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Trinity RPG - Trinity Field Report (TFR) Media Review

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Trinity Field Report (TFR) Media Review, contributed by Chris Hill

Author: Rick Jones

Developer: Andrew Bates

Concept by: Timothy Paul Cooper, Scott Nimmo, Mikko Rautalahti

Editor: Allison Sturms

All Eye Stuff: Richard Thomas

Artists: Jeff Holt, Matt Milberger, Mark Jackson, Steve Rude, Shaggy Dixon, Leif Jones, Griffon Sykes, William O'Conner

Product ID: WW9204

ISBN: 1-56504-771-0

Price: $4.95

The Trinity Field Reports, as you may be aware, are wafer-thin 24-page (not including the cover) color setting books filled with useful tidbits of information based on a particular theme. The Trinity series also benefited from (print releases) TFR: Psi Laws, TFR: Extrasolar Colonies and TFR: Alien Races. There were also TFR: Corporate Life & TFR: Oceania, which were released in HTML format on the White Wolf web site.

TFR: Media focuses on the entertainment industry of the 22nd Century. As with all TFR's, space is such a premium that subjects, when covered, are only done so sparingly - giving players and ST's a brief outline - a taste of the particular subject mater.

TFR: Media starts off with an 'in-setting' OpNet mail from Neville Archer of Aeon Neptune Division which talks the reader through the capabilities of 22nd media, and to a lesser degree, its effects on daily life. Whilst providing a useful overview of the state of current entertainment technology, this e-mail also serves as a handy contents page for the rest of the book - each major item mentioned is covered on the following pages, in order.

The first 'section' (sections are usually a couple of pages at most, given the size of the book this is understandable), is titled 'general Media' and gives an insetting overview of the various kinds of media available to the 22nd Century inhabitant, as well as some detail of their impact on related technologies. As with the trend in TFR's, this information is presented insetting - in the form of a report from 'Australian Terrestrial Office, Deputy Office Director Matthew Kuffner'.

General Media compares the current media technologies to that of the late-20th Century, and explains how that technology has grown, combined and diversified right up to the creation of the current OpNet. This information reads and flows well for the full page. Complimenting this information are two 'sidebars' (in the same style prevalent throughout the Trinity RPG line). The first outlines the differences (in audience and in technology) between Holovision ('vids') and Holosims, and the second is a 'ratings game' report from Dazyl Grenich (MMI reporter) and outlines the current top-of-the-ratings-chart shows on the OpNet, and manages to tie into some of the ongoing development in the Trinity 'Uberplot' ('Huang-Marr' - Darkness Revealed Trilogy )when describing the 'excellent numbers' achieved by popular 'vid 'Strike Team Psion'.

Finally this section is finished off with three large (they take up half a page) 'promo-boards' for the 'vids 'Tuna Sandwich', 'Strike Team Psion' and 'Retrospective, with Warren Shaw'. The Strike Team Psion advert is easily the best, although you cannot ignore the humor factor in the 'Tuna Sandwich' advert - it makes you wonder where White Wolf get the people that end up posing for photo-pieces in their books.

The next section 'State of the Art' takes up a full two pages. State of the Art looks at how the various technologies work from a 'user' perspective. The opening paragraph starts with '.....more material is transmitted in a single day than a viewer can watch in a year'. This section gives a clear description of how a user can keep up with the thousands of OpNet channels available 24/7, and available for download for later viewing. This section clearly illustrates how a user can 'tag' programs for saving and later viewing, and how a user can manipulate programs via multi-angles, scene skipping and the like. It brings to mind the current state of DVD technology - but via hyper-fast broadcast (on a pay per download model).

As well as an outline of how OpNet vid feeds work, State of the Art also illustrates how the other popular medium, Holovision, works. Holovision takes the 'Star-Trek' Holodeck idea, and turns it into a consumer product. The idea isn't in and of itself anything new, but it gives a greater understanding of how consumer media is varied, dynamic and can be 'immersive' in the 22nd Century - all from the comfort of your own home.

A couple of sidebars compliment this section as well. One is a report from the (ever-present) Cori Heisler about the Orgotek spin-off 'LightBringer' in the form of an interview (albeit brief) with Orgotek Prexy Alex Cassel. The second sidebar is a local news report (Luna Sun Times) of the cast and crew of popular 'vid 'Jake Danger: Aberrant Hunter' as they are on set on Luna.

Although there is a large image of Alex Cassel (in mini-comp avatar form), the 'Light Bringer' logo and the Esperanza crash (as seen in the Trinity core RPG) in this section, the image that stands out is another 'promo-board', but this time for 'Jake Danger: Aberrant Hunter'.

The photo itself is 'passable', but your first impression might be a bit cringe-worthy. The photo is a person (White Wolf employee, or random goober of the street?) in a variety of 'heroic' poses wearing, frankly, non-setting related garb - who is supposed to be 'Jake Danger'. The photo stands out as a little bit dodgy, but the interesting point is that long after TFR: Media was released, we found out that Jake 'Danger' Ace from Adventure! and the Jake Danger in this book are one and the same. The giveaway of course is that the 'actor' posing in the photo in TFR: Media and in the Adventure! core RPG (as Jake 'Danger' Ace) are one and the same.

Following the 'State of the Art' section is 'News Media', which runs for 6 pages if you include the large (full-page) 'Live the Adventure!' advert 'mockup' for Strike Team Psion action figures. The advert comes complete with a short order form, and artwork for the show, which (if I recall correctly) has been used in Trinity: Battleground.

