Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Revising Firearms and Vehicles

"I'm not dead yet."

I'm working on a mash-up of Babylon 5 and Mass Effect (and whatever other Sci-Fi inspirations I feel like shoving in the blender), which being space-faring Sci-Fi have forced me to dig in to my firearms and vehicle rules for some much-needed edits.

Mostly the firearms rules just need some cleaning up, they were a bit of a patch-work hack at first, but they hold together pretty well in my own gaming group, but I've noticed some places I could word them better. I'm incorporating the Shotgun rules in to the rest of the firearm rules and including a few more details like difficulty to repair and manufacture firearms (especially for those characters contemplating making Zip Guns in prison).

Of course working on a Sci-Fi background means I'm going to have a whole new crop of futuristic weapons to include in a new Gun Store post, and some futuristic weapon mods like automatic-folding weapons and ammunition multifeed to customize your gear with.

I'm also working up ideas for using Squad weapons as Artifacts and buying "Reload Cyphers" that exist for the purpose of un-depleting your artifacts (such as Heavy Power Cells, Belt of Grenades, Sling of Rockets, etc. etc.)

I've never been terribly happy with the way my vehicle rules came out in text, so I'm revamping the whole thing to be clearer and more complete. When I started putting them together I wasn't running a game with a vehicle-centric background to contemplate the rules in, but working on a starship-based background with plenty of ground vehicles (and mecha because I loves me some giant robots) is forcing me to put more work in to editing my ideas and getting those half-formed thoughts written out.

New details are an expanded Size Class list that goes from -10 (1-inch, for those tiny spy-drones) to Size 20 (4 miles, for those large starbases), Sub-Vehicle carrying capacity (for fighter carriers, or just that bike-rack on your car), and vehicle design and construction guidelines (or "How many Girder-Monkeys do you need to build that Dreadnought?"), and a recent post from has me thinking about how to include Vehicular scale Cyphers and Artifacts.

So yeah, I haven't disappeared completely and I am still working on ideas and details for this stuff.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Numenera: Distinguishing Light Weapons

Numenera's weapon table has a number of 1-Shin weapons that are essentially the same as a Dagger or Knife, however their descriptions would suggest that they are used very differently. Given that all these weapons all cost the same each different type should have some tradeoffs in tactical options to make the differences meaningful.

After all in Numenera it's not unusual for a Dagger or Broadsword, or Greatsword to be shaped as a giant bladed circle or to be equipped with a T-handle or shaped an any number of exotic ways, it doesn't make it a different weapon for game-rule purposes.

Knife or Dagger: 

This is the baseline level of utility. A knife or Dagger can be used in Melee or thrown a short range. Other light weapons will sacrifice one or the other for different effects.

Punching Dagger: 

Punching daggers cannot be effectively thrown, however they are useful for those trained to fight unarmed. Any character with the Needs No Weapons ability or Needs No Weapons focus can use a Punching Dagger to give their unarmed attacks a Weapon Distinction (Numenera p.115). A typical Punching Dagger would provide the Stabbing distinction, while a "Bladed Hand" would make the attack "Slashing", and good-old-fashioned "Brass Knuckles" would be Crushing. The defensive bonus from a 'Reaching" weapon of this type would work well to represent Tonfa.

Sisk or Razor Ring

These throwing weapons lack a proper grip to hold in melee combat, however thrown correctly they have a "boomerang" effect if they miss the target by a narrow margin. A Razor ring or Sisk will return to the thrower and be caught if the roll missed by the target's level or less. If the weapon hits it does not return to the thrower.

Example: Thrown at a Level 2 guard, the weapon needs a roll of 6 or better to hit, on a 4 or 5 the weapon returns to the thrower, on a 1 -3 the weapon misses completely and has to be retrieved.
Thrown at a Level 3 Captain the weapon hits on a 9 or better, returns to the thrower on a 6 to 8, and misses completely on a 1-5.

Note: Yes with increased target difficulty means a greater chance of a "Boomerang Effect", however this simply reflects that with increased target difficulty is an increased possibility of ways to miss.

Suggested Weapon Intrusion: The thrower reaches out to catch the returning weapon, but the weapon strikes their hand. Thrower takes the weapon's damage (including any spent for effort) and cannot wield a weapon in that hand until they have been healed. Fighting from the "Off Hand" imparts a 1-step penalty to attacks.


