Online Role-Playing Could Give 'Cyberpunk 2077' the Redemption Story It Needs
By AJ Hurst
Over 13 million people own the game, and there's so much more mileage we can get out of Night City.
What if—and this is purely hypothetical, just throwing this scenario out there—the most highly anticipated game of the year ended up being a both critical and technical disaster? That sure would be rotten for everyone involved. Customers would feel ripped off, media outlets would look foolish for perpetuating all those years of marketing hype, and the developers would have nothing to show for their roughly seven years of hard work other than a tarnished reputation. The version that most console players intended to pick up might even be so unplayable that the developer would offer full refunds, and the console manufacturer would outright de-list it from their online store. Gosh, could you even imagine?
We apologize for opening old wounds, but even seven months removed from that historically unprecedented debacle, the reality of what Cyberpunk 2077 turned out to be still stings. As of this writing, CD Projekt RED are still trying to pick up the pieces of their reputation by fixing as many bugs as they can while also working on the additional content that they intended to deliver. For the vast majority of players though, the painful experiences of the single-player open-world action RPG at launch can never be patched out of their memories. So, allow us to make a humble suggestion to CDPR: let go of the past, and make use of the best aspects of the world you've created to offer a completely different, yet uniquely compelling experience that will satisfy the nearly 14 million people who bought into the premise.
RELATED: Will 'Cyberpunk 2077's Latest Big Patch Actually Make the Game Work?
A World as Dense and Vibrant as Night City Shouldn't Go to Waste
Put your bitter feelings towards Cyberpunk aside for now. Something we can all agree on is that "cyberpunk," the science-fiction genre itself and all the cybernetic aesthetics and anti-corporate spirit that come with it, is just plain cool. By extension, the best part of Cyberpunk 2077 is Night City itself. We don't exactly have a segment-by-segment report of how the Cyberpunk sausage was made, but you can easily spend any amount of time exploring that city and think to yourself, "Oh yeah, I can see why this took seven years." What it lacks in raw square mileage, it more than makes up for in detail, and the desert outskirts are not without value either. As video game worlds meant to feel alive and immersive, it would be one of the greatest of all time... if not for all the lifeless NPCs with questionable AI routines. What if we could replace most of those NPCs with player-controlled characters instead?
Part of the disappointment collectively felt by those who were looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 was seeing all the pre-release footage and letting their minds wander with the endless possibilities of what that city had to offer. Turns out, there's not much other than combat-oriented side missions. "Living" in Night City isn't really an option. If the narrative and dialogue that CD Projekt RED wrote didn't grab you (which is entirely possible given how relentlessly edgy every character feels compelled to be at all times), the game just doesn't offer compelling, alternative ways to spend your time. If they give us the keys to the kingdom, we can start unlocking some of that possibility we all saw.
Role-Playing in Grand Theft Auto V Is Still Dominating Twitch
"Dominating" is not hyperbole, either. On most days, you can find GTAV as the most-viewed game category period, and they aren't watching the story mode missions or any of the Rockstar-authored GTA Online content. The 'NoPixel' role-playing server grabbed the attention of several huge streamers a couple of years ago, and once they realized just how much of a gold mine for content it was, the Twitch audience has never looked back. Giving people the tools to play whatever character they want alongside other players, limited only by their imaginations, is a much more compelling proposition than just playing a video game by the book.
CD Projekt RED would be foolish to see those viewer numbers and not at least consider the possibilities of what free-form role-playing could do to reinvigorate the world they've created. Hell, forget viewer numbers; living out your fantasies in a gritty, futuristic dystopia was part of the appeal of the original tabletop game that Cyberpunk 2077 is based on. How can you not crack a smile at the thought of thousands of people role-playing as cops chasing down thousands of other wannabe criminals as they attempt to escape arrest by any means necessary? Or someone acting the part of an incoherent drug junkie whose sole objective is to get a laugh out of everyone around them? Working at a nightclub as a straight-laced bouncer? How about a sex trafficer? When all mixed together, there's endless amounts of appeal in taking on roles other than the main protagonist.
From a programming and user-experience (UX) perspective, the gears in their heads should be turning about all sorts of things: how to implement the mechanics, how to maintain a persistent world state, private server options, anti-griefing measures, the logistics of crossplay, and so forth. We aren't saying it would be easy—especially in the network engineering department, which CD Projekt RED has no track record of, much less a good one—but ambition and scope have never intimidated this team of artists and programmers before.
