Anyone remember the PC game Syndicate? The little trench coat and mirror shade corporate cyborgs running around causing mayhem? Well, I played far too much of it back in the day.
Wanting to offer more fast-play options at our weekly game sessions, I wrote up a set of rules in hommage; a cyberpunk skirmish game where you and your friends play a team of Agents tasked with various missions of questionable legality and high lethality.
It’s called HARDWIRED. Click there to grab the pdf. We’ve play tested it. It works. It’s easy to learn. Plays fast once you get the hang of it. And it’s fun.
If anything, it’ll give you an excuse to paint up (or buy and then paint up) some cool cyberpunk figs, gather your gaming buddies, and infiltrate the nearest top secret, gene-tech research facility.
A little side project I’m working on. A cooperative game where players are jacked up Agents sent on corporate black ops.
Guess who played way too much Syndicate back in the day…
Someone tipped off Han Chou Telemetrics.
04:17 in the Shunyi District, HCT Corporate Zone, you and your crew slipped out the back door of their secure server facility ninety seconds ahead of schedule. That minute and a half saved your life; you caught their Rapid Response Team by surprise. They came at you fast and heavy. You came back faster and heavier. When it was over, they were down but your driver was dead and the get-away was totaled. So the four of you took off running.
Han Chou management won’t call the police – which is good. They’d have to admit to the breach and that would translate into a huge hit to their reputation, as well as their stock values. So they’re handling this in-house – which is bad. That means every HCT Security Specialist and Rent-a-Cop in New Kowloon is gunning for you.
You pulled an all-nighter on this one and there’s a trail of bodies, blood, and bullet casings in the dark alleys of Shunyi to prove it. Less than an hour of night left, you’re still on foot and low on ammo, but you’re nearly home. Asian-Pacific holo-ads glow in the sky over the buildings just ahead.
Your uplink squirted ‘Package Retrieved’ the second you stepped outside the HCT building, so you know your company will back you when you reach the Neutral Zone. With the UN-enforced ceasefire, Han Chou won’t risk an open confrontation. They’ll have to eat the loss. The nearest checkpoint is just seven blocks away, next to the Yintai Shopping Center.
The members of Blue Rose Import/Export were enjoying a meal in the back room of The Osaka Shuffle when a smartly dressed woman approached them. She apologized for interrupting, sat down and explained with great hesitation she needed their help to locate her missing daughter.
“It’s been a week, no one’s heard from her. None of her friends. Not her Boss or her apartment manager. The police let me file a Missing Persons report but they won’t do anything because she’s an adult. They say she probably ran off with some new boyfriend and will turn up later. But that’s not like her. She wasn’t dating anyone and she doesn’t just leave like that. I just know something’s wrong. Will you help me? I can pay you.”
A 1,500 Yuan advance is a great incentive. Add expenses plus another 1,500 when they find her.
So yeah, you took the job.
The evening unfolded as the team split up – one half to her place of employment, the other to the club she frequented. (Gentleman Loser) Leads in both locations point to her apartment building in District 6. It seemed like straightforward easy money job, a “Where’s Waldo” or in this case “Where’s Sun Dai Yu?”
Until they picked up a tail.
I won’t bore you with details, but the evening’s session ended in a messy, back alley brawl as the tail turned out to be a private investigator contracted by the Asian-Pacific military to track down AWOL combat simulacra. He flashed his credentials and a general purpose warrant that would allow him to run ID tests on Derek’s character, C33r. (that’s ‘Seer” to you)
The members of Blue Rose were disinclined to acquiesce to his request.
Part 1 ended with C33r shooting one very nosy drone out of the air and Other Pat’s character, Marlow, using his shot-fist on the investigator’s head. Shot-Fist: 1 Head: 0
The team left District 6 in a hurry with Dai Yu’s laptop. (stolen from her apartment, btw)
Character figs for our upcoming Interface Zero 2.0games set in New Kowloon 2069.
Blue Rose I/E is one of New Kowloon’s finest independent trade services, offering secure storage, fast transport, and outstanding turnaround time for all your goods and products. Stop by our warehouse at Dock 5H – 37. North Pier, Lower New Kowloon. Or visit our VR office on the Grid at BR_EI.LNK.COM.
More RPG game prep last Tuesday evening. We finished up Character Creation then read through a bit of game setting fluff on New Hong Kong in 2069. After, we ran through another simple scenario to hammer out the combat mechanics. (It’s taking me a bit to wrap my head around the granularity and pace of a RPG game)
The fight took place at the Docks in Lower New Kong with the Ebony Hand crew fending off the Trade and Transit Security forces for four turns. The TTS outnumbered the EH slightly, plus they were kitted out with Kevlar. While vicious as wharf rats, the gangers’ main advantage was their hacker, who could splice into the docks loading array and shift Conex containers to block or funnel the security into EH lanes of fire.
