Tag Archives: rpg

Life After Next Tuesday…

So, #1 biggest gripe I’ve had when I worked on WYRED was the lack of any setting information, especially from you 4chan assholes. (I say that with love, by the way.)  Because of that, onewtfcyberpunk of my goals with REWIRED is to go ahead and share the setting I use in my own games.  And just so it’s not a shock to anyone, I’m going to spend some time today giving you guys and gals a preview of it.

Welcome to Mangled Earth

The setting takes place sometime after next Tuesday. Yeah, you read that correctly. If Max Headroom can be “20 minutes into the Future,” we can be sometime next week. Don’t worry your little meatbrains trying to figure out how we’re going to cram cyber augmentations and neural interfaces in a week…we’re using an alternate timeline.

On the world I lovingly refer to as “Mangled Earth,” the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t play out so well like it did for us. The results were a nuclear skirmish, followed by decades of armed conflict, drastic changes in the socio-political atmosphere, a resource crisis or two, and ultimately: the rise of Corporate power and privatized armies. The decades of turmoil also lead to interesting leads in cybertechnology, internet communications, and even research in psionics. The end result is the sort of speculative retro-future dystopia that never happened for us. I’m not really gunning for detailed breakdowns and timelines of Mangled Earth’s history; my goal with REWIRED was never to simulate the near future as much as emulate the sort of thing you’d see in a Frontline Assembly video.

The Metroplex Burn

Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, located in the separatist Lone Star State (whose motto is “We Got The Guns, We Got the Beef… We Got This.”) A blight of urban sprawl filled with rich corporate tycoons, media-mogul televangelists, and border-running druglords. Doing the dirty work between them are the Mavericks, the Ronin, and the Data Rustlers….running alongside gangs of muscle-car driving Gearheads and sugar-skull painted Muertos punks. We’re talking contract killers in Bola-ties, vodoun refugees from the radiated bayous of Louisiana and gun-crazed psychobilly cultists playing power games in the shadows of Reunion Tower. What’s not to love?

Keeping it Loose

Of course, most of this stuff isn’t going to be fleshed out until the end of the book. And what’s going to be provided there is merely a framework for you to fill in the blanks and run the type of campaign you want to run at your table. REWIRED was meant to be played in a genre, not a specific setting.  Have a favorite book, anime, movie or manga you’re wanting to run? It should be fairly easy to tweak and adapt for it. The fluff will be easy to ignore, but hopefully insightful enough to possibly add a little spark to your creative flame.

Keep me posted on what kind of stuff you’d like to see included with REWIRED!
Leave comments below or join the G+ Community!

REWIRED: July Progress Update

Touching base with everyone to share the current progress on REWIRED.

First off, thanks to the handful of you guys and gals who’ve delivered some feedback. Typos are getting caught, numbers are getting tweaked. I am listening and I am in debt to everyone who’s checking the play test!

I got a couple really good sessions in this month. Combat seems to be hitting a sweet spot for pacing and lethality, rules for vehicles and drones are pretty rock on.

The Core Rule Book

The complete main book has been outlined, and I’m happy to say the past month has seen the beginning of work being done on it. I’m about 40 pages in, and so far pretty happy with how Mercer Smokingit’s coming along. I’ve negotiated terms for some professional cover art to be done for the book, and I’m pretty stoked to be having this particular artist on board. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on some graphics myself. I’m not going to hide this: I’m using a lot of public domain stock photos and artwork to fill the pages, but I find that exciting. Everything about this book is being built off open licensed work: LibreOffice is my main forge for crafting this game, OpenClipart.Org has provided a lot of base images (and I plan on returning any remixed work to their site for public use, plus providing some extras of my own.) A good chunk of the original images being used take advantage of freeware/open programs like GIMP, Blender, Paint dot NET, and other software provided free to the public. Not to mention, the game itself has roots in Creative Commons gaming….which I intend to continue and support.

The book itself is being formatted for an A5, 6×9 “digest” sized style. It’s not going to be a big book on your shelf, but the point is to keep it portable and easy to toss into a bag or notebook for your game nights.

Here’s some sneak peaks of the Equipment section, and some of the artwork I’ve been whipping together for the main game:





REWIRED Diary: Where We’re At, and Where We’re Going

So last post, I typed your eyeballs off about the different projects leading up to REWIRED.  Today I want to babble for a bit looking at where the project currently is, and where I’d like to go with it.

The Tenets

What follows are the design goals I’ve had since WYRED, and that continue into the new game:

  • “Quick & Dirty Role-Playing”
    There is a difference between rules “lite” and what I refer to as “Rules Necessary”: It’s a balance of crunchy details and speed of play. I want them to play fast and hard. If looking up a rule during game play takes longer than 8 seconds on average, I’m failing.
  • Character Creation: Get In, Get Moving.
    I don’t want players to have to read through hefty tomes and do complex mathematics in order to fill out a character sheet for the first time. I want everything lined out and in as plain of English as possible for them. I want them to have options, exciting ones, but not a condemning list of arbitrary nuances and stat nudges to make them feel they’re building their character “wrong.”  I want every perk or tag they write down on their sheet to be easy to remember. And I definitely don’t believe in flooding them with a catalog of equipment with crazy names and similar stats.
  • Combat As Fast as it is Deadly.
    Maybe it’s because I’m older, and now finding time to schedule and run RPG groups has become sparse, but combat sessions that last an hour have become tiresome to me.  I’m also tired of players scoffing at a hand pistol or a knife and thinking there’s no threat.  I want combat to be resolved in just a few turns, and part of that is I want combat to be deadly. Any punk with a gun and an attitude is a threat; playing stupid and not taking advantage of things like cover results in your stat crunched monster being dropped in a single shot by a sniper in the wings.
  • Run It On the Fly:
    I pride myself on showing up to a game armed with only a single page of notes, a few note cards of NPC’s and being able to run a complete 5-hour session. Statting out opponents by the seat of my pants should only take a minute or two, and the system is streamlined enough that it should be easy to decide what kind of dice checks are needed when.

So Why a New Game?

WYRED pretty much sprung up as “How can I modify the WyRM system to run a cyberpunk game?” I wanted it to be compatible with WR&M and RAG as much as possible, while offering some new mechanical twists and tweaks. I plan on keeping it that way; the WyRM rules is a fun system.

REWIRED, on the other hand, is an overhaul based on personal preference. It’s still rooted in its predecessors, but has forked off into its own mechanics and systems. There’s a lot of stuff still held over: a lot of terminology used in WYRED remains in play here. But a lot has changed, too:

  • Core Mechanic has been changed from a d6+Stat+Skill system to a 3D6+Skill or Stat system. There’s also no more exploding dice. I found the original system to be “feast or famine” with the results….either tremendous failures or ridiculous successes went down, rarely did we see a middle ground.
  • Skills are now flat ratings instead of bubbled in skill ranks. They’re also separated by Combat, Action and Knowledge Skills.
  • Augmentations are now treated as Perks instead of being bought. I like this because it makes enhancements a bigger deal, and makes players who’d rather focus on natural skills and talents shine just as much as chrome junkies.
  • Wealth is now a rated Perk, evolved from WYRED’s Lifestyle rules. Pretty much, this leaves the only “bean counting” in the game to an economy based on XP.
  • Damage is now tracked differently. Instead of using “wound” points, all characters have the same condition tracker. Damage is still derived from the base attack roll; now players use a Toughness rating to determine the threshold that roll-over damages the character by.
  • Combat is still a single-roll based system, but now takes in modifiers considering range, movement, cover and the like in more detail. Also, the system now uses ranged measurements instead of the abstracted Range Bands from RAG for more tactical play.
  • Other Stuff includes reworked Hacking rules, more detailed Vehicle and Drone rules, equipment modifications and even psionics.

WannaRideOilSketchWhere We Go from Here:

Draft v.12 is pretty much the completion of the framework for the REWIRED rules. This makes the core game system broken down into 5 PocketMod booklets, easy to distribute at the game table and broken up for quick reference. What it needs now is play testing, and lots of it.  Numbers need to be vetted, typos need to be reported. A good example is cybereyes in the Augmentations and Enhancements Guide….still references additional upgrades for $500 (a carry over from WYRED) that needs to be fixed for the new Wealth system.

Moving forward, as the rules get tested and tweaked, I’m beginning to work on a full fledged Core Rule Book. It’ll feature the same rules found in the PocketMods, but will be written in more detail to help new players get into the game. Character concepts, campaign ideas, a sample setting, guide lines for GM’s to keep things interesting, so on and so forth.

And once again, the game will continue to be published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.  This means you’ll be free to distribute the game and modify it for your own projects.

Want to help the project? Biggest help I can ask for is feedback.  Download the game and feel free to leave some comments here. You can also join the playtest community on Google Plus.

REWIRED Diary: Why We’re Here, Where We’ve Been.

Version .12 of REWIRED is a huge milestone for me on the project. It’s a fleshed out skeleton of the system I’ve been wanting to run for a while. It’s the expanded ideas from WYRED, some loose ideas we had floating around when discussing a “WYRM-SF” project that never really got tackled (in part to real life goings on,) feedback from players who wanted a little bit more than what WYRED offered in 2 booklets, and even some concepts I brewed up previous in a cyberpunk hack for another published gaming system entirely.

Why We’re Here.

Let’s rewind to the very beginning.  Talk to most role-playing game enthusiasts, and when you ask them what game they started with you’ll often get the name of the “world’s most popular fantasy game.” They may have started with different iterations of it, be it a particular edition or heart-breaker clone. While I was exposed to it, my first real entry into the hobby was a different game with Elves and Mages in it. This one also involved computer hackers, cyber samurai and took place in a near-future Seattle. Yes, I’m talking about Shadowrun, of which I will always be a fan and will devote too much of my disposable income to.

I’d also begin picking up other titles over the course of my youth….GURPS Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk 2020, Ex Machina (for BESM), and to this day the number of various cyberpunk-flavored RPG’s I’ve acquired in PDF and print grossly outnumbers my collection of D&D books. These games, of course, were the gateways that exposed me to novels like Snow Crash, Neuromancer,  Holy Fire and a crap ton of inspired comics, anime and movies at an impressionable age.

So long story short….I’m a pretty big fan of Cyberpunk, especially in my RPGs.  But damn if it’s not a tough genre to game for complete newcomers! I grew up and live in a small college town in Texas, known for its agriculture. A lot of times, when folks around here are exposed to anything cyberpunk, it’s because I (or my older brother or one of his friends) introduced them to it. And the bulk of the games I listed above aren’t the most newcomer friendly, no matter how much they try to streamline the process: Outdated scifi from the 80’s and 90’s, using terminology and pathologies long extinct in modern tech jargon. Huge skills lists, entire catalogs of weapons and cybernetics, bloated game mechanics…it’s overwhelming to the first timers, as well as the GMs trying to run them!  You get into the overly detailed and complex combat systems; in concept they sound simple, but in execution it never fails we have scenarios that bog down the game play with GM’s having to look stuff up and players proposing absurd rules like rolling for every round fired from a light machine gun. 

This is where my journey began: to set out to brew up what I now refer to as “Quick and Dirty” rules where the character creation, the combat, and the rules referencing flies at a pace to keep up with the genre’s gritty, cut-throat feel.


Where We’ve Been

The first stop in this journey was actually, of all things, a homebrew modification for the New World of Darkness rules set.  After taking a hiatus from Shadowrun in my early twenties, I got involved with a group of friends to regularly play Vampire and other spin-off titles.  After NWoD came out, I think I found myself enjoying the core mortal game book the most and started bashing together game crossovers and alternatives with its mechanics. We had a few good games with it, but it was still a bit complex to teach and had some nagging flaw issues that I never resolved. I eventually lost steam for it after WW put out their own Mirrors: Bleeding Edge, which I had a lot of mixed feelings on (and continue to this day to.)

The spark would later return to me after I fell in love with the WyRM system, starting with Warrior, Rogue & Mage and then again with Resolute, Adventurer & Genius. The later in particular really struck a chord with me, being that it was fast-action pulp, with an expanded skill system to WR&M and streamlined into a single-roll system for combat. Also, these titles were my introduction to Creative Commons licensing, which floored me with the beautiful simplicity of sharing and remixing.  It was a refreshing change in pace from the legal jargon of OGL, and the (at the time) restrictive nature of the White Wolf “Dark Pack” fan guidelines.

WYRED was born of this. Originally the first concept draft was titled something like “Solo, Face & Hacker” — but then I saw Mark Meredith at Dice Monkey working on a project titled “Pointman, Hacker & Thief” (which, sadly, appears to have gone to the ether…) and decided to break the mold on naming schemes. The name itself was an homage to the WyRM Rules System that it used for the core mechanics.

Interestingly enough, some of the earlier drafts of WYRED were pushing 40-60 pages. Our 6th draft even converted to a d12 system, which worked but was ultimately scrapped in favor of the d6 mechanics for various reasons. But around the time of the later drafts, we (being myself, my buddy Matt Bryant who became part of the game development, and our play group) discovered a title I picked up on a whim: Weird West.  This was my first venture into PocketMod style gaming; and while it was a bit minimalistic for my tastes I immediately saw the advantages of tiny booklets to print out and give to players.

The final iterations of WYRED got trimmed down to two PocketMod booklets:  One for rules, one for augmentations and equipment. For the most part, the final versions received positive feedback from folks looking for “rules lite” cyberpunk game play, and the decision to go PocketMod was equally praised. I even got fairly positive feedback on 4chan’s /TG/ boards a few times — only complaint I really saw was over a lack of setting.  Though it’s no indie blockbuster, to this day I still get the occasional emails and PM’s from players who’ve discovered it and inform me of their successful game nights with it.

Spin-Offs & Stagnation

WYRED took ideas from other WyRM games, tweaked them and ran wild. From there, it was cool seeing how others would continue to take our little gaming project and continue to adapt it into their own. My favorite reports came from a player who was using it for a Steampunk setting. We adapted the rules for running other properties at our tables — I ran a WYRED adventure on Old Republic Coruscant, while one of Matt’s friends ran us through an amazing TRON one-shot. Probably the coolest off shoot from all of these variant setting ideas was Matt’s “Star WYRED” which ultimately became MAIN SEQUENCE.

It was becoming apparent how flexible the WyRM system could be taken, and we began to explore future projects to expand it. At the time, I had taken some opinion polls and had received a large margin of feedback from players stating that they were interested in alternate setting booklets and rules over expanded cyberpunk stuff. We began kicking around all sorts of brainstorms on things like mutations, magic systems, alternate period settings and what not. Eventually, we were even tapped by Michael Wolf (creator of Warrior, Rogue & Mage and the WyRM system) to work on “WYRM-SF,” a complete science fiction rules set for the system.

We shot out the door with all sorts of concepts we wanted to play with: expanding the “tags” system we’ve been kicking around, varying scales of game play (from regional/planet play to entire solar system/galaxy games) to even all sorts of different types of powers and options. There was a lot of potential there….and probably still is, but the truth is: Reality is a bitch. Matt had moved on to Oklahoma to work full time at a pretty important job, I had been returning to college and getting over a breakup from a long-term relationship. For a while, I took a complete hiatus from gaming for some more “real time.” I was also working on my actual writing, having started another blog for poetry and beginning to work on fiction submissions. Eventually, my old gaming blog was hacked, and I ended up merging my writing blog with my domain name. All said, I just simply lost steam for a while.

Relighting the Fire

Inevitably, I’d get back into the gamer swing of things. And with that, I’d begin to tinker with some new ideas. Some of these ideas came from one of my current room mates, who’ve brought up points about thinks like dice mechanics using bell curves, keeping things tactical while also simplified, and degrees of realism in RPG mechanics. After a while of bouncing these ideas back and forth, as well as revisiting some of my old favorite RPG systems, we ended up drafting around Christmas break what became the REWIRED “Rough Sketch.”  Now, as you may see, I’m back in the throes of building up a game that I really want to play. REWIRED has a hell of a foundation of inspiration behind it. And I’m hoping the direction I’m taking with it will be appreciated by other gamers. If not, no big deal — I’m already getting good feedback and support from the folks at my game table.


In the next REWIRED Diary, I’m going to talk about the direction I’ve taken with the new system, and where I want to go with it.


REWIRED Character: “Trigger” Ray

Trigger RayWelcome to the first of a series of pre-made character concepts for REWIREDwhich can be used as either starting Player Characters, NPC’s, or merely inspiration.

Trigger Ray has been working the violent life of a Ronin  for the better part of a decade. A high-school drop out,  he got his start doing courier runs for local drug dealers and gang bosses. Many have taken his skills for granted; Trigger never seemed like the brightest crayon in the box. But when shit hit the proverbial fan, he was usually the one left standing from a deal gone wrong. What he lacks in book smarts he’s made up for in instinct, which can prove to be more valuable of a tool for his trade than the sidearm he keeps on him.

Even though he’s not even pushing 30 yet, Trigger dreads the day he loses his edge. Ten years of being a gun for hire, if burnout doesn’t wear him down his reputation will. To compensate, he’s taken some high-risk jobs to land him some choice cuts of augments and a nest egg for his nomadic lifestyle. City after city, he makes it a point to get himself some work, some cash, and then: an escape out.

Key Notes:
Though his Data rating isn’t so hot, his Alert perk grants him a +4 Awareness bonus.
“Ol’ Betsy” is a heavy-hitting revolver he’s kept with him since his first “dirty” job. The Precise tag lets him roll 4d6 and take the best 3 when using it.