RPGNow.com
Browse Categories













Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Pacific Rim Sourcebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2019 13:46:29

A brief introduction 'for gamers' sets out the way this book has been approached, in the main it's written as a travel journal, the sort of thing you might consult if intending to go there, with game stuff - plot ideas, mechanics, etc - confined to sidebars and separate sections. The idea is that the material here should empower you to run adventures in the Pacific Rim - the far east of China, Japan, etc., Indochina, Indonesia, the Philippines, or right down to Australia and New Zealand - or have characters who come from there, wherever it is that they are now adventuring.

Then we get the travel magazine introduction, all delivered in character and explaining some of the basics like how names work in different nations and what currencies are used and how much your Eurobucks are worth. There are also notes on how similar cultures are to one another and about driving - and about the ease (or otherwise) of using cyberweapons when driving on what, to you, is the 'wrong' side of the road!

We then dive straight into the Japan section, starting with a map and some background and culture. Despite being renowed for corporations, it is still an Empire. It's also one of the biggest consumers of cyberwear. Due to a period of assassinations in the early years of the 21st century, the throne is now occupied by a 13-year-old girl, with a regent in place and - due to family connections - Arasaka troops supplementing the Imperial Guard. There's a timeline from 1992 to the present (2020), and notes on religion (Shinto, respect for the dead, especially dead heroes) and how the country got its name. Urban attitudes, recent political history and current affairs, and how corporations and government work together... and we meet some of the leading corporations. There is material on the Self Defence Force (SDF) - technically Japan doesn't have armed forces - including all the details necessary to make a character who has served, or is serving, in the SDF. Then we hear about Japanese police and the draconian weapons laws, along with notes for creating cop NPCs, before moving on to Japanese gang culture. Then there's a more in-depth look at Tokyo. Apparently a major bridge has gone rogue. It's controlled by an AI, you see, and that has developed a wayward streak that hasn't been brought back under control - it uses drones and point-defence systems to keep those it doesn't like away! There are brief notes on Osaka and Kyoto as well; and the section ends with how different roles fare in Japan, and a whole bunch of atmospheric LifePath material for Japanese-born characters.

The next chapter deals with United Korea. Well, the rest of the world may be going to hell in a handcart, but unlike the real world, North and South Korea have reunited. Tensions remain in a land where cybertech is frowned upon, a very male-dominated society where women are treated as chattels and breeding stock - of course, many of them disagree with this role and are doing something about it. A lot of this is explained in a fascinating 'interview' with Mrs Sun UnSuk, the head of Sungan Zaibatsu, which explains a lot of Korean culture and mindset. There's also a timeline, and even a character sheet for Sun UnSuk in case she pops up in one of your adventures. There's a detailed look at Seoul, the capital and home to ten million people, and notes on leading Zaibatsus, the Korean answer to corporations. An outline of the political situation presents a place dominated by corruption and nepotism despite ostensibly being a presidential parliamentary democracy. Focus then moves to the Korean military and law enforcement. As all Koreans do military service when young, it's likely that any Korean character will have served and a few notes cover this. The police are actually military in nature, and virtually incorruptable. Details of making a Military Police character are also included.

Next up is China, with a timeline and notes on the confusing class system within a classless society. Anyone who is not Chinese will stand out like a sore thumb, and anyone who is of Chinese heritage will be expected to speak the language. The importance of maintaining 'face', avoiding the number four and mutual gift-giving (which you don't accept at first offering so as not to appear greedy) are also covered. Get some business cards with your name and a flowery description of your profession in both English and Chinese. Most people are very superstitious. Main forms of transport are trains, bicyles and feet. It's still Communist, and very beaurocratic, so dealing with the government is frustratingly slow and difficult. It's a police state, and you need official permission to do just about anything. Few people have access to weapons or cyberwear. They still use the Yuan as currency, with paper notes rather than credchips... and the black market is huge. Everybody uses it at least occasionally. There's some history - quite a brief overview given how long China's history is! - and notes on the various gangs to watch out for and avoid. The main organised crime gangs as the Triads. Geography is covered sketchily in a series of thumbnail sketches, given that China is such a big country. Beijung, Shanghai and Hong King are described in a little more detail. Civil war has done a lot of damage wherever you go, although everything is peaceful now. Interestingly, after the British left Hong Kong the Ghurkas developed into an independent mercenary group. There's a fair bit about the Chinese military and Public Security (that's the police). And Taiwan? Still independent, capitalist to the hilt, beaurocratic, armed to the teeth. No change there. Finally there's a round-up of how different roles operate in China along with revised Lifepaths if you fancy playing one.

The next port of call (several, really) is Southeast Asia. This covers Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia and all the islands between the Asian mainland and Australia. The timeline mostly talks about how world events affected the nations here, although the Philippines appear to have gone through presidents like nobody's business - one was killed and his successor was also sent to meet his Maker on the way to his inauguration! Ancient nations, yet ones long accustomed to dealing with Europeans since colonial days, they have their own trading bloc which remains just that, unlike the European Community, whom they distrust. They also keep wary eyes on China and Japan. It's hot and humid most of the time, with a rainy season and a tendency to typhoons. Cultures differ by island, but tend to be Chinese or Malay based, then there's an added layer of faith - Buddhist or Islamic. Since the Mid-East Meltdown, there's been an influx of Muslims from the Middle East. Most nations, however, don't like the generally scruffy cyberpunk style so visitors are warned to be careful about their appearance. Singapore even has dress codes enshrined in legislation! Many nations have internal unrest, and all who rely on fishing or tourist beaches have been blighted by a massive oil spill. There's a survey of the different nations to highlight various salient points, an overview and notes on economy and government. Everythings scattered with commentary from various individuals, information on notable individuals, and often a few words of local slang. Again, the section ends with notes on how the various roles play out in the area, and Lifepath notes.

Then we come to Australasia, consisting of Australia and New Zealand. Australia became a federal republic in 2001 after the fall of the UK monarchy. Western Australia promptly left the Federation, but the rest of Australia refused to recognise this. They are sports fanatics, preferring Australian Rules Football (usually called footy) in which cyberwear is forbidden. There is a cyberware variant league however. Beer is also vital to Australian culture, and they are not interested in substitutes or even foreign 'real' beers. Australia used to be a textbook for racial/cultural integration, at least of immigrants. The aboriginals would disagree. Poverty since 1994 has divided the country often on racial lines. There's a survey across the states, complete with several overt adventure hooks, and after some Aussie slang, New Zealand gets the same treatment. Then there's the usual role-specific information and Lifepath modifications.

Finally, there's a chapter on Martial Arts. Most of the Asian nations have their own distinctive styles, and there are descriptions along with modifications to the rules in the shape of Friday Night Fist Fight! Different styles are described, along with distinctive martial arts weapons. There's a lot here, but if you want a martial arts brawl in your game, now you can have a spectacular one! There are also notes on new skills and new roles, some of which have been mentioned earlier but which are now expanded into useable rules. Want to be a spy or a pirate? Now you can...

There's a lot packed in here but if you want to take your adventures to this region or have a character come from there, it will prove invaluable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pacific Rim Sourcebook
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads!!!!!
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2019 13:10:20

Subtitled "The Unexpurgated Cyberpunk Referee's Guide", this is a rather chatty guide through the art and science of running your Cyberpunk game. However many rules there are in the core rulebook and supplements, as soon as the game actually starts to interact with players, questions arise. Can you do this thing? And if so, how does it work? Yet role-playing games by their very nature are not rules-bound. If there isn't a rule for a thing, make it up. If you don't care for the rule that is there for that thing, discard it and substitute your own. It's not a sporting contest where the rules are set in stone and known by all participants. This is role-playing, and the whole point is to have fun.

