First Glance: EZG takes a look at the Necropunk Alpha
Little Red Goblin Games has made the Alpha-pdf for their current Necropunk-kickstarter availabe to me and I figured, I’d let you in on what to expect from this project!
So what is Necropunk? Well, first of all it is a kickstarter by Little Red Goblin Games, but why should you check it out?
First of all, because it is something not seen that often – innovative. Scott Gladstein, head of LRGG, provided me with their playtesting document and I had some time to digest it – and am honestly surprised by it.
The “Necro” in Necropunk made me anticipate a grim, gory setting – which it essentially isn’t – at least not necessarily.
Mankind has left earth and evolved, developing species-wide psychic powers, spurned by a genetic trigger left in our DNA by some progenitor to activate upon achieving a certain distance from our solar system – the means of conducting these powers being uncommon and smart – human bones. The results of this discovery were catastrophic – a bone-rush began and since bones not only contained power, but also were a means of attaining wealth, they changed how society works. Via these bones and the psychic augments at the beck and call of humanity, a rise to melee weapons and extreme powers that hearken to fantasy without copying genre conventions was the result.
The races of Necropunk have developed from humanity and no elves, dwarves etc. will show up – why? Since races, especially in roleplaying games, lend themselves to overly simplistic stereotyping, they would rather hamper what the setting sets out to do – in spite of appearances, the setting’s goal is not a dystopian nightmare (though you could easily make it one), but rather a setting of political intrigue, social combat and horror – the subtle type of horror. Psychological horror and tackling philosophical questions relevant to life and death and what constitutes a human are core themes of the Necropunk setting. The respective human races are quite different from one another and should still offer something diversity-wise -also thanks to rather extensive and interesting pieces of information on the respective cultures that developed.
Languages deserve a special mentioning in that they come with dialects as well as sample alphabets – a neat level of detail that adds further depth to the setting.
Class-wise, there is no magic and hence a bunch of classes from standard PFRPG are not an option in Necropunk, but there are psionics- a whole different beast from standard 3.X-psionics, btw.: Every individual has a PPI, a psychic potential index. The higher the PRI, the psychic resistance index of bones, the less well it conducts your psychic powers. As swift actions, you can allocate PPI to Necrotech or specific powers. Psychic charges on weapons can be used to get +1 to damage per charge, whereas armors can be enhanced with regards to AC and DR. The ready availability of DR should already point towards a concept – namely that combat works slightly different:
As combat happens at the speed of thought, there are phases – each turn having several phases – analogue to e.g. reflex boosters in Shadowrun, individuals with golem armors act first and may act out a standard action per phase they have – which immediately makes battles a different brute. Having much experience with additional actions in my homebrew setting, I can attest to the way they can change a given setting.
The skills also point towards a change – heal can be sued to adapt to body modifications, zero-g combat is covered etc. Advice on converting from PFRPG to Necropunk and vice versa is part of the pdf and there also are quite a bunch of new classes that support the changed focus of Necropunk, coming e.g. with potential conflicts inherent in the class.
Take the diplomat, where Self versus Community is a central theme – as is their ability or the Magpies that can see the flow of luck and possibilities, but also deliver some grand roleplaying catalyst-quirks or the non-magical medic-class, which, with some reskinning, should also be nice for campaigns that never liked divine magic and how its healing works. The classes also feature several racial archetypes for major customizations of the base-classes. Or take the Psychic, who may actually lockdown abilities and items via their abilities and even highjack them or the hyperfast Qu’em practitioners, martial artists akin to WuXia-heroes with their differing traditions or the ranged weapon fighters called sentinels.
Of course, beyond an admixture of the innovations of phases and psychic abilities with classes and the plethora of new feats, there is another piece of content that surprised me and which I think you should be aware of: Social Combat. How many times have you had the scene at your gaming table: One player does all the talking while the others watch. In Necropunk, all classes get social combat modifiers and a wide variety of different maneuvers to undermine social confidence. This combat is not only a nice way to support player involvement, but also is rules-wise analogous to regular combat, making mastering it simple.
Outfits also influence social combat and there is a wide array of items provided of both mundane items and Necrotech, allowing for a wide array of shopping and customization options. Have I mentioned the drugs, body modifications etc.?
If by now that hasn’t been made abundantly clear – from what I’ve read so far of Necrotech, I consider it more than interesting – it’s innovative and NEW. I have quite literally never seen a setting like it and its rules so far are solid and serve well to support the unique components the rules introduce. The ability to lock down items, the emphasis on social combat and the overall melding of necromantic aesthetics with cyberpunk has potential galore to do something different -not only in fluff, but also in crunch.
I’ve read only the unfinished playtest-manuscript and I’m quite impressed with what Little Red Goblin Games has created here – If you are interested in what I described and if you want to see a setting that has true potential for innovation, for doing something different, I’d suggest you give Necropunk a chance – it’s funded already, so the risk is nil.
I’ll, of course, be reviewing the final version as well, but from what I’ve seen so far, I think the final product will be a quite impressive feat and beyond what I’ve seen from LRGG in other releases – the heart’s blood they poured into this really shows – this might develop into THE setting to explore complex questions of ethics, philosophy etc. and provide a backdrop for intelligent roleplaying just as well as a more action-oriented playing-style.
You can check out the Kickstarter here!
Thank you for your attention! I hope I gave you a good impression on the potential of this product!