Monday, March 18, 2013

The Future Belongs To Us

Updated: clarified a few things, some new info and another press release.
This little gem was pointed out to me by +Chris Knowles. A hitherto unknown game company called Atraxy Publishing has announced a cyberpunkish, transhumanistish rpg called The Future Belongs to Us. Here's the announcement:
An all new, all original tabletop RPG has been announced by Ataraxy Publishing called “The Future Belongs To Us”. The game is going to make its major debut at Origins, and will also appear at dozens of conventions nationwide this year. They are taking preorders for both the limited edition and standard edition of the Player’s Guide due out in April.
It kind of looks like a cyberpunk heartbreaker but it's hard to tell. There's very little information out there about this game other than the scant details on their website: it's played by people from 11 to 50, with lots of different nationalities, and there's been a bunch of playtesters (sound familiar?). We find out that the system uses a d20 and is called DiceLight, and the "Player driven game mechanics free up the Game Master to focus on the narrative. There's a Leaderboard that tracks a "Culture" rating, which you get more of by buying things.
It should also be noted that they are taking pre-orders for the Player's Guide, either a $30 edition or a $50 deluxe edition, for a product that nobody has seen or has any details about. I know there are people who like to gamble out there, but I usually like to know what I'm getting into.
From the comments on Tabletop Gaming News, we get this description of the game's background from  beta tester VonRyan:
Freedom was stripped away from every person on earth during the first half of the 21st century. With every new law that was passed by the world governments, individuals lost more control over their lives; and crime was escalating A new atmosphere of fear and hopelessness had fallen on the world culture, with only a few intransigent rebels able to overcome the backdrop of despair to benefit people to any large extent These rebels have come to be known as the Freedom Underground, individuals working towards similar goals in that they want to end the oppression caused by the expanding police state and the growing influence of organized crime gangs. Whether the Freedom Underground will have success remains to be seen… 
The Future Belongs To Us is standardly based in 2048. The one world government that rules over the earth is the UNE or United Nations of Earth. Every branch of armed forces have been formed into one force, the UNPF or United Nations Peace Force.
The main factions inherent in the Base System are the UNE, the Freedom Underground, the Hardbodies, the Brotherhood, and the Mystics. The Freedom Underground is somewhat ambiguous, they are all fighting for freedom but their hierarchy is amorphous. They are basically formed into cells of teams that sometimes work for members of higher renown.
The Hardbodies are the gang that really runs the crime world. They’re the largest, the meanest, and the most powerful gang out there, and they don’t like competition. The UNE hasn’t been able to or has wanted to put a stop to them so they expand unchecked.
The Brotherhood is a shadowy organization more myth and conjecture than actual fact. It supposedly running things and pulling the strings of the world from behind the scenes. If that is true then the situation of the world falls squarely on their shoulders.
Finally, The Mystics. Pseudo-Prophets some weak-minded individuals have turned to for guidance. Eyewitness accounts of miracles being performed are becoming harder to ignore. Reports by some investigators report it as myth, others say it is fact and swear by it.
The Future Belongs To Us is a point-based system in which a starting character is based upon 4000 or so points. Every ability costs a certain number of points, which accounts for the “make your own way” approach that has been mentioned. Instead of XP every session awards you points to spend or save is you see fit. The character sheet is divided into Attributes, Skills, and Proficiencies.
Attributes are the foundations of all characters and add on to Skills and Proficiencies. They are thus more expensive. Examples would be Agility, Strength, and perception. Skills are more personal than fundamental and include things like demolitions, science, weaponry, and Dual Weapons, for example. The Proficiencies include Ranged Weapons, Stealth, acrobatics, Melee Weapons, and Surface Vehicles.
I’ve been running as a beta-test game master for the system and find it fun, engaging, and a great game for telling an exciting story.
So we have a bunch of rebels fighting against a world government. A gang called the Hardbodies that has somehow supplanted every organized crime syndicate in the world. Some religious sect that may or may not be able to perform miracles, followed by weak-minded people. And 4000 points? How fine-grained of a cost system does a game need?

The company putting the game out, Ataraxy Publishing, has no presence at all. I've contacted them to get a little more information. So far the only posts I've seen casting it in a positive light or providing any additional details, on TTGN orThe RPGSite, are people touting how fun it is and how they've been beta-testing for years. A couple of those responses are of the very short "I loves this game!" cheerleader variety and smell kind of sock-like.

Update: I did get a response from the publisher, who composed a professional but vague response to my questions:
Hello Wil,

Thank you for contacting us with your questions. More information on the game will be posted on the website soon, and we will also be running at dozens of conventions this year so that people new to the game can experience it firsthand.

Gaming news site Initiative: Tabletop will be running news stories about our game, starting today. We will have review copies of the Player's Guide available next month for select gaming news sources.

I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about our game, and if there is anything else we can help you with, please let us know.

Sincerely,
Kathy

That lead me to Initiative: Tabletop's story which doesn't give a lot more detail but does have the kind of phrasing that's always troubling to see in an article about a game system:
One amazing element of this system is it gives each playe [sic] the ability to choose how they want to defend against attacks. When attacked players can choose dodging, blocking, evasion, countermoves, and evrn [sic] preemption to deal with attacks.
The troubling part about it is most combat systems offer those kinds of choices. Unless there's some new and innovative way of doing it, like maybe a spinner or one of those dice bubble things like in Sorry, then being able to choose defense is not so much "amazing" as "kind of expected".