The Complete Rebel Without A Pause Key

Rebel Without A Pause Key was a short diary series I wrote in the early days of RPS. It was mentioned in the RPS chat yesterday leading to this “The Complete…” post because we were incy back then, and most of you won’t have read it. It’s based around Bay 12 Games’ pre-Dwarf Fortress game Liberal Crime Squad. It’s a somewhat satirical game about left-leaning terrorists. As you can imagine, strong language and posturing in front of Che Guevara posters follows…

1) Introductions.
2) Free Love
3) Beatings
4) No Way!Co.

You can download Liberal Crime Squad from Bay 12 Games’ site. FIGHT THE POWERS THAT BE.


  1. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I haven’t downloaded yet (I’m at work). But one thing got me curious: Did you unconsciously developed a game reminiscent of dBase game development days, or is it purely coincidental? It’s just that game interface has a lovely feel for the glorious days of dBase.

    I’ll get it when I get home. But I don’t promise I can stomach the story ;)
    I am however already sold to the nostalgia.

  2. rei says:

    I remember the articles, but I never made the connection to DF. That’s the sort of small detail that might make me actually try the game this time around.

  3. The_Terminator says:

    There’s actually a newer version than the one on the Bay12 Games website – apparently the community’s carried on developing it, and the newest version can be found here: link to

  4. TeeJay says:

    I can just seen how angry the “real life” self-styled anarcho-syndicalist libertarian-communists (in the UK at least) would get over being called “liberals” (one of their own favourite swear-words for denouncing people). :D

  5. Him says:

    If we’re digging into ancient history, when’s the promised look-into of Homeworld 2 Spacy-Navy sim Point Defense Systems going to take place?
    I do remember this the first time around, swearing I was going to install and play LCS, then quickly logging into Eve-Online to run a small errand only to wake up in 2009.

  6. ShaunCG says:

    2007! Has it been so long already? Oh my.

    I am also reminded of the awesome diary series for Ultima Online. I always wanted to read more of that.

    @TeeJay, the phrase “anarcho-syndicalist libertarian-communist” is making me do a Very Sad Face, but I suppose that’s half the point. You rotten NuLiarBore Liberal Tory Fascist!

    • TeeJay says:

      If you want to try out my theory for yourself: link to

    • TeeJay says:

      “…We identify primarily with the trends of workers’ solidarity, co-operation and struggle throughout history, whether they were self-consciously libertarian communist (such as in the Spanish revolution) or not. We are also influenced by certain specific theoretical and practical traditions, such as anarchist-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, the ultra-left, left communism, libertarian Marxism, council communism and others. We have sympathies with writers and organisations including Karl Marx, Gilles Dauvé, Maurice Brinton, Wildcat Germany, Anarchist Federation, Solidarity Federation,, Aufheben, Solidarity, the situationists, Spanish CNT and others.

      However, we recognise the limitations of applying these ideas and organisational forms to contemporary society. We emphasise understanding and transforming the social relationships we experience here and now in our everyday lives to better our circumstances and protect the planet, whilst still learning from the mistakes and successes of previous working class movements and ideas…”

      link to

    • ShaunCG says:

      Oh, you’re using libertarian for its original meaning! How wonderful. It’s been so thoroughly appropriated by Ron Paulist wackos and “anarcho-capitalists” that I didn’t even think you might have meant that. :)

      (Sorry about the crappy sentences, today I am hangover.)

  7. Chiller says:

    Wow. “Early days”, huh. Does this mean I’ve been here from the beginning?

    Also, I had forgotten how funny this was.

    Also, I remember wondering if you can ever “win” at this game, a question still unanswered.

    • Kanamit says:

      Yes, you can win by getting elite liberal status for enough of America’s institutions, or something like that (at least in recent versions).

  8. realmenhuntinpacks says:

    How utterly bizarre… was re-reading (and playing) this last night. Like, woah. Abso-fucking-lutely wonderful, new version even more so.

  9. Alex Bakke says:

    I… I just started a game of LCS yesterday, and then I remember these :3

  10. Junior says:

    So how long until your feature on WWI medic?

  11. Cian says:

    Oddly enough had picked up my game of this (dating from Kieron’s original diaries) t’other day. I then lost all my class warriors to a police raid and grew tired of repeatedly talking my Durutti character out of drug related charges. S’fun though, and seeing the prototype of the structures that shape DF in a very different context is very interesting, and exciting for the potential of future such games.

  12. DMcCool says:

    Bloody hell, didn’t even know Bay12 had any other games. Ha, this looks brilliant and a great read, in much the same way Dwarf Fortress has proved.

  13. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Ah, I had good fun with this. Never could quite get the hang of it though, which has always put me off Dwarf Fortress a bit. Because if I get ASCII fatigue playing something as straightforward as this then I’ve no hope in hell of handling something as gloriously ludicrous as Dwarf Fortress.

    Still, I mean to give a good go one of these days…

    • Jeremy says:


      Do yourself a favor and get a graphical tileset for Dwarf Fortress. Here’s one for the new and gloriously buggy version (complete game and graphics package): link to

    • Wisq says:

      Personally, I found the graphical tilesets in DF to make things less clear, not more. Maybe that’s just because I played roguelikes and learned to parse fullscreen text-based games from an early age. But I find that once I understand most of the basic symbols, the most important aspect is being able to quickly visually identify features. In the case of DF, that also applies to identifying dwarves and their specialities (via their colours).

