Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cyberpunk: What System?

There's a dearth of game systems out there, each tailored to their own particular style of game. I figure I can work out what I want from a cyberpunk game, and work it back from there.

  • Action - it's got to be capable of holding a decently lethal firefight, hand-to-cyberhand combat, and possibly vehicular combat equally well.
  • Tactics - with a lethal-ish combat system comes tactical combat - I don't want a miniatures skirmish game, but some level of combat crunch would be nice.
  • Gear - you gotta be able to create (or nab) rules for weapons, tech, and chrome. It just wouldn't be cyberpunk without arm-mounted shotguns and subdermal armour.
  • Setting - I really like the R. Talorisan Cyberpunk setting. It has just the right mix of Big Evil Corps, military interests, politics, and more "down to earth" stuff like social movements and cool little bits of fluff. However, many people I talk to are more interested in something like Shadowrun (despite being kinda dumb, it manages to have a real sense of fun to it). So I'd preferably like a system that can do both justice.

My normal standby, Risus, is a little bit too rules-lite for my tastes here, so no dice.

Shadowrun seems like a good choice - but its rules are incredibly linked to its setting. Excising the magical content can be done, but then you end up with half a system, and it doesn't seem to be worth the effort.

GURPS covers the first three - it's got rules for everything, after all. But, that's also its problem - there's rules for everything. I guess I can drop a lot of the additional rules, and just use GURPS Lite and add in the bits I need... it's modular enough to take it. Christ, if there's one thing GURPS can't be outshined on, it's modularity. But, in all honesty, I'm not a huge fan of the system. It feels... clunky.

D20 Modern could cover most of those, but it's mostly pants-on-head retarded. Though someone did make up a fantastic Ghost in the Shell conversion document... it ends up dropping a lot of the main problems with the system, such as "Hero Classes", the silly firearms rules, and some of the weird interactions of high-tech and high-levels (the classic level 10 Tough Hero who can be shot in the face and laugh it off). I'm reading through it just now, and I''ll probably post up something about it later...

Savage Worlds is pretty high up on my list. A good level of crunch, easy to learn rules (roll a 4. That's pretty much it), a pre-existing Cyberpunk book, decent lethality, and a lot of customisation value. Looking very good!

BRP is a great system, and it's pretty crunchy, and has sci-fi and cyberpunk resource books... plus, the advancement system is fun (you only advance the skills you use, so no "levelling up" and watching the Wizard learn new spells, get tougher, and somehow learn how to swing a sword better, despite not having picked up any weapon more lethal that a fork for his entire adventuring career). Plus, it means I can build up a huge arc to end up with a Cyberpunk/Call of Cthulhu crossover!

I mean, seriously - how cool would that be?

1 comment:

  1. I've ended up tweaking Savage Worlds for my cyberpunk game. I'm using the equipment from Interface Zero, with the simplified Cyberware rules from Daring Tales of the Sprawl.

    I've also built a reputation system closely modeled on Eclipse Phase.

    I'm (slowly) posting up info on the game on a blog [http://bit.ly/zUMK3c].