There's a whole bunch of material here, including running long-term campaigns, the whole style and atmosphere you're trying to create, maintaining control of a game with 'power players' in it, the sociology of cyberpunk, fleshing out the lifepath, working in fringe characters, whether running games set on the street or in a skyscraper (i.e. at a corporate level) are best suited to you, and winding up with Mike Pondsmith's collection of dirty tricks and some actual new rules. Quite a lot to feed your inner Referee on!

We start off with a piece about getting the party together in the first place. What is going to make them bond into a team rather than a bunch of chance associates? Some novel ideas including having them all by chance be somewhere that comes under attack and only by working together will they survive long enough to take vengeance on the attackers. Or you can manipulate the Lifepath so that they have a common background event or other link. Or they all have rooms in the same building. The possibilies are endless. Sneaky referees will make Lifepath event rolls for their players, telling them the outcome with or without reference to the actual tables. You also may have a campaign goal in end, so you'll need to work out how this motley band are going to get there. This is followed by a piece on creating successful plots, especially where there is no readily-identifiable 'bad guy'. Lots of good advice here. Next is a piece on how a Cyberpunk is not, and should not, be run on the same lines as, say, a game of Dungeons & Dragons. There's also a lot of good advice about creating a plot arc appropriate for Cyberpunk which makes excellent reading. Interestingly, as is the case throughout the book, each section is written by a different author, so there is a refreshing diversity of opinions. Read through, decide what you want to use, discard anything you don't, very much in the spirit of the entire supplement.

Next is a selection of articles around the Cyberpunk Milieu: Style and Atmosphere. Core, says the first one, is the tech. Most people - players, referees and indeed characters - won't really understand it, they just know what it can do for them. Here there's an attempt to present some of the overarching tech themes and show how they can work in your game... and what the drawbacks are. Like if you have skinweave, don't lose or gain weight dramatically, 'cos your skinweave will not change size along with you! The next article gets to the essence of the genre: style over substance. It's a world-feel, and within this world we run our adventures. But if they are not firmly rooted in this world, they are not Cyberpunk they are merely action-adventure with a bit of future-tech spin. There's a second article here on the same lnes, with ideas for mining different areas of literature to create your edgy, gadget-obsessed world. Remember, even in 2020, cyberpunk is a subculture. Not everyone lives that way even though the characters do. High tech, attitude, looking cool whatever you're doing, this is what makes the setting work.

This is followed by a chapter on Gun Control and the Power Player Problem. This reminds me of teacher training, 'cos it talks about establishing control over the game without abusing your power. Be subtle about the tools you use. The law and the cost of whatever the party wants are good ones. Someone who insists on lots of armour and open-carry of field-grade weapons is likely to find a MAX-TAC squad waiting for them. If you need something quick, or illegal, it's going to cost more (and then some, if it's both!). Yet if you don't look good, reactions are going to be negative, so you have to invest in what's stylish right now. And that's expensive. Encouirage role-play and modify tasks accordingly. What about problem players (as opposed to their characters)? You can make life difficult for their characters, but be inventive about it. If they are power-playing, think of it as using good role-playing to correct their poor role-playing, that's all. There's a bit of a discussion about various levels of tech from completely ubiquitous to world-changing and how to handle them well... and control it when necessary. Then there's a piece about power-players and how to deal with them, starting with the concept that a power-player is more of a war-gamer seeking a win than a role-player looking for a shared alternate reality, and that they see the referee as an opponent rather than a guide to that reality. This doesn't mean someone who can think tactically in a fight scene, many players have military experience or wargame and use that knowledge when it is appropriate to do so. Several examples of power play are given with examples of how to steer them into being useful, stop them messing up the game or completely neutralising what they are trying to do. Useful examples of player-handling that should improve your game mastery irrespective of what system you are running. There are also ways of using tech against characters who use that to power-play. Another voice provides a second spin on these concepts, mostly looking at how to stop game-breaking schemes by your players (without just saying NO, it's more entertaining than that!)... some real nasty tricks here. And who says you'll keep them for power-players. Many will work well in the game anyway. The opposition ought to be playing hardball.

Then comes Cyberpunk Sociology. This is an essay on the underlying philosphy of the game by Mike Pondsmith himself. He defines what he means by cyberpunk. It's about hard choices, emerging technologies, about how information is used and abused, and about rebellion. Get those straight, and you too will be cyberpunk. A few other voices then chip in with their opinions. Things like the place of honour, about never being alone... things to think about, about a troubled world. It's fascinating to read this in 2019 and decide if this world is worse off or better off than the real one.

Next there's a chapter on Running Combat in Cyberpunk. This looks at fights as an integral part of the game, at putting the correct spin on your brawls - rather than a review of the rules, although it does talk about how to use them creatively... and some hints and tips to make the referee's life easier during combat. There are also some sound combat tactics that you may not know, especially if you don't happen to have a military background at the elite forces level - something that applies to most of us. Interestingly, it also covers providing quiet advice to players whose characters know a lot more about combat than they do!

Then there's a chapter on Fleshing out the Lifepath... how to make it an integral part of the game you are playing, not just the character's backstory that ended once play began. This chapter, from Pondsmith again, draws on material devised for Cybergeneration and retrofits it to the parent game to excellent effect. There's a lot crammed into a few pages that can make role-playing ramp up amazingly. You may want to retool it for other games too, it's that good. And it also shows how to go beyond mere mechanical tools when you or a player has a good idea not contained within the tables. Make it happen!

The next chapter Working in the Fringe Characters rather puzzles me. It talks about some character roles as if they were peripheral, and how to weave them into your game. Rockers, Techies, Medtechies, and Netrunners are taken as examples... heck, in my games they already have a part to play! To be fair there are some good ideas to mine here. Of particular use to the fair fre referees who ban Netrunners because they find them too hard to manage properly. Other contributions run through all the roles, showing how they all have a part to play. There's also material to help you cope with a character concept that doesn't fall neatly into one of the standard roles. It ends with ways to use existing roles in unusual ways... and how to winkle the netrunner out into the field. Unfortunately, I think my referees have all read this bit!

Then there's a look at Cyberpunk Campaigns: Street or Skyscraper? The idea is most games revolve about cybered-up mercenaries doing dangerous jobs... and that can be great fun. If you are getting bored with that, though, there are ways to breathe fresh life into your game. Things you might want to try anyway to stretch the players. There are some excellent ideas for novel campaigns here.

Finally, we get Down and Dirty with Mike Pondsmith. Mind blown. Plenty here to make your players sit up and notice. Finally there's a chapter of New Rules. This includes a variant combat system called High Noon Shootout, and a section on explosives. Oh, and how to run a good bar fight or other slugging match. Just because almost everyone's packing they don't HAVE to start shooting. A good punch-up is sometimes more appropriate. This includes some new martial arts styles.