      Graphical tilesets do look pretty, but I find they tend to obscure these details. Take this image, for example. Yes, the floor is lovely and ornate, but it adds a great deal of unnecessary visual clutter that butts up against all the other icons and makes them less readable. The colours of the dwarves are reduced to a small uniform on an already small symbol, rather than the colour of the symbol itself. The (selective) use of “2.5D” imagery (tables, chairs, barrels, etc.) and trying to make icons make sense from any direction (e.g. round backless stools rather than actual chairs) improves the looks, but also reduces the readability (IMO).

      Personally, the number one biggest thing I found helped clarity was turning off “varied ground tiles” in the configuration, reducing the visually-confusing mix (outdoors and indoor unsmoothed rock) of apostrophes, backticks, etc., down to a uniform field of periods (like most other roguelikes).

      My tileset of choice is this one, the key aspects being the high resolution (designed for 1600×800 or 1600×1200), the inverted barrel icon so barrels look normal, several clearly defined furniture and storage icons (bags/bed/cabinets/statues/etc.), and the easy-to-read font.

      (I’ve been using this set for a while, so I’m probably a bit biased about the readability. On the other hand, I did introduce a friend to Dwarf Fortress, and then to this tileset, and got a report of “oh, that’s much better, thanks”.)

      Granted, that tileset is rather old and not without its problems. Screw pumps look like barrels when not in use. Bags replace the old “male” symbol, so male dwarves (and other creatures) are apparently of the “bag” gender (which actually still makes a bit of sense). And the “discarded arrow” icons replace the “general debris” icons, so if you have e.g. a brush fire that spreads to the entire map, it looks like it decided to rain black arrows.

      Point is, I find that a good text tileset is much more readable than most of the graphical ones. Maybe I’ll give graphical tilesets another chance later on.

  14. Jockie says:

    Had never heard of this before and have been strangely enthralled all day. My glorious leader is known as The Badger, his first recruit was a teenager he seduced and then put to work on the streets as a prostitute to earn money for the cause. Unfortunately the Teenager was arrested and just before her trial, so I tried to attempt a daring rescue from the courthouse. It all went pretty well up until the escape, I even managed to recruit a couple of hardened criminals to the cause. Unfortunately it all went tits up during our getaway, because I was using a crappy stolen SUV. The aptly named ‘Expendable’ bought it and several of the prisoner recruits were beaten to death by the police. The Badger and his lover/cash cow lived to fight another day though.

    Thanks for bringing this game to my attention RPS!

  15. Akirasfriend says:

    Bloody hell, 2007? I didn’t think I’d been coming here for that long. Thanks for reminding me about this, Kieron, I have a renewed vigour to play the new LCS. And Dwarf Fortress.

    Hurrah for pretty tilesets!

  16. Ben Abraham says:

    Oh I remember reading these back when I was still an undergrad student! I very nearly used Liberal Crime Squad in a class presentation about the potential gaming issues of immersion and virtual reality. Instead I showed the class CoD4:MW’s car seat ride of doom which got a lot of appreciative “oohs” and “aahs” and then kinda scared people when we got shot.

    tl;dr – This was probably one of the first RPS feature-series I read. Stuff Like This is why I’m a subscriber. Hell, I should oversubscribe just because I like this so much.

  17. Wisq says:

    TBH, I had forgotten this was actually an RPS article series. I think I read it back in the days before I started realising that all the interesting game news came from RPS. That, or this was (one of?) the series that helped make RPS a permanent fixture in my RSS reader.

    I actually did some coding work for LCS, mainly in the area of Linux compatibility / display glitches and the occasional bugfix. My interest waned when it seemed that most of my Crime Squads ended up being a bit of a siege-after-siege grindfest with little hope of actually changing the game world, but a lot has changed since then, so maybe it’s time to take another look.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Yeah, generally speaking my Crime Squads just got reduced to bursting into a building, killing/kidnapping a bunch of people, and making a run for it amidst a hail of bullets.

      And in the game.

    • Wisq says:

      Attacking buildings was fine, but it was when my own base started getting sieged nonstop by cops that things got a little monotonous. As I recall, there was no way to restore your base’s secrecy once it started being attacked. Obviously that’s realistic — the cops don’t exactly forget where you are if you managed to fight off a raid. But certainly there could’ve been a way to say “move everything we have to a new facility in the middle of the night” etc. and pay some fee or something.

      Compare to X-COM, where shooting down battleships via interceptors or base defenses causes them to keep coming and coming, but actually fighting off a raid on the ground — the potentially tedious part — thankfully makes them forget the location of your base, at least until they can scout it out again. Utterly unrealistic (unless you come up with some elaborate fiction as to why it happens that way), but completely necessary, since a full sized base can take months or years of game time to set up.

      Granted, it’s been so long since I played LCS that I might be mixing things up here. And I assume it’s changed a lot since then.

    • sinister agent says:

      It may well have changed between versions, as I’ve only played the latest version, but now you can reduce the heat from your bases by moving to new ones. You need to move your really wanted people either often, or give them long periods of lying low in between causing trouble, but it seems manageable so far. I’ve had a team of 6 major figures with a good handful of kills under their belts, as well as a few live broadcasts on tv. After a big raid, they had to hide out for over a month, moving as often as I remembered to check on them. The tricky part was making sure they wouldn’t set off a raid against my less violent teams, as they wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in a fight.

      By the way, damn you, RPS. Damn you to hell. This game may yet consume me.