What We Know About Multiplayer Plans Already
In the months leading up to release, CD Projekt RED were on record about some sort of multiplayer component arriving eventually after other post-launch DLC for the single-player RPG, but at the risk of sounding trite, CD Projekt RED said a lot of things. Plus, even before Fall 2020 when optimism was still an emotion capable of being experienced with regards to Cyberpunk, their most conservative estimate for a multiplayer mode was 2022, and they had no concrete details about how it would work. Pretty safe to assume it was still in the planning stages and hadn't begun full production yet. Some preliminary data mining gave credence to the idea that "deathmatch" and "heist" modes were in the works, indicating they were leaning towards the GTA Online approach.
Needless to say, the fallout from the game's launch last December forced a lot of internal plans to be changed. A video on their official YouTube channel this past March revealed that the original plans for a Cyberpunk multiplayer game were being "reconsidered" in favor of "bringing online into all of our franchises one day."
The native PS5 and Xbox Series X versions are slated for later this year, and while there's no chance of anything multiplayer-related arriving alongside them, you can easily imagine them treating these as the "only" console versions going forward, so they can put the PS4 nightmare behind them and begin laying the groundwork for Cyberpunk as a thriving platform. Remember: No Man's Sky is the exception, not the rule. You don't come back from a widespread public thrashing like that without years of passion, hard work and shows of good faith. Embracing the strongest aspects of the open world they've created in the form of online role-playing sounds like a much more sensible road to redemption than just just fixing bugs and knocking out the checklist of missing features.
KEEP READING: 'Cyberpunk 2077': Co-Founder of CD Projekt Gives Lengthy Cyber-Apology
We spoke with 'Midnight Mass' creator Mike Flanagan about his latest Netflix hit and what to make of that ambiguous ending.
Read NextAbout The Author
AJ Hurst probably spent more time playing Team Fortress 2 and the Left 4 Dead games in college than any of that education or socializing nonsense, but the student newspaper did give him a platform to write game reviews. His love of fighting games and the Persona series also gave him no choice but to become a tournament-level Persona 4 Arena player, and even organize, promote and run tournaments for his local community in Kansas City. And he unironically loves ska music.
NEXT-GEN CONSOLE COMPATIBLE
It looks incredible~ VG247
Overwhelming with all its detail~ GameSpot
A beautiful and sprawling RPG~ IGN
Gameplay blew us away~ Game Informer
NIGHT CITY CHANGES EVERY BODY
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality. You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.
PLAY AS A MERCENARY OUTLAW
Become a cyberpunk, an urban mercenary equipped with cybernetic enhancements and build your legend on the streets of Night City.
Use a variety of upgradeable weapons, hacking skills and body-enhancing implants to become the best hired gun in town.
Take down everyone, from corporate security and the police, to gangs and other mercenaries, in order to gain the street cred needed to access better jobs.
Spend your hard-earned money on weapons and cyberware or have fun buying cars, motorcycles, and outrageous clothing.
LIVE IN THE CITY OF THE FUTURE
Enter the massive open world of Night City, a place that sets new standards in terms of visuals, complexity and depth.
Journey through a city that’s larger than life, explore gang-ridden warzones, trade in its bustling downtown, and raid corporate havens.
Make deals with sleazy fixers, desperate celebrities, and renegade artificial intelligences — all fighting tooth and nail to make it big in Night City.
Make choices in your journey and watch the story change based on your actions.
STEAL THE IMPLANT THAT GRANTS ETERNAL LIFE
Take the riskiest job of your life and go after a prototype implant that is the key to immortality.
Push yourself to the absolute limit to get your hands on Night City’s most valuable implant — a prototype chip that can make you live forever.
Face corporate leaders, underground hustlers, and all of the most feared people in Night City — those who will do everything in their power to possess the prototype chip.
Choose how to handle this enormous power and who you wish to become.
Want to know more about the upcoming edition of the game, Cyberpunk RED and the Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit? You can visit the FAQ here: https://rtalsoriangames.com/2019/05/30/the-cyberpunk-red-faq/
The 4th Corporate War’s over and the big dogs have retreated to their corners to lick their wounds. That leaves everyone else to fend for themselves in a shattered world.