This is one of the most interesting 'Referee Advice' books that I've read. While much is tied into the setting, understanding what's here will make you a better game master whatever you run. Listen up, you primitive screwheads, you need to get hold of this. Just keep it away from your players!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads!!!!!
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Rough Guide to the UK
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2019 10:18:24

Essential reading aimed at 'punks contemplating visiting the UK, much of it is written 'in character', and it makes some grim reading. Apparently, the UK has been under martial rule for some time, but this has just been overthrown and the monarchy restored. The downfall began in 2016 when the Scots rebelled, and more and more service personnel diserted on the grounds they hadn't signed up to oppress their fellow countrymen. The Introduction covers these recent events in considerable detail - apparently despite the restoration of the monarchy, the rest of government hasn't got sorted out yet. Now they are bickering on how Parliament is to be elected. The new monarch is Queen Victoria II, who is actually identified as Princess Beatrice, the elder daughter of Prince Andrew (who, like most of the Royals had been murdered in the early stages of the establishment of martial rule... which is inaccurately referred to as 'martial law' throughout). Her mother, Sarah Duchess of York, had fled to America with both her daughters in an attempt to escape. These are real people, by the way, if you don't happen to know the British Royal Family.

This initial recent history explained, the next chapter deals with Politics and Government, which as mentioned is still in a state of flux. The restoration was engineered by a cartel of corporations, but the new Queen is showing some distressing signs of independence from them. The country is divided into sixteen adminstrative districts (a hangover from martial rule), and travel between them is restricted although it's not hard to bypass the checks if you really want to. It appears that dire as the state of the UK is, in this reality they have remained in the European Union, and are taking great advantage of this status.

We also meet two corporations - Imperial Metropolitan Agriculture (IMA), who took full advantage of martial rule to enrich themselves, and the Hillyard Corporation (which was involved in the restoration). There are quite a few others, including a reimagined English Tourist Board (ETB) that has got rather big for its boots. There's a long description of taking an ETB tour that somewhat reminds me of touring China in the 1980s. This chapter includes a section on law and order with crimes and punishments listed. The UK still maintains an anti-gun stance, at least as far as private ownership goes, and also views cyber-crime in a dim light. Police, courts and prisons are also covered here. Needless to say, in an oppressed country, organised crime and gangs have flourished, they too are described in this chapter. Apparently 'soccer violence' - which was a problem in the 1980s but has been sorted out in the real world - is also still a problem in this alternate reality, and has been joined by 'youth culture violence'. The Armed Forces are also discussed, with sufficient information for the generation of military characters if so wished. Finally, weapons and equipment are detailed for all the gun-bunnies to drool over.

This makes for a very long chapter, it could perhaps have been broken up a bit more. The next chapter is The Nomadic Movement. As you can imagine, the 'travellers' and other non-conventional peoples did not get on well with martial rule, and it took a lot of campaigning and direct action (read: terrorism) to gain concessions to live life as they pleased. Now the fight is on to retain those concessions under the new regime. There's discussion of paganism and some of their leading personalities, as well as descriptions of the main 'tribes' involved... which include biker gangs and highwaymen as well as more conventional travelling communities.

Next up, The Media. As you can imagine, the press was censored heavily during martial rule and they are now struggling to regain the cherished freedom of the press that they used to enjoy. Of course, the likes of pirate broadcasting flourished, albeit influenced by whatever corporation funded them, under martial law. There is still censorship in operation at the present. There are three newspapers (apparently British people still like reading their news off a paper copy!), and the BBC is still around, having become the mouthpiece of the miliary rulers. A sample day's programming is provided, this could make good flavour for your game. There are also 'independent' TV stations. There's a section on working in the media along with some notable personalities that might be encountered or at least seen on the screen.

This is followed by The UK: A Visitor's Guide. This covers travel, geography, food and drink, music and the arts, and a wealth of local information. Bears and wolves can be found in remote forests once again, indeed outside of intensively farmed areas, Britain's countryside has quite a mediaeval appearance. The food and drink section is quite entertaining, there's a list of recently-released albums and a section of slang, as well as some discussion of sport. There are two NFL franchises and a semi-pro league for those who prefer their football grid-iron, but for most in Britain, 'football' means 'soccer' and that is the main spectator sport. Then we move on to descriptions of the sprawling conurbations where the majority of people live.

Finally, England: A Regional Guide provides a pretty comprehensive gazetteer. This includes places to visit, notable locals and notes on what to watch out for and be wary of. There are rumours, too, and useful local contacts. North Wales has apparently gobbled up my house in Crewe, which was in England last time I looked! Apprently it's a quiet town with a club called Beechings... an in joke, as its the railway hub for the entire country, and a 1960s politician called Beeching tried to close many railway lines! Yes, despite being called England: A Regional Guide, this section covers Wales and Scotland too.

This is a magnificent exposition of a Britain that isn't, with enough ideas for Britain-based adventures to run an entire campaign... even if these ideas are ones that spawn as you read the text, rather than are explicitly mentioned. The one thing that isn't mentioned is exactly why the UK ended up under martial law. There's a vague reference to an army coup in 2001, but no indication what prompted it. Still with the oppressive nature of that period graphically described, perhaps its origins have been lost to the historical record. A thoroughly entertaining read, and a good place to send your 'punks to seek adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rough Guide to the UK
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Tales from the Forlorn Hope
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2019 09:38:17

Although this is a collection of eight ready-to-run adventures, this book is a bit more than that. Whatever backgrounds your party has, it's assumed they like to hang out at a bar called The Forlorn Hope, which is owned and operated by veterans of the Central American Wars. They have gravitated to the life of a Solo, and it's a good place for rumours and job opportunities for anyone able to prove their worth in the shady world of the cyberpunk. Your party probably fits right in.

To that end, the book opens with extensive details of the Forlorn Hope itself, and a whole bunch of NPCs found there. Most of it (apart from game mechanical bits) is presented as an article about the place: you might even want to share that with your players. There are even interviews with the NPCs that help bring them to life. Floorplans and notes on setting up your game - this is intended for fairly new if not beginning characters, but you might have a more experienced party so there are notes on how to accommodate them - are also provided.

It's not all 'local colour', though. Now for the neat bit. Each adventure is linked to at least one of the NPCs. This helps the party develop a feeling of investment, the fellow at the centre of whatever's going on right now is someone they drink with regularly. The adventures are designed to be run in a single session, but of course could be expanded on if you wish. Reading the first adventure - Agency Job - it all sounds very familiar: I think I played it many years ago. It involves raiding a consulate to get information on some foreign government's clandestine activities, and then putting paid to them by sinking a boat that's pivotal to their operations. When I played it we attacked by swimming underwater, and my character enjoyed it so much she kept the skill chips and SCUBA equipment in lieu of her fee!

Other adventures follow thick and fast. Each comes with ideas for both expanding the actual scenario and for follow-up adventures. There's A Hard Road to Go, which takes the party on a simple convoy escort job (yeah, right!). The Impalers involves a trip to Europe to find one of the regulars' missing brother. Girls' Night Out is an extraction mission. Colombian Cookout is a mercenary mission in South America (but there's scope for non-combat-oriented characters as well). Fall of the Axeman is a detective job, the party needs to find out who killed one of the Forlorn Hope regulars, and why. Street smarts and a spot of netrunning will come in useful for this one, but there's brawling as well. Tough as Nails involves helping a Federal Marshal clear a friend's name in a battle against corruption in law enforcement, and finally The Last Long Rider sends the party after a cyberpsychotic veteran. Each adventure is packed with detail, maps, believable NPCs, and more.

This gets to the core of Cyberpunk. Characters living in a gig economy, picking up dangerous jobs where they can, and living a life that's fast and exciting... but perhaps not very long. A good way to get started, especially if you don't have a grand campaign arc in mind right away.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tales from the Forlorn Hope
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Land of the Free
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/19/2018 13:56:12

This book contains a vast continent-spanning adventure that all begins with a 'simple' extraction... but they're never that simple, are they? The adventure comes in five parts, and is intended to be played as a whole... almost a mini-campaign really. As the mission involves travelling across the continent, access to the Home of the Brave sourcebook will enhance your game considerably but it's not necessary, there are plenty of resources herein to keep you going as the party encounters bizarre cults, renegade military officers, trail worn nomads, jealous corporations, and many of the splintered, often antagonistic cultures that America has fractured into. They'll need to master the skills of diplomacy as well as those of combat to survive, let alone accomplish their mission.

