Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Uncommon Display of Self-Restraint

Yesterday I once again found myself at the used book store. Someone must have unloaded their old gaming collection... I found core rules for Alternity, one of the Amazing Engine Games (Khromosome or something... a cyberpunk knockoff), Cyberpunk 2020, Legend of the Five Rings 2nd edition, Quest of the Ancients (which looked absolutely terrible, and also claimed that it could be "The Swords and Sorcery Product of the 90's.), and some universal system I didn't recognize and have actually forgotten the name off. All those systems, and I managed to choke off my bizarre collector's urges and not buy any system for the sake of buying a system. Holy god, perhaps this is the seed of discipline finally germinating in my thick skull.

I did, however, buy Player's Option: Combat and Tactics for five bucks. I can actually feel some of you flinch reading that. I bought it because it is the "missing link" between 2nd edition AD&D combat and d20 combat. In this book, you can see the beginnings of standardized critical hits, attacks of opportunity, d20-style miniature based conventions, weapon reach, and a rudimentary feat system using proficiency slots. (I believe many of the "proficiencies" listed did actually become feats in 3rd edition.) At the same time, there are still older elements like the old overbearing rules and weapon speeds. My interest in it is purely academic. I consider Combat & Tactics and the Alternity system to be the parents of d20. I suppose you could say I bought the book to see where everything started to go so horribly wrong. The book also contains extensive lists of weapons and armor from a variety of time periods, so that might prove somewhat useful.

Oh, on a side note: the Netrunner from Cyberpunk 2020 looks ridiculous, especially looking back from a contemporary world where wireless internet is widespread.


  1. About 75-90% of Combat & Tactics became the D20 combat system. The more direct link with feats can be found in Dungeon Master's Option: High Level Campaigns. I have no particular hate for either volume, use with caution as they say. :D

  2. Oh, I have no intention of really using any of it. (Aside from maybe some of the weapon/armor stats in future campaigns) Like I said, I bought it primarily because it is an interesting study of D&D's transition.

  3. On wired cyberpunk:

    Going wireless leaves behind a lot of the charm and fluff. At this point cyberpunk, to me anyway, is a set genre in the same way as steampunk. It may be argued that one of the precepts of cyberpunk is progress, but that doesn't click with me. That's more like hard SF.

    That said, one argument against assuming wireless Matrix use is that the bandwidth is too high to allow wireless netrunning/decking, though you can of course use phones and similar low-fidelity devices. You just can't do the brain-tech connection. Go ahead and log into the big mainframe holding a wireless computer with a monitor and keyboard. You sure aren't going to be able to do anything wacky though.

    A side note about the bandwidth is that if everyone is using high-bandwidth wireless communication it would take up a lot of space in the communications frequencies available. I'm not sure there's enough bandwidth available for that, even if you could project your netrunner persona not everyone could at once.

    Second argument against is that if your brain hardware is wireless-capable, you're constantly barraged with virus attacks. Do you want to risk that 24/7?