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10 Jul 2017

A Look at Codex Neon (Zine)

What Is Codex?

Codex is a monthly zine of The Gauntlet, a RPG community. They make podcasts for Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, narrative games and Actual Plays. Get a FREE issue of the Codex zine: Issue 9 Codex Madness. The rest is available via patreon subscription. USD $4+ per month. Back issues will be available as a compilation later. Every issue has a broad topic. The 11th issue is Codex Neon with a cyberpunk/modern flair.

What Do You Get?

21 pages total including cover and 3 pages of patreon names. Professional layout and great artwork. In fact, the visuals blow me away and perfectly serve to emphasize the content. The zine starts with a 1980s band contest LARP called TONIGHT ONLY! Soundcheck Presents... Not a bad thing but I’m not into LARP and my friends neither. You could play it as a rules-lite GM-less story game with minimal changes if you want. There is an adventure starter for The Veil, a cyberpunk PtBA-game. Parts of the starter is game-specific (custom moves, references to the existing game world and the playbooks). But the rest is applicable enough for other games. Solace conveys a feeling of despair in a heat-filled cyberpunk Mediterranean desert city. And now, the gems: the three winners from the 2017 200 Word RPG Challenge. First, Mechanical Oryx by Grant Howitt. The artwork by Vandel J. Arden gives the game a deeper dimension. Playing a being that slowly breaks down and fades away makes me sad and nostalgic at the same time.

Happy people build shrines for you containing fuel and modules. Without the shrines, you will become a dangerous, scavenging thief: a phantom.

Next is Route Clearance by Andy Millar. You play soldiers who search for road bombs in Afghanistan. The game uses playing cards in a clever way. Scenes can also include flashbacks. At the end of the game, you narrate how the player character comes through (or not). Route Clearance strikes me as an elegant game with a serious theme.
Again, the artwork - this time by Per Folmer - complements the game. The blue hues, the soldier looking down, the perspective of the image. Well done. Memories has a more whimsical feel if you go by the artwork of Cecil Howe. But the game by Santiago Eximeno has a thoughtful component, too.

You are elderly people in a nursing home. No one comes to see you anymore. You want to talk with others, tell them about your life, your dreams, and your memories.

All three games don’t pull punches. The last article is Four Dozen Neon-Lit Business Establishments. They are system-neutral and ideal for plugging into a modern world/cyberpunk game. Four tables with six entries each.
I enjoyed reading the entries. Some are funny, some are macabre, many are interesting and offer hooks or inspiration for the Game Master.

What Says You?

  • The professional trade dress of Codex Neon surprised me. This is a community made zine but it certainly doesn’t compromise on look and feel.
  • Excellent content for cyberpunk - the shop tables are great. The adventure starter for The Veil is a nice touch and I might use it for Wired Neon Cities.
  • The zine might not be 100% useful to you. Codex doesn’t focus on one type of game (e.g. a zine for only Dungeon World). It contains material for different games in each issue and offers its own story games as well.
  • The zine’s subject is wide-ranging. It is not only cyberpunk in this issue. The 200 Word RPGs and the band contest game don’t strictly fit the theme.
  • The treatment for the 200 Word RPGs is beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

P.S. Here is the link for Codex Neon again. Don’t forget to check out the free issue, **Codex Madness.