Although the adventures takes the party cross-country on a fairly defined route - clues in one location lead them naturally to another - there's plenty of scope for side-adventures and other incidents, not part of the main plot, along the way. Some are provided here, more can be gleaned from Home of the Brave if you have it, and of course you can mix in your own ideas.

Designed to accommodate any party irrespective of character experience, there are extensive notes on how to provide an appropriate level of challenge, including a mechanism called Character Party Strength (CPS) which enables you to compare the strength of the party to the strength of the opposition facing them, and so adjust said opposition depending on how much challenge you want them to pose. There's also some general advice about running the adventure, this support continues throughout with specific notes as to how to deal with likely outcomes and issues as they arise in each section of the adventure.

Next, there's a lot of background for the campaign. It's the sort of campaign where background, atmosphere, recurring NPCs and the like are important, so immerse yourself in it. The science of cloning is integral to the plot, so there's plenty of background on advances and attitudes towards it. So far, nobody's managed a viable fully-functional sentient human clone... or have they? It is someone closely associated with cloning experiments that the party are contracted to extract in New York and transport across country to Night City in an airship. Of course, nothing ever quite works to plan...

The journey, as written, takes the party to various locations such as Nashville and Memphis across America, but copious notes are provided to help you should they not go where intended or otherwise try to find some way to thwart the adventure. Some are suggestions for how to get them back on track without making them feel railroaded, others supply inspiration for taking the adventure to them wherever they've chosen to go. Very helpful, and provides ideas for any adventure where the party deviates from the plot... a frequent occurance in my games. This support begins at the beginning with a myriad suggestions as to why they are in New York to begin with, and enabling you to work with an existing team or a group of complete strangers with equal facility. This level of support extends to the adventure itself, seemingly everything is catered for with extensive clues, descriptions, layouts... just about all you need to run each encounter with ease.

Study the adventure well beforehand, then you will be able to take advantage of this wealth of detail, whether the party follows the planned intinerary via Nashville, Memphis, down the river to New Orleans, across the Gulf to Galveston or Corpus Christi and thence on to Night City. There are optional events and encounters galore. Use them. They enhance the adventure no end... especially the chance of doing time in a Texas gaol! Many of the encounters are potentially deadly, in some even an unlucky die roll rather than a poor decision can result in death or serious injury. That's life in 2020 for you! Even once they reach Night City it's not all plain sailing.

This adventure involves combat, intrigue, negotiation, netrunning... the entire gamut of roles and skills will find something to do. Events pour out one upon another in quick succession, there's little chance to get bored in the five to eight sessions this adventure is intended to take. It is cinematic in its intensity, but perhaps better viewed as a mini-series rather than a movie. It's highly recommended, the pinnacle of the published adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Land of the Free
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Home of the Brave
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/04/2018 08:24:27

Cyberpunk 2020 assumes from the outset that your 'punks are Americans, so an America sourcebook seems a good idea. In some seven chapters it explains just what happened to the US to change it from the world we knew in the early 1990s to the alternate future of 2020 in the game. The text is liberally splattered with FYI boxes (which contain information that can influence your game) and adventure hooks, which you can pick up and run with if you want.

Chapter 1: The Fall of America explains what went so horribly wrong. Opening with a piece of fiction describing a typical 2020 street scene, there's a year by year timeline. Events are interspersed with advances in technology that led to the capabilities of 2020. Apparently everything fell apart in 1996, although the rot started earlier with drug lords planting a nuke in New York and a stock market collapse. In 1996, however, martial law was declared after the President and Vice-president were both assassinated. Succeeding years saw things get worse and worse: wars and riots, famine, a massive earthquake in Los Angeles, the rise of corporations and ever advancing tech... and frequent references to 'the Gang of Four' who engaged in covert and sometimes overt manipulation of world affairs to their own agenda (and frequently to everyone else's detriment). This Gang of Four are not the Chinese, they are the DEA, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA - formidable foes in a civilised world, but increasingly less so in a world of corporate power, gang warfare and riots. Ultimately the military dealt with at least some of them, but were they really any better?

Then Chapter 2: The New America details how the current state of affairs came about. Martial rule brought about one of the bloodiest periods in American history. A huge number died from violence, famine or disease: many deaths could have been prevented were the 'authorities' interested in serving citizens rather than their own agendas. Individual states hoarded resources instead of sharing them. Family structures fell apart, being replaced by tribal and gang-based groupings. Without a proper upbringing, many youngsters are not properly socialised and their full potential not realised... nor have they had the example to raise children properly themselves when the time comes. The only exception are the children of corporate parents, who are raised somewhat impersonally by the corporation's day care and schooling facilities, but get well-educated. Education is expensive, and a lot relies on luck and who is around to teach. Corporate youngsters may get a good education, but not one that encourages critical thinking, and its very stressful. Nomad bands probably value education the most, and protect their youngsters as they acquire it. The job market has changed a lot too, and some sample characters are provided as illustration. The majority scrabble for every eurobuck and the few want for nothing, with little inbetween. Discussions of wages, purcharing power of your cash and the State Identification Number (SIN) possession of which indicates your existence as a legitimate citizen. Not everybody has one - but without it there are severe limits on what you can do. If you change states, you have to go through the rigmarole of reapplying. More background to everyday life is provided in a whirl through accommodation, information services, philosophical and religious treands and other matter pertinent to day-to-day living in what remains of America... even a few adverts, sample TV listings and the like for flavour.

This is followed by Chapter 3: The New American Government... the civics class for the 'punk of 2020. The whole nature of the Presidency has been changed, with the President being appointed by the Senate rather than being directly elected by the citizens and having more limited powers. Individual states have much more power than they ever did. Citizens still elect their senators, however, although the Senate has changed with each state returning 3 senators, being representatives of the 2 main cities and a corporate represtative to cover corporate interests, who is a member of the corporation that pays the most taxes in that state. The House of Representatives has been abolished. There is a Regional Committee which represents the self-sufficient 'regions' of the nation and wields great power. It's all a bit confusing: I had to read this bit several times to make sense of it. There are diagrams and explanations of how all the government departments now operate as well. Unless you have a politically-heavy game this is probably more than your 'punks will ever need to know... but it's fun to have the underlying structure laid out in detail. More importantly, taxes are raised almost completely via purchase tax, mostly because a lot of the population is paid cash in hand for jobs that may or may not be legal but certainly are not documented. The military are a significant power bloc, but the old political parties remain and the corporations are attempting to get into the political scene as well. Voting - which didn't happen during the period of martial rule - is regarded as anything from a fad to a deadly serious matter, depending which state you are in. Of more immediate interest is the discussion of the economy, which is tied up with the corporations - which in some places have risen to city-state like proportions. Many players won't really care how the items they purchase get to them or where the money they hand over goes - but if they do, all the information you need is here.

Next, Chapter 4: A Recent History of the Military looks at events over the past 30 years from a military standpoint. Several wars, starting with the First Central American War, and the period of martial rule stand out. It was in some respects a good time to be serving, but left a vast distrust between civilians and military personnel. Even once martial rule was revoked, the military still took an active part in governance. Meanwhile there were more wars - even in space - and an attempt to invade southwards (the Second Central American War) to grab land and resources, thinly disguised as a war on drugs... most of which were by then being synthesised in America itself. For inspiration look to the current TV show The Last Ship, a different history to the one presented here but with quite a few parallels - and a lot of ideas for adventure!

