Game Review #42 – GURPS Humanx (S)

Did you know there is not a decent RPG that has been created specifically for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? SIGH… Ok so for review #42 we will stick with SCIFI and hit something a little unexpected.

You may remember a while back I did a review for GURPS. I was not a happy camper in regards to the system, but did mention more than once that when GURPS does a game supplement they go all out. They treat it with respect and do a great job of it. This is one of those examples.

The Humanx setting is from the works of Alan Dean Foster. I got into the setting back in the late 70’s with the book Orphan Star, with Flinx and his minidrag Pip. And I could never get enough. Foster did frustrate the crud out of me more than once when he would write a new book (and I have to say his writing has never stopped improving over the years) and it would come in-between things he had already established as cannon for the setting and it changed two or three things and so now you have to reread to ensure you have everything right in your own head… but that is between me and Mr Foster.

Published in 1987 GURPS Humanx takes into account not only the series of books that is my favorites (Flinx and Pip) but also takes into account the whole freaking setting. And that is not something that is easy to do given the number of books that Foster had published in the setting by that time. In the books 96 pages you got the whole history of the Humanx Commonwealth and even a look at some of the major players. I was really surprised at how much information they were able to cram into such a small space. The weakest part of the whole thing was the art in my mind, considering that they go permission to use the Michael Whelan cover from one of the books.

To be honest I could rant on for a long time about how much I loved this book. And how it broke my heart that it was in GURPS and not a game system I enjoyed. But on the up side there is so much information here that if a GM cannot take this book and put it into their own preferred game system… well I would be looking for a new GM.

Lets take a look at the numbers….

Overall Fluff 4/5 – The only reason I put this at a 4 and not a 5 is the interior art. The details and snippets from the books are just freaking awesome.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – There are a couple of new rules added for the Humanx setting in this book and while I am not a fan of GURPS they fill in for things that would otherwise feel like big holes in the setting. Like I said I may not like GURPS overall, but when they do a source book or licensed item they do not short change you.

Overall Mod 1/5 – This is in the tank because in my case, you have to mod it, into a whole other system. But the level of detail that is present makes it pretty easy overall. I have in the past put it into Star Frontiers (the Thranx and the Vrusk trade up pretty easy) and into Mekton (yeah I was in a ship to ship combat stage at the time)

Overall Fun 5/5 – Ok so I am totally biased and I admit it. I love the setting and I love the way they treated the material. Even though it takes time to mod it to something I can use in a game engine I enjoy, I still think the book itself is a lot of fun for fans.

Total Score 14/20 – I tried to be as even handed as I could given that I dont like the game engine but love the books this is based on. Not an easy task. For a fan of the setting who games I think the book is essential. For a fan of the books it might be a nice to have just so you can see how other people treat the property. For fans of scifi gaming it could be a very nice alternate setting. For fans of GURPS… … … … … sorry, got nothin’ but snark.

All right so fairly short review this week. Oh and yes this is the official post for the week. Seattle’s Snowmageddon 2019 has brought you everything else published this week. Remember this is all my opinion. Get out there and game for yourself. Make up your own bloody mind and have fun doing it.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see if I can make friends with this minidrag.

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Tales from the Game Table – Draw your swords!

So back in the day when Dark Sun was just being published and Ravenloft had recently become more than just a module regarding a castle I was with a game group that most folks should know from at least one point in their game lives. We had the Chemical Gamer who could explain everything on at least a beer. We had the Faithful Sidekick who joined the group to follow another. We had the Eating Machine… dont touch his snacks. And we had others… But most of all… we had Rouse.

Now then Mr Rouse was not a Chemical Gamer, nor was he an Eating Machine… He was Rouse. There may be many other stories here about him. But while you laugh please remember that everyone in the group loved playing with this guy. He was always enthusiastic and happy to play, he would try hard, and quite frankly sometimes we took advantage of his innocence and desire to be part of the team as the adventure was going on. He could also be the most bull headed member of the party… I think if I told you the reincarnation story you might get the point on that trait….

But this is about a maneuver that Rouse pulled three times. Twice in one night and then again in a session a couple weeks later… it stuck after that one.

