1 Where it all begins.
2 Dare you enter my technological realm?
3 My god, it’s full of tables.
4 The road goes on and on.
5 It’s a hard knock life
6 Everybody’s working for the weekend
7 my general dislike for this game deepens.
8 Probably the most painless part so far.
9 I am the very model of a modern Major-General
10 More skills!
11 Live and learn
12 Exhaustive crunch.
13 Combat is Stressful.
14 But now it's time to have some fun, So Darkstar, Judy Judy, I'm goin' in for guns.
15 Hong Kong shooting.
16 Everyone was Kung-Fu fighting
17 Explosions! I gotta have more explosions!
18 I stand in front of you, I'll take the force of the blow, Protection.
19 Guns, lots of guns.
20 Pain does the body good.
21 The intense pain of having a leg removed causes him to quit.
22 The Doctor is in.
23 My vision is augmented.
24 But we're never gonna survive unless, We get a little crazy
25 We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold...
26 Poisoning the pigeons in the park.
27 Hack the planet!
29 Everybody wants to rule the world.
30 Big city life.
31 It’s a hard-knock life for us.
32 Warriors, come out and play.
33 15 seconds of fame.
34 Making Your Life Better - For Money!
35 That's terror.
36 Woop-woop! That's the sound of da police! That's the sound of the beast!
37 So I might as well begin to put some action in my life.
38 Here in my car, I feel safest of all.
39 Loadsa money.
40 Equipment Check.
41 What a Long Strange Trip It's Been.

Where it all begins.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 1: Where it all begins.

The year is 1999, the world is slightly freaking out about the coming millennium and the Y2K bug that threatens to plummet the world into darkness.
By this point Cyberpunk 2020, the second edition of the R. Talsorian Games title, has been out for nine years.
The third edition of Shadowrun came out the year before as well.

Meanwhile in Sweden, a company called Neogames releases the second edition of their system Neotech at the tail end of the year. Simply called Neotech 2 or N2.

The best version I could find of the core rulebook cover.
It also sets the precedence of the level of quality when it comes to interior art.

The previous version of the game came out in 1993.

The cover of the first edition. Tagline translation: “Roleplaying in (a) high tech and brutal world”.

It should be noted that they weren’t first with releasing a domestic cyberpunk themed RPG. That award goes to Target games with their release of the second edition of Mutant in 1989. Only one year after Cyberpunk 2013 took the rpg world by storm and started the whole genre. This version takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic cyberpunk themed world, where massive corporations rule everything in gigantic cities. The whole thing very much inspired by Judge Dredd alongside the cyberpunk genre in general. It’s dark, dystopian future stood in stark contrast to the previous editions radiation-created craziness with mutated talking animals and exploration of ruins of the past. Something that would return to the game much, much later down the line. Nowadays that version is referred as “New Mutant” or “Mutant 2089” to differentiate it from the first edition.

The tagline reads: “An action role playing game in a dark future”

Three years prior to the the release of N2 Neogames released the first edition of Eon. A fantasy RPG set in the world of Mundana and would ultimately be their most popular game. Spawning three edition under Neogames and a fourth edition under another company in 2014. The fourth revised edition under another developer still sees books being released for it.
Now Eon is a system somewhat notorious in Swedish RPG circles for its fondness of tables and complicated rules to simulate realism. That is something we’ll see appear in Neotech 2 as well.
A lot.

N2-130 > Hit table for firefights.

I’m going to be honest here and say I have never actually had the chance to play this game before. My only memories of it is finding the core rulebook as a boy in a toy store that also decided to sell some RPG books on the side but I never really had a chance to flip through it. I vaguely remember thinking the cover looked cool back then.

I’ve certainly been aware of the games existence after that point. But even then I’ve never really had a chance to get any massive exposure of its system and quirks. Even if I did had PDF scans on my computer for a while at some point.
So it was mostly on a whim, and partially inspired by the Cyberpunk 2020 readthrough, that I decided to dig up a copy of the rules and give it a readthrough.
This means you can’t really expect any great insights in how various rules interact with each other. Beyond a sense of growing horror as I go through this as I’m not the biggest fan of games that feature large amounts of crunch or wants to simulate realism.

Because this game is really big on the realism aspect. Something which is established as early as the preface written by the founder of Neogames:

Neogames posted:

“It is with great pleasure that we can now present the long-awaited second edition of Neotech. Although the first edition was a hobby project, it received a reception that was above all expectations. With a more professional second edition, my co-authors and I have had the opportunity to correct some shortcomings and also made great improvements to both rules and background material.
Another message that I would like to pass on is the Neogames pursuit of realism. Our goal with Neotech is to describe all the details of the game as realistically as possible without destroying the gaming pleasure. There is some contradiction to realism and playability, but I must confess that I think Neotech has an almost optimal balance.
Realism in Neotech does not aim to glorify, for example, weapons, drugs and
genetic manipulation. What we want to convey to game managers and even players is that this realism is an excellent way of showing what serious consequences, for example, violence, drugs, corruption and poverty can have. For example, this message is completely lacking in most action and violence films produced in Hollywood. Personally, I think there is a danger in abstract and unrealistic entertainment violence that I hope is not expressed in Neotech.”

Any quoted text is translated by me (with some help by google translate) into English from Swedish so pardon any grammatical inconsistencies. In fact pardon for any inconsistencies in general when it comes to terminology and so on.

I honestly have no idea what’s up with the comment about genetic manipulation. Not completely sure if this is some reaction to it being too prevalent in previous cyberpunk or sci-fi RPGs or it’s simply the opinion of the founder himself.

But at the same time the focus on realism stands at odds with the later stated vision of N2 being intended as an action-thriller game. Where the emphasis is more on action and cooler tech. That is an an approach I feel will be actively hampered by the strive for accurate realism within the rules.
I wouldn’t call this a heartbreaker in a sense since a number of people were involved in both writing and developing the game. But at the same time it’s obviously a love child of the founder with the way he talks about the rules having an “almost optimal balance”.
But more on that I suppose when we reach the combat rules..

Although I can’t help but to chuckle at the phrase “action and violence films” because it feels incredibly archaic in a way. Something belonging more to the mid 80’s rather than the late 90’s that is also on the cusp of the new millenium as the preface is dated 31st of October 1999.

Should be mentioned that a third edition of the game was kickstarted successfully last year. With a release slated for the end of this year. Going by a newpost for March of this year it seems that they’ve made the classic crowdfunded mistake of being overly ambitious with everything they wanted to do with the game.

A fair warning, a lot these posts are going to be rather long because this game is dense when it comes to rules. Interior art, or “art” to be more precise, is scarce a lot of the time and there is just pages of text and tables.

Next Time: Of Dice and Cybermen

Dare you enter my technological realm?

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 2: Dare you enter my technological realm?

N2, a cyberpunk office meeting simulator.

The book launches instantly into the standard spiel of “What is a roleplaying game?” that you see in all books. Talking about its a cooperative game and so on. The only real thing worth pointing out is that it mentions that the Game Master (or Game Leader if directly translated) is usually the one who owns the game. Which might not be correct every time. But even then I can give it points for pointing out the value of new GM’s starting with a low number of players. Generally recommending 3 to 5 players at most.

Then it breaks down what a player and a GM is and what they do. I admit I like the parallel of the GM to a movie director at one point. But at the same time also emphasising the point that they’re not supposed to be their enemy. An aspect I feel might be lost in some cases based on all the horror stories you keep hearing.

A sidebar highlights main rule about the GM is fully allowed to improve and ignore or alter any rule present in the book. Followed by another one listing the various abbreviations present in the rules, there are 42 of them in this case. Choice picks are Rate of Fire (Eldh), Intensity of Fire (El), firearm malfunction value (EAB) and Protection value (SKY). All of those will become relevant much, much later.

Where things get dicey
The game’s main resolution mechanic is built around D6’s (or T6’s as they’re usually called here). While the D10 does show up, it’s in a supporting role only to be used for D100 rolls. The primary mechanic is unlimited rolls (Ob in game terms). They can be best described as exploding dice but with a slight twist to them.
For each die that comes up as a six it gets removed from the table and replaced with two more dice that you then proceed to roll. If any of those come up as a six they get replaced with two more, and so on. This continues until all the dice have been rolled and none of them come up as a six.
While I’m not an expert when it comes dice mechanics, it feels as if this would produce some incredibly swingy results during game time.

The book starts talking about chance and difficulty when it comes to resolving rolls. But at the same time it doesn’t give any solid examples of how these rolls play out on the table.
So I had to flip ahead towards the chapter about skills to be able to really understand how it works.
I should mention I tried using the combat section at first.
That was a very bad idea.

The very first thing you will need to do in order to accomplish anything is to determine the difficulty of the action. It’s here the book provides us with our very first table listing all the difficulty levels:

Very easy is Ob1D6
Easy is Ob2D6
Medium is Ob3D6
Hard is Ob4D6
Very hard is Ob5D6

The text makes mention on multiple occasions throughout that your most frequent roll while playing will most likely be Ob3D6
After that has been determined you need look at your chance to succeed, or the skill proficiency if you’re using one. The book mentions that you need to set that against the difficulty but what you really need to do is use the dice provided by the difficulty level to roll under or equal to it. If you roll above it the action has failed.

Any dice result that ends in decimals are to be rounded downwards. But it then continues with saying that more accurate rounding methods can be used for distance, speed and weight calculations.
Why is this a thing?! I feel decimals could’ve been truncated out of the system to avoid things like this all together.

The last mechanically relevant part is a mention about modifications to rolls. While it includes the usual +1, -1 or x1 modifications. Perhaps most interesting is “[Attribute] -6 +2D6”. Wherein you first subtract the initial value from the attribute in question, then roll 2D6 and add the results onto that.

Our cyberpunk vision™
With the basic rules explained, insufficiently in my meaning, the introduction goes on with talking about the updated second version. Although a lot it feels like page filler as it repeats itself about twice on the same page in different subsections about what the game allows you to do.

But the main point this section harps about is the differences between Neotech 1 and 2. How the new second game allows for campaigns set at a higher level and how the focus has been partially moved from street level up to corporate level. Allowing for intrigues to be sophisticated and involve just more than street gangs and small time criminals.

As a Shadowrun player I can see some parallels with that in a way. But the issue I have is that his part is very vague on details as to where the player characters exists in all of this. Shadowrun was quick to establish the basic core idea for what the PC’s are supposed to be doing, But there isn’t pretty much nothing about that in here.
It does make mention that N2 PC’s have been granted more opportunities to exert their freedom and be more tied into the setting. But even then there’s no real mention what role they have to play in all of this. At most there is a small mention that the players can be more than just street-level low-lifes and be able to play someone living in a higher social strata and have more influence in the lives of themselves and others.
It’s at this point we actually get a mention of what this game is all about. Albeit a brief one as it makes mention that the game takes place in the year of 2059, eight years after the first game.

The text is rather quick to toot its own horn. It talks about a revolutionary new way to create adventures and integrate player characters into the setting. What that might entail remains to be seen as I’m going through this chapter by chapter more or less to preserve my sanity a bit.

As mentioned previously the tone is, according to the writers, placed a bit more towards the techno-thriller genre with a focus on more action alongside cool gear and tech. But they also emphasize that the game is still playable as a more down-to-earth cyberpunk game with cybered up gangs that prowl alleys and abandoned parking garages. (Taken more or less verbatim from the book in this case.) But it’s when they continue on and start talking, or perhaps bragging, about their ultra lethal combat system that warnings bells are starting to ring
The text proudly proclaims that the realistic combat system, a groundbreaker when it first came out, is even more lethal this time around. This is a trait the game shares with Eon as far as I’ve been able to find out.
It also mentions that the hacking rules have been revised. But I get the feeling, due to the mention that they’re not meant to disturb the rest of the game, that they looked at the CP2020 rules and decided to do something different. I’m sure those will be a doozy to read.

Next time: Oh my god, the tables. The tables!

My god, it’s full of tables.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 3: My god, it’s full of tables.

So we are without further ado dropped straight into the character generation chapter. This book is not big on any large chapter headers or anything. Chapters will just generally run after one another without much ado. Hell, that pictures was accompanied by another table and the beginning of the character creation checklist.

Yes, I said the beginning because the entire process of making an N2 character is a total of 40 steps from start to finish. There is basic introductory talk about that you can either roll your own character or the GM will have premades done for you. Making specific mention that if the GM trusts the player the can make their characters by their own ahead of time. Which almost seems preferably with the amount of things you need to do in this case. It also makes mention that the character generation rules is not meant to make average citizens in the setting but player characters that are suitable for adventuring. Also, just to cover all its bases, it finally mentions character sheets. They certainly are something.

So somewhat strangely enough the first step is to determine what gender your character is. Here is where the writing gets a bit cringey. For while it starts explaining that the player character’s gender does not need to coincide with the players gender. It goes on to say that it’s easier to roleplay a character of the same gender as themselves. It then goes on to mention that there are no real obstacles for the player pick differently. Perhaps the real eyebrow raiser in this case is the mention that playing the opposite gender might be considered a challenge if you’re an experienced roleplayer.
When I first read that I admit I groaned slightly. It comes off as an really old fashioned way of doing things, almost theatrical in a way.
What is perhaps even stranger is that while the player picks what gender they want to play, ultimately it’s the GM who has the final say on the matter. One might argue it makes sense since the GM might have a campaign where playing man, or a woman, respectively might not fit in. But at the same time, it comes off as an old fashioned of doing things.

After that you pick your characters nationality, while it says that this is important for the characters background it has no actual mechanical benefits other than language selections. All you really do is, together with the GM for some reason, looking at a map and decide where you a from.
Then it goes on to point out doesn’t have to matter anyway if you want to due to immigrants and minority populations. So why are these the absolutely first two steps you do? I have no idea myself. It feels like this, and some other things later on, could’ve been relegated to the end where you usually start hashing our your characters personality and motivations if you haven’t decided on that already.

But once that is we move onto step three is where the dice, and the tables, come out.
In this case we need to roll in what kind of environment the character grew up in. Which is done with a D100 roll in this case, or you can pick whatever you if you are so inclined. The book goes on to mention that the descriptions they’re using are rather broad generalizations and there’s always exceptions to the norm.
Our environment options are:
Wilderness - The outback, the places that are hard to reach or you’re simply a nomad or refugee who wander through abandoned environmental disaster or warzones. Lots of physical work and being suspicious towards strangers and technology.
Countryside - The places outside the giant cities. Hit hard by the urbanisation over the years and are therefore more or less abandoned. But nature is close by on the other hand unlike in the city. Life is easy and calm and you’re usually left to your own devices. Outside of the random raids on small towns conducted by criminals and homeless people.

Because the countryside entry lacks any general area description I can’t help but to imagine that Mad Max scenarios going on outside the cities and suburbs wherever you go.

Suburbs - Your average metropolis suburb. It’s quiet, there might have some private police on patrol. Any strangers are vetted thoroughly.
City Slums - The hard life in the projects, or ghettos. Life is cold and hard on average. Violent crime, drugs, gang wars and social misery is part of daily life. But the close proximity of the city also has its benefits; the nightlife, valuable contacts and the opportunity for quick deals.
Or an all too early death.

I feel they’re hammering in the clichés a bit too hard in this case. Even if they’re meant to be generalizations. But it’s worth mentioning this is the first time we actually get some pointers as how characters from this background might think or act, something that was only briefly mentioned previously. Or should is more accurate I think, as the phrasing is very much that the violence has made any character from there desensitized, cynical and disillusioned. So going by Rules as Written in this case it feels like they’re trying to enforce a stereotype.

Corporate district - The Saraiman and so on. Life as part of the workforce of a megacorporation. You grew on their grounds and in their housing. Not very enriched perhaps but it’s safe and orderly. Except for the slow brainwashing done by the corporations that own you.
Space - The final frontier. You grew up on either one of the major space stations in orbit around the earth or one of the colonies on Mars or the Moon. Life feels lacking and rather sterile, and you can’t really go outside without protective gear.

So yeah, colonies on the moon and mars. Didn’t expect that did you-
For those curious the stations mentioned are InterOrbit, Freeport or Space Station. While the colonies on the moon and on mars respectively are Armstrong Down, Luna City, Tycho 2, Marstown, Red Sands and Eldorado.
Not the most original names perhaps.

