Skip to main content

Cyberpunk 2020 Retrospective / Review

One of the committee at my gaming group is clearing out some old games from the cupboard, he gave me one of the copies of Cyberpunk 2020, so I decided to throw together a one shot and run it.


Here's the ground floor map of a down market retail hall I created. There were two other floors. I've been having a lot of fun with gimp lately.


Cyberpunk 2020 definitely brings the 'Punk' aspect out better than any other games, or even films in the genre I've encountered (Gurps Cyberpunk, Deus Ex, etc). If you read the books (which in my experience of RPG players very few read anything other than Game of Thrones), you'll find the protagonists are often petty criminals, down and outs and those on the slide. CP 2020 really nails this, its about survival on the ruthless streets more than high tech espionage. Neuromancer and When Gravity Fails both have heavily flawed low life leads (both great books). Stylistically it bleeds its age. Tech has wires and grunge, and characters can be Rockerboys, or Medias for classes. In many respects I find antiquated views of the future to be more interesting than the modern Ipod inspired white of The Island, or the I Robot Movies.

Mechanically CP 2020 is pretty standard fair. Its a late 80s game but its combat system and task resolution system are very similar to a simplified modern D20, or the D100 games like Dark Heresy. It has some interesting quirks, like all weapons having a concealability rating, which is quite important.

I only had two players, and improvised 90% of the adventure. I had one line descriptions for about 15 locations in the building and a general idea. On the top floor there was a wanted hacker called Cutter being hidden by a local crime boss. At 10pm the police are going to raid the joint and bag him. I had one PC, who was a cyber ninja attempting to bag this Cutter before the cops, and one Media, there to get a top story. It ran mostly as a sand box. I made it difficult to get to the top floor and into the apartment and gave the players lots of reasons to meet and talk to the various occupants of the shops, arcades, night clubs and fast food joints on the lower floors. It worked pretty well, and I managed to get a lot of Neuromancer flavour in there. Lots of drugged out techfiends, lots of shadey hackers, and a big gun battle between the cops and a gang.




Both my characters min maxed a little. it was a one shot, and I used the point buy rules (Cp2020 actually gives you point buy or rolled stats) so the Cyber Ninja had robotic arms and maxed out Aikido skills, meaning he could throw people through walls fairly easily. The Journalist had zero combat skills but could sweet talk anyone. It ended with the cops beating the Ninja to the prize, but the journo covering most of it and uncovering a few unsavory truths.


Advice for running Cyberpunk games;

Some GMs think that settings are designed by stuff. If I have wizards its fantasy, if I have implants its cyberpunk, if I have Wookies its Starwars. This is nonsense. You need to create the feel of that world, and the feel of the kind of stories that happen within it. With cyberpunk this is street attitude, and paranoia and a big dark city. Your vocab and NPC attitudes is more important than the stuff.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Looks: Won by the Sword

Won by the Sword went down like Fat Man over Nagasaki on most wargame forums when released by GMT back in 2014. Lots of misprints on the components and errors in the rules gave it a bad rep to such an extent that GMT decided to bail it out with a patch. James and I have played a couple of games reworked version, it still rides like a bike with two missing gears but its probably the most innovative and insightful design to hit the scene in the past 10 years.


The rules; they work fine for the most part, James is clearer on the gaps than me, he reads them, I'm the opponent. What I will say is that they work if you can put the daddy pants on and make common sense decisions to fill any minor gaps.



Forage; Some games are about movement, some about concentration of fire, some moral, others unit composition, some bluff or even supply routes. Won by the Sword is about burning peoples villages and taking all their food, mostly just to stop your opponent doing it. This is the 30 years war, a…

Wilderness War is probably the best CDG (review)

One attribute of a good war game is that it opens up rather than narrows down the more you play it. Each time you play you see there is more strategic depth than you thought there was. When I first started playing Wilderness War, a card driven wargame design (CDG) on the French Indian War by Volko Runke, I thought it was simply a case of the British building a large kill stack and marching it up the Hudson and the French trying to get enough victory points (vps) from raiding to win before the inevitable. The outcome would likely be decided by card play and who got the reinforcement cards when they needed them.



Four games later I have realised that this is not the case. Yes the British will sometimes win by marching a big army up the Hudson and sieging out Montreal, but a lot of the time things will play out quite differently. Maybe the French strike first, perhaps the British realise that going up the Hudson is going to be a slog try another route. Either way the players of both sides…

Quick Looks: Next War Taiwan

If there is a series for hex and counter hipsters at the moment it is Next War games by Mitch Land and Gene Billingsley. Kev Sharp's been blogging it 1, 3MA have been talking about it 2, these drunken reprobates have been playing it 3, two of my friends have picked up Next War India Pakistan 4, one of whom as his first hex and counter game. When I first saw the GMT Next War series with Next War Korea a few years back, I passed on it because it was pricey and I thought future wars were boring. I thought these things because I was a fool. I'm not entirely sure why the series has become popular, as speculative future wars seems like a hard sell but the continued releases (now three soon four) and the quality of the product seem to have carried it into the wargamer consciousness if not the popular.


Next War Taiwan depicts an invasion of Taiwan by mainland China sometime in the near future. I say sometime because the game has no fluff text paragraphs, opting instead to insert a few…