Psi-Punk is a 193-paged cyberpunk roleplaying game written by Accessible Games’ Jacob Wood powered by the Fudge System. Like many other recently released roleplaying games it has been funded over Kickstarter. Although it didn’t do as well as Numenera or Fate Core, I am very glad it has met its funding goal. In a nut-shell it’s a trip back to the 80s and early 90s and I mean that in a good way!
Let’s have a look at the presentation of the book first. This review is based on a PDF copy graciously provided by the author, so I can’t judge the physical product. The PDF has a clear and simple layout. It’s not too fancy but readability is good. I especially like the artwork. The b&w interior artwork reminds me a lot of what you would expect from a game from the early 90s or late 80s. It fits the setting perfectly well, aside from a few pieces that look a bit off. But that’s probably just me. Overall the artwork and layout are pretty good, even though you can’t compare it with the full-color interiors that are so popular nowadays.
What sets Psi-punk apart from classic cyberpunk games is the setting. While you’ll find all the common tropes like cybernetics, megacorps, runners etc. there’s one addition: psionic abilities. The first chapter of the book gives a good overview of the history of the world of Psi-punk, gives information on the major nations (like the North American Union), important corporations (like Magicorp), and other organizations and factions. In Psi-punk there are people which can use psionic abilities to do incredible feats but there’s also technology able to emulate a psionicist’s abilities. These devices are usually called “magic”. Overall Psi-punk presents an interesting twist on the classic cyberpunk formula. It definitely has its charm, even though I have to cringe every time I read “magic”.
I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Kickstarter. One the one hand I am totally excited about all the cool new and amazing projects I can support there but on the other hand I too often get tempted to put down my money even though I probably shouldn’t. But let’s not think about money for a moment but focus on the excitement!
Hollow Earth Expeditions: Revelations of Mars This is one of the products I’ve been waiting for for a very long time. Back in 2010 when I visited Gen Con I was hoping I could already pick it up there, but it had been delayed. Lack of time and money have obviously been the cause for this and the Kickstarter is meant to finally get Revelations of Mars done. So what is Revelations all about? It’s a sword and planet sourcebook for Hollow Earth Expedition, the pulp RPG using the Ubiquity System. At the time of this writing the project has already been funded and several stretch goals have been reached including new addons (like special Relevations of Mars dice), a free Fat Dragon Martian terrain set, and a free adventure. The Kickstarter will end in about 59 hours, so you still have a chance to pledge a few dollars.
Space 1889 Space 1889 is probably the granddaddy of all steampunk RPGs even though they used the term Victorian Sci-Fi back in the day. Alas the original rules were a bit clunky, so German publisher Uhrwerk Verlag got the license to produce a new version using Exile Games’ Ubiquity rules. Now Chronicle City’s Angus Abranson is running a Kickstarter for the funding of an English-language version of this new Space 1889. Aside from the regular edition, backers can get a special limited edition book bound in faux leather and heat-branded with the Space 1889 logo. And if you’re pledging £100 or more you’ll even get a special edition bound in real leather, signed and numbered. Sweet! As with the Revelations of Mars KS, the goal has already been reached and several stretch goals have been unlocked. The KS will run for another 27 days, so you still have some time to decide whether you want to support the new Space 1889 or not.
Iron Empires: Void I have to thank my fellow blog author Roberto for pointing out this Kickstarter. Iron Empires is the comic series Luke Crane’s award-winning RPG Burning Empires is based on. Even though I wasn’t able to wrap my head around the rules in Burning Empires, I still loved the setting and artwork which were created by the creator of the comic series, Christopher Moeller. I haven’t read any of the comics yet, but luckily there are several pledge levels were you can get the PDFs of the older books in the series. Void will be a 112-paged hardcover book and like its predecessors be a standalone, complete story. The KS hasn’t reached its goal of $16,000 yet, but there are still 23 days to go. For a pledge for just $10 you get a digital copy of the book and for just $10 more you even get digital copies of the first two books. So what are you waiting for?