Anyway Rouse was playing a Fighter. And before you can wonder about the equipment, yeah the game was a bit Monty Haul but that was part of the fun for us at the time. The game was more about having fun than telling in depth stories and deep role playing. So anyway Rouse had picked up two swords. One was “Of Sharpness” and the other was “Vorpal”. For long time players you may be seeing where this is going already…

Anyway Rouse was very keen on his fighter looking very cool and so he had these blades strapped to his back in the classic X format.

After a couple of fights we got curious about how he was using them… and so at the start of the next fight the question was raised “How are you drawing those swords Rouse?”

In reply he crossed his arms in front of himself and mimed pulling both blades forward at the same time in a manner that would surely not end well with blades that powerful on his back.

He was made to roll an attack on himself and was shocked when he rolled a critical hit.

You guessed it.. instant decapitation.

Ok so the first time was played for laughs and we did not enforce anything in the game. However an hour or so later we get into another fight and “Rouse how are you drawing the blades?”

He mimed the same thing again and looked shocked as he realized just what he had done. Without being asked he rolled an attack against himself… double crit. The decapitation was enforced that time. Everyone including Rouse got a bit of a laugh out of it.

We let it go for a while… no one bothered him since he go the character resurrected and all was good. Until about three months later…

“Rouse how are you drawing those swords?”

Third time…yeah… here we go again…

The thing that pissed Rouse off the most at that point though was that he only seemed to roll critical hits when he was attacking himself.

He decided to play a wizard for a while after that. Only used a staff too. We did drop a Staff of Sharpness into the game… he destroyed it.

Anyway… hope that got you all a bit of a laugh.

Stay safe out there in the late season snows.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta see how many critical hits I can get in an hour…

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World Building 306 – Power level is how high?

So I know to some this question is going to be coming rather late… to a few it may seem a bit early. But there is a reason I leave the question of power level to this point.

In 30X and 301 I mentioned power levels, what a game engine can support and what sort of flavors it can create in a game. In 304-305 I mentioned how the level of power can influence the perceptions of the world in general toward the individuals that have power. But setting the power level itself… I wanted to wait  to discuss that until this point so that it is something that is brewing in your mind and may already seem obvious.

However there is a BIG difference between the level of power in the world overall, and the level of power that is wielded by the PC’s and your main villains. Or at least there can be.

If you look at what Marvel Comics had been doing with the X-men before the series got to the House of M and Decimation story lines you see that the majority of the Mutants in the Marvel Comics universe are very low powered or may just seem like they look like non-standard humans. Where as the X-men themselves are mid to high level powered mutants. And most of their enemies are right there with them. And the very lowest power tiered mutants kinda feel like they got screwed over by the genetic lottery that gives out powers. However it is the powerhouses that get the press. And so everyone who is a mutant gets treated as if they could be that big of a threat.

After those events you ended up with the really big powerhouses being left and so the threat of the high power to everyday normal people was even more visible.

When I put out hints and ideas about power in the previous sections those posts should have been getting the idea in your head about the overall power level in the world at large. This section though is to think about your game specifically in regards to how much power the players have and how big their bad guys are in comparison. Because the power level that the world is perceived to have by the average every day person, is how they are going to be judged.

I mean lets take a look at another couple of examples. Take the Tick. On average in this world super-humans have such low power levels that they are taken to be a joke by most of the world. Occasionally they do stop a really big bad guy but it is kinda rare. Someone with the actual power level of the Tick is rare, and so very few individuals know how to deal with something on his scale.

TMNT is another one to look at comparatively. The turtles themselves and the villains they most often face are fairly low powered. But they exist in a world where there are Superman level heroes and villains. At least in the original comic books. So until they become famous the majority of their activities fall under the radar of the press. Or they get mixed in with reports of gang wars and the like.

I bring all these versions together to try and make the example that even though a world may have a certain power level overall, your game, your players, and your villains, do NOT have to be at the world power level. You can be way above or below the standard. You can pretty much do anything you like. You just need to remember to take the world level into account.

I have found in the past that playing with characters above the average for the world ends up quickly creating an Avengers / Justice League kind of environment. Where the characters start to see themselves above the rest of the world and either need to save it or guide it, or if they go outside the law it can get a bit like the 1980s X-men where they try to save the world in spite of itself.