Here are some pictures.
Long story short, the Ebony Hand made quick work of the Dock rent-a-cops, blasting away and using the Conex containers to shove them aside or even squish them on a couple occasions. (Shaken cops who couldn’t crawl away fast enough were turned into tarmac pizza. Eeeew.)
Easy win for the chrome and mirror shade punks.
First RPG session is in two weeks. For now, here’s the New Hong Kong fluff and a short list of cyberpunk slang to get you in the mood.
Til then, have a large one, omae.
NEW HONG KONG IN 2069
Considered Asia’s premier ‘International City’ and the financial capital of the Eastern Hemisphere, New Hong Kong was originally conceived in 2027 as a large-scale urban expansion to the original city. However, explosive population growth and increasing market dominance from the development of advancing technologies ensured the new metropolitan area received formal recognition as a separate municipality in 2041.
With an estimated population of 8.3 million between the Upper and Lower sector in a total area of just over 900 square miles, New Hong Kong (or ‘NK’ as it is known) is literally a ‘City of the Future.’
The Ground Sector, or Lower City, is constructed on existing landmass south of old Hong Kong with parts extending over the South China Sea. The Sky Sector, or Upper City, is built on a massive platform called the ‘Terrace’ which rests 7,000 feet (2 kilometers) above sea level. The Terrace is supported by twelve gigantic pillars called spindles, each one covering twelve city blocks. Internationally, New Hong Kong’s dual sectors are designated LNK and UNK for Lower and Upper New Kong.
UNK is home to the world’s largest and most prestigious corporate, commercial, and financial entities. With available space at a premium, residence on the Terrace is restricted and possible only to the world’s most famous, well-connected, and affluent individuals.
LNK is divided into twelve numbered districts, designated by the Terrace Spindle inside its zone. While the Lower City contains numerous upscale residential areas and exclusive corporate arcologies, it is primarily home to a vast multitude of laborers, merchants, wage-slaves, and workers who either make the daily commute as service personnel in the Terrace, or are employed in one of the hundreds of factories and dock-related industries on the ground level. Because large portions of the Lower City are in shadow most of the day, LNK is nicknamed ‘Dark Town’ and it lives up to this moniker in more ways than one.
Aside from the usual range of carnal entertainment and distraction like casinos, bars, pharma-dens, brothels of every type, and simsense arcades, Dark Town also specializes in illicit Gray and Black Market cyberware, biotech, robotics, and nanotech. Traditional Triad families keep a tight rein on all criminal and semi-legal activity, although recently both the Japanese Yakuza and Russian Bratva have been stepping up their attempts to gain control of the docks and airports.
The team operates a legitimate cover business registered as ‘Blue Rose Import Export.’ They maintain a nice but standard virtual office staffed with a commercial level business A.I. and they lease a mid-sized warehouse near the LNK North Docks. They also have a safe house in District 5 behind the Hong Ying Rice and Noodle Shop on Shenghua Street. This safe house is reasonably secure and is equipped with additional gear, medical supplies, weapons and ammunition. The Blue Rose is fronted by Matt’s character, a Human 2.0. It falls then that this small trade and transport company operating in LNK would employ a Repair Android, a Cybernetics Technician, and a Security/Bodyguard.
The crew has a solid working relationship with the local Triad boss, having done a number of security, delivery, and exchange jobs for them over the past two years. The team, while new, is considered reliable and enjoys a reputation for quick, clean work and while having scruples, doesn’t hesitate to get stuck in if necessary.
CYBERPUNK SLANG (Mostly Shadowrun ‘verse)
Angel: usually an (unknown) benefactor
Buzz: go away
Chipped: Senses, skills, reflexes, muscles, and so on, enhanced by cyberware.
Chummer: Pal, Buddy
Cleaner: assassin (or team) used to eliminate all traces of a mission, including the participants.
Comm: any device that allows direct communication
Corp: anything related to corporations
Dataslave: Corporate decker or other data processing employee.
Datasteal: Theft of data from a computer, usually by decking.
Deck: Cyberdeck or its use.
Decker: Cyberdeck user.
Deckhead: Simsense abuser; anyone with a datajack or chipjack.
Dumped: Involuntarily ejected from the Matrix.
Dumpshock: Nausea and disorientation from being dumped out of a simsense interface (usually the Matrix or a remote control rig)
Exec: Corporate executive.
