Cyberpunk lives and dies in the city. The vision and aesthetic that we take for granted as Cyberpunk, especially when considering Cyberpunk in the context of games, is urban, replete with neon, skyscrapers, and bustling crowds of people. Cyberpunk RPGs have leaned into the assumption of an urban setting for some time now, with Night City from Cyberpunk 2020 arguably being one of the best examples in terms of character and development. When approaching the need for a city for the Cyberpunk Chimera, I opted to take a somewhat different path forward. By writing rules for the creation of a city sandbox, my hope is that any group can find a city that sets the tone for their campaign while also making prep easier for the GM.
When I first came out, it was a strange time. I had to cope and come to terms with a great many things. Some of them very good. “I can finally wear the clothes I want to.” “People calling me she and her is AWESOME!” “I can be me.” Some of them less so. “God, I was a real little shit before this wasn’t I?” “I can’t tell this person yet. Don’t know how they’ll react.” “How long before I can start hormones?” All in all, it was a wild time. And while things have calmed for me and my transition at this point, there is always one thing that weighs above all else in trials I may never come to terms with.
I never got to grow up as a girl.
I’ve heard it called “The Youth that could have been” from other trans folks who came out older like I did. It happens to quite a few people who have experienced trouble or different from the average childhood. It’s one where you’re constantly thinking about things could have been, How they should have been. It’s one of wondering of “what-ifs” and “why couldn’t it haves”. It sucks. Royally. You look for any out or avenue to get away from the pain of it. From the constant imagination of the childhood you never got to have. That imagination tends to go wild and overpowering.
But. You know what else requires a good imagination? You guessed it: roleplaying games.
What is an RPG? There’s a question that could send you down a rabbit-hole. At least one person per possible answer is already out there, ready to spew hate at you from Twitter. What’s an RPG book? That one, in theory, should be a little easier. An RPG book, whether we mean a physical book or a PDF, is the document that enables you to play an RPG. These can be core rulebooks, they can be setting books, or they can be supplements for either the setting or the rules, but they are, broadly speaking, the documents in which an RPG is contained. So what does that look like? You may be imagining text, some tables and charts, and probably some pictures. As much as these books vary, you probably think you know what the next RPG manual you crack open is going to look like. That’s why you need to crack open Mörk Borg.
You and your friends gathered around this place today for something special. To participate in a spectacle than you would never quite see in our daily lives. A story being woven, of valiant heroes, with strength as fierce their virtues. Of the dastardly villains, imbued with a ferocity of their wickedness. You will witness villains become heroes. Heroes become villains. The brutalist of battles. Mightiest of hugs. The bitterness of betrayal and the triumph of cavalry. This is a world where everything gets just a little bit more magical.
This is pro wrestling.
Now, while the surface level of the two may seem to have very little in common, I’ve honestly found that my knowledge of pro wrestling has helped me become a better GM for my players. Pro wrestling is the world but amplified. The emotions. The dramatics of pain. The sweetness of victory. Everything has the knob grasped and twisted all the way over. Which, let’s be honest, relates well to RPGs.
A good RPG campaign usually takes on a life of its own. The longer you play, the more the characters, the places, and the events of a game overshadow the rules which you use for the game. Ironically, it’s this shift in importance away from mechanics which can sometimes reveal that the mechanics you’ve been using aren’t going to work for an important part of your ongoing game. In another situation, your campaign has taken a dramatic, albeit temporary, turn. Your grizzled heroes find themselves masquerading as schoolteachers, or your starship crew finds a rip in the space-time continuum, or your cyberpunks have to chase a villain into a virtual reality game. Whether it’s a mid-story diversion or a permanent change, sometimes you’re going to want to jump systems.
We’re all trying to stay sane these days, and for many of us that means gaming, but when staying safe means staying away how can we manage that? The Cannibal Halflings talk about how to take your tabletop roleplaying experience digital with options and advice for remote play. As for playing with whoever you’re quarantined with, we highlight a number of single-player and two-player games, and then talk tips for this very different style of play!
Tired of traveling the same old hyperlanes? Had your fill of fighting off stormtroopers? Sick of owing credits to the Hutts? Outer Rim not far enough out for you? Well, it’s not without risks of its own, but have you ever considered Wild Space? Find a planet of your very own, start from scratch, no Empire, no Rebels, no syndicates? It’ll be an entirely new way of life for you out there, so before you start making the astrogation calculations, let me tell you a little about what you might be getting yourself into…
Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk! This month we’ll take a look at ten Kickstarter campaigns that definitely exist, that people can definitely pledge money to!
April Fools! Now, fooling aside, there’s a very good reason that there’s no Kickstarter Wonk this month, namely that there are no Kickstarters (not *no* Kickstarters, but you know my spiel). This is not because of any peculiarity in the RPG world, but rather a peculiarity in the real world. In less euphemistic terms, a global pandemic. On one hand, creators have had to refocus their time into activities that keep food on the table. On the other, many people who would typically have a budget for things like Kickstarter projects are finding their money diverted as large chunks of the economy shut down, and jobs along with them. Because of this, many creators have determined that there’s way less money to go around for Kickstarter campaigns, greatly increasing the likelihood that any given campaign will fail. Therefore, we’re going to pivot this month, and look at different ways that the cash-strapped and/or stir crazy can get a gaming fix for not many dollars.
As you may have guessed from my previous articles, I enjoy podcasts. RPG actual play podcasts in particular. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional stream. But podcasts have just such a relaxing quality to them that I can’t understate. The fact you just whip out your phone, pop in some headphones and throw one on. It’s fun to have these stories pour into your ears.
And, as you may have also noticed, I enjoy Masks: A New Generation. It’s easily my favorite RPG and in my opinion, does the best job of emulating superheroes of any tabletop RPG on the subject. It’s just good teen superheroes that are a mask (See what I did there) for the angst and drama of teenage life.
So it should come as now surprise that Masks actual plays are one of my favorite things in the world. I was waiting on bated breath for season 3 of Young Justice for so long, and discovering there’s a whole catalogue of stories that deliver the hits of that show so regularly was more than welcome.
And when James Malloy of Protean City Comics and Stop. Hack. And Roll! Podcasts set up a cross podcast tournament based around voting polls for Masks podcasts, I was ecstatic. I was writing fanfics, interacting with the community and making memes (God, did I make so many memes) left, right and center on Twitter. It’s an amazing time to see a community come together to just have fun.
And I thought:
“Hey! I write articles on awesome subjects. And this is an awesome subject. Why don’t I write an article on this?”
And surprise, surprise, I did! So sit back. Relax, Open up a favorite drink. And maybe you’ll find a podcast here to listen to.
Few segments of the RPG fandom are as misunderstood as the OSR. At least, that’s what they keep saying on Twitter. The OSR, or “Old-School Renaissance”, are gamers who appreciate both the mechanics and implied playstyle of older editions of D&D, any of the TSR versions but usually Basic D&D and usually the versions of it (B/X, BECMI, or Rules Cyclopedia) that existed roughly from 1981 to 1991. The real problem with the OSR is a marketing problem; in the past it has been hard to distinguish those genuinely interested in the play philosophies of older D&D from those who were merely retreating to older games. Every time I’ve tried to look into the OSR and OSR games, I’ve come away asking the same question: “why are there so many hacks of Basic D&D and why exactly should I care?”