I have also found that in playing with characters below the average for the world you end up with a TMNT or Sleeper kind of game. Where, while the action is important, out thinking the enemy and role-play is more important than power. Also in this kind of environment the Good v Evil slider seems to slip a lot easier.

Playing at power level for the environment seems mostly like Legion of Superheroes. That is because there is a high level of technology everywhere that can do many of the things that supers can do. Not always at the same level, but it comes close a lot of the time. However the heroes come up with innovative ways to apply their powers that take them outside the more rigid thinking of the people relying on technology.

So there are a ton of ways to do whatever you might like to do. And every one of them comes with a unique feel to for the players. Especially considering that if you are building a world from scratch then you can populate it how you see fit. Power or de-power it how you like.

To go back to the world I am building lets see it by the sessions…

  • 301 – Origin of Power – A cosmic/celestial event causes mutations. Also technology.
  • 302 – Which Earth – Our earth
  • 303 – Timeline – Slightly in the future. So that things like cybernetics and power armor could be possible.
  • 304 – Percent of power – 1 / 25000 have mutation. Specific tech that could be called super powers is more common.
  • 305 – Perception of power – Mutants are the new target of fear and racism, Tech characters are seen as heroes.
  • 306 – Power level – World – Mutants vary but low power is more common, and that does mean power, all mutants have something extra. Tech is fairly standard and can make one man equal to about a Main Battle Tank. Game – Mutants will be on the higher end but not the top. Tech characters will have unique toys that go well past the current standards.

So you see how my world is shaping up. How is your own doing?

And as always remember, this whole thing is my suggestion, if you dont like doing it this way then dont 🙂

Peace to all the gamers our there and I hope that no mater where in the world you are you are having fun and staying safe.

Now gimme the dice, I need to roll up a random power level to see how extreme things can get.

 

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Game Review #41 Classic Organizations for Champions 4th Edition (S)

Welcome readers. Yeah, two posts in under a week. No this is not a sign of the apocalypse, that is already underway and in the hands of other management. 🙂

Having recently found out that Hero Games, the creators of Champions, have been putting a lot of effort into adding PDF versions of the Champions game into online retailers like DriveThruRPG I wanted to pull up one of my favorites from my OVERALL favorite version of Champions. Fourth edition.

Avid readers will remember a while back I did a review for another Champions item. CLOWN. That adventure module, and three others from third edition Champions have been updated, reedited and added to this supplement. What was collected in this book was,

CLOWN, the Criminal Legion Of Wacky Nonconformists.

CLOWN

Neutral Ground, A safe space for heroes and villains to chat, heal, and seek advice or training.

champions ng

PRIMUS and DEMON, A government organization to fight super-crime with an almost military efficiency, and a magical organization bent on world corruption and or domination, either would work.

champions PnD

And Red Doom, a very 80’s look at Russian supers and the teams they had in order to counter evil American heroes who might interfere with the Motherland.

champions red doom

The first thing most folks would think about in a supplement like this is, “Well if you are just reprinting old stuff who cares. I can just use the old books.” And while you definitely could the four original supplements were created in first through third editions of the rules for Champions. Now then while the changes between the four editions are not as subtle as going from AD&D 1st edition to AD&D 2nd edition. They are no where near as extreme as say going from Basic D&D to Third edition. Things like Martial Arts and some of the powers went through major changes. And while you could muddle through quite well, it makes it a little easier to have it all worked out for you.

In addition to the rules updates you also had all four books pulled together to tell a single story. That updated all of the characters from the original four books. And pulled in additional ones from other old supplements. And when they built this new story they also mapped it out completely so that characters could be directly involved and change a number of elements for their own world, or they could deal with the aftermath of what happened. When they did the update of the organizations they made some fairly significant changes in a few of them. Everything from reorganizing teams, to completely changing the origin stories for characters and in two cases of the organizations themselves.

The combined effect of the rules updates and the story that was created, along with the effects on individual characters and the grander implications for the world of Champions gave this supplement something that was close to unique in the evolution of the Champions RPGs. A true sense of continuity. This book told players that yes your old supplements still mattered. And look how you can tie them in with all the new stuff that is being created for the game.

Hero games did one other book for fourth edition that started with Classic in the title. And while it collected characters from a lot of previous supplements, it did not try to build continuity like this one did.

