New Year, New Character
Cyberpunk 2020Cyberpunk 2020 (CP2020) is the "roleplaying game of the grim future." It paints a bleak vision of the far off year of 2020. A future filled with ecological collapse, near constant wars, overwhelming corporate power, and a divide between the small number of elites who control the wealth of the world, and the vast majority of humanity ground beneath their greed. As the masses are fed a constant diet of fake food and faker entertainment, the true power and decisions are happening in corporate towers and backroom alleys. An incredible imaginary world, indeed.
Ok, so, they got some things right. Others they got wrong--did anyone besides hipsters still listen to tapes in 2020? Is "protest rock" even remotely a "thing," let alone the voice of mass movements? Any "near future" work is going to be eclipsed sooner rather than later, and CP2020 was always on the tail end of the literary movement anyway. It's not about what the world is like now, or even really what people thought our world would be like back in 1990. It's a game, and that's how it should be judged.
And it's a high energy, hopefully nihilistic rampage of a game, driven high on emotions, passions, and fading glimpses of a dream you dare not let yourself belief. It's dark, and sexy, and violent, and goofy. Nowadays, it's probably best know for the video game based on it which had a...controversial rollout. But this book was the one that I was always fascinated by. It's also a game I've never been able to play.
Which I'm starting to realize is a recurring theme in this series.
For the life of me, I have no idea why. I loved it. At least some of my friends loved it. At least, they wouldn't shut up about how amazing its combat system was. And most of them, as nerdy teenagers in the early 90's, hoped to grow up "cyberpunk." But we never got around to actually playing a damn game of it.
CP2020 has 9 stats, and a whole lot of skills. In game, you roll a 1d10 and add its result to a relevant Skill and Attribute. The GM Sets the difficulty--10 is Easy, 20 is Difficult, 30 in Nearly Impossible. Attributes are determined by assigning points to them, as are Skills. Characters are one of 10 Roles. While roughly analogous to "classes," they're more a thematic groupings of skills. Unlike, say, Call of Cthulhu's "Professions," though, roles are distinct. Each has a Special Ability that sets them apart. Solos (the mercenaries and hired guns) have Combat Sense, which boost their initiative, while Corporates can call upon the resources of their organization. Given how important they are, we'll start with deciding on a role.
Normally when faced with an open ended decision, I use the Universal NPC Emulator to give me a concept and work from there. Not this time, though. Instead I want to figure out what Role my character will be and use that as my basis. There are 10 possible options:
Given that most of my limited experience with playing cyberpunk RPGs is with Shadowrun, I was amazed at how quick and easy Cyberpunk's Character Creation was. There's a ton of skills, so I'm still left with the feeling that Verge isn't as competent as I would like, but honestly with only 17 free points there wasn't much more I could do. And the fact there Char Gen is broken up into phases means I never had to worry about "did I spend too many points on X instead of Y?"