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capybarbarian

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A member registered Oct 04, 2019 · View creator page →

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The Synth Convergence is a set of three scenarios that focus on 'synthetic life'. My Sprawl games are usually more in the style of Neuromancer, where fully sentient AI is very rare. This set of scenarios give the game a much more 'sci-fi' feel -- more like Ghost in the Shell.
Like with other mission files for The Sprawl, there are multiple CORPs involved. In the prologue, there is a very handy checklist of which CORPs are involved in which scenario. You could easily use that to connect them to CORPs in your game world.
 

First up is The Tannhauser Investment. In this mission, the team is hired to infiltrate a very exclusive resort hotel to intimidate an exec to sell their shares. The hotel is managed by an AI, which interacts with the guests through a set of semi-independent synthetic 'units'. There's another guest with lots of armed security nearby, and they are nervous -- so they could mistake any gunfire as directed towards them, which is a delicious complication to throw in the mix!
I would have liked to know more about the various types of units available to the AI, and how it would activate which ones under which circumstances. Maybe that could have been tied to the clock? Speaking of clocks: the Legwork Clock gives very little leeway: the Action Clock gets advanced quite quickly.
 

The second mission in this pack is the Infinitive Extraction. This is an inspired piece of work, multi-layered with several actors that a smart team could play against each other. The team is hired to extract an android, a (former) military-grade AI that turned into a DJ. This AI chose to exclusively inhabit a physical body, which is essentially owned by a CORP -- so they are under contract with their record label. The AI wants out and has made arrangements to be kidnapped before the first concert of their world tour to promote their new album.
But there is the 'Evolved', a group that protests synthetic life. They are not fond of the synth DJ, and have announced to protest their concert. This is why security is beefed up -- but they expect protesters, not a team of professionals. If the team doesn't play their cards right, things could escalate quite badly.
I love the multiple layers in this mission, and how the Evolved could turn into a long-term threat. It is also an invitation to think about the social and ethical implications of synthetic life, which I like a lot. After all, cyberpunk is a very political genre. There's ample information for the MC on armaments and tactics, based on the situations the CORP expects. Reading this mission got me excited for all the good trouble the team could get into!
 

The third mission is The Vanda-Weiss Demolition. It is exactly as what it says on the packaging: the team are tasked (or even blackmailed!) to bring down the aging Vanda-Weiss arcology. It's actually a result of the first scenario! There's a simple catch: this is not some kind of CORP-owned asset, but a derelict slum where low-wage workers live -- which is also a hotbed for Evolved recruitment. Is the team prepared to basically kill hundreds of innocents, or will they go against their corporate overlords, with all associated consequences?
I love the description of the locations in the arcology. It really makes the place come alive and gives it purpose beyond just being a decor or collateral damage. And this is the kind of stuff that makes cyberpunk so cool: there's a real choice to make, and each choice has consequences. This mission is the highlight of the collection for me.

Then there are four pages of locations and NPCs to populate your Sprawl with. These do not have any direct connection with the three missions, and could easily be inserted in any game. The NPCs are inspired and spark ideas on how to use them.
Do I have criticism? Yes, I do. For one, the PDF does not have bookmarks, which is a shame -- having them makes getting around the book a lot easier. And the Legwork Clocks advance the Action Clocks very fast, severely limiting the investigations the team can do before going in.
But would I recommend this? Yes. Yes, I would. This trio of missions describe a really cool story arc, with a lot of impact. This is cyberpunk at its best.

An interesting system underpinning a very tactical combat system. Many different character options through Talent trees, and who wouldn't want to play a Korok!?

Personally I'm really looking forward to more information about the foraging and cooking subsystems.

LUMEN community · Created a new topic Monster slaying?

The theme of powerful characters taking on powerful enemies seems to fit very nicely for characters slaying huge monsters, in the vein of Monster Hunter or (especially) Dauntless. But the Lumen rules seem to be geared towards mowing through hordes of mobs, instead of taking on a single, very powerful enemy.

Also, one of the tropes of such a game is to 'harvest' parts off a monster that can be turned into armor or weapons. That would also be a departure of the proposed 'random loot generation' in the SRD.

Obviously I will let this stew for a bit, but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about this.

This playkit contains everything to play a 'kids & monsters' RPG game. The rules are only 11 pages, and contain everything you need to know to play the game -- skill tests, combat, rest, and the all-important bond between kid and their monster.

Rules for character (and monster) creation are absent, but the kit comes with five pre-generated kids and nine pre-generated monsters to choose from.

The system is a trait-based dice pool mechanism, with skills and items adding dice. There's also a nice advantage/disadvantage mechanic which increases or lowers the target value for the roll -- very powerful with larger dice pools! The system reminds me a bit of the 'Year Zero' engine, but that may just be my own inexperience with such systems.

One thing that is missing from these pages (which I hope gets more fleshed out in the full game) is to ask the players to think about how some of these things look 'in the fiction'. Especially in the case when using Bond Points, which is a very valuable 'currency', there is the opportunity to narrate how the teamwork of the kid and their monster overcomes the adversity they are facing, which is very much 'in genre' and can serve to firmly establish the tone of the game setting.

The kit concludes with a 10-page adventure for groups to dive right in. It has a good mix of social situations (interacting with the monsters, who can speak and are sentient), exploration across the various locales and combat against the negative miasma from a meteor.

I can see groups using the first part of the playkit as a handy rules reference in the future, even when the full game has been released.