the goal I am reading about ancient and medieval war, along with a very good book on ancient techniques of biological and chemical warfare titled, "Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Fire Bombs" by Adrienne Mayor. An excellent read and a great resource for this sort of thing.

Monday, August 28, 2006

On Shamanism and Character Identification

I posted a couple of interesting thoughts on the LRPGSW this weekend. The first is a paper, "On Shamanism and Magical Systems" which is a World Weavers tinkerings with ideas about magic. Looking at the history of Norse Shamanism and comparing that Necromancy and Witchcraft I surmise that magic systems should have the ability to overlap Spells/Powers, as there is commonality between the various magical groups.

The Paper can be found in the LRPGSW > Files > Essays section.

The second is a post I sent in this morning in response to the ineffable Jarod.

Interesting. Notice how intensely I identify with the Character? My phraseology goes from, "He found..." to "I absorbed..." ... interesting. I think this little verbal twist is extremely telling. But what does it say about Player-Character identification? In some sense, I'm going out on a limb here, I believe it shows that I consider my Characters in some way to be actual extensions of myself. The myths that are created with them become internal mythos of my own soul and I "believe" in them at some deep level, to the same degree, or perhaps more, than I "believe" (not literally, figuratively, if I must say so) in myths such as the Norse Myths i'm reading about lately. In other words, somehow, I think of my Characters adventures as events that have actuality for me and so when I think of the Character I literally do think in terms of "I did ...", not "He did..." though I usually try to be careful not to phrase it as "I did..." because it would, and does, sound strange. Nevertheless, that's the truth of the matter. So I now speculate that perhaps Role Playing, at some level, can in some way, at some level, be thought of as a sort of astral projection, or shamanistic event where "real" things, at some level, are Actually happening, and not just games, but something a little bit more? Or are all games this way and the imagination links everything we imagine up this way, at some level? Yet, even if that is true, I'm thinking that Role Playing Games form deeper and more profound impressions on our minds, and have a deeper and more lasting effect on our psyches. If so, then what responsibility does that imply for World Weaving?

That last question, I suppose, is a doosey, but worth considering. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Gamesmastering and World Weaving

There is a distinction I would like to make between Gamesmastering and World Weaving. How one would Gamesmaster a scene happens to be based on a set of skills that are completely different than what it takes to World Weave one. I am thinking that this distinction has not been discussed yet and so I’d like to take a moment to bring the topic to light. I will start with World Weaving.

First, a clear definition of World Weaving would be the right place to start, so here it goes. World Weaving is the act of creating the background material for an RPG World, and it is very much like authoring a fictional story. It can, and usually does, incorporate historical backdrop, sociology, economics, politics and principal characters of the story and how they relate to one another and what their position in the World is. What skills go into World Weaving? Well, principally the same ones that go into story writing. An understanding of the above topics is a good place to start. It also requires creativity and probably good writing skills. I’m not sure what else, but that’s a good summary of the basics.

Gamesmastering, on the other hand, is a different thing all together and has to do with all of the activities that go toward running an RPG. A Gamesmaster need not be a World Weaver as he can use someone else’s World, such as the modules put out by TSR which comprised someone else’s World Weaving. But Gamesmastering is certainly an art unto itself. What skills are required? Well again, creativity is required, but of a different sort. In this case improvisational acting and a sense of plot development are good skills to have. A thorough understanding of the rules and the ability to manage a group of people with potentially conflicting interests, objectives, desires and personalities through the game experience. That can be more challenging than it sounds. Keeping a RPG going over a period of time is in and of itself a major achievement that many people do not manage to achieve. The ability to adjudicate is also a required skill of Gamesmastering that is not one required for World Weaving.

In other words, Gamesmastering and World Weaving are two separate things, requiring different sets of Skills, and it is possible, and not uncommon, that a person can be quite good at one, but not so good at the other. The LRPGSW is focused on World Weaving. RPG-Create, I sense, is focused more on Gamesmastering. Where the recognition of this distinction leads, I’m not entirely sure, but I thought I would mention it in case it gives anyone further food for thought in their endeavors, or helps to bring any issues or conundrums into a better light.

