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Hard Wired Island: Tales From L5
Publisher: Weird Age Games
by Chris K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/11/2023 12:34:43

I love HWI to begin with, and these adventures are clever, funny, and present sides of the game that play to its strengths as not just another cyberpunk shoot 'em up. I especially appreciate that it focuses on the ugly side of late stage capitalism from the lens of the effect it has on communities!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Wired Island: Tales From L5
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Hard Wired Island
Publisher: Weird Age Games
by Chris K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/19/2021 17:52:07

First and foremost, Hard Wired Island is a game that is not only unafraid but eager to engage with the questions of society and abusive capitalism that are core to cyberpunk as a genre. From the excellent and evocative art that plays on the attempts of corporate social media to advertise via lip service to advocacy, to forthright commentary on the gig economy via such twists as Headpattr, the on-demand cat maid service, HWI absolutely wears its politics on its sleeve.

My favorite part of the design is that the focus is on characters living in a cyberpunk and transhumanist world and navigating the social and economic struggles required. This game is not the rainy nights and neon, leather and gear porn sort of cyperpunk-as-aesthetic game most common for the genre. While fighting is an option, the system shines when navigating social scenes, with robust and well-explained mechanics for keeping things moving and accomplishing your character's goals by means other than bullets.

In play, things run extremely smoothly. The book gives in-depth play examples for its mechanics, and includes useful sidebars to help new GMs and players understand how best to improvise when something not covered by the stated system comes up. The character generation system is very broad, including open-ended specialization as well as a variety of character traits and the design philosophy for creating new traits that suit other character concepts.

I would be absolutely underselling it if I left out an additional point that I adore; the sheer diversity of the characters represented as examples, and the inclusivity written into the rules and setting. This is a game that is comfortable with characters of all sorts, with any variety of ethnicity, gender presentation, or orientation that a player would like. This is not just lip service, as the writing is welcoming and the in-game examples presented reflect that same diversity in all its glory.

Plus, where else are you going to get a game that has a table of random android characters for inspiration that includes a rapping idol so hot she allegedly had to add heat fins?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hard Wired Island
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Flying Circus - Core Rulebook
Publisher: Newstand Press
by Chris K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/11/2020 17:41:48

This was an enjoyable book to read on its own merits, with amazing art and a brilliant idea behind it. The design very much conveys the themes the author set out, creating a setting that is recognizably similar to real world history but steeped in fantastic elements that make it stand on its own. The system is a heavily modified take on the Apocalypse World engine, which focuses the gameplay around the actions of the characters as they relate to the narrative rather than on the mechanics, while still being mechancially complex enough to provide a really compelling abstraction of early fighter combat.

The thing that stands out most to me is how much emphasis is put on making sure the downtime for the characters, when they aren't flying, matters as much if not more than their escapades in the air. This makes for great opportunites to make characters more than just a collection of combat stats, and really get the players invested in the highs and lows of the often insanely dangerous life of a early pilot.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flying Circus - Core Rulebook
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