Hardwired: a free cyberpunk game

firefight_in_a_corporate_lobby_by_klauspillon-d83vk9o

 

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.

Good Luck, omae

***

Pix from some of our Cyberpunk games below.

 

New Terrain and ZP pictures

Coming off the holiday break, last night’s game session was more shooting the breeze than miniature foes. Everyone was more intent on hanging out and chatting than getting serious about a game. That said we did a quick brawl that let me put two new terrain pieces on the table: a ruined apartment building and a swamp. The building is an MDF kit, the swamp pieces scratch- built with wood bases, foam core, water effects, flock and Woodland Scenics tall grass.

We used Zona Perestrelki – our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules – for quick combat.

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The battle ground: a refueling station eleven kilometers inside the north perimeter of the Zone.
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The swamp
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“Look behind you!”
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Stalkers and scientist make it to the fence.
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ZERTs (Zone Enforcement and Recovery Team) facing down a pack of feral dogs.
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Bandits scrounging for petrol
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ZERTs at an old supply truck. Something valuable inside, perhaps?

There’s more ZP in the pipeline, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing old-school RPGs (both Interface Zero Cyberpunk and straight up DnD) and a short ASOBH campaign, “The Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.” I’m finishing the brushwork on the character figs this week and will post photos later.

In the meantime, corny as it sounds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude when the guys walked in last night; it’s a great hobby with great people and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Have a good day.

And if you’re in a STALKER mood, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available for your reading pleasure. Spasibo!

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Interface Zero 2.0 @ NK69

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.

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North J38 Docks, LNK
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Kheper Mac and the Ebony Hand
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New Hong Kong Trade and Transit Security force

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.

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That shotgun came in handy.
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Kheper Mac, chummer. Remember that name.
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EH hacker at Data Node.
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“Hey, who’s moving the containers?”

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.

 

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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
  • Biz: Business
  • 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.
  • Drek: Shit
  • 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.
  • Hoi: Hi/Hello
  • 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.
  • Omae: Friend
  • 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.
  • brouzouf: monetary unit
  • schway: cool
  • shazbot: dickhead

Sosnovy Bor Garrison Run – ZP Test Game

On the western fringe of the Exclusion Zone lies the deserted military garrison, Sosnovy Bor  – Pine Forest. Classified as Threat Level One/Relatively Stable, it is a great training ground for experienced Stalkers to acclimatize new crew members to the hazards of the Zone, as well as a frequent destination for Zone guides to bring their ‘tourists’ in order to give them a taste of danger without too much trouble.

Well scavenged, there is little by way of salvage and equipment, but its proximity to roads and trails make it favorite jumping off point for excursions deeper into the Zone.

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A recent emission prompted four STALKERS – Timur Bok, Vitya Laska, Ilya Nikitovitch, and Sava Urakov – to chance a quick trip in search of possible new artifacts and salvageable gear from any unlucky visitors.

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Slipping under the Cordon fence, the four of them made their way briskly along a well-worn path to the old garrison. Detecting movement, they did a quick radio check then split up and approached the base each from a different corner.

The leader Timur Bok, scanned the grounds with his monocular. “Two bodies,” he said. “With packs and weapons still on the ground beside them. No local distortions that I can detect though. Appears the emission didn’t generate any anomalies. That means no artifacts.”

“But loot, yes?” Vitya responded.  “So I say we pop in.”

Carrying a heavy CETME battle rifle, Ilya Nikitovitch grunted. “For a sack of old gear and a couple surplus AKs? Meh.”

“It’s money laying on the ground,” Vitya protested. “If you’re scared, don’t worry. I have extra med kits in my pack to patch you up. Unless you want to sit this one out, Mr Big Shot. Then we’ll split the money three ways. Right Sava?”

He heard Sava spit. “If there’s anything of value down there, I’ll find it,” the scrounger said. “Besides, I think Olga deserves some extra magazines after she was so good to us on our last outing, no?”

Sava Urakov’s old AK-74 had saved their collective bacon three days past when the four of them had been jumped by a pair of Snorks outside the bus stop on the old south road.

“OK. We go in,” Timur decided. “Eyes up though. I got two Rotters shuffling by that office building and movement behind the garage.”

Ilya sighed and chambered a round in his rifle. “You know, if you see one…”

Vitya jumped to his feet. “…there’s a dozen more you can’t see,” he finished. “Whoo hoo. We’re off to see the wizard.”

