Tag Archives: cyberpunk

REWIRED Wednesday: Music to Gun By

This week’s REWIRED Wednesday caught me off guard, so my next supplemental article won’t hit the datasphere until next week.
In the mean time — how about some mood music? Spotify listeners can enjoy my REWIRED playlist:

If you’re needing more atmospheric, less intense background music for your games — I recommend this Cyberpunk playlist by James Wong. Over 38 hours of tracks have been collected (and he continues to add more!)

What artists do you listen for your cyberpunk role-playing? Feel free to recommend some noise in the comments!

(REWIRED WEDNESDAY) Recalibrating Perks

Perks in REWIRED were intended to help players flesh out their characters in more detail. Sure, there’s a bunch of cool combat-assisting augmentations and psychic powers, but there’s also plenty of perks that focus on specialized roles or giving a character an edge in their surroundings. In this RECALIBRATED article, I break down the basic guidelines for Perk design, provide some new perks as examples, and hopefully give you some ideas on how to custom build or tweak your own. Remember this, though: these are just guidelines, and even in the core game you can see examples of how I strayed off the path a bit.

image by Mark Hoekstra. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-NC
image by Mark Hoekstra.
Licensed under CC-BY-SA-NC

Most perks in REWIRED were intended to be single ranked, giving one of the following:

    • +4 to a Skill roll under a particular circumstance
      Intimidation: Receive a +4 to Influence rolls when attempting to intimidate, bully or interrogate another character.
    • Give a bonus to a derivative stat (+2 on Defensive stats, +4 or +1 per Ranked)
      White Hat: The hacker’s knack for cybersecurity grants them +2 to their Firewall rating
    • Allow a character to change a die roll to “6” on a particular action once per scene.
      Windfall: Once per scene, you may change one of your die results on a Wealth roll to a “6.”
    • Grant a “free” maneuver or action, either per session or scene.
      Fortune’s Favorite: Once per session, the character may ignore a successful attack against them without spending Edge.
    • Granting some kind of advantage within context of the setting (like Garage, Off the Grid, etc.)
      Fake Identity: The opposite of Off the Grid, the character has a full-fledged alter-ego, with legal papers and everything. May be taken multiple times for multiple identities.


Augments behave in much the same way, usually putting in some sort of limitation to use but with a bonus that could be stackable with a natural perk (for example: Enhanced Audio with Alert can grant a +6 bonus to listening based awareness checks.) One thing that should stand out is how Augments may also grant bonuses to attribute-based skill rolls. Muscle Augments, for instance, can add their rating to any Chrome based skill checks – it doesn’t add to the attribute itself, it just modifies the performance of related actions.  Augments also allow characters to interface or do things that naturally no human can do (Interface Jacks for plugging into electronics, cybereyes recording video feeds or seeing in infrared, etc.) A last benefit of augments, of course, is that (if the GM allows the rules at the end of the Equipment booklet) they can be bought. The cost is usually hefty, of course – either being a strain on a character’s Funds or a pain in the ass to find a trust-worthy surgeon who isn’t going to botch the job or give you third-rate parts.

Ranked perks, whether augmentations or otherwise, are intended to give a gradual boost for the sake of game balance. Stuff like boosting the initiative rating, or enhancing melee attacks (which leads to increased damage) felt like things I needed to rein in – the system is deadly enough, I wanted to ensure some survivability! Ever since WYRED, I’ve seen even the littlest weapons like a simple knife in the hands of a slightly augmented opponent practically disembowel a PC.

Free Form Perks

Using the guidelines above, a player (with GM approval) may scheme up their own narrative flavor to define a perk bonus. Optionally, a GM may ditch the core Perks entirely for this approach. It can be particularly handy for expanding the game on the fly, or even re-skinning for a different genre in a jiffy.  For instance: Let’s say we wanted to play in a bit more high-tech setting. Timmy wants to be a “fully converted cyborg cop” concept. He may jot down perks like these:

  • Hardened Alloy Frame: +2 to Toughness (he wanted +4, but the GM gave him a fat OH HELL NO.)
  • Enhanced Articulation: +2 to Wires based skills.
  • Motion Sensors: +4 to Awareness checks when detecting movement.

Another option is to tie in character background detail in defining a free form perk:
Grown up in the enclaves, programmed by authorities — +4 to Corporate Policies knowledge rolls to cite exact regulations when enforcing authority. 



Enjoy the article? You can download the PDF for yourself here:


ArmSallyThe revised edition of my “Quick and Dirty Cyberpunk RPG” is officially out today! I’m really stupid happy with the outcome of this revision, really in love with the new booklet format and the overall flow of it. I hope everyone enjoys the changes (which you can read about on the previous blog.) Feel free to leave any thoughts, comments, criticisms, tokens of gratitude or hatemail in the comments.

If you really enjoy this game, feel free to share the love.  It’s released under Creative Commons, so feel free to redistribute and share among your gamer circles free of charge. Any reviews, reposts or retweets to boost the signal are highly appreciated.

Zip file includes:

  • Core Rules PDF — Perfect for any mobile device or laptop
  • Print Copy (booklet format — just print front and back!)
  • Revised Character Sheet
  • METROPLEX BURN setting PDF — official setting of the REWIRED playtesting crew.

