Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Holiday Dungeon Bundle!

 As a way of celebrating the holiday season, we've put up a special, limited time bundle with four Gold & Glory products!

So what's inside? Let's take a look!

 Gold & Glory - Seven Deadly Dungeons: The acclaimed core book, a toolkit to play classic fantasy dungeon adventures with close to no preparation, with Savage Worlds Adventure Edition. It features a random character generator that actually works, two new arcane backgrounds, setting rules for dungeons, simplified encumbrance, LOTS of new monsters and magic items, the Dungeon Deck system, and the titular Seven Deadly Dungeons: seven dungeon adventures that you can play dozens of times, and will always be new and engaging, thanks to the randomizing of the Dungeon Deck system.

 Gold & Glory - Old School Gaming in Savage Worlds:
 A simple guide to enrich and empower the old school style in your Savage Worlds games - wether you're playing Gold & Glory or not! Topics such as player skill vs character skill, risk/difficulty/reward, linear and non-linear adventuring, attrition, and Gold & Glory as a toolbox for YOUR games!

 Gold & Glory - Solo, GMless and One-on-One Adventures:
 The best-selling guide to play Gold & Glory games in a variety of modes. Also includes the Abstract Clues system, which you can use in ANY type of game, and rules for hiring various types of henchmen, a useful resource for solo and one-on-one games!

 Gold & Glory - Ebenezer's Gold:
 A festive-themed dungeon adventure by acclaimed Savage Worlds guru Richard Woolcock, and part of the Deadly Dungeon Hosts series. Will the heroes find Ebenezer's Gold, or will they fall victims to his greed, just like him?

The limited time Holiday Dungeon Bundle is available at a special price at DrivethruRPG!

Friday, December 18, 2020

About the Inn Between Worlds

 Inn Between Worlds is a supplement for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, designed by Robert Sullivan, and released under the SWAG license.

It has immediately piqued my interest because of the unique type of content, which I'm going to explain now.

The first chapter of the book describes the Inn (which doubles as a caravanserai or modern hotel, so as to suit the current campaign type), detailing the structure and all its locations. It includes a sort of mini-game to randomly generate the features of the Inn, with the option of involving the whole group in the process, making it the core of a session: a cool idea IF you are going to use the Inn as the home base of the group, or the center of a small campaign. All the relevant, possible features of the Inn are described in detail, so they are ready to use. Note that the download also includes fully detailed maps of both the caravanserai and hotel versions of the Inn, if you don't want to generate your own.

The second chapter details all the relevant NPCs: owners, staff, and customers.

The third chapter describes the "Cascade": a tearing in time/space that turns the Inn into a multidimensional location. That's why it is an Inn Between Worlds, and the cool idea that you may use to connect various Savage Worlds settings. This chapter has random tables for locations and encounters through the Cascade, and then tables for random destinations: the cool thing here is that each destination result is briefly described, and also includes a small list of possible published setting books that may be used for that destination!

The fourth chapter is about encounters and plot hooks revolving around the Inn, including a few bizarre creatures and tables to get the party involved.

The last chapter introduces a few new Edges and Hindrances and a new Arcane Background and powers, all related to the Cascade and its effects.

As you can see, the book is designed to be plugged into any type of campaign.

The book states classics such as Hodgson's House on the Borderland and the films The Saragossa Manuscript, The Cell and Being John Malkovich, along with M. C. Escher's art, as its sources of inspiration: such works clearly contributed to the inter-dimensional features of the Inn.

One interesting feature of the book is that it makes ample use of references to the TV Tropes, instead of detailing typical story elements that may come into play in association with various places and NPCs.

As a whole, is the kind of supplement that's suited for GMs who like to cook their own campaigns and adventures, and are happy to find ready-made locations, foes, and adventure hooks. This includes dropping most of the book (and Inn, and time/space fracture) as is, in settings such as Deadlands or East Texas University, which can definitely handle all the weirdness going on; or picking just the interesting bits.

All in all, it is a very atypical supplement, with a lot going on, and one which will require some extra GM work, but full of ideas and re-usable bits. Considering the price (just $2.50 at the time of writing, which makes me forgive the very basic layout), I definitely recommend it if you think you might want to make an inn, hotel or similar establishment the centerpiece of a campaign or the setting for some adventures (even without the Cascade thing). It may serve as a Rippers Lodge for sure!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

About Neurocity

 Neurocity is a roleplaying game by designer Gavriel Quiroga, who recently gifted me a copy.