While I did not get to play with much of the material here… finding Champions players can be a pain some times… what I did use balanced well and ran just like I would expect anything from 4th edition Champions to run. Very very well.

In the end this book is one of five books that I would put into a bundle to say this is your core for Champions 4th edition. That though can be the topic of a later post.

So lets take a look at this book by the numbers…

Overall Fluff 4/5 – Using a ton of the original art, and adding several new pieces the art fits well into the whole Champions product line. This however is the fluff flaw as well. The art is not really top of the line when compared to comic books or a lot of the high end art that other games were using at the time or since.What really stands out though is the story and the character narratives. It adds a lot of great material and makes for a very nice bit of ongoing plot and gives a lot of potential for players to run with and build their own stories and for GMs to integrate it into their worlds.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – While there are no new rules in this book, this book has examples of just about everything you can do with the Champions game engine. Using those examples you can really map out how to do a lot of the more complex things in the game engine like vehicle design and base construction with a lot of ease.

Overall Mod 4/5 – Champions as a whole is really easy for me to mod. And plots and character elements are usually very easy to mod too. However the story elements and background are so well integrated that it can be a bit of work to pull out and use only parts of it, or to add a lot of additional items to it.

Overall Fun 5/5 – So I seriously love this book. Even with a few flaws and not great art it is one of the best supplements that came out for Champions 4th edition. At least in my mind. And as noted above, I enjoy it so much I put it as one of the books you would want to consider your core material to play in the Champions universe.

Total Score 17/20 – A high score, but in my mind this is one where if I have a really good game session or three with the material again I would likely bump it even higher. The book is not without flaws, but overall it is a very very useful collection of material that should not be under rated.

Ok so as always, this is my opinion. Get out there, read it, play with it, and decide for yourself if you agree.

Keep gaming and have fun out there folks.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many comic-book villains can fit into the CLOWN car for rapid transit.

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Tales from the Game Table – The Negotiation

Ok so this trails back to the days of yore. I think it was 7th grade. Which would have put things in 1984 or 85. I was playing with a D&D 1st edition group in the school library. Other than the fact that the group had two people co DMing the game and I think that Dan the RPG man was there I really do not remember everyone at the table.

We were in our third or fourth session I think. We had already had arguments about whether or not your character actually had clothes if they were not on the character sheet, and a few other things. But in this session we had actually gotten into town and some of the players were trying to figure out how to make a little extra money. Sadly I do not remember a lot of the details. But this one event has stuck with me for years…

One of the party decided to sell something. And instead of just rolling to try and get a deal one of the DM’s decided we had to roleplay it out.

The negotiation actually went on for almost ten minutes. But the final was worth it. It went a little something like this…

DM: No 70gp is my final offer.

Player : I wont go below 90.

DM: 70gp

Player :  95.

DM: You cant go up.

Player : 98.

DM: 65!

Player : 100.

DM: 60!

Player : 90.

DM: 95!

Player : I’ll take it.

Both DM’s: DAMNIT

Players: WOO HOOO!

Librarian: I know I said you can play here but keep it down.

Everyone: Laughter

Now then the values are likely way off, and the build up to get to that part of the afternoon was hectic and some of us at the table had been a little frustrated up to that point because this was taking so long and we were getting no where. The DM negotiating just wanted to ‘win’, and ended up getting tanked. It was a bloody awesome bait and switch. I did not do it, but I saw it done and was there for it. I could be off on the year too, it may have been sixth or eighth grade.

That little group didn’t last too long. Well, I did not last in that group long. Not really sure if it folded or if I just left because the two DMing the game were so strict. And by strict I mean that the character they said had no clothes was not allowed to just drop more coin and have them, they had to role play going into a town naked (because for some reason none of the other characters extra clothes would fit them) and then buy them while setting up that character with a bad reputation for wandering into town without clothes.

So just a little one to start this segment off on. Hope you all got a chuckle.

So gimme the dice… I need to pick pocket some clothes.

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World Building 304 and 305 Percent of Power and Perception of Power

Hey there readers. So yeah I took a week off to take care of other things and rest up a bit and never said a bloody word. So it goes some times. 🙂

With these two parts of creating a world for supers being so tightly interconnected most of the time I thought I would save myself a little work and put them together into a single entry.