The rapier is double the cost of the Dagger, however lacks the ability to be thrown. Rapiers are used with a fighting style that emphasizes defense and should be considered "Reaching" by default, in addition to whatever other distinctions they may have if any. (typically Slashing or Stabbing).


Like the Rapier this is also a "Reaching" weapon. It may also be "Entangling". An "Entangling" weapon may be used to inflict damage, or it may be used to "Stun" (Lose a turn) a creature with a level of the weapon's damage or less (attack roll required every round to maintain effect, miss means the target gets free and may act normally). Higher level creatures may be entangled by using effort to increase 'damage', however to maintain the effect Effort must be spent every turn.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tier Zero Characters for Numenera

The idea of a Tier Zero character amused me one evening so I figured out how to 'backpedal' the level awards on a first tier character, and I figure in the right kind of game it could be an interesting idea. Also standard characters can optionally use the idea of a Tier Zero to flesh out their backgrounds, defining which abilities they had that drew the attention of their mentors starting the character down their path.

Tier Zero PCs for Numenera

It's possible to create PC's in the “Prelude” to their stories, before they make it to their First Tier. These characters are still significantly better than the 'average joe', but are significantly weaker than their First Tier counterparts. The character abilities are First-Tier abilities with the four “Character Advancement” XP awards removed. Tier Zero characters only have a Descriptor and a Type, they do not have a Focus (Focus abilities start at Tier 1), so are only described as “I am a (Adjective) (Noun)”. Upon achieving their first Tier the player selects the character's focus (a choice that marks their ascension to a fully-fledged “capital-A”Adventurer.)

Type guidelines for Tier Zero characters are below:

Tier Zero Glaive: A Tier Zero Glaive will have an Edge of one in either Might -or- Speed. One Fighting Move, no Physical Skill, is unable to apply Effort, and can only add 2 points to their starting stats instead of 6, and can only bear one Cypher

Tier Zero Nano: A Tier Zero Nano has no Edge in any stat, one Esotry, has no skill in the Numenera (except for the book they've been given to study as part of the Nano's standard equipment), Is unable to apply Effort, and only adds 2 points to their starting stats, and can bear two Cyphers

Tier Zero Jack: A Tier Zero Jack has no edge in any stat, one Trick of the Trade, loses their starting skill (but retains the Flex Skill ability), is unable to apply Effort, and only adds 2 points to their starting stats instead of 6, and can only bear one Cypher.

Abilities and starting equipment not mentioned above remains the same as for First Tier. Descriptors are unaffected by Tier Zero status.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rotary Firearms.

A monstrous device combining a ballet of mechanical precision and a ravenous appetite for ammunition and destruction, the rotary autocannon or "Minigun" is a Hollywood favorite for it's intense sound and light, as well as it's visceral effects.

Rotary Machineguns are heavy, mechanically complex, and typically mounted on a vehicle because of the vicious torque they generate and they eat vastly more ammunition in a single firefight than an infantryman (or possibly an entire squad) can reasonably carry. None of these considerations have stopped Hollywood from making rotary autocannons cinematic favorites though, and Cypher is nothing if not cinematic.

A weapon may have the "Rotary" property or the "Rapid Fire" property but not both. Rotary weapons may not be fired "Single Shot" for half-damage to conserve ammo, once the barrels start spinning it's all or nothing. (If a Rotary gun could be fired "Single Shot" the individual round would inflict 1/4 to 1/3rd base damage, or possibly less.) Rotary weapons may benefit from special abilities that require the "Rapid Fire" distinction, such as "Spray" or "Arc Spray".

Rotary weapons are massive, and count as one weapon size higher for purposes of weapon skills. IE: a Light Rotary weapon requires Practiced with Medium weapons to use without a penalty, Practiced with Light weapons imparts a 1-step attack penalty, and no weapon skill imparts a 2-step penalty. A Medium Rotary weapon requires Practiced with All weapons. Heavy, V-Heavy and S-Heavy weapons impart a 1-step penalty to attack for someone with Practiced with Heavy Weapons.

