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Brainjacked: A Fate Cyberpunk setting
by Jason H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2022 12:10:07

I’ll start with a couple of disclaimers. Firstly, the main writer for this book, Joe Arnaud, was one of the regular GMs in a club I was in about 20 years ago. So I did pay for this product myself, but have an association with the people who produced it. I can see about 4 or 5 names in the backer credits page who would presumably say the same.

Secondly, despite owning many books referencing it I’ve yet to actually play a game using the FATE rule system.

That being said, I really like this book. It's not too long a read at a little under 90 pages, but that means it’s not a book that outstays its welcome. What is here is taking recognisable cyberpunk tropes and themes, as well as existing FATE rules, and using it as a springboard towards a particular type of story. That means that most of what is in the book is building on things you likely already know if you’re inclined to buy it and everything in it feels relevant without re-treading over old ground too much.

The fiction in the first couple of pages was a great lead-in to the central premise of the setting and the reference in the book title. Essentially, the game is intended to be about people who have had their memory and personalities altered for some reason, and their attempts to uncover their past. There are many cyberpunk games and settings out there, and I’m sure this topic has been used in some before, but I feel like making it the defining focus of this book helps to explore a particular niche. You could, of course, just use the setting described for any cyberpunk game if you wished.

The setting itself is nicely described. There are solid explanations for it being a semi-contained area (an island state with various joined together parts making up a large urban area) with sufficient variety to tell a range of stories and include diverse options for characters. Most of it seems reasonably modular so you could alter parts if you want and while there’s plenty of description none of it is pinned down too much or leaning into railroading.

The rules provide the sorts of options you would expect for this sort of game, with sections about hacking, cyberware and smart equipment. As I say, I haven’t played any FATE games but it all looks well thought-out and interesting without going too overboard on additional rules.

The book starts off with character creation, which includes a selection of skills and stunts as well as some additional traits in this game like Firewall. The interesting bit is that characters start off picking their high concept and aspects, but that all but one of these aspects is noted as the product of neural editing. One remains part of their original identity. As the game goes on, these imprinted aspects may clash with newly unlocked aspects from the original identity and choices will be made as to which to keep. Thus a character is likely to change throughout a campaign, but progressing somewhere between their rediscovered original identity and their new set of skills.

It's a good read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in a cyberpunk game who wants to explore the identity of their characters.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Brainjacked: A Fate Cyberpunk setting
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