The overall percentage of people who have power in your world will change things dramatically. If you take a look at most superhero settings in comics you will usually have something like a 1 per 10000 to 1 per 100000 ratio of people with super powers compared to people who do not have super powers. Although I think in Marvel Comics the City of New York is getting closer to the 1 per 100 ratio.

If you would like another comparison there is an episode of the old Disney Darkwing Duck series (I think, I cant find it so I am not really sure if I did not imagine the whole sodding thing) in which a superhuman from another world comes to DWD’s world and says there is a mission only he can resolve. Well it turns out that everyone on that world had super powers and they needed someone without powers to be the constant victim who needed saving.

There is also a difference between high power and low power levels. If you look at DC comics Legion of Superheroes. They are in a setting where many of the alien races have what would be considered to be super powers. And for the most part every member of the race has them. There are some powers though that are essential to survival in their native world, but seem silly if not useless outside of that environment. (cough cough Matter Eater Lad cough cough) Most of the time this results in the character being considered useless and relegated to the Legion of Substitute Heroes, or just kicked out. However when Superboy/girl (now that would be an interesting character) shows up with so much power, he/she is in without question.

And then if you want to see how that all ties into the overall perception of power in the real world… just take a look at political or military or even business leaders. The folks without power (in whatever way you measure it) are usually afraid of the people with power unless they have a way to level the playing field.  Or if there is a method by which you can take the power away from them.

I think by now you are getting the idea.

Low power and high frequency of powers usually means that acceptance is easy.

High power and low frequency usually means a lot of fear and really stupid things begin done to protect the innocent against this strange and powerful threat. (Think X-men)

I mean in psychological terms it is really common in humans to fear what you do not know or do not have.

But the thing is that you are going to be creating your own world. With your own timeline and setting and reasons for powers. Well, if you want to you will be. So why don’t you decide?

Personally I like using the fearful masses type of setting because it gives me an excuse to have a lot of people doing stupid things to protect themselves when they dont have to. It can really establish a sense of, “This is why we need to be heroes, to save them from themselves.” into characters.

But when I created Delta City I set that environment up so that unless you were from out of town, seeing someone fly by on a carpet, or in a cone of energy was just a “Hmmm 9am, must be Tuesday.” level of acceptance of the strange, and different and powerful. Heck in that setting the scariest things are the trash men and women because they have means of dealing with ANYTHING that might pop out of the wood work when they are picking up trash.

That is also why I put these steps at this time in the world building process for supers. You already know where, why and for how long powers have been around. That can help you scale the every day persons reactions. And give you some great story elements. I mean if powers are showing up in 1 out of every 10 people. And they have been around for a couple hundred years. Acceptance should be rather high. Actually at the couple hundred years point as long as the supers have not tried to take over the world too often even at the 1 out of every 10000 should be having a very high acceptance of powers.

But it is your world, and you dont have to do it that way if you dont want to. And thats the fun of it. You build your world and explain it how you want it to be.

Now then for the world I am building as part of the exercise for this presentation I have decided that powers are going to be at the 1 – 25000 level. So a city with a population of 1000000 should have 40 super powered individuals in it. Yeah I know that you need to take into account the local suburban regions and overall population growth over areas that are not directly incorporated that could up the total number of supers in that city by as much as 130% but I really dont want to get that realistic) Also with a short time line I am going to go ahead with the ‘fear and loathing’ reaction of the masses.

All I can really do at this point is to suggest you think about it. Maybe on your earth there are countries and places that accept supers and some that dont. Some might seem them as agents of evil or possessing powers that should only be in the domain of deity, so they have to be purged. Maybe they are seen as saviors. Maybe no one cares.

Its your world, build it your way. And have fun.

Ok so I need to get going again…

Gimme the dice, I need to see what happens when 23 super powers converge on the same bouncy ball pit… no really I need to see this…

Have fun and keep gaming all…

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Tales from the game table

Now then just to set the stage, the featured image here is from M.W. Kaluta. I dont own the image, but I have seen it all over the web. I think I may be the only person whom I have seen who gives the name of the creator and their web address.

