Tuesday 15 September 2009

Nothing says raw punk like Geodesic Gnomes by Dyson Logos

Geodesic Gnomes by Dyson Logos (of A character for every game blog fame) is a free cyberpunk RPG where you play low-tech gnomes who live in the superstructure of huge domed cities. As gnomes, you fight against injustice toward the gnomes, either from the proles who live in the main domes or from other gnomes. If you are looking for a cyberpunk roleplaying game with quite a twist of vodka, Geodesic Gnomes is for you.


Games that have interlocking system and setting are obvious during character creation and Geodesic Gnomes is no exception. You begin by rolling for your Generational Cohort. The higher the Generation, the longer your family tree has been living in the walls of the superstructure and the more of a hardened genetic throwback you are. Your Cohort decides your vital statistics, which are: Tunnels, Tribe, Tools, Timing, Toughness and Tallness. Talents are rolled randomly, and generally boost Stats in certain situations. Finally, you pick some equipment. Like a 6th Generational gnome, short, sweet and uncomplicated.


Typical of a 24 hour RPG, Geodesic Gnomes has featherlight mechanics. You roll 2D8 and pass when you are equal or less than your statistic. Difficulty is added on as you might expect. In opposing rolls, there is a little logic to obey to determine the winner or if there is a stalemate. Generally speaking, the higher roll wins. Conflict is taken in a story game context, encouraging Statistic checks to be made for persuasion, intimidation and one-upmanship! Damage is done to Stats, depending on which Stat you were using for the conflict. Getting to zero means a permanent affect and healing

Initiative is calculates with 2D8 plus the Timing Stat. The GM then moves up the numbers from 4 and anyone with a number higher than this can act. This means that if you have a high initiative score, you get more choice. I like that a lot.

Gnomes in Domes

The apocalyptic setting of an failed atmosphere, Geodesic Gnomes focuses on Gary, Indiana - or Dome City. In the walls superstructure the characters eek out a low fi living akin to Gibson's Johnny Mnemonic (as noted by Dyson). The Domes are lavish affairs, the prole inhabitants living a privileged if rather stayed life. Flavour upon depth upon detail gives Geodesic Gnomes a very distinct setting. Society is structured hierarchically, giving the Gnomes social standing to fight for. It is cyberpunk but it is not Cyberpunk 2020. It's cyberpunk from the veins of Gibson rather than a derivative of a derivative. The writing throughout is excellent. I liked the description of the effects of talents in character creation as "a special and unique snowflake" particularly. The layout is simple and there is a sample adventure that sounds fun to play.

To do...

[24 Hour Proviso]I would move the character sheet to the back and compress all the files into a single document. I would also include a cheat sheet of the salient points of the system. Geodesic Gnomes is also desperately in need of some graphics. Like most Sci Fiction, one can do only so much without imagery. Dyson does well in the text but I imagine more would be encouraged to play with some pictures. The opposing rolls section could be made a little simpler by adding the roll to the T-score and comparing. This is not mechanically equivalent but it would be much quicker to resolve. Dyson's writing style is very precise and technical and that does seep through in places. It's not jarring but I would prefer a more Gibson-esque use of modern terms. Ensure you download the Content version with a white background if you're going to print.


Geodesic Gnomes is tighter than the suit you only wear for weddings and funerals. The system does not wear the setting like a serial killer might wear the skin of a victim but embraces it like an over affectionate grandmother. The setting is great and would stand up next to much larger games. If you think you've seen Cyberpunk done every possible way, think again. Well done, Dyson, it's a marvellous game!

1 comment:

Gordon said...

Topp class game! well worth a download!