A Rotary weapon takes a few seconds to "Spin up". On the first turn a Rotary is fired the weapon inflicts normal damage, on the second and consecutive turns a Rotary inflicts double damage. First turn of firing consumes a full Attack of ammo as normal ("Attacks" worth of ammunition are an abstraction representing an "average" trigger pull rather than a specific amount of ammunition). Any turn that the weapon is not fired the barrels spin down and the next attack inflicts base damage.

A shooter may forgo the doubled damage to gain a one-step benefit to their attack roll by spraying the shot around rather than holding the weapon on the target. This benefit is neither a Skill Increase, nor an Asset and does not prevent any skill or Assets from being used.

Because of the weight of a Rotary's mechanics and the torque of the machinery that rotates the barrels the shooter must make a Might roll with a Difficulty of the base damage of the weapon (2 for Light, 4 for Medium, 6 for Heavy, 8 for X-Heavy, 10 for S-Heavy) or be Dazed for the next turn (increasing the difficulty of all rolls, including the second round of shooting, by one step).

If firing a X-Heavy Rotary weapon unbraced, the Might difficulty is 10. Other effects of firing X-Heavy and S-heavy weapons unbraced are cumulative with Rotary penalties. See Firearms in Cypher System for more details on X-Heavy and S-Heavy firearms.

Rotary guns and Swarms:

If you're ruling that an attack against a Swarm of creatures can only kill one creature at a time and excess damage is lost, Rotary weapons may spread their damage across multiple creatures in the swarm so that excess damage transfers to the next creature in the Swarm. (Shotguns firing Shotshell or Flechette rounds also benefit from this effect).

Feeding the Beast, Rotary Guns and Ammunition:

If you're using basic ammunition rules and counting individual bullets rather than "Attacks" Rotary weapons consume around 300 rounds per turn of firing (assuming a 6-second turn, at an optimal 3,000 rounds per minute).

If you're using the "Tons of Ammo" rules (Firearms in Cypher System) you might be looking at actual Tons of Ammo. Each time the party sets out on an adventure/mission they will need to acquire ammunition for each of their Rotary weapons. Each supply of Rotary gun ammo is treated as an Artifact with a Depletion of 1-2 of 6. Roll at the beginning of the game session where the Rotary was used in the *previous* session (if they didn't use the Rotary last session then they're not going to magically be low on ammo unless there's a GM Intrusion explaining why the ammunition went missing). When the depletion happens the Rotary can be used in one more game session and then it's out. (so if Depletion happens and the Rotary isn't used in that session then there's still one more game session of Rotary Ammo in the box).

Light Rotary ammo for one mission is a Moderately Priced item ($200)
Medium Rotary ammo is an Expensive item ($2,000)
Heavy Rotary ammo is a Very Expensive item ($20,000)
Very-Heavy Rotary ammo is an Exorbitant item ($200,000)
Super-Heavy Rotary Ammo is a Very Exorbitant item ($2,000,000)

These are large crates of Ammunition that require two characters to carry, and tend to be left back in the party's main transport rather than carried in to combat.

Optional: Carrying Rotary Ammo

Rotary ammunition is heavy and bulky, there's not only the extensive quantities of ammunition itself but disintegrating link belts and/or canisters adding to the weight. Each character can only carry one reload for a Rotary gun (the shooter may have two, one "in the gun" another on his person), and when the Rotary is out of ammo the character carrying the reload and the Rotary Gunner must be in Immediate range of each other to reload the gun.

It may be possible to attach two belts of ammunition together, doubling the number of attacks a belt-fed weapon can make before needing to be reloaded. A Double Length Belt inflicts a 1-step penalty to all movement tasks until the first belt has been consumed. This may be an option for any belt-fed machinegun, not just rotary autocannons.

(In the World Wars (1900-1950) ammunition belts were often made of fabric rather than the modern disintegrating link belts. A Double Length Belt of this type continues to inflict the penalty to movement tasks until the entire belt has been consumed).

Vehicular Rotary Weapons:

Rotary weapons mounted to a vehicle (like the 20mm or 30mm autocannons on most modern fighters) are only a special effect and have no special rules. They don't suffer from the weight or torque of the Rotary mechanism, and the increased damage from firing a Rotary gun is covered under the "Size Class" increase to the weapon's damage for it's class. A mounted weapon is assumed to be designed as an integral part of the vehicle with sufficient ammunition for the vehicle's mission profile.

