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Phoenix Command

Phoenix Command is a role-playing game system published by the now inactive Leading Edge games, and copyrighted by Barry Nakazono and David McKenzie. Various versions of the system featured in the out of print games Morning Star Missions, Living Steel, and Aliens among others.

Design philosophy

In the designers' own words, Phoenix Command is "...designed to be truly realistic; not complex, or deadly, but simply a representation of what really happens to people." This philosophy combines both "design for cause" (why something happened) with "design for effect" (what happened), when modeling any given event.

What this leads to, is a rejection of linear models in favour of characteristic curvatures. That is, in any rational world, there is no such thing as actual linearity. The Principle of Sufficient Reason formulated by Leibniz, applied to a straight line, demonstrates that there is no reason for any given segment of the line not to be exchanged with another of equal length. Since there is no reason for the segment to be one place and not another, linearity is irrational.

Instead, all processes must follow characteristic curvatures, akin to self-similar spiral action, in which each segment is unique and necessary for the form of the curve to exist. This scientific approach is the source of the confident-sounding company name.

So, Phoenix Command's core subsystems for resolving combat, medical emergencies, skill use, and training, are all non-linear. This translates into a lot of specific tables and formulae which are, strictly speaking, metaphors for their respective, implicit real curvatures.

This makes the game only easily accessible to those independently attracted to either the number-crunching or military fetishism. Those who don't intuit the intent behind the rules, will see it only as a math exercise in that light. For these reasons, the game remains a marginalised anomaly among the RPG subculture.

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