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Swashbuckling, surreal sci-fi RPG Terminal is The Matrix by way of Black Sails, with a dash of Twin Peaks


Image credit: Rat Wave Game House

A new indie RPG crosses the reality-bending sci-fi of The Matrix with the swashbuckling action of pirate series Black Sails, with a bit of dreamlike Lynchian surrealism sprinkled on top.

Terminal effectively takes the still-brilliant premise of The Matrix - in that the Earth’s inhabitants are unknowingly living inside a computer simulation of the modern day controlled by a villainous robot authority - but swaps the flying spaceships seen in the Matrix’s really real world for pirate ships sailing the seas.

Players take control of these pirates as they swap between battling machines on the waves and plugging back into the simulation known as the Terminal in order to defeat the system’s agents and architects, and awaken other unwitting humans from their virtual confinement.

Image credit: Rat Wave Game House

Like The Matrix’s Neo, players’ characters symbolise a mysterious force known as the Omen, equipped with the power to finally break humanity free and bring the Robot Authority that controls them to collapse.

Designer Kayla Dice’s rules-light game will see players making use of the Omen’s reputation with other figures in the world - both real and virtual - to explore islands across the sea, including the legendary pirate colony of Libertatia, the data rigs of the deep Hypnotic Sea and the Terminal’s seven domains simulating 21st-century Earth.

The game uses pools of six-sided dice modified by a character’s equipment, reputation and other helpful or hindering factors. A showdown roll resolves a scenario’s climactic threat, with the party able to earn bonuses and negotiate with the GM in order to try and boost their chances of success - but potentially at a cost.

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The book, illustrated in striking cyberpunk hues by artist Gormengeist, will include six story arcs, as well as GM advice, setting details and an optional improv character creation process that allows players to make characters and jump into playing more quickly.

Terminal will launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter tomorrow, July 20th.

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Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.