And that’s just fine. ‘cause you’ve got interface plugs in your wrists, metal in your limbs, and chips in your skull. You’re wired in, loaded with chrome, and ready to take it to the Edge.
There’s a world full of opportunities out there. Maybe this time you can do more than save yourself. Maybe.
Cyberpunk RED is the latest edition of the classic roleplaying game of the Dark Future, featuring updated mechanics and new lore set in 2045, midway between the events of Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk 2077.
The Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit debuted GenCon 2019. The core rulebook for Cyberpunk RED hit the streets in November 2020.
Look for physical copies in your friendly local gaming store or our webstore.
Check out digital copies at DriveThruRPG.
The Corporations control the world from their skyscraper fortresses, enforcing their rule with armies of cyborg assassins. On the Street, Boostergangs roam a shattered urban wilderness, killing and looting. The rest of the world is a perpetual party, as fashion-model beautiful techies rub biosculpt jobs with battle armored roadwarriors in the hottest clubs, sleaziest bars and meanest streets this side of the Postholocaust. The Future never looked so bad.
But you can change it. You’ve got interface plugs in your wrists, weapons in your arms, lasers in your eyes, bio-chip programs screaming in your brain. You’re wired in, cyberenhanced and solid state as you can take it to the fatal Edge where only the toughest and coolest can go. Because you’re CYBERPUNK.
Cyberpunk: the original roleplaying game of the dark future; a world of corporate assassins, heavy-metal heroes and brain burning cyberhackers, packed with cutting edge technology and intense urban action. Within this book, you’ll find everything you need to tackle the mean streets of the 2000’s — in a game system that combines the best in realistic action and playability.
- Winner, Origins Gamer’s Choice Award, Best Science Fiction RPG 1989
Cyberpunk 2020 and its supplements are still in print and still available!
Want to know more about Cyberpunk? Here’s a great glimpse of the creator, Mike Pondsmith, running the game for IGN.
Thanks to IGN for sharing this video with us.
If you would like to know more about the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game, please visit our partners at CD Projekt Red.
The Cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game, the inspiration for Cyberpunk 2077, will launch a new version alongside the highly anticipated video game. The core rulebook, titled Cyberpunk Red, will go live as a $30 downloadable PDF on or around Nov. 14. Physical books should hit store shelves around Nov. 19 at $60. The announcement was made Friday on the publisher’s website.
The original Cyberpunk tabletop universe was created by Mike Pondsmith, and first published in 1988. Its most popular iteration, Cyberpunk 2020, helped to inspired CD Projekt to make the video game. Working hand-in-hand with Pondsmith, together the Polish team and the U.S.-based game designer pushed the lore of that universe forward 57 years. Along the way, Pondsmith and the team at R. Talsorian also developed Cyberpunk Red as a prequel set in 2045.
Fans got a hefty preview of the prequellast year. The Cyberpunk Red: Jumpstart Kitwas released at the Gen Con tabletop gaming convention in 2019. The boxed starter set is on sale now. At its core is a slim rulebook and a brief set of adventures, but also an elaborate World Book. From our review:
Rather than a single point of departure — common to universes like Fallout or BattleTech — the 51-page softcover document tells the story of a society falling into chaos by degrees. Inside is a detailed timeline cataloguing the steady rise of groundbreaking technologies. It tells the tale of wayward governments serially incapable of protecting their own citizens, then dives into the near-apocalyptic events known as the 4th Corporate War.
Imagine World War III brought about by the likes of Amazon and Lockheed Martin, and you’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
According to the publisher, Cyberpunk Red will more fully flesh out the world outlined in the Jumpstart Kit, while giving more detail on gunfights, melee action, and Netrunning — the in-universe term for hacking. The 456-page book includes at least 143 new pieces of art. Writers and designers include Mike Pondsmith, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith, Jay Parker, J Gray, David Ackerman, and Jaye Kovach.
Below is a full rundown of what’s inside, section-by-section, as listed in today’s announcement. More information is promised over the next few Fridays.
- The front of the book has the sort of stuff you’d expect at the front of the book: Cast and Crew credits, legalese, the Table of Contents, and an Introduction by Maximum Mike Pondsmith.
- There are three pieces of fiction in Cyberpunk RED and the first is a classic: Never Fade Away. It felt fitting to begin, as they say, at the beginning with the story that set the tone for the entire world.
