Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Sourcebook Review: Lowlife 2090 Alpha Supplement

: Stephen Grodzicki
Publisher: Pickpocket Press 
System: Lowlife 2090
Marketplace: DriveThruRPG 

 Lowlife 2090 Alpha Supplement is a free resource for my favorite cyberpunk and sorcery role-playing game. 

This sourcebook is extremely straightforward and focuses primarily on character generation options. When you create a character for Lowlife 2090, you roll randomly for starting contacts and implants for your character. As well as making a few choices for your gear loadout.

The bulk of the Alpha Supplement offers a much richer, more elaborate set of tables for determining who your character knows, what machinery they have implanted in their body, and what equipment they have on their persons. It expands the previous d8 tables into D12 and d20 tables.

Alpha Supplement also includes a sections put that few new firearms, augmentations, and to drones.

What I Loved

Fixing One of the Two Biggest Problems LL2090 Has

One of the gripes that my players had last summer when I ran it short campaign was that player characters felt pretty samey. It wasn't a lot of options for customizing. This supplement solves that problem highly effectively.

Judicious Gear choices

It's impossible to talk about Lowlife 2090 without it also talking about Shadowrun. One of the things that has always been a problem with Shadowrun, and for that matter, the cyberpunk games, is equipment creep. Books like Arsenal and Shadow Tech had mounds and mounds of new gear, to the point where it becomes overwhelming. The 4th edition Arsenal book had dozens of firearms, some of which had nothing that made them remotely unique except for having one modification pre-bundled to save players a few ¥ when spending the hours it takes to buy your character's gear at the start of the game.

It ultimately detracted from the fun of the game. Especially when all the supplements gave all the NPCs the same four items over and over again.

Lowlife 2090s Alpha Supplement is a little more judicious in its choices. Every weapon and every drone added has a unique role or purpose, with some mechanic to back it up. And none of them are a one-to-one imitation of the popular options from Shadowrun, as I was oroginally expecting.

Drones are similarly chosen to offer some unique and gamable options. I do worry that too many choices will add in some of the problems that other Cyberpunk Games have with option paralysis.

Open Concept Augmentations

One thing I enjoy about the Low Fantasy Gaming engine (which powers LL2090) is the openness; characters are free to design their own class features and special abilities. The gene splicing augment allows characters to create cyberware that matches their character idea.

Growth Points

Table Bleedover

Normally I really appreciate the layout of Pickpocket Press games. They are clean and easy to read. The new contacts tables in the Alpha Supplements section on new contacts, however, has several unfortunate turns that could have easily been fixed with a little tinkering on font and wording. I just want to get into there and tweak it every time I look at it.

Drones are Barely Sci-Fi

Aside from the very high tech Northrop Phase Mantis, most of the drones on LL2090 and the Alpha Supplement are actually less impressive than real drone techaspect except battery life. The Nakajima minidrone is stunningly large given as I gave a 25g, drone on my desk about the size of a d20 capable of an hour of short range surveillance on my bookshelf., And the Dassault Raven's functionality is almost possible toda6 with a few mods on a 5 year-old Parrot Disco.


Lowlife 2090 Alpha Supplement is a very simple, straightforward resource. It's designed to improve the curb appeal to players when they're generating their characters by offering them more options without adding too much content to the game.

In doing so, Steve Grod over at Pickpocket Press has also signaled that Lowlife 2090 is not just a one-off game and a few of his tight, simple adventure frames.  It is a game that he, and the rest of the Pickpocket Press community are actively thinking about and developing the game.

Given how much it changes the curb appeal of the game without substantially  slowing character build time or shifting the game's power balance, you cannot go wrong adding it to your Lowlife 2090 

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