Exclusive: Cyberpunk v3.0 Sneak Preview
A Happy Coincidence
One unforseen circumstance this year was the presence of so many R. Talsorian Games ex-staffers and associated personnel at the show. I guess it added up to a critical mass of some sort, because they managed to convince Mike Pondsmith to run a game of Cyberpunk v3 for them. Thanks to my sharing a room with Ross (the guy on the cover of Solo of Fortune 2) I ended up foregoing my usual drunken revelry Friday night to watch and take notes.
Due to the circumstances Mike was running right out of his head, not only with no prepared adventure but also no reference materials of any kind other than some published Fuzion material. So don't take any of this as gospel -- I don't know how much of it was made up on the spot and how much came from the much-anticipated v3 rulebook.
Twenty years after the final events of the last big story arc, the Cyberpunk world is a very different place. The Fourth Corporate War crashed the Net, and the corps' orbital strikes combined with tacnukes crashed the world. Night City was wrecked by a defensive weapon embedded in the Arasaka tower, triggered by the last assaults. Survivors banded together into groups.
Corporemetals are descendants of the original full-body borgs who fled into the deserts and other inhospitable areas. With vat-grown brains implanted at "birth" into metal, they have known no true human forms, and thus do not suffer from cyberpsychoses. They can switch between bodies tailored for various special missions, from combat to micromanipulation.
Desnoi are well-armed and supplied utopians living in walled theme parks, which cut themselves off from the rest of the society as the conflict wore on. They're served by advanced miniaturized mecha, built as various simple geometric shapes.
During the war, the floating cities cast themselves off, and now float free using altered biotech to their advantage. Rip was one of these cities, but is now beached under a large bridge somewhere on the West Coast. Its inhabitants have spread into Night City.
Ghosts are disembodied consciousnesses. As civilization faltered, the doomed residents of underground cities placed themselves into cold sleep, neural-netted into reality. They can download their personalities into sufficiently powerful computer systems, becoming the ghosts in the machines.
Reefs are bioengineered humans modified for amphibian existence, who live in undersea cities on the continental shelves. With their greater physical power, they often hire themselves out for the sorts of adventuring jobs that make RPG GMs happy.
Some edgerunners managed to survive the collapse in Night City. They're just meaner, tougher, poorer versions of traditional Cyberpunk characters.
Night City itself was rebuilt by a nanotech virus, engineered by the team that ended the Carbon Plague. Designed to take raw materials and recreate them as large (1/4 mile tall) structures, the virus saved the city from ruin. Unfortunately, once the city was rebuilt the virus had mutated, and strains emerged that would not stop building. Night City now stretches from San Diego to Portland, and is still being built. When a strain runs out of building material in the rubble, it uses whatever is available (i.e., slightly older structures). This causes untold pain and suffering as buildings collapse without warning, their raw materials used to create skyscrapers next door.
It appears to be a modified form of Fuzion, predictably enough. Stats are INT, PRE, WILL, TECH MOVE, REF, DEX, STR, CON, and BODY, ranging from 2 for normal people to 6-7 for incredible talents. The D10s are still here, added to the stat and the skill to beat a target number. Ones cause a fumble check. All in all it's just as fast as the old Interlock, but with more depth and a little less goofiness at the extreme ends of the scale.
I used to completely hate Cyberpunk, because it wasn't gritty enough for the urban warrior me of a decade ago. But now I realize that Cyberpunk is Bubblegum Crisis more than Neuromancer. And watching Mike GM with people he knows and trusts is a total hoot. I may even buy this when it comes out, increasing the trade deficit between FMG and RTG started by Mekton and Castle Falkenstein.