Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Computer Hacking in RPGs


Today I will once again be speaking confidently on a subject about which I am unqualified to discuss. 

I've been thinking about hacking a lot lately. Not "hacking" like hacking a rules system. Not even "hacking" like "exploratory programming." I'm specifically talking about our favorite x-tremely kool 90's heroes who save the world by breaching computer security (and occasionally rollerblading). It's a well-known challenge of game design.

I have never actually played a cyberpunk RPG like Shadowrun or... Cyberpunk. Hacking was in Star Wars: Saga Edition but I kinda bullshitted (bullshat?) my way through those parts because I was like 16 when I ran that game. But I have read lots of different hacking rules and I've read lots of other people discussing their experiences using them, and these are my takeaways for the most common problems:

  1. It's complicated and a headache to learn, especially for the GM who has the rest of the system to learn as well.
  2. It's usually only for one player to participate in while everyone else waits on the sideline, and in Shadowrun especially is notorious for taking a really long time.
  3. Either it's realistic and confusing or it's abstracted and unsatisfying.
  4. The GM doesn't consistently integrate it into the game world, treating it almost like an afterthought.
This is really tricky because the easiest way to integrate hacking would just be to tell the players "make a hacking roll" whenever they want to cheese a device, but then there'll be a player at your table who wants to be the hacker, and they need something more in-depth in order to fulfill their fantasy.

So I have some thoughts about how to address this. Partly, this results in me creating my own loose ruleset for hacking gameplay. But also, think of this more as guidelines for how to create your own rules based on your personal design philosophy and priorities. I'm here to spotlight for you the kinds of important questions you'd want to ask and answer if you tackled this yourself. Especially the questions that'll help you avoid the kinds of mistakes that lead to something as unpopular as Shadowrun's hacking rules.

Also, prepare for some semantic satiation.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

8 Opinions about Spider-Man

Per the demands of Prismatic Wasteland, I have to write a blog post about Spider-Man. So what do I say about Spider-Man that hasn't already been said?

I decided my best bet would be to just create a shitty clickbait post with no real substance and lots of bad takes.