- View from the Edge serves as an introduction to Cyberpunk and to TRPGs in general. It wraps up with a list of Streetslang.
- Next up is Soul and the New Machine, where we introduce the 10 Roles in Cyberpunk RED: Rockerboys, Solos, Netrunners, Techs, Medtechs, Medias, Execs, Lawmen, Fixers, and Nomads. We also introduce the three methods of Character Generation available in the game: Streetrat (a template system similar to what was had in the Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit); Edgerunner (a fast and dirty template customization system); and the Complete Package (you spends your points, you make your choices, and nothing’s locked to Roles except the Role Ability and a section of the Lifepath).
- Of course, no Interlock game would be complete without a Lifepath system and that’s where Tales from the Street comes into play. Next Friday we’ll be showing this baby off in more detail but, for now, we’ll say there’s two sections: your general Lifepath, where you generate a background for your Character, and a Role-Based Lifepath, where you get to find out if your Netrunner has a partner, what sort of venues your Rockerboy plays, and where your Tech gets their spare parts!
- In Fitted for the Future we get to the meat of Character Generation: STATS, Skills, Weapons, Armor, Gear, Fashion, Lifestyle, Housing, and how you get them all. What about cyberware? So glad you asked!
- Since cyberware forms one of the key components of Cyberpunk, it gets a separate chapter: Putting the Cyber into the Punk. We lay down a foundation about what cyberware is, then move onto the main event, the cyberware itself! There’s just about a hundred different pieces of cyber available and we’ve made sure it is clear when you need one piece of cyberware (say a Neural Link) in order to get another piece (say Kerenzikov Speedware). And yep, the “Running Out of Cash?” option is still available. Your soul, choomba. Up to you to determine how much it is worth.
- Reaching page 121, we get to The Fall of the Towers, the story of how a certain Rockerboy bit the big one. Our second fiction piece.
- Next, you’ll find Getting it Done aka “how the game works”. Here’s where we discuss Skill Checks, Difficulty Values, and go into more detail with each individual Skill, lay out rules for “multiclassing”, and give specifics about Role Abilities. In case you missed it in an earlier devlog, here’s the skinny on Role Abilities:
- Rockerboys get Charismatic Impact (the higher they rise, the more they can get out of their fans as individuals, small groups, and large crowds)
- Solos have Combat Awareness (this ain’t no flat bonus. You get a pool of points to spend on various options to customize your fighting style)
- Netrunners have Interface (the ability to Netrun and basic actions they can perform without the aid of a program while in a NET Architecture)
- Techs have it good thanks to Maker. Fix stuff. Upgrade stuff. Fabricate stuff. Invent stuff. With this they truly are the “enchanters” of Cyberpunk.
- As for Medtechs, Medicine gives them a big boost. Not only can they heal Critical Injuries no one else can, they can also make some pretty nifty drugs and they can keep people alive (and immobile) with cryotech.
- Medias have Credibility, which lets them find rumors and leads and then use them and their investigations to craft stories that can cause major changes in a City’s landscape.
- The Exec gets Teamwork. Not only does their Corp give them free clothes and housing, and Trauma Team coverage (at higher Ranks) but Execs also get underlings to boss around! Need a Bodyguard? Driver? Netrunner? You can get one to be on your “team”. But be careful, if you push them too far they’ll lose Loyalty and walk.
- Lawmen can call in Backup when in dangerous situations. The higher your Rank, the better the response team will be.
- Operator is the Fixer Role Ability. With it they have a spread of contacts, an ability to source goods, and bonus to haggling on prices, and an ability to blend in with different cultures (complete with bonus Language Skills).
- And then there’s the Nomad Ability of Moto. Nomads are good with vehicles and get bonuses to drive/pilot them and to repair them. Plus, they can “sign out” and upgrade vehicles from their family/pack motorpool. A Nomad with Moto 3, for example, can have 3 stock vehicles, 2 vehicles (one of which has an upgrade), or 1 vehicle (with two upgrades). Land, sea, and air vehicles are available.
- We follow up with Friday Night Firefight. I.e. how to bring (or take) the pain. Movement. Melee Combat. Ranged Combat. Explosives. Autofire. Martial Arts. Fire. Electricity. Radiation. Cover. Human Shields. Armor. Critical Injuries. Death Saves. Vehicle Combat. Faceoffs. There’s a lot covered here but the rules are a faster and more furious upgrade from the Cyberpunk 2020 version.