If a Giant Robot were to be equipped with a scaled up Rotary cannon, or a vehicle were to be reverse-engineered with a rotary autocannon it wasn't designed to mount then the Rotary Gun rules above would apply as the weapon is not integral to the vehicle it is fired from. Damage on the second turn is the weapons base damage, doubled, then the scale modifier is added. The pilot or gunner still needs to make the Might roll from the vehicle's Might pool to avoid the crew being Dazed as the Rotary cannon attempts to vibrate the vehicle to pieces.

EX: a Size 3 Mobile Armor is equipped with a Medium Rotary weapon. The first turn the Mobile Armor inflicts 7 damage (4 base, + 3 size mod), the second and subsequent turns it inflicts 11 damage (8 for the doubled base damage, + 3 size mod). The pilot must make Might 4 rolls based on the mecha's Might Pool or be Dazed on the next turn.

Sample "Man Portable" Rotary Guns:

General Electric M134 "Minigun", 7.62 x 51 (Exorbitant):
A 6-barrel rotary machinegun used by helicopter gunners in the Vietnam war. The Russian GShG-7.62 and Chinese Hua Qing Minigun are similar designs. The M134 and the GShG-7.62 are primarily for aircraft deployment, however the Hua Qing has been purpose developed as an infantry/anti-terrorist weapon.
In the movie Predator "Blaine"(Jessie Ventura) carries a GE M134 Minigun with a custom (Hollywood) modification to allow it to be handheld. It's rate-of-fire was cut in half so the spinning barrels would be visible on camera instead of a blur, and the ammo feed only carried 4 seconds of "blank" ammunition.
Mythbusters used a M134 mounted on a SUV in a concealed pop-turret for the "Shooting Fish in a Barrel" and "Cutting down a tree with a machinegun" myths.
-Heavy Rotary, Damage 6/12, 10 attacks, Long Range, Rotary (Very Expensive)

GE XM214 "Microgun", 5.56 x 45 (Very Expensive):
The "Microgun" was developed in 1966 as a lighter alternative to the M134 using the smaller caliber 5.56 rifle ammo. Tests proved the smaller ammunition used by the XM214 to be unsuitable for use from aircraft (the rounds lacked the mass to resist airflow effects around the aircraft). GE redesigned the XM214 in to an 81-pound infantry-carried weapon system known as the GE 6-Pak, however the U.S. Army showed no interest. The weapon was part of their catalog until the late 1990's
-Medium Rotary, Damage 4/8, 10 attacks, Long Range, Rotary

Bonus Gear: Articulated Weapon Harness

An Expensive piece of gear, an Articulated Weapon Harness is a harness with an articulated arm with hydraulic pistons that help manage the weight and recoil of weapons that may cause the Shooter to be Dazed, like unbraced X-Heavy firearms and Rotary weapons. Using an Articulated Weapon Harness halves the difficulty of the Might roll to avoid being Dazed on the next turn.

A Sci-Fi "Robotic" weapon harness is a Very Expensive piece of gear that provides one Asset to the Might roll to avoid becoming Dazed in addition to halving the difficulty.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Armor, Slashing and Crushing Weapons.

Some brief thoughts about the Weapon Distinctions for Slashing and Crushing.

In the descriptions of the Weapon Distinctions Slashing and Crushing are modified based on the kind of armor the target is wearing. Slashing does 1 less point of damage to anyone wearing armor.. any armor at all. This means that weapons like the Katana can be effectively mitigated by wearing the cheapest armor, or gear that might qualify as heavy work clothes. Historically this would have taken much of the appeal out of bladed weapons as symbols of the warrior class, as pretty much everyone on the field of battle would have been wearing some kind of armor.

My house rule is that Slashing does 1 additional point of damage against unarmored and Light armors, as Light armors tend to be 'flesh-like' materials like fabrics and leathers subject to being more effectively 'cut', while the more rigid Medium and Heavy armors are less subject to the slicing edge.

Crushing weapons on the flip side get their bonus of ignoring one point of Armor against Medium and Heavy armor, but lose a point of damage against unarmored and Light armors, which makes sense as the flexible materials of Light armors act as padding and return to their original shape after impact, where rigid Medium breastplates and Heavy plate armors suffer from increased deformation after repeated impacts.

(Essentially you work Light armor materials with cutting implements, Heavy and Medium rigid components are shaped with hammers. Facing these kinds of implements in battle means your armor gets "aggressively reshaped" and not to improve the fit.)