Either way, get ready to roll again! This time we need to roll for what social status the character has. You do this by rolling on the table relevant to what environment we got previously. Even if you are allowed to pick it in some cases.
They range from Homeless to Social Elite, so I won’t really elaborate much on those. But the dice result will differ from each sub section. For example a roll between 1 to 40 on the wilderness section would give you homeless while you’d have to roll a straight 1 on the space table to be homeless.
On the opposite side of the spectrum you have Social elite which has the smallest range overall. Going from either 96-100, 99-100 or 100. Looking at the ranges overall, the average result would be either Lower Class or Middle class depending on which environment is used.

It’s at this point we suddenly get to pick our characters name. You are instructed to pick a name that is logical within the boundaries of nationality, gender, and social status. So I guess something like Moon Bloodgood or Bear Blaze are reserved for only the social elite then. I wonder what their stance on Cash Money would be.
They do mention that one should pick names that feel realistic, or else the tone and feeling of the game might get lost. Which is true, but after having seen some of their example names I can’t help but to think they forgot that rule themselves a bit. For example the name of the character used most frequently in examples is named Jace Ryker. Other example names that pop in quotes and elsewhere are Sinclair MacNeal and Jason Carn.
I mean it might just be me, but those name feel more at home in an B-grade 80’s action movie done by Italians wanting you to think it’s set in the US.

Moving onto step six we now have to see what our characters basic attributes are. There are seven primary attributes in N2. They are:
Strength (STY), Toughness (TÅL), Mobility (RÖR), Personality (PER), Psyche (PSY), Will (VIL) and Education (BIL).
Swedish abbreviations in parenthesis as I’ll be using those from here on. After that we also have two sensory attributes, namely Sight (SYN) and Hearing (HÖR).

Attribute generation is 3D6 down the line, nine times. No unlimited dice in this case and they mention the average value will be 10,5. Which goes to show just how intense they are about the maths for this game.
For those who doesn’t want to roll they offer three different alternatives for rolling attributes as an optional rule. Optional rules is something which the game is very big on I should mention as they will crop up a lot. Especially later on.
Custom method: Roll 3D6 nine times and then distribute them as you want.
Points: You get 94 points to spend on the various attributes at 1 to 1 cost per rank. No value can go below 3 and above 18.
Higher attributes: Roll 2D6+6 in order. Used when you want some more heroic characters.

After that follows a rundown of the various attributes. The most interesting ones in this case are Psyche and Education. The others being the usual Strength, Agility, Constitution, Charisma and Will under different names. Everyone knows what they do respectively.
Psyche, or memory for that part since it deals with how well the character can remember things. Also how creative and intelligent they are. It’s also good if one wants to draw logical conclusions between things and not suffer from mental illnesses. Oh no.

Education meanwhile is just how well educated the character is. Higher values meaning a possible university education. Or that they’ve gained their knowledge through experience or countless hours on the internet. Oh you wound me so game. This is also the only attribute that can be affected by your environment or social status results, but the stat can not go below zero at this point.

Sight and Hearing is simply perception split into two different attributes. And they’re only really for passive perception as there are also a surveillance skill for when you need to look for things. If you have five or lower in those it means that your senses are impaired. But you can use aids, like glasses or hearing aids, or cybernetic implants to boost it. Interestingly enough they mention all of them, including the cybernetic implants, can only temporarily increase them.
Splitting up passive perception into two different things, then making them necessary attributes as well. Then on top of that actively penalising you if they’re below a certain value feels like such pointless minutia and awful game design at the same time. But at the same time I get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of that as we progress through the rules.

We get a sidebar mentioning that if any attribute, with the exception of SYN and HÖR, ever drops to zero it means that the character has died. Although I wonder how that is possible if you manage to get BIL down to zero. Are you suddenly too dumb to live? If there’s actually something that can affect that attribute we’ll have to see but I find it slightly unlikely.
If SYN and HÖR reaches zero the character none too surprisingly becomes blind or deaf. On top of that there is a degeneration table that you need to roll as you sustain attribute damage. Which you also need to roll on as you age. But more on that later on because it’s listed on a much, much later page under a different chapter.

If you were lucky enough to become part of the social elite during the social status roll you get to roll on another table for the chance that you might have been genetically manipulated before you were born. But that does not come without its side effects! So you need to roll both on the type of gene manipulation and on the side effect table.
The first and second results are either a dud or you get to reroll all attributes under a value of 10, but obviously the second roll must be kept. The rest are simply bonuses to some attributes.
Meanwhile, the side effects range from you either getting nothing or -1D6 in one attribute. No attribute can go lower than 1. The 97-100 roll is that the character is sterile. Okay? Feels like they ran out of ideas right at the end. Or they’re implying it’s a really awful thing for PC’s to have.

Then we move onto a hearing and visual aids for some reason. Most important in this case is that you can never have SYN or HÖR over a rating of 10 when you use these. Rather dickishly it mentions that if you wear glasses that are too strong, pushing the SYN value over 10 in this case, then your value is lowered in as many steps as it would go over. That just feels really petty in a way.
Beyond that it mentions that any derived attributes and basic chances for skills are counted on the basic SYN or HÖR value. Then what is the real point of using these aids outside of simply boosting your passive perception? This just reinforces the notion that this design choice was a really bad idea.
While it’s nice to see this here and this early. it feels this part would’ve been better to have in the gear section where it might be more relevant. No prices or anything are listed so you’re going to have to flip forward later on anyway if you need to get them.

There’s a brief mention about that cybertech exists and it can affect attributes but that’s about it really. There’s not even a step in the character creation process that pertains to them so the mention feels completely superfluous.

Next time: There’s more to this.

The road goes on and on.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 3-1: The road goes on and on.

Now we’re getting to the field of derived attributes.

This means more tables! First up is physique, which in this case is a simple STY+TÅL+3D6 calculation. Results range from Weak (-14) to Massive (49+). Physique also influences how many damage columns that the character will get. The minimum is 4 and the maximum is 8.

The pain!

There are three different types of damage you can accrue; Trauma, Pain and Blood loss. Each one of those are represented on the character sheet by ten rows of squares. Using the physique table you are supposed to check how many square you are allowed to use and then fill in the rest so they can’t be used.

Chock value is how much the character can resist pain and stay conscious. In this case it’s STY+TÅL+VIL divided by 3 to get the median. If any of those change at any point you need to recalculate your chock value as well.

Next up we have to calculate mental stability, we do this by combining PSY and VIL and rolling 3D6 again. Then we check another table to get our mental stability. This goes from Unstable, Stable, Normal, Secure and Stable. But we also get our psychosis columns numbers from doing this. Because this game can’t stop adding layer upon layer of bullshit in the name of realism.

The fear!

Much like the damage columns you need to check at how many columns you get based on your mental stability and then fill in the rest. We’ll get into what these rules for these things later.
After that we have to roll to see what our character mental value is. This deals with how well they can handle traumatic or terrifying situations. If this value is low you run the risk of suffering from a psychosis from the trauma or mental shock. The mental value is the median of PSY and VIL.

Then we have exhaustion. A mechanic that everyone loves I’m sure. It’s TÅL+VIL/4 to see how many exhaustion columns you get, and the rest are obviously to be crossed over.

Then we get to Cool. Which is, unsurprisingly, the characters ability (or inability) to keep calm under pressure. But it’s also their self confidence and ability to impress other people. This part is surprisingly a lot more elaborate than the others and goes into a number of details such as GM’s should only roll cool either when its suitable or once per situation. I recall this being rather similar advice in the CP2020 readthrough. But then I’ve also heard that N2 takes after that game a whole lot so this is the first sign of that.
If the character succeeds his cool check they get to act as normally, failure makes the check a lever tougher. If they then fumble they get a mental breakdown. Which seems like an unnecessarily cruel thing to do. But if they manage to roll perfectly it means that “the player characters brain and action becomes exemplary and completely logically correct” and all their actions become one rank easier.
The cool value is derived from PSY+VIL/5 + 2D6

The art continues to hold itself to the highest standards. Not sure what kind of emotion she’s trying to convey here.

Media status is the game’s measurement at how famous the character might be. There is a sidebar mentioning that it can be a double edged sword where the GM can let a character with a high media status be recognized. But at the same time it also sounds like an opportunity to fuck them over a bit. The suggestions ranging from them being recognized at inopportune times to their cell phone ringing and a journalist wanting them in a live debate as an opinion maker. Used well it can work to add some complications to things but used badly I can see it making things go really badly.
Then obviously there is a table to check what media status you might have based on your social status.

Initiative is RÖR+SYN/2 + Cool + (Combat Experience x2).
All characters start with a 0 in the Combat Experience skill.
There are a number of things that can affect your Initiative score. From either gaining more Combat Experience, to your Cool score changing. Then there is also cybertech. Attribute damage will also alter the roll. If the character is wearing glasses or lenses they will only use the base unmodified SYN value. Which seems fairly dickish.
Having initiative be dependant on this many factors feels like an absolute nightmare because it’s two attributes, one derived stat and then a special skill on top of that. Because Combat Experience works rather differently from other skills.
Should also be mentioned that this is the big thing you use SYN for outside of passive perception.

All characters start with a luck score of 11. It’s used to survive those particularly dangerous situations. Or embarrassing apparently as one of the examples is preventing your skirt from blowing up when it’s really windy. An example that seems in rather poor taste when the others involve not getting your skull split open while on top of a train that goes through a tunnel, or finding something to grab onto while falling off a skyscraper.

If anyone is wondering we’re on step 16 right now where we deal with the characters weight and length. It’s also here we see our first difference between men and women.
To calculate the length of a male character the formula is: STY+TÅL+5D6+140cm.
For women its: STY+TÅL+5D6+130cm.
Then for weight is Length+2D6-110kg for both genders.
Then physique will also modify both weight and length.
I don’t know why this has to be rolled and not just decided by the player themselves. But I figure that information will probably be relevant down the line in some fashion.

He was in the middle of a mission when Bill realized that he was missing something. But he wasn’t sure what it was. Was it his lucky hat?

Rattling on a bunch of these in quick order:
Movement speed (or FÖR) is RÖR+TÅL+10/4 meters. You can run FÖRx2 meters per round, but also sprint at FÖRx3 meters.
Carrying capacity (or BF) is STY+TÅL/2 and measured in kilograms.
Base damage is for close combat and is based on STY. There is a mention of the two types of damage that use this attribute but we’ll deal with that later.
Any changes to the relevant attributes for these will obviously mean you need to recalculate them.

N2 also determines the characters primary weapon hand. And it does so in the most weirdest way ever. Either you roll 1D10, where a 10 means the character is left handed. With the explanation that only a tenth of all people in the world is left handed. Using your offhand means any checks are done at a level higher.
But! A gracious GM can also allow the player character use the same primary hand as the player themself. So a right handed player can choose to play right handed and vice versa.
At this point we are on step 20 so halfway through this.

Mercifully the book gives us a reminder of what you need to do if a base attribute changes. But why it’s buried midway through the creation process, a point where no real attribute changes have happened I have no idea. It feels like something that should’ve been placed at the end instead. But it’s also a point the book stressed repeatedly through this process that if any attribute might change you need to redo calculations for everything that they’re derived of. Then on top of that we have another thing that is going to influence that, which I’ll get to in a second.

Before the next major step we get introduced to another special rule, namely easier skills. This reflects the characters natural gift or a strong interest in something which makes a particular skill easier to learn. This means that if the particular skills level is below 10 it gets raised up to that. Also all skill checks gets one level easier than the normal.
But why would the game tell us this?

Because surprise, it has merits and flaws! Sort of.
They’re described as Special Benefits and Drawbacks meant to symbolise various talents the character has that marks them as a slightly special compared to other people. In its favour you can only roll, or choose if you’re allowed to, two of these.
On the flipside you can only roll for what drawbacks you have, of which you get a max of two. Unlike most other system you don’t get anything back for the, such as character creation points or anything. You just have two (or maybe even more if you’re unlucky with the rolls) drawbacks.

What follows then are two D100 tables for first the benefits and then the drawbacks. I won’t list them all because a lot of them are just “You get skill x as an easy skill.”
But at the same time it’s a good indication at what skills are available because you can get bonuses to such things as Boozing, Dancing, Economy, Knowledge of Arts, Design, Maths, Singing and more.
Interestingly enough Seduction is the only one of those that shows up twice, first as charmer and then as Seducer/Seductress.
This is also the only place where you can get their attributes permanently raised by 2. You can also get extra columns in the damage or such. So I hope you didn’t cross those out with a permanent marker ahead of time. You can’t get above 10 columns though.

The drawbacks on the other hand. There are a 98 of them in this case (as the 99-100 roll is a reroll in this case) and much like the benefits they’re rather repetitive. A lot of them just incurring a penalty to attributes, or more commonly just giving you a penalty to social checks.
Then there are the two that I would consider the real game derailers of the bunch:

Phobia: You character has a fear of something. There is a D100 list of various phobias that you need to roll on such as Agoraphobia (Fear of open spaces), Aichmophobia (fear of knives and sharp objects), Scotophobia (Fear of the dark), Claustrophobia and so on.
Mechanically speaking things are somewhat complicated and cumbersome. Because you have to first see what level you need to roll. Ranging from Medium (Ob3D6) to Very high (Ob5D6), decided to by the GM of course. Then you need to roll against your VIL.
If you succeed then no biggie, you stand your ground and face your fears. But if you fail you need to get away from whatever it might be. If you’re unable to do that thought you gain a mark on your psychosis chart. If you then manage to fumble you are paralyzed by fright and can’t do anything but to get away from you have a phobia against.
It all feels like the Dark Heresy Fear rules in some weird proto form.

Mania: The character has an obsession of something. Every day you have to roll an easy check against PSY in order to be able to concentrate on something. When the character isn’t doing anything they will always do something related to their obsession. Followed by another D100 table of various manias like Megalomania, Mythomania, Zoomania, Ablutomania (the need to be clean) and so on.
One of those results is also nymphomania. So yeah. That’s a thing you can get in this case. As well as pyromania. The former is really skeevy and the latter one is begging for trouble.

Most interestingly these two are also the ones with the biggest range. With both phobia and mania having a range of 22-25 and 50-54 while the rest are either 1 or 1-2 dice results.
Kinda shows where most of the emphasis on these drawbacks are going. To me it feels that there is an expectation by the game that one of the PC’s are going to have some massive drawback like that threaten to derail the session. As suddenly they others have to deal with their megalomania or claustrophobia or whatever. The fact that nymphomania is a result is also a big warning sign.
I can post the rest of them in a separate list if there is an interest but those two were obviously meant to be the big thing here.

The next to last step in this case which is the characters behaviour. Once again you toll on a D100 table (N2-15 to show how far we are with those by this point) to get two of them. Or just pick if the GM allows it.
They’re meant to flesh our your character a bit more, which in itself is not a bad idea. But once again I’m not sure why this is part of the character creation process when it could’ve been left at the end where all the fluff usually happens. Feels like pointless minutia and dice rolling for barely any gain.

Finally we need to note down on our sheet what skills start with base value. In this case it’s 5, regardless of your social status.
With that we’re at step 24.

Semi-related question, is there enough interest to see the rest of the games drawbacks as well as possibly its benefits?

Next time: From riches to ruin and back again.

It’s a hard knock life

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 4: It’s a hard knock life

This is so 80’s it hurts.

Seeing as there was no real interest in a Drawbacks list we'll be moving right along then.

With the attributes and all that out of the way we’re moving onto the overall step 2 (in actuality step 25) where we start working on the characters background a bit more.
But first we’re introduced to this game’s term for experience points: Units.
Rather underwhelming name if anything.

Edit: Turns out I was wrong after I wrote this part up. Units aren't experience points and just points used during character lifepaths and careers.

Either way, the book goes into the relative costs of raising skills during character generation. It’s 2 units to raise a skill that already doesn’t have a basic value of 5. After that its a 1 to 1 cost to go from 6 to the max rank of 10.
Then there is also a rather weird mention of “Raise to a level in the range” on the relevant table that isn’t explained beyond that it’s not possible to raise any skills to ranks above 10.

All characters start with a modest sum of money that they’ve managed to save up in their life. The amount of money you get is based on your social status as well as random events in your life. You can start the game being in debt thanks to these as well.

We now move onto character life paths and if you like random rolling tables you have come to the right place because we have a whole bunch of them here.
All of these random encounter tables are based on social status and come with the following things:
-A number of units and list of skills that the character might have learned as they grew up.
-Educational skills that the character might have learned in school alongside a very small number of units to spend on these on.
-Starting money, which Ob3D6 x 10/50/100/1000/10 0000 based on your status.