On The Virgin Spring

I went to see "The Virgin Spring" (1960) directed by Ingmar Bergman last night as an exercise for the Literary RPG Society of Westcheter. The objective was to look at the film from the point of view of Gamesmasters and World Weavers and see what I could make of it.

I enjoyed the film and believe I got some useful thoughts from it, though I must say, it was rather horrible to watch the rape scene. It was very realistic, and then the evil brothers killed the girl. So that was hard to watch, actually. But anyway, besides that scene it was a great film. A redemption story ultimately, though modern American audiences will probably find it a distasteful message.

In any event I posted my observations about the film on the LRPGSW here:

LRPGSW: On The Virgin Spring

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Music, Art and Accuracy

This was a reply to a post on

"and that the arts are in some sense "obviously" a possibly interesting but nonessential secondary dimension of culture"

As it happens I was just reading Plato's "The Laws" in reference to another discussion on RPG-Create (Yahoo Group) where he talks about the topic of the importance of music. It is not only important, but, Plato argues that from art and music the Civilization either ascends to the heights of virtue, or the depths of depravity. So I thought that was interesting. It's a bit of a bear to read but if you're interested you can read about it here:

As for the question of "accuracy", I'm not so sure that "accuracy" is as important as "effectiveness". Some designers I think want to have accuracy in their games because they feel it will lend realism. To some degree they would be right if they could but do it. The problem is that reality is too difficult to model into a form that can be played by humans easily, and so in lue of that we fudge things, which creates simulations. The simulations we create are never really accurate, only roughly so. To attempt "accuracy" or claim it is not exactly what I think of as useful because it can not be truly achieved, and if it were achieved in some sort of game rules it would be in all likelihood unplayable because the calculations would be odious in the extreme. And that's for physical things. When you come to the question of art and religion the problem is compounded infinitely because these things can not really be measured, nor has history been sufficiently recorded (which would be impossible) to get "accuracy". Instead we get opinions and impressions and thoughts and feelings. But not accuracy. So to call what we fathom about religion in terms of historical views accurate is, well, inaccurate. At best we can say, This is my impression, or This is what I believe. That, in my opinion, however, is perfectly acceptable for game design, and in fact desirable. I would not wish to create an "accurate" game as it would take far too long and be a failure in the end at the goal. I prefer to create games that are Effective, which is different. By Effective I mean simply that it achieves the goal of my game, which is to cause the players to feel immersed in the World I am weaving for them, and for them to have fun in the process. That goal can be achieved, but not via an effort toward accuracy. It is achieved in the same way that Tolkien achieved it, or Homer, or any of the great film makers or story tellers. Not accuracy, but effectiveness. That's my take on it, for what its worth. Thanks for the question! Interesting.

Level of Detail

A discussion arose recently in RPG-Create regarding how to deal with a particular event wherein a character has used his Safe Cracking Skill only to find that the safe did not hold the treasure map (or whatever) he was hoping for. The discussion revolved around some issues related to that event and how one might Gamesmaster it. The discussion engendered the following thought...

Maybe this is a question of Level Of Detail. You could, if you arranged your Skills in Sets of hierarchical groups change the level of detail as you go. So Ransack can be a high level Skill Categoryin which Safe Cracking is a specific Skill within the set. Lets say that the characters are on a world spanning hunt for the lost treasure of Mumbu and they think there is a map in the apartment. The adventure, the GM knows, will take days if they do everything at the detail level, so he and the players decide to run this part as a specific Scene, "Then they ransacked the apartment" and so the character goes in, and does a Ransack roll. That roll is done by some generalized accounting of his overall skill level, perhaps the average of all of his Ransack Skills. The roll is made and he either wins or loses. OR, conversely, the group can decide its worth the time to be specific. They check everything in the room in detail, in which case the character rolls a Safe Crack, which perhaps is a higher level roll than his Ransack because he actually knows that one better. With this you could have a kind of sliding Skills Usage rule that lets you focus in or not depending on the level of detail people want to go to. On the question of the meta game, I'm not too fond of the notion that the map can slide around depending on the roll, because I think it should be prepped by the GM where it is, if it's important. He should know who has the map and where they put it. On the other hand for minor items where the story doesn't hinge on it, sure, why not cut to the chase and put the thing in or out of the scene based on a roll. Either way works, but I lean towards prep because it indicates that the GM has really thought about what's going on and knows the scene well.

