System Hack: Cyberpunk Chimera Design Goals

Something funny happens when you spend a lot of time reading and reviewing games. At a certain point you reflect on all the games you’ve read and all the mechanics you’ve studied, and say to yourself “I bet I could design a game”. You see it a lot over here. Site founder Seamus is the co-author of the recently released Transit: The Spaceship RPG, and newest contributor Jason wrote Blessed Engines for the Emotional Mecha Jam. There’s design chops floating around in this blogger soup, and I suppose it should be no surprise that on the tails of the first System Hack, Genesys Mecha, I’d be throwing my hat into the ring.

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Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: Nar Shaddaa

Nar Shaddaa is a popular stop for Star Wars campaigns due to the gritty, cyberpunk feel. It has all the elements of a seedy underbelly, with equal chances for players to be heroes and crooks. In my mind, it has the plot density to not only be a stopping point, but a place to house an entire urban campaign. This is a setup for players and GMs who might wish to use Nar Shaddaa as the primary focus of a campaign, or simply the place that players frequent to repair, turn their haul into credits, or to unwind a bit. I am generally a fan of incorporating the players’ stories, drives, and foibles into how the story unfolds, which makes writing a plot at the outset difficult. Instead, we are going to populate the urban sprawl of Nar Shaddaa with factions, and places of interest for our players to run into. The factions have primary drives, which is to say, what they will be trying to accomplish according to the status quo. From there, the players’ choices will be what moves (or doesn’t move) the paths of those around them.

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Meet the Party: Legend of the Five Rings: Otosan Uchi

A member of the Palace Guard, sworn to die so that others might live but longing to give her life a value all its own. A shugenja and astrologer, once fooled and twice determined never to be so again, guiding the Empire by peering into the future. A schemer, sowing strife throughout Rokugan so that the Hantei line may rule unchallenged, to a degree even the Scorpion would admire. A herald of the Miya, thought missing and now safely returned to the Capital . . . whose shadow shows seven fox tails when she becomes flustered. The Great Clans aren’t the only power in Rokugan, and they’re not the only source of player options for the Legend of the Five Rings RPG from Fantasy Flight Games: today we’re making characters using the Emerald Empire sourcebook! Continue reading Meet the Party: Legend of the Five Rings: Otosan Uchi

Level One Wonk: Narrative

That’s right, the Wonk is back in the building! Today we’re getting super wonky. While my last foray into RPG theory was an examination of an old universal theory, GNS, today I’m going to be looking at a narrower component of games, and a particular dichotomy which, after some examination, I realized shapes the core of how I want to play and run games, as well as what game systems I enjoy. I’m talking about narrative, but I’m not talking about whether a game is “narrative” or not. Rather, I’m going to talk about the two types of narrative which are generated in the course of playing an RPG: Prescriptive and Emergent narrative.

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Character Spelunking

Is your character really just you with a stat block?  I bet you could get more out of your game if you let go of You and embrace your Character.  Here are some techniques you can employ to help you bring your character to life at the table.  It will take some effort, but you may find your escapism brought to another level once you get into it.  While there are some practical tips in here, this is real mental and emotional work, more a deep cut than a skim.

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Kickstarter Wonk: March, 2019

Welcome to a busy and bustling March for Kickstarter! Adding to the tons of projects, Zine Quest, which had submission dates through the month of February, is still going on! Check it out here. There were a couple full games under the Zine Quest banner which I was particularly intrigued by; be sure to check out Dragon and Warrior, Grey Cells, and Be Witching.

Even after taking the Zine Quest projects out of the running, there were still at least a couple dozen games contending for your limited dollars. Among a few heartbreakers and some that just weren’t interesting, there were still more than enough for me to come up with a top ten of intriguing, unique, and worthy RPG projects for March.

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The Independents: Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG

The government has turned corrupt, and what should be serving the people now crushes them under the weight of fear and oppression. Secret police hunt for any kind of dissent, and authoritarian goons stalk the streets looking for heads to crack. Whether in public rallies or in secret meetings, with fists and firepower or words and willpower, revolutionaries fight to realize their ideals and create a better world. But how will they make those ideals come true? What are they willing to do, how far are they ready to go, to overthrow their oppressors and build a future? And even if they ‘win’, will that future be one that’s worth the cost, or will it be another nightmare? That’s the kind of story you’ll be telling if you play Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG by W.M. Akers, currently live on Kickstarter. Continue reading The Independents: Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG

The Independents: Emotional Mecha Jam

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that distributing RPGs can be a major pain, especially for independent publishers. Printing physical copies, funding shipping and distribution, dealing with returns, controlling PDF disbursement, combating pirates—the list of issues goes on. Some authors have chosen to sell games through their own websites, but many turn to the monolithic marketplace of RPG sales: DriveThruRPG. Despite some overlap with Kickstarter and Patreon, DriveThru is clearly the leader in both physical and digital RPG fulfillment.

That being said, a curious challenger to DriveThru’s platform has begun to stir up some discussion within the indie RPG scene: itch.io.

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Revisiting the D&D5e Artificer

When the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron first hit the digital shelves there was much rejoicing. We were getting to play in Keith Baker’s setting again without having to do everything from scratch ourselves, and a new front of creativity opened up on the DM’s Guild. As a living playtest, though, the WGtE had some glaring absences, and none was more obvious than the Artificer, the iconic class of the setting. Having gone through two cycles of Unearthed Arcana, going back almost to the beginning of UA, the Artificer had gone without any updates since 2017 . . . until yesterday! Grab your tools and lets get to it as we go feature by feature through the latest version of the class!

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Troika Review

Imagine, if you will, that Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett have returned from the dead. They both pile into a Ford Cortina and take a long drive across the American Southwest, pondering the nature of the fantasy genre. Once they arrive in California, they legally acquire several ounces of the finest cannabis sativa and hotbox the Cortina. Then they write an RPG. This, roughly speaking, seems to be what produced Troika, a delightfully simple and delightfully absurd game which recently published a second edition.

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