Worth mentioning that Homeless is the only status rank that doesn’t start with any units to spend on educational skills. But they also start with the most growing skills units. 30 compared to 15 for everyone else. Meanwhile everyone, with the exception of homeless and underclass, gets 15 units to spend on educational skills. The underclass rank only gets 5.

With that noted down you then roll twice on the D100 event table to see what you get.
The results can vary from various contacts or enemies that usually come 1D6+value resources. In some rare cases it can affect your attributes in a positive or negative way, but those are restricted to the lower ranks and the general events table. If you manage to roll extremely well you run the chance of being able to either roll on the encounter table for the rank above you or the general events table.
The events in this case are a bit broader in scope where you can in some cases gain extra units to spend on specific skills. But expect to usually lose a lot of your starting money and maybe end up in debt.

Climbing the career ladder.
Once the life events have been finalized the character is considered to be 18 years old and we enter the career stage. Which also comes with its own skills, gear, money and events. We also get introduced to a bevy of new things that needs to be take into consideration.

Firstly the characters background career consists of three employment periods. They can all be different ones each time or you can go for the same one each time. The only thing you need to is to pass the requirements. The book mentions that you can either spread yourself wide to know a lot of things or focus on one career to get as far as possible in it. Usually the first period is used on a university career to make the other two easier to enter.

Then it mentions a voluntary rule that if GMs want more unexperienced and younger character they should use less employment periods. But it also at the same time stresses that all players should then be given the same number of them to keep things fair. Which is a good suggestion in general unless you want to have someone to play an older mentor.

21 different careers are available to choose from. But three of those are special and can never been picked on their own and can only happen through events. We’ll talk about those in more detail later.

So in order to get anywhere within your career you need to roll a success roll 3 times. This is usually a normal difficulty check against either an attribute or a skill. There might however be some special requirements as well.
Then on top of that you have general requirements to be able to start the career. Such as having a higher degree of education or not having a criminal record.
How well you succeed in your career is dependant on how many rolls you pass.
If you pass all three rolls it means that the character has made a stellar career.
If you pass two rolls it means the character has made average progress.
If you pass one roll it means you have failed and are not allowed to pick the same career for the next employment period.
If you fail all three roles you the chosen career gets automatically switched to either unemployed if your starting capital is more than 0 or homeless if it’s below zero.
Home and Unemployed are two of the three special careers in this case.

The book then mentions a voluntary rule about using contacts or money to improve your rolls. But it also says that you can’t use this to coast through all three rolls and can only be used for one of them. You also have to decide before you roll if you either want to use a bribe or a contact for this.

I didn’t know Interview with a Vampire got a sequel.

Careers will also bolster your skills and here we get an expansion for the previous unit costs. For skills between rank 11 to 15 it costs 2 units per rank, then that cost goes up to 8 units per rank in the 16 to 20 bracket. As for rank 21 to 25 it’s 20 units per rank.
Then you can also buy skill specializations for 1 unit.
Depending on how well you rolled you’ll get an x|y|z value of units to spend. For example if we only passed one roll we’ll get 15 units to spend while increased successes would net you 20 or 25 units. You are free to spend these on any of the career skills as you like, including ignoring ones you don’t feel are important to you. Any unspent units can then be used for optional skills. With the exception of Combat Experience.

Speaking of which, I mentioned before that Combat Experience is a rather special skill. Because you can’t use regular units to increase ranks in this skill but you have to use special ones handed out by various careers. But if you then have left some special units left over you can use them on optional skills. This whole feels like a bit of a mess. This by the way is not the end to various special rules attached to this skill.

You can also be promoted, this is also based on an x|y|z ratio or it can happen through events.
Much like the lifepath before you can either gain or lose money during your careers based on what events you might roll.
All the careers have starting gear, but what you get is dependent on how well you’ve rolled. Any duplicates are discarded. But it’s all written out in special reference codes.
For example here is the entry for the first class, the Businessman:
Failed: A2-A4, B2, K3.
Normal: A2-A7, B3, F7, K4, TM9, TR3/TR4/TR5
Successful: A2-A8, B4/B6, F8, K5, TM9, TR3, TR4, TR5.
So what you need to do in this case is reference yet another table for what these all means.

Using our example we get:
Failed: ID-card, bag and keys, Charge card, pocket knife, handkerchief.
Normal: All of the above plus Sunglasses, mobile phone, pocket computer, suitcase, business card, advertising leaflet, apartment, Pickup, cash terminal, Store/Warehouse/Office.
Successful: All of the above plus an attache case, villa (makes a special mention that you have your amortization left), Van, cash terminal, Store, warehouse, office.

This game is really keen on handing out a lot of very unrelated and minor things to the player.
Any gear that begins with the letter I or T means that its either illegal or part of your service equipment. You are however not forced to accept all this, so if you don’t want to have any illegal weapons you are free to say no.

Once the character have gone through all three of their employment periods they then need to decide, in conjunction with the GM, if they want to retain their last employment or not. There are three options:
Employed: You get to keep all your equipment. But only the career equipment from the last career they went through. They’re obviously not allowed to sell it.
On leave: You get to keep all of their equipment but can’t use any of it until you’ve gone back to their job again.
Not employed: You get to keep all your equipment except for any career specific ones.

Lastly there are a couple of special cases when it comes to equipment.
Gone to jail: All equipment is lost barring a few categories. If you’re caught with an illegal weapon you get 1D6 year extra on your sentence.
Criminal records: If you have a gun with a license you lose that if you go on the criminal record. Service weapons not included in this. But they’re also unable to gain any new weapons through legal means if they’re on record.
Homeless: You lose all your equipment.
Gaining a residence: If you get a house somewhere you need to establish where it is. In what country, city and district.
Gaining a new residence: You are only allowed to have one and if you were to get a new one you have to pick which one.

At this point we’ve reached step 40 and are done with character generation.
Phew, glad to be done with that because it’s a slog.

Although I’m struck with one big question at this point. Just what are the player characters supposed to do in this game?
At no point during this procedure has there been any inclination as to what the characters might be doing. In fact it all seems like they’re meant to have stable jobs of some kind with all the accoutrements that come with it. The equipment listings for each class are exceedingly thorough with giving you all what you need to actually live a normal life. There doesn’t seem to be much of a flavour or anything set so far and as we’ll find out next time the various careers go all over the place as well.
Maybe I’ll find an answer to this question once the lore section starts.
In about 200 pages time.

Next time: An officer, a playboy and a Gangster walk into a seedy cyberpunk bar.

Everybody’s working for the weekend

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 5: Everybody’s working for the weekend

No art this time, there’s not even a single career related picture to be found anywhere in this part. Just D100 event tables and career descriptions. Alongside a smattering of setting information as well. This will also show just how different the various careers are from each other and enforce my point at I’m not really sure how all of this is supposed to work together in the end. This is also a great way to show how many skills this game has ahead of looking more closely at them in general.

The careers’ various event tables are a mix of highs and lows events where you might gain money or contacts/enemies or lose a lot of money. Or some other bonus or penalties. The capstone is that you can roll on the general events table. If there’s one thing the book likes to have as an entry I’ve noticed it’s trips abroad.

Our first career is the Businessman. Despite mega corporations there are still smaller businesses around. The description goes on to list various aspects of the career for characterisation purposes, something which will be the case for a lot of these. Do you want to be a producer? A trader or a broker? Maybe run your own store or simply be a consultant?
Entry requirements: PSY. Economy skill. A starting capital above 10 000 euros.
Career skills: Administration, Economy, Law, Leadership, Media, Psychology, Social Performance, Valuation and Persuasion.
If you succeed extra well you gain 1D6 extra media status.

The Worker is next. You’re a cog in the machinery that makes the world go around. Despite the automatisation of the future the corporations still need manpower. The book hammers in the point that life as a worker, especially an industrial worker is terrible with the corporations demand loyalty and if they can’t perform there are five unemployed people on the street waiting to take their job. But as it then lists the various benefits you get, like healthcare and so on, only helps to downturn all the doom and gloom a little. Another big thing mentioned here is that the unions are almost all controlled by the mafia.
Entry requirements: TÅL, RÖR, VIL.
Career skills: Electronic, Dexterity, <Craft>, Climbing, Drive truck, Drive Forklift, Mechanics.
If you perform well and decide to continue as a Worker you will automatically succeed on the next career roll of your choice.

Unemployed is one of the three previously mentioned careers that you can actually pick and will only be available if you fail on all of your previous career rolls. Life as an unemployed in the year of 2059 isn’t fun. Not that it won’t give you the chance to learn some things that might come useful later.
Career skills: Gambling, Information Searching, Cooking, Music, Boozing, Underworld.
There are obviously no promotion options here but the constant rejections will leave their mark and you gains 1D6-1 psychosis marks per employment period they spend in this career. (Gee thanks for that one. Hit a little bit too close to home there.)

The Artist are meant for those who seek fame or want to entertain people. This career includes everything from actors to musicians or tv anchors. However, life can be hard and fast, fame and recognition can disappear in the blink of an eye. But success can mean you live well for the rest of your life. Here we get some flavour with a namedrop of some major artists: Slash Dalmations, Johnny Uganda and the Screaming Nosferatus as well as simstim being a thing for movies.
So in order to become the new shining star the entry requirements are: PER, Media status and a related Talent skill. Either Acting, Dancing, Media, Music or Singing.
Career skills: Acting, Dancing, Disguise, Media, Sing, <Language>, Style & Taste, Persuade.
Every time you take this career as one of your employment periods your media status will increase by 1. Each successful period increases your status by 2D6.

The Prisoner is the second of the three special careers. But this one you can only reach if you manage to roll it on the event table of another career. It has however a special rule in that if you manage to go to prison on your last employment period it means that you need to do an extra one. This is the only way possible to do four of them instead of three. It’s also one of the few careers with the most flexible time spent as it’s dependant on what the event sentence is instead of a simple 1D6 with maybe a minor bonus to the roll.
Career skills: Dexterity, Gambling, <Knowledge>, Melee fighting, Melee knife, Underworld, Persuade.
You also get two units to spend on Combat Experience. Spending time in prison is also mentally challenging which means that you get 1D6-1 psychosis marks per period in jail.

The Corporate Man is the cog in the machinery that drives the mega corporations. There is a chance you might actually get nice promotion but to do that you need to work. Your main two focuses are your companies continued existence and your own career. So one needs to be adept to kick downwards and asskiss upwards to get anywhere. Kickbacks are common but one wrong step will see you replace by someone else hungering for your position. Of course, if you manage to get your boss to screw up then you might actually get to sit in their chair the next day.
Entry requirements: PSY, Economics skill, a graduation from a University. But also no marks in their criminal records.
Career skills: Administration, Diplomacy, Economy, Information searching, Law, Leadership, Psychology, Social performance, Style & Taste, Valuation, Persuade.
If you perform well your media status is increased by 1.
This career also perhaps the best way to earn a lot of money as promotions also include a hefty bonus where a CEO can get 3 000 000 euro on top of their regular starting funds. But that will also requires that you spend all three attempts and then achieve maximum results.

The Gangster is part of a very large and very rich family. The organized crime families are virtually untouchable and have their fingers in every illicit activity imaginable. As well as controlling many legal ones as well. The mooks may not be as untouchable but they’re still protected to a certain extent if they’re loyal.
It’s here I think the game flubs a little because it starts listing the most well known criminal organisations and all we get are: the Italian Mafia, the Yakuza, the Triads, the Organizatsija or Russian mafia and the Cartels. The only new one amongst all these is the Nigerian Mafia. Lost opportunity for some unique flavour here. But then again I’m getting a growing hunch that was never the intended goal here in a sense.
Entry requirements: PSY, PER and Underworld skill.
Career skills: Economy, Interrogation techniques, Gambling, Law, Drive Car, Leadership, Melee fighting, Melee knife, Pistol, Underworld, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.
Performing well means that your media status as an infamous criminal increases by 2. Sadly failing spectacularly doesn’t mean you die or get imprisoned.
One of the events mentions involves going to jail and implies that you can be a gangster again but only if there is an employment period left to pick. Which seems to ignore the special rule mentioned in the prisoner career. Weird oversight.

The Gang Member is a part of the many gangs that exist in 2059. Drawn together by a sense of community and belonging but maybe also a need for protection or forced in by circumstances. The player is instructed to come up with the gang they belong to and all the accoutrements that come with that like symbols, colours and also territory. The book provides a list of some kinds of gangs like Booster Gangs that deal with cybertech or Fence gangs that deal with theft and robbery. While I’m pretty sure a lot of these are borrowed heavily from Cyberpunk 2020 there is some interesting flavour like the Poser or Style gangs that either try to imitate someone as far as possible or joined together by their style. Then there are Kicker Gangs that strive to best their ‘enemies’ in honorable close combat and often know martial arts as a result. Or Inquisitor gangs that want to purify mankind of something. It’s not much but it’s at least some flavour to things.
Entry requirements are: STY, Fight skill and Cool.
Career skills: Dexterity, Search, Drive Car, Melee Knife, Melee Fighting, Pistol, Boozing, Underworld, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.
The ranks deserve as special mention: Gang-banger, LT, Ace-kool and Chief.
Not sure what being an Ace-kool entails in this case.If you perform well and decide to continue as a ganger you will automatically succeed on the next career roll of your choice.

The Hacker spends all their time on the Net, it’s an integral part of who they are and what they do. Their life is dominated by looking for information and programs from different places, if it’s actually legal is not something they usually care about. Their main justification for their illegal actions is that all information should be made free for everyone. Players are instructed to come up with a suitable alias that they use on the net.
It’s here we can see the greatest number of influences from elsewhere. The first archetype suggested is the Cowboy, or Sneaker, who specialise in breaking into data systems to steal information and sell that to the highest bidder. Then there’s the Netheads or Netrunners, an eccentric bunch of people who think that cyberspace is far more interesting than the real world. Most of the money they earn from selling information to other hackers go to making sure their body is safe and has what it needs.
Entry requirements: PSY, Hacking, Information Searching
Career skills: Data technology, Electronics, Forgery, Hacking, Information Searching, Mathematics, Programming, Read/Write, Underworld, Persuade.
If you succeed extra well you gain 1D6 extra media status.

The Homeless the last special career and can only be attained if you have failed all your career rolls and also that your starting capital has reached zero. There is a slight “check page ooo” goof here in reference to the unemployed career. Life as a homeless is hard, food and lodging are never a surety and everything you own might be in stolen shopping trolley or plastic bags. Conditions are primitive and sometimes even repulsive, and no one really wants you around.
Career skills: Search, Hide, Gambling, Melee Fighting, Sneaking, Boozing, Underworld, Survival, Persuade
Due to the mental pressure of being homeless you gain 1D6 psychosis marks per employment period they spend in this career

The Criminal is not a member of one the big syndicates, but instead prefers working on their own or in small groups. This carries its own risks but at the same time you can reap much greater rewards. The crime rate has increased over the years, mostly because no other doorways are open for some people and it’s an easy life to live. But not without its own risks, other criminals, armed victims and not to mention the police all seek to make life harder for you. If you get caught, expect long prison sentences.
Entry requirements: PSY, Cool, Underworld
Career skills: Lock Picking, Dexterity, Forgery, Hide, Climb, Drive Car, Melee Knife, Pistol, Sneaking, Surveillance, Explosives, Security Systems, Underworld, Valuation, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.
If you perform well and decide to continue as a Criminal you will automatically succeed on the next career roll of your choice.

The Media Worker knows what everyone suspects, the corporations and the government are lying. It’s their job to let the people know exactly what is going on. Nothing is too dirty to be revealed, nothing is holy in the fight for viewers and readers. Of course, things are far less glamorous in reality, you need to be fast at both finding something worth reporting and then edit it together before someone else does it. But it’s not all bad, sometimes you get to meet famous people or visit other places around the world. Not to mention you get your voice and opinion out to the people.
Entry requirements: PER, Media, Information Search
Career skills: Acting, Photo & Film, Interrogation techniques, Media, Read/Write, Social performance, <Language>, Style & Taste, Persuade.
Depending on how well you roll you will either get +1 or 1D6+1 to your media status.