Monday, August 21, 2006

On Lawful Civilizations of Elthos

On Lawful Civilizations of the Celestial Island of Elthos

The Replies have been predominantly recorded in this thread:

I think it an interesting discussion. Feel free to join in.

First Communications

Recently, having completed 99% of the Elthos Prime VB Program (the Edit Actions Screen still needs work, but other than that she's ready to demo), I decided to begin the process of communicating with the outside world. Oh yeah. Thus I got on Yahoo Groups and groused around for promising clusters of RPG creators and found, lo and behold, RPG-Create. I began communicating with them and have been a pretty active poster. I also created the Literary Role Playing Game Society of Westchester on February 24, 2006. That group has been quite fun. We meet at the Cobblestone Restaurant every other Wednsday or so, and talk about RPG World Weaving over dinner and drinks. It's been really great. Jarod, who was kind of the backbone of the group, however, has left to go to school in Los Angeles, and so the group has not been the same without him. Alas. But we will keep posting and trying to get the meetings going again. The idea of the LRPGSW is to have an Inklings type group that meets physically to discuss RPG world creation and Gamesmastering Techniques. It really has been fun. But things are rocky and with all that is going on in the world these days it is kind of hard to get people to focus on something so 'other worldly' as how to build, er, other worlds. Hehe. Oh well. But we keep trying. :)So these have been my primary vehicles for communication. The LRPGSW has been particularly interesting as the ideas that percolate around there are all about the creative aspects of World Weaving (a term we invented to describe the activity of creating the background, sociology, history, mythology, economics, main characters, and story elements of an RPG). I am the principal poster there, but that's ok - it is my group. However, it would be nice to see more people posting, and sometimes I'm not quite sure if what I've posted is making that much sense to people. I kind of throw out ideas and hope they will catch people's attention and fire their imaginations and get them thinking about World Weaving. However, when enough time goes by and I am the only poster I begin to think... "time to get new recruits". Perhaps I should ask the group if there's anything I can do to improve the participation, but that is a dead end question. No point in it. People participate if they feel inspired to do so, and that's that. Maybe they're busy with other things, or maybe I've written one character too many and overwhelmed the channel, or, or, or... heaven knows. But this entire experience is learning exercise for me so I'm sure to have lots of hits and misses. But the goal here is to keep going. Just like in war. Keeeeeep goooooiiiiinnnnnng. :)Anyway, after the first two meeting of the LRPGSW (you can read the meeting notes on the site in the Files section under Meeting Notes) I decided we could use a light-wieght RPG System to use for exploration of ideas in the Cobblestone Pub. Seeing as how we obviously would not want to drag out the big old books and charts and maps and have dozens of dice on the table and all that I decided to distill the Elthos Prime System down into a really really mini-system. Its called the Elthos "One Die System" (ODS) and it uses, yup, ONE six sided die to run the entire RPG. How's that for mini? :) Well, that actually came out pretty great and I created a booklet for it and printed it out in a spiral bound binder with heavy paper and threw in a few images. It really is a sweet little thing. Now I'm onto figuring out all the ins and outs of posting it online through an organization like RPGNow or Indi Press Revolution. But the rules at least are pretty much finished and the product looks good. At least I think so, but of course, well, I'm a little biased and so I can't be trusted. But I still think so anyway. :) I guess time will tell if the Market agrees. Ok time for work. Tah.