Staying with a military theme, Chapter 5: US Military Forces of 2020 gives a detailed breakdown of how they operate and who is in charge. And if you're nspired to enlist? Chaper 6: Military Soldiers explains how to create characters who are serving or have served in the military. This comes complete with appropriate skills for military roles and suitable lifepath events. You can use this to build a character with a military background or to play one who is still in the service. You can find military equipment lists here as well, there's even powered armour (although if that's your thing, put this down and get a copy of Maximum Metal instead!).

Finally, Chapter 7: The State of the Union provides a gazetteer of 2020 America. Thumbnail sketches of states, townships and other noteable locations all over America, with maps and plot hooks galore... and that's before you find the official 'plot hook' boxes that provide ideas for adventure! Interesting to note that Utah survived the bad times well, supported by what is referred to here as the 'Mormon Church' (actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) who in real life are keen on self-sufficiency and being prepared with things like food storage and 72-hour packs. They've not prospered since, but seem content with what they have.

So this sets the scene excellently for the companion book Land of the Free... or for your own adventures taking advantage of the bredth of opportunity available in America. There's a lot of material, some might find it too much, but it's all useful background and the section on creating military characters is excellent. The gazetter's useful if your party starts travelling, too...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Home of the Brave
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Deep Space
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/27/2018 13:08:59

It appears that in the Cyberpunk 2020 alternate history, space travel developed as it should have rather than stagnate after the Moon landings. There's a whole lot more up there than the International Space Station to play with, and here's the book to make it happen, starting off with the history of how they reached the current position and what's to be found on orbit and beyond. Mars and the Moon host thriving colonies and there's a lot of orbital habitats on orbit - factories, military outposts and the like. The European Space Agency (ESA) controls the Moon, and both ESA and NASA have bases on Mars. The asteroid belt is being mined, often by crazy daredevil freelancers. The historical timeline shows that all this development has not been devoid of bickering and even outright warfare, including rebellion of the 'highriders' living in ESA orbital facilities which broke free of their control. Russians and Japanese are also found operating in space, and several Corporations have a foothold as well, including the International Electric Corporation (IEC) and the Utopian Corporation (UC), a spin-off from Mircotech. There are over forty space facilities on Earth from which missions can be launched and conrtolled.

The final part of the first section is a table of communication lags between different parts of the solar system. But space is more dangerous than that, as the next section The Environment of Space conveys. There are three critical factors governing life in space: atmosphere, radiation and gravity. Neglect any of these at your peril. Atmosphere, of course, covers pressure as well as having the right stuff to breathe. Tucked away are the rules for when things go wrong, neatly added in so as not to divert the narrative. Due to the need to maintain pressure, guns are not welcome in space. If you need to defend yourself with lethal force, use a knife or your bare hands. Characters born and raised in space have a completely different attitude to gravity than those coming from dirtside. There's no magic here, if you want gravity in a micro-g environment, you have to apply spin, and the lack thereof has physical consequences. I've not mentioned radiation at all, that's plain nasty!

This is followed by a section on Getting around the Solar System. It covers the four main types of spacecraft: surface-to-orbit, orbital transfer vehicles, surface-to-space and deep space ships (which are still in development). All the vehicles presented are quite plausible. Drive systems, computers and even weapons are discussed in some detail, along with the running costs of maintaining your own spacecraft. SPace travel is expensive even if you just want to take a single journey. There's a fair bit about navigation as well as space combat. Don't. Just don't.

There's a section on Equipment and Weapons which starts with that all-important accessory, the space suit, which of course includes a list of the ways they can fail and what to do about it. Manoeuvering units, vehicles, and specialised tools for use in space are also included. There's also a slew of handy things no sensible spacer leaves home without, and plenty survival gear. Don't skimp here! For the violent, there's a selection of weapons that will work in space, hopefully without killing you as well.

Next, Artificial Habitats describes the wide range of places you can live and work in out in the black ranging from workshacks (about the size of the ISS) to the vast orbital stations like Crystal Palace, a couple of kilometers across and able to house tens of thousands, and then of course there are the bases on the Moon and Mars.

Finally Living and Working in Space introduces Highrider culture, the unique culture developed by those who live in space, rather than visit it. For one thing, they don't drink, smoke or do drugs much, preferring a clear head and clear atmsophere. They find their own pleasures in story telling, braindance simulations- a shared virtual reality - and custom drugs that give a quick effect but leave the mind unclouded. Most Cyberpunk Roles can adapt well to space, and there are details about the sort of work that's available... plus a few new skills to make it more feasible. There are notes on food and drink, politics and the main corporations to work for (or against) too.

But there's more, a whole adventure in space. Called Red Conflict, it can serve to introduce an existing party to life in space... but will probably be a one-way trip. Or it could be the start of a whole new campaign. The possibilities are as limitless as space itself.

Oveerall this book is excellent with loads of potential for exciting adventure yet thoroughly grounded in technology that is plausible and physics that is real.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Space
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Protect & Serve
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/25/2018 12:19:42

This is the law enforcement sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020, and contains plenty of useful material whichever side of the law your party might end up on, even though the primary intention is to facilitate 'police procedural' play Cyberpunk-style. It opens with the Cop's Oath, not one actually sworn but the principles by which a good police officer should live, and some scene-setting fiction.

First up, Hitting the Streets, a section covering all you need to know to create a cop character. OK, you will need the core rulebook as well, but all the police stuff is here. It's replete with atmospheric fiction and commentary, from a snippet from an instructor at the police academy to a five-year veteran musing on how he got into law enforcement, following in the footsteps of his father... and losing his first partner only a few minutes into his first ever patrol. Character generation follows the normal path as laid out in the core rulebook until age 18, when it's assumed the character joins the police and there are appropriate lifepath events to cover however long you intend him or her to be on the job before you start play. Cop is presented as a new Role, with a starting skills package and the special ability Authority. There's one new skill, remote systems operation: basically flying drones. There are notes on ranks, pay, and basic equipment as well as the sort of commendations good cops might receive.

The next chapter, By The Book, explains in copious detail correct police procedure, beginning with how to make an arrest. Get it right or the charges won't stick, whatever evidence you think you have. Details of police equipment, departmental structure and more flesh out your cop character's working life. If you want to specialise, there's plenty on the different divisions with details on what they do and the special equipment and skills they have. Don't all home in on SWAT, you can have a lot of fun with other specialisms too... but if SWAT seems a bit tame, specialise in cyberpsychosis takedowns with MAX-TAC instead. There are notes and statistics for anxillary services such as paramedics, forensics and the coroner too, along with details of confidential informants and more. And then there's undercover work...

This is followed by a section called Good Guys and Bad Guys. This looks at governmental anti-crime forces and at organised crime, along with 'corporate cops' and corporations in general. Just as the default assumption is that characters will be cops in Night City - the NCPD - it is assumed that the national law enforcement agencies they will have to deal with are American ones. As real-world UK law enforcement, for example, has developed some similar organisations such as the National Crime Agency (established 2013) it ought not to be too difficult to make appropriate changes if your game is located elsewhere. There's loads of detail about organisation and resources, and some 'typical' agents. There's also information about HiWay Cops - who patrol the open road - and bounty hunters. There's plenty of detail on organised crime as well, with the concept of organised crime as big business (hasn't it always been) and seperate bits on the Yakuza, Mafia and Triads. Corporate crime is also explored. The list of what they might get up to sounds very like the list of things I teach my students are appropriate things to consider becoming a whistleblower about! There's a nasty twist in that nowadays corporations are entitled to claim Corporate Immunity for individuals caught in wrong-doing. They fight each other too, and are known to move against the government. Plenty of scope for adventures here, for both law enforcement campaigns and more conventional ones. This section rounds out with gangs, including notes on various different types of gangs likely to be encountered.