If you are looking to lead or administrate a military unit the Officer is the career for you. This is one of the first careers with very specific entry requirements aside from just attributes or skills. To be able to go down this path you either need to have completed a high school education, which usually means you’re from the middle class or above. Alternatively you have managed to achieve the rank of Sergeant while taking the Soldier career previously. A clean criminal record is necessary as well.
Entry requirements: TÅL, PSY, Leadership.
Career skills: Automatic Fire, First Aid, Rifle, Throw, Leadership, Navigation, Melee Commando Training, Pistol, Liaison, Swimming, Sneaking, Surveillance, Explosives, Strategy, Tactics, Survival, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.
An excellent success results in a medal of some kind. The player can either decide what it is or roll 1D6 on the given list.
Of interest is that one of the events results in the character surviving a nuclear attack and gaining 1D6 gy (gray). Because that is also a thing you have to keep track on your sheet.

There is always people that has too much money and have no idea what to spend it on. The Playboy is that kind of person, they’ve either been born into the money or inherited a massive sum of it and have no real idea what it’s worth. The Playboy usually has a hard time understanding poor people, usually considering that they only have themselves to blame. Most people tend to scorn them but there’s always enough people attracted to their wealth and personality that it doesn’t matter.
Entry requirements: PER, Mediastatus, birth or wealth. The latter means that if a roll is to be considered successful the character must either be part of the social elite or have a starting capital of at least 100.000 euro.
Career skills: Dans, Seduction, Hunting, Gambling, Art Knowledge, Media, Social Performance, <Language>, Style & Taste, Persuade.
Depending on how well you roll you will either get +1 or 1D6+1 to your media status.

Regardless of whether the police's client is a company, the state or someone else, the Police have the task of preserving and enforce the laws and regulations of their employer. It’s not uncommon for them to be corrupt but it’s not as the public contemptuously believes.
Entry requirements: PSY, Underworld, Interrogation techniques. Also a clean criminal record.
Unlike most other careers the police has a locked time expenditure of 4 years.
Career skills: Administration, Interrogations Techniques, Search, Rifle, Information Search, Law, Drive Car, Leadership, Melee Police training, Pistol, Liaison, Surveillance, Tracking, Underworld, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.

The Space Race is on again, but now it’s mainly the big corporations wanting to gain access to the wealth of resources available out there. There are major bases on the Moon, on Mars and in orbit at the lagrange points around earth. Even forays into the asteroid belts have been made. For all this you obviously need manpower and this is where the Space Worker comes in. It’s well paid work but comes with great risks and long bouts of social isolation. But that hasn’t stopped people.
Entry requirements: TÅL, PSY, Cool.
Career skills: Astronomy, Data technology, Electronics, Freefall, Physics, Geology, Mechanics, Navigations, Pilot spacecraft, Space suit, Liaison.
If you rolls succeed well enough you can raise your Cool by 1.

There’s always a need for highly trained medical personnel. The Medic is always sought after. From poor city hospitals to rich private clinics call for their interest. Despite long and arduous working hours it can be a stimulating job and there’s always chances for advancement. Either within or simply moving on to a hospital with a higher status.
Entry requirements: PSY, Medicine, Specialisation. Choose from either, First Aid, Surgery, Psychology or Cybernetics.
Career skills: Administration, Biology, Cybernetics, Dexterity, First Aid, Gentechnology, Chemistry, Surgery, Medicine, Psychology, Persuade.
If you rolls succeed well enough you can raise your Cool by 1.

Wars are always being fought and that is where the Soldier comes in. In 2059 they come in three different types of flavour: Government, Mercenary or Corporate.
Entry requirements: STY, TÅL, Combat Experience.
Career skills: Automatic fire, First Aid, Rifle, Hide, Throw, Leadership, Melee knife, Liaison, Swim, Sneak, Surveillance, Tactics, Teaching, Survival, Persuade.
Leadership, Liaison and tactics can only be learned if you have been promoted to Sergeant.
The career has Combat Experience units.
An excellent success results in a medal of some kind. The player can either decide what it is or roll 1D6 on the given list.
It also comes with the same nuclear survivor event. Technically you could, if you go into officer and roll 1 to 5 there as well, be a survivor of two nuclear strikes. Which makes me wonder about how warfare is conducted in this setting.

The Solo (now where have I heard this term before?) is a freelancer doing all kinds of shady jobs. Most Solo’s sell their services to make money, there are some rare cases who have more altruistic motivations. Those are usually called Ronins. Solo’s are pretty much the catch all moniker for things like bounty hunters, hitmen and bodyguards among others.
Entry requirements: PSY, Cool, Underworld
Career skills: Lock picking, Disguise, Interrogation techniques, Information searching, Climbing, Drive Car, Melee knife, Melee Fighting, Liaison, Pistol, Photo & Film, Rifle, Sneaking, Surveillance, Tracking, Security Systems, Underworld, Persuade.
The career has Combat Experience units.
If you perform well and decide to continue as a Solo you will automatically succeed on the next career roll of your choice.

The technological development in 2059 has run rampant, creating a massive amount of highly complicated equipment. That is why the Technician is around to repair, modify them. But also to make them as well. As a technician you’re always in high demand and can demand high pay as well. But because there’s so many fields they always tend to be highly specialized.
Entry requirements: PSY, BIL, University exam. The latter must involve at least one of the following: Cybernetics, Data technology, Electronics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Mechanics or Programming for the roll to succeed.
Career skills: Administration, Cybernetics, Data technology, Electronics, Physics, Information searching, Chemistry, Leadership, Mathematics, Mechanics, Programming, Persuade.
A successful career means that you have taken out a patent in your name. No, the book doesn’t say what this means for the character as it doesn’t even include a media status bonus for this accomplishment.

A proper education is important, even in the far future of 2059. If you want to get a deeper knowledge into a field you need to go to a University to gain a higher academic education. As we have seen it’s an important requirement for some of the more technical careers in the game. When you start this career you pick two different knowledge skills you want to focus on. Unless you fail all your rolls, or roll badly on the event table for that part, you are considered to have gained an exam in those particular skills and get to spend the x|y|z number of units gained on them. You can’t apparently take this one second time to gain even more skills as the book mentions that any further attempts at this career is only to deepen your knowledge and attain the rank of Professor. This career path also has a set time length of 4 years.
Entry requirements: PSY, BIL, Information Search. But also a High School education, meaning that you come from the middle class and above. Or have an officer rank.
Career skills: Information search, Read/Write, Teaching, <Language>, Persuade.
A successful career means that you have had your thesis published in famous magazine which increases your Media Status by 1.
Why wasn’t that mentioned for the technician though? Outside of a possible lack of space since all of these entries are exactly one page.

So that’s all of the career choices available in the game. Once again I’m left wondering how they’re even supposed to work together. Especially when you consider that the game has the option to have the character still be working in their chosen career. I can’t see a feasible way for say an Officer, a businessman and a space worker being in the same party without things feeling weird or forced.
Not to mention the fact that you most likely want at least one dip into a combat career for those Combat Experience points for the best boost to your initiative.
I guess this game is for really narrow campaign styles like a playboy and his bodyguard and corporate lackey going on adventures. Now that I can see working instead of letting people pick whatever they want. If that idea actually holds water we’ll have to see later on.

Next time: Skills for kills, agent.

my general dislike for this game deepens.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part INTERLUDE: Character creation
Or: my general dislike for this game deepens.

So now that we have gone through all the steps required to make a character in Neotech, how about we put it into practice and see what we’ll get. Everything will be rolled in this case just to see how much of a clusterfuck this might actually be.
Time to whip out the D6’s and D10’s and get to rolling.

Starting off we have gender and nationality. For this we’ll be going for male and from England. Then we roll for what environment he was raised in so that’s a D100 roll on a table and for that we get 88 which means he grew up in the Corporate District in let’s say London.
Then we roll for his social status, which another D100 roll on the Corporate District table, and we get 34 which means he comes from the Middle Class. Pretty atypical British so far.

As for a name? First result for English names on a random generator was Sylvanus Shayne so let’s go with that.
Putting our D100 away we grab our D6’s and begin to roll Sylvanus’ attributes. Which is 3d6 nine times. This gives us 14, 6, 3, 9, 10, 11, 14, 8, 8. This makes his attributes:
STY: 14
TÅL: 6
RÖR: 3
PER: 9
PSY: 10
VIL: 11
BIL: 14
SYN: 8
HÖR: 8

Looks like Sylvanus has average strength but also at the same time kinda frail and not very gracious. At least his sight and hearing is average so he is spared using glasses or hearing aids. His BIL score is also unaltered due to his middle class background not incurring any bonus or penalties to it.
With his background being from the middle class he is not eligible for gene therapy.

Now it’s time to see what Sylvanus’ physique is. To figure that out we then take STY+TÅL+3D6 and end up with 32 which means his physique is average. He also gains 6 damage columns. Next up its his shock value which is STY+TÅL+VIL/3 and from that we get… 10,3333333... Great. So that is truncated to 10 as per the rules.

Calculating mental stability is PSY+VIL+3D6 and after rolling we get 29. Which puts him solidly in the normal area here as well. He also gets 6 psychosis columns from this. Sylvanus is still fairly British then. But how well can he handle traumas without it leaving a lasting scar on him? To figure that out we take PSY+VIL/2 and get 10,5 which is truncated to a 10.

When it comes to exhaustion columns (TÅL+VIL/4) we get 4,25 or simply 4 of them. Sylvanus is not someone who would go last in a long distance sprint that’s for sure.

His Cool, based on the formula PSY+VIL/5 +2D6 is 16,2 or 16.
Sylvanus media status is 1D6-4 and as the dice comes up a 4 he simply gets 0. He’s just another face in crowd.
Then we get to the god stat of the game, Initiative. The formula here is RÖR+SYN/2 +Cool +Combat Experience x2, to which he gets 21,5 or 21 because he has no Combat Experience so far.
He starts with 11 luck like any other character.

Sylvanus is 175 centimeters tall and weighs 74 kg. Due to his physique being normal his weight is not altered.
To see what his FÖR score we use RÖR+TÅL+10/4 and we get 4,75. That is truncated down to a 4.
Moving on we see what his carrying capacity is, which is STY+TÅL/2, and we end up with 10 kg.
His base damage for when he is involved in melee fighting, derived from his STY cross checked with a table is Ob1D6+2. He can throw a pretty mean punch if he has to by the looks of it. He’s also left handed thanks to a lucky d10 roll.

Now it’s time for the really fun part of this. What kind of benefits and drawbacks does he get?
First we need to roll D100 twice for the benefits and we end up with 28 and 39. Looking at the table we can see he gets Seducer and Can Ignore pain. The first one means that the seduction skill is an easy learned one so he gets an automatic 10 ranks in it. The second one means that the difficulty rolls he gets from being too much in pain is lowered by two levels.
Rolling D100 twice again to see what drawbacks he gets we end up with 85 and 12 which translates to Refractive error and Bad breath. So he gets to lower his sight value by half and unless he does something about his bad breath gets a difficulty level higher on social rolls when he’s in close proximity to people. I’d say he got off lucky in this case. Glasses are cheap anyway.

Problem is of course now that his SYN has decreased by 4 points that means we now have to recalculate his Initiative. So redoing the math we get 19,5 truncated to 19 instead.

As for behaviour we get from two more D100 rolls; Scatterbrained (95) and Condescending (61).
So I guess Sylvanus is scatterbrained, condescending, has bad breath and has to wear glasses. He sounds like the worst kind of nerd who has a tendency to push their glasses up the bridge of their nose when they’re about lecture someone in the importance why catgirls are so incredibly moe.

Now we get to know what happened when he grew up. As we grew up as a middle class boy we get to roll a D100 twice on that relevant event table. We also get a number of skills and a starting capital of Ob3D6x100 euros. Sylvanus in this case gets 800 euros as his capital.
As for events we get 59 and 69 and looking at the table we get Rebellion and that we have to roll on the lower class event table. Oh dear.
Turns out Sylvanus managed to piss off his parents quite badly to the point that the wounds haven’t healed even as an adult so he gets his parents as enemies with 16 (3D6) resources.
Then we roll on the lower class event table and we get 93. Which bounces us instead over to the general events table in this case. Guess he has luck on his side a bit. Rolling there we get 18 which translates to Dance freak on the table. Apparently he likes strutting his stuff on the dance floor. But as a result we have to lower HÖR by 2 but also get 11 (1D6+6) units to spend on the Dance skill.

So at this point his attributes are
STY: 14
TÅL: 6
RÖR: 3
PER: 9
PSY: 10
VIL: 11
BIL: 14
SYN: 4
HÖR: 6

At this point he also has ranks in either Dancing, Seducing, Sports, Drive: Car, Music, Swimming, Social performance Persuade, Administration, Biology, Data technology, Economy, Physics, History, Chemistry, Mathematics, Media, Programming, Psychology, Read/Write and English.

By this point in character creation Sylvanus is now 18 and we get to see what careers he chose. While I could at this point cheat as I would now have to start calculating skill ranks and such but I won’t. But here you really need to build towards a specific career that you want. For middle class you get 15 units to spend on both background and educational skills and seeing as it costs 2 points to raise a skill to rank 5 you will barely have enough for all of them. At least the educational ones. Not to mention that you’ll also only get 5 ranks in them and to succeed with some careers you need to roll Ob3D6 below you skill. So having as many as you can at 5 will ultimately hamper you. So our choice requires some forethought in this case.

Looking over the various careers we can see the following:
Businessman: Can’t pick that due to Sylvanus only have 800 euros to his name.
Worker: He’s going to have a hard time passing the advancement roll because of his low TÅL and RÖR. So he’d only succeed once due to his average VIL score.
Artist: Once again, not the best chances due to low PER, Mediastatus. He’s a great dancer though.
Corporate: Sylvanus might stand a chance here if he manages to go through university. With an average PSY value and points in Economy he stands a chance at succeeding here.
Ganger: Without any points in Underworld and lacklustre PER score his chances are low to go far with this.
Gang Member: With a good STY value and a decent Cool score he will at least pass two out of three rolls.
Hacker: Will only be able to pass 1 out of 3 rolls at most.
Criminal: Two out of three successes isn’t too bad. This would also get him access to the Underworld skill which lets him continue into gangster if so wanted for the second or third option.
Media worker: Once again two our of three if we sink units into the media skill
Officer: Unless he manages to succeed as a soldier he’s not having that many chances.
Playboy: Right out due to wealth requirements.
Police: With his PSY score he might make it, but the lack of ranks in Underworld and only 5 ranks in interrogation techniques puts his chances for advancement at very low.
Space Worker: The biggest crutch would be his low TÅL score but with his decent PSY and good Cool score he might have a shot at going into space.
Medic: Also another good second career if he goes into Medicine and specialising something via University studies.
Soldier: Sylvanus is not cut out for the soldier life with his low TÅL value. Not to mention you’re also required to roll for Combat Experience. Which I’m not even sure is possible unless you pick a career that gives you points in it beforehand.
Solo: If he had some points in Underworld this would be another career he’d make some good progress in with his attributes.
Technician: He has a pretty solid BIL score which means chance of progressing here is good.
University: With his BIL and PSY values he will at least advance two times successfully even if he’ll might fail on the Information searching check

It’s at this point that I realize that 100% advancement is, in some cases, outright impossible. Take university for instance, for that you need Information Searching as the final requirement check. Everyone gains ranks in that skill regardless of social class, but only 5 ranks. Making any progression roll for that skill impossible to do at a normal Ob3D6 roll. So this begs the question, how are you meant in this case to upgrade the skill in order to succeed? The units you gain from lifepath is only meant for those specific skills and nothing else as far as I can see.
Not to mention Soldier requiring a check for Combat Experience to be able to reach the rank of Sergeant so you are eligible for officer.

So either the case here is that passing all three advancement rolls is outright impossible to do for your first career attempt or you are meant to spend the units you gain from the previous two rolls to upgrade your the relevant skill. But the latter isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book so that’s more Rules As Intended rather than Rules as Written.
I feel the writer’s intention is that you’re simply meant to fail the third advancement on the first go. Which to me feels like bad design somewhat. Especially for something like the university career which is very essential to a lot of the other advanced ones. This just means you run a large risk of being locked out of progression.