Frag: Common swear word; Someones (desired) death in a disrespectfully rejoicing context.
Geek: To kill. (outdated)
Go-go-go: A bike gang or gang member.
Heatwave: Police crackdown.
Hose: Screw up.
Ice: Security software. “Intrusion Countermeasures,” or IC.
Jack In: enter cyberspace
Jack out: to leave cyberspace.
Jander: to walk in an arrogant yet casual manner
Kobun: Member of a Yakuza clan.
Mr. Johnson: an anonymous employer or corporate agent.
Nutrisoy: Cheaply processed food product, derived from soybeans
Nuyen: World standard of currency.
Oyabun: Head of a Yakuza clan.
Panzer: Any ground-effect combat vehicle.
Paydata: A datafile worth brouzouf on the black market.
Plex: A metropolitan complex, or “metroplex”.
Poli: A policlub or policlub member.
Razorguy: Heavily cybered samurai or other muscle.
Samurai: Mercenary or muscle for hire. Implies honor code.
Sarariman: From “salaryman.” A corporate employee.
Screamer: Credstick or other ID that triggers computer alarms if used.
Seoul Man: A member of a Seoulpa ring.
Seoulpa ring: A small criminal gang with connections to others like it.
Shaikujin: “Honest citizen.” A corporate employee.
Simsense: ASIST sensory broadcast or recording.
SINless: Lacking a System Identification Number.
Slot: Mild curse word.
Slot and Run: Hurry up. Get to the point.
So ka: I understand. I get it.
Soykaf: Ersatz coffee substitute made from soybeans.
Sprawl: a metroplex
Squatter: to fraternize below one’s social level.
Suit: A “straight citizen.”
System Identification Number (SIN): Identification number assigned to each person in the society.
T-bird: Low-altitude vehicle (LAV), usually vectored thrust.
Trid, Trideo: Holographic animated media; Three-dimensional successor to video.
Vatjob: A person with extensive cyberware replacement, reference is to a portion of the process during which the patient must be submerged in nutrient fluid.
Wetwork: Assassination. Murder.
Wired: Equipped with cyberware, especially increased reflexes.
Yak: Yakuza. Either a clan member or a clan itself.
HeroForge custom miniatures is a very cool service offering a very cool product. Even an old metal snob like me has to admit 3D printing is the future of mini-wargaming, and with the detail, variety, and dynamic poses available, it’s hard to resist the urge to design a one-of-a-kind fig. So… I succumbed to temptation and had Maarten Che made up.
Maarten is the latest addition to the Itchy Bang Gang, my Shadowrun-esque cyberpunk crew. (see here for more on the IBG: Song of Mirrorshades and Shadows) He’s an ex-combat vet turned street soldier who brings solid experience and firepower to risky Sprawl runs.
My hobby funds for the rest of the year are slated for the upcoming Rogue Stars Nickstarter and some new shelves for the game room, so it’s not like I’m going to create a whole crew. At $29.00 a pop, Hero Forge ain’t cheap, but considering this is a custom character fig I got to design myself, I’d say it’s worth it for a special occasion.
Perhaps if I catch up on my current projects, then get some extra work or have a good month in book sales at Amazon, I’ll visit HeroForge again. After all, you have to admit both the process and the result are very keen.
Here’s the table set up from last Tuesday’s Game Night.
We’re in an intermission from our Fantasy “Whispers of the Liche King” campaign so I can paint up more baddies and build a couple terrain pieces. To stay in the mood, Derek, Matt and I did a quick game of cyberpunk-flavored ASOBH – the Itchy Bang Gang versus NKPD Special Activities Department. We stole some traits from Fistful of Kung Fu but find the combat results table too fiddly. Stuck with straight SOBH melee and modified the results for Ranged attacks.
Game was a straight-up brawl. No real story, more test driving the streamlined combat mechanics. Seemed to work, so we’ll bolt on more chrome in the next games.
MELEE COMBAT = Per Standard ASOBH Melee Rules
DEFENDER WIN (RANGED) = Defender Dodge/No Effect
ATTACKER WIN BY 1 = Defender Recoils 1 Short toward nearest Cover.
ATTACKER WIN2+ = Defender Prone (Auto Kill for any subsequent attacker win while Prone AND +2 to attacker’s C for Melee)
1 SHY of DOUBLE = Knocked Out. Can be revived by friendly. (3 Successful Q rolls. 2 if Medic. Auto Revive with Auto Doc. Can be Auto killed by melee enemy spending one action to attack. (cover or passive trait penalties apply but no defense roll possible)
DOUBLE = Kill
TRIPLE = Gruesome Kill (force morale roll to allies in Long/LOS)