Showing posts with label Cyberpunk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cyberpunk. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Witcher Table Top RPG Coming from CD PROJEKT RED and R.TALSORIAN GAMES

It was recently announced on the CD Projekt Red forums that they had come to an agreement with R Talsorian Games regarding the production of a table top role playing game for The Witcher. According to the announcement:

Together with R.Talsorian Games, makers of the hit pen and paper role-playing system Cyberpunk 2020, we are pleased to announce an agreement to develop The Witcher Role-Playing Game -- the go-to tabletop Witcher experience for pen and paper RPG enthusiasts.

The Witcher Role-Playing Game will allow tabletop RPG fans to re-create an array of characters known from the Witcher universe and live out entirely new adventures set within the world of Geralt of Rivia. Powered by Fuzion, the same ruleset that made Cyberpunk 2020 gain worldwide player acclaim, The Witcher Role-Playing Game will feature a myriad of spells, rituals, and curses; favorite gear and items from the entire Witcher series including a bestiary of devilish monsters players can face during their adventures. The system will provide all the necessary tools to create and play out your own adventures and become everything from a battle-hardened monster slayer to a merchant kingpin controlling a vast network of contacts.

The Witcher Role-Playing Game is currently slated for a mid 2016 release. More information about the system, price and availability will be provided at a later point in time.
I am simultaneously excited and ambivalent about this project, due largely to the involvement of R Talsorian Games. Before I get into my reasons for ambivalence, I'd like to highlight why I'm excited about R Talsorian's involvement in this project. 

I think that R Talsorian has historically been one of the most creative and forward looking companies in the entire role playing game industry. The company was founded in 1985 and was one of the first companies to bring Anime style gameplay into the hobby with their Mekton (1985) role playing game. The game had a relatively intuitive system that allowed for ease of play and customization of individual mechs. It also introduced players to a setting inspired by the classic Mobile Suit Gundam anime. This was quickly followed by the release of  Teenagers from Outer Space (TFOS -- 1987), a role playing game that mirrored high school romance anime and featured a simple system that was good for introductory games.

The same year that TFOS was released, R Talsorian published its Cyberpunk game. While this game had some mechanics that were inspired by earlier games (the lifepath system is similar to Traveller), it had two major effects on the industry. First, it provided the market with its first "attitude" role playing game. Cyberpunk was a game written with style that evoked an attitude. This design feature would go on to influence the World of Darkness series of games, as would the rules for Cyberpsychosis which emulated the loss of humanity one feels as one acquires more cyberware and learns that "metal is better than meat." You can see echoes of this system in the Humanity trait in Vampire. R Talsorian's Cyberpunk game was a cornerstone moment in the industry and game designer Mike Pondsmith is to be praised for the inspiration.

R Talsorian's innovation didn't stop there. Their Castle Falkenstein game was one of the first Steampunk game, and still the best one. That's making quite a statement given that there are several good Steampunk games around, but it is Pondsmith's ability to infuse mood into a setting and to incorporate mechanics that fit that mood that set Castle Falkenstein apart. The company also released new editions of Mekton that were compatible with Cyberpunk, games based on Dragonball Z, Bubblegum Crisis, and Armored Trooper Votoms. There was even a short stint where R Talsorian partnered with Hero games to release a "Fuzion" powered version of Champions. The partnership seemed natural, two successful Bay Area companies working together, but ended up doing some short-term damage to the Champions brand. This is too bad, as the Fuzion version of the game is quite fun to play and easier for new gamers to pick up and play.

Man, I love this company and their products.

But...back in 2013 I backed the latest version of the Mekton role playing game. It has not yet been published and updates have become scarce from the company. I'm not worried about the project, but I do wish communication was better. And I've got no fear that anyone is running away with a Kickstarter fortune. The Mekton game raised a respectable amount of money, but no one is getting rich off of it. I also understand that a part of the reason for the lack of communication is that R Talsorian has been working with CD Projekt Red on a new Cyberpunk computer game.

But it's hard to get excited about a game when I'm still waiting for another game to come I've already paid for.

That said, I'm pretty jazzed and eagerly await the release of The Witcher table top game. Even though I still think it's a pretty silly name for a franchise.