Anyway, I have decided to toss another aspect of my game history and such into the blog. Tales from the game table is going to be another ongoing series like the world building, and game reviews that reaches back to memorable events and game sessions to re live times when things went… oddly. Sometimes it will be my own stupidity and sometimes it will be the craziness of others.

Now I am kinda hoping that some of the other folks I have gamed with will reach back to me (Dan, John… others…) and remind me of a few, especially of the times I really made a hash of things so that I can laugh at myself.

I will be referring to people in the real world in these articles, by name. Not full name, and frequently, if I can remember, I will tie the real name into character names to give a little better look at what the heck was going on at the game table. However when these stories are about the people more than their characters… no character name will be included.

I am making this post so that word can spread and the next time I put this banner and image up on my blog folks will have been forewarned. I know that not everyone I have ever gamed with will know of my blog, or see me on Facebook or other places my blog cross posts. But a few may spread the word and things may get around. You see if there is anyone out there that wants me to keep my yap shut about game session stupidity then I want them to speak up. Tell me not to post it, or something.

If I happen to get someone speaking up after I have posted something I will be happy to take it down and issue them a direct apology. I don’t think there will be anything that I can say that would be damaging to someone reputation, career, or personal life. I may damage their ego… but that should be it.

All in all this should be a fun set of flashbacks to strange and silly moments in my gaming past. I hope to entertain and have some fun.

Ok so thats going to be it this week. Short post, short note, short sheet.

Now gimme the dice, I have to make a random roll on a d10000 to see which crazy story goes first.

Keep gaming and keep having fun folks.

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Game Review #40 Night City – Cyberpunk 2020 (S)

Greetings readers. With the still pending release of Cyberpunk 2077 from CD Projekt I thought I would get a little ahead of the curve and pull out a few of the Cyberpunk 2020 books and see if I could give myself an edge when 2077 is finally released.

On the top of my list is one of the game supplements that has been at the top of my list for years when it comes to city guides. City guides have been around for a long time in gaming, and one of the first that really got me going on the idea of an entire publication for a city setting was the City State of the Invincible Overlord. I got the Mayfair Games boxed set version when it came out (1986/87) and was floored at the amount of detail that they had and it got incorporated into many of my game worlds going forward. There were others that I found and read/used/loved/hated after that boxed set. Some older, some newer, but none of them captured my imagination or respect in the same manner that the City State did until I found Night City. I will freely admit that I did not get it as soon as it was printed, but it was not too long there after.

Night City, after I read it, set my new high standard for a City guide. There have been a few that have come close sense, but it takes a lot to equal it.

Let me give you a few ideas why.

To start off with in its presentation the Night City guide is formatted to look like the kind of material you would get from the in city Data Terms. Data terminals that you can use to get everything from maps to the daily newspaper. It then goes from a general overview of the city, with everything from weather to hot spots before going into a history of the city itself. Then it moves into things that get a bit more specific, like depending on your finances where you might live and how you do it, the descriptions of street gangs (the Bozo’s are still one of my all time favorite gangs and I am reeeeeeeeealy hoping they make an appearance in the 2077 game). Then it finally moves into specific regions of the city. Including specific locations, hot spots, local characters and even the types or some very specific contacts that you can develop in each region.

Now then inside that presentation it also slips in game specific stats. However it does it in such a way that you feel like it is supposed to be there. Like when talking about the street gangs they do not give you set stats for your generic members of the gangs. But it gives you averages and then adds a little color as well. For example the Interlock System that Cyberpunk uses has a stat called Cool that defines your mental stability, and a few other traits. Under the listing for the Bozo’s under Cool it has the comment – “Do crazy people truly have Cool?” (Page 53). That kind of added flavor gives a nice touch that does not distract from the presentation and still makes it useful in game.

The third big deal is that this book is actually great for all of the in game roles that players can have and that game masters can abuse for NPCs. Not just in local hots spots or encounters and contacts. It also has layouts for a few sites on the Net so that you can set things up for hacks. It has details on corps and the law so if you are playing a corp or a cop you can have material to enhance your game. And it has details that you can use to add to any character that would have been hinted at in their Lifepath at character creation. And for those that dont know Lifepath is a series of tables that you roll on at character creation to set up a background for our character. Or at least the framework for one that you can flesh out.