- In Netrunning we deal with hacking. The majority of this section deals with NET hacking aka “plugging into cyberspace” and it works pretty much like you’ve seen in the Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit only with more programs and hardware upgrades for your cyberdeck and more Black ICE to get in your way. We also go into Demons (programs designed to control real world equipment), drones, and defenses. Defenses can be anything from automated turrets to cameras to stun panels to “blood swarms” and there’s plenty of room for mechanical/electronic hacking in the form of fiddling with wires (CUT THE RED ONE!) and switching out circuit boards. In other words, physical hacking as opposed to NET hacking. The section’s capped off with information on how to build your very own “home security system”.
- Trauma Team talks all about what happens when you get hurt. Wound States? Check. Critical Injuries and how to fix them? Check! What happens when you get the “broken arm” injury and you’ve got a cyberarm instead of a meat one? Check! Trauma Team coverage? You betcha! How to install that cybereye you just ripped out of a ganger into your own skull? Sure thing! Bodysculpting? Standard and Exotic levels! Street drugs? What’s Cyberpunk without Smash? Therapy? Complete rules! Cyberpsychosis and how it works and how to play it out? Of course!
- Let’s move onto some heavy lore, shall we? Welcome to the Dark Future is a primer on the world of Cyberpunk up to the end of the 4th Corporate War. If you’re a long time fan of the game, don’t worry. There’s new information here. Want to know who led the Gang of Four? Or what the Wasting Plague was? That info, and more, is new to Cyberpunk RED.
- The Time of the Red tells us about the world from the 4th Corporate War to the present day. There’s a good overview, of course, of the post-4th United States and Europe, Neo-Soviets, Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, and Asia but also the Drift Nations, Deepdowns, and Highrider Confederation. You’ll also learn quite a bit about the Neocorps making headlines in the Time of the Red: Arasaka, Biotechnica, Continental Brands, Danger Girl, Militech, Network 54, Petrochem, Rocklin Augmentics, SovOil, Trauma Team North America, Ziggurat, and Zhirafa.
- In Welcome to Night City, we talk about the history and present day of Richard Night’s “perfect city”. We’ll look at the Night City of the past (with details to help GMs plan “treasure hunts” in the rubble if they so wish! and how Morro Bay turned into the Night City of 2020 and how the Night City of 2020 transformed into the Night City of 2045. There’ll be a tour of Night City in the Time of the Red, with details on government and services, districts (as they exist at the moment, anyway!), gangs, badasses and power players, and 43 key locations. Enough to populate your game but leaving plenty of room for your own creations.
- Everyday Life looks at what it is like to live in 2045. We cover the law, day to day communications, weapons, transportation, news and media, clothes, food, and where you get stuff. The details on vendits are some of our favorite new bits.
- Next is The New Street Economy. It begins with a “what is the economy like” section and moves onto Night Markets: what they are, how they work, and how you can make your own. Most of the section is the Night Market Appendix: a complete listing of every type of weapon, armor, ammunition, weapon upgrade, gear, street drug, cyberware, fashion, cyberdeck option, and service available. Some of it is listed in other parts of the book as well but we made sure it was all here so GMs have one “to go to” place to find everything a PC might buy when they go shopping. After that is info on Lifestyle (are you eating kibble every day or maybe prepak?) and Housing (squatting in a cube hotel? hanging in a cargo container? got a conapt? or maybe you’re living in your car?). We end with how you make your bread. GMs will be glad to know we give solid numbers on how much Edgerunners should get per job. There’s also the Hustle, a system that lets you put downtime to good use in order to earn eurobucks based on your Role. Maybe your Rockerboy plays a small gig, your Exec earns a Corp bonus, or your Nomad picked up a small smuggling job.
- Of course, no TRPG would be complete without a section liked Running Cyberpunk. There’s advice for GMs here, absolutely, but also a “scenario generation” system we like to call Beat Charts to help you plan missions. You’ll also find the rules for awarding Improvement Points and advancing Character Skills and Role Abilities here. Beyond that, we’ve got 10 different “mooks and grunts” of various levels of difficulty and some Night City encounter tables to generate random events divided by time (day, night, after midnight).
