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**Disclaimer** - I’m a long time role-player. Almost 30 years of experience. Examples and references below are based on my personal experiences and average responses of the people I’ve played with. This review assumes you have familiarized yourself with the publicly available information about the material discussed. (i.e. Advertised descriptions, RPGG game information entry, Possible publicly available rules, etc.) If you’re concerned about spoilers do not read this review. I try to limit details in my reviews, but some things have to be mentioned to give readers an idea of what is being discussed.
RPG ITEM: Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!!!!
Overall Quality: -
The Product - Listen Up is a GM Advice supplement designed specifically for the Cyberpunk game. Those of you used to Cyberpunk’s somewhat tongue in cheek humor laced books, will see the continuation of that here. Just look at the title. But what might be surprising for some, is the level of advice given throughout the book.
The book itself is 112-pages chocked full of advice. It is a soft card-stock, full-color cover book with black and white interior. The interior design is nicely done and overall this is a quality piece of printing. The art is a tad better than earlier Cyberpunk supplements, but still not the extreme high end quality seen with big budget RPGs. At just over 100 pages the supplement is average for its size, but it is packed with text. This appears to have been necessary to fit in all the advice offered by the authors.
Though this supplement is heavily tied to Cyberpunk, there are some very common ideas and concepts which will work for most any GM driven RPGs.
The first chapter, after a quick introduction, is advice from 4 different authors on how to run a long Cyberpunk campaign. Each author has a section in the chapter dedicated to their advice. Seeing as Cyberpunk is designed as a gritty realistic type game with a high death rate, campaigns can be a bit of a challenge. This chapter helps struggling GMs to get past common hurdles. I mention this chapter specifically because the deadliness in Cyberpunk can be extreme. Players will quickly become apathetic if they keep losing characters. This is less of an issue with one-shot games, but if you want a continuing story, GMs will have to adjust how the game plays out to keep players interested. This chapter may help a lot with this.
I’ll admit that some of the advice may come across as a bit “holier than thou” to experienced GMs. When I first read the book, I took it with a grain of salt knowing it would probably be targeted at less experienced GMs. But even the most experienced GM may find something worth the reading, if not worth the purchase, in these pages.
Layout – The chapters are laid out by topic. Including topics like, “How to Run a Long Campaign” and “Cyberpunk Sociology”. Each of the chapters is then broken into sections which are written by different authors, each an experienced Cyberpunk GM.
With 11 chapters there is plenty of information included. Referencing can be a challenge though. If a piece of advice catches your attention you’ll probably want to mark the section of the book. Unless you can easily remember which author wrote it and which topic it was under. Otherwise trying to find that nugget of advice might be difficult in the future.
There are new rules included, but most are contained to a single chapter, so this will help with rules referencing.
Mechanics: – Though this book is mainly a GM advice supplement, there are quite a few mechanical shortcuts given for certain situations. Also entirely new rules have been compiled to help reduce bulky rules systems, and enhance others. Also there are some useful lists which catalog Skills and Roles from other supplements, allowing for easier referencing of those elements.
In addition there are some new martial arts skills included.
Fluff – This supplement offers a lot of advice on how to create that Cyberpunk “feel” in your games. These chapters will be less useful to GMs looking to run other RPGs, but some of the advice may be transferred over. Otherwise for GMs looking for information on how to enhance their own Cyberpunk games, the included advice can be a good source of inspiration.
Character Offerings – Players may get something out of this book, as far as how to see the game from a different perspective. But this supplement really doesn’t offer player characters anything specifically.
Behind the Screen Use – If GMs are trying out the new rules, they will want this book close at hand for referencing. But once a GM becomes familiar with the new rules the book can be left on the shelf. The general GM advice given isn’t something GMs will need at hand during a session.
On the other hand, for GMs who feel they need help with improving their game, this supplement may offer it. GMs may discover an idea that hadn’t occurred to them, or have their mind opened to a new perspective that hadn’t previously been clear. In other words Listen Up might help GMs become better at GMing.
Campaign / Adventure Offerings – Any source of this type will have several ideas available, simply due to the examples authors give to make their points about whatever subject their discussing. Some of the flavor text will also help with inspiration. There is even a chapter filled with hooks and other ideas. But there aren’t any fully laid out adventures or campaigns. This book is designed to give you the tools to create your own.
Roadblocks – I found the book tends to have a John Wayne affect on readers. Similar to watching an action movie and feeling pumped up for action afterwards, GMs may feel inspired by what they read and try to incorporate all of it in their next session. Often to the detriment of the game.
It may be better to only use one or two new ideas at a time until you become more familiar with them and adding more as you find what works and what doesn’t.
I found Listen Up to be an entertaining read. I also had a few head slap moments when reading about certain issues I’ve run across in my past. Overall, I believe this book helped improve my GM style. I had been running games for 10+ years by the time I obtained this book. So I considered myself experienced, but by no means a Master GM yet.
I wouldn’t advise players to run out and buy this book. For GMs, I’d point to this book if they asked me about how they could improve their Cyberpunk game. For GMs who are looking for general advice about running games, I’d mention this book, but wouldn’t advice they buy it unless they asked follow up questions about it.
Thank you for reading my review. It makes the effort worthwhile.
- Last edited Tue May 29, 2012 8:07 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri May 25, 2012 1:54 am
Re: A Thorough and Objective Review [ Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!!!!]
I really liked this book, for the most part. The one big disappointment to me was that the section written by Mike Pondsmith (the guy who designed the game) is utter crap. All these other writers give this awesome, well-considered advice about setting the tone of your campaign, dealing with problem players, fleshing out the background of a character, and so forth. And then Maximum Mike comes along and is all, "HEY GUYS, DON'T YOUR PLAYERS SUCK ASS? HAVE YOU TRIED SHOOTING THEM IN THE HEAD FROM TWO MILES AWAY WITH AN ANTI-TANK RIFLE?" Wow, thanks. Sounds like a very gripping roleplaying experience. It was sad to see how much better everyone else handled the franchise while Mike was busy GMing games of Cops and Robbers for twelve-year-olds with ADD.
My Xteen year old self (I don't remember when I bought this) found this book to be rather insulting. It basically said: hey you guy who has run a successful Cyberpunk 2020 game for the last 5 years. Yeah you! You suck and you are playing our game wrong.