Either way, looking over our career options we’ll have Sylvanus’ first career choice deciding that Corporate Town where he has grown up in is really boring so he decides he wants to go places and become a bodyguard, or a Solo in this case. So first we’ll roll an Ob3D6 check against his PSY and get 8 which is a pass. But we need to pass two checks at least to see if we’ve had a normal career so we now roll against his Cool score of 16 and get 8 again. So Sylvanus is now a Bodyguard. We can’t get any further though with this attempt as we have no ranks in the Underworld skill. His job as a Bodyguard lasts for 6 (1D6) years.
He gets 20 units to spend on career skills, 15 on optional skills and 3 points to spend on Combat Experience.
Then we roll 1d100 twice on the Career Event table and get 68 and 64 that translates to Assumed Name and Special training.
At some point Sylvanus had to get another identity for something he done, as a result he gets a counterfeiter with 13 (1d6+10) resources but has to lower his capital by 13000 (Ob3D6x1000) euros which puts him squarely into -12200 euros debt. Oh dear.
The other result on the other hand means that he has managed to get special skills and gets a military instructor with 13 (2D6+6) resources and gets 8 (1d6+6) units to spend on the Explosives skill. Those debt collectors might need to look out for booby traps whenever they come around to collect.

So that’s our first career done. But what about the second? If Sylvanus stays as a Solo he’ll get an automatic success on one of his rolls to advance. But at this point we might actually have enough units put into the Underworld skill to make a third progression easier. So instead he decides to be a cop. So our first check is against PSY again and we get 14, which is sadly a failure so he has to pass at least one of the two subsequent rolls to make it through. So then we roll against Underworld (at an arbitrary value of 12 because I don’t want to fiddle around with unit costs) and we get a 5 and then we roll against Interrogation technique (also set at 12) and get a 9 so we’ve once again passed two out of three attempts. So now Sylvanus spends 4 years as a cop and gets 25 career units and 10 optional units. As well as 3 combat experience points. So at this point he does have a decent number of points into that skill. He also gets promoted to police assistant.
On the event table we get 65 and 71. Which both are the same result so the GM decides that Sylvanus gets to reroll the second one and he gets 43. So the first result is Reparation, Sylvanus managed to find out just who managed to steal all the candy from the office vending machines despite the chief told him the case had been closed. So he got suspended for a while but before long he managed to get the truth out and got promoted so he’s now a Police Inspector. His media status also goes up by 4 (1D6).
The other result on the other hand is Retirement! During a shootout Sylvanus managed to get hit badly and his TÅL is lowered by 1 and the wounds forced him to quit the service. So he can’t select police next time. But his starting capital goes up with 12000 euros which puts his debt at only 200 euros.

Lowering his TÅL obviously means we need to recalculate some things but fuck that.

Sylvanus is now 28 years old and it’s time for his final career choice. Looking back at this past life he realized he actually had quite a bit of fun as a Solo but now decides he’s going to be a Bounty Hunter instead of a Bodyguard. But as we went for something else during our previous career we don’t get to select an automatic success. On the other hand we’re not experienced enough to maybe squeeze out a full three successes. So our rolls against PSY, Cool and Underworld are 10 (pass), 8 (Pass) and 10 (Pass) which means that he’s had a stellar career as a bounty hunter. So in turn he gets 25/20 units on skills and 4 combat experience points.
As for events we get 30 and 33, which once again gets the same result so the GM graciously allows a reroll, realizing things have dragged on enough as it is. Our reroll gets us 79.
30 means that Sylvanus is now a licensed private detective, but the GM just files of the label and changes that to bounty hunter. While 79 means that he’s worked abroad for a while and gets 7 (2D6) units to increase another language.

So that’s Sylvanus Shayne, Solo/Police/Solo. His final attributes are
STY: 14
TÅL: 5
RÖR: 3
PER: 9
PSY: 10
VIL: 11
BIL: 14
SYN: 4
HÖR: 6

Imagine a bunch of skills here.

He has a debt of 200 euro at the start of the GM’s campaign and has the following gear from his last Solo career:
An ID-card, a Bag, Keys, a Credit card, a pocket knife, a handkerchief, Sunglasses, a Mobile phone, a palm computer, a suitcase, a business card, a advertisement envelope, an attachécase.
A Luxury apartment with furniture, TV and a computer
A van
Complete wardrobe with all sorts of designer clothes and real leather shoes
A pistol with ammo and a license
Bugging equipment
An office

With that he’s ready to play. To which the GM scratches his head. Sylvanus is obviously a very combat focused and investigation focused character so his role is clearly defined. But what about the others?

Uuuuhg, this is not a fun character creation process. It’s mostly long and boring with a lot of skill rank calculations. And that’s before you get into the multitude of career skills that you need to decide where to allocate points for. This is the kind of process that you almost want some guide of program to do to make it bearable. Much like Shadowrun I would want to say. Especially it would also simplify the career advancement rolls. Then there is also the issue of the massive cockblock that is being locked out of the third advancement at your first attempt at a career.
Also all those fucking decimals that needed to be truncated. Whyyyyy!

Probably the most painless part so far.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 6: Probably the most painless part so far.

Some of the chapter header images make absolutely no sense.

So with 50 pages of character creation finally out of the way we’re moving onto the first half of the skills chapter. Namely how they all work. And oh boy, there’s a bunch of rules for that.

Funny enough the game tells GM’s not to go too crazy and have the players roll for exactly everything they do. Emphasising that it’s better for things to progress quickly and smoothly. I’m doubting that slightly. Either way you can also roll your attributes the same way as skills, or in lieu of some skills for that part.

The book repeats some things from the character generation section about some skills starting with a base value of 5 while anything else generally starts at 0. As well as the unit costs to increase ranks and buy specializations.

We talked about how to do dice resolutions way back in the second part but here’s a slight refresher.
First you need to determine the difficulty of the check, including any increases caused by drawbacks and so on. After that you check how many ranks you have in that particular skill. Your ultimate goal is to roll underneath or equal to what you have in your skill using the number of dice given to you by the difficulty level.
So for example. You’re at a shooting range for some basic target practice. You have 16 ranks in the Rifle skill and the GM deems that it’s a normal difficulty roll you have Ob3D6 dice to use for your check.
If you roll above your skill rank the action has failed.

But there’s another part to this. We might also want to know how good or bad we did at our roll. This is called Effect. The effect of your action is equal to the difference between the skill chance (ranks in that particular skill) and the result of the difficulty roll. The higher the effect the better the success of the action.
For example: So we’re at the firing range and about to shoot. So we doll Ob3D6 which gives us a result of 10. This gives us an effect of 6 as 16-10=6.
Oddly enough the book example goes on to mention a roll with an effect roll of -2 but doesn’t go into what that really means overall. Outside that negative effect exists but isn’t used all that often barring some opposing rolls.
On top of that you have perfectly executed actions and fumbles.

Perfectly executed action or critical success happens if two separate conditions are fulfilled:
If only one of these happen then the roll is considered successful but not critically so.
A critical result will always trump a non critical one, even if the overall effect might ends up being lower.

The conditions for a fumble on the other hand are:
Same rules as with the critical success counts here as well, if only one of the two requirements are fulfilled then the roll will only be considered a failure. While the book states that characters shouldn’t be killed from fumbling GM’s are at least encouraged to hurt them a little. With the damage system that this game seems to have that seems like a really bad idea.

Neotech posted:

The Game Master smiles maliciously as he finally gets to use the rules for fall damage…

Worryingly there is a mention that there are extensive rules about crits and fumbles in the combat section. I’m sure that’ll be a hoot to read later.

Modifications to the difficulty are always made to the number of dice you have to roll and never the result. So if you’re allowed to roll a skill at a difficulty level easier that means an Ob3D6 roll becomes an Ob2D6 roll.
But we also have cumulative modifications, where the difficulty is modified by a number of different factors. If the basic difficulty for a check is Ob3D6 and you get following modifications to the roll: +Ob2D6, -Ob1D6, +Ob1D6, -Ob1D6 and +Ob1D6 that means the final difficulty level will be Ob5D6.
There is a number of factors that can affect the difficulty level in a cumulative way. Such as lighting conditions, intoxication, wounds and so on.
I can see this being used to great effect by antagonizing GMs to really make PC’s suffer.
We also get our first quote here. Of Murphy’s law.

We get a table listing all the skills in the game. Not going to rattle them of now but I can say there are 2 language related skills, 12 combat skills, Combat Experience, 60 General skills and 31 knowledge skills. So 106 skills in total.

Opposing rolls is when you have to do something against someone else. Such as trying to sneak past a guard for instance. To see who succeeds both sides have to roll their own checks. The one with the highest effect result is the winner. If the effect is equal then neither side has won and you have to reroll. The rules for fumbles and critical success can be used for either side individually. But a crit always wins in the end. The relative effect of the roll for the one who succeeds is equal to the difference between their own effect and the effect of the opponent.
Another variant of this is when someone else has already rolled something that will later on be opposed by someone else. Such as a disguise checks. In this case the player notes down the effect result of their disguise check which is then compared to the check to scrutinize their disguise. But in this case the player can also make it harder for their opponent by adding a number of extra difficulty levels to their check. If they then succeed with that it forces the opponent to add the same number of levels to their check. Some skill descriptions will go into more detail on this later.

Now time for some optional rules!
The first one is about time how much time passes during skill checks. Which really boils down to a GM decision combined with looking at another table if you want things to go faster or slower. But it does say that the rule is restricted to certain skills, you can’t for instance run faster than you’re able to. Also that the difficulty can’t be lowered by more than two levels to a max of -Ob2D6.

Another rule is Related Skills. Some skills are generally connected with others so this means if you’re lacking a particular skill you can attempt to use a similar one. For instance if you want to shoot a rifle but lack the skill and only have points spent into the Pistol skill you can use the latter but at one difficulty harder. But ultimately it’s up to the GM to decide what and what doesn’t count. You are also forbidden to go more than one level of related skills. So you can’t use the related skills of another related skill. Nor can you use them for career success rolls.
I feel this rule wouldn’t even need to exist if the skill list has been massively trimmed and turned more generalized.

Our last optional rule is Specializations. Which seems weird because that has never really been mentioned at any point before. Not even the entries for how much they cost during character generation or at the beginning of this chapter made mention of that.
Anyway, all specializations do is give you one extra rank for a skill related to one specific subject. You can buy as many as you’d like but only two specializations can be used together at the same time.
It’s cheap but at the same time you don’t really get much out of it. One extra rank in a skill can be a dealbreaker sometimes but it still feels like they could’ve done a bit more than that.

Neotech posted:

Example: Sinclair MacNeal has the skill of Underworld (hackers, AMRO-plex, Club Exxxtreme) 14. He still gets only an effective skill chance of 16 if he is trying to locate hackers in AMRO plex at just Club Exxxtreme, because he can only combine the maximum two specializations.
Club. Exxxtreme.

Next time: From Administration to Persuasion.

I am the very model of a modern Major-General

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 7: I am the very model of a modern Major-General

Neotech posted:

“Coolness, I’m going go be interviewed by Max Mauser. Now I just need to practice on my replies a bit…”
“You can borrow one of my ties - that might help.”
-Jace Ryker and Sinclair MacNeal

Funny enough the opening line from that song from the Pirates of Penzance describes the N2 skills quite well. Or at least would describe an average N2 character because as we’ve seen in the career descriptions they all come loaded with a bunch of different skills. And as I said last time there are a lot of them. Some of them even come with their own tables for difficulties.
Most skills get a bunch of suggestions for specializations, some more open for further ideas than others. But once again that is more the domain of the GM rather than the player making the character that is supposed to use them. Something which is a really common thing I’m starting to notice. The GM has a surprising amount of control over the player and their characters.

Something that becomes readily apparent from the onset is that the skill list is rather granulated at places. As I mentioned last time there are 12 different combat skills because this game does the sin of splitting them up into very specific types. We have:
Crossbow, Automatic Fire, Bow, Draw Weapon, Flamethrower, Rifle, Grenade Launcher, Throwing Knife, Close Combat <Type>, Pistol, Recoilless weapons, Weapon Systems <Type>.
Then you have even further granulation as there are a number of close combat skills you can pick from.
I’m going to mainly be picking out some highlights for the more odder skills or at least explain some of them. Then at the end list the rest of them so you can see how weird they can be. If the order seems weird remember I’m going after the Swedish alphabetical order in this case.

Neotech posted:

“When all is said and done there is a helluva lot more said than done…”
-Chui Mi

Out of the blue we suddenly get a sidebar about identification papers in the setting. Long story short, the new digitalized society of 2059 requires people to have valid identification to be able to do much of anything. In particular in the more high tech places like the European Federation, FSA nad parts of the far east. No it doesn’t mention what FSA stands for in this case. Meanwhile, in the more rural parts of the world they’re less necessary. In space they’re local to the various colonies because coordination takes far too long. But any trips between nations or in space will include a thorough ID check. The same goes for money transaction or access to various places such as bankers, government buildings and such as to register any visitors.
There’s another sidebar that talks about ID checks but it’s nothing beyond that police usually does a double check with both their identification papers and a DNA sample. It’s usually enough that both of these match. Beyond that there is fingerprint or retina scanning.

Neotech posted:

“The exit wound is bigger than my thigh… can I get some help here maybe!!?”
-Maria Hernandez, a regular wednesday evening.

Another sidebar talks about Lookalikes or posers. People who use biotech, this being the first mention of that I’ve been able to spot, to copy the face of famous historical personalities. Complemented by makeup, clothes and so on. It’s practically illegal to copy the face of anyone alive, but then again. How great is the risk of running into a lawsuit? Then it goes on to mention a number of common faces: Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Disengani (no explanation who they might be), John F. Kennedy, Madonna, Jonathan Mahler, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Nowell (Financial Genius), Dennis O’Pen (no idea either), Maxwell Schwartz (In setting actor from 2010), Donna Pale (Schwartz’ co-star) and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What was that about action and violence movies again? Also yes, you could have a poser gang that is all about looking like Hitler. Something which I feel conflicted about, one one part it’s kinda funny in a way but on the other hand it’s really cringey too.

Neotech posted:

Either you hunt with a bow or with snares against smaller animals like rabbits while traps are used against larger animals such as bears and humans!

Neotech posted:

Example: Sinclair MacNeal hauls away a five kilo chair against a temporary hate object. He has STY 12 and would have had the distance limits 6-12-24-36m for a one kilo object, but the distance limits are divided by five and instead become 1-2-4-7m.

Next time: We tackle the issue with one of the biggest skills in the game.

More skills!

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 7-1: More skills!

Even in the year 2059 they use cars from the 80’s.

The random sidebar syndrome strikes again with a mention about vehicle maneuvers. It repeats the mention that skill checks only has to be during critical situations like driving really fast or having to dodge something. Also during car chases and… dog fighting?
If the skill check succeeds then it’s all fine and dandy as the maneuver succeeded. But if you fail then it was only a partial success with the effect result showing how much you missed. The book mentioning that each effect step equals 10% less maneuverability or you go 10° off course.
There are three different levels of speed that affects how difficult the rolls will be: Normal, High speed, Maximum speed. Whenever you need to outmaneuver someone in a chase both sides do their checks with the effect showing how well each side performed. Each positive effect step increases speed or lowers turn radius, while negative ones lowers speed and increases turn radius. There’s a table.

That is followed a sidebar mentioning that Neotech Offensive deals with all of the various martial arts that the character can do. Followed by a long list of them. Including the police training one that was mentioned in the Police career. Forcing you to grab another book just to be able to properly play a police character is a terrible idea. It also ends with “and maybe Wrestling…” Okay?

Neotech posted:

Now you are going to die you Russian scum, witness my feared kick-o-death!
-Shio Pineapples last words, conveyed to Oleg Kasputin.

The word Russian was misspelled even.

Neotech posted:

”Tchaou, kompair! Ti désir échanjer s’taïl d’ékipman oïté?”
”Nou’eï – s’e i marsau d’chitte!”
– Dival, street seller in the slums of Strasbourgs.

Dialogue translated to Eurolingo:
“Hello, friend! You want to trade this thing today?”
“No way – that’s a piece of crap!”

I feel I could say a lot about this whole thing but at the same time I have a hard time articulating myself to really get my point across. But the whole thing just reeks of annoying bookkeeping not to mention attempts at keeping the player characters hamstrung. You’re almost better of simply going for at least one go in a career that has Combat Experience units in order to do much because this skill counts for so much in the Initiative calculation, you get to multiply whatever ranks you have in it by two. And having a high initiative is always important because this games combat system really favours the one who is able to act first. Not to mention having the decision that you can gain more ranks in this super crucial skill be dependant on the GM feels like courting with danger as well.