REWIRED: Revision in the Works

A major revision to REWIRED is currently drafted up, and after some in-house playtesting and feedback this week it should be live.

This isn’t a major overhaul — the majority of the game mechanics are the same. But quite a bit is being re-tooled, as well as some new features being plugged in.

  • 14 - 1New Format: I feel REWIRED was too big for Pocketmod, even in an extended format, yet I didn’t really like the “core book” approach either. To me, the biggest plus of WYRED/REWIRED was that sort of underground zine aesthetic, the DIY game print feel, and the functionality of quick booklets to easily carry and get the game rolling. So the new revision will come in a complete PDF, but is written with the intention of it to be broken up into four, twelve page booklets (3 pages of paper folded together.) It will come with a PDF of the booklet version where you should be able to just print them off and fold without any special fiddling at the printer.
  • New Attribute: Joining Chrome, Wires and Data is Signal. I’ve decided to finally bite the bullet and add a fourth attribute. Social rolls have been pigeon-holed since WYRED in between Wires and Data. Signal is more than just good looks or the ability to charm someone — it is an attribute about how much your presence, reputation, and personal wealth can affect the world around you. Influence is going to be one of its primary skills.
  • Wealth and Contacts as Skills: Wealth as it works now is a Perk, but functions similarly to a skill. But it’s also a bit winded in the details, and I’ve had many folks report that their gaming group just “didn’t get it.” Taking a cue from Fate Core, which really inspired me post REWIRED development, I’ve decided to take a cue from them and have Contacts and Wealth function as actual skills under Signal. There’s also a Funds damage track, where players can etch off boxes to improve their rolls — at the risk of permanently damaging their skill!
  • Cleaned Up Terminology: Repeated mechanics have been given names, and certain rule descriptions have been cleaned up and streamlined by them. For instance: “Roll four dice, taking the highest” is now simply called a 4dH roll (or 4dL for Lowest.)
  • Trimmed the Fat: Most references to Mangled Earth have been taken out, returning the game to mostly a generic cyberpunk game. That said, I plan on bundling a cleaned up and revised METROPLEX BURN setting with the revision to help new GMs and Players.

    Expect this revision to hit sometime before June!

Early Look: “The Neumann Protocol” for COVERT OPS

The hombres over at DwD Studios continue to dish out the awesome support and new content for their games.  Some of these new releases include the Opperational Addendum series. Instead of forcing the consumer to purchase huge books of content they’d never use for that one chapter they are interested in, they’ve decided to release small expanded titles for cheap, allowing GMs to cherry pick the stuff that interests them. Next week, The Neumann Protocol will hit the information super highway, and there will be much rejoicing.

What It Isnumannprotocol

The Neumann Protocol is a 20 page supplement for Covert Ops, DwD Studios’ awesome new espionage and paramilitary rpg. This addendum focuses on cybernetic implants and augmentations, and how to work them into your CO campaigns. The back story is that John von Neumann, a key researcher in the Manhattan Project, had inspired a whole field of bionic research that became blacklisted during the cold war era. The protocols live on underground and off the record, and have re-emerged in the shadow wars of our modern era.

What You Get

After the brief history of the protocols, we’re thrown immediately into the good stuff. We’re introduced to the basic breakdown of implants — all of them broken down into three categories (Prosthetic, Bionic and Cybernetic) as well as three ranks/tiers of implant: Minor, Moderate, and Major. Depending and the category and rank of the implant, you’ll have varying price tags. The price isn’t just in monetary value, but how much the body can maintain before reacting and shutting down. Guidelines for damaged parts, and rules for “cyber sickness” are also included.

Following the run down of the mechanics, we have fifteen pages filled with various implants, augmentations, and cybernetic enhancements. Fans of cyberpunk and near-future settings will recognize many hallmarks: hand claws, targeting systems, reflex implants, they’re all here. But there’s a lot more fun stuff, too: flamefingers, knuckleplating, retractable glass cutters — things any kind of covert operative would want in their arsenal. There’s even some creative takes on old staples that help add a unique spin and flavor, allowing the Covert Ops versions of these implants to stand out from other game lines in the style.

Punk Not Included

When I was whipping up my own cyberpunk games, I’ve joked time and time again that I was going to need to stop calling them cyberpunk, and instead bill them as “modern day espionage.” While the angsty “fight the system” dystopian flavor isn’t here, the cyber definitely is. Those just wanting cybernetic ninja spies kicking ass will be pleased; those wanting “d00Lite cyberpunk” should be happy here, too, though. But to be fair, there is something to be said about “cybernetic spy-fi” in its own light. Bringing cybernetics to the modern game has its own implications and plot hooks, and it’s a concept I’m excited to explore at the table.

Bottom Line

I’m impressed with the work here. For $2.99, you’ll get a PDF chock full of new implants to expand the gadgetry and arsenal of your Covert Ops operatives. Fans who’ve been wanting to make the game system their new cyberpunk alternative shouldn’t be disheartened by the more “near-modern” implied setting, and folks who’ve been wanting a hint of science fiction without the dystopian angst will be pleased as well. In short, for a few bucks you can infuse your Covert Ops game with some hard-hitting implants to raise the threat level a few notches. Get on it!

This product will be available on RPGNow this coming Monday.
If you haven’t already, go grab yourself a copy of Covert Ops!