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Technoir
 
$10.00
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
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Technoir
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Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by Nearly e. D. P. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2012 09:01:17
Overview
One of the early RPG successes from Kickstarter Technoir is a cyberpunk styled game heavily flavoured by hard boiled detective fiction and film noir. The game is presented in a compact and beautifully laid out form, small enough that its easy to just slip the book into a bag just in case you get a chance to play it. If you're looking for long sessions of planning, stealthy infiltration and stats for an endless list of cybernetics then I suggest sticking to Shadowrun. Technoir is about bold and reckless action, its about causing trouble because you can and flinging accusations just to see what sticks.

Rules
Technoir uses a lightweight rules system built around the use of Adjectives, which describe the result of actions, properties of objects and relationships between characters and their connections. Want to shoot somebody? Then you might apply the adjectives of Suppressed, Bleeding or even Scared; it all depends on how you want to affect the target and how long you want the Adjective to last. In a similar fashion Adjectives may be applied to represent emotional or situational (Distracted, bored, lustful etc) effects, describe the properties of items (Sharp, Rapid-fire, Expensive etc), and define the relationships between characters and their connections (Respectful, Loyal, Indebted etc).
Actions are attempted by generating a pool of d6's, formed from characters attributes (Action dice), positive adjectives they can draw on (Push dice) and negative adjectives affecting the character (Harm dice, of which a character has a limited number). These are rolled together, with Harm dice cancelling out any positive dice of equal value, and the highest remaining die then compared to the target number. If successful the adjective is applied as desired.
It is here however that the Push dice really come into play as by default Adjectives applied through a successful action don't last for long. If you wish to extend the duration of the effect, for example upgrade a 'Suppressed' to 'Bleeding', it requires that a Push die be spent, transferring it from the Player to the GM. In this way the game brings in an ebb and flow of power that fits well with the noir genre implied by the games title. At the start of each adventure Push dice reside with the PCs, allowing them to quickly investigate and get the information required to work out what is going on. As the dice flow to the GM the balance shifts and the PCs start to run up against larger challenges, difficult to overcome without the boost provided by Push dice. Here the GM can then start to really hurt the PCs, applying longer lasting adjectives (which confer Harm dice) but in order to do so must once again spend the Push dice, returning them to the control of the players. Finally the PCs, bruised and beaten but in possession of the Push dice, are in a position to uncover the truth and take out the bad guy at the centre of their troubles.
All in all the system works well and finds a good balance by bringing together traditional mechanics (rolling dice), player narrative (adding adjectives) and genre (the Push dice economy) into a single cohesive system. My experience with the system so far is that it works best when an adventure is spread over 2 or 3 sessions, one shots limit the impact of longer lasting adjectives on NPCs as they don't appear in enough scenes. Longer adventures however and the PCs build up too many negative adjectives, severely limiting their effectiveness. The only real issue I've had with the system is getting to grips with the focus on character versus character conflicts, as the GM is advised to avoid rolls that don't involve manipulating / affecting another character in some way. This makes sense from both a genre and system perspective, as applying adjectives to say, pick a lock, doesn't make a big impact if that lock is never encountered again. I suspect part of my issue with this is that my NPCs are probably the weakest aspect of my GMing so only time will tell as to whether I can get a handle on this aspect of the game.

Transmissions
Transmissions, which make up a substantial portion of the book, are a system for the generation of on the fly adventures which are generated as information is uncovered by the characters. Each Transmission forms a small setting, something which is mostly absent from the main game, however even these settings leave much up to the imagination of the GM. There are 3 Transmissions included in the book itself and each contains within it a series of contacts (NPCs who can provide favours to the PCs), locations, events, factions, threats and objects. At the start of the adventure the GM takes 3 of these elements and uses them to form a story seed, as the PCs explore and investigate they draw in further elements which the GM connects to that initial seed. For example if a PC goes to a contact to borrow some money that NPC is added to the plot map and suddenly they may be connected to a spate of kidnappings the PCs are investigating, maybe she's involved in laundering the money of the gang involved or her son is one of the individuals who has been taken. The plot map, generated from each of these elements merely provides the links between points in the adventure, its up to the GM to decide what those connections are.
The Transmission system works extremely well, allowing a GM to generate a plot as it unfolds and as the PCs are drawn into the adventure. Of course this requires the GM be comfortable with working out details on the fly but even if you're not comfortable with this the framework provides an easy to use, pre-generated set of points which can be used ahead of time to plan an adventure. There are a number of Transmissions which are already available and with their simplicity its easy to write more focused around your city or setting of choice.

Customisation
While the game is written from a cyberpunk perspective the relatively limited nature of the setting material makes the system extremely easy to adapt to other settings. As part of the Kickstarter project the author has already released MechNoir, which shifts the focus to Mars and adds in rules for the use of Mecha and is planning to release HexNoir, a magic / fantasy based adaptation for the game. From a personal angle I've been working on an adaptation for running games within the Dresden Files universe (which can be found over on my personal blog). This coupled to the compact size of the book and ease of writing new transmissions means the game is on my list of systems I'm happy to pack in my bag while travelling just in case I can slot a session of it in.