***

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GAME SUMMARY

Very straightforward game to test the combat mechanics and the Hostile NPC AI rules. Area had Two Hot Spots (locations with probable loot. And hostiles) and five enemies already visible. The players decided to cooperate rather than compete, coming in from the four corners of the base/mission area.

Timur the leader promptly climbed to the top of a large fuel tank. Vitya the medic skirted the far side of the garage to flank the zombies and approach one of the Hot Spots.   (symbolized by a Dead Stalker scenic) The Scrounger Sava ducked and weaved his way past the ConEx containers toward a truck, while Ilya lugged his battle rifle around the fuel depot at the rear of the base.

 

The game itself unfolded swiftly and without surprises: seeing Timur on the fuel tank, the zombies promptly lurched forward, allowing Vitya and Ilya to approach unnoticed. Sava made the first kills of the game, dropping the two office zombies before they knew he was around.

Jealous, Timur lobbed a grenade at the shuffling trio, only to miss and tear up the cab of a nearby Ural 4320. The zombies pressed ahead, coming within 4″ of the second Hot Spot and triggering a pack of feral dogs, who ran to the fuel tanks rear ladder and began barking.

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With this distraction as cover, Vitya tossed a bolt to trigger the Hot Spot directly in front of him. (Two Bandits!) Meanwhile, Sava gave Olga a quick kiss on the bolt cover and sidled over to the barricades and began picking off the distant zombies. Ilya ran to help Timur, who was prepping another grenade.

Timur dropped the grenade on the dogs. (“Puppy burgers over the camp fire tonight, comrades!”) Sava took down the last of the zombies which allowed Ilya to climb on top of the damaged Ural and dispatch the two Bandits before they could turn on Vitya.

 

All threats dispatched, the Hot Spots were clear for salvage. Sava, being a Scrounger, can check each location twice, virtually guaranteeing the STALKERs a decent haul for their effort. Game over.

THOUGHTS

Only Two Hot Spots, a few Shufflers, some Dogs, and a pair of Bandits, players cooperating and coordinating their moves, the game went smoothly with no drama at all.

Nail-biting it wasn’t but as a test game for the rules? I’d say it Passed. I’ll be tweaking the ZP rules to get the conclusions on paper this weekend and that’ll be another step toward the finish line.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

 

The Summoning – Chapter 2

  1. WATERS DEEP AND RED WITH BLOOD.

Joined by a Ranger, one of the Duke’s trusted men, the party pursues the raiders into the Westholm Wilds. The trail is clear and soon it brings the Adventurers to a swift, unnamed river, deep in the forest. Nearby stands one of the province’s many Border Towers, usually manned by a small company of the Duke’s troops. Some distance away, a rugged stone bridge spans the river’s dark waters, while on the far bank the party spies a Waystone, one of the ancient, rune-etched markers said to protect the kingdom from the Dark Gods Cronach and Cruenor. Legend also holds the Stones will bestow treasure, knowledge, even special powers to those deemed worthy.

The path ahead seems easy, but an unnatural tension thickens the woodland air.

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The reinforced party trying to rescue the Duke’s niece.

The game opened with no visible enemies and two visible Plot Points, the Guard Tower and the Waystone. The party advanced.

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A walk in the woods.
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Knock, knock?
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A bridge over troubled waters?
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Which way, stone?

The Mage and the Ranger went to check on the guard tower while the Skald and the Barbarian trudged through the trees toward the old stone bridge. At the tower, the Mage reached for the doorknob only to have a werewolf burst out, spitting and snapping. (Strange creatures are said to haunt these border lands)  The fight is on.

The Ranger lends some timely assistance and the noise draws the Skald and the Barbarian hurriedly back to help. (Better late than never?) A Search of the Tower reveals four dead guards, a healing scroll, and a map of the area with a notation for a ford a stones throw from the tower.  A quick debate and the party elects to try the ford rather than cross over to the bridge.

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Heel, damn you!

The party follows a path to the river, disturbing a lone Ork warrior guarding the ford. The Skald moves to engage (not a fan of greenskins) but Brekr the barbarian hacks the brute down first. With no further enemies around, the party crosses the river.

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First across the river, Brekr searches the area around the Waystone and finds a piece of jewelry, a broach with the Duke’s emblem, something a young girl would wear. A fresh trail nearby leads north.

However, their splashing and talking alerts a warband of Orks who were waiting near the bridge in ambush. Enraged, the Orks charge along both sides of the riverbank, bellowing war cries and swinging massive weapons. So much for this being a quiet walk in the woods.

