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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Dario T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2018 17:02:39

An amazing product made by Talsorian Games that has all the flavor of the games and the books in various ways, starting with the lore of the Continent, set in 1271-72 (between the events of Witcher 2 and Witcher 3 and at the dawn of the Third Nilfgaardian War against the Northern Realms), continuing with the races and classes, each one interesting and useful in its own way, and ending with the rules of combat, crafting both weapons and armors, alchemical conconctions, and so on. The crafting system is a fine addition to the game, and is both useful and interesting. The magic section is enourmous for just one book and it's interesting to see the signs (Aard, Yrden, Quen, Axii, Igni) be able to be used by a Mage, other than a Witcher.

Is it a dated game system? Probably. Is it fun? I had fun only reading this rulebook, it would be amazing actually playing this TRPG! Deadly sure it is. In fact, after the live session at IGN GMed by Pondsmith himself it is pretty clear that a Witcher could die pretty easily against the wrong monster, it said creature strikes for the head.

I'm obviously biased, I love the universe created by both Andrzej Sapkowski and CD Projekt Red and this product is exactly what I was hoping for. Sure, there are some typos here and there, but nothing that could ruin the experience and that couldn't be corrected.

I recommend this PDF to everyone who is interested in a deadly and well structured TRPG and is a fan of books and/or the games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
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The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Andrew F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2018 11:03:36

The Witcher setting meets the Cyberpunk role-playing system.

Beautiful art, well-laid out and, a few bugs aside ( like maximum stats for starting characters being easy to find), a really really well done book.

Uses the Stat+Skill+Gear+Dice Roll system. Very nice, fast and makes the luck of the die only one component of success. Will please your dice-unlucky players.

Skills are easy to understand and describe the Witcher world well, the system behind them is simple and effective.

Combat is snappy and deadly - little overly-detailed for my taste, but you can omit a couple things like Recovery actions and Fumbles/Critical Successes if they are slowing you down. Overall, though, solid.

The world is well-described and the denizens drawn from the Witcher very nicely. As others have said, an expanded Bestiary would be nice, but people have always been a Witcher's greatest challenge.

Saying this, a real triumph is how otherwise OP classes like Witcher and Sorcerer are represented and well-rounded. Although potent, each class - Man at Arms, Criminal, Merchant, Witcher, etc shines - and magic has it's drawbacks, oh yes.

The class skill system is also a nice touch - some abilities are much more potent than others, true, but those can be tweaked as your game goes on.

Really a solid, solid title. A foible - I feel the title characters are a little super-powered - in the game and the books, they aren't quite so potent perhaps? Zoltan with a Body of 10, for example. But, again, a minor quibble.

I'd like to give the game an 8.5 to 9.5, but if I have to go out of 5 stars, I'll go with 5. It's closer to 5 than 4 for sure. IF you like Witcher and gritty fantasy game systems.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Siim K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2018 09:47:00

The 25$ price tag is pretty steep, but what you get for it is pretty impressive. R Talsorian translated practically every mechanic from the video games into the tabletop format and from this you get some very interesting classes such as the merchant and craftsman, which offer a playstyle I havent really seen in other systems. The combat is as visceral and deadly as I was hoping, you can feel like a real badass kicking enemies into hazards and pirouetting your way around the battlefield, but at the same time you never feel like you know how battle is gonna go since everyone just one weak defense roll away from an injury thats gonna change your entire plan. Despite the pros(and this is reason I'm giving this book a poor rating) there are a ridiculous amount of errors. Some rules are confusing and explained poorly, others are based on information thats actually a left over from a previous version that conflicts with existing rules and some things are just flat out missing(How do you miss something as simple as the price and weight for a torch!?). If you plan on getting this book be prepared to spend a couple hours homebrewing content the devs forgot to include and deciphering how their game is actually meant to be played. Even though it was a headache to learn how to play, I believe it can still be the Witcher roleplay experience we were all hyped for years back when this was announced, there's just a ton of clean up needed before it can really shine.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Volker M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2018 10:03:34

Beforehand, let me explain that I am a big witcher fan and think the PC games are among the best games ever. I expected a good game of this RPG. After years of "development", apparently by a single person as the author speaks in the 1st person, it was finally published. The layout is ok, yet I find it not very fitting for a fantasy/ witcher setting as it looks very modern. The content is sadly very much distributed over the whole book, especially the professional skills for witchers (e.g. character creation, perks, lifepath, etc.). This is not very good for playing and you will keep turning pages. The system is not very balanced. First of all the dice become quickly unimportant, due to the combination with stats. In addition it is bascially a less detailed than the game, but still too complicated for a free table top roleplaying game. You have certain pieces that you have to put together for crafting diagrams. But this becomes very generic and gives you little freedom, especially as a GM. While this was ok for a PC game, it does not work for a good story game. All in all, the game just adds certain patterns together, but it lacks "Witcher life". The spirit is missing, the game has no soul. You can just grab the world description "The world of the Witcher" and use any generic rule system, e.g. rolemaster, with some modifications and will have a better game, which more interesting character development. The same "soulless" issues are true for the example story at the end. It is not scary or tense or anything, just stupid. This does not fit the "brutish" tone the game ostensibly wants to set. Don't bother with this "product", which looks and feels like a half-baked fan work.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG
by Tim E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2018 15:09:39

I followed the development of this system and was really looking forward to it. We started playing it last sunday with the charachter creation and were looking to learn the mechanics while doing so. The text is very well written and i like the art. Nothing extraordinary but it brings the world of the witcher to live. But the layout is the big problem child. In most other rpg rulebooks they use the first few pages to convey to you the basic workings of the game, how the skill checks work, what dice are used and so on. But this book starts right off with the character creation and only on side 50 or so is it, where you finally learn, how the game works. Thats a big mistake on the writers parts in my humble opinion. And the there are all of those side notes. Some are just in game monologue and if you make the mistake to think they are just some side information, you are in for a treat, because some of them are crucial to the understanding of all the mechanics in the game. I do not understand why basic and critical information are shifted out of the main text an dumped to the side. I really like the alchemy, magic and gear and crafting system in general. Its in depth and if a player wishes to use it, it brings hours of play and can even lead to plot motivation and so on. Really ties in with the world and the experiences in the games. Then there is the combat system that i like so far, but here again strikes the difficult continuity in this book and how it ist written. It starts with how attacks work, and where you hit and what wounds are caused, with all the detailed effects and the "death state" But wait a minute. Why is there a reliabilty stat for my weapon mentioned? 10 pages later i know better. There is, why i do not knwo, a chapter with in depth combat slapped in. 3 pages where i learn how to block, that i can shoot a bow or use magic. Why, dear authors, why? I would have put it like that: Iniative, walking/running, actions, the different options of attack, special moves, ranged combat, magic, bombs etc., than the passive part of the attacked with the defenses, crit resolve and all of that, and only than do we come to the wounds and how damage is resolved, and end on the nice note of healing and the aftermath. Why all those side notes and step ins? A more consequent writing style with the informations in the right spot and the main text would have been better. The part of the witcher character creation would also do better as a complete chapter with all of the life steps, gear and all in one place for the witcher player and gm. Maybe after a few sessions i can give a more finite verdict, but right now this are the things, that really tickled me.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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