Some Thoughts on Technoir

Technoir, Jeremy Keller’s cyberpunk roleplaying game, was one of the first Kickstarter projects I supported back in 2011. The video he created to promote his game blew me away, and I was excited to get my grubby little hands on a modern cyberpunk game with easy to learn rules.

The Kickstarter was a moderate success (compared with the ones we saw later) with 622 backers pledging $24,255. This was almost 10 times the initial goal of mere $2500. During the Kickstarter several bonus goals had been unlocked including MechNoir (Mechas etc.), HexNoir (Magic) and MoreNoir (which was meant as a toolbox for GMs). Alas only MechNoir was released and the last official update on both the KS page and the official Technoir site is over 2 years old. Obviously the official support is dead.

Overall I don’t regret backing Technoir at all. The game itself has some interesting rules, the book looks good, and it’s the first game of its kind I’ve seen which focuses on story instead of combat, weapon stats and long lists of cyberware. Alas this can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. Technoir feels terribly generic. On the one hand that might be great if you have a strong setting in the back of your mind, but if you don’t, you’re basically on your own.

One of the plans I had when I finally got my hands on the book, was to run a Shadowrun game with it. But instead of creating some house rules for Shadowrun’s fantasy elements I waited for HexNoir instead – which never showed up. So Technoir ended up on one of my “looks-interesting-but-I-can’t-use-it-right-now” shelves.

I pretty much forgot about the game until recently. I’ve been playing in a Shadowrun 3rd Edition campaign which made me interested in all things cyberpunk again. So I checked the Technoir KS page for updates, only to notice that there are none. I still think that Technoir had and has a lot of promise but the lack of official support – please excuse my language – sucks!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Technoir”

  1. Technoir is one of a handful of games that, regardless of years passing, I still want to very much play. Regarding the missing reward support, I wonder what Jeremy has to say. Should be a matter of a tweet to ask him.

    1. Feel free to try your luck getting an answer out of him. Last time I tried he just didn’t reply at all. He also seems to ignore the comments on the KS page. If you ask me, he simply abandoned the project.

  2. I ordered a PDF+print version combo way in October 2013, forgot all about it, and suddenly got my print copy this January. That was unexpected.

    However, I really fell in love with the game now that it is here and I have studied it. In my case, its open-ended treatment of technology (and the way these details are not handled obsessively, but rather with a utilitarian simplicity) makes it ideal for running a short CP campaign, along with other advantages – relationship map-based scenario design (and the “transmission” format), quick chargen and low-maintenance runtime. We expect to start next week, then see how far it goes.

    It is too bad it didn’t go anywhere, because it is a nice, refreshing take on cyberpunk gaming.

  3. Keller did mention on his blog, 2 years or so ago, that he was running into a creative block with HexNoir. Working so much in the industry is also a significant problem, as you point out.

    I wondered if perhaps the issues people unfamiliar with or insensitive to Noir had in play may have also had a role in getting the spell rules to actually work as intended. MoreNoir always seemed an impossible project to me, but I am saddened at how long it has been in silence regarding HexNoir.

    I still like the game, and what it offers both in recasting how we think of genre, and what it brings to the table. Like you, it was one of my earliest kickstarter projects, still unfulfilled~

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