- There’s Screamsheets to give Gamemasters a number of scenarios to run until they feel up to making their own. We’ll also be making new Screamsheets available on our website in the future.
- At the end of the book is a new piece of fiction. We’re not going to spoil the title just yet but Mike wrote this one special for Cyberpunk RED and it helps set the mood and show the world. It also stars a new group of Edgerunners. You can find out more info about this Crew, and the remarkable gamers who helped us make them, here.
- We end the book with a 3 page Character Sheet and and Index.
Rpg cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk (role-playing game)
Tabletop science fiction role-playing game
Cyberpunk is a tabletop role-playing game in the dystopianscience fiction genre, written by Mike Pondsmith and first published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. It is typically referred to by its second or fourth edition names, Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red, in order to distinguish it from the genre after which it is named.
Cyberpunk exists within its own fictional timeline, which splits from the real world in 1990. The timeline has been extended with each major edition of the game, from the first edition set in 2013 to Cyberpunk Red set in 2045.
The backstory begins with the USA becoming embroiled in a major conflict in Central America in the 1980s causing a significant economic collapse ending in a military coup resulting in the European Common Market and Japan as superpowers and the Soviet Union not collapsing. This is coupled with the development of orbital habitats that become independent states and the rise of Megacorporations that fight amongst themselves for dominance. Other disasters have included food blights causing disastrous famines, and by the late 1990s the Middle East is a radioactive desert after a nuclear conflict. Bioengineering, against a backdrop of warfare, has resulted in the rapid development of cybernetic prosthetics and direct human-machine interfaces. With the lack of government and police due to the Central America wars and economic situation, casual violence is endemic. Many also suffer from "technoshock", an inability to cope with a world of synthetic muscle tissue, organic circuits and designer drugs.
The main location for Cyberpunk is the fictional Night City, situated on the west coast of the United States between Los Angeles and San Francisco. With a population of five million people, it presents a stratified society of gang warfare, corporate rivalries and political machinations in which the players have to survive.
The rules of Cyberpunk are built on R. Talsorian's Interlock system.
A core game mechanic is the concept of Difficulty Values, used to gauge whether a player succeeds or fails at any given task. A player takes the value of their most appropriate character attribute, adds the values of any relevant skills or modifiers, and then finally adds the value of a ten-sided die roll. In order to succeed, they must beat the Difficulty Value assigned to the task by the gamemaster. Cyberpunk was one of the first tabletop games to use this concept.
As cyberpunks, the players embrace body modification, cybertech and bioengineering. They live by three tenets:
- Style over substance.
- Attitude is everything.
- Always take it to the Edge.
- (Break) the rules.
There are ten key roles, each with their own special abilities. These include charismatic musicians ('rockerboys'), bodyguards and assassins ('solos'), computer hackers ('netrunners'), road warriors ('nomads'), street experts ('fixers'), investigative journalists and reporters ('medias'), mechanics ('techs' or 'techies'), doctors ('medtechs'), corporate executives, and police officers.
A choice of rules are provided for character creation, either by assigning points to purchase skills or by rolling d10s for a more random outcome. A system called Lifepath is provided to develop each character further, by generating goals, motivations, and events from their past. Finally, they gain money, cyberware, weapons and other equipment, including fashion and lifestyle goods.
Further character development is skill-based rather than level-based; for successful play, players are awarded points to be spent on improving their characters' skill sets.
The combat system is called Friday Night Firefight (FNFF), and emphasizes lethality. Unlike other role-playing systems where characters amass higher hit points as they progress, allowing them to survive higher amounts of combat damage, the amount of damage a character can sustain in Cyberpunk does not generally increase as the character develops.
Each round, characters are permitted to take one move action and one other action. There are rules governing the use of autofire, armor, and cover, including specific instructions for using people as shields. Alternative ammunition types for weapons are available, for example a shotgun can be fired with buckshot instead of slugs. Character skills can be used to improve both ranged and melee combat.
Additionally, there are rules covering other forms of damage such as drowning and asphyxiation, electrocution, and being set on fire.
There are also rules for cybernetic hacking, called Netrunning. When characters "jack in", they can interpret the NET in several different ways, including as a classic Dungeons & Dragons maze, or perhaps as a star-filled galaxy.
