Apollo 48 Technical Manual

Received my physical copy of Apollo 47 Technical Handbook in the mail from, The thing is a 1200 page Monster.
The premise is that it’s the late ’80s and you are on one of a long line of Apollo moon missions. The game play is purely improv, you take turns being the spotlight astronaut, while everyone else is voices over the radio. Everything is part of the conversation, and nothing interesting is supposed to happen. You use call and response with exciting exchanges like:
“Once the dust shroud is off, use the G27 wrench to loosen the restraining bolt.”
“Copy that Houston, Dust shroud is off, and I am loosening the restraining bolt.”
“Loosen the bolt, do not remove the bolt at this time.”

On its own, it is the most amazingly simple, yet potentially fun game I’ve run across. The game itself is like, 1 page. If it’s so simple what’s with the 1200 pages? NASA manuals. Lots of NASA manuals. There’s no table of contents! No index! No continuous page numbers!

The rules are Pay What You Want. The hardcopy has around $40 as a minimum to cover printing. Seriously, pick up the rules. This would be great for road trips (say, to GenCon).

Simulation and Narrative

Without getting too deep into RPG Theory, my favorite game, Alternity, would be considered a Simulation game.  Like D&D, it models the world with a consistent set of rules that players use to interact with the fictional world.  Simulationist games can be simple dungeon crawls up through political games where hardly a die is thrown.  Depth of Story and Character varies depending on the table and can be as casual or intense as desired.  In Simulationist games GMs put a lot of work into crafting an environment for the players to interact with.

Counter that with Narrativist games, like Blades in the Dark.  The rules don’t simulate a world the players interact with, instead the rules facilitate the players telling the story.  The role of the GM is toned down, they are not “in charge” of the world and the NPCs.  Instead, the Players have input into what the characters encounter.  In some games players take turns with narrating the events that occur, the twists the plots take and the situations the Characters find themselves in.

Think of it this way, the Characters are approaching a small Keep on the Borderlands:

Simulationist games would have the GM describe the scene (there are 3 guards outside looking through belongings as people enter the Keep), players ask for details, (How thorough are they searching?) then relate their plans and intent to the GM, (I’m going to cause a distraction so the others can sneak by) Then there might be some roleplaying between the distracting character and the guards.

In Narrativist games, the _players_ might decide that the Keep is on heightened alert, so there are guards outside looking through belongings, another might add that they have been on heightened alert for some time and are bored and inattentive.  Another might add that one character distracts the guards while the others pass by with their weapons under their cloaks.  Then there might be some roleplaying between the distracting character and the guards.  The players switch back and forth between adding elements to the setting and adventure and roleplaying through the events.  Narrative games have dice rolls to add that random element we all love so well.  Usually there are more options than a binary pass/fail mechanic, often yielding results such as Yes and, Yes but, No but, and No and.  These push the story forward and prompt GM and Players to improvise.

It might just be me being a grognard, but I enjoy my Simulationist games.  I like the structure, be it as a player or GM.  That said, the newer indie Narrativist games are enticing.  Games like Legacy: Life Among the Ruins and other Powered by the Apocalypse style games come with loads of creative ideas and what looks to be interesting gameplay with the right group.  Next convention I attend I’ll definitely seek some out.,

<<Yes, I’m aware that my use of Narrativist and Simulationist doesn’t necessarily agree with RPG theory.  But I like the terms and think they work for my take on theory.>>

Shadowrun Music

1st edition Shadowrun

I got into Shadowrun when it first came out back in ’89. The art included numerous references to Stevie Ray Vaughn, and that has colored my campaigns ever since. Music has been a vital part of the setting, along with food. Music and food have been vital parts of the setting; food, music and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
This was personified, literally, in Stevie, a blues playing, crossroads visiting, city spirit who was the essence of the blues and had no idea he was a spirit. A brief and troubled romance with one of the runners ended badly, as is fitting for a blues man.

The runners have a safe haven – a nightclub called The Downfall. The owner is a free city spirit named Aelaryss, she ensures there is no fighting in the club. An absolute rule that no one alive has ever violated. Aelaryss has a soft spot for runners who take care of those living on the streets. Numerous backrooms are by invitation only and give runners a place to rest when the heat gets turned up. A unique ability I’ve given her is the ability to have The Downfall become lost in the city, anyone she doesn’t want to find the place just can’t find the place.
Aelaryss takes the mic on occasion, her songs, and the mood in the club, are dark cabaret.

Short and built like a brick, Clem is a rigger who runs a body shop in the Barrens. His skin is dark dark black with white hair and beard. He provides mechanic services and wheel work when the runners require it. Clem is a kind soul who “has 38 children” and spends some weekends out of town “working on the dwarven spaceship we are building in the mountains”. In his shop he listens to Delta Blues but when joining on a run Sturgill Simpson is on the stereo.

Sparky, (she hates that name) is a young elven mage and singer. She has done a few runs and formed a close friendship with Clem. He’s the one who nicknamed her Sparky after she cast a lightning spell that didn’t go off so well. Her singing is classically trained and from the heart. For her, the Steinman classic Nowhere Fast sums up the passion in her music.

The Horned Dance are a motorcycle gang of eco-anarchists that work to disrupt the workings of the mega corps. They spend time in a bar on the outskirts of Seattle called the Wylde Hunt where they perform pagan folk music. They are a good source of info on megacorp activities outside of the city.

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