Neon rain drenches your robes as you stand precariously near the center of the wire suspended a hundred feet between two spires. The teeming lower-class hive denizens lie a thousand feet below, surrounded on all sides by chrome skyscrapers, home to their megacorp overlords. Further down the wire, the rogue AI that framed you for the assassination of your own brother stands, blade drawn. The frame they inhabit is modified for inhuman speed, precision, and lightning-fast, calculated prediction of its opponents every move. But then, so are you. The upgrades to your neurochip should give you just enough scale on your opponent to stand a fighting chance. It was a hard-fought victory getting those upgrades from the Dream Diver pirate’s stronghold in the Web–you’re still not used to dueling in virtual reality–but a victory nonetheless. It is then that your opponent’s form flickers. They’re lowering their optical camouflage–their disguise. Before you now stands…not a rogue AI, but your own mentor, master, and, yes–former lover. “I’m sorry you had to find out this way,” they say. “I hope you can forgive me for everything.” They prepare to sever the wire below you, plunging you a thousand feet into the hive below. What do you do?
This is a play-test of a system hack of my own design that places the romantic melodrama and high emotion of Hearts of Wulin into a futuristic, transhuman cyberpunk setting. This hack draws heavily from cyberpunk anime (e.g., Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze, Ergo Proxy, Psycho-Pass), as well as The Veil by Fraser Simons. Some of the moves I’ve added may be unpolished and/or not work as intended, but I’ll certainly try to ensure that everyone has a good time.
This is the first of a five-session run of the romantic melodrama game , Hearts of Wulin . 9:00pm US Eastern time on Thursdays in July. Prior experience with Hearts of Wulin is not expected (rules will be taught during and throughout play). I will send out a group email about a week before the first session to confirm everyone’s intent to play and to provide set-up and invitation details.
You will play as powerful heroes in a futuristic metropolis where democracy and government have been subverted by a ruling class of capitalistic, megacorporate overlords. You stand out from your peers through your prowess in martial artistry, wisdom, and intellect. You may be neurologically or cybernetically modified to accomplish superhuman feats of physical skill and agility, but are undercut by your human hearts and emotions, torn between personal desires for love or revenge, and duty to your people, your mentor, or your loyalty to friends in the world of megacorp bureaucracy.
This playtest includes a number of new playbooks and moves depicting archetypal characters in cyberpunk fiction: Beautiful and influential people, denizens of the lower-class hive, wealthy thralls of the megacorps, subversives seeking to tear down the status quo, hackers and “dream divers” of the virtual-reality Web that connects everything, and sentient AI finding their way in the world are all options players will have available.
System : Hearts of Wulin (cyberpunk hack “Electric Ghost”)
Duration : Five 3-hour sessions
Breaks : Short breaks at the top of each hour-ish (5-10 minutes)
Venue : Zoom
Recording : With permission from all participants before and after the session
Attendance : Attendance to all sessions is strongly preferred but not required.
Safety : Lines & Veils, X-card, Open Door Policy. Tools can be modified throughout the game to suit player needs.
This game will follow the Gauntlet Community Code of Conduct.
If you sign up and your availability changes, please remember to drop from the calendar posting and send me a heads-up. All-access sign-up opens on June 2, 1:00pm US Eastern.