News Media describes the effects of constant access to the broadcast media, and how that it has grown and changed into the highly intrusive technical driven media it is in Trinity's 22nd Century. As well as a detailed look at a variety of technology and how it is used to access news and 'vid feeds (including things like Vidspecs and similar gadgets), News Media looks (under the subsection, 'A Focused View') at the 'News Magazine'. You will find some information (although it is a bit sparse) about how the more traditional 'newspaper' has evolved into its incarnation in the 22nd Century.

Finishing off this section is a brief description of how difficult it can be to keep the news media in check, with an equally brief (a paragraph) overview of how quickly scandals can be spread from one end of human space to the other.

There are four sidebars complementing this section - 'The New Addiction', 'The Dead Talk!', 'The Yi Conspiracy' and 'Public-Relations Directive #6'.

The New Addiction details a medical condition called 'Information Addiction Syndrome'. Although the idea of information overload, or information addiction isn't new, the last line of this sidebar offers a (only slightly) new take on the idea "...... Strangely enough, some sufferers have an uncanny ability to draw accurate conclusions out of the cornucopia of news they consume".

The Dead Talk! sidebar describes how the (as of 2117) recently passed away Warren Shaw is recreated by studio execs as the 'Satisfactory Intelligence Construct' you see mentioned in other Trinity books.

The Yi Conspiracy (complete with Coalition Arc image from the core RPG) deals with Cori Heislers take on how the UN should take its eyes off the Huang Marr events (Darkness Revealed Trilogy) and put them back on the Coalition Arc encountered by the jump-ship 'Yi'. Whilst it makes for interesting reading, reminding you of the ongoing Coalition story arc, you can;t help but wonder what it's doing in this subsection of book.

Public-Relations Directive #6 is an overview of one of the directives the Aeon Trinity hands down to its field agents. The first line reads 'Avoid contact with the media whenever possible' As for the rest of the sidebar, you get the idea. Interestingly, it had been noted by some of my players that the Aeon Society in the Trinity era really can come over as the no-so-shadowy bad guy on occasion. Sidebars like this one go a long way to increasing the bad reputation that Aeon may get.

The next section of the book, titled 'Diversions' takes up another six pages and goes into some depth (although again the writers are not afforded enough space due to the nature of the TFR format) about the other types of media and entertainment in the 22nd Century. 'Spectacles', Live Theatre, Music, Holidays and games are covered (in that order). Spectacles covers the history of entertainment, from late 20th Century, through the Aberrant era and up to 'present day' This is a useful resource for those of you who haven't invested in the Aberrant RPG. Other than that, it felt a bit flat, covering old ground.

Live Theatre, Holidays, Music and Games provide more useful insights, covering a wide range of topics in a few short pages such as how traditional entertainment formats (such as theatre) have survived to the present day, how virtual-clubs and HUDsets now dominate the music scene, new national (international) holidays dates due to events like the First Encounter with the Qin, and how virtual 'avatar driven' worlds are the mainstay of 22nd Century computer games. There really is a wealth of information on these few pages, making the book worth the purchase just for this information. Until this point the book had focused largely on 'news' media, rather than entertainment. You can really sense that the writers had a lot more to say than they could fit in here, with the ideas literally wanting to break free from the pages and jump right into your own games. I challenge you to read this and not use the ideas in your games as soon as you can!

Whilst the standard format of useful, illustrative sidebars does not change in this section, with graphic descriptions of modern entertainment in practice over five sidebars, this section is let down (ever so) slightly by a shameless advert for the Aberrant RPG. At the time when TFR: Media was released, the 'new' game from White Wolf (promoted with the 'its not what you think it is' adverts) was imminent. The Aberrant advert takes the form of three pieces of art which ultimately were in the Aberrant RPG and a transcript of a series of OpNet e-mail's where the Aeon Trinity discover said images on the OpNet and subsequently have them removed.

Honestly, this felt out of place at the time, and rereading the book now, it still does. Fair-play to White Wolf for building the advert into the subject matter instead of taking up a page (considering the space premium) with an actual advert for the Aberrant game though.

The penultimate section of the book is 'Media Players' where, over four pages various entertainment and media organizations are given consideration with a few paragraphs of text and a logo each. This basically expands upon the information already provided in the Trinity RPG, covering 'new' organizations such as the Asian Media Syndicate, Kostbaar, New Sudamerican Media, and Unlimited Studios (to name but a few of the 14 organizations covered). Consider this section a quick 'handy reference guide' to media services available across human space. If you want to use a media group, news channel or the like, but don;t want to create something yourself, this should suit you fine. A lot of the information here is predictable (e.g. New Sudamerican Media being extremely positive of the Norca, the music focused media group Stahu, the Federated Broadcasting Network being heavily in favor of the FSA etc).

Finally we get a brief look at the darker underside of the media - something which, given the portability, affordability and accessibility of technology in the 22nd Century, really should have been covered in more depth (but of course, page-count is at a minimum in TFR's). In the 'Gray Trade' we get a look at the sim-reality wet-suit. Borderline (hence 'gray trade') Illegal technology aside, its the way it has been portrayed that works really well.

The two pages of information takes the form of a recorded testimony from one Steven B. Pensver as he outlines his dealings in the sim-reality wetsuit trade. The Gray Trade is actually quite funny, with comments from 'Steven' such as "..... you can't just download a sim where you can get to bang the whole Tuna Sandwich cast, yeh? There's laws against that sort of thing.",

The Gray Trade finishes off TFR Media on a high note. If I had to give TFR: Media marks out of 10, I'd say 7. It does have some great moments e.g. the 'Gray Trade', and 'Diversions', but is let down by the plodding 'News Media' section, regular rehashing of art already in other books, and the Aberrant advert.

Finally, the book is difficult to get hold of. You may have to hunt for it on Internet auction web sites to find it.

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