[Campaign Concepts] Aquapunk

As of late there’s one particular sort of campaign that’s been making a few rounds in my imagination: Aquapunk, which is essentially D6 Cyberpunk meets Blue Planet.

Blue Planet is an awesome game, and while I adore the hard science meets far frontier sort of setting I figure that highlighting the cyberpunk aspect of the setting might just be the right kind of spin to give it the direction I can work with.  I’m not particularly articulate right now to be honest, but I’ll do what I can to try and give a solid pitch.

I want a setting where the standard Cyberpunk idea of the rich people living high up above the rest of humanity.  Instead in this setting, it makes sense that the rich people live far below the surface of the ocean, sometimes living in completely artificial habitats dug deep into bedrock, while the poor and helpless are forced to eke out a living out in the surface, where harsh weather and pirates are a constant threat.

Floating agricultural platforms exist, and are very well protected for their benefit to the habitat below the sea, especially since pirates are constantly looking for ways to raid these platforms for food.  Majority of the population live in a network of large underwater domed cities.  These habitats are often held in control by various mega-corporations who have their own security forces to protect their interests against saboteurs and criminals.

As with regular cyberpunk, corporate espionage has taken on an entirely new and violent level, with corporate sponsored hit-squads conduct clandestine operations against one another.

Being an underwater setting, there will also be some form of underwater activity, as I intend to keep the presence of the Longevity Ore (“Long John”) as a major Mcguffin in the setting.  The idea of having a harvested matter that can be used to grant relative immortality is certainly something that will keep people interested, and having enough of it outside of the system will do more than turn heads.

I don’t have a strong “team” vibe from this, despite it being a Cyberpunk campaign, so I’m going to give players free rein to tell me what they want out of the setting by opening any concept for consideration.  I’m willing to run character stories, in case someone plays something that doesn’t really go out an adventure much, but I can also run a mystery yarn in case someone decides to go play a detective, or a cop.

So, back-stabbing and intrigue in the boardrooms of mega-corporations?  Sure.  A fast-paced running gunfight in the myriad twists and turns in a gigantic floating squatter colony made up of smaller boats nailed together?  Why not?  Hold a concert that entrances both humans and uplifted dolphins and orcas?  I can run that.  This campaign is going to be sort of a mirror and a sandbox.  The players give me something, and I’ll make their character’s lives interesting.

[Review] In Flames by Greg Saunders

Let me start off by saying that In Flames caught my interest right off the bat with three things:

  • It uses the Mini Six System
  • Pretty, pretty cover art by Paul Bourne
  • The presence of Haitian Vodou Mythology used in a Sci-Fi Setting

And so I decided to grab the PDF and check it out.

If there’s one thing I have to say about Greg Saunders’ work, it would be that he is very, very thorough.  In Flames is a game written as a true corebook, one that is meant to cater to people who are already into RPGs as well as those who are new to the hobby.

Greg’s writing is approachable and easy to understand, but I do have a slight impression that there’s a distance to his writing.  It’s clear to see that he’s enthusiastic about his setting and his game, but I can’t help but feel that he’s holding back.

Thankfully that tone doesn’t harm the fact that In Flames offers a fresh take on the Sci-Fi RPG by slipping in a good dose of mysticism and moral ambiguity, which takes the form of the situation that the player characters find themselves in.

There’s no short way for me to describe exactly what the player character are, but I’ll try to give the Cliff Notes version.

There are two “realities”:  The Understar, which is the home of the Loa, godlike beings who occasionally entertain themselves by essentially possessing humans in the Flame Worlds, which is the material world where the game takes place.

The Player Characters are former Loa who have committed a crime so heinous that they were cast out of the Understar, and forcibly injected into one of the humans in the Flame Worlds.  As Exiles, they have to make the most of their suddenly limited existences.  Thankfully, they have hope, as a being calling itself Ghede offers them a chance to earn their place back in the Understar… if they perform several tasks for Ghede.

While this might seem like blackmail, the situation is actually somewhat better than it sounds.  It turns out that Ghede wants the Exiles to earn their place in the Understar by taking on other Loa who have begun to abuse their ability to ride humanity in the Flame Worlds.

What I loved about this setup is that becoming an Exile opens the character’s mind to how things are from a human perspective.  As Loa, humanity and the Flame Worlds in general were nothing but an amusing diversion.  To use a terrible analogy, the Loa are playing The Sims.  They indulge their desires by possessing hapless humans and get their jollies taking over the steering wheel.