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Combat swirls on the riverbanks and even in the water, but having lost the element of surprise and forced to come at the Adventurers in a line rather than from all sides all at once, the Orks are disadvantaged.

An ugly brawl erupts between Brekr and the Ork Warchief, and Brekr is drien, stunned, back in the river. The Ork is about to deliver a killing blow when the Ranger looses and arrow into his neck. The greenskin falls like a sack of rocks, much to the dismay of the rest of the attackers. Panicked, the remaining Orks flee into the woods.

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Come back, you cowards!

Turns out the Ork Warchief was a third plot point. A Search yields an Amulet of Courage (+1 to Morale rolls) and a letter from an unknown person that describes the Adventurers, and gives the name of a man in a nearby border town who will pay the Orks a hefty sum once they deliver proof of death. (a head or other important body part will suffice)

Enemies dispatched, loot scavenged, the Adventurers now face a choice: Follow the fresh trail in pursuit of the kidnappers, or Confront the man named in the letter in the nearby border town, and gain better information on this mysterious situation.

Which will they choose?

The Summoning – Chapter One

  1. A STILLNESS TO THE TREES

The Duke of Lorica has requested that you and your companions investigate a simple family matter.

His niece, Aolynn, summers at the farmstead of a retired member of the Royal Guard near the frontier town of Dunnhaven. The dispatch rider bearing the weekly correspondence from her is two days overdue and the Duke is concerned. He has ordered a troop of Border Guards to the area but your party is nearby and he wants assurances sooner rather than later.

The Duke is offering a respectable sum of Gold Crowns, but only after the party secures evidence of the niece’s safety. To sweeten the deal, he has sent additional supplies with the messenger bearing this offer.

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The Frontier Homestead.
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Plot Point: The Barn
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Plot Point: The Outbuilding
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Plot Point: The Field
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Plot Point: The Main House

Time constraints require we continue with a familiar rule set for our weekly sessions, so Matt, John, and Derek elected to continue with ASOBH. They are beginning this campaign with a single character each. Matt elected to play as the Journeyman Mage, Iobus Graymorn. John went with Barbarian Mercenary Brekr of Icehelm, while Derek decided to play the Skald, Alrick Tenloch.

The Party arrived at the farm early in the morning to find it seemingly deserted. There are no signs of life, human or livestock. The area is eerily silent and a strange fog is lingering over the place that seems unaffected by the rising Sun.

GAME EFFECT: ALL LOS is Limited to LONG. You detect Noise/Movement but Identity of enemies is not revealed until models are within LONG range.

Each PLOT POINT location contains a Risk and a Reward, i.e. an enemy that is triggered when a model elects to check the area, and an item reward and critical game information once that enemy is defeated.

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Our Heroes

Of course they ignored the first Plot Point location (The Barn) just outside their deployment area and headed straight to the Outbuilding instead. Brekr triggered a swarm of Giant Locusts and he and the Mage were forced to fight them off while the Skald took his sweet time getting down the road. (New boots?)

Eventually they killed the last  locust, searched the area for salvage and information, then headed straight to the Main House.

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The Mage, still queasy about the bugs, peeled off to the Field Plot Point, shouting words of encouragement to the Barbarian and the Skald. He was confident the two of them would make quick work of any threat that appeared.

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Ghouls lope in from a nearby copse of trees while a Raider busts out of the Main House shouting a blood-curdling war cry.
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This is my Angry Face!
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May the Gods grant you a good death.

Meanwhile, the third Ghoul hopped the hedge and sprinted toward Graymorn, who was mixing it up with a Giant Spider.

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Combat was short and fierce, but our Heroes prevailed. All the Plot points were Searched, the meager loot gathered, and the crucial information discovered.

***

Inside the house you find the body of an Older Man surrounded by the bodies of three dead Raiders. In the back pantry you find the body of an Older Woman and one dead Raider. A SEARCH yields

1 Healing Scroll, 1 Weapon Boost, 1Fire Bomb. AND a hastily scrawled note that reads:

“They have taken her. Warn the Duke the Black Hand has returned.”

***

Duke’s niece kidnapped, her guardian and his family brutally slain, all carried out by a mysterious enemy called the ‘Black Hand’. Who is this shadowy foe from the Duke’s past come to haunt him anew? Tragic as it is, could it be that more than the life of one young girl is at stake?

Tune in next week.