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Augmented Reality is a world kit based on the Vornheim city generator for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
At the time of writing it is ‘pay what you want’ on drive thru RPG, this review is of the 44 page printed version available through lulu.com (because I’m a Luddite who likes to play cyberpunk games – no one said I had to be internally consistent).
I am not going to comment on the actual physical book itself as it’s a standard paperback of the usual quality for lulu.com.
Created by a fan of Cyberpunk 2020 Augmented Reality is actually system agnostic and can be used in any cyberpunk game of your choice.
At first glance Augmented Reality is a city kit resource for the lazy GM. Spend some time with it though and you realise that's actually an unfair image - it’s a resource that could be your best friend in a tight corner. For example the tables could be used to pre-generate a city block/Johnson/encounter for later use or used to quickly improvise an area/job/encounter if the game is going in unexpected directions or beginning to flag.
Personally I can see myself using this book in several ways:
I often find myself hitting creative blocks when creating interesting things for the players to encounter in the middle of a campaign arc. For me it’s often the kind of block that leads you to thinking the same thing over and over again in a loop that I can’t break.
For creating an ‘adventure’ seed in the first place.
For creating mooks and faces either in advance or on the fly.
For those times when the local buildings/businesses matter (but perhaps I didn’t think they would).
To add flavour to my description of a locale.
For rolling ‘random monsters’ during a quiet period or if I want to complicate a particular scenrio.
Following on from the obligatory title page, and an introduction, the contents list for the book can be found on page 4. I appreciate a good contents list (and a good index for that matter but an index wouldn’t make sense in this book) and this is a useful contents list. The contents given are the titles of the various tables that can be found inside. For instance there are three entries for the senses:
Sense and the City – Smells
Sense and the City – Sounds
Sense and the City – Sights
This level of detail in a contents list helps you to get to just the right page in the middle of a game and is much appreciated.
All the tables in the book require at least one D10 (but it’s preferable to have two or more) and range from a straight D10 roll to multiple column D100 tables.
For instance the two page table ‘Fixers and facemen’ has 5 columns. With the multi column tables you can roll D100 and read across the columns or you can roll multiple D100s to create mixed result. The final column of this table is a ‘relationship’ column with phrases like: ‘Rivalry with...’ or ‘Makes use of’ which allows for the creation of a richer NPC rather than the ‘island NPC’ more traditional tables create:
As an example a random roll of 52 gives: ‘Viper’ Jo DeMarco//paranoid, wears spiderweave body glove under clothing//data crypt owner//black suits and shirts, gold tie, aggressive//manipulating……
I now have ‘Viper’ Jo DeMarco fairly clear in my head and can use him ‘as is’ or develop him more by rolling again to give Rico Eisenduller a med tech with best intentions, but who is unreliable, as the person ‘Viper’ is manipulating.
There is one more type of resource in the book, there are three drop down grids that are used by printing them out and then dropping a number of D10s onto them to create a random city block, random citizens or hackable asset. Associated with each grid is a number of tables to help enrich the results and develop the description. As noted, the text says to print these out (a hangover from the pdf) and I can’t see them being as useful in the book unless you are willing to weigh them down flat. As the printed version doesn’t come with a pdf file as well then you are left with photocopying pages or buying the pdf. This seems a bit mean but as there are only three of these grids I’m okay with photocopying them.
Augmented Reality is a useful asset for your cyberpunk game. As a ‘pay what you want’ it is clearly good value. The printed version is available from lulu.com for a reasonable price (but don’t forget to factor in the postage cost). Personally I went for the printed version as I find using tech in the middle of a game to be unwieldy. 8/10.