Wrap Up
Technoir is a game that I would definitely recommend to those who are fans of the cyberpunk genre, especially if they'd rather focus on the motivations and conflicts of characters as opposed to the stats of a particular piece of cyberware. The system underlying the game is distinct, easy to learn and encourages the styles of play expected of by the genre, with the added bonus of being easily hacked to fit other noir influenced settings. All in all definitely a game that I am glad to have taken that Kickstarter gamble on.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by Ubiratan A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/27/2012 13:58:29
This is a blast to read, and it gets the feel of classic cyberpunk just right. The system seems pretty fun and workable, centered around building a story the whole table can agree on while following the game's main themes. If you don't want to use it, though, the game's mechanics for generating a plot on the fly based on the PC's connections are more or less independent from the rest of the rules, and could easily be lifted for use in other games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2012 11:44:41
This is the game that you want when you want to emulate Blade Runner, Neuromancer and almost any novel of the cyberpunk genre. This game brings the idea forth that characters are not created in a vacuum and without relationships are little more than wannabes walking the street talking to themselves.

Technoir has a simple tool for game masters to create a plot and allows the player characters to get involved quickly once the plot map has been completed. This very same plot map is used to show the web of relationships within your individual game and how it relates to the city guide (termed as Transmission in the game) your group is using.

The book is simplistic in its layout and structure. It's art is stock standard except for the chapter dividers which beautifully evoke the cyberpunk/noir feel by showing active life in each of the cities described in the Transmissions. Much like the cover of the book.

One of the major flaws of this game is its focus on character-character interaction and that it only wants scenes to develop towards conflict with two living things. You cannot roll the dice to affect a lock, you simply pick that lock to get into the building, but you will have to face off against the guards inside if they catch you. This is something for players to get used to and can detract from the first few games.

Long term play could also be seen as a flaw but this game would be excellent in a convention or for a short campaign with regular players.

I would recommend this game to anyone wanting to play a cyberpunk game and especially those who have played Shadowrun or Cyberpunk for a long period of time to see how this game uses the tropes of the genre differently.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by VileTerror E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/19/2011 12:25:46
Overall the system looks very promising as an interactive storytelling medium, although an errata to clarify some of the ambiguous rules would be appreciated.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technoir
Publisher: Cellar Games, LLC
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2011 22:33:51
Overview: Technoir blends the concepts of cyberpunk with film noir with a tight and flexible game system that rewards play within the conventions of both genres. The system is easy to learn, allows for all sorts of strategic play within the fiction of the world, and ties the characters into the setting using a system that lets a GM build a plot-line as play evolves, if desired. The game is very customizable and developing new content is extremely easy.

Rules: Technoir's rules system is based on verbs and adjectives. The verbs are the things the characters do in the setting and you will see all the cyberpunk/noir regulars featured: Fight, Hack, Prowl, and Operate (drive drones and vehicles). These verbs are the WHAT you and your opponents do, the adjectives are (as you would expect) the HOW. Characters, equipment, and contacts all have adjectives that allow the player or GM extra resource options in the games fast-playing resolution system.

The effect of every contentious action from combat to verbal sparring is an attempt to put an adjective on your opponent. Use your "Fight" verb (and maybe help it out with your 'accurate' gun and your 'steady' personal adjective) to place the adjective 'shot' on your target. How bad the effect is and how long it lingers is based on a dice resource called Push that gets traded as adjectives are made to linger longer on the target. The PCs start with the Push advantage, but as they get embroiled in the plot, they start to give it over to the GM, whose NPCs start making life tough on the PCs, giving the dice back. The ebb and flow of Push keeps the game's pitch dead-on as the plot resolves to a good climax.

The game also has a system of favor trading with NPC contacts that keeps the PCs tied into the community they live in and beholden to players that become more involved in events the more they are consulted. Money is always tight and favors help get the right tools in your hands. The gear system is very intuitive and many cyberpunk classics are represented as well as some new takes on the cutting edge.


Presentation: The game is very cleanly laid-out and attractive to the eye. There are some full-color images in the text, but most of the art is very tasteful tri-tone images that set the tone for each section, demonstrate game-play, or show examples of the equipment in the game. As an added bonus to those of us who like a printout at the table, the raster graphics are on a layer in the PDF that can be switched off to save toner./ink. The text is clear and has clear examples of play close to each section of rules.

Portability: Similar to game like 'Fiasco', Technoir comes with setting bibles called "Transmissions" that make game setup and prep easy and organic, even during play. These setting manuals allow for the fan community to create and share their own Transmission with others and integrating other people's transmissions into your own game is a snap. Also, the system hackers out there will recognize that a few tweaks to the starting verbs and training programs allows a group to run a number of other genres.

I recommend the game for fans of cyberpunk gaming who want a more streamlined system or a system that is less about the shopping list and more about the motives of the characters. I also recommend the game to those who like modern noir movies like "Blade Runner" or "Brick" (both obvious inspirations for this game) or the classic noir films. Story gamers will find much here to love, as the game centers on the character's and their goals, even while keeping that cybernetic edge you need for good cyberpunk.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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