Of course not all weapons occupy either Weapon Description. Axes for instance have the heavy impact weight with a cutting surface, so have neither Slashing or Crushing (which combined are worse than none at all). Some swords might not qualify as 'Slashing', and likewise some polearms might not benefit from "Crushing".

I know Chain Mail doesn't really fit either description of flexible or rigid armor materials, but for game balance reasons I'm loath to reduce "Crushing" weapons to getting their bonus only on Heavy armor which is the least common type of armor you would encounter, making Crushing weapons the least popular to carry.

(This rule applies to firearms, and vehicular weapons/armor as well.)

Thoughts? Comments?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Vehicles in Cypher: Motor Pool 1

Links for Vehicles in Cypher System series: 
Part 1: A Matter of Scale
Part 2: Vehicles
Part 3: Vehicles and Special Abilities
Part 4: Vehicle Weapons and Combat

So I've laid out 4 posts of vehicle rules. How about some vehicles to put in your garage then. For Motor Pool 1  I'm going to stick to real-world vehicles just to lay out a baseline for the way vehicles should come out.


New Automobile (Very Expensive to Exorbitant):
A typical production model car fresh off the lot. Covers most automobiles from economy 4-bangers to family sedans to light trucks and SUVs. A typical 4-door sedan owned by a PC would have pools of 12 Might and 12 Speed. A pickup or SUV would come out to a Might of 16 and a Speed of 8, while a sports car would split around Might 9, Speed 16. Typical top speeds around 75-90 mph.
-Level 4 (24 HP), Size 2, Armor 1

Used Automobile (Very Expensive):
An automobile that's been around the block more than a few times, five to ten years worth of around the block depending on how hard the previous owners have been on it.
-Level 3 (18 HP), Size 2, Armor 1

Luxury Sedan (Exorbitant):
A high end production automobile for the reasonably wealthy and up.
-Level 5 (30 HP), Size 2, Armor 1 (Special Ability: Armor 2 against collisions)

Supercar (Exorbitant):
Road legal, but only just, with vastly more power than you need to make the commute to work. Technically a production car, however limited demand for these high-performance vehicles limits the numbers produced. Typically used in racing, or as playthings for the wealthy.
-Level 6 (36 HP, Might 6 Speed 30), Size 2, Armor 0

Motorcycle (Expensive):
Most production model motorcycles fit in this category, with a similar stat-pool split as Automobiles. Top speeds for sport-bikes reach 200 mph, while cruisers and touring bikes reach around 100 mph.
-Level 4 (24 HP), Size 1, Armor 0

Speedboat (Very Expensive):
A typical personal speedboat. Good for pulling water-skiers or smuggling along coastal waters. Typical max speed of 80 MPH.
-Level 4 (24 HP), Size 2, Armor 0

Yacht (Exorbitant):
Seagoing playthings of the wealthy.
-Level 5 (30 HP), Size 4, Armor 1

Deep Submergence Research Vehicle:
A deep-sea research and exploration vessel, base-stationed from a conventional research ship on the surface. The DSV carries one pilot and two scientists for up to nine hours, to a tested depth of 21,300 feet. Top speed 2 mph
-Level 5 (30 HP) Size 4, Armor 2
Special Ability: Adaptation to High Pressure (Level 2 Adept, Modified Always on, Pressure only)

Private Jet:
Air transport for the wealthy. Top Speed 540 mph.
-Level 5 (20 HP), Size 5, Armor 0. Interior accommodations may be significantly higher  in Level.

Narrow Body Airliner
A typical "Regional" airliner one might fly in between U.S. states or European nations. Typically seats around 150 passengers. Top speed 540 mph.
-Level 4 (16 HP), Size 7, Armor 0.

Wide Body Airliner
A "Jumbo Jet", typically flown on intercontinental routes. Typically seats around 650 passengers. Top speed of 580 mph.
-Level 4 (16 HP), Size 9, Armor 0.

Military Ground Vehicles:

All military vehicles can be safely priced as "Very Exorbitant" or beyond. Weapon damages given in parentheses are after all the weapon modifiers are factored in. Ranges listed in parentheses are the ranges for the vehicle's size.