Last big deal is that this is one of the few game supplements in a cyberpunk or scifi setting in which, to myself at least, all of the art and technical-esqe art fits. It is rare that you can say that about the art in any game book. Usually there is something that takes you out of the moment and makes you go… why… really, why is that here?

So I have no idea if this game book would be helpful at all when 2077 comes out. The scenes that have been shared so far give me a bit of hope that at least some of the material will be on the nose. And since Mike Pondsmith himself is involved with the creation of 2077, and he is a solid story teller and enjoys Easter eggs as much as anyone, I cannot see it being completely useless.

Ok so thats my rant about it, lets see how I set the numbers.

Overall Fluff 5/5 – Read all of the above and you will see that the fluff is out of control here. I would have given it a six out of five if I could let myself out of my own rules.

Overall Crunch 2/5 – There are no new rules in this book, but there is also nothing that breaks existing rules. So it has a low score here because nothing is added.

Overall Mod 5/5 – Interlock is one of those systems that you can mod the heck out of. The Fusion System and CyberFang prove this. And the material is presented in such a way that it is very easy to drop in your own NPC’s or full fledged features to make the city match you own game, or even game engine if you want to export it.

Overall Fun 5/5 – Again read the above and you will know I think this is a blast. Even though the setting is a dystopian cyberpunk work.

Total Score 17/20 – Ok, pretty high score. And it is WORTH IT. Nuff Said. (Nuff Said credited to the memory of Stan Lee, because he is forever awesome.)

Ok so thats my post. Hope the new year is kicking much ass for everyone already and that your game days rock even harder than last year.

Now gimme the dice, I have to see how many Bozo’s are around here and clowning…

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World Building 303 – Timeline

Welcome to the last post for 2018. Not a bad place to be talking about the timeline for your supers world game setting.

Picking your timeline is similar to the 302 subject of Which Earth. But it remains distinct. Because even if you have a setting that is in the future, or past, or on another world you need to know when things happened. Like who was the first superhuman? When did they first appear? If there have always been super-humans then how has that impacted things?

If you want a good example of the differences that can come about take a look at DC Comics original multiverse. The golden age version of characters became its own earth. With events having started around World War 2. The silver age versions had their own earth and had characters with backgrounds going to WW2 but most of the starting events were in the Vietnam War era. And then you stacked up other earths on top of that. Now then this is a reaaaaaaaly over simplified statement, and a big time DC Comics fan would likely pick it to pieces but I am not trying to give a history of the DC universe, just use it for an example. Both of these starting worlds had their own Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. But the timelines that they came about in were distinct. Their morals were slightly different. They interacted with the world and the characters around them differently. And that made the stories different.

Another good example would be to compare the Marvel Comics 1602 storyline to the regular modern world story setting. The characters are the same overall in regards to their powers, but with the difference in timeline it makes a massive difference in how their interactions play out.

So how do you go about picking your timeline? Well in the end that is all part of the main question of – What do you want to run a story about? Followed up by – How much work do you want to put into this setting?

If you want to use a historical setting then you really should research it so you can bring all the flavor of it to the table. You will also have to recognize though that by adding supers to the flow of history you are going to need to change it. Such as if the Roman Empire had super-humans in it, would it have been noticed? Would they have been seen as children of the gods? Would the empire have fallen when it did? Or might it have fallen sooner? Or maybe even still be going on today?

If you want a modern or near future setting then you have to think about when super-humans came into the picture. Mostly due to the fact that they will have an impact on everything from popular culture to technology. And if their power levels are really high then their fights might have given the world something like World War 3. A great example of this can be seen in the White Wolf game setting for Aberrant. The game was published in 1999. And the setting was in 2008. But the level of technology that was available to the world in that version of 2008 was quite high due mostly to the contributions of super humans.

If you want to go into the future, or be on a ‘not earth’ setting then you can go pretty wild. But your timeline is still going to be very important. If you want a great example of the impact that could be had on a future setting then I would recommend taking a look at a very specific version of the Legion of Super Heroes. This version is very much a young supers versus the establishment setting. And the impact of super-humans in the everyday world is rather well told.

