Category Archives: Technoir - Page 3

Technoir Public Beta Released

I need your help! Technoir needs to be play tested by people who aren’t me. To make this process easy, I’m just posting the current draft of the rules publicly on the website for anyone to download—anyone to try.

If you can help out with this process, all you need to do is: play one or more sessions with your group, take notes of what was fun and what wasn’t, and email me with your feedback. Read more »

Technoir Cover Art

On Friday, I received the cover art for Technoir from the amazing Malcolm McClinton. Feast your eyes on this:

I end up finding myself just staring at this for long periods of time, imagining being in that world. Which is exactly what I wanted the cover to do. I hope it has a similar effect on others.

I’ve done a logo redesign that fits this in with this artwork better which you’ll see soon. I’m also working on the tag lines and back cover stuff. The cover might be my favorite part of the publishing process (if you consider that a separate element from designing, playing, and writing).


It’s actually been nice out the last couple days. There was snow falling as recently as Sunday and now there’s sunshine and I can walk around the lake in a t-shirt. And so I am reminded that summer convention season approaches.

It looks like I’ll be at both Origins and Gen Con this year.
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Audience participation time! I could use your help. While I’m hard at work finishing the first draft of Technoir, I’m wondering how well the overview in the Player’s Guide works for making protagonists. You’ll also need the Twin Cities Metroplex Transmission which has some Connections you’ll need to complete this process. So I’m hoping you can download both documents, make a protag or two, and give me some feedback on the following:

  • Is everything covered by the Player’s Guide? Does it feel like an essential step is missing?
  • Is everything explained clearly? Do certain parts of the process need to be elaborated on?
  • Can you make the protag you want to make? Is something preventing you from creating a character concept that should exist in a cyberpunk setting

Please post your protagonists stats and your feedback in the comments here. And let me know anything else interesting that comes up in the process.


Transmission: Twin Cities Metroplex

So, people are already starting to playtest Technoir, even without the playtest document out yet! That’s amazingly awesome. Between the video I posted, the rules summaries in the Player’s Guide, and questions I’ve been answering in the comments here and on RPGnet, people are able to get a pretty good sense of the game.

So here’s one more piece of the puzzle: the Twin Cities Metroplex Transmission. It has Connections you will need for making a protagonist and a bunch of other plot nodes and stat blocks to make sure you have some content for the game.
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Technoir Dice Mechanics

I wanted to post something about the core mechanic for Technoir. But instead of simply using text, I thought it might make things a bit more fun if I showed you how it works. So here’s a little video demo of the game in action.

Sorry if it’s a bit shaky. Bit difficult to hold an iPhone steady while talking.

That Will Be Money Dollars Please

There’s a trend in games on the lighter end of the spectrum to ditch currency in leu of a game mechanic that simply tells you whether or not you can afford something. And for the record, this is a trend I agree with. I don’t want to keep track of my dollars and pennies for most games. Especially in ones in which equipment is low on the totem pole of character competency. I used this kind of mechanic in Chronica Feudalis, in fact, with its purse system.

But Technoir is different. I wanted it to have that gear-porn element. The gun with the scope needs to be more expensive than one without. I wanted to make sure that the choice of what you buy, at any level, is meaningful. Technology is cheap in the future, but there’s still a cost when everyone is nearly broke. If you’re criminals and thieves, money matters. There comes a point where abstracting all of that becomes more trouble than it’s worth. Read more »

What Doesn’t Kill You…

I’ve been reading Dashiell Hammett off and on over the last few years. I’m a big fan of Hammett-inspired films like Miller’s Crossing and Brick. This is hardboiled fiction at its best as far as I’m concerned. One of the elements that defines a hardboiled protagonist—besides the cynical attitude—is a willingness to face danger. To get hurt, beat up, or even worse in order to do the job. Generally they get punched in the face a lot.

Hardboiled is an influence on cyberpunk, but it is something I am emphasizing even more so in Technoir. In cyberpunk RPGs there is a tendency to spend a couple hours planning in order to get in and out unseen, unscathed. Hardboiled protagonists walk in the front door. They make their presence known. They make people nervous. They shake the tree and see what falls out. The best way to infiltrate enemy headquarters is to walk up to one of their goons, get tasered unconscious, and taken prisoner.
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Player’s Guide

In my previous post about hack points, I mentioned a Player’s Guide for Technoir. The Player’s Guide is a 16-page booklet that contains barebones rules for protagonist generation, inflicting Adjectives on other characters, and recovering from those Adjectives. It also has a list of Training Programs, descriptions of the nine Verbs, many Adjective examples, an overview of the favors that Connections can perform, and an Object catalog with a glossary of all the Object tags.

You can likely glean most of how to play the game from this document alone. What it is lacking is information for how everything flows together: how the protagonists, through their Connections, link to the node map and the plot; how the plot nodes relate to each other and how the node map is generated; how inflicting Adjectives can be sequenced into the conflict resolution system; how the Push economy plays. These will all be dealt with in the core book (which is essentially the GM’s guide). Read more »

Hack Points

One of Chronica Feudalis‘s first ever fans, Nathan Frund, emailed me the other day. He had been following my posts about Technoir and was curious about how easy it was to hack it. Nathan knows his hacking: his blog (Platonic Solid) features the first fantasy hacks for the Chronica system.[1]

I told Nathan about some key areas where Technoir was really easy to hack. In our discussion, Nathan called these “hack points.” So I’m stealing the term from him.

Being hackable has been part of Technoir‘s design from the start. Here are a few examples of easy ways to modify the game:

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  1. [1] Nathan also has some intersting thoughts on using Agile software development techniques for game design purposes.