NearFuture Shard City is an original tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) in which the players take on the roles of urban mercenaries operating beneath the notice of – and against – a high-tech tyranny. The project is currently in development.

Update — February 17, 2023: NearFuture was originally designed to be compatible with 5e, and a great deal of development and play-testing had already been completed toward that end when the 5e publisher announced that it would be revoking the OGL (the license under which NearFuture would have been published) in January 2023. Notwithstanding the 5e publisher’s subsequent reversal of their decision, NearFuture will now be redeveloped with its own original game system, going forward.

The finished book will be comprised of two parts:

Part I: NearFuture is a set of rules – including game mechanics, equipment, backgrounds, feats, skills and character classes – for running and playing adventures in a specifically near-future genre setting. These rules imagine a world much like our own, but with just enough advancement to allow for technological wizardry.

Part II: Shard City is an original campaign setting in which to run your NearFuture adventures. The action takes place in a sleek, stylized but deceptively dystopian city-state ruled by a tyrannical corporate oligarchy. The heroes of the story (i.e. you, the player-characters) work to undermine that tyranny. The campaign setting will include history, locations, factions, prevailing attitudes, adversaries and allies, ongoing struggles, and other lore.

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illustration of three sci-fi heroes
NearFuture Shard City Sample Weapons

NearFuture Rules

NearFuture is a mostly modern genre, but with enough leeway for technological wizardry to make it extra interesting. In short, NearFuture imagines a modern world much like our own, but approximately 20 years ahead in technology.

Character Classes

NearFuture includes 10 player character classes, each with two or more class options to further define their roles and focus their abilities.

Character Class Design Philosophy

Each NearFuture character class is meant to be a spiritual equivalent to its classic medieval-fantasy counterpart – a translation from fantasy to high-tech.

Bruiser. You are strong and robust. You can take a lot of punishment and deal more than your fair share of it. You talk with your fists… and your elbows, knees, forehead, a pool cue, that folding chair over there…

Face. You rely on your wits, charm and uncanny intuition about people to close deals, talk your way out of trouble, and even glean the thoughts of others. You are difficult to ignore, either due to charismatic charm or disquieting menace.

Medtech. Who needs regulatory oversight? You administer experimental drugs and perform unconventional medical procedures to aid allies and hamper adversaries. Your modified jet injector is always close at hand.

Loreseeker. Perhaps the past holds answers for the future. You are driven by insatiable curiosity for ancient knowledge, lost worlds, and the treasures thereof – pursuits which can plunge you and your friends into precarious situations.

Soldier. You’re skilled with firearms and explosives, and trained in infantry style combat. Among the specialization options open to you are marksmanship, reconnaissance, demolitions and support weapons.

Savateur. You’re a master of unarmed combat and acrobatic agility, in top athletic form. You rely on speed, stealth and precision to take down opponents or evade them. The city is your obstacle course.

Gunman. You’re a reliable gun-for-hire who operates by a strict code, is perhaps part of a brotherhood, and may even serve a cause greater than yourself. You are effective with firearms, melee weapons, and unarmed combat.

Tracker. You’re a skilled marksman, hunter, and survivalist, able to traverse the wilderness solo for long periods and guide other safely through it. You use the terrain to your advantage, both offensively and defensively.

Prowler. You rely on superior stealth and agility, as well as your B&E tech, to break into secure places, evade detection, and strike at your enemies from the shadows. Your tools are as varied as your methods and motives.

Technologist. You’re a technical genius with an affinity for groundbreaking science and technology. As a Technologist, you introduce technological marvels – and upheavals – to your world.

Class Options

Each class includes two or more class options to further define the focus and special abilities of your NearFuture hero. For example, the class options for the Savateur include the Street Fighter, the Free Runner and the Techno-Ninja.

'NearFuture Free Runner' by Joe Nittoly
'NearFuture Female Soldier' by Joe Nittoly
A-SEC Enforcer stat block concept

Shard City Campaign Setting

Shard City is set in a world where democracy never took hold and, instead, feudalism endured into the modern era, with ancient dynasties evolving into powerful corporate hegemons.

The world of Shard City is an alternate Earth peopled with humans as we know them, but whose world evolved with entirely different geography, history, cultures and languages.

Shard City itself is a city-state ruled by an oligarchy of powerful dynastic corporations known unofficially as the “Big Six,” who employ propaganda, social conditioning, and the threat of force to keep the citizenry compliant and predictable.

Most residents are willfully blind to the control exerted over their lives by the Big Six, instead convinced that life is good as long as one preserves the status quo and follows the rules.

But a daring few have awoken to the dark tyranny hiding behind the facade of sleek architecture, flashy ads, and media distractions – a tyranny that preys upon the populace in unspeakable ways as a matter of covert policy.

You, the heroes of this world, seek to disrupt that tyranny.

You move in the shadows or hide in plain sight. You trade in money and data. You carry out brazen schemes. You rely on your weapons and you wits. And you fight to undermine the corrupt system – or exploit it for personal gain. Perhaps a bit of both.

But no matter your methods or motives, you avoid direct confrontation with the Big Six corporate security apparatus, because no one stands up to it and survives.

Or so they say…

Art. text and design © 2023 Joe Nittoly