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Broken Binary €0,00
Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Broken Binary
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Broken Binary
Publisher: Rooster Games
by Michael I. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/30/2023 21:22:01

Having gotten this one for free, I think it is an EXCELLENT 2 page game! I don't measure this in the same way I would a fully fleshed out system but I I did a quick eyeball of Digital Shades. I'm not sure if the rules are more or less clear that game but this one has a nicer template and has some interesting ideas that Digital Shades doesn't. Admittedly, there are a few points that could use examples which would require a 3rd page but what 2 page game is perfect?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Broken Binary
Publisher: Rooster Games
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2017 16:14:38

This game reminded me a lot of Digital Shades, which is available for free, so I guess I was biased when reading through this one. Digital Shades clearly aims at Cyberpunk, though, while I consider Broken Binary beyond Cyberpunk and almost transhumanistic, depending on the theme your want to play.

I like the simple mechanics a lot (which are what remind me so much of Digital Shades) except for the gear and rig (cyberware) part: During each mission you can decide what kind of gear and cyberware your character has, depending on the respective stat. While it does fit the description and cybered agents probably have the chance to acquire cybernetics without problems, it feels a little strange as there are no limits to what cyberware might be. It might even be a built-in teleporter or an antigrav unit - which may break any game. Of course, that would be for the group to decide, if these things existed at all. But when will those questions come up? When the heat is up and the action going. And that's not the time when you want to discuss which kind of cybernetics are OK and which aren't.

Interesting idea: Hacking characters - the more cyberware you have, the easier it is to hack your character. Too bad the rules don't mention what that means. Is a hacked character controlled by the hacker? Or just the cyberware? Considering that hacking is done by rolling 1d6 <= your Rig stat (1 - 5, each point is one cyber-implant), hacking is a very real danger for strongly-cybered characters and if hacking means losing control of that character, cybering up seems like a bad idea.

So is Broken Binary bad or good? I'd say it's OK, no more, no less. We house-ruled that you have to decide your cybernetics before the mission, but after a mission briefing, so the players have sort of a tactical component to the game. It retains the flexibility in a way, but does away with "spontaneous implantation". The gear was also decided up front once the mission was known to the players. A variant we discussed was to at least name the body parts which had the cybernetic enhancements up front (cybereyes, cyberarm, cyberorgan...) and decide the exact function during the mission - a compromise between the rules as written and our house rules. We also house-ruled that hacking characters means controlling their implants (or one implant, depending on the resist roll), so hacking effectively means blocking other people's cybernetics.

Long story short: Broken Binary has nice light-weight rules for mission-based gaming, but lacks the depth (or the mechanics) for a long campaign play. Before going into the game I strongly recommend talking about the limits of cybernetics and gear, especially when playing with the vanilla rules.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Creator Reply:
Thank you Michael for the review. I was not aware of Digital Shades at the time, but several people have pointed it to me after I published Broken Binary. I find it interesting how Digital Shades is more traditional in its approach, while I designed Broken Binary around the concept of the game being able to surprise both GM and players. That is why cybernetics and gear can "pop up" during the session; similarly to what happens when you watch a movie, the heroes "happen to have" the right tool for the job". As with most mini-games such as this one, Broken Binary assumes the group will be reasonable in their improvisations (and thus will avoid pulling a black matter, world-obliterating gun from their pocket). Discussing these elements before the session is certainly a good idea, but I'd advise against the planning of cyberware and gear since it takes away the PCs' most powerful tool: on-the-spot adaptability. I'd rather discuss the general feel of the game (which, as you pointed out, can go from gritty Blade Runner cyberpunk to transhuman stories such as BLAME! or Ghost in the Shell); after all, in BLAME! the protagonist IS basically immortal. When it comes to being hacked, the game says you're hacked and that pretty much means the GM has control of your actions. Think of Ghost in the Shell; sometimes it's just you being forced to fire a gun at your own throat, sometimes an entire dreamlike sequence ensues, complete with fighting your own thoughts and/or reliving memories. Being heavily cybernetized makes you almost immortal, at the price of being easier to manipulate through the network. I do however understand that, if you want the ruleset to provide certainty and fairness above all else, Broken Binary definitely has issues in that regard. That is for sure. My last point will be about the style of play: I suggest either movie-like one shots or, in case of a campaign, a TV series approach (again, Ghost in the Shell provides good examples of both). Again, thank you for taking the time to review this!
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