Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review: NeuroSpasta for Ultramodern5 & Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

I'm a big fan of Dias Ex Machina's Ultramodern5 rules and was glad to see NeuroSpasta released. 

Full disclosure I was given a PDF for review purposes.

Chapter 1 introduces to the setting of the game as a political cyberpunk setting. It features a glossary of terms in the setting and a timeline starting at 2025 and ending at 2055.
   A summary of new rules are presented, introducing the Computer Use and Engineering skills, changes to Healing Kits, repairing tech, and hacking rules (the setting refers to it as "diving").

Chapter 2 introduces new races and backgrounds. Nugenics are genetically manipulated for a more perfect human.
   Prosthetics have had their brain transferred to a synthetic cybernetic body that looks human.
   True-Borns are traditional humans and comprise 95% of the settings population.
   Virtuants are artificial intelligences that can inhabit a body that closely resembles a human.
   Fifteen new backgrounds are introduced and range from setting specific (Lunarian) to more general (Ex-Mercenary). 

 Chapter 3 introduces the Freediver class that focuses on manipulating the true internet and anything or anyone connected to it. There is no cyberspace or a matrix to jack into, there is simply an overlay of reality that you can manipulate. You can hack a mind as well as a server. 
   Dive talents are skills you know how to use that do no require equipment. They function like spells, but do not need to be prepared in advance, you can use any talent as long as you still have uses per day remaining and are the appropriate level. Hot-Keys are the at-will counterparts to cantrips.
  Two new Archetypes are presented, Black Hat, White Hat, Gray Hat (you focus on diving computer systems) and Dominator (you focus on diving the human mind).

Chapter 4 focuses on gear ranging from robotics, cybernetics, SEEDs (neural interface devices used by divers), Firewalls (which protect servers and the human mind and are the "AC" for Freedivers to have to break), and contacts for players to have.

Chapter 5 features Programs for your SEED to use and covers copying them, pirating them, designing them, installing them.
   A huge list is provided and allow you to customize your SEED and grant you specific benefits depending on the situation. In many ways, I view them as counterpoints to magic items that further customize the diving experience.

Chapter 6 are the opponents specific to NeuroSpasta you can meet and features tactical battle armor, robots, heavy powered armor, cyborgs, factions, as well as servers and freedivers to either dive against or prevent being dived by. I find the entries generic enough to be used in other ultramodern or futuristic settings and they provided good context for NeuroSpasta.

Chapter 7 gives us the full setting and it's history. Organizations like UNPK who are peacekeepers for the UN are provided, as well as information on languages, religion, and urban life.
   Threats such as the Concord (who endorse a future without a unifying government) and Lupus Kanti (a Russian military contractor) provide ample information for stories.

Chapter 8 opens by helping to define NeuroSpasta as both a genre and a setting and discusses how it related to SF and how to tell the stories you want. An adventure, Dreams of Man is provided for 4-5th level players. I fell the adventure allows a GM to be up and running with little prep and greatly appreciate that.

Pros cybernetics and hacking for UA5 and DnD 5 are welcome. If you like UA5, NeuroSpasta is a great expansion.

Cons freediving is unexpected, but I welcome the broader approach to "hacking".

My Advice buy this book if you enjoy 5E or UA and want SF/Cyberpunk rules.

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