A Matrix fan has adapted the action movie franchise into an unofficial tabletop RPG that lets you create your own bullet-dodging, kung fu-mastering Neo-a-like.
John Stancil’s fan-made The Matrix RPG allows players to create their own ‘awakened’ - people who have been unplugged from the virtual existence of the Matrix and are able to discover the real world, just like Keanu Reeves’ Neo at the start of the Wachowski sisters’ seminal film.
As in the films, players are able to move between the real world - where they must evade the pursuit of machines and their drones - and the Matrix, where superhuman agents will attempt to hunt them down.
Skill checks are resolved during six-sided dice, with the number of d6 rolled and overall result depending on the characters’ attributes and the difficulty of the test.
Of course, players’ characters are also able to take advantage of their knowledge of the virtual world, using a variety of hacks to replicate some of the powers used by Neo as The One. Among the possible hacks are bullet-dodging, running up walls, altering your appearance, telekinesis and even flight, allowing you to play out the slow-motion gunfights and scuffles of the films.
More powerful abilities are referred to as ‘codebreaks’, letting players see the code of the Matrix itself to pull off even more extraordinary feats, but with the danger of alerting the machines in the real world to the group’s location.
Both hacks and codebreaks, along with other actions, generate anomaly points tracked by the GM during sessions. When anomaly reaches a certain point, the GM rolls to see if the Matrix acts to deal with the awakened, potentially spawning agents and other threats. The players can jack out of the Matrix to reduce their anomaly.
Weapons include a variety of melee weapons and firearms. The Matrix RPG also includes a detailed system for performing martial arts using a number of styles - yes, including kung fu - and individual manoeuvres that players can roll to use during hand-to-hand fights.
Stancil’s Matrix RPG is available as a free PDF, with the designer saying in a Reddit post that the fan game was created in anticipation of next month’s upcoming movie sequel, Matrix Resurrections.
While The Matrix is yet to see an official adaptation for the tabletop (just give it time, if other popular movie franchises are anything to go by), Stancil’s Matrix RPG isn’t the first roleplaying game to take inspiration from the movie series. Steve Darlington’s There Is No Spoon is a rules-light RPG designed for one-shot sessions that similarly attempts to capture the cinematic nature of the Wachowski films, including stats of “Matrix”, “Kung Fu” and “Gun Fu”, as well as a “Whoa rule”.