Freitag, 21. Februar 2020

[English] Cyberpunk districts L1.

L(evel)1 refers to my Citygen method, meaning the districts below are all a single die high. Therefore the main security measure employed is Tracking > Say where you go.

(cw: suicide)

1 Fields draped in cerecloth.

Description: Only lifted at harvest, special actifoil covers all agricultural product. Former croptracker masts rise spindly behind the rows, having been refashioned to prevent theft as well as contamination.

Characters: Someone walking their dog|A technician beside her bicycle, observing wrapdolls|A squad of navy recruits on a run.

Sample buildings: Wind turbine [2d!].

Special table: d6 remnants
1 A fitness tracker set to 01/01/19.
2 A dragon earring.
3 Stacks of concrete railroad ties by the dirt road.
4 An overgrown polytunnel.
5 A rusty balloon burner.
6 A tarp-covered SUV among trees.

2 Droning rail tracks elevated on concrete tuning forks.

Description: Withering graffiti covers concrete flanks licked by railway police lasers. An anti-grip surface is supposed to prevent suicides. The occasional buzzdoll keeps the bases clean from vegetation.

Characters: Man pushing a beaten-up cargo bike that says ITHACA on it.

Sample buildings: Electrical substation.

Special table: d6 graffiti
1 Fridays for Fu.
2 (headless corpse).
3 onemoresign.
4 (birds in flight).
5 Slayer.
6 (a blue vespa).

3 The river's edge against a horizon of steel and light.

Description: A tepid flow, aquiescent to aseptic parallel embankments. Reflectors and odd, blank signs guide wispy findolls. Low cargo floating along like detritus.  

Characters: A fisherwoman's interactive flicker|Hikers.

Sample buildings: Decaying channel watch station|Builder's yard.

Special table: d6 things on the other side
1 A body.
2 An overbright football field.
3 Fireworks.
4 Chalk-drawn flowers.
5 An unused asphalt road.
6 An inconspicuous floodgate.

4 A hollow levee, the squelch of dark water.

Description: A Leuven patent for wave power generation. Lying on the shore like a stranded beast drawing deep breaths, an endless automaton, white scales jittering.

Characters: A man in his booth selling flowers|Kiteboarders out on the sea|A kid crying over spilled icecream.

Sample buildings: Cottage rental|Scrapyard.

Special table: d6 sounds
1 Wind chimes.
2 The rythmic clanking of the composite scales.
3 A sighing breeze.
4 The whir of e-bikes.
5 Recorded birdcalls from a faded educational panel.
6 Surf.

5 A vacant officescape.

Description: What is left of a tech hub partly converted to cheap housing. Wired up garages and empty streets attest to an automotive past that never came. 

Characters: Children doing homework in a former re-focus area|Two women in Salt company shirts descending into a garage for maintenance on aquaculture units|A resident emerging for the hourly containertram.

Sample buildings: Converted office building [2d!]|Closed down school.

Special table: d6 forgotten startups
1 Heldenbox.
2 Pronomics.
3 horizont werken.
4 Pinwheel UG.
5 IJsselmed.
6 Loudheim Studios.

6 Pale viewing hills.

Description: Unlived-in residential blocks amidst a brittle forest. Semi-dismantled wind turbines loom.

Characters: An old couple visiting the graveyard|An empty bus, the driver going for a smoke|E-bikers on a forest track.

Sample buildings: Decrepit church|Defunct shopping center.

Special table: d6 textile remains
1 Thin curtains in cracking window frames.
2 A moldy banner protesting wind power entangled in the branches above.
3 Bleached leaflets behind glass.
4 A sunshade in a weathered car.
5 A collection bin surrounded by rotting clothes.
6 Wind-ripped stripes of a flag.

Sonntag, 16. Februar 2020

[English] Contacts generator.

In the vein of my minimalist building functions generator, here's one for contacts.

It gives out individual contacts but also groups or social circles. Then combines them with two more or less opposed modes of interaction the given character has with that contact or scene. Pick one or both or roll a d6 to determine where the character falls between the two (left 1 to right 6).

As with the building functions a bit of interpretation is necessary to fill a character's chat list.

Contact Verb
1 [name] 1 talk to|remain silent
2 friends 2 ask for help|support
3 family 3 think about|hear from
4 community 4 work|party
5 network 5 move|dream
6 ... people 6 act|hide

Here's the same thing automated:


... people: work|party (4)
Network: act|hide (1)
Community: move|dream (3)

= despite being asked at Schiller's every time, she prefers their parties to offers of collaboration on "projects." Sticks to her super competitive programmers' network instead. Campaigns for the local conservatives when she finds time.  