These are the Kickstarters I supported in the last few days. Is there anything else interesting I should know about? What Kickstarters have you backed recently? Please share your thoughts in the comment below!
Things have been quiet on the blog last week. I was enjoying a few days off and actually found a new and exciting pastime: ComputerCraft. ComputerCraft is a modification for the highly popular game Minecraft and it allows you to craft and program computers and robots called turtles in-game. Yeah, this is totally unrelated to RPGs, but I am currently so excited about ComputerCraft that I decided to post about it here. I hope you can forgive me.
The programs are written in LUA, a pretty easy to learn scripting language. I haven’t done any programming in a while, but I found it pretty easy to write some simple programs in ComputerCraft. Especially programming the various turtles is a lot of fun. I always found mining in Minecraft pretty boring, but now I can just order a mining turtle to do the work for me. If my interest in ComputerCraft doesn’t wane pretty quickly, I might actually start a ComputerCraft blog and post my programs there. Please let me know in the comments if you are interested in something like that. And now back to our regular program…
P.S.: The trailer above was created for the launch of CC1.3. At the time of this writing CC1.55 is available.
The first character I ever played in a roleplaying game – I was playing TORG at a con in ‘92 – was a hard-boiled detective from the Nile Empire. I love watching movies based on the stories by Chandler and Hammett and one of the first roleplaying games I’ve written was called Thrilling Noir Stories. So I guess it would be fair to call me a fan of the Noir genre. It’s no surprise that I eventually stumbled upon Edge Of Midnight, Rob Vaux’ fantasy/noir roleplaying game.
Edge of Midnight is a very beautiful 225-paged book with a black & white interior. The interior artwork and layout fit the genre perfectly and give you a good impression of the “feel” of the game. The PDF files kindly provided by the author Rob Vaux for the purpose of this review had some minor font issues, but I guess this was just a problem with the particular PDF and not the product itself. I’m definitely tempted to get a hardcover version of the game.
Now let’s have a look at the setting. The world of Edge of Midnight is not unlike our own in the late 1940s. The most powerful and influential nation of the world is the Unified Commonwealth, which is at the same time a brighter and darker version of the United States of America. A couple of years ago the world waged war against a group called the Order of Nu. This order introduced magic to the world which sparked a world-wide conflict. Magic-use was wide-spread and caused the rise of Gaunts, transformed humans with inhuman strength and speed, but who also leech energy from anyone around them. Magic is now a reality in the Unified Commonwealth but highly restricted. Aside from a few state-employed or licensed Warlock use of magic is banned. That doesn’t keep criminals and other low-life from employing magic to commit their crimes. Oh, there’s one more thing: for some reason nobody can clearly remember anything that happened during the war or before that. History is all but lost to humanity.
Last week I posted about three upcoming games I’m excited about. Today I want to add a couple more to that list.
Number one on my list is Shadowrun 5th Edition. Yes, you read right. After many years of abstinence from Shadowrun I am excited about this fantasy-meets-cyberpunk RPG again. Shadowrun 1st Edition was among the first roleplaying games I bought and I ran this game for many years.
I think it was around the time the third edition was released when I lost interest in Shadowrun and focused on other games. Over the years I also moved away from rules-heavy games to mainly rules-light games. From what I’ve read so far, SR5 is much more streamlined than older editions and if the core rulebook looks as good as the quickstart PDF, we’re in for a treat!
World War Cthulhu was recently announced by Cubicle 7 and I am already extremely excited. World War Cthulhu will not be just one game but a whole series of settings and adventures for Call of Cthulhu set into World War I, World War II, the Cold War and World War III! I haven’t found that many details on WW Cthulhu yet, but I always wanted to run a game set into the Cold War with Lovecraftian elements in it. A Colder War from Charles Stross is one of my favorite short stories and I hope that the World War Cthulhu Cold War book will allow me to to run a game inspired by that story.
The next game on my list is from Cubicle 7 as well. Rocket Age is an alternate history retro sci-fi roleplaying game using the Vortex System which powers Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who and Primeval games. Check out the awesome trailer they’ve created:
Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for more details on the game. According to the announcement on the Cubicle 7 website, the game will feature radium-powered rockets, thunder lizards on Venus, ray gun wielding heroes, martians, and more cool stuff. What’s not to love?
