Monday, June 18, 2018

Data Scan: Cyberpunk 2077 E3 Trailer

If you're one of those Cyberpunk / Cyberpunk 2020 fans that have been looking at getting that late 80s cyberpunk fix this side of the 21st Century, I'm sure you've been wondering how to make it less dated and more relevant.

Of course, there's been no shortage of modern takes on the near future technodystopia in films and series -- perhaps it's time to come up with a new list of inspirations, since we're so close to 2020. However, a trailer was released at E3 for Cyberpunk 2077, sharing a glimpse into the world of that classic RPG, but updated (and hopefully ignoring the outdated technology that was touted as the 'bleeding edge' at the time it was written).

It looks promising, with an interesting set of 'slice of life' scenes that show that the strange, slightly violent cyberfuture has a wealth of alien, yet approachable locales to adventure in -- where not every streetcorner is awash in violence.

There are scenes of cybered up, gear-toting people on trains, hanging out on the street, enjoying the future as something mundane. I enjoyed the brief clip of the motormouth taxi driver chatting away, unimpressed by the gun-carrying cyberpsychos in his taxi, a sort of acceptance of the way of life in the future-shocked world.

There's a flood of vids and articles about the gameplay that a number of game reports actually got to see from E3, and I have to get caught up. But it looks promising, and I can't wait to hear more -- while digging up my old CP2020 collection!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

On the Radar: Fictional Past, Present, and Future

Three RPG books that caught my eye on DriveThruRPG this week were the following:


Oh, yes. The latest version, and crafted by the hands of Greg Stafford, Jeff Richard, Jason Durall, and Steve Perrin. Rules update, and a delightful dive into the world of Glorantha.

Here's the book pitch:

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is an all-new edition of one of the world’s most influential and acclaimed fantasy roleplaying games. First appearing almost 40 years ago, RuneQuest is as dynamic and vital as ever. This all-new, deluxe edition introduces RuneQuest and its setting of Glorantha to new players everywhere.

Try out a skill-based percentile system that balances experience-based progression with deadly combat!

The core rules of RuneQuest are essential for players and gamemasters, as they contain all the rules for character creation, starting homelands, background history, professions, skills, starting Runes and magic, and the cults and gods whose influence will define your character’s activities. Further, the rules for character advancement are contained here, for the times between adventures.

Torg: Eternity

I have fond memories of the original Torg rules and setting, and wanted to impact the outcome of the Possibility Wars during its heyday with other Storm Knights. Perhaps now, if I pick this up, I'll have that chance again!

The invasion of Earth told in previous tales of TORG took place on one version of our world. The High Lords there were successful for many years, but were eventually stopped by the planet's valiant Storm Knights.

But there are infinite versions of our world.

This is the tale of a different Earth, one where things did not go as well...

The Torg Eternity Core Rules include all the rules and setting information you need to create characters and play the game, including

  • Background on the Possibility Wars
  • World Laws and adversaries for Core Earth and the 7 invading Cosms
  • Creation and advancement rules with dozens of perks for all kinds of characters
  • Magic, Miracles, and Psionics rules
  • Gear for all tech levels

Star Trek Adventures: Command Division supplement

Last but not least, a supplement detailing what life is like for characters in the Command Division of Starfleet:


The Command Division supplement provides Gamemasters and Players with a wealth of new material for use in Star Trek Adventures for characters in the command division. The Command Division supplement includes:

  • Detailed description of the command division, including its role in Starfleet, the various branches within the command division, the role of Fleet Operations, life as a command division cadet, and details on starship operations.
  • Expanded 2d20 Social Conflict rules, enhancing social encounters and galactic diplomacy.
  • An expanded list of Talents and Focuses for command and conn characters.
  • Over a dozen additional starships and support craft to command and pilot, including the NX, Nebula, Sovereign, and Steamrunner classes, as well as many shuttle types and the indomitable Work Bee!
  • Advice on creating command division focused plot components for your missions to test the mettle of your captain and flight controller. 
  • New rules on running Admiralty-level campaigns that let you command entire fleets, as well as information on commanding starbases.
  • Detailed descriptions and game statistics for a range of Command and Conn focused NPCs and Supporting Characters.

TM & © 2018 CBS Studios Inc. © 2018 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Things I Learned from Champions: Keep Some Surprises Under the Hood

Much of the superhero genre is steeped in secrets and misdirection. The heroes themselves were referred to mystery men and women, so a surprise or two from them was to be expected.

I'd argue therefore, that the 'classification' of superheroes into narrow categories (in other words, representing them as rigid classes) in an RPG runs counter to the spirit of the source material. Fortunately, many of the early superhero RPGs avoided this, despite the influence of D&D.

TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes may have had types of origins in the random generation of characters, but they didn't shackle you into 'mage' or 'fighter' or 'speedster'; that tended to be a function of the powers you rolled up. Mayfair Games' DC Heroes RPG and Hero Games' Champions, as point-buy systems, sidestepped this entirely -- your combination of purchased stats, skills, and powers crystallized the type of character you were playing.

And while the was a shorthand on the types of builds you had (Brick, Martial Artist, Energy Projector, etc.), there were always different kinds of each, and certainly mixes of several builds, as was often seen in the source material.

So, we used this to our advantage, in-game.

What you see isn't necessarily what you'll get

One of my characters was a martial artist had a grappling hook that he used to attack the enemy, ie up the enemy, and so on. The obvious build was to use Energy Blast (for the ranged attack) and Entangle (for tangling up the enemy) -- but I didn't go that route. It was built as stretching, bought on a focus, and I used my Martial Arts for Strikes, Throws, and Grabs at range. And while I could therefore take damage from damage shields, it also allowed me to type at long distance, feel the texture or warmth of things far away, etc... chalking it up to mastery of my weapon. It helped with that element of surprise when playing under good GMs (or perhaps more adversarial GMs who forget the builds that they approved, and just go by your character art).

But building in surprises -- like a woman whose costume shouts martial artist, but is really built as a brick ("My kung-fu makes my body impervious to bullets!"); or an item that seems to be a focus (like a power ring) but is bought straight ("I summon it back onto my finger via sheer willpower!"); or building a martial art that allows you to Full Move with every manuever; or combat skill levels that only work when you're fighting by yourself ("I just didn't want my friends to think badly of me, when they see what I can really do.") -- but using them sparingly, does add to the mystique of your character.

And helps when your opponents stereotype you and your capabilities.

The joy of Champions is that it allows you to do all this -- after all, points pay for the effect; the special effect is up to you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Earth 641: Saturday Morning Remix

My vision for Earth 641 is not limited to the merging of only DC & Marvel Universes. In a past  post, I identified the Ultra-family as one of the other intergalactic peacekeeping forces. I'd always also wanted to find a place for many of my Saturday morning cartoon faves -- which include many of the Hanna-Barbera heroes!

With the continuation of DC's Future Quest series, I was struck by how much this was an echo of the 80s-era DC comics effort: redefining and celebrating continuity via Crisis on Infinite Earths and Who's Who: a definitive guide to the DC Universe.

Here we see how Mightor's efforts in pre-history might find themselves crossing over with the galaxy-spanning adventures of Space Ghost! Or how Birdman might fight crime alongside Jonny Quest! Or how the Herucloids might find themselves teaming up with the Galaxy Trio!

Hanna-Barbera did have a broad selection of times and places for their heroes; it's great to see those characters revitalized for the modern era -- and so open to mining for gaming fun!