OK, we've met some of the criminals, now the next section - You're Busted! - lists the crimes that people in 2020 can be charged with. It also covers the legal system, and the punsihments handed out on conviction. Most of the offenses sound familiar, with the addition of things like having unlicenced cyberware and illegal netrunning. They are grouped into six priority levels with Priority One crimes being the most serious ones - mass murder, terrorism, espionage, etc. For most of these the penalty on conviction is death. High Priority crimes (priority 1 or 2) involve the loss of civil rights when accused - no right to remain silent or to consult a lawyer before being questioned about it. Trial by jury is long gone, a judge decides whether prosecution or defence has the right of it, and determines sentence if they decide to convict. There's a formula provided to help you work out if the individual before the court is guilty of what he's being accused of doing, based on the evidence provided. Insanity is not a defence, anyone claiming that is sent to a secure mental facility until cured.. and then stand trial for what they did. With a Priority One offence, they don't bother with the mental facility but proceed straight to execution. If anyone wants to play a lawyer, the necessary details for that role are provided. You'll be needing NPC ones in any case.

Then there's a section aimed at the Referee. Here there are details of running a law enforcement campaign, cop personnel files, disciplinary actions and a sample precinct house. Finally there is a section with several law-enforcement mini-scenarios to get your campaign off to a good start with smuggling, gang warfare, vehical highjacks and more to contend with.

Police procedural games can be great fun, and the Cyberpunk 2020 setting makes it appealing as there is plenty of scope for combat as well as for sleuthing. Even for a normal campaign, few parties remain on the right side of the law so it's useful to know what will be brought against them. Like The Clash they will soon be singing "I fought the law, and the law won!"



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Protect & Serve
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Corporation Report 2020 Vol. 3
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/22/2018 08:04:45

This is the third in a series presenting detailed information about some of the massive multinational corporations that rival nation-states in the Cyberpunk 2020 vision of the world. This time the spotlight falls on two energy companies: Petrochem and SovOil. Like the other CorpBooks, this one provides loads of background to really bring corporations to life in your game, major players who maybe hire the party, or oppose them... or are the target of their activities.

The idea is threefold. Firstly,to provide information to enable you to use the corporation to effect in your game, with details of facilities and personnel to interact with and the like. Secondly, to give you information on what each corporation is trying to do - and what they say they want to do, which may be quite different - to enable the building of sophisticated high-stakes plots. Thirdly, to add depth and realism whenever the corporations in question show up in the game. There's also sufficient material to use each corporation in character backgrounds, or as employers.

We start off with notes on the Second Corporate War, which involved Petrochem and SovOil navies duking it out on the South China Sea. This section provides a fascinating insight into corporate warfare as a whole, explaining how the rise in corporate armed forces came about and how they are used to further the ends of the corporation in question. The Second Corporate War was a three-year affair that involved these two corporations squabbling over oil fields in the South China Sea.

Next comes a detailed look at Petrochem and then SovOil, with the corporation's history, a look at the main products and services that they offer, along with their stated (and unstated) corporate goals and market strategies. Then we get down to detail with notable individuals within the corporation, their major offices and other facilities and even notes on company uniforms. Don't laugh, if you want to infiltrate, the best way is to look like you belong... There are also hints about using that corporation in your game and a complete, if small, adventure you can run involving them. Reading the entries will spawn plenty more ideas, however.

Petrochem is the world's biggest producer of the synthetic alcohol fuel CH00H2, that is the standard fuel that's replaced oil, petrol, etc. It's less polluting, but no alcoholic, however desperate, should try drinking it! SovOil is the world leader in oil production, Petrochem being one of the few other corporations to still work in this area. Most of the money is in what you can make from oil, rather than in the oil itself. There are extensive notes on what can be made: chemicals, weapons and more. Petrochem also has a thriving agricultural business.

The whole book is well-resourced and illustrated, with lots of sketches to bring things to life. One oddity, the word 'the' is often replaced by 'die' - whether this is an error or deliberate to give a slight linguistic shift isn't clear. There's enough material to make both corporations major players in your game and the two scenarios let the party get to know just a little about them. For Petrochem, they uncover illegal dumping of toxic waste and end up nose-to-nose with the corporation. For SovOil, the adventure is an espionage one where the party gets caught up between SovOil and Petrochem with potentially lethal results.

This is a useful addition, bringing corporations that are of vital importance but perhaps lower profile - certainly on the average gamer's radar - than weapons manufacturers and security/military contractors.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Corporation Report 2020 Vol. 3
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Eurotour: Danger & Death on a Euro-Rock Tour
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2018 07:44:14

One of the almost throwaway suggestions for a campaign in the Cyberpunk 2020 is brought to life in this book. The idea is that the party form part of the entourage of a rock band on tour. They might be techies and stage hands, media people handling publicity, security, or even band members. Here, an American musician called Jack Entropy is embarking on a tour of Europe, and within this framework there are six full adventures provided - plus, of course, whatever you can dream up to embellish proceedings further. It's suitable for beginning characters - if they are more experienced, you might want to beef up the opposition. It's recommended that you also read Eurosource so as to be able to set the scene to best effect.

The suggestion for starting the campaign is that the party are also Americans who for some reason find themselves stranded in Liverpool, England, and in need of work. A few ideas are given about how this might happen; you'll need to tailor them to your own party. Depending on their roles, party members will be able to hire on for various jobs on Entropy's tour - a chance to earn money, gain some new and interesting entries on their resumes, and get the necessary paperwork to operate in Europe legally. Highlight the differences between Europe and America. It's a lot more civilised, and your average Night City 'punk will stand out like a sore thumb in many places. This should quite often cause them problems all on its own, even before they start doing something untoward or, perish the thought, illegal.

The adventures provided are varied, involving rescuing Entropy from a spot of bother with British gangs and a kidnapping attempt, protecting a graffiti artist providing some publicity for the tour in an unorthodox manner, dealing with a bomb plot and getting mixed up in a revolution. There's also an overarcing theme which leaves you to decide who is the villain out of six possible candidates, by providing six options whenever the party might pick up a clue that Something Is Going On.

There's loads of detail to bring everything to life: exotic locations, detailed biographies of members of the tour and other key players, heck, even the bit-part players get an evocative sentence or two to provide a thumbnail sketch you can use to good effect. Oh, and snippets from the press.

This campaign sourcebook manages to be something quite different from the usual and yet completely cyberpunk. Certainly worth a try if you're after something novel.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eurotour: Danger & Death on a Euro-Rock Tour
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2018 08:28:10

No preamble, this just jumps straight in to Life on the Edge with Section 1: Soul & the New Machine - encapsulating the in-your-face attitude that's at the core of the cyberpunk genre. Sidebars fill in details and quotes from celebrities of the cyberpunk world like musician Johnny Silverhand provide flavour as the text explains the core pragmatic survivalist with a touch of idealism approach that the true 'Punk takes to life. An overview of future history, written as if in the year 2020 looking back to the late 1980s shows how the world came to be in the state that it is - and is quite entertaining when read in the real 2018... yes we do have the 'Net, but other aspects - such as incorporating cybertechnologies into our own bodies - haven't happened yet.