Fins in the Water?

rpg-create : Message: Re: d20 System and the variety of game systems

Re: d20 System and the variety of game systems

> If I was a publisher, I would be very careful about using
> the d20 license -- the restrictions are not to my liking,
> as character creation and advance is one of the things I
> would want to modify. Also, since WotC has claimed the
> right to change any aspect of the license with no
> warning, it carries a risk publishing something that you
> might find yourself unable to sell because the conditions
> of the license has changed.
> Torben

Thanks for the heads-up on this, Torben. This is sufficient reason to be catious about using the D20 license in my opinion. Its not that they will do so, its that they could do so, and so you are automatically vulnerable to that change. What if they unexpectedly make the license so that you have to pay them royalties off of your sales? All of a sudden that thin profit margin shrivels and they wind up making the money from "your" product instead of you.

The point is that they left that loophole there, and dollars to donuts the lawyer who drafted it has a reason for doing so. Future contingency. Hmmm... Well, fortunately, you don't have to use D20. You can roll your own. My question is
this: is there any way that WotC could come along and lay claims against Indi RPGs that use some aspects of the old D&D rules but not others? Lets say you created a game that is novel in many ways, even unique, but uses the Class System with Levels for advancement. Would WotC have *any* legal basis for claiming that your product is a "derivative work" of theirs?

- Mark

Is this a WotC (Wizards of the Coast) back door to your profits? Hmmm... well I simply have to hope not, I guess. Anyway I'll be curious to see what the answer is though I have little hope that anyone is going to be able to provide a definitive yes or no. My hunch is that like many things today, you simply have to hope not and close your eyes and pray. Urgh.

Wiki: RPG-Create

Wiki: RPG-Create

Trying to move this along a bit, I added some materials to the Earth Historical Resources Section. I also added a link to the Elthos RPG Blog to my Literary RPG World Weaving Section, too. I joined up with a couple of online yahoo groups to do some networking and try to share ideas with people. We created this wiki based on the RPG-Create group, but its not really moving very fast. Will it drizzle? Hah! We'll see.


This is my Elthos RPG Blog wherein I expect to discuss the trials and tribulations of a indi RPG designer. It's very exciting designing your own Role Playing Game and getting it launched into the public domain (somehow!). So far it's been quite the learning experience and so I thought I'd start, you know, like blogging about it. 

So far I've learned a few important lessons:

1. There are two schools of thought in the Indi RPG world. 

One, has it that you spend a lot of time playing everyone else's RPG systems and then mixing and matching into your own so that you come up with a Best of Breed system. 

Two. (mine) that you focus on your own system and polish, polish, polish and specifically avoid others so as to NOT inadvertently acquire ideas from others in the field. Kind of a fair play sort of approach. You know, like NOT stealing other people's ideas? 

But that's just dumb. EVERYONE and their BROTHER steals ideas, and my Elthos RPG is actually a derivative work from the original D&D rules, though pretty significantly altered - it is STILL a derivative work, or at least one could argue that, and make a good case for it. In fact, every game is in some sense a derivative work. Every book, and movie, and craft is a derivative work to some degree. Ok so mine is too. I get it. Not so hard. But I also tried to keep mine as original as possible, and to that end I specifically avoided other systems. But that's just DUMB! I found that out recently. Woopsie. 

2. Creating a RPG and marketing it and selling it and doing all the legal foot pounding is a LOT of work. Yay. It's fun work! I'm tired, but a Good tired. Um. 

Well what is Elthos? Elthos is my Role Playing Game System and World. It features character generation, skills, alignment, magic and clericy, levels, combat, movement, monsters and races, and comes with its own Universe. :)

The World: Downtown Main Street of the Elthos Universe is the Celestial Island. Once upon a time long ago the All-Creator (who shall remain nameless) created the Celestial Island as a physical manifestation of His All-Amazing Philosophy of Alignments. It features a variety of Civilizations, creatures, and Deities who are called The Elkron. The Celestial Island is an infinite place, and a world of worlds. It is has doorways that lead to other worlds and is the home of an infinite number of realms within its own world. It is a trans-dimensional tesseract-like region within the Realm of Idea. Is it Lawful or Chaotic, Good or Evil? It is all of them. Elthos brooks no bias in this regard. While some regions are humorous delightful fairylands, others are darker than the abyss beneath the Mountains of Madness. It all depends on where you go. 