Main Battle Tank:
A modern front-line battle tank.
-Level 6 (36 HP), Size 4, Armor 3 (4 with Ward).
Special Abilities:
-Ward (Lvl 1 Adept, +1 Armor)
-Range Increase (Lvl 2 Explorer, increases range to next band)
-Main Gun: Heavy Weapon (Damage 10), Long Range (1,000'),
-Coaxial Machine Gun: Light Weapon (Damage 6), Long Range (1,000') Rapid Fire
Optional Features:
-ATGM Launcher: Heavy Weapon, 2 Attacks (Damage 12), Long Range (1,000'), Crushing, Guided
-Remote-controlled Pintle-Mount machine gun. Light Weapon (6 damage, Rapid Fire)

A standard Armored Personnel Carrier or Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle.
-Level 5 (30 HP), Size 3, Armor 3
Chain Gun: Medium Weapon (Damage 7), Long Range (300'), Rapid Fire
ATGM Launcher: Heavy Weapon, 6 Attacks (10 Damage), Crushing, Guided

HMMWV "Hummvee":
The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle is an automobile-sized military vehicle. This shouldn't be confused with the civilian market vehicle that is styled to look like a HMMWV, but is just another SUV.
-Level 5 (30 HP), Size 2, Armor 2
Pintle Mount Machine Gun: Medium Weapon (Damage 6) Long Range (200'), Rapid Fire
Optional Features:
Avenger Anti-Aircraft package: Heavy weapon, 6 Attacks (8 damage) Long Range (200') Guided, Explosive

Military Aircraft:

Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter
A modern military transport helicopter. The base model is unarmed, however three sets of paired hardpoints exist on both sides to mount optional weapons and/or rescue gear. Top Speed 220 mph.
-Level 5 (10 HP), Size 6, Armor 1
2x Machinegun or Minigun. Light Weapon (Damage 8), Short Range (500'), Rapid Fire
2x Gatling Gun: Medium Weapon (Damage 10), Short Range (500'), Rapid Fire
2x Guided Missile: Heavy Weapon (Damage 13), Long Range (1,000'), Crushing, Guided, 6-Attacks.
2x Rocket Pod: Medium Weapon (Damage 10), Long Range (1,000') Rapid Fire, 6-Attacks,
                          Explosive (100' radius) Anti Armor (Crushing) or Anti-Personnel (Slashing)
                                                                 warheads may be loaded

Ground Attack Helicopter:
A modern 2-seat ground attack helicopter for close air support of ground troops and battlefield reconnaissance. A chin-turreted chainun is linked to the pilot's helmet so it tracks where the pilot is looking to simplify aiming. Four hardpoints on the stub wings mount a mix of anti-tank missiles and rocket pods. Optionally a pair of air-to-air missiles can be mounted on the ends of the wings. Top Speed 220 mph
-Level 6 (12 HP), Size 6, Armor 1
Special Abilities:
Scan (Lvl 1 Adept, Scan a 100' cube within 500'. Get level of targets and any additional details,P.32)
Targeting Eye (Lvl 3 Adept, +1 asset to all ranged attacks)
Investigative Skills (Lvl 2 Explorer, +1 Asset to "Perception" and "Assessing Danger")
Chain Gun: Medium Weapon (Damage 10), Long Range (1,000'), Rapid Fire
Air To Air Missile: Heavy Weapon (Damage 13), Long Range (1,000'), Guided, 2-Attacks, Explosive
2x ATGM Missile: Heavy Weapon (Damage 13), Long Range (1,000'), Crushing, Guided, 6-Attacks.
2x Rocket Pod: Medium Weapon (Damage 10), Long Range (1,000') Rapid Fire, 6-Attacks,
                          Explosive (100' radius) Anti Armor (Crushing) or Anti-Personnel (Slashing)
                                                                 warheads may be loaded.

Weapon Distinctions:

A cheat sheet for additional distinctions in CSR or that I have listed elsewhere
Crushing: -1 armor to armored targets, -1 damage to unarmored targets.
Slashing: +1 damage to unarmored targets, -1 damage to armored targets.
Explosive: -1 Damage, but all targets in Immediate Range are attacked. If Effort is used to increase damage damage is only increased by 2, however a miss still inflicts 1+Size Mod damage to target
Guided: 1 Step more difficult to hit a Immediate range, +1 asset at Long range and beyond

Monday, November 16, 2015


So the topic came up in the Cypher System discussion boards and it got me thinking about Cyberpunk run through Cypher.