We also get a sidebar stressing at just how important this skill is. Firstly up it can be used as reflexes because a character with more ranks in the skill might not act faster but they act more levelheadly and therefore gets to shoot first. Or you can use it instead of the tactics skill because it’s far more relevant for small scale combat. Then you can also use it to identify enemy weapons. You can also use it to lay ambushes, or make it easier for you to spot possible ambushes. The same goes for using it to know where to place mines most effectively. While it says that Tactics can be used for that as well it goes on to mention that while Tactics is “Where should the enemy be” while Combat Experience is “From where did I get shot last time in a similar situation?”
I feel like I should quote the last way you use this skill verbatim:

Neotech about Combat Experience posted:

Courage: A combat experience character is not necessarily braver. They’re only more aware of what can be dangerous or not. In situations where a normal person would get scared to death (the enemy attacks at night from ambushes with heavy machine warfare, artillery support and napalm), a Combat Experience check is needed to perform "heroic" actions.
What kind of campaign are you playing this where you get ambushed with heavy machine guns, artillery and napalm? Feels like they wanted to make this a military themed game more than cyberpunk one with all the various careers and skills intently focused on those kinds of things. Once again, this game’s themes feel like they’re all over the goddamn wall.

Then you also have:
Administration, Anthropology, Crossbow, Astronomy, Biology, Bow, Dancing, Economy, Electronics, Philosophy, Physics, Disguise, First Aid, Search, Gentechnology, Geography, Hiding, Hacking, Crafts <Type of craft>, Gambling, History, Chemistry, Surgery, Art Knowledge, Leadership, Linguistics, Mathematics, Cooking, Media, Medicine, Mechanics, Music, Navigation, Pistol, Politics, Programming, Psychology, Recoilless weapons, Religion, Space suit, Singing, Skiing, Sociology, Security Systems, Teaching, Underworld.

So that’s all the skills available in Neotech 2. All 106 of them. In reality they could’ve been heavily downsized to something around half of that because a lot of them are just variants of a theme. Drive and Fly <Vehicle type> could’ve been combined into a simple Drive or Fly skill where the rest could’ve been handled by specializations or similar. The same goes with the Melee skills which are almost more egregious as their scope is usually incredibly narrow. For instance Melee Chain only involve chains and nunchakus. That’s it when it comes to relevant weapons. It’s all just pointless separation in the name of realism.
Also some of the available skills are so incredibly superfluous. Why is there so many skills related to military warfare in this supposedly action thriller themed cyberpunk game? When are you really going to need to roll fire control for artillery or use a strategy skill meant for 100+ combatants? A skill that is also supposed to be rolled by the GM and not the player as well.

Something is rotten in the state of Neotech 2, and this is one part of it.

Next time: How to become a better cyberman.

Live and learn

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 8: Live and learn

Neotech 2 is a game with a lot of skills as we’ve previously established. But how do we improve them? One would think that you’d get units after each session since that’s what we used to build the character with but you’d be wrong in this case.
No, instead of gaining and spending experience points on skills you have to roll for them. Every time you successfully use a skill during an important event you mark it. But you can only do so once. The book suggests that a perfect opportunity to mark a skill off is when you’ve rolled a critical success. But in general it needs to be a medium difficult roll, also routine checks doesn’t count as well. On top of that it is ultimately the GM’s decision if the skill can be marked for improvement or not.

After each session the player gets to roll Ob3D6 for each skill that has been marked. If the roll is equal or higher than the number of ranks they currently has in the skill it increases by 1. The GM can also let the players roll an improvement check if there is a long downtime in the game, such as the characters laying low, resting or traveling. After that you remove the mark on the skill.
Instead of rolling to increase the skill you can choose to gain a new specialization in the skill. In this case you don’t need to roll, you gain it automatically but still has to remove the mark.
An option rule is that the GM should hand out extra improvement rolls as a reward for good roleplaying. We get a table, for some reason, with what kind of things might get you an extra roll and we get the usual ones like good roleplaying, good problem solving or if the character uses a previously unused contact. Why they didn’t simply list those in the text I have no idea as it’s just four entries that all get one extra dice. Not a fan of this optional role either way, handing out extra gifts like this will just create a discrepancy between the players, even more so if you then manage to fail your improvement rolls.

If any of the skills is an easy learned one, gained from your background, you get +Ob1D6 dice when you roll to improve it. You’ll always get this extra dice regardless if it comes from experience, studies, training or education.

This leads us into the game’s other ways for a player to increase their skill ranks. By being taught by either an actual or interactive teacher the character can learn skills in a more controlled and pedagogic way. You can actually gain ranks in Combat Experience this way but only up to rank 5. One would’ve thought simulated training would be able to increase it beyond that but I guess they wanted to curb that behaviour.
So for a student to learn something the teacher must must have either as many ranks or higher ranks in the skill you’re being taught. After that they need access to the necessary study material and a suitable place to teach at. To get a chance to be able to raise a skill they need to spend 40 hours of concentrated studying to which the teacher then needs to succeed with an Teaching skill check. The difficulty is based on how many students there are and how much resources they have. There is obviously a table for all this. In the end, if they succeed, all students get a chance to increase their skill rank with an Ob3D6 roll. If they get a critical success however they get to roll an Ob4D6 check instead.

When you are dealing with skills that lack basic ranks the player has to roll Ob3D6 underneath their PSY attribute in order to be able to get 5 ranks at the end. If the teacher however fails their Teaching role that roll gets upgraded to an Ob4D6 instead while a critical success lowers it to Ob2D6.
Then the player can have their character study on their own. This is mainly used for knowledge and language skills. Other skills, with the sole exception of Combat Experience of course, can be studied as well but their difficulty check becomes one level higher.
So, in order to be a diligent student the first step is to understand the necessary study material you’re going to be using. Which requires either ranks in Read/Write or Language. If it’s a book then you use the skill that has the lowest amount of ranks, if speech related it’s only Language. The difficult check is based on the materials readability.

We get an example in a sidebar:

Read a fucking book posted:

”Introduction to Cybernetics, part two”
Author: John Barnes.
Language: English
Readability: Easy (Ob2D6).
Prerequisites: Cybernetik 7.
Knowledge Content: Cybernetik 12.
Availability: Easily Accessible (Ob2D6).

Each study session takes 40 hours, if you succeed then you’ve learned something. Failing means that you give up halfway through and doesn’t learn anything. Even if you’re free to try again without a penalty. Fumbling however means that the character will never be able to learn anything from this material in that particular subject. But can try again if they manage to find new material. If you succeed at understanding what you’ve just read you get to do a normal skill advancement roll. But if you lack the prerequisites that means the roll is reduced to Ob2D6. If they lack any ranks in the relevant skill you then need to roll a normal difficulty check under their PSY. As long as the character has a lower skill rank than the content of the material they are using they can continue to use it. But that in turn requires another 40 hours, a new Read/Write or Language skill check and a new improvement check each time.
If you would at any time fumble with your rolls that means you have not managed to learn anything and have to find something else to use. When you reach the point of having more ranks than the materials content there is still a slim chance that they might learn something, but the roll is then reduced to an Ob1D6 and you can only attempt to do this once.

Everything about this feels like such pointless bookkeeping. Instead of just saying that the PC can roll to gain a new rank in a skill after they spend a week or two of studying diligently there is so much extra work for the GM with extra rolls and making NPCs. Training times for skills isn’t new in RPGs, Shadowrun for instance has that by default. But adding subsystems on top of that is just bad civilization design..

But there’s more, you can also train to increase your skills without the need for a teacher. But the caveat here is that it won’t work for language or knowledge skills. As well as Combat Experience because we really need to limit the ways you can improve it. But basically it work the same way as teaching; you need the necessary gear, location and to spend a minimum of 40 hours. Then it slides in right at the end to mention that you can only do this with skills you have ranks in. Might’ve been better to have that at the beginning. But once you’ve completed your training period you get to do an Ob2D6 check to see if you manage to get a new rank.

But training isn’t restricted to just your skills. You can also train to increase your attributes. This is also the only way to do so past character generation. But you can’t do it for all of them, in this case it’s STY, TÅL, RÖR, VIL and BIL that can be increased through training. There’s a table with difficulties and modifications. For instance if you train STY or TÅL you can eat supplements that gives you a Ob1D6 bonus to your check while training without an instructor will give you an Ob1D6 penalty. So you can pretty much cancel out the bonus and at the same time lose money as the supplements cost 25 euro per day. VIL is the one that takes the longest to train with a time period of 160 hours compared to 80 hours for the rest. It also takes a minimum of 24 hours per week to train it compared to 8 hours per week.

Neotech posted:

“Some say ‘no pain – no gain’, but it’s more reasonable to say ‘no brain – no gain’ instead considering how how technically complicated things are nowadays. What fits in your case I don’t know, but get to work!!!”
-Jim Mckee, personal trainer.

The book goes through the various attributes that can be increased. More often than not it’s an Ob3D6 roll after spending 80 hours to train distributed over four hours per day and four times per week, and it’s only for one single increase. VIL being the sole exception to this pattern. It goes on to mention that PER can only be increased through plastic surgery but only the appearance part of the attribute. Everything else about how a character acts and so on requires skill training in Persuade, Seduce and so on. PSY can not be raised through training and there is no way to modify that after birth. The justification feels dubious but I could be wrong on that matter. Oddly enough here the book doesn’t mention that cybernetic modifications to SYN or HÖR is temporary like it did before, but describes them as more extreme methods to using glasses or hearing aids. Also expensive as well. The book mentions that you can train your attention but this only through the Surveillance and other skills. Which isn’t really the same since those never count in with passive perception like SYN and HÖR is used for. So this means that you can be excellent tracker or finder but can still get taken with your pants down since your passive perception value is low.
Of course any modification to your attributes mean that you need to recalculate the derives stats that they use.

Then as a final kicker they mention an optional rule about character who don’t train or use STY, TÅL or RÖR regularly for two hours each week has to roll Ob4D6 against that attribute once a month and if the result is beneath the attribute value it goes down by one.
That obviously means you need to recalculate all the derived stats if it were to happen.
Have fun with that.

So yes, the last part of the skill chapter has been rules stack upon rules. The main thing I can derive from this is that character advancements is going to be agonizingly slow. Considering you only get to roll once on each skill you have used, despite they might have been used multiple times successfully during the session. All that for one single rank as well. So you better hope that you were lucky during character generation to actually get a decent number of ranks in whatever skills you had or that you didn’t spread yourself too thinly between the various career skills. Or maybe you don’t even get an advancement depending on how capricious your GM might be. Since they have the final say in these matters and might have deemed the situation unworthy for an advancement check.

The mental image I’m getting so far of your average Neotech 2 part is a bunch of random people, some half blind or deaf and others with various obsessions. All of them coming from vastly different and unrelated careers unless you work something out together. These then go go around bumblefucking their way through adventures with low skill rolls except for the one or two things they have a decent ranking in. That if to say they managed to roll well enough previous to get enough points to spend on anything.

Next time: Exhaustive Details.

Exhaustive crunch.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 9: Exhaustive crunch.

Welcome to the gateway to the crunch. This chapter contains nothing but rules to simulate the wear and tear of various activities on the player characters bodies. It’s only 8 pages but still incredibly dense with several different kinds of status effects and plenty of rule examples. Let’s begin.

Just what is exhaustion mechanically speaking in Neotech 2? As you remember from the character creation section we calculated our Exhaustion columns by adding our TÅL and VIL attributes and diving those by 4. This then gave us how many of the 10 columns we’ll be using. The rest has to be crossed over permanently.
For example, our good buddy Oleg Kasputin has TÅL 15 and VIL 13 which means that he’ll get 7 columns (Or UK as its shortened in the book) as 15+13/4 =7. With a permanent marker or something you cross out the last three columns.

Of course it’s worth noting once again that there are drawbacks and benefits that will affect how many of those you can get and they will all affect the column calculations.

The exhaustion system works somewhat like the damage tracker in Shadowrun and other games. Whenever you accrue exhaustion points you mark those down on the chart. Once you’ve managed to fill out two rows of checkboxes you start taking modifications to your roll. These range from Ob1D6 to Ob4D6. These modifications are added to the difficulty checks for all attribute and skill checks. Then just out of the blue the book drops the term VINIT that is also affected by exhaustion but it doesn’t actually explain what that means and I couldn’t find what it means after searching through my PDF so who knows. Possibly combat related but I have no idea.
Exhaustion will also affect the characters FÖR, for each increased difficulty step their FÖR is decreased by 1 meter. But that can never go lower than 1 meter as well.

An option rule is that if the GM thinks that the character is far too exhausted they need to succeed on a TÅL check. The difficulty should be about as equal to the dice penalty they have, but in general it’s recommended that they should only do so once they’ve reached the Ob4D6 tier. It also says or higher but that is also beyond the scope of the tracker so not sure what’s the point of saying that. Either way a failed check means that the character has to stop and rest, to then be able to carry on they need to succeed another TÅL check. But that check should be done later as the penalties decrease from the character having rested.

Then there is also extended exhaustion. It’s at this point I suspect that these rules were lifted from the Eon books without a second glance as one of the examples for this is magic rituals. If that is actually in this game remains to be seen but I doubt it somewhat. Either way you’re supposed to mark this kind differently on the sheet so they can be told apart. Otherwise it works exactly the same as normal exhaustion with the main difference is that recovery takes longer.

So how does one recover from exhaustion then?
Normal exhaustion is recovered at a rate of 1 checkmark per round, or 15 marks per minute. Extended exhaustion is recovered at a rate of 1 mark per 12 minutes or 5 marks in one hour. Which is why you then need to distinguish between the two. Oddly enough the relevant table calls the normal exhaustion type as combat exhaustions. A term that hasn’t cropped up anywhere else yet. On top of that extended exhaustion recovery can be affected by things like hunger, sleep deprivation, thirst or cold. But we’ll get to those in due time.

Neotech posted:

“If you run you’ll only die tired…”
-Sinclair MacNeal, to a squeaker who doesn’t want to talk

Everybody loves to track item weights right? A characters carrying capacity is equal to their STY + TÅL/2, with everything measured in kilogram. The total weight of what the character is carrying is called Strain. But, thankfully, clothes and body armor are usually not added to this. Even if some types will have their own Strain values, but it’s more often lower than what the stuff weighs. But if you then carry those items in backpack then you use the items actual weight and not its Strain value. If the Strain value exceeds your carrying capacity then they will get overburdened, no surprise there. An overburdened character will however gain 1 extra point of exhaustion if the Strain doesn’t exceed twice their capacity. That goes up to 2 extra points if it’s between two or three times as much.
It is possible to reach 0 meter per round in movement speed if that is divided and rounded downwards enough. Overburdened penalties to attributes and skills will only happen when the Strain is twice the carrying capacity and then increases upwards after that. For example from the relevant table: If the characters Strain is 6 times greater that of their carrying capacity then speed is divided by 6 and they will gain 5 exhaustion as well as an Ob2D6 difficulty increase.
The GM is however free to decide that some skills, mainly physical ones such as swimming or jumping, will be even more affected by Strain.
An optional rule deals what happens when a character is massively overburdened, which involves a successful check against RÖR to avoid tripping over.

Marching! There are rules for those too. And tables too. Also we’ll be dealing with extended exhaustion in this case.
So under normal circumstances you can travel 36 km in 12 hours on foot. Marching quicker means that you can increase your distance but will make you more tired as a result. Or you can do a forced march go a bit further and faster. Every day you’re traveling for long periods of time on foot you have to do a TÅL check, usually at normal difficulty but can also be modified by various factors such as terrain, injuries or exhaustion. You can also roll using the Survival skill if so wanted. If the roll succeeds then your journey is painless, but if you fail it means that the journey will be shorter by an hour for each point of negative effect. The travel time can however not go into the negatives. The character will also get slightly injured that makes the next day a bit harder. But will go away after 24 hours of resting. A critical success means that the travel time will be cut in half. But if you fumble you get the effect of a failed roll but also be injured to such a degree that they will gain Ob1D6 trauma and has to roll for both Shock and Death.
Whenever you travel in group you move as fast as the one who rolled the worst of everyone involved. Unless you want to split the party like a moron. It’s fully possible to keep on marching but that will lead to increased difficulty rolls based on how much exhaustion has been gained previously.

