All posts by Aaron Marks

Gaming for 15 years and writing about it for nearly ten, I've always had a strong desire to find different and interesting things in the hobby. You can follow me on Twitter at @LevelOneWonk, and read my more personal ramblings at 563rdattempt.wordpress.com.

System Hack: Cyberpunk Chimera Attributes and Skills

So we’ve stated some design goals, and we’ve set a baseline with an in-depth review of Cyberpunk 2020. Now, it’s time to get into the weeds. As I stated in the design goals, I want to create a game inspired by Cyberpunk 2020. As such, most of these articles will revisit one or more mechanics from that game. That said, after considering the implications of these mechanics, I will more often than not rip them apart. Want to see us journey from nine stats and a d10-based resolution mechanic to three stats and a dice pool? Read on.

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Tabletop Gamers: Pay Attention to Cyberpunk 2077

If you’re in and around the gaming space, you’ve probably heard something about Cyberpunk 2077 by now. The game, being developed by CD Projekt Red (CDPR), is the company’s next major release and is based on tabletop RPG intellectual property, specifically Cyberpunk 2020 by R. Talsorian Games. It is also a game receiving a lot of attention, most notably last Sunday (June 9th) when Keanu Reeves took the stage at the E3 conference to announce the game’s release date next April. Now, this is a tabletop RPG blog, but Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that, love it or hate it, you should pay attention to. Extrapolating from the sales success of CDPR’s previous game, The Witcher 3, and assuming that the game is at least good enough to partially live up to the hype, Cyberpunk 2077 will be the largest TTRPG-to-video game crossover to date, and that may have some big impacts on the TTRPG audience in the coming years.

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Bargain Bin Gaming: June, 2019

Kickstarter is like placing a bet that a product (like a game) is going to be good. While you can hedge your bets, you never know until your reward arrives whether it’s as good as you wanted or not. Sales are the exact opposite. You know what you’re getting, and you know it’s for less than list price! While I’ve been covering new RPGs coming through Kickstarter, the sources of sales for tabletop RPGs are getting better and deserve some love. I’m taking a look at Bundle of Holding as well as DriveThruRPG to give a sample of some high quality, low price games out there right now.

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Kickstarter Wonk: June, 2019

It’s June, and you know what that means: RPG Kickstarters are in full gear! There’s a bunch of games out here fighting for recognition and funding before hitting the convention circuit, and that only means more choice for you, fine readers. This top ten is about half of the campaigns I read through, and there were way more good ones than bad ones. Still, these ten are the ones I think you should take a closer look at.

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The Independents: Heroes All

Superhero stories are at their most interesting when talking about conflicts that aren’t easily knocked down with super-strength or a utility belt of gadgets. The most memorable superheroes across every continuity are those who are both relatable and who must struggle to earn their victories. As our readers have seen with Seamus’s High Impact Heroics Adventure Log, there are newer supers games like Masks which do a great job of emphasizing the human aspects of the superheroic. Cut from a similar cloth is Heroes All, a new game by Brandon Sichling. Heroes All is built around the core conflicts that make or break a superheroic character. By pairing the creation of an antagonist with the player’s protagonist, Heroes All creates an immediate conflict for every player right out of the gate.

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Adventure Log: Dungeons and Dragons, Part 13

What? Whaaaaat? Really putting the wonkiness in Wonk here, after last week’s little doozy. But yeah, there are still a couple Adventure Logs left before I put a feather in the cap of my last attempt at running Dungeons and Dragons. This is the penultimate Adventure Log, from a series of sessions run in August of last year that led to an intriguing conclusion.

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Maybe…Don’t Play D&D?

Earlier this year Dungeons and Dragons, and, as a result, the role-playing game as a formal, published form, turned 45. It is one of the youngest mediums in entertainment; as a point of comparison the first video game patent was issued in 1948, making that medium over 70. And like video games did with arcades and Atari, role-playing games are beginning to enjoy mainstream recognition, several decades after their genesis. There’s another similarity between video games, consoles specifically, and role-playing games: the first mainstream video game console outsold every competitor it had more than ten to one, just like the first mainstream role-playing game. In video games that was the Atari 2600, and in role-playing games that’s Dungeons and Dragons.

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The Independents: Hack the Planet

Forged in the Dark is out of the starting gates. Where Apocalypse World spawned ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ (PbtA), Blades in the Dark spawned Forged in the Dark, a similar moniker to describe new games which hack and adapt the original game’s ruleset. Now, three years after Blades was first available digitally, there are three Forged in the Dark games at various stages of completion: Scum and Villainy, Band of Blades, and Hack the Planet. Of these, Hack the Planet is the second one released and the one I’ve personally been waiting for. Designed by Fraser Simons, best known for his work on PbtA cyberpunk game The Veil, Hack the Planet means its title literally, and takes place in a dark future where climate change has wrought havoc on the planet. Characters are Glitches, those who eschew the protection (and surveillance) of the corporations from the refugee city Shelter 1 and instead try to make their own way, adapting technology, modifying their bodies, and even fighting the weather to do so. Storm-chasing cyberpunk sound interesting? Read on.

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Kickstarter Wonk: May, 2019

Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! This month, you guys…oh man. So many games! So. Many. Games. Down-selecting this list from nearly 20 campaigns was difficult. I had help from another Cannibal Halfling author, Jason, who wrote excellent reviews for both Lancer and Sundown. You won’t see those games covered a second time, but definitely read the linked articles and check them out. In the meanwhile, the top ten for this month came through a lot of reading and pondering, but I’m pretty excited by my selections. All of these games have some really original stuff going on and are worth a look.

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System Hack: Cyberpunk Chimera Baseline

Cyberpunk brought a new vision to science fiction roleplaying in the late 80s, which was further refined by Cyberpunk 2020. As described in the design goals, the intent for Cyberpunk Chimera is to take what’s already there and adapt it to the sensibilities of me as a GM and what I’ve learned in the 15 years or so since I started playing Cyberpunk. In order to do this, it’ll be necessary to dive into Cyberpunk 2020 and take a look at what’s there to see what I like, what I don’t like, and what’s not necessary to change or adopt. So let’s take a look at the core rulebook, chapter by chapter, and see what conclusions we can draw about both mechanics and presentation of the game. While this is setting up a baseline for the Cyberpunk Chimera, it’s also a detailed, chapter-by-chapter review of the mechanics of Cyberpunk 2020. Whether or not you’re interested in my project, if you want to play Cyberpunk you’re likely to find something useful here.

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