The lion's share of playing Cyberpunk in Cypher is straightforward window-dressing of the Cypher types, that ex-soldier turned corporate espionage agent is a Warrior with Stealth flavor. Many "Esoteric" abilities may be replicated through cybernetics and bio-mods. An Adept's "Onslaught" ability may be an implanted firearm in one arm, and an implanted stun-gun in the other. Fuses Flesh and Steel would represent a more heavily cyborged character, possibly obvious chrome or a near full-conversion borg. Naturally the GM has final say on the availability of any particular character option.

My posts on Firearms and Vehicles may be useful for a Cyberpunk campaign. Just sayin'...

Riggers can control a vehicle through a cyberdeck, or a dedicated control device. The level of the device determines the maximum level of the vehicle they can control through it. Drone Control requires two decks, both at least the level of the vehicle being controlled. More on Drone Controllers with the Cyberdeck descriptions.

Netrunning and Deckers:

There's a common problem in Cyberpnk games in that the guy with the Cyberdeck often ends up running solo for many turns while their computer-speed grants them multiple turns to everyone else's one. Deckers and their solo thing is usually justified by "my character acts at the speed of thought." Remind them that "Sure, but you're still thinking at the speed of meat." They might get a little more freedom in what they can squeeze in to a round, but in the end their brain still needs to process the incoming data just as it would from the body's senses, and the brain processes what to do with that data only as fast as it would if it wasn't connected to a Cyberdeck.
(It's been a while, but I believe this advice originally comes from the R. Talsorian Cyberpunk 2020 GM advice book "Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads")

In Cypher Systems GM's can exploit its inherent abstract quality, the Decker might be programming furiously, inserting logic loops, avoiding port detection, intercepting and disrupting data packets, but they still only "attack" that ICE barrier, Watchdog program, or enemy Decker once per turn in keeping with the rest of the party's actions. 

INT pool is the Decker's entire HP in cypberspace, and the pool they draw on for all of their Special Ability Programs.Intellect Edge works as normal. Being reduced to 0 INT results in the connection being severed to the net, the Decker is Stunned for one turn and Dazed the turn afterward, and the Decker cannot reconnect until he recovers at least 1 Intellect.

Black ICE, those deadly programs that can fry a person's body operate as an infectious virus in the brain. When the Decker is hit with a Black ICE attack they need to make a second Intellect Defense roll against the level of the attacking ICE. Failure indicates that the Decker has had the Program successfully copied in to their brain. Additional hits from Black ICE increase the level of the infection by 1. The Decker must continue to make Intellect Defense rolls or take damage, first against their Int, then Might and then Speed as the program makes their brain trigger the body to self destruct (usually with a fatally high fever). Once the program has successfully infected the victim Armor, even a Cyberdeck installation of Ward does not protect against Black ICE damage. Pulling the plug on the Cyberdeck only stops the Black ICE if the victim still has more than 1 point of Intellect, if the victim reaches 0 Intellect then they automatically disconnect, but the Black ICE has successfully installed itself in the victim's brain and the victim needs to continue making Intellect Defense rolls to prevent damage. Black ICE stops doing damage once the victim makes an Intellect Defense roll.  Black ICE is technically illegal, but some people and organizations consider protecting their secrets important enough to risk letting loose an infectious data-virus in their own systems.

The basic Cyberspace Avatar has only the most rudimentary functionality, no special abilities, type or descriptor modifications. Smart Deckers spend the cash to upgrade. Programming a Special Ability is a task with a difficulty equal to the tier of the ability, and takes as many weeks as the tier of that ability. Each ability that a Decker uses takes up a Program Slot on their cyberdeck. If an ability is available in multiple types, descriptors, Foci, or Flavors, use the lowest level.

A Decker Trained in Programming can develop a level 1 ability "On the Fly", this ability does not take up a Program Slot, but the difficulty using this ability is adjusted 1 step to the Decker's detriment due to it being improvised. A Decker Specialized in Programming can do this with Tier 2 abilities, at a 2-step adjustment. Being Trained or Specialized in improvising Cyberspace abilities is a separate skill, the Decker needs both skills to improvise an ability with reduced or no modifiers.


