Month: March 2021

News & Updates

“Augmenting” AUGMENTED

Over the last few days, Augmented has gotten a bit of a facelift. While the core game mechanics are (relatively) unchanged, I wanted to provide more tools that would make it easier to run a session without doing the burdensome prep work that’s often associated with the genre. 

We’re on a Mission from the Company

The headline addition is the assignment generator. Originally, Augmented featured a small 1d6 table that the Supervisor could use as a random starting point. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of table, of course. Weirdwood uses something similar, although it provides more than just six options. But I wanted something that was a little more dynamic.

Fortunately, I recalled a discussion I took part in on a Discord server recently where fellow game designer Jeff Stormer was talking about a villain plot generator for a superheroes game he’s been working on. Using that as my starting point, I came up with the following formula: 

You must    action    a (an)    target    in a    location    at    city site   .

There’s a chart associated with each space that the Supervisor can reference to randomly create a basic cyberpunk mission. The big challenge, however, was coming up with six distinct actions, which basically determine the goal of the assignment. Here’s the list I ended up with:

Action (1d6)

  • Acquire
  • Eliminate
  • Sabotage
  • Embed
  • Protect
  • Interrogate

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but the trick was using words that were both flexible enough to be interpreted in different ways and apply equally as well to a “target” that was a person or an object. That’s why I went with “Eliminate” instead of “Terminate” or “Assassinate.”

The last entry, “Interrogate,” is the result of some Discord crowdsourcing. It’s a distinct action from the more straightforward “Acquire,” but it may not be immediately obvious how you can interrogate an object. Essentially, the “Interrogate” action tasks you with gathering information from someone or something without actually stealing it or removing it from a location. “Acquiring” a data file, for instance, would require you to download and deliver the contents of the file to the Company. “Interrogating” a data file, on the other hand, would mean accessing data to find out what’s in it, but not actually removing it or copying it from the system. It’s more of a discovery-based mission than a theft-based one.

So, as an example, here’s what a random Augmented assignment might look like: 

You must    protect    a (an)    executive    in a    power facility    at    the outer sprawl   .

This gives a ton of information for the Supervisor to work with without overloading them with details. They can quickly start to imagine reasons why the executive might be in danger and the characteristics of the power facility. Since it’s located in the outer sprawl, it’s probably dirty, run-down, and hazardous in some way. Maybe it has a radiation leak or generates some kind of toxic byproduct.

I also added a few other lists detailing security levels, potential enemies, and mission complications that Supervisors can quickly glance at to generate ideas. In my experience of running RPGs with little to no preparation, having this kind of information on hand to spark ideas is incredibly helpful. By adding some of this material to Augmented, I hope the game will be even easier to manage on the fly.

Augmenting Augmentations

One area of the game that did get some substantial reworking is the augmentations section. Originally, I provided a list of 10 augmentations players could choose from and left it very open-ended about what they could actually do. That probably would have been fine to leave in place until I added some guidance on how to upgrade augmentations following successful missions. I wanted to leave those decisions totally up to the players, but the reality was that it was a lot easier to think of how to add new features to something broad like a cyberlimb than to something rather specific like “wired reflexes.”

So I pared back the augmentation list to just six basic types. While that may seem a bit restrictive, each type also has five distinct features associated with it. Now when players make their Agent or are looking to upgrade their augmentations, they can simply pick another feature from the list and get back to the playing. Of course, as with everything in Augmented, players and Supervisors are totally free to come up with their own ideas and use them instead. 

Part of the reason I try to avoid restrictive guidelines is because it’s almost impossible for one person to come up with the best options for every unique group of players. If you don’t like something, change it or come up with your own thing. Augmented’s system is so sparse and adaptable that you don’t have to worry about breaking anything from a balance or mechanics standpoint.

And if you do implement something that doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. Just have a conversation about why it’s not working and either change it back or do something else instead. It’s a roleplaying game, not computer engineering. Nobody is going to kick down the door and yell at you for doing something different.

Preorder AUGMENTED Now

The added material has expanded Augmented from 20 pages to 28 pages 36 pages (another round of additions followed this post). I don’t anticipate anything else being included at this point, but I am going to provide a separate short guide that outlines the details of a ready-made cyberpunk setting. Augmented allows groups to create their own settings, of course, but it was conceived and written with a particular setting in mind that probably informed a few decisions along the way. The setting guide will detail the cyberpunk world I’ve hinted at in the short stories “Lena’s Song” and “The First Price.” I’m planning to make it available around the same time as the main game releases on March 30.

You can preorder Augmented now on! If you preorder before March 30, you’ll get the game at the special $5 preorder price rather than the $7 retail price. Someone asked me on Twitter recently if there will be a print version available and the short answer for right now is that I don’t know. I would like to do a print run, but I’m going to see how the experience goes with mailing out Weirdwood to Kickstarter backers first and then explore what it would take to set up physical distribution.

News & Updates

Introducing Augmented

Augmented is a cyberpunk action RPG in which players take the role of cybernetically enhanced operatives working for a powerful corporation referred to simply as “the Company.” These Agents were once ordinary employees, but after suffering some form of accident, the Company exercised a clause in their contracts to augment them with a variety of cybernetic implants and recondition them for corporate espionage and warfare.

Agents are bound to the Company by more than just their contracts. Their augmentations are still Company property and can be reclaimed at any time. Even worse, the human body has a toxic reaction to cybernetic implants. Without regular doses of special medication, their immune system will begin to reject their artificial components. This reaction takes the form of a fast-moving cancer that proves fatal in a matter of weeks.

If Agents complete their assignments successfully, their augmentations are maintained and they receive the medication they need to survive.

If they fail, the Company reclaims its property and writes the meat off as a loss.

Playing Augmented

A rules-lite RPG with no stats and no complicated preparation, Augmented is built upon the resolution system featured in Ghost/Echo by John Harper (Blades in the Dark, Lady Blackbird). The game is intended to be played fast and loose, with more of an emphasis on the story and finding out what happens next than on rules mechanics that dictate and constrain action.

Traditional cyberpunk RPGs often have complex systems for combat, hacking, and cybernetic implants that take a more simulationist approach to gameplay. This can make them rather time consuming to prepare and play. Augmented was designed to be as abstract and simplified as possible so the players can focus on the theme and style of the genre rather than get bogged down in rules mechanics. A typical session of Augmented should play fast and loose, with an emphasis on action and conflict.

Coming Online March 30

Augmented is available for preorder on ahead of its official March 30 release. By preordering the game now, you can get it at a special, reduced price ($5 preorder vs $7 retail). 

I’ll be sharing more details about the game in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back here for updates. You can also sign up for the Last Redoubt Games newsletter to get the latest news straight to your inbox.