 The Rules: Elthos Rules come in two distinct flavors; Simple and Complex. The simple rules are called the Elthos ODS ("One Die System"). The ODS Rules are a distillation of the larger more complex rules, called Elthos Prime. The ODS rules use, as the name denotes, 1 six-sided die to run the entire game. Impossible you say? Hah! Not so! But of course you can read the rules for yourself and decide if the system works. I think it does, and so do my players, so far. The few of them. Well, the one. My nephew. But HE thinks they work! And that's what counts. Oh, did I mention I just created the ODS rules a few months ago? I have tried to get a group together to test them, but that group just could not get it together though we tried. It just go too complicated. Duh. Whatever. Just another trial in a long series of tribulations for the old RPG Designer. 

Anyway, I've been playing Elthos for a very good long time (the Elthos Prime System) and I can say emphatically that I like the ODS rules a LOT. They really work nicely. The Elthos Prime Rules I began working on in 1978. I read the first three books of D&D v1 and they said, "Go and create your own rules... advance, advance, advance..." and so I did. That's what you were supposed to do in those days. Well, that's what I did. I made a couple of key design decisions right away. The first was to SIMPLIFY the rules! I didn't want all those charts. I wanted just a few charts. For some bizarre reason I thought like a programmer way back then. I modularized the concepts and came up with one amazingly simple chart to handle all conflicts which I adoringly called The General Resolution Matrix (GeRM). Yay. It works for me, buddy. I've been using it for countless games and it delivers. I of course also added a bunch of other stuff, such as an alignment system that's mathematically oriented, and stuff along those lines, along with a pretty good combat movement system based loosely on concepts derived from Hex games like Blitzkrieg. 

Anyway, the Elthos Prime system is both simple and sophisticated at the same time. In 1996 I convinced my buddies Dave and Evan to consider working together on game development stuff. We formed a loosely organized non-binding non-obligatory non-financially-linked mutual admiration and collaboration society called The New York Group (real original, huh?). Evan went on to become pretty famous in the game industry and formed his own company and made some really really Great Games (like the card game "Blue and Gray"). David stayed in his cave and worked on his super vast information processing system which would eventually one day encompass all knowledge, including games. I threw myself ceaselessly at my own game Elthos. So in 1996 I began to program Elthos in QBasic. I quickly realized that QBasic was nice, but not nearly robust enough for what I wanted. I advanced to Visual Basic. And there I stayed working on the Elthos system with some design consultation and advice along the way from David and Evan. David helped me considerably with computer programming knowledge, and even deigned to take a brief and distinctly limited look at my code, offering a "formalized" example of how I should proceed. I was quite grateful for that, but in the end had to abandon our working arrangement in 2000. It was kind of killing me. He smokes a lot and it was making me really ill. He was also kind of driving me a little crazy because he's kind of a control freak. And I was kind of driving him crazy because I hate, HATE being controlled. 

So that was that, more or less, though now he still is trying to pull the old team together. I'm not so sure I want to return to the good old days. He promises things will be different this time. Hmmmm... well, maybe, but I'm not sure it's worth taking the risk. I mean we have a friendship intact, but another round like last time and it could drive us to beat each other over the heads with soft cushions and other lint-weight objects. Not so good. Maybe I'll pass. 

Anyway, after 11 years I finished the Elthos Prime Alpha 1 Prototype. Its a fully functional Death Star. Well, not exactly. But it is a fully functional prototype of the Elthos Prime System running in Visual Basic. And I have to admit, it is pretty sweet. 

Ok... that's enough for the first post. More next time. :)