Neotech posted:

“It’s surprising how much ‘mature understanding’ is similar to being tired.”
-Reynhard Feynman, amateur philosopher.

A good night’s rest is always important, even more so in N2. If you stay awake for more than 16 hours you are in a state of sleep deprivation. For each hour you’re awake beyond that point you gain one mark of extended exhaustion, also you’re unable to cover any marks of the same until you go to sleep. In order to cure yourself from this means somewhere between 8 to 10 hours of sleep, if you sleep less than that (6 to 7 hours) then your extended exhaustion recovery rate is halved the next day. If you do have sleep deprivation it’s a good idea to do roll VIL each other to see if the character stays awake or not. Yes, there is a table with difficulty modifications for that.

Being cold sucks a lot of the time. If a character is exposed to a decrease in temperature it runs them the risk of suffering from hypothermia. To avoid this they will need to make a TÅL check for each hour they’re exposed. The difficulty is dependant on multiple factors, all of them listed in a pretty extensive set of tables. The various modifications you need to take into consideration here is temperature, wind, if the character is going any physical activity and what they are wearing. All this means that a character can’t recover their extended exhaustion marks and will instead gain Ob1D6 marks each period, which is usually every hour. But that can increase with difficulty to the point you can make Ob5D6 checks every 15 minutes and upwards.
Once your exhaustion starts to increase because of hypothermia you have to roll additional TÅL checks. If they fail they accrue 1 point of trauma that symbolises frostbite. You also have to roll for Shock and Death as normal. Weird that they decide to bring up stuff like this way before they start talking about the damage and health system.

So the character has now gotten a case of hypothermia and needs to recover. But it turns out their friends are massive idiots and have put them completely naked in a warm room. As a result the cold blood in their extremities are now rushing towards their vital organs. If this was to happen the character has to roll a special Death roll, with its difficulty modified by how exhausted they are. Apparently the only exception to the rules of Death checks. To be fair I don’t see the survival rate being all that high for that check if you have to count in exhaustion modifiers as well. But if someone manages to succeed a check with either Survival or Medicine they’ll recognize the dangers of cold shock.
Thankfully this is an optional rule but I could see it being sprung up on players by some GM’s.

So what happens if a character gets dunked in cold water then? Because there are rules for that as well. In this case the TÅL checks gets modified slightly. Going from Ob1D6 at +15°C to Ob12D6 at ±0°C. Also the rolls have to be done every 10 minutes of ingame time instead of an hour like before.

You know what also sucks? Being hungry. If a character doesn’t eat for a whole day they are considered to be starving. For each day they go without food they get Ob1D6 points of extended exhaustion. Every day they also have to roll a TÅL check to see if they do not get 1 point of Trauma. The difficulty for this roll is based on how much exhaustion they have but isn’t modified by anything else.

Getting dehydrated also sucks. Which is something that N2 also has rules for. If a character doesn’t drink enough fluids during the day they will suffer from dehydration. How much they will need to drink based on things such as temperature and physical effort is listed in a table. Once they are dehydrated they gain one mark of extended exhaustion each hour that progresses, but heat and effort can increase this. Much like the other effects you also need to make a TÅL check, but in this case you will gain 2 points of Trauma if the check fails.

For both of these you need to roll for both Shock and Death if you get several points of Trauma. Also you’re unable to recover both Trauma or extended exhaustion points if you’re either starving or dehydrated.

Neotech posted:

“About alcohol: Four is more than one too many.”
-Reinhard Feynman

“Be careful with strong drinks. They can make you shoot at the tax collector − and miss…

You’re not too drunk if you can lie on the floor without keeping your balance.”
-Oleg Kasputin

Table N2-78 is probably the funniest one I’ve seen so far. It shows how much extended exhaustion you get from drinking alcohol. It starts of nice and easy with one can of beer giving you 3 points, a cup of sake gives you 2 points and so on. Then there’s a couple of upper tier ones; a bottle of wine is 22 points, a bottle of Vodka or Whiskey is 75 points each. Then right at the bottom there is 96% Rectified spirits that gives you a whopping 200 points if you somehow manage to drink 1 liter of it. Considering the absolute maximum of columns you can get is 90 I’m not sure you can do that without somehow passing the majority of the rolls. Oddly enough no listings for single shot or glass of vodka or whiskey. Guess you actually have to do some extrapolation this time around, or just use the value for shots.
Every time a character drinks they need to do a check with their Boozing skill to see how drunk they get. The base difficulty for this how much exhaustion you have combined with a number of other factors such as physique or if you’re drinking on an empty stomach. Or if you’re a woman as well. There is also a dice modification if you’re a child for some reason.
Pulling the example straight out the book Katherine Mitchell has a Ob4D6 check on her Boozing roll for her first drink. This is because while she is not exhausted (Ob0D6) she has a weak physique (+Ob2D6), an empty stomach (+Ob1D6) and is a woman (+Ob1D6).
If you succeed then the character can keep on drinking with gusto, they’ll obviously get drunk but they’re feeling fine. If it is a critical success then they won’t even get any extended exhaustion from their last drink.
On the other hand if the roll fails then the character feels that the cup has run over and they have to do a check against TÅL with the same difficulty as Boozing. If they fail this roll they will faint and fall asleep for Ob1D6 hours. But if the roll is a success on the other hand you get a different effect. To which you need to consult table N2-80: the Blind Drunk table.

0: The character gets the feeling that something is wrong and has Ob1D6 rounds on them to move until they puke. Afterwards the character feels bad about themself and is passive for Ob1D6x10 minutes, preferably in some quiet place.
1: The character gets a sensation that their stomach is in an uproar and has Ob1D6 minutes on them to move to some discrete location before their contents come up again. Afterwards the character will feel a bit better and decides to rest for Ob1D6x5 minutes.
2: The character doesn’t feel food and feel that they’re going to puke soon, in actually in Ob2D6 minutes. After the incident the character feels okay again.
3+: The character suddenly gets very tired and stumbles away for a while to get some fresh air − it’s so nice that the character stays there for Ob1D6 minutes.

If you fumble your Boozing roll you will instantly faint.
Recovery the day after is at the normal extended exhaustion recovery rate of one point every 12 minutes or 5 points in an hour.

An optional rule is abstinence. If the character has 15 ranks in Boozing and goes past a bar or liquor shop they need to succeed with a normal difficulty Boozing skill check to not go inside and get something to drink. If they fumble they will try to get as drunk as possible in the shortest timespan possible. If you succeed then you won’t need to roll until the next day.

Remember that degeneration table I mentioned during character creation? It’s finally time to discuss that.
If the character has over 15 ranks in the Boozing skill they are considered to be an alcoholic. Were they to purchase more ranks than that they will have to start rolling on the degeneration table as their constant drinking takes its toll on their body.
For example if you somehow has managed to get 20 ranks in Boozing you will have to roll 4 times on that table.

But the big reason as to why you might need to roll on that table is aging. Once the character has reached 50 years of age they will have to roll on the table once every new year or some other date as decided by the GM. If the affected attribute finally reaches zero it means that the character has died, or becomes completely crippled to there point where no cybertech or medicine can help them. SYN and HÖR are listed here but as we already know characters don’t die if they reach zero as mentioned way back. Which actually isn’t mentioned.
In rare cases this can happen during character creation, but it’s mercifully rare as it might only happen with character who have been imprisoned for long amounts of time. Or they get really unlucky and get the premature aging drawback and they will have to start rolling at age 20. Interestingly enough the book doesn’t mention that in this case either.

So that’s the exhaustive exhaustion rules. I for once is exhausted from reading them. Not a fan of these because they reinforce the theme of pointless bookkeeping and minutia wherein you have to keep track of accurate measurements of time to figure out how much you recover. No sir, I do not like it.
But now we can leave that behind and move onto…
Oh no.

Next time: If the day does not require an AK, it is good.

Combat is Stressful.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 10: Combat is Stressful.

This represent more or less what the art for this whole section will be. Lots of guys pointing guns at things.

So combat then, this might just take a while because this is the first out of three combat chapters in this book. This one in particular is about basic combat rules while the second and third ones deal with ranged and close combat respectively. Right of the bat the book says that a lot of the combat rules are optional and should only be used after the basic system has been mastered. The GM is free to choice what optional rules are being used but it's also a good idea to inform the players which ones to avoid issues. This whole sidebar, which goes on a bit more about using common sense to decide the outcome if things get complicated, is perhaps the most sensible part of the whole book so far.

Starting with the basics, one combat round lasts 4 seconds. 15 rounds is then one minute. During which characters can do one or several actions. There are two kinds of actions, active and responsive ones.
Initiative, as we’ve talked about before, is RÖR+SYN/2 + Cool + Combat Experience x2. This value can go up or down depending if the character has cybertech or is injured. Any negative or positive modifications are to be applied before you multiply or divide for modification calculations.
The one with the highest initiative goes first, no real surprise there. If there is a tie, then combatant with the highest Combat Experience goes first. If that also turns out to lead to a tie then Cool is used and if that doesn’t work then use RÖR or ultimately roll a die until someone gets a higher result. If a character’s Initiative ever reaches 0 or below that means they can’t do active actions but can do responsive ones.

Neotech has stackable actions during combat. There is no maximum number of actions that a character can do during each round, but this is offset by the fact that each subsequent action comes with a penalty. 2 actions on the same round incurs adds Ob1D6 to the roll while 6 adds Ob5D6 to the roll. So it pays off to be mindful of how much you want to do during one specific round. There are a few exceptions to this rule, in this case drawing or reloading a weapon will not incur stacking penalties despite being active actions.
If you do a responsive action before an active one those actions stack. Lifting the example from the book in this case:
If you first do a responsive action and then proceed to shoot twice with your weapon it means you have done three actions. That increases the difficulty with +Ob1D6 for each shot to a total of +Ob2D6. If you then do another responsive action after that it counts as a fourth action which increases the difficulty to +Ob3D6.

Active actions are things a character can do when their turn comes up. Responsive actions on the other hand are done as reactions to other actions and allow characters to act outside of their turn. Only one responsive action for each active action is allowed, this is regardless of who it’s aimed at. The only valid target is the one who performed the active action, even if there are exceptions to this such as fleeing. You can’t do a responsive action against another one. The difficulty for these increase with one level for each action that has been done before, regardless if they were responsive or active ones. Once more I’ll pull the example from the book to showcase how it works because there is a lot of elements to it:

Neotech posted:

Jason Carn is fighting a mugger in an alleyway. Carn has higher initiative and thusly gets to go first. He decides to punch the mugger twice, which translates to two active actions. The mugger now has the opportunity to do two responsive actions, one for each punch, because they’re affecting him. Carn manages to get one hit but the second blow is dodged. Carn’s turn ends because he only chose to do two actions. The mugger decides to stop messing around and pulls a knife and goes in to stab Carn, which is an active action. But because he has already done a responsive action beforehand the difficulty modification of the attack goes up by one. In return Carn gets to do a responsive action and decides to dodge the attack. The difficulty modification for this action increases because he did two actions previously.

As you might see it’s rather easy to stack the difficulty modifications to the rolls. Those modifications are then added on top of the standard difficulty of the action. For example the last action in that example would be an Ob5D6 check because first there is the normal difficulty level of Ob3D6 and then the +Ob2D6 modification from multiple actions is added to that.

So the described combat flow is as follows:
Your combat turn has come up:
The book encourages you not to declare what your target is if you’re in a firefight against multiple opponents until everyone has declared their responsive actions in order to prevent metagaming. Or unrealistic insight as the book calls it.
I’m divided about this notion. One side it doesn’t really matter since the PC’s are obviously working together on taking out their targets so obfuscating who they are shooting is counter-intuitive. On the flipside it feels mean spirited to do if the PC’s are the targets which means they will all spend valuable actions to avoid getting shot which will make subsequent actions harder. Far better in my meaning to just declare who is being shot and have them spend responsive actions.
All of that doesn’t count when we’re talking about melee combat.

There’s a table detailing what kind of active actions exists and which ones that can cause a responsive action and which doesn’t. Another one details what kind of responsive actions there are. For the latter you can either shoot back, dive for cover, defend yourself or flee.

A sidebar offers a ‘brief’ refresher course in what the various weapon skills do. Rifle and Pistol skills are only for single shot and burst attacks. Automatic Fire skill is for when you want to rock and roll or use an actual machine gun. And so on.

Then we come to maybe the cringiest bit of this chapter. Titled “Combat is Stressful” it starts in a rather special way.

Neotech posted:

Have you ever tried to conduct a good battle plan in five seconds? No? Okay, try it. You can start...NOW!
Sorry, time’s up! You didn’t come very far planning that, right? Second attempt: grab a newspaper and try chasing out that irritating bug that has annoyed you for hours, while at the same time trying explain how your tactic works for your guffawing buddy. You have five seconds. Begin… NOW!
No? That didn’t work either? With these two practical experiments we just wanted to show you that you at most have time to shout “LOOK OUT, BEHIND YOU!” in five seconds while you’re fighting. Unless the Game Master allows ut, longer expositions aren’t allowed in the heat of combat.”
There is something incredibly 90’s about this whole introduction and it only gets better or worse, depending how you see it, as the paragraph talks about how you need to get your brain into the right gear before you go into a fight.

Neotech posted:

“In a real fight you have at most half a second on you to decide, so the game master is really nice to let you think for several seconds.”
Gee, thanks for that.
The book then goes on to say that if you take too long to decide the GM will then proceed to stress you and if you still are unable to decide then the GM is going to assume that you’ve hesitated during the whole round.
The book example ends with the player suddenly having to roll a Death check after the GM declaring they’ve been hit. Ending with “Suit yourself. You were hesitating all the time.”
Well fuck you too GM. That whole example is awful and a massive dick movie since you know multiple GM’s have used it as justification over the years. “It’s mentioned in the books so I can totally do that.” I really was mostly chuckling at this section until that last bit where I just turned sour on it.

Next time: There was a fire fiiiiiiiight!

But now it's time to have some fun, So Darkstar, Judy Judy, I'm goin' in for guns.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 11: But now it's time to have some fun, So Darkstar, Judy Judy, I'm goin' in for guns.


Neotech posted:

“He apparently died from acute lead poisoning…”
-Dr Cambell.

With the basics over with we swiftly move onto the ranged combat chapter. It’ll be here we’ll start to see the full width of optional rules that the game has on offer when it comes to combat. It’s worth noting that they have done their research for this and there is a lot of technical terminology showing up at places. Another thing worth nothing is that they will not stop referring to weapons by their full specific names.
Buckle up people, this might be a long one because there are so many mechanics to deal with.

All ranged weapons have four different ranges. Short-Medium-Far-Very far. These correspond to the difficulty chart from easy difficulty and onwards. There is also two more rangers that you can then tack onto this but we’ll get to those later on as they are strictly optional. Some guesstimation might be required to see at which interval you might be shooting at.

Now shotguns on the other hand are much easier to hit things with, especially if they’re loaded with buckshot. This means that the difficulty range for shots taken using those are done at a -Ob1D6 at far and very far ranges. If you’re firing slugs or flechette rounds you have to use the normal rolls.

There are three types of single shot options and they all have their different effects.
Single shot: Resolved normally.
Double tap: You shoot two rounds after one other. This is resolved by rolling once to hit for both shots and once on the hit table for both shots. If the attack is successful that means the first bullet hits its mark and the second one hits right above the first one. How far up is dependant on the weapons recoil value and distance. For example a medium shot is -(Recoil x20) on the hit table.
Potshots: Resolved as automatic fire so we’ll be dealing with that in a while.

Whenever you shoot Burst fire the attack rolls difficulty can be modified by the weapons recoil minus 2. So if a weapon has a recoil of 1 that means that a standard difficulty roll is made at Ob3D6-1 as -2+1=-1
Then there’s another table that you have to roll 1D6 to see how many of those rounds actually connected with the target. For example: You fire a three round burst at someone. The 1D6 roll shows a 4, that means two of your rounds have connected and you resolve those.
Then we get a sidebar talking about DSS or Drei-Schützen-Systeme. As far as I can tell this is an in universe thing that I’m pretty sure is based on the G11. What the DSS does in this case is that it fires a three round burst so fast that the recoil can not affect the bullets. Mechanically speaking this means that the D6 burst roll gets modified to a D6+3 roll where rolls over 6 counts as 6’s. Also all rounds hit the same area as the first one.
When resolving hits for burst fire you need to remember to go upwards if the impacts were in the torso, head or limbs. Or downwards if they were in the legs.