But now that they’ve become the very playthings that they toyed with, things are different.  The Exiles don’t retain much memory of their time in the Understar, and are forced to rub shoulders with the people here, forming relationships and bonds that they would otherwise have missed as being the Loa.

Everything clicked in my head the moment I made the connection.  In Flames is Demon: the Fallen in SPACE.  Flawed godlike beings forced to lesser forms taking over bodies of humans in a world that was so divorced from the paradise that they once knew.  Except this time, Ghede takes pains to offer them a way back to paradise… but that itself raises a different question.  Now that they’ve opened their eyes to the reality of the Flame Worlds… can they go back to the Understar and go back to their blessed ignorance?

Mechanically, In Flames takes the Mini-Six and shows off exactly what it’s capable of.  My experience with the D6 system is that it’s a robust system that can handle pretty much anything, so I remain confident that In Flames will run without a hitch.

What I did like about it is the fact that Greg managed to slip in two interesting “Scales” that every Exile has:  Guilt and Dislocation.  Guilt is a meter that shows just how close a character is to their eventual forgiveness, where Ghede will allow the character back to the Understar.  Dislocation on the other hand, is a measure of the Exile’s connectedness to his host body.

These meters are an interesting way to track a character’s status, and how far along they are to their redemption.

In Flames is still a sci-fi system, and definitely doesn’t let you forget that one bit.  From the neat little sketch artwork to the fact that Greg has painstakingly statted out Vehicles, Technology, Robots, Planets and Stars.  Don’t let all my talk of the internal conflict fool you, In Flames has a lot of potential for action and adventure.

The missions that the Exiles are sent off to are the type that wouldn’t be out of place in say, the Mass Effect videogames.  The D6 systems supports this sort of play very well, and fans of harder sci-fi won’t find themselves wanting.


In Flames offers something that most Sci-Fi games tend to overlook:  Internal Conflict.  While that’s easy enough to inject into a game as a GM, it’s rare that you see one built-in to a game right out of the box so well.

The use of the Mini Six system is an excellent choice for the setting, and In Flames offers a large open solar system with different environments that could easily be a springboard for any sort of campaign from action-adventure to espionage.  Sci-Fi is all about the toys, and the game has it in spades.  Exotic environments, vehicle stats, uplifted creatures, and corrupt and dangerous opponents are all over In Flames, and it has enough stuff in it to keep a campaign going on for a long, long time.

In Flames is a solid sci-fi game, and fans of the genre should definitely consider picking this up.


In Flames is available in DriveThruRPG for $14.00 or roughly PhP 603.00

Campaign Buffet: D6 Cyberpunk

The D6 system is one that I’ve had a favorable view of ever since I tried running it in the form of the Metabarons RPG from West End Games.  I was a big fan of the Metabarons world, with all the madness in the setting and strange and eerie elements of Euro Comic Books that made it stand out from the usual DC and Marvel comic releases at the time.

Anyway, I ran Metabarons for a while and it was a big hit among my players.  And that is why I’m looking at it again… this time for a Cyberpunk campaign.

Cyberpunk is a genre of sci-fi gaming that I’ve not really had a lot of experience running, but I’m familiar with the tropes.  I know the themes, and can sort of figure out how to run a game of it without too much trouble.  Finding the right system however, was more difficult.  I’ve checked out Shadowrun and found the rules were far too complex, and HERO’s own toolkit approach was one that was working against it as a choice as I had no interest in auditing individual builds for yet another cybernetic arm.

D6 Space offered a good compromise.  It was a simple enough system, with decent character creation, and a complete Cybernetics system that folds neatly into the special abilities mechanics of the game.  Come to think of it, if I just slapped on more powers on this thing, I could technically run the XCONs campaign using D6 instead.  I’d lose out on a lot of the customization aspect, but given my lack of spare time?  Pregenerated cybernetics and powers are a godsend.

I have to admit that I don’t have a pitch yet, for this game I’ll need to get some feedback from the players.  The default of most Cyberpunk games is that the players are criminals of some sort, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.  My players might just want to try playing something along the lines of Ghost in the Shell for example, where the protagonists are a team of government agents.

In any case, I’ve got a bit of reading to do, as it’s been a while since I’ve touched the D6 system.  I’m sure it’ll be just like riding a bike, since I’ve studied it already once before, this shouldn’t be so difficult a second time around.

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