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.
Tabletop RPG design is a young practice, and designers in every genre and format are learning more about how people play games as they go. There is a universal truth, though, that every gaming group is different, and when it comes to facilitated games (i.e. those with a GM), the people who run the game will make a huge difference in the overall experience. On the internet, though, a massive logical leap is often made, leading to a fallacious and all too familiar rallying cry: “Every Game is Good with a Good GM!” A technically true sentence, this phrase has no purpose in discussions of game design other than to shut down criticism.
Travel between the stars is no longer science fiction, but instead reality. No longer confined to one measly system, ships now move across vast interstellar distances in the blink of an eye . .. but no biological mind can guide them. Artificial Intelligences have been created to inhabit these void-faring vessels, to guide them and lead their biological crews. Questions still remain, however. What’s out there in the darkness, waiting to be found? What is the true potential of the AI, and what will it mean for the galaxy? These questions are at the heart of TRANSIT: The Spaceship RPG, a Powered by the Apocalypse game about artificial intelligences, the starships they control, and their journeys across the galaxy from Fiddleback Productions!
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.
What Genesys Mecha has consisted of up to this point has been theorycrafting, thought processes, and building blocks. I’ve mulled over what I wanted this particular series to do, built some giant robots, designed some pilots, tweaked some rules here and there, and went back and altered things as other ideas developed. While different pieces have built off of one another, and even influenced changes in the ones that came before, they haven’t quite been properly tied together yet, until now. In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha we’re talking character creation XP, starting mecha, tone, and logistics with some Campaign Setup!
Of all the ideas percolating in last month’s Alternate Rules for Genesys Mecha think-tank the one with the most concrete ideas had to be transforming mecha. Giant robots that can take different forms of giant robot have been around in the genre basically since the beginning, whether singular machines or combining ones (I’m staying away from the latter for now). The free space in transforming mecha bingo would have to be one that turns into a jet-like form, and that’s where I started, but I also managed to come up with an extra pair of machines with specialized roles. So, let’s roll out some new technology and see what kind of Transforming Mecha will be joining the Genesys Mecha battlefield!
Mecha that follow the movements of their pilot’s limbs. Carrying gear and weapons into battle instead of bolting it on. Putting your machine together piece by piece instead of wholesale. Believing in the you that believes in yourself and throwing galaxy shurikens instead of firing bullets. Stomping from one hex to the next. Engaging the transformation mechanism. Genesys Mecha has tested its prototype, its advanced models, and its experimental machines. We’ve mustered the pilots, and seen the kind of damage that mecha can inflict on one another. We’ve launched the ships and support craft that will carry our squads into battle. Now it’s time to revisit the drawing board, tweak a few things, and think of some new ideas with Genesys Mecha: Alternate Rules!
Ah, Fiasco. While not one of the first narrative games or one of the most unique, Fiasco captured the hearts of players because it accomplishes what it sets out to do so well. A game of characters with powerful ambition and poor impulse control, Fiasco takes the recipe set out by its predecessors like Primetime Adventures and distills it to one zany formula, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a Coen Brothers movie. Requiring only a few six-sided dice and one key decision point, Fiasco is a sweet and simple narrative game that can do no wrong.
Sensor technicians call out an incoming squadron of CHM-01S Space Ogos. The Captain orders all mecha to launch, all bulkheads sealed, and the cannons to begin firing. Vibrations can be felt through the deck as the first CHM-02 Dacar is hurled out into the void, and energy fire from the cruiser’s cannons begins to sear its way downrange as the distant thruster flares of the Ogos start to swirl into an attack pattern. In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha, we aren’t adding any more giant robots. Instead, we’re taking a look at the vehicles that will carry them into battle!
A Cannibal Halfling mainstay since well back into the Mad Adventurers days has been Meet the Party: a collection of ready-made adventurers to get your creative juices flowing for a number of game systems. Today, we’re introducing something different. Nipping at the heels of System Hack but less mechanical, looking for detail like Meet the Party but more broad, we have Meet the Campaign! Cannibal Halfling examples and Level One Wonk playstyle editorials come together in a mashup that might even be useful.