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The Expanse: Conspiracies, War, Zero-G Sex & the River of Heaven RPG

Syfy. James S. A. Coreys Science Fiction-Romanserie The Expanse, kommt ins Fernsehen. Für den 14. Dezember 2015 wurde die amerikanische Premiere anberaumt.

James S. A. Corey ist ein Pseudonym der beiden Autoren Daniel Abraham und Ty Franck. Tyler Franck assistiert George R. R. Martin, der mittlerweile sicherlich bekannt sein dürfte. Franck entwickelte The Expanse zunächst als Rollenspiel-Setting. Ich finde, beim Lesen des ersten Romans Leviathan Erwacht (Heyne Verlag) ist eine gewisse stilistische Nähe zu seinem Arbeitgeber augenfällig. Es geht recht düster und verschwörerisch zur Sache. Menschliche Interaktionen stehen im Vordergrund. Das Technobabel hält sich in Grenzen.

Die erste Staffel wird wohl auf die Initialzündung aufsetzen: Die Menschheit hat das Sonnensystem besiedelt. Eine junge Frau reicher Eltern verschwindet. Ein Eisfrachter entdeckt ein havariertes Raumschiff. Bei der Bergung kommt es zu unerwarteten Komplikationen. Der Frachterkapitän, natürlich ein ehemaliger Kriegsveteran, und der Detektiv, der die abhanden gekommene Dame sucht, laufen sich schließlich über den Weg. Die Angelegenheit ist selbstredend viel größer als zunächst gedacht … Verschwörungen, Krieg, usw. Der Roman unterhält.

Anhänger der Macht müssen jetzt ganz tapfer sein. Unfassbar, aber wahr, nicht jeder bekommt feuchte Träume, wenn er an Luke denkt, der bald wieder auf der großen Leinwand salbadern und mit seinem Laserdildo rumfuchteln darf. The Force, my a$$. Glücklicherweise gibt es noch Science Fiction wie etwa Babylon 5. Wenn es nicht mit der Mickey Mouse zugeht, könnte das Angebot von Syfy eher an diesen Genrelichtblick anknüpfen und etwas mehr als Zero-G-Sex bieten.

Newt Newports kleiner Verlag D101 Games bietet seit Ende des letzten Jahres das Science Fiction-Rollenspiel River of Heaven an. Das Setting soll ein wenig an die Hard-SF-Romane von Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space) erinnern. Unendlichkeit, den ersten Band, fand ich nicht so berauschend. Nach ein paar hundert Seiten brach ich ab. Das River of Heaven RPG macht hingegen auf mich einen recht sympathischen Ersteindruck. Die verwendeten OpenQuest-Regeln erinnern sehr an Basic Roleplaying, also z. B. an Runequest und Call of Cthulhu. Die beiden mit vorgefertigten Beispielcharakteren versehenen und einfach gehaltenen Abenteuer Reunion und The Last Witness scheinen Convention-tauglich zu sein. Ersteres gefällt mir besser.

River of Heaven (Image: Jon Hodgson/D101 Games)

River of Heaven (Image: Jon Hodgson/D101 Games)

„It is the dawn of the 28th Century.

The Third Renaissance, or Bright Age as future historians will call it, is at its zenith.

After the catastrophic first contact with extra-terrestrial life that led to the horrific Solar System war, humanity clawed its way back from the brink and finally reached the stars. For millions of people, Earth’s sun is no more than another star in the night sky, a mote of light, a spiritual birthplace that they will never visit in their lifetimes.

It has been over a century since the Machine Civilisation gifted humanity technological marvels such as the Visser Cube, allowing wormhole travel across the vast chasms of interstellar space. Now interstellar distances grow ever shorter. How the myriad of splintered cultures view this gift varies. Some see it as a blessing, a way to draw humanity into a united whole. Others see it as a curse, robbing them of their individuality. And then there are those who would use it as a means to subjugate humanity and impose their own will upon all…

Across the river of heaven, humanity clings to a scattering of islands in a sea of stars. Players can take on a multitude of roles in this future: a crew member on an interstellar trader, a member of the mysterious Engineers’ Guild, a body-hopping Intercessionist agent – out to manipulate human cultures to its own secret ends, a Renouncer Zealot – intent on destroying Artificial Intelligence in all its forms, or perhaps one of the Reclaimers – planetary engineers dedicated to terraforming any viable planet they happen upon…“
River of Heaven blurb (24th August 2015)

Leviathan Erwacht macht Lust auf Science Fiction. Ein schlankes und leicht adaptierbares System wäre da sicher nicht das Schlechteste. So etwas wie The Expanse könnte auch am Rollenspieltisch Spaß machen …

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#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite Supers RPG? None, but …

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 23th day, 19th question:

Favourite Supers RPG?

Before I answer, a comment of a friend:

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

’nuff said, or? I worked for some years at the ‚US department‘ of two comic shops in Frankfurt. At this time, Spawn (Image Comics) was a huge success. In all these years, I tried to like superheroes. I failed epically. Yes, I know this is an unfair generalization, but 99% of the genre is complete garbage. Your mileage bla bla.

If I have to pick one superhero roleplaying game, it would be Wild Talents 2nd Edition (Arc Dream Publishing). The game continues the World War II superheroes game Godlike. Wild Talents offers also ideas and rules for any superhero setting.

PS: Before I was aware of Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic book I played Rorschach (DC Heroes Role Playing, Mayfair Games, late 80′) at a convention and I liked it. No rule without an exception.

Autocratik’s answer:

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#RPGaDAY2015 – Favourite SF RPG? Cyberpunk 2013 with Hardwired, Transhuman Space & Cthulhutech

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 22th day, 18th question:

Favourite SF RPG?

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

It is no secret Walter Jon Williams‘ Hardwired is one of my favourite Cyberpunk novels and I like the RPG sourcebook by R. Talsorian Games also. As far as I know, the author was part of the playtest of the original Cyberpunk 2013 game and he helped to expand his material for the campaign book.

I also recommend Transhuman Space (Steve Jackson Games) and Cthulhutech (Wildfire) setting-wise.

I only have the Transhuman Space core book, and in my in opinion it is a benchmark for thoughtful and carefully developed roleplaying settings. I never played it, but this is one of my ‚go to‘ books for near future and transhumanist ideas. Sorry, fanboys and -girls, but I don’t like Eclipse Phase (Posthuman Studios). I expected too much. In my opinion, David L. Pulver and SJG did much better than the Shadowrun authors and editors, but everybody likes GURPS.

Transhuman Space feels a bit like a ‚halfway credible extrapolation of our world‘. Cthulhutech is the opposite. This is a wild mash-up of Japanese mecha animation and Cthulhu themes. I especially like the Tagers stuff. These superhuman warriors are a magical symbiosis of mortals and aliens. These monsters fight the sinister Children of Chaos and their shapeshifting monsters (Dhohanoids). The cult seeks the return of the Old Ones …
If you like very imaginative scifi horror, I suggest you check this game line out, but I would avoid the clunky game system.

Autocratik’s answer:

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#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite Fantasy RPG? Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 20th day, 17th question:

Favourite Fantasy RPG?

I cheated a bit. Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo) is my all time favourite. This game is unrivalled. I am looking forward to the upcoming Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.

For #RPGaDay2015 I pick the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game (Alderac Entertainment Group). Honestly, I played the first edition only a few times, but since then it is one of my fantasy heartbreakers.

System-wise: I like the Roll & Keep mechanic. „Roll“ some 10-sided dice and „keep“ some of them. Compare the sum of the kept dice with a target number. There are some tweaks, but basically that’s it. Very easy with interesting outcomes.

Setting-wise: Rokugan – the fictional Japanese and Asian inspired Fantasy setting simply rocks! Beside the great old one Glorantha this is probably one the most adorable roleplaying backgrounds. The emperor and the seven, ahem, eight Great Clans struggle for supremacy.
Demonic Oni, reclusive Naga, the struggle of the minor clans, the Kolat conspiracy or the mysterious Living Darkness offer also great adventure opportunities. This is not your Monty Haul (D&D) campaign setting. Culture and social conventions are occasionally more important than fighting skills and magical prowess.

Finally, Glorantha (Moon Design Publications) is my close second. Look at Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, look at Earthdawn – everywhere you will find striking similarities to Greg Stafford’s classic Bronze/Iron Age fantasy creation. Even renowned Dungeons & Dragons designers like Jonathan Tweet or Rob Heinsoo are fans and heavily influenced by this „insider tip“. I often think Runequest (The Design Mechanism), the original Glorantha RPG, is far better known than the world.

Autocratik’s answer:

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#RPGaDay2015 – Longest game session played? T&T, Cyberpunk 2013 & others ~ 16 hours

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 19th day, 16th question:

Longest game session played?

Pardon, what is the reasoning for this question? Anyway, as a kid of the ’80s my life looked like school – (homework) – roleplaying – preparing the next session or creating a new house rule – sleep – school – …  I think you get it. On weekends we played even more. At peak times 16 hours with a few(!) breaks were not a problem. Back in the ’80s roleplaying was the thing!

As mentioned before, we played a lot Tunnels & Trolls (T&T, Flying Buffalo). Other systems were a marginal phenomenon for us. We pillaged them for adventures and ideas. In the late ’80 and early ’90 Cyberpunk 2013 (R. Talsorian Games) became more important. Neuromancer was nice, but Hardwired by Walter Jon Willams and the roleplaying sourcebook with the same title blew us away. Fight the Orbitals! Joe Haldeman’s Worlds: A Novel of the Near Future (German: Kreisende Welten) were also a huge inspiration.

Today, after work we play(ed) around 4 hours with a „pizza break“. Unfortunately, often too little time for a meaty game. I prefer sessions with a length around 6 to 8 hours, otherwise there is a good chance that the concentration will be lost. There is always a mobile ringing, an important email to check, etc.

Autocratik’s answer:

PS: Sorry, these „longest“ questions are in my opinion unnecessary.

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#RPGaDay2015 – Longest campaign played? Tunnels & Trolls ~ 10 years

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 16th day, 15th question:

Longest campaign played?

Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo, Schwerter & Dämonen (Fantasy Productions)) was our first real roleplaying game. We tried other systems, but we didn’t like them. T&T met our requirements – the rules were easy and we loved the tinkering and creative possibilities. We constantly added and changed rules. The world was also our shared creation – heavily inspired by Asprin’s Thieves‘ World anthologies, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Games Workshop), Midgard (German RPG, Verlag für Fantasy- und Science Fiction-Spiele (VFSF)) and Runequest (Avalon Hill), etc..
The campaign came after about 10 years to an abrupt end, when I left town and began to study.
In the meantime, other things like personal career and relationships became more important. Furthermore, other roleplaying games like Cyberpunk 2013 (R. Talsorian Games) and Vampire: The Masquerade (White Wolf Publishing) and Shadowrun (Fasa Corporation) drew more and more of our attention. We never invested so much effort and time in a game again.

Lessons learned: K.I.S.S. = Keep it simple and straightforward.

Today, I prefer one shots or brief campaigns. Even the television serial format with around 7 – 13 episodes (sessions) is not always manageable. Shorter campaigns with attainable objectives are more satisfying than open ended stories or even unfinished business. If there is enough interest, there will be an opportunity for a second season …

Autocratik’s (and Robin D. Laws) answer:

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#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite RPG Accessory? Dice & Magazines

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 16th day, but for me the 14th question:

Favourite RPG Accessory?

I like standard 6-sided dice. I prefer d6-based systems like Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo), West End Games d6 system or Apocalypse World (Vincent Baker). I do not any wild polyhedrals.

I really miss good hobby magazines like the late Zauberzeit (German, Laurin Verlag), the Arcane Magazine (English, Future Publishers) or the great fan made and Warhammer related Warpstone Magazine (English, John Foody).
The internet is a fine thing, but I do not know one blog or website which offers the good old print media mixture of news, reviews, adventure and campaign materials. I am open for suggestions.

Autocratik’s answer:

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#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite RPG Podcast? None, but …

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 16th day, but for me the 13th question:

Favourite RPG Podcast?

None. I hear the Dorpcast (German) regularly. I like more how they do things than what they talk about. For me, it’s a mainstream roleplaying podcast with a lot Das Schwarze Auge (Dark Eye), Pathfinder (both Ulisses Spiele) and some nerd media stuff. Actually, they work for the publisher.
I like the show. Recommended.

On the other hand there is the One Shot Campaign Podcast (English). They recorded a few sessions of a homebrew Legends of the 5 Rings (Alderac Entertainmaent Group) adventure. If you ever wondered why L5R and Rokugan is a fan favourite, go there and check it out. Most of the time it is like an fine audio drama. I couldn’t stop I until I heard all 4 shows.

Then, I tried their $tar War$ Campaign Podcast. No doubt, it’s also well done, but I stopped after a half episode. The Luca$ver$e bores me to near death.

I highly recommend the One Shot L5R stuff though.

Autocratik’s answer:

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#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite RPG Illustration? Brom, Paul Bonner, Gawain & Gary Chalk

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 15th day, but for me the 12th question:

Favourite RPG Illustration?

Wow, this is a really though questions. I worked about 10 years for different comic and hobby companies. Many books went through my hands. During this time I saw a lot of illustrations.

Good stories and artwork are often more important than rules to me. Every world, campaign or adventure is „hackable“ with a game system like the old d6 engine by West End Games. Nowadays, the market is full of generic products like Fate or Savage Worlds, etc. If nothing works, I can improvise how to roll the dice, but I can not do „inspiring illustrations“.

I am unable to decide which is my favourite RPG illustration. But on today’s top list are:

Brom with something like his iconic Deadlands RPG (Pinnacle Entertainment) cover. For me, he is the master of goth fantasy art.

Deadlands (Image Brom/Pinnacle Entertainment)

Deadlands (Image Brom/Pinnacle Entertainment)

Paul Bonner is a genius. The Cadwallon RPG is just an example.

Cadwallon (Image: Paul Bonner/Rackham Miniatures (?))

Cadwallon (Image: Paul Bonner/Rackham Miniatures (?))

We have a lot of Shadows of Esteren (Agate Editions) haters over here in Germany. I do not really care. I still like the background and the art porn of the books. Impressive stuff. I pick Gawain’s Eberict, because he reminds me of the Brotherhood of the Wolves movie.

Shadows of Esteren: Eberict (Gawain/Agate Editions)

Shadows of Esteren: Eberict (Gawain/Agate Editions)

Finally, Gary Chalk is one of my favourite black and white RPG artists. Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf (Image: Gary Chalk/Le Grimoire)

Lone Wolf (Image: Gary Chalk/Le Grimoire)

There are so many more – honourable mentions: Timothy Bradstreet (Vampire: The Masquerade), Michael Kaluta (Mage: The Ascension), David Petersen (Mouse Guard RPG), Ian Miller (Warhammer RPG), Jon Hodgson (The One Ring), Tony DiTerlizzi (D&D Planescape), etc.

Autocratik’s (and Jon Hodgson’s(!)) answer(s):

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Infected Zombie RPG: Kickstarter Launch Tomorrow & Extensive Preview

Immersion Studios. Oliver R. Shead plant morgen seine Kickstarter-Kampagne für das Infected Zombie RPG (Kickstarter-Preview) zu starten. Im vergangen Jahr hatte ich bereits auf das Rollenspiel hingewiesen.

Infected Zombie RPG (Image: Immersion Studios)

Infected Zombie RPG (Image: Immersion Studios)

Das Zombiethema ist irgendwie nicht totzukriegen, oder? Wie auch immer, der Autor war so nett, eine umfangreiche 49-seitige Vorschau mit Kurzregeln, Charakteren und Beispiel-Abenteuer zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Infected Zombie RPG: Outbreak (Image: Immersion Studios)

Infected Zombie RPG: Outbreak (Image: Immersion Studios)

Ein Auszug aus der offiziellen Presse-Mitteilung verrät mehr über das Infected Zombie RPG:

„Will You Rebuild Society, or Tear it Down?

 

Bestselling author of Holocaust Survivor Story, Georgina, Oliver R. Shead makes his tabletop RPG debut with a new take on the classic zombie apocalypse theme. The outbreak is over. The infected are all-but exterminated. Now, finally, humanity has the chance to rebuild and recover.

 

Infected! is a game for far more than just lovers of the zombie subculture. Players who like complex characters, dynamic combat, and a rich environment, will thoroughly enjoy playing it. To survive in this new world, hard choices must be made on a daily basis. Societies cannot survive without farms, trade, information and strong leaders and in order to survive, you will need to do far more than just fight.

 

What governments exist are desperate to retain control at all cost. Petty warlords, burners,
cannibals and bandits tear at society and threaten to bring total anarchy. All the while, the Infected lurk on the fringes, in the dark places of the world, hunting people with the cunning of wolves.

Infected Zombie RPG: Cannibal  (Image: Immersion Studios)

Infected Zombie RPG: Cannibal (Image: Immersion Studios)

Infected! utilises the Immersion RPG system – universal, classless, and level-less, enabling players to utilise characters that live and breathe, have strengths, weaknesses, foibles, and fears…so many fears…that all affect gameplay. “This is a great system for experienced gamers looking to take things to the next level,” says Oliver. “It’s about allowing gamers to play whatever character they want.”

 

The Immersion RPG has been playtested for over five years and Infected! has been playtested for a year. It will launch on Kickstarter, with half the art and design already complete, to raise funds for the remaining art and design and a high quality print run.“

Infected Zombie RPG Press Release (15th August 2015)

Um ehrlich zu sein, das untote Genre um die wandelnden Kadaver gehört jetzt nicht zu meinen Favoriten. Wenige Ausnahmen (z. B. Zombicide, Dead of Winter) bestätigen diese Regel. Im Rollenspielbereich war All Flesh Must Be Eaten (Eden Studios) ganz in Ordnung. Mit der Vorschau von Infected! konnte ich mich bislang noch nicht ausgiebiger beschäftigen. Das ambitionierte Projekt werde ich jedoch weiter im Auge behalten. Womöglich steht eine weitere Regelausnahme an?

Was bleibt? Genrefans, viel Spaß mit dem Appetitmacher und dem Autor wünsche ich viel Erfolg mit seiner Schwarmfinanzierung (Kickstarter-Preview) und dem Projekt.

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