Project 2050

It feels good having finished the first big step of Project Arcana’s Phase I, which was a series of articles breaking down the schools of magic. We’re hard at work on the second half of Phase I, which will, hopefully, only take a couple weeks.

In the meantime, we’re pleased to announce Project 2050! “Wait!” you may be saying, “that sounds awfully familiar…” Well, you’d be right! A while ago, we started work on what we were calling OSRIC/2050, a near-future cyberpunk campaign setting for the OSRIC ruleset. We did a lot of work on it, but our time became less and less free for it as life took over. Now that we’re back and cooking with gas, we’re reviving the project!

Project 2050 (yes, it’s a crap title, we’re working on it) will still be a near-future cyberpunk setting, but we’ve decided to make a couple important changes in our goals. Primarily, we’ve broken our overall vision into two important parts.

Part the First

In the first part, we’re going to craft a set of rules to play in a near-future campaign. These will still be fifth edition (perhaps our favorite so far, and we’ve played all of ’em), but there are important aspects of the year 2050 that will need to be covered, which necessitate an expansion of the 5e rules.

  • Guns! Guns! Guns! Guns are obviously the weapon-of-choice in modern and futuristic settings, so we’ll be incorporating them into the rules. We are not just going to copy the gun table from the DMG, however. In modern-and-beyond systems, a careful balance needs to be struck between realism and playability when dealing with firearms. Realistically, bullets kill you. Kind of a lot. But, one-shot-kills are no fun when it comes to playing a game. So, we’re going to create a set of rules which are, ideally, easy to use, balanced, and fun.
  • Computers Computers run anything and everything today, so imagine what it’ll be like in 30+ years. We need to make sure there are good ground rules for how computers operate within the context of the game so that players and DM’s can know what they can and can’t do. This may sound simple, but ensuring that computer rules don’t devolve into overly-esoteric coding arguments is surprisingly tricky. We know, because we’ve had them.
  • Cybernetics Cybernetics will likely play a very big part of our own near future, so of course we’ll be slotting them into our fictional one. In many cases, cybernetics represent a technological solution to a single problem: humans have limits. However, once again, we must walk an important middle line between realism and playability. At some point, it will become feasible to just send robots to go do everything for us while we lounge about in tanning beds. Yeah, Surrogates. But that’s not entertaining to roleplay.
  • Vehicles Fifth edition has an odd way of handling vehicles, in that they are considered “tools,” and that proficiency really only comes up with regard to a couple backgrounds. Well, in a medieval fantasy, how many people are really going to know the intricacies of driving a cart? In 2050, however, cars are everywhere, and everyone is exposed to them all day. It’s important to make sure we put in place a good foundation of rules to deal with them.

Two double-columned pages of rules just to get online? FFS Shadowrun!

The output of the first part of Project 2050 will be a set of rules which we’ll release under the Open Gaming License. Yes, you read that correctly: the foundational rules for 2050 will be open source and free! As soon as we’re done writing them up, testing, tweaking, and getting them ready, we’ll publish them here for you to grab and do with what you will.

Now, the base rules for 2050 will allow DMs and players to run near-future campaigns seamlessly with the existing fifth edition rules. Want to make a gun-toting druid working the mean streets of Neo-Branson, Neo-Missouri? Go for it! We’ll have the rules you need to make that happen.

The OGL rules will be presented in a way that is setting-neutral, meaning you don’t have to play the way we want. Don’t like cyberpunk? No problem! You can just run a present-day urban fantasy. Dislike magic? Just cut those parts out and make it a realistic sci-fi campaign. Have at! These rules are for you!

Part the Second

In the second part, we’re going to publish a campaign setting which uses the 2050 rules. This will be the 2050 core book, and we’re going to write the hell out of it! This is, without a doubt, the part that really interests us, and the part we’re most excited to work on. Here’s a highlight of the features:

  • Seamless Integration The 2050 campaign setting will work seamlessly with existing fifth edition rules and materials. You’ll be playing the same great game you know by all the same rules, with just a few additions for near-future theming.
  • A World of Our Own We will create a campaign world in which to adventure, complete with terrain, water, and (mostly) breathable air!
  • Archetypes All 5e classes will be getting 2050-themed archetypes to flavor them into the world. These will not replace the existing archetypes (see above integration point), but will be a wealth of new options from which to choose.
  • Characters We will be writing a slew of new backgrounds and feats to help you customize your character to the new era.
  • Gear A whole new set of equipment incorporating the near-future themes. Of course, the old gear works too, just be careful bringing a longsword to a laser fight!
  • Baddies We’ll include a menagerie of 2050 bad guys to fight (or join).
  • DM Help We will have an entire section of advice, tips, and tools to help a DM run a good 2050 adventure. Change is scary, but we’re here for you.
  • Introductory Adventure Our longest-shot goal by far, but we’d like to include a small, several-session adventure that can take a party from levels 1 to 3 and really introduce them to the setting and the rules.

Part two will, unfortunately, be a non-free version of 2050. We’re going to keep things affordable, but we will need a bit of change to cover our costs on it. We’re a ways off on that though, so don’t worry about it yet.

As with Project Arcana, we’ll be writing posts to the site as we work on things. For the Part 1 materials, we’ll be publishing workable rules as we write them. When we’re happy, we’ll compile them all into a single pdf. For the Part 2 stuff, we’ll give you the highlights and tasty teasers, but we’ll have to hold a fair amount of it close to the chest.

We are super excited for this project, and want this to be the first crown jewel in the Legendary Pants tiara. And we want you there!