Another aspect of the timeline is that it will help establish what the everyday person in your setting sees in regards to super powers. Have they been around long enough that they are now kind of mundane, “Hey Bob, yeah someone on fire just flew through the office so we have to shut down for the day again. Yeah third time this month.” Or are they so new to the scene that every time they are seen it makes international news headlines, “HEY BOB! I just got interviewed by the BBC. Yeah its about that guy that was on fire who flew through the office! You can see me on the security footage gaping like an idiot sure, but what else are you going to do when someone is flying past your desk on FIRE!” Now modify those statements based on the timelines placement in history. What would that sound like in the 1300’s? Or maybe in the 2200’s?

So some of these possible settings will take more work than others. Unless of course you are already a hobbyist/enthusiast/big geek for, any of the elements that is going to make the timeline easier for you to work with. Altering history can actually be one of the hardest to work with as you have to build your NPC’s into the context of actual history. The morals, values, methods of speech and expression, all come into play. And I can promise you that you will have players that look into world history and try and prove you wrong so they can get away with something. If you go modern you will have all he basic challenges with a timeline. Everyone will want to know when and how things changed. If you go future you can get away with just about anything because even taking Moore’s Law into account, predicting where technology, and social culture will be in two hundred years is really not all that feasible. If you are going onto another world then you end up facing all of these challenges and then some. And in that you can truly make everything your own, but then again you have to convey that to all of the people gaming in that world and help them get their grounding in that world.

Even though all that can seem intimidating you need to remember the biggest question in all of this.

What do you want to have fun with? 

Answer that question and all of these world building steps should fall into place fairly easily.

So on my side I already mentioned that I was going to go near future. My plan was to take things forward to about 2040 to have my event that adds supers. I have some details worked into that but those are for another time. Then to have the game setting active I was going to push that to about 2080. That means the world has had forty years to come to grips not only with the event and its impact, but the presence of super-humans and what they can do. It even allows time for cultural, and social bias to build up. Because fear and prejudice make such awesome story telling elements. Just ask the X-men if you don’t believe me.

Anyway so thats it for now, for 2018 really.

So keep up the gaming, keep up the fun and keep your mind open. Gaming is here for your enjoyment, so make up your own mind as to what works for you and have fun.

Now gimme the dice, I have to see where in 2019 things will go crazy…er

 

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Product review – Murphy’s Rules

Happy holidays readers.

I want to keep posting even over the holiday season, but in giving respect to my family and household it will be a short one this time.

This is the first time I have set something up as a Product review and not a Game review. Depending on how it goes I may do more in the future.

This particular product is a collection of material that Steve Jackson Games published between 1980 and 1998 in various media that they had been producing like the Space Gamer magazine and Pyramid. Quite frankly I have heard rumors that there was a sequel published but I have never been able to find it, in person or in a PDF format online. Steve Jackson Games website does not list it as something they have ever created, so my hopes are low that it exists.

This book is 80 pages of taking pot shots at stupid rules in role playing games, board games, card games and computer games. Each one is given a little bit of art to illustrate the silliness, and the art interpretations are just as funny as the rules themselves. This is one of my favorite examples…

Image result for Murphys rules

The book also contains a few pages of random tables, small art projects, and it closes with a written article that reads like something out of a Readers Digest advice or letters column from the 80’s.

Now then given that this material is from 1980 – 1998 originally you may think it is strange to still be amused by all of this. Personally I think it is a great way to look back and be able to say that games have always had issues. Strange rules, stating the obvious, or just plain weird. And the fact that game designers have had to put things like that in their games means that players have always had issues too. I mean if you feel it is necessary to put a rule in your game that states that a dead character can take no action… how many players during your play test sessions tried to actually have their dead characters do something?!?

It is also for me a great way to look back at games I have played for years and see how far they have come, or not come in some cases. It also reminds me of games that I have not played in years and lets me quietly flashback and go… I wonder what heck I was thinking playing that mess… or … I wonder if I can find a copy of that now… 🙂

If I have to give something like this a review rating by the numbers there is only one category that it really should have…

Overall Fun – 5/5 – Funny, well presented, cute art, and a ton of flashbacks, the good kind, make this little book something that I am determined to always have in my collection.

I hope that everyone out there has a great holiday season, keeps gaming, and thinking for themselves in regards to everything they enjoy.

Ok so gimme the dice, I need to roll on the random pole-arm generator to see what I am getting the neighborhood orcs for the holidays.

 

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