Monday, December 07, 2009

War of the Worlds: Goliath -- Coming in 2010

Next year will see the release of Tripod Entertainment's animated Steampunk film WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH. The film's premise is that 15 years after the Martian's failed attack on the earth in 1900 the aliens return to continue their attempted conquest of Earth. Much has changed in the intervening 15 years, as the industrious have reverse engineered a substantial amount of Martian technology. This sets the stage for a more evenly balanced conflict between the two worlds. The film's trailer hints at what the film will offer. The film will star geek favorites Adam Baldwin, Peter Wingfield, and Adrian Paul.

GOLIATH isn't the first WAR OF THE WORLDS sequel to make its way through the Hollywood entertainment assembly line. In 1988, there was a 2 season syndicated television series based on the premise that the Martians who invaded during the George Pal film merely went into hibernation and didn't die when they collapsed. The series aired in the US on Fox, and it too starred Adrian Paul (during the 2nd season).

The narrative premise of GOLIATH is a promising one and the show looks to have combined the best of the Steampunk genre with some elements of the classic animated television series STAR BLAZERS. Instead of a giant space faring WWII battleship, we have a giant sky spanning battle-zeppelin. I think the battle-zeppelin wins hands down.

Steampunk is a genre that has been gaining some momentum over the past few years. It combines "Vernian" futuristic technology with a Victorian/Edwardian time frame. I would posit that the first iteration of Steampunk was the Castle Falkenstein roleplaying game by Mike Pondsmith of R. Talsorian Games (publishers of the Cyberpunk rpg) and that the genre gained real traction with the novels The Difference Engine by Gibson and Sterling and The Prestige by Priest.

It has been noted in the comments that I am in error with regards to the origin of the term and genre of Steampunk. I will concede the term's origin, but I would take issue with some of those items retroactively classified into the genre. One could classify Spenser's The Faerie Queene as Epic Fantasy, but one would be misapplying a term for fantasy fiction in the post-Morris era. The same holds for Wild, Wild, West which shares as much with James Bond as it does with Steampunk (specifically). One might as well classify Ian Fleming's brilliant Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Steampunk. Wikipedia and "internet citations" from Locus be damned!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Buck Rogers Web Series Debuting in 2010

The Dille Trust and Cawley Entertainment will be streaming a new Buck Rogers web series in 2010 and have posted a teaser trailer. When they wrote it was a teaser trailer, they meant it was a teaser trailer. One cannot discern much about what the series will be based in the short trailer available, but a couple of things are pretty clear.

First, there WILL be rocket ships. This is a good thing. One of the major flaws of the Syfy Flash Gordon series was its awkward attempt to write around rocket ships as transportation.

Second, Gil Gerard will be involved in some way. Given that the Gil Gerard series had a good cameo by Buster Crabbe, it's nice to see the Dille trust continuing the tradition of "handing off the baton."

Third, this is Buck Rogers. That in and of itself is enough to spark my interest.

Here is a description of what they intend to bring to the monitor next year:

Executive Producer James Cawley will be bringing Buck back to his beginnings telling the story from the perspective of a 22 year old Buck Rogers who leaves World War One and is propelled into the 25th Century. “We will be using the technology we have today, to present The Original version of The First Sci-Fi Hero ever! Previous filmed incarnations never really captured the original Buck from the comic strips, which is what we aim to do” Franchise owner, writer and game designer, Flint Dille will be an Executive Producer and Consultant, and will be instrumental in keeping true to the Buck Rogers mythos. Charles Root & Gary Evans who have been instrumental in the success of “New Voyages” will also be serving as Co-Executive Producers for Retro Film studios.

If it is true that they will be aiming to bring the "Original" version of the character to the monitor, some audience members may be turned off by the Yellow Peril nature of the narrative. The early comic strip stories were heavy with Yellow Peril imagery.

While I love rocketships and the classic time period for Buck, the best Buck adaptations -- the Gerard series, the Crabbe serial, the XXIV roleplaying game -- all contained some elements that updated the narrative for "contemporary" audiences. For example, the Gerard series played off of Cold War nuclear holocaust fears and the XXIV game (written by the talented Mike Pondsmith creator of the Cyberpunk rpg for R. Talsorian) incorporated cyberpunk and steampunk narrative elements. I hope this new version does something similar.

Speaking of Mike of these days I am going to have to do a post on just how influential this man has been in geek culture and how ahead of his time his concepts have been. Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Mecha, and Dragonball Z...he was there early and deep.