Netrunners engage in the virtual world with interface plugs, cyberdecks, and the Interface special ability. Cyberdecks include slots to contain Programs, selected ahead of time by Netrunners to assist in tasks such as evasion, decryption and detection. Combat and other actions in the NET are fast, taking place second-by-second, as opposed to three second combat rounds in the physical world.
The destruction of the global NET in later editions of Cyberpunk turns the attention of Netrunners to local private networks. The effect on gameplay is that Netrunning is no longer a remote activity; Netrunners are embedded within their team and, with equipment such as virtuality goggles, can alternate their actions between both physical and virtual space. Closer integration with other activities was a game design choice to ensure all characters have a part to play during a hacking scene.
Empathy and cyberpsychosis
The acquisition of cyberware—cyberweapons, cyberoptics and other implants—carries a Humanity Cost. Every ten points of Humanity Cost causes the loss of an Empathy point, the character attribute that measures how well they relate to other people. An Empathy level of zero represents a complete loss of humanity, a state known as cyberpsychosis; in the case of players, their character becomes a non-player character controlled by the gamemaster.
Cyberpunk was designed by Mike Pondsmith as an attempt to replicate the gritty realism of 1980s cyberpunk science fiction. In particular, Walter Jon Williams' novel Hardwired was an inspiration, and Williams helped playtest the game. Another key influence was the film Blade Runner. Many also assume William Gibson's Neuromancer was an influence; however, Pondsmith did not read the novel until a later date. Other sources included the film Streets of Fire and the anime Bubblegum Crisis.
The original version of Cyberpunk was published in 1988 by R. Talsorian Games. The game components of the boxed set consist of a 44-page Handbook, a 38-page Sourcebook, a 20-page Combat Book, four pages of game aids and two ten-sided dice.
A number of rules supplements were subsequently published in 1989:
This edition of the game retrospectively became known as Cyberpunk 2013.
Second edition: Cyberpunk 2020
In 1990, R. Talsorian Games released the second edition of the game, titled Cyberpunk 2020, which featured updated rules for combat, Netrunning, and character generation. The game's timeline was also retconned to accommodate the German reunification in 1990. It was released as a boxed set that contained a 222-page softcover book, and a 24-page reference guide and adventure.
R. Talsorian Games released two revised versions: Cyberpunk 2020 version 2.00 (1992), and Cyberpunk 2020 version 2.01 (1993).
A total of 28 rules supplements and sourcebooks, and 6 adventures were also published by R. Talsorian Games between 1993 and 1996. In addition, Atlas Games published twelve adventures under license between 1991 and 1994.
Dream Pod 9 released Night's Edge in 1992, taking the Cyberpunk 2020 setting and adding a horror theme, including vampires and werewolves. Dream Pod 9 published ten other supplements and adventures in this setting between 1992 and 1995.
An alternate world sourcebook, Cybergeneration, was published in 1993; it centers around teenagers with unusual, superhuman skills gained from a nanotech virus epidemic. The first version of Cybergeneration required the Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook, but a second version became a standalone game.
Two Cyberpunk 2020 novels were published, in 1995 and 1996.
Third edition: Cyberpunk V3.0
Cyberpunk V3.0 is set in the 2030s, and was published in 2005. It takes Cyberpunk into a transhumanist setting in the aftermath of a fourth Corporate War. The global NET has been corrupted and rendered unusable, as has much hardcopied data, throwing human history into doubt. Six new subcultures have emerged, known as Altcults; one such group are the Edgerunners, successors to the cyberpunks of previous editions.
The third edition uses the Fuzion game system, rather than Interlock. Both the change of setting and the artwork within the book received negative criticism.
From 2007 to 2008, two sourcebooks were published to accompany this edition.
Fourth edition: Cyberpunk Red
The fourth edition of Cyberpunk, titled Cyberpunk Red, is set in 2045, following the events of Cyberpunk 2020 and serving as a prequel to the video game Cyberpunk 2077. The game is set after a fourth Corporate War; however, the events differ from Cyberpunk V3.0, which is considered to be a separate timeline.
The Cyberpunk Red core rulebook was released in November 2020. It was preceded by the release of a simplified boxed set, known as the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit, at Gen Con in August 2019. The core rulebook was delayed from a planned release alongside the Jumpstart Kit, initially to allow Cyberpunk Red game lore to be better aligned with Cyberpunk 2077, and later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collectible card games
Two different, independent collectible card games have been licensed and produced based on the Cyberpunk setting. The first, called Netrunner, was designed by Richard Garfield, and released by Wizards of the Coast in 1996 (the game has since been re-released as Android: Netrunner but is no longer associated with the fictional Cyberpunk universe). The second was called Cyberpunk CCG, released in 2003, designed by Peter Wacks and published by Social Games.