It's all style over substance, projecting attitude, living on the edge. Before we know it, we're reading about the 'roles' (Cyberpunk's version of character class) and their special abilities. There are nine roles - Rockerboys, Solos, Netrunners, Corporates, Techies, Cops, Fixers, Medias and Nomads - and each have something to bring to the party, something unique to that role. Each one gets a couple of pages explaining where they fit and what they can do... and these are vivid enough that you can easily envisage a campaign built around any of them.

Next comes Section 2: Getting Cyberpunk. This covers character creation. It's basically a point-buy system, with the numbers of points you have either assigned by the GM based on the style of game they have in mind or randomly by rolling 9d10 and adding them together. There are nine Statistics to spend them on (Intelligence, Reflexes, Cool, Technical Ability, Luck, Attractiveness, Movement Allowance, Empathy and Body). Many things like strength, endurance and so on that normally form core game statistics are calculated from these nine in this system. Then you choose skills, with a vast range of different ones mainly associated with your chosen role (but you can cross-train), and at this point a mechanic for 'Fast and Dirty Expendables' is introduced for those not wishing to spend ages pouring over the options. It's quick enough to be recommended for making NPCs as well.

This is followed by possibly the most interesting part of character creation, Section 3: Tales from the Street. This is where you put some substance into the character with a mechanic called Lifepath that builds some background... it's a flowpath that covers national/ethnic origins, family, friends, enemies, personal habits and key events from your past... all of which may have an influence on your present. You can roll dice, or pick what you fancy from the options, as you please. If I don't have a vivid idea of who the character is, I start out with the dice, then change things as the character begins to come to life. Starting with some notes on personal style (clothes, hairdo and accessories), you find out nationality and language, a fair bit of detail about your family, and about what motivates you before you reach the Lifepath proper. Basically for each year over the age of 16, there's a chance that something happened that year. This is where it is fun to let the dice loose... and the GM will likely have a field day with the trail you have left through time. It's something that can be fun to play with in an idle moment, even if you don't have a game coming up!

Section 4: Working looks at tasks and skills in great detail, starting with a look at how to check if you have succeeded in whatever you are trying to do, applicable die modifiers and so on. The basic mechanic involves adding the appropriate statistic to a single applicable skill and rolling 1d10 against a GM-set target, or against someone else's roll if it is an opposed task. Now you know how to use skills, we move on to look at what skills are available and how to acquire them. You get ten career skills associated with the role you have chosen, and forty points to spend on them. You also get 'pickup skills' to further customise the character. There's a detailed listing of skills and what you can do with them to help you choose (although I still worry about a game that has 'Resist Torture/Drugs' as a skill... it's not one I want to have to use!). For those who like to invent, there are notes on creating new roles and new skills, although there's plenty here. The approach to martial arts is quite interesting, allowing for a lot of variety without getting bogged down in excessive detail.

Now it's time to equip our new character, with Section 5: Getting Fitted for the Future which covers weapons, armour and 'gear' - most everything else. Apart from cyberware which comes later in its own section. Here we find talk of the typical lifestyle (rootless and disposable), find out how much the character earns, and check on encumberance (important when you carry most of what you own), before looking at weapons in great detail. Armour and everything else have much smaller sections.

Then, Section 6: Putting the Cyber into the Punk does just that. It starts off talking about style and image, but soon veers off into cyberpsychosis, a mental illness that can affect someone who replaces or augments so much of his body that he runs the risk of losing touch with his human side. Suitably advised of the risks, we then move on to the cyberwear itself. Some of it is fluff, some has practical application, sometimes even combat use... but there's page upon page of it, plenty of choice for everyone. Some characters start off with some, others choose to get 'cybered-up' later on when funds permit... or when injury requires replacement body parts. In true Cyberpunk style, there are 'fashionware' modifications like hair that changes colour or a watch implanted in your wrist rather than being worn on it, as well as replacement limbs, implanted weapons and neuralware that enhances thought processes, memory, and has other effects depending on just quite what you have installed. A common enhancement is the interface plug, vital for netrunners, but useful if you operate any kind of machinery - or a smart gun - that you want to control by mind rather than physically. The one drawback is that these are all expensive. Various ways for getting the cash are discussed, but all involve selling out in some manner, and may have other consequences.

Now things start hotting up with Section 7: Friday Night Firefight. This is the combat system for the game, and is covered in extensive detail. It opens with the statement that the game mechanics have been designed with an eye to realism rather than to Hollywood-style 'heroes never miss and never run out of bullets' concepts, and then gets down to details. Combat is conducted in rounds representing about three seconds, and each conscious combatant gets to do something each round. Just what you can do and how it is done is covered in almost-scary detail... but once you have the hang of it, it actually flows pretty well. If combat is your thing, it is an excellent and comprehensive system, capable of handling as much detail and realism that you want. If you are less interested, it can be abstracted... or you may find it too dangerous and avoid a brawl whenever possible! There are loads of hints and tips about how to fight to best effect which are well worth reading, even if you don't intend to engage in combat: you often do not get the option!

Possibly just as well, the next section is Section 8: Trauma Team. This covers everything you need to know about medicine and the healing arts... and death. Fortunately in this vision of the near-future, there's a fast-response paramedic corporation (called TraumaTeam) who guarantee to get to you within seven minutes wherever you are... provided you pay the subscription! Assuming medical help is available, the process of getting better from whatever trauma or disease has laid you low is covered. One point is that this is no fantasy game: even with modern/futuristic technology, it takes time to recover from illness or injury. It's not just emergency medicine either, this section covers the medical aspects of getting cyberwear too, as well as notes on 'bodysculpting' - which sounds a bit better than cosmetic surgery. There's also considerable detail on TraumaTeam's operations. They come combat-ready, with security personnel as well as paramedics, so a wounded subscriber can literally be picked up while the fight's still going on (you could even run a campaign based on a TraumaTeam's exploits, or one I did that involved several rival paramedic services engaged in a turf war...).

Next, Section 9: Drugs looks at everything from medical-grade pharmacuticals to combat enhancers and recreational compounds. Many are literally designed to be addictive, so perhaps they are best left alone. On the other hand, if you prefer to design your own, there are rules for that as well.

Then comes perhaps the defining bit, Section 10: Netrunner. A lot of people are scared of this... and it can be quite hard in the middle of a session to cater for the party net-head without leaving the rest of the group sitting around getting bored. Some GMs even refuse to have netrunner characters, but it does add something special to the game if you manage to handle it. There's a lot about the 'geography' and functioning of the Net - and it's interesting reading looking back from present-day familiarity with the World Wide Web and the ease of net-browsing without plugging in bare-brained! Equipment and programs are covered here, along with the nasty things that can happen to the incautious or unlucky who pokes into some corner of the Net where they ought not to be. If you do want to do some serious netrunning, all the game mechanics you'll need are here - including how to build systems to be attacked, and how to create your own programs; but remember, there's a lot that the party netrunner can do whilst remaining (mostly) in the real world, even during a brawl or an intrusion.