Last night Jason Marker (check out the interview I did with him back in 2011) got in touch with me to tell me about his latest project: Accursed. Accursed is a Savage Worlds setting Jason, Ross Watson, and John Dunn are currently working on. So, what’s Accursed all about? Let me quote the official blog for you:
This tale begins with a world of dark fantasy and perilous adventure, where the forces of evil have triumphed.
In such a world, those who remain uncorrupted by wickedness must rely upon monsters to fight against the darkness. Witches have ruled the land since the last battles of conquest, but their Grand Coven has been sundered, leaving behind remnants of a once-mighty army. The remnants of the horde include captured citizens of the conquered nations that fought as the Witches’ shock troops.
These are the Accursed—the Witchmarks burned into their flesh and souls transformed these men and women into monstrous forms. Now, unable to return to their former lives, the Accursed wander the land, giving aid to those in need in an attempt to atone for past sins. Some have joined the Order of the Penitent, an organization devoted to ridding the world of the Witches and their evil influence. Others offer their skills as warriors, alchemists, and spies to the highest bidder. Yet others have succumbed to corruption, greed, or insanity.
Light has failed, darkness is ascendant—only those bearing the forms of monsters can stand against the tide of the Witches’ evil. The Accursed are this world’s only hope—they must learn to embrace their curse or to fight against it, and find some way to free themselves forever of their Witchmark.
This is the world of Accursed.
The characters you can play are Dhampirs (half-vampires), Golems, Vargr (werewolves), Mummies, Mongrels (men with bestial limbs etc.), and Revenants (living dead). If I understand the pitch correctly the players are some kind of supernatural A-Team helping people and fighting back the darkness around and within them. There will be a Kickstarter later this year and the website already provides some background on the various aspects of the setting. I can’t wait to learn more about the world of Accursed!
After being sick last week I finally feel fine enough to write another blog post. Today I want to write about what games I’m currently excited about. Yeah, I know, I am easily excitable, but trust me, these games are definitely something to be excited about.
The first game on my list is Monte Cook’s upcoming Numenéra. Numenéra is science fantasy roleplaying game set into the far future of Earth. Science is so advanced it basically looks and feels like magic. The setting also shares a few tropes with the post-apocalyptic genre. Several civilizations each spanning millions of years have fallen and the people living in the Ninth World search the ruins for artifacts from ages past. The system will be rules-light and promote gameplay that centers on characters and story – not rules. I didn’t back the Kickstarter back in the day, because a) I just hadn’t enough money to spare and b) I wasn’t really convinced that Numenéra was the right game for me. But the more I read about it the more excited I got, and so I decided to preorder the PDF and get the books when they are available in local stores.
I am a big fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, so it’s no surprise I am looking forward to the new Firefly RPG Margaret Weis Productions is working on. It will not be an update of their Serenity RPG but a totally new game built from the ground up using the Cortex+ System. I have to admit I had my issues with Cortex+ in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s probably a good system, but I have a hard time getting my head around it. Hopefully the new Firefly RPG will be written in a way that I can understand it. Nevertheless I am very excited. In my opinion the Verse is a great place to play in and it’s great that MWP has got the rights again to work on a new RPG set into this setting. Hopefully they can keep the license a bit longer than the Marvel one.
Last but not least I want to mention the Atomic Robo roleplaying game by Evil Hat. Atomic Robo is a comic book series about a nuclear powered robot built by Nikola Tesla who’s fighting Nazis and other evil doers with SCIENCE! I didn’t actually know about the comics before I read the game’s announcement but I totally fell in love with it as soon as I checked it out. The roleplaying game will use the Fate Core rules and should be out anytime soon now. The comics are funny, witty and very exciting. If the roleplaying game will even be half as fun, we will be in for a ride. Alas preorder hasn’t started yet, so I’ll have to wait a bit longer before I can throw more money at Evil Hat Productions. ^_^
What are the games you’re excited about right now? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!