Community: talk to|remain silent (3)
Family: move|dream (1)
Network: act|hide (2)

= occasional poster on a boardgame forum. A bad case of a helicopter parent, constantly organising his kids. Looking for a partner.

Friends: act|hide (5)
Family: act|hide (1)
Family: think about|hear from (6)

= reserved towards his friends. Works at a rental family agency. Has very obtrusive parents himself but can't bring himself to confront them about it.

Montag, 10. Februar 2020

Fünf Rollenspiele, auf die ihr 2020 ein Auge haben solltet:

Auch 2020 gebe ich wieder einen kleinen Ausblick auf die spannendsten Rollenspielprojekte des Jahres. Ähnlich wie 2019 wird vielleicht ein Teil der untenstehenden Spiele 2020 noch nicht realisiert.

Alone on a Journey
Das vor etwa einem Jahr erschienene Alone Among the Stars von Takuma Okada darf zweifellos bereits zu den besten Rollenspielen der Dekade gezählt werden. Chronologisch, also des vergangenen Jahrzehnts. Oder inhaltlich, als stilprägend bzw. -veranschaulichend für die frühen 2020er Jahre. Nie war Rollenspiel einfacher, unaufgeregter, offener. Klickt euch hier zur ansprechenden Twine-Umsetzung durch und probiert es aus. Alone on a Journey versammelt nun in Zine-Form drei Alone... Rollenspiele und gibt Tipps für eigene Hacks - viele davon gibt es bereits auf der neuen Indie-Heimat

Wenigstens was Rollenspiele betrifft, wehrt sich kaum ein Genre mehr dagegen, neu gedacht zu werden, als Cyberpunk. Kein Wunder also, dass verschiedene Projekte ebendiese Blockade endlich sprengen wollen. Darunter fallen zum Beispiel SYNC (Kira Magrann), In Which We Live And Breathe (Ashton McAllan), Balikbayan (Jamila R. Nedjadi) und eben: Ascendancy. Autorin Ruby adaptiert das aus Grant Howitts Spire bekannte Resistance System für ein faszinierendes Setting in den Ruinen eines zerstörten Weltraumaufzugs. Hauptfiguren sind Cyborgs, die keine Waffen mehr sein wollen. Das Spiel ist in einer Betaversion bereits erhältlich, allerdings steht der Kickstarter unmittelbar bevor.

Red Carnations on a Black Grave
Ein Spiel binnen zwei Monaten im Paris des Jahres 1871. Der verlorenen Kampf um die Pariser Kommune. Diesen Hintergrund hat Catherine Ramen ihrem Rollenspiel Red Carnations on a Black Grave (was für ein Titel!) gegeben, das sie schon im letzten Jahr erfolgreich crowdfinanziert hat. Inspirieren ließ sie sich bei der Entwicklung unter anderem vom Indie-Klassiker Montségur 1244. Neben diversen Interviews, in denen ihre Begeisterung für den gewählten Stoff deutlich wird, gibt es beim One Shot Podcast bereits ein Actual Play zu hören. Eine umfangreiche Besprechung des Spiels auf Deutsch findet ihr beim Phexbasar.

Impossible Landscapes
Nicht um ein eigenständiges Spiel, sondern um eine Kampagne handelt es sich bei Dennis Detwillers Impossible Landscapes. Wenn der Autor absoluter Ausnahmeszenarios wie Night Floors oder Music From a Darkened Room die erste Kampagne in 28 Jahren Delta Green auf abschließend wohl etwa 300 Seiten bannt, sind die Erwartungen grenzenlos. Nicht unmöglich, dass Detwiller sie trotzdem erfüllt.

Mit seinem Sci-Fi Horror Rollenspiel Mothership hat Sean McCoy in Gestalt zweier eilig zusammengeworfener Zines, des Player's Survival Guide und des ersten Moduls, Dead Planet (zusammen mit Fiona Maeve Geist und Donn Stroud), nicht nur die eisernen Fantasyketten der OSR gesprengt, sondern mal eben eine der vielversprechendsten Spielelinien der letzten Jahre in den Orbit befördert. Vielleicht selbst etwas überrascht vom Ausmaß seines Erfolges ist nach Modulen wie A Pound of Flesh oder Gradient Descent jetzt ein Box-Set in Arbeit, um das Ganze zu konsolidieren. Darin soll auch der bisher vermisste SL-Leitfaden nachgeliefert werden.

Samstag, 8. Februar 2020

[English] d e s e r t - a Cyberpunk rpg: Example of play.

In a classic fantasy rpg the dungeon would be the - so to speak - standard unit of play and a new game might reasonably start with the party in front of a dark, ivy-clad gate leading under the mountain.