Now it's time to look in more detail at the world you'll inhabit, with Section 11: All Things Dark and Cyberpunk. There's a future history timeline from 1990 to 2020. The European Union has become a monolithic trading bloc, space exploration - at least orbital - is flourishing, and corporations are taking the place of nation-states, even to the extent of having wars with each other. Plenty of commentary to put meat on the timeline's bones, to show you how everything developed to the current state. Law and order is discussed, and it's a harsh system of retribution... so best not to be caught! Any semblance of arms control, even in the USA, has gone completely out of the window, and self defence is an acceptable excuse. However, self-driving cars have not been developed although here it's possible to control your vehicle by thought by jacking in to it, although that's quite rare and expensive. People still write letters, or they can send faxes instead - e-mail appears not to have been developed. Newspapers flourish and there are some 186 TV channels. It's all a fascinating look at what the future might have been... but it created a fun world when written, and works well as an alternate path when played today.

Section 12: Running Cyberpunk tries to answer the question of "How do I run this game?" Plenty of ideas about how to set the scene of the gritty urban underbelly in which it always seems to be raining... There are staggering contrasts between the haves and the have-nots, and it's never clear who can be trusted and who is double-crossing you. Play it hard and fast. A bibliography is provided to help GMs immerse themselves in the atmosphere and style of the cyberpunk genre. There are suggestions for how to coax the normally antisocial and individualistic 'punks into teams, so that your group can work together.

Next, Section 13: Never Fade Away is ostensibly fiction to get you in the moon... but it is resourced enough with maps, stats for the main characters and other details that you could convert it into a scenario. This is followed by Section 14: Megacorps 2020, which provides background material on the nature of these vast organisations and how they impact with the day-to-day life of the average 'punk on the street. There are plenty of adventure ideas here, there's money to be made on the fringes as corporations often hire deniable assets to do their dirty work. There are outline sketches of several of the largest and best-known corporations, covering a brief history and listing their assets. I always giggle at one - Microtech - because I worked for a company of the same name when this book first came out. It was a tiny software house rather than a monster builder of hardware, though!

Finally an introduction to the default setting in Section 15: Night City provides you with a ready-made urban environment to run your game. There's a lot of detail here (and a whole supplement dedicated to it if you want...), with locations, personalities, suggested encounters and a collection of 'screamsheets' (print-on-demand newspapers) that provide a wealth of adventure ideas, some of which have been expanded for you. Of course, you might prefer to use your own home town - just use the material here to give it a cyberpunk spin.

This game has given me hours of innocent amusement over the years, from both sides of the GM's screen, as well as having written several convention scenarios. It has worn well, and is still playable today, especially for lovers of gritty underbellies of the future, with an excellent if extremely detailed combat system that pulls no punches. Still well worth the getting if you like this genre!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Riccardo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2018 09:36:44

I'm a huge advocate of going straight to the point when writing about anything, and that's what i'll be doing in this short review.

This product, although a bit pricey, is definitely worth the investment for every single fan of the Witcher series. Its system works wonders and, after a bit of a steep learning curve, flows very smoothly during gameplay, although the combat rules are a bit more complicated than the rest. The manual itself is full of nice artwork here and there and a good section dedicated to the lore of The Witcher world (which is probably one of the best Dark Fantasy setting of the last 5 to 10 years) for those who haven't played the game or read the books.

It's not perfect, sadly. My score of 4/5 is influenced by 2 important factors that I can't objectly deny: the readability of the book is not the best: first, i found that the layout is somethimes confusing and that important concepts and rules are placed in sidebar that can be easily pass unnoticed; second, there are a lot of contradictions and lack of clarity in the rules. But the situation is improving: R.Talsorian Social Media manager proved to be an exceptional person that listened to us, the fans, since release assuring that thing will be fixed. He and the developers answered directly to every single one of our inquiries about the game, rules and everything we asked, basically.

Soon there will be an updated version of the PDF with errata included and included digital bookmarks (in the original PDF i had to put them in myself). So i can't do anything but suggest to buy this product to fans of the Witcher saga and of TRPGs in general: you'll have in your hands a great product that will definitely improve, real soon. When a full dedicated bestiary is released I'll probably switch to this system as my main one for the time being.

When the updated PDF will be released, i'll probably update both my review and the rating.

Tl,dr:

THE GOOD

  • Ruleset (Interlock)
  • Setting
  • Staying true to the books and the videogames
  • Frontpage artwork and artwork quality in general

THE BAD

  • Redability and Layout
  • Contradictions and lack of clarity in the rules

THE AWESOME

  • Communication with fans from the company itself
  • Friendly and helpful community


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Benoit L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2018 15:27:40

I really enjoyed reading this book! As a Witcher novel (and video game) fan, I'm excited to have this game in my library!

It is not a perfect product, it is still being edited with Errata and corrected, but all in all I'm happy with the overall quality of the book.

Looking forward to getting more books from this company and project!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Marcel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2018 09:49:28

So it's fianally here: the "The Witcher TTRPG. And I should be overjoyed but... my feelings are more mixed than I hoped they would be.

The good

They tought me in Highscool that if you criticize something you should start with the good and that is what I'm going to to do.

  • The game captures the feeling of the witcher games very well, and even has a couple of options to bring the feeling a bit closer to the books.

  • The game is lethal as fornication - characters can die easily in almost any combat and I love it. A lot of time in other roleplaying games - combat becomes trivial rather quick - but not in this game, even a face of with a couple of bandits becomes an adrenaline rush.

  • Even if you're not that much interested in the system itself the book still provides a decent amount of information on the world of "The Witcher" (or rather CDPR's version of it).

  • All of the classes and races seem to be on similiar power levels. Whilst the man at arms class for example is leagues ahead of all the other classes when it comes to combat (even witcher's imo) they don't do that great without the doctor to fix them and the craftsman to fix there weapons. Whilst I have not yet seen all party compositions possible (with a 3 player + gm group that is) the ones that I have seen always worked well and it never felt like one character was outshineing another.

The Bad

Sadly not all is gold what glitters and this game has a decent amount of problems. Which is sad as without them this game would be close to perfect for the style of fantasy and ttrpgs I prefer.

  • Most of the problems this very promissing system has stem from the way the rules are presented. It is sadly a rather crappy lay out and often rules that interact with another are on two diffrent ends of the book. And the wording of the rules them self is often a bit wonky and leaves more room for interpretation than for example the very precicely worded rules of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

  • Another massive problem is that the rules are unfinished for the lack of a better term, there are rules in there contraticting each other, still left overs from playtest or simply rules that are just missing (or maybe not and they are just difficult to find in the messy layout). And for me that is what really brings the score down - whilst R. Talsorian Games Inc. is working on these problems and they are providing daily awnsers on the subreddit it would be noce to see a bit more transparity on the issues with the rules (like a disclaimer in the product discription here on drivethruRPG) as you are more or less buying an unfinished product.

The Ugly

Theese are more minor issues that I have with the Sytem/Product but do not really affect the raiting

  • The design of the Book/PDF is relatively bland and it doesn't really evoke the feeling of a dark fantasy RPG as it looks a bit to modern for my taste.

  • Now to my personal pet peeve with the game - the weight of the wepons in this game is horrible. Just to give an example arcording to this game a arming sword (so the classic knightly one handed sword) weighs 2.5 kilogramms making it as heavy if not heavier than some big two handed swords in our real world. And that would be alright if the rest of the weapons in this game would be in relation to that but the for example a Torrwr which is proably something similiar to agreats word is lighter than that. It just seems rather random.

Conclusion

It's a game with a lot of potential and it already does a lot of things right but be aware that you gonna by a product that is only 90% done!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
by Antreas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2018 05:09:43

Really liked the book would have preferred though if it was bookmarked. Otherwise excellent product definitely would recommend to other TTRPG players and GMs



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. The Second Edition, Version 2.01
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 123 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DriveThruRPG