Automatic fire is resolved normally. But there are two different ways to use it, either Controlled automatic fire or Suppressive fire. Before that you need to decide if you want to shoot over a small or wide area, and for that we need to determine our fire zone. The fire zones size in meters can’t exceed the number of rounds fired from the weapon. As Fire zone ≤ Rate of Fire. At the same time it can’t be smaller than a certain size based on distance, so one used within medium distance can’t be smaller than 2 meters.
From the fire zone we then get our Intensity of Fire or EI. The EI is equal to the number of fired rounds divided by the width of the fire zone.

For each target in the fire zone you need to do an Automatic Fire skill check. Difficulty for the roll is derived from the range. The results will modify the EI. A critical success means that the EI is doubled, failure means it’s halved and a fumble means the EI is zero. A normal success is just the EI result. Fumbling the roll also means that all shots miss and you have to roll on the fumble table. Oh yes, those exist.

Either way there is even more to this. Weapons recoil is also something that can affect the EI in what the book calls Modified Intensity of Fire (MEI).
MEI is a measure of how many hits you can get on a target. As we’ve previously established this is influenced by four different factors; How many bullets fired (or EI), the size of the fire zone, the factor from the automatic weapons skillcheck and the weapon recoil.
The formula for this is EI x Skill check factor - Recoil.
Oddly enough that one is table N2-89 so it goes before other table suchs as the EI factor (N2-90) and the fire zone size one (N2-91). Also the lowest result you can get is 1 with this.
So for each point of modified MEI you get you roll 1D6, while also remembering that it can vary from target to target.
You think this is over? Think again. Because now we’re not supposed to add all the dice results together. Instead we’re supposed to count the number of dice that comes up as 1, those are considered hits. Those hits are then distributed randomly but you also need to be mindful if the affected areas are in cover and how well that cover can handle being hit.

If it turns out that you have more hits than bullets fired then that is resolved by the targets closer to the shooter being hit first and then the fire is walked backwards until the number of hits corresponds with the number of bullets fired or all targets have been resolved. The book mentions that with some luck you, or more precisely in this case the PC’s, can survive if some unlucky bastard takes all the bullets meant for them.
On top of that the GM can decide that objects standing the bullets path are counted as targets and thusly uses up bullets.

There, finally done with that massive clusterfuck of rules.
Who in their fucking right mind would even want to use automatic weapons with rules like those?! Combine these with the active and responsive action system and the action penalty stacking I’m amazed combats don’t take forever. For that part even being able to hit something because of atrociously low dice pools. A friend of mine who has actually played this game mentioned that actually trying to kill things is nearly impossible in the game. The better option would to be to shoot single shots or simply grab a melee weapon. If anything that would make combat run a bit faster rather than everything coming to a screeching halt as everything around automatic fire has to be calculated and rolled. Now image a fight involving multiple combatants with automatic weapons shooting. There’s a reason why the rules example is half a page in length.

Moving on from that we get a sidebar explaining a few things. It begins with saying that the reason why 1’s count as hits instead of 6’s is because the latter is easier to see in a pile of dice. Which is sensible decision to make. But at the same time if you suddenly realize this is a problem then maybe you should consider how your dice system is built. Then it talks about suppressive fire in a semi-smug way and also how many rounds you can fire when shooting potshots. Finally the sidebar talks about shooting multiple times. The gist of it is yes you can. But why would you want to? Taking the stacking penalties to actions into consideration means that the chance for fumble goes skywards. Something which you don’t want in a fight since then you have to roll on the fumble table.

There’s also blind fire. It’s resolved as before but the difference is that any hit rolls are rerolled to confirm that they hit someone hiding behind an object. That’s it. This could’ve been mentioned in the previous part but nope, it got a separate section and an example to it as well.

Suppressive fire is our first optional rule. Doing it counts as an action that takes a whole round to perform which means no other actions are allowed. Mechanically speaking, and I can be much briefer with this one, is that you fyre four times the weapons rate of fire, and the fire zone has to at least be twice the size of the smallest available one. MEI is divided by 10 in this case and hits are counted as 1’s as usual.
If you find yourself on the other side of suppressive fire they need to roll against their Combat Experience. If they succeed then they can act as normal. The difficulty level is always easy (Ob2D6) but you also add Ob1D6 per point of MEI. Failure means you go to ground and can’t do anything. If they lack ranks in Combat Experience then they can roll against their Cool but it’s done at a level higher.

I mentioned Potshots earlier and they are resolved much like automatic fire, but instead you use the characters Pistol or Rifle skill. The fire zone is always considered to be the smallest one possible, based on the range. MEI is obviously also calculated for this, so you’ll be rolling a minimum of 1D6 to see if you hit.
Funny enough the example is Jace Ryker being attacked by a company ninja armed with a katana. Ryker wins because he has a gun.

Shooting at prone targets is always one difficulty level higher. Hits from the front is counted as you aiming high, while shots from the back is counted as aiming low. Shooting a prone target from the side is resolved using the normal hit table.

You can hold your action as well if you want to wait for the right moment to open fire. This consumes all your actions, including active and responsive ones. Otherwise you’ll lose the opportunity. When the target you’re waiting for appears you need an opposing Combat Experience roll between the ambusher and the target. There is a difficulty table for both sides. If the target doesn’t know they’re being watched then they automatically lose the roll. The one with the biggest effect result wins and gets to start first. If the ambusher wins they get to attack, if they lose then the target gets to do all of their actions and the ambusher can only do theirs on their round.
The hold action rules can also be used for staggered advances.

Neotech posted:

“The jungle is rocked by the sound of Carn’s rifle and the cocaine baron falls heavily onto the now red ground.”

Throwing things is resolved like normal ranged combat. The exception to this is obviously grenades, which comes with a scatter table. But it only becomes relevant if you fail the roll. The range to the target from where the grenade lands is equal to the negative effect on the check. To my slight surprise it’s actually a 1D10 table you need to roll on in this case. The example has Jace Ryker throwing a hand grenade at a motorcycle, which seems somewhat pointless.

Of course combat isn’t all about shooting, it’s also about positioning so at last we get rules about movement. Why this wasn’t in the basic combat chapter I don’t know because it feels more fitting there at it would obviously count for both ranged and melee combat.
Moving around in combat is done before any other active actions. All characters can, without it counting as an action, move up to 2 meters. They’re are also allowed to do this while doing other things. So it’s perfectly possible to move and shoot with only the shooting counting as an action for the purpose of penalties. They’re also allowed to move forwards a bit, shoot, and then cover the rest of the distance.
More involved ways of moving does however count, things like moving backwards, faster or crawling count as active actions. There is also a limit on 1 move action per round. If they run or sprint you are unable to do both active or responsive actions. To be able to sprint they also need to have been running or sprinting the round before.
Responsive actions can be done if the motion is visible, they are however unable to shoot unless they decided to hold action beforehand. Also shooting at someone who is running or sprinting is done at one difficulty level higher.

If the GM allows it’s possible to shoot while a character is running or sprinting. But in that case only potshots are allowed and the difficulty goes up with one level outside of other modifications such as action penalties.

If you might remember from the skill description section there was a skill named Draw Weapon, it’s here we finally get the rules, and table, for it. So in order to draw steel first you need to roll a skill check. The difficulty for this is dependant on where the weapon is located. If your weapon is right next to you or you’re holding it in your opposite hand then the difficulty is Ob1D6. If it is however slung over your shoulder on in a shoulder holster then the difficulty is Ob3D6. But if you were holding onto your weapon when it’s holstered (or slung I suppose but that’s not mentioned) you get -Ob1D6 to the difficulty roll.
That makes me imagine a character who has their hand on their weapons at all times just so they can get that bonus to their draw weapon roll once combat starts.

If you succeed with the skill check then your initiative is reduced by half and you get to do more active actions under this new temporary order. While you don’t need to declare as the round starts the difficulty from the draw weapon action will be included in the successive actions. If you fail that means they weren’t able to draw their weapon and aren’t allowed to do any more active actions during that round, but their weapon is out at the beginning of the next round, but their initiative is halved.
If you manage to critically succeed then you initiative is not halved but they get to do more active actions without penalties and also don’t need to declare them before pulling their weapon. If you fumble, then guess what, you drop the weapon like a klutz and don’t get to do any more active actions that round. If someone does a responsive action to you while the weapon is drawn means that the attempt is aborted and a new roll has to be made later.
You can also decide not to draw your weapon fast and spend a whole round to pull it out safely. But this prohibits you from doing any active actions but it does mean you have your weapon out without any difficulty checks needed. But the attempt will be aborted if they do any responsive actions.
Dropping a weapon does not count as an active action, while putting it down carefully does.
I don’t have much to say about this other than it’s cumbersome and so incredibly unnecessary to the point I would’ve slapped a gigantic optional rules tag onto this. Or ignored it completely.

There’s a table showing the difficulty for reloading different types of weapons. To reload your weapon you roll with the relevant weapon skill, usually it’s either Rifle or Pistol. Reloading takes whole rounds during which no other action can be done, if a responsive action is made then the reload attempt has failed.
The difficulty check for the reloading action can also be modified through various means. If the magazines are taped together then the difficulty is lowered by one, if the ammo is not in your hand and somewhere else then the difficulty goes up by one or two steps. If the roll is a success then the weapon is reloaded the next round, if you fail you need to try again. A fumble means that you dropped the ammunition. A critical success means that you reloaded extra fast and you can continue doing active actions during the same turn but your initiative is halved and none of the actions need to be declared. But their difficulties will be increased due to the reloading action.
Otherwise you can decide not to roll when reloading and take your time. But that means that it takes two turns longer compared to a successful roll.

Neotech posted:

“Pain is my friend. Let me introduce him to you!”
-Anatoly Voronin, after he has been stabbed by a drug addict in BAMA.

Lastly there is Deathblows, or Coup de Grace, for when a target can’t defend themselves somehow. Meaning that they’re standing still, tied up, paralyzed or unconscious. It can also be done against sleeping people but then you first need to roll successfully on Stealth. It also says that the character has to “fail to wake up” but doesn’t elaborate on what that actually means. So in order to perform a deathblow you need to do a relevant skillcheck depending on if its a melee or ranged weapon. Only a fumble means that you have failed. But if you do then you’re unaware of this and completely convinced that you succeed in killing them. How you’re able to actually botch a point blank execution shot to the head is not elaborated on in this case. The killer gets to pick the hit location. Instead of just automatically killing the target you have to roll damage for it, which is weapon damage multiplied by 10. Armor is calculated as normal if the would be assassin doesn’t discover it beforehand.
Then we get an example of the “sadistic Dr Glauber” executing a prisoner.
Why is this a rule they needed to add to the game? Wouldn’t it just have been better for the GM say “Okay, you shoot him in the back of the head and he dies” instead? The target is helpless anyway so it’s not like they can do anything about it. Not to mention the dice roll is ultimately pointless because any result is multiplied by 10. So regardless of the outcome the target is fucking dead.

Next time: Ranged combat, but with options.

Hong Kong shooting.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 11-1: Hong Kong shooting.


“There are no innocent victims.”
“No, at least not now…”
-Jason Carn and Sinclair MacNeal, after Jason has emptied 8 magazines of 4,73mm in two minutes.

With the core ranged combat rules we move onto the optional ones and hoo boy are there many of them and cover a lot of bases for all your Realism needs. My personal suggestion would be to ignore most if not all of them.

Our first two rules are additions to the range table, Very short distance and Extremely far distance. For the first one it’s the weapons short range value but divided by 2 but never shorter than 3 meters. Single shots are done at Ob2D6, bursts on the other hand its Ob2D6-2+Recoil. Whenever you shoot with automatic fire the difficulty remains the same but you’ll hit on 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.
If you however decide to try to shoot at extreme rangers the difficulty will at all times be Ob6D6 and can’t be lowered underneath Ob5D6. But if you have sniper ammunition available, then the difficulty can go as far down as Ob3D6. But this naturally assume you have the relevant weapons and optics for the job. Also at this distance the damage decreases by Ob1D6.

Everyone knows that the coolest thing you can do is shoot with two pistols at the same time. Even the Neotech writers knows this and have thusly added an optional rule for this called “Hong Kong shooting.” It’s still a bit of a convoluted mess though as you’re only allowed to fire potshots or automatic fire with both weapons. You do this by adding all the EI and recoil values together and only roll one difficulty check against pistol to hit.

You know what’s great? Lots and lots of bullets. It’s a shame that the optional rule for this is also a bit of a mess. Because of the amount of dice that might actually be involved with such a weapon you can decide to forego the dice roll and instead count a hit for each six points of MEI. So a MEI value between 36-41 would mean 6 automatic hits for example. The relevant table is called “Disgustingly many bullets”.

Being surprised is optional in Neotech. At least in combat it is. If someone gets the drop on a character then their initiative is modified for the first round by a tenth of their normal value. If they succeed against a Ob4D6 Combat Experience check that means it’s only a fifth of their normal value. For some reason they had to point out that this check does not count as an action.

If the effect value of the attack is equal to the skill ranks the hit can be counted as a glancing one. This means that the damage value and penetration value is halved.
Aiming for a specific body part is either a +Ob1D6 or +Ob2D6 difficulty increase depending on where you’re aiming. This can be combined with the normal aiming action as well. It’s also possible to aim for other things that aren’t bodypart so if you really want to shoot out a security camera you’ll have to use this rule.
This feels like an odd thing to make an optional rule when it could easily been included in the aiming rules that showed up in the basic combat section.
But what is perhaps a better option to make an optional rule is what happens when you miss your aimed shot. Because then there is still a chance that you’ll hit an adjacent area. If the effect of a roll ends up as a -1 or -2 that means you’ll hit nearby. This only really works because Neotech has broken down their hit table into several different hit locations. So if you aim for the hand and get -1 or -2 then that means you’ve hit the arm instead. Even if it then goes on to say that hits on the hand is still possible if you then manage to roll it on the table. So yeah.

Before each round you have the option to decide on what kind of combat style you want to adopt. The choices here are limited to defensive, normal and aggressive so sadly nothing stylish here. If you decide to go on the defensive that means that all attacks done to them +Ob1D6 harder as you try your utmost to stay safe, but on the flipside it also means that your actions are also done at a level harder. Normal is normal, no modifications. Aggressive means only that your initiative is increased by +10 but you’re only allowed to use the “Shoot back” and “Defend yourself” responsive actions as you’re focused on doing as much damage as possible.

If you consider the rule for Hong Kong shooting to be unsuitable for your grim and gritty game there is an alternate optional rule for two weapons. But all it boils down to is that any action done with your offhand is done at one level higher and shooting with both weapons count as separate actions.

How you hold your weapon while shooting is also important, so there’s an optional rule dealing with how that affects the weapon recoil. In the end it’s just another table you need to look at and determine what the results are. For instance shooting one handed with an SMG or automatic pistol is Recoil x2. While doing the same with a rifle is Recoil+1 x2. If you want to play Rambo and one hand a machine gun while firing fully automatic it’s Recoil+1 x3. Screaming is optional.

Of course this game has rules for dealing with low light conditions, or at least extreme low light conditions and darkness to be precise. No penalties will be incurred during hazy or evenings. But once you start involving smoke grenades, fog or lack of moonlight then things start getting complicated. Even if it’s usually a Ob1D6 to Ob4D6 addition to the relevant roll. It mentions that some types of weapon sights might adjust these but no real mention about night vision goggles or the like in this so maybe that’s not a thing that exists here. Which I doubt since this game is very heavy on the gear porn.
But ultimately it’s up to the GM to decide what kind of penalties might be relevant in these situations. So why waste space on detailing it when it ultimately boils down to a GM decision? Feels like the writers could’ve summarized it a lot better or just pointed towards the table in a couple of sentences.
That becomes even more readily apparent when it starts talking about situations where it’s pitch black or filled with smoke. Whatever penalties involve here is also up to the GM. If you do use a weapon, which the book recommends you not to really bother with, then any checks using automatic weapons is done at a difficulty higher. Then it also mentions that you should check the errant bullets rules and gives the page number of it.

The thing is though that those rules are right after the low lighting conditions on the very same page so weird oversight there. But the mechanical effects of an errant bullet is that you first need to establish a fire zone and the rate of fