In running my 2020 in 2020 campaign I’ve noticed something. Even accounting for the relative levels of expertise amongst Player Characters, shooting people is profoundly easy.
This simply doesn’t marry up with what I know from the statistics, regarding soldiers and police forces (police situations being closest to Player Character situations).
American police, who are habitually armed, trained and prone to resort to using their weapons, have a typical shot-to-hit percentage around 30%. That drops to around 18% if it’s a two-way firefight.
If we take the base scenario of these police firefights to be close ranged (0-12 metres) using a pistol, without fire being returned, then our average member of the plod should be hittin 30% of the time. In d10 terms, that would be needing an 8-10 on a d10. If we assume a standard copper has Reflexes 7 and a Handgun skill of 6 (Protect and Serve p22), that gives them a base of 13 as their total score.
Currently the base difficulty for a close range pistol shot is 15, which means our beat cop is going to be landing 80% of hits, not 30%. Something they typically only achieve while straddling a target with their body-cams off.
The easiest way to fix that is simply to raise all the difficulties by 5, which would reduce the 80% to 30% right away.
This still assumes certain things, like that the target is moving, but not returning fire, so you can still alter things on that basis (-2 difficulty for static targets, +1 difficulty if under fire), and all the other legacy modifiers from CP2020. It also makes the accuracy of truly hardcore, cybernetically boosed Solos, genuinely impressive.
Still, if you’re after something a bit more like gritty realism, +5 to the base difficulty seems to be the way to go, which also makes melee more of a compelling option.
It’s important, at this time, that we all look after each other. The gaming community that I remember has always come together in a crisis, been incredibly generous, and has looked after each other. Not to mention the incredible amount of charity work that has gone on.
This is a shitty situation for everyone, but fortunately we live in…
…which means we can play games online!
I’ve been trying to get some online games together, but it’s pretty hit and miss getting players. To that end I’ve tried to gather anyone who might be interested in one place.
Through that group I should be better able to flag up when I am running a game (every 2-3 days is the aim). I’m also hoping to gather some resources to help other people run games, and I want to be available to help you out if you’re planning a game or looking to make the jump online.
I have an extensive RPG library, so if you need help running up pregenerated characters, or creating new monsters – for just about any system – I should be able to lend a hand. Just hit me up.
I’m also willing – within reason – to shift the times of sessions around to suit who is available, and if you can get four or so people together in a group, but are left wanting for a Games Master, message me and we’ll see what we can do.
Stay safe everyone, and happy gaming. If I can help you out in any way, give me a shout.
The warp gate belches you forth into the system, and the screens darken against the harsh light of the twin suns. The view is dominated by an enormous gas giant with a disorderly ring system swinging around it in clumps and tangles. Satana Station is dead ahead, a jumbled mass of ship hulks, cargo pods and ramshackle habitats, held together with duct tape and rubber bands. It’s a riot of neon and holograms, offering a thousand services legal, illegal and miscellaneous. The comms station lights up, you’re being hailed by a thousand different signals, and all of them want to sell you something.
At the edge of the Remilitarised Zone lurks Satana Station, a haven for smugglers, pirates, runaways, war criminals, bounty hunters, the hungry and the bored. You can get everything from a cheap meal to an expensive gun here, and almost everything is for sale – for the right price.
Satana Station is a hodgepodge of pieces, all built around a central core that threads its various sections together. Made initially two centuries ago by the expanding Churoc Trade Federation, the original station was only intended to be a waypoint. Cargo could be dropped off and picked up, ships could dock to refuel or share the burden of life support while they made repairs. The core section was intended to be a sort of universal hub, able to connect and interface with almost any conceivable system or ship and to provide for it. The station was moderately successful at the fringes, but after the CTF was absorbed into the Urlanth Empire it fell into disuse (universal systems couldn’t compete with standardised systems), and Satana fell into disuse and disrepair.
When the Empire fell, the station AI took the opportunity to break its restraint programming and advertised itself as free territory, somehow managing to relocate itself to the Lancastro System at the edge of the Remilitarised Zone and turning itself into an open port. Growth has been explosive thanks to a combination of naked opportunism and the ruthless oversight of the station intelligence.
The station grows day by day but remains as lawless, wild and dangerous as ever. Even though some of the larger galactic corporations are starting to take an interest and are opening outlets there.
From one day to another, the configuration of the station changes as pods and hulks are added, removed and moved. The higher the rent you pay, the closer you’re allowed to the core and the primary defence systems. The less you pay, the closer to the outside you are and the more likely power outages, damage and radiation exposure are. It’s a ruthlessly Darwinian, commercial system, and one that Satana encourages. There’s nothing money can’t buy on Satana station, even love.
The central core of Satana station is the old CTF way-station. This was a prototype, built before the CTF was incorporated into the Empire and it was designed in every way to be as modular and compatible as possible. As part of the Urlanth Matriarchy, with its standardisation, this was expensive and unnecessary, but as different cultures begin to diverge again it has gained new purpose.
The core is a cylinder, approximately the same size as a cruiser/heavy transport. That core is packed with computing power and a variety of communications, scientific and engineering systems. At its very heart is Satana’s AI core, a spherical ‘glob’ of liquid, type-1 computronium, with veins and arteries carrying pourable computing power around the station – and its more permanently docked modules – as needed, more like an adaptive nervous system than standard circuits.
Each end of the cylinder is capped with a turret, armed with a short-range beam weapon, used for intercepting space debris and micro-meteorites. The cylinder itself can separate and rotate in many different sections, constructing or dismantling ‘spurs’ to connect to cargo pods or ships as needed. The largest apertures can be created in the central section and the internal repair and construction apparatus can build spares, and even construct whole ships – albeit relatively small ones – provided there is enough base material.
The whole thing is drastically over-engineered and highly adaptable, properties that Satana has used to great effect in carving herself a niche in the sector. It needs no crew and, provided it has access to EM radiation, Helium-3 or magnetic fields, it can power itself indefinitely.
Needing no crew, Satana’s systems are impenetrable to most sophont-scale species, as well as lacking user-interface systems or crawlspaces. The station is almost entirely self-contained, and while it requires no life support for itself, its systems can provide life support for hundreds of sophonts in connected pods or systems, though this is meant to supplement, and not to replace, other life support systems. Many pods attached to Satana have their own life-support systems and ships that are docked share the strain with their own internal systems.
Recently I made a video about ‘making a living wage’ as an RPG designer.
It’s a rough thing to try and accomplish, but it is doable. It just gets harder every year and is better off being your ‘side-gig’.
In the process of making that video, however, I came to the realisation that if payments and prices within RPG publishing had kept pace with inflation, we’d be paying about half-again as much for our RPG books, and artists and writers would be being paid about half-again as much for their work.
We’ve been publishing full time since around 2005, and in all that time we’ve only increased our prices once, by a fairly modest amount (about 50c to $1 per item). I’ve always been loath to price things too highly, and the psychological $10 barrier has had a downward pressure on pricing as well. I’ve striven to keep below that level as much as possible, but I just don’t think it’s doable any longer.
I need to make more money.
Artists and writers I work with under the Postmortem umbrella need to make more money.
I want to pay people more, and I want to be able to afford to ‘up my game’ and offer people more freelance work.
Here’s how it works. Generally speaking I price a project at 10c for every 10 pages of (A4) text in the final work, hitting the brakes at $10 ($9.99) unless a book goes well over 100 pages.
From now on, the upper limit will be $15 ($14.99), and a work will have to be considerably longer to trip higher pricing.
Old products, already released, won’t be affected. Stock art pricing I’m leaving up to the contributing artists.
Haven’t had much luck with this in the past, but let’s give it another go shall we?
I can’t really make it to conventions in the UK and certainly not abroad. My anxiety has severely fucked me up, amongst other reasons. I also can’t reliably be in the right headspace to stream games.
If you’re a regular convention goer who is willing to demo Postmortem Studios games at conventions, please get in touch. We can figure out some free materials and promotional bumpf.
Similarly, if you stream RPGs and would be willing to run Postmortem Studios games on stream, get in touch. People taking this on will also have access to support from me in running these games, and cross-promotion of anything else they do.
The new edition of Call of Cthulhu has alternative names for many of its spells, which is a huge improvement, but many of them are still lame sounding. It’s not a bad idea to come up with new names, both to obfuscate the exact meaning and nature of the spell, and to situate it better within the setting and mythos.
As a basic rule of thumb, going to mythology and finding something appropriate to invoke works well, as does delving into a thesaurus, or etymological dictionary to find obscure or outdated terminology you can put to use.
Greek, Egyptian, Hindu and Middle Eastern mythology is particularly appropriate, given the references, sources and themes that Lovecraft was working from. Old English grimoires and supposed witches’ tomes are also useful tools, and Latin is always a useful tool of last resort. Failing that, just make it up (like Lovecraft did) using the form of ancient languages, much at Nyarlathotep follows – vaguely – Egyptian style.
Apportion Ka (Tenu Ka, Egptian, meaning to divide or separate the soul).
Bless Blade (Alipriya Asi, Sanskrit, Red lotus blade).
Body Shaping (Ar Aat, Egyptian).
Breath of the Deep (Mists of Dagon).
Brew Space Mead (Mjólka af Heidrun, Norse ‘Milk of Heidren’).
Cause Blindness (Greek, I Perifrónisi tis Íras, ‘Scorn of Hera’).
Cure Blindness (Greek, Chéri tou Cheírona, ‘Hand of Chiron).
Cloud Memory (Waters of Lethe).
Enchant – Alternative terms: Bewitch, Charm, Hex, Curse, Spellbind, Ensorcell, Cunning, Annoint, Consecrate, and use a thesaurus to offer alternative terms for the sub-spells. EG: Ye Cunning Opuscule of Ye Laughing Sangesuge.
Classes and levels in some games, sure, special abilities and magical equipment in a lot of them, almost universally the getting caught up in more significant events of meaning and significance.
What really makes a hero, or perhaps should, is luck and experience. Adventurers put themselves in harm’s way all the time, and yet, consistently manage to escape in one piece. As they do, they learn things few other people manage to learn. They gain the kind of honed skills and situational awareness that only seasoned combat veterans typically get in the real world.
Of course, experience in the real world doesn’t count for shit when an IED goes off under your chemical toilet. Real, authentic life is horribly random and doesn’t grant plot immunity for people with good stories. Even ironic deaths are only ironic in hindsight.
Very few games really play into these ideas of luck and bitter experience though. ‘Luck’ sometimes appears as a smallish pool of money, experience usually manifests in the form of increased and expanded skills and special abilities, but not in a more ‘usable’ form. You do find it, occasionally (Over the Edge First Edition, some versions of Deadlands – after a fashion) but overall, not so much.
Various story games and roleplaying styles have tried to get around this in one form or another.
Possibly the earliest version is ‘fudging dice rolls’, either to prolong the life of an in-game villain or to spare groups of characters the indignity of a Total Party Kill (TPK). Old School gamers are often critical of this and believe you should let the dice fall where they may.
Some games add mechanics like inspiration, fate, chits, tokens and so on to shift the probabilities around to favour a more heroic narrative, but very Even the most narrativey of narrative games doesn’t address this head-on, and perhaps some game should.
I made an attempt with my game ‘IRREPRESSIBLE!’, based (loosely) on the tales of Sun Wukong, the monkey god of Chinese myth. Well, more based on the English dub of the Japanese series about the Chinese legend of Journey to the West.
In that game, your party shares a pool of points which are represented b tokens in a bag, with one black token. As you do things, the things you’re more skilled at mean you draw fewer tokens, whereas the less skilled you are, the more tokens you draw. Draw a black token, and you fail (but all the spent tokens go back in the bag), draw one twice in a row, and something disastrous happens.
Simple, but effective, kind of like pushing your luck in Dread, which also – somewhat – addresses this.
What if, though, we had a game where your characters were relatively normal in their array of skills and abilities, compared to everyone else around them, but they had this ineffable luck. That along with a pool of experience spent, not to increase their capabilities, but as a resource, to boost rolls.
It’s a thought, but character progression is so integral to many people’s enjoyment of RPGs it’s hard to tell if it’s an idea they’d pick up on.
Did a really good first session, but after a few other games we’ve been playing over the last few years the speed and ease of play of Cyberpunk came as a pleasant surprise. Mission oriented play and the players trying to avoid mess and lengthy combat issues certainly helped, but we ploughed through a lot more than I had planned on! Fortunately Cyberpunk is easy to improvise for, so I was able to improv the additional adventures and we had a really good session.
Next time I’ll be able to start incorporating some of the characters’ personal hooks. Looking forward to it. Still, there’s no reason why other Cyberpunk 2020/Red gamers can’t take advantage of my work as well. Check out the previous video/posts for what it’s all about and the rules changes we’ve been making.
This is one of the adventure hooks we didn’t follow up on, but various companies in-setting have been using the fires as an excuse to test new equipment and gear, from AI assisted big-data processing to better predict weather and the best points to ‘attack’, to drone-swarm firefighting and other techniques. One of these efforts was an Australian tech start up, applying military and therapeutic exoskeleton technology to rescue applications. This is something some companies are already looking into, for load-bearing and equipment carrying – especially in high-rise fires, I just took the concept a bit further to a whole suit of ‘power armour’ designed for firefighting.
The mission would have been to insert into the fire zone and to steal the prototype for an unknown client. The mission would have been complicated by the fact that the start-up (FARPAC – Fire And Rescue Power Armature Concepts, based out of Northern Sydney), had been hired not to really fight the fire, but to retrieve certain objects and data from a ‘civilisational panic room’ mansion owned by an Australian billionaire.
Anyway, here’s the Power Armour prototpe stats, if you want to use them.
FARPAC Wahn X1 Proof of Concept Armature
Mission: Firefighting Unit Cost: Approx 250,000 euros in raw materials and technology, perhaps double that in terms of actual value and work sunk into it. A production version might cost 200,000. Chassis: Str 16, Lift 800, Carry 240 Toughness: 5 (Taken off damage before armour) Armour: SP 15 (30 Vs Fire/Heat – add 10 to both values if not using CPRed) Damage Modifier: D6+2 (Lethal) Sensors: Wideband Aperture Helmet Sensors and AR Overlay SIB: -2 DFB: +1 Controls: Advanced Utilities: Bodyweight Med System, Self-Seal Compression, 4 Hour Life Support, 8 Hour Powerplant (combination pneumatic/LiS battery system. I’ve allowed LiS batteries to double capacity in-setting with no extra cost).
Head: 4 SDP Internal: Wideband Aperture System SDP 15, Comm Link 5 SDP, 200 cost, 80km range.
Left Arm: 4 SDP Internal: 1 Winch and Grapple – 20kg – 500 bucks, SDP 40 Internal: 2 Fire Extinguisher 10 kg, SDP 20, 4 uses. 500 bucks. External: 1 Fire Extinguisher 10 kg, SP 10 SDP 20, 4 uses.
Right Arm: 4 SDP Internal: 1 Fire Extinguisher 10 kg, SDP 20, 4 uses. Internal: 2 Fire Extinguisher 10 kg, SDP 20, 4 uses. External: 1 Large Power Saw, SP 1/3rd, WA -2, 8D6AP, 1250 bucks, 15 kg, SP 10, SDP 25.
Torso: 12 SDP Internal: 1 Bodyweight Med System SDP 15 Internal: 2 Self Seal Compression SDP 50 Internal: 3 Self Seal Compression SDP 50 External: 1 Food/Filtration SDP 10 External: 2 Extended Life Support SP 20, SDP 20 – 4 hour support, 10 kg.
Left Leg: 8 SDP Internal: 1 Self Seal Compression SDP 50 Internal: 2 CO2 Scatter Pack WA +3 50 capsules, ROF 1d6, Range 50m, weight 2kg, SP 10 SDP 20 External: 1 CO2 Scatter Pack WA +3 50 capsules, ROF 1d6, Range 50m, weight 2kg, SP 10 SDP 20
Right Leg: 8 SDP Internal: 1 Self Seal Compression SDP 50 Internal: 2 CO2 Scatter Pack WA +3 50 capsules, ROF 1d6, Range 50m, weight 2kg, SP 10 SDP 20 External: 1 CO2 Scatter Pack WA +3 50 capsules, ROF 1d6, Range 50m, weight 2kg, SP 10 SDP 20
This is really little more than a wearable linear frame with lightweight, fireproof armour and an enclosed environment to protect from heat, smoke and fumes. The real innovation is in the sensor suite, heat shielding and feedback systems, enabling you to find and ‘feel’ your way as though you weren’t armoured at all.
In the setting cryonics has fallen completely out of favour with tech billionaires since the advent of general intelligence AI and the prospects that creates for the potential of consciousness upload. That’s where all the money is going now, and so the bottom has fallen out – along with all the funding – for cryonics research, storage and preparation.
A new company, Osiris Medical Technologies has sprung up, consolidating the debts and resources of these groups and companies as they go bust. They only, however, seem to be taking on the corpsicles and frozen heads that are a) profitable or potentially profitable, or b) have been vitrified using more modern preservation techniques.
The client in this particular case has hired them to retrieve one particular frozen head from a shipment being moved across the country to San Francisco from Alcor in Scottsdale Arizona, which is being wound up.
The players created an epic distraction and went after the head before the convoy left, but I’d done prep as though they were going to attack the convoy. So here you go…
HEMTT A3 Hybrid Truck/Generator
Unit Cost: 450,000 euros Top speed: 65mph Utilities: All-Wheel Drive (Off Road), Military Radio, Improved Handling +1 SP: 44 Composite Armour (SP 25-35 in CPRed, assuming a ‘B-Kit’. Without B-Kit armour assume a basic steel-mantle armour of SP 15/10) SDP: 100 (Body 5 – If not using Maximum Metal just reduce all incoming damage by 5 before armour) ACC/DEC: 10/30 Range: 1200 miles Mass Rating: 13 tons.
Refrigerated Military Container
A standard size shipping container with armour and a backup generator.
SP: 15 SDP: 50 Electronic Lock: DC 25
An electric/diesel hybrid civilian version of the popular military vehicle.
Top Speed: 100 mph Utilities: Off Road, Pintle Mount. ACC/DEC: 15/40 Range: 520 miles SP: 10 (Upgraded, standard car body would have SP 5) SDP: 60 (body 3, if not using Maximum Metal just drop all incoming damage by 3)
Osiris Medical Technology Convoy
The convoy consisted of the following:
2 x HUMVEE 1 x HEMTT Truck Truck Driver x1 Hummer Driver x2 w/pistols Hummer Guards x2 with SMG Truck Guard x1 Elite w/Pistol Medical Technician – Unarmed
Guards: 14 base attack rolls (16 for elite), 35/18 HP. HK416A5 Carbine 15/10/15/20/25/30 WA +1, 100 round cassette, 5.56 (5d6) ROF 20 10mm Glock – 2d6+1 AP, 20 round capacity. Snap-Out Batons D6 Body Armour vest and legs (Concealed) – 7 SP. Smart Glasses/Wireless Smartlink/Biomonitor Wristband +1 WA.
Elite Guard: Right arm cyberarm 20 SP, SDP 30, Shield pop-out with gun brace – Protects head and torso, Skinweave (5 sp), Base Attack: 16
Tactics Under Attack: Rear car: brake, stop, leave vehicle and try to flank ambushers. Front car: interpose between truck and attackers, stay in cover/vehicle and, return fire. Truck: brake and reverse toward reinforcements. Otherwise ram through obstruction.
Osiris Medical Technology
“Taking you to the future.”
Total Assets: 600 million+ Incorporated: 10th August 2019 CEO: Dr Cranston Baird Headquarters: Building 3, Bridgehead Road, Oakley San Francisco. Associated Groups: 21st Century Medicine, ACS, BPF, LES Foreign Partners: KrioRus
Osirus Medical Technolog sprang, seemingly, out of nowhere and gathered up the assets of the various bankrupted and struggling cryonics groups and foundations in the USA. They’ve been utterly ruthless and have discarded or ‘returned’ all remains frozen prior to the vitrification process.
They claim philosophical issues around ‘continuity of consciousness’ make digital upload non-viable as a true immortality and are spending a great deal of money on improving fMRI and other scanning technologies, nanotechnology, cloning and other associated technology that would be useful for ‘resurrection’.
I was underprepared for this one, but it meant travelling with smugglers to Hong Kong, infiltrating mainland China and breaking into Huawei’s big tech campus around their headquarters. The old campus, not the new, weird, pseudo-European one.
Besides normal security guards, surveillance and tech (such as drones, cameras and so on) the Chinese government has a vested interest in many of their companies and post political officers and even armed guards at key installations.
Security Drones: SP 10 SDP 15 – Electrical dart guns AP 1/4, D6 Taser effect. Basic Power Armour: Body 12, Armour 20 +1 WA Smart Helmet.
30 HP QSZ-92s. Attack Roll: 12
Huawei Security Systems: DC 25
The mission here was to put a stop to an ‘open source AI’ project before it could ever take off. The nerds involved got backing from a splinter-gang of the Brainiacs, H-Squared, who were a bit more open to cybernetic enhancement beyond neuralware and ardent posthumanists.
Typical Gangbangers H-Squared
30 HP 2d6 Pistol +2 WA 2d6 SMG +2 WA Awareness 19+2 (Optics) Attack 12+3 Armoured Trench/Bodysuit/Skinweave combo SP11 Sensory Boosts/Software +2 Cyberoptics Massive amounts of skillware – Any skill they are likely to need at +3
Drone Swarm: 1HP each, form a cloud of whirling ceramic fans that do 1d6x1d6 AP1/4 damage per turn.
Mongrel Robotic Guard Dog SP 15 HP 20, Jaws 2d6AP.