All posts by Stargazer

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.

24XX/2400

Yesterday I was looking for a simple Science Fiction roleplaying game which I could use as a basis for a campaign idea I had. At first I thought about using something like the Cepheus System (or one of its variants), but it didn’t quite fit what I was looking for, especially because the system still puts a lot of emphasis on combat and other fiddly bits I just didn’t want to bother with.

Eventually I stumbled upon Jason Tocci’s lo-fi sci-fi RPG 2400. In fact it’s not a single game, but actually a whole slew of them. Each comes with all necessary rules, equipment lists, and random tables which help generate NPCs or adventures on the fly. Since each of the 2400 games is inspired by familiar franchises you should be able to start playing almost immediately.

The core mechanics themselves are extremely simple. There’s not a lot of bookkeeping involved and unlike most other ultra-rules-light games 2400 allows for character advancement. While I don’t think the mechanics are that well-suited for a campaign spanning many years, shorter campaigns should definitely be viable. And did I mention that the rules themselves have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution license?

Roll a d6 skill die — higher with a relevant skill, or d4 if hindered by injury or circumstances. If helped by circumstances, roll an extra d6; if helped by an ally, they roll their skill die and share the risk. Take the highest die.
1–2 Disaster. Suffer the full risk. GM decides if you succeed at all. If risking death, you die.
3–4 Setback. A lesser consequence or partial success. If risking death, you’re maimed.
5+ Success. The higher the roll, the better. If success can’t get you what you want (you make the shot, but it’s bulletproof!), you’ll at least get useful info or set up an advantage.

(Excerpt from the 24XX system reference document)

Up to this point Jason has released twelve modules which can either be used standalone, or you can mash them together into one large setting. If you are – like me – looking for a simple SF system which you can run online, look no further than Jason Tocci’s little gem. I highly recommend getting the 2400 bundle for mere $6 which contain the following booklets:

  • Cosmic Highway: space truckers trying to keep their rust bucket flying
  • Inner System Blues: cyberpunk freelancers in a grainy retro-future
  • Orbital Decay: a space-horror scenario generator
  • ALT: uplift, AI, and clone operatives in a world without death
  • Zone: exploring an area where known science no longer applies
  • Exiles: twenty weirdos surviving in a xenotech-riddled quarantine world
  • Xenolith:an alien crew faces threats from ancient relics
  • Eos: human marines fight for the common good in the galactic community
  • Project Ikaros: rogue psychics flee—or fight—elite agents
  • The Venusian Job: a casino heist above the clouds on another world
  • Tempus Diducit: timeline-bending mashup setting for all 24XX games
  • Emergency Rules: (slightly) expanded version of the rules and principles

Have you played 2400 or one of the many games based on the 24XX system reference document? Please share your comments below!

Lazy Friday Video Post: “NO.”

Saying no to my players is something I’ve struggled with for years. In my early years I was actually pretty restrictive, which sometimes led to frustration from my players. Eventually I tried to say “Yes” more often, which more often than not made things harder for me. One attempt at starting a D&D 5th Edition game totally crashed and burned because I basically allowed every conceivable character. Two sessions in I was utterly overwhelmed.

Matt Colville talks in his video about why sometimes saying “No” to your players is the right thing to do.

I also highly recommend checking out his other videos from the “Running The Game” series!

Cyberpunk 2077 – Is it Worth It?

Usually I don’t write about video games here on Stargazer’s World. But Cyberpunk 2077 is an exceptional game and I am sure it might appeal to many fans of tabletop roleplaying games like Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 (which Cyberpunk 2077 is based on). CD Projekt Red which is mostly known for The Witcher 3 turned Mike Pondsmith’s rich setting into a compelling video game, which unfortunately has also its slew of problems. By the way, all the screenshots included with this post have been taken by me using Photo Mode. This is also NOT a review and I highly recommend that you check out one of the many reviews which are available online.

Let’s start by getting a few things out of the way. Yes, Cyberpunk 2077 is extremely buggy and unpolished at this point. The number of glitches I experienced in my about 30 hours of playtime so far was staggering. Luckily most of the bugs are pretty minor like graphical issues and a few UI bugs. Things are especially bad on last-gen consoles. A friend of mine plays on PS4 and even though he loves a lot about the game, he almost quit several times because of how bad it looks and runs on the console. I am playing on PC. I have a pretty old i7-4790k CPU, 32 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a RTX 3070 GPU which I acquired recently. To my surprise the game runs actually pretty well on a 5120×1440 resolution on Ultra (Raytracing) settings. I get some slowdowns especially at the beginning and shortly after cinematic dialogues, but aside from that things have been running rather smoothly so far.

Night City by night

So, what kind of game is Cyberpunk 2077? From the trailer videos you might get the impression that its some kind of GTA V-like game set in a cyberpunk future. But it’s actually a full-blown roleplaying game with stats, skill trees, meaningful choices, and a – at times – pretty slow-burning story. If you think you get non-stop action, this might not the game for you. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent quite some time of my 30 hours playing this game so far, and shooting people, hacking their cyberware, sneaking around them, or cutting them to pieces using my katana are pretty common occurences. But talking to characters (on the phone or face-to-face) and exploring the city are definitely equally important.

This car might be trash but it’s MY trash

The highlight of Cyberpunk 2077 is its stories. The main story quests so far have been excellently written and very enjoyable to play. Most if not all of the side missions are equally compelling, sometimes even more so. Characters are not just flat and clichéd cardboard cutouts but often feel like real people, you quickly begin to care for.

Overall there’s a lot to do in this game. Even though you can rush through the main story in about 20 to 25 hours, this would mean missing a lot of what Cyberpunk 2077 has to offer. Doing side missions not just helps you to make money and getting street cred, but sometimes even opens up new options for the main story. Aside from the main and side missions there are also countless “gigs” which include simpler activities like fighting against a cyberpsycho or a group of gangers. Sometimes even these small gigs manage to tell interesting stories which help to add more depth to the world.

Yes, I am playing a blue-haired woman.

Personally I love the game and even when I am not playing I am thinking about it. Even though it has a lot of bug and some questionable design decisions it is still a very enjoyable experience, if you enjoy roleplaying games on console or PC. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a last-gen console or a PC with an older GPU yet. I am confident that CD Projekt Red will get the game into proper working order in the future, but at the moment it just doesn’t run that great on these systems.

By the way, if you haven’t had the chance to check out Cyberpunk 2020 yet, each copy of the game comes with several digital extras including a PDF copy of the tabletop roleplaying game from the 1990s. Hopefully a lot of people who are now playing Cyperpunk 2077 will check it out and eventually get into the tabletop roleplaying hobby!

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand, famous rockerboy and terrorist

What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 so far? Have you already purchased and played it or are you waiting for further patches? Please share your comments below.