Combat Zone is a tabletopminiature wargame by R. Talsorian Games and Monster Fight Club, due to be released in 2021.
"Cyberpunk (video game)" redirects here. For the 1993 video game, see Cyberpunks (video game).
Stewart Wieck reviewed Cyberpunk for White Wolf #14, rating it 3 overall, and stated that "Cyberpunk is a fine game set in an environment which is very conducive to role-playing."
In the May 1989 edition of Games International (Issue 5), Paul Mason found the rules disorganized and lacked an index. He also found lots of typos, "the sign of a rushed production." Although Mason found the concept behind the game "quite appealing," he thought that the combat system, which was supposed to be an improvement on the usual non-descriptive hit point system, was too constricted by data tables to be very descriptive. He concluded by giving this game an average rating of 3 out of 5, saying, "All in all, Cyberpunk does the job. If you want to run a game in this genre and you want a single source of rules and background, then this game will be adequate to the task [...] It doesn't contain any ideas radically new to rolegaming, however, and so won't be much use to anyone else except inveterate collectors."
In the September 1989 edition of Dragon (Issue 149), Jim Bambra liked the production values of the original edition, but found many typos in the various books as well as a missing encounter table. Bambra found the setting "does a superb job of capturing the flavor and atmosphere of a disturbingly plausible and realistic future. The development and presentation of the Net is stunning and can be used as a basis for countless numbers of adventures. No other game has succeeded in portraying computer hacking in such a vibrant and absorbing way." He concluded that this was not for everyone: "Gamers brought up on heroic-fantasy or shiny science-fiction games may find the gritty realism of the Cyberpunk game not to their liking... To decide if this is the game for you, read a few of the Cyberpunk style novels. If you like them, don’t waste any time — rush out and buy the Cyberpunk game. Welcome to life on the edge."
In the September 1992 edition of Dragon (Issue 185), Allen Varney found Cyberpunk 2020 just as stylish as its first-edition predecessor, but he found even more typos in this edition than in the first edition. Varney liked the new streamlined combat system, but criticized the duality of modern combat, where "unarmored characters become pools of blood in 10 seconds of combat, but those in flak armor can shrug off submachine-gun fire." Varney also felt that the Netrunning system was much improved, calling the rules system "elegant and original." Varney thought the second edition's biggest flaw was lack of an index, but he also criticized the dichotomy of a system where "you can break into Eurobank and embezzle five million bucks, but you better pay your phone bill on time or you’re in big trouble." He accused the game of being "in the curious position of advocating rebellion, but only in socially acceptable ways." Nonetheless, Varney concluded that "The Cyberpunk game’s second edition surpasses its first edition on every count. With its smooth action, 'pure' cyberpunk atmosphere, easily accessible setting, and medium-low complexity, this game tops my list as the field's best route to dark near-future adventure."
In a 1996 reader poll undertaken by Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time, Cyberpunk was ranked 10th. Editor Paul Pettengale commented: "Cyberpunk was the first of the 'straight' cyberpunk RPGs, and is still the best. The difference between cyberpunk and other sci-fi is a matter of style and attitude. Everything about the Cyberpunk game, from the background to the rules system, is designed to create this vital atmosphere. Cyberpunk is set in an unforgiving world where betrayal and double-crosses are common, trust is hard to find and paranoia is a useful survival trait."
In November 2020, Forbes found Cyberpunk Red to be a consistent continuation of the themes from Cyberpunk 2020. Contributor Rob Wieland praised the system for character generation, stating, "One of the signature elements of the game, lifepaths, went through a great refinement. Lifepath is a chart where players roll to determine elements of their character’s history. It creates lovers, friends, rivals and more for GMs to hang plot hooks on. Cyberpunk thrives on the personal connections between characters. Lifepath makes player buy-in easier; players are going to be much more interested in a job given to them by an old flame than a random NPC."
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- Will Moss; Mike Pondsmith; Lisa Pondsmith. Cyberpunk v3.0. R. Talsorian. ISBN .
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