A cyberdeck's level determines how many Program Slots it has to execute programmed Special Abilities. If two Deckers are facing off against each other in Cyberspace, if one Decker has a Cyberdeck of a level higher than the level of the other, that Decker receives an Asset to their rolls. If the higher rated Cyberdeck is twice or more the level of the other, that Decker receives two Assets. Program Slots may run any Tier of Programmed Abilities.

Cyberdecks can slot a number of Software Cyphers up to 1/3rd their level (round up). (See Below)

The typical cyberdeck is flat plastic appliance about the size of a small notebook or a large tablet computer. Interface is typically accomplished with a headband or skullcap with electromagnetic sensing electrodes at strategic locations to pick up on electrical impusles in the brain. Some uses prefer an implanted Datajack that connects directly with a hard cable (3 XP, counts as an Asset for netrunning tasks), however using a Datajack means attacks against the Decker's Intellect also benefit from that Asset.

A Cyberdeck is able to access the local net wirelessly, in most cases this means the Decker's device is in constant contact with the Internet, though in some places with less maintained infrastructure there may be blind spots where a device may suddenly become disconnected.

Inexpensive (up to $20), Level 1, 1 Program Slot, 1 Cypher
An Inexpensive Cyberdeck is a disposable device practically designed to be thrown away to avoid being traced. Ostensibly designed for children to learn to navigate the consensual, communal illusion that is Cyberspace, in more practical terms they serve the same purpose as "Disposable Phones" for criminals.

Tier 1 and 2 Programmed Abilities are Inexpensive.

Moderately Priced ($20 to $200), Level 2, 2 Program Slots, 1 Cypher
A typical system for the non-technical household. Popular as gifts to elderly relatives so they can keep up with the grandkids, as well as backups purchased in emergencies for the Decker who gets his main Cyberdeck fried.

Tier 3 and 4 Programmed Abilities are Moderately Priced.

Expensive ($200 to $2,000), Level 3, 3 Program Slots, 1 Cypher
A typical household cyberdeck, and the one a new runner is likely to start his career with.

Tier 5 and 6 Programmed Abilities are Expensive.

Very Expensive ($2,000 to $20,000), Level 4, 4 Program Slots, 2 Cyphers
A Cyberdeck system you wold expect to find in the hands of Megacorporate security, or the cyberwarfare expert of a third-world dictatorship.

Exorbitant ($20,000 - $200,000), Level 5, 5 Program Slots, 2 Cyphers
Megacorporate Head Office's chief of security will run on a device like this.

Very Exorbitant ($200,000 - $2,000,000), Level 6, 6 Program Slots, 2 Cyphers)
Large First-world nations deny that the housing of these devices can stop bullets (they're right, it can't). They'd prefer to deny the existence of these devices at all as they're only issued to Sig/Int and Data warfare operatives attached to special operations teams.

Cyberdecks over level 6 are one-of-a-kind prototypes that the power-players will hire someone to kill for, a Cyberdeck of 9 or 10 they'd risk pulling the trigger themselves.

Cyberdeck Modifications

Stationary system: A desktop workstation version adds 1 Level to the Cyberdeck

Mainframe system: A room-sized installation adds 2 Levels to the Cyberdeck 

Drone Controller: Adds 2 to the Level of the Cyberdeck for controlling drones, but is not actually capable of allowing it's user to interface with Cyberspace. Drone controllers may be used as both or either the control unit,or the drone unit (attached to the vehicle). 

The Rigger using a Drone Control Unit is at 2-step detriment to any attempt to prevent a Cyberdeck user from hacking in to any drones controlled with a Drone Controller (the dedicated Drone Control Unit prevents the Rigger from perceiving the attacking Decker in Cyberspace). If the Rigger is using a Cyberdeck they do not suffer this penalty whether the drone is equipped with a Cyberdeck or Drone Controller.

Using Cyphers in Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is all about "Future Shock" Cyphers with esoteric abilities can be pretty easily described as some tech-gadget made by some shack-tinkerer in the Sprawl, or a prototype stolen from a Megacorp (artifacts are more likely to be the latter). As far as Software Cyphers, the genre is full of one-shot programs and backdoors that the protagonists burn once to get in to some system or another. Some might "warp space" to move the decker in to the system, others might inflict a specific damage that deletes a portion of a firewall.