The game surprised me quite a bit (think Orwell's 1984 meets The Matrix meets Paranoia!), so here I am to share my impressions.

But first, some facts.

  • Neurocity was funded in August with a successful Kickstarter with more than 200 backers.
  • It is a 105 pages book, available now on drivethrurpg both as a pdf and as Print on Demand softcover book.
  • The pages are black & white (or rather: grey scale), with an occasional splash of red in the text, and (nice, in my opinion) b/w art.
  • The game features a unique game system (2d6, roll under), strictly tied to the setting.
  • As stated in the book, the game is meant for short campaign play of 3 or 4 sessions.

So what is Neurocity about? In the author's words:

Neurocity is a subterranean city complex crowned by a glitched digital sun ruled by an ever watchful supercomputer named I.S.A.C.
A closed society on the brink of collapse suffering an involution from digital to analog technology due to the scarcity of materials and constant recycling of components.
Neurocity is a tech-noir roleplaying game with an emphasis on psychology and existentialism.

Characters are citizens of a dystopian, closed society, where the individual has value only if he is "functional", i.e. obedient to the hierarchy, bureaucracy and technocracy of the city, and the A.I.'s teachings known as Vitalogy, which form a sort of philosophy of unquestioning obedience for the "greater good... and ultimately a powerful means of propaganda.
The technology level can be defined as "post-cyberpunk", as it features a super A.I. governing the life of the city (and deciding the life or death of "dysfunctional" citizens) and advanced bioengineering and cloning (which brings back to life "functional" citizens!) but, as components are continuously recycled, much of the daily life resembles the '80s.
It's Orwell's 1984, with an A.I. governing it all, and not even death can set you free from the dystopian nightmare, because you'll get cloned or repaired forever... unless your behavior proves dysfunctional. This, so far, is the Orwell + Paranoia, in a way. The Matrix inspirations? Keep reading...

What do players do in such a world and game? The characters can be from any of the different social castes and "careers" allowed by the A. I. governing the city, and their job, for the most part, will determine the type of stories you play.
The first twist in the setting is that (of course!) you have individuals and groups who have come to realize most of their life is a meaningless slavery, and suspect reality, history, and life itself is or should be different. They end up actively questioning authority and are therefore automatically considered dysfunctional terrorists. The second twist is the Trancers: people who experience bizarre perceptions (and occasionally display extraordinary abilities a la Matrix). Some of them choose to ignore the meaning and possible cause of their "trancing" and keep on with their functional lives, while others choose to question everything around them and usually join the "terrorist" groups mentioned above.
The A. I. of course tasks specialist groups to eradicate (and usually destroy) such people: both the rebel "terrorists" and the Trancers. The general assumption of the game is that you do not play such dangerous individuals... not from the start, at least: players begin as functional, obedient people, who are tasked with more or less common jobs, or specifically investigating and destroying rebels.

But the game offers plenty of opportunities for player characters to change sides (or point of view, at least): it is specifically designed to make it happen.

This is where I liked the game the most: first of all, it offers lots of tables with adventure seeds and random encounters and events (associated to specific areas or activities of the city, for example), meaning you can set the game going easily, AND as easily you have the themes and features of the setting come into play, including experiences which may push the characters (and players) to question the true meaning, value and purpose of the "Vitalogy" propaganda...  and their lives.
Moreover, the resolution system includes the possibility for player characters to become Trancers during play, in dramatic, stressful situations. Again, this is meant to open the possibility for the characters to change their point of view, and change the direction fo the campaign accordingly.

All in all it is a very neat game. The resolution system, more focused on narrative outcomes than "realism" or "simulation", is simple but effective, and wonderfully integrated with virtually all the elements of the setting. In this respect, Neurocity is a wonderful model of coherence of mechanics, setting and themes, (which I realize I've barely hinted at, as the game world really has a LOT going on, including the foundation of the city which is one of the mysteries the players may or may not unravel).

The coherence of game tools, mechanics, system, setting, and themes surely makes the game easier to run, and thankfully so, because it certainly is a game which offers a simple system, and a setting that can lend itself for action-oriented stories, but it can also become an opportunity for a deeper experience, as it can lead the players to question several facets of our society.

You can check it out on drivethru!

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