Monday, 9 June 2014

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.



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