In d e s e r t, as a Cyberpunk rpg, the unit of play is the city building. Usually, the game starts with the players rolling up a single building together or choosing a pregenerated one. I'm doing the latter and pick the Apartment complex.

As opposed to classic play, d e s e r t is not an adventure game per se. So while characters will still enter the game in front of the chosen building, they are not in a group and their reasons for being here can't be assumed adventurous. The goal for character creation is then to come up with someone who won't just pass by the building.


I start off with rolls for >>look.


(the skirt probably has little, colourful images of suitcases on it)

I proceed to rolling up >>contacts.

Family|to remain silent with in restaurants of dark wood and brass
A few people|whose dogs I walk 
Eureka|for the night off I'll have at some point

I could be on my way to the Apartment complex alone or with a contact. I decide on the third option which is another random table for >>convoy.

A bored student group.

That is who I'm with. All in all this character seems like someone young, busy, some kind of tutor or teacher. Maybe in architecture or environmental tech which is why I'm taking the students to the Apartment complex.

For >>place I roll a 1 which means I get a lone d6 to roll up the building I stay at. Skipped here. (1d) certainly points to the character living very differently than the people of the (6d) Apartment complex.

As to >>gear I start out with a phone. The stuff I have at home or in storage is skipped here.

Everyone can be a >>hacker in d e s e r t. In this case, I decide that my character isn't though.

I pick Jun(iper) for a name.


My latest pitch for how d e s e r t plays is this:

d e s e r t is a GMless Cyberpunk roleplaying game focusing on interaction with an within a randomly generated city.

A token-based reaction system ensures that it makes a difference what districts and even individual buildings characters move through and how they do it. This tangibility comes from omnipresent security and surveillance systems of various types.

The city looks at you as much as you look at the city.

The city d e s e r t is set in provides a public access app that visualizes its entire security layout and the security systems installed in every building. Tool-wise this manifests as dice stacks, a building sheet and the viewer (see below).

Since I have the building sheet for the pregenerated Apartment complex, I set up the viewer for section 1 'Entrances'. The blue tokens indicate that a respective statement is required. I don't have to say what I feel - the orange token.

(Jun) Turning to my students, I ask their impressions of the place. Mumbling. Some are taking pictures of the cat on the info desk. I feel tired, maybe it's the building, too. The veinscan doesn't take my synthpalm, obviously, but does offer to download a free Leuven app. Students ask to go to the shops. I tell them they can if they input their findings as discussed.

At this point I have said something in all the required security categories and even in the optional one. Another player - I could as well - asks for a negative reaction draw. Juniper seems suspect. Since I didn't bypass or hack anything, five blue tokens plus the orange optional one go into a bag. I draw and, to my surprise, get the orange token.

So instead of the carefully escalated response of a blue token, the reaction is randomly determined: Building security is dispatched and arrives after 6 minutes. Overkill. Leuven, the corporation in control of the Apartment complex's security data, loses a point of trust (this is an element of campaign play where buildings may slip from corporate control and its profiteers.)

(Jun) I bluff and tell security "of course I called about this. I got this one time access thing - I flash the Leuven app I just installed on my phone - but it doesn't work. Could you please just let us in for half an hour so my students can finish their assignments?"

Someone improvises a quick draw for the security personnel's reaction (unmediated this time, so no viewer): 3 indifference tokens, 1 curiosity, 1 negative, 1 positive. I draw the positive one.

(Jun) I get temporary access, gather the students and we go to the courtyard first. I feel awake again. Students fan out in the sunlit courtyard. The Leuven app is superb in providing all kinds of data down to the potted plants here. I doubt the residents look at it much. An old man dozes on his balcony with a glass of wine.

The reaction roll for the section is requested. Positive this time. There's a red bypass token in the mix because of the temp access. I draw it.

(Jun) After 30 minutes spent in the courtyard security shows up again and we leave.

At this point play could switch to another character and their arrival at the building. In campaign mode, city creation follows and any characters could be played outward from there.

Dienstag, 28. Januar 2020

[English] Character creation in d e s e r t - a Cyberpunk rpg.

I've been working on a Cyberpunk game called d e s e r t. Since I'm near a version 1.0, I thought I'd present character creation here. Note: These people probably don't know each other. What they have in common is access to the App, essentially a diegetical form of the dice-stacking from my previous posts.

>> Look
>> Class
>> Contacts
>> Gear
>> Name

Adjective Body
1 veiny 1 hands
2 flickering 2 eyes
3 synthetic 3 face
4 [brand] 4 lips
5 smooth 5 arms
6 delicate 6 skin

Adjective Clothing
1 dripping 1 raincoat
2 [brand] 2 jacket
3 illuminated 3 hoodie
4 flowerprint 4 silk shirt
5 translucent 5 vest
6 ill-fitting 6 skirt

Adjective Accessoire
1 [brand] 1 suitcase
2 holographic 2 tie
3 pictogram- 3 wearable
4 pricetagged 4 choker
5 mismatched 5 watch
6 battered 6 shades

To do your job you need two things. A role. And a level 6 apartment whose security systems you crack to record yourself. There are many of them around, unsold and empty.

Who are you currently playing? 

One thing is in demand over all else in this city. Not guns - what for? Not information - we're drowning in it. Not drugs - they're legal. Immersion. People want long, thin wire strands inserted under their skin. Illegal because they allow for remote access to sensory receptors. You transport (bagged skin-rolls), assemble, dissassemble on site.

You're on your way with a bag of wireskin now. Where to?

You get people into high-end Memory Clubs. They used to be public but emissions got out of hand.

Who are you supposed to meet today and who do they want to remember? (Have someone else secretly write down why. You might never find out.)

Everything you have is on index cards. The place you stay at, friends, your job, your stuff, your life.

You just lost one of them. (Randomly determine which and remove the card.)

Characters get their contacts as little entries like the ones below. Hackers should write these on individual index cards.

I have
Valentin for weird stories about birds
few people to party hard with
old friends to support
Lin for a good taste in music
... people to get me work
my sister to cook for

Adjective Thing
1 old 1 place to stay
2 illegal 2 collection of things
3 much-loved 3 item
4 small 4 device
5 rotten 5 mess of stuff
6 high tech 6 web presence

Pick a name or the shadow of a great name.

Sonntag, 26. Januar 2020

[English] Apartment complex: A Cyberpunk location.

District: Thousand-mirrored facades [6d]
Functions: House people, profit of stuff, power organizations
Description: A vast apartment complex with shops on the ground level. Suffused with milky light. A zero-emissions model unit by the Ministry of the Interior.

Encounters [Entrances]
1-2 Kids training their Bernese to give paw to the veinscanner.
3-4 Two kitted-out cyclists talking, upright on their vehicles, taken underground by the bikelift.
5-6 Through the slide door a cat is seen sprawled on the info desk's sunwarm maple.

Encounters [Elevators]
1-2 Brand-heavy shopping bags switching back to blanks. A reflection of shoeshine.
3-4 A heavy, aureate scarf hangs from a handrail. People have tagged it. "Someone missing this?", "It's beautiful", "I love your perfume."
5-6 A woman in a technical overall next to the foil-wrapped windoll she's taking to the roof. "Satellite", she says with a dry smile.

Encounters [Courtyard]
1-2 An old man dozing on his balcony, sunglasses on. A wine cooler floats next to him.
3-4 A paper plane sails down from the sun-drenched above, dissipates into polychrome bubbles. Laughter.
5-6 Youth setting the place up for a minister's reception. A modest stage, the Ministry logo on white.

Encounters [Shops]
1-2 Staff in aprons storing empty crates in the blue containertram.
3-4 A woman forming a semiwindow between middle finger and thumb. A pear's nutritional info is displayed.
5-6 The surclerk at checkout is catching up on some homework.

Encounters [Service]
1-2 Two technical students researching for their project, roentgenlike post-it screens cover pipes and mauve casing.
3-4 A bird has found its way in. Its little footprints fading as the floor forgets.
5-6 A formation of floatdolls on inspection from the underground district cooling plant. Glimpsed through a viewing port.

Encounters [Apartments]
1-2 A child, incandescent. The parent is scrambling to take back control of the adapting apartment.
3-4 An estate agent presenting the rooms. Couples in their thirties listen, nod, joke.
5-6 A Blueglow minibar with minute cooling zones, an aquarium-iceberg.

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Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2020

[English] Building functions generator.

Let's start 2 0 2 0 with a minimalist Cyberpunk generator. This one gives out functions a building in a Cyberpunk city might serve.

Verb Object
1 house 1 people
2 make 2 machines
3 move 3 stuff
4 power 4 ideas
5 connect [object] with 5 organizations
6 profit of 6 nature

Here's the same thing automated:

I find that three functions is a good number to get a sense of a place. Examples:

connect stuff with ideas
move machines
connect stuff with nature
= an environmental R&D site where they find better ways to apply various fertilizers and bring them out with agridolls for testing. 

power people
move ideas
move stuff

= a front for an intelligence service engaged in industrial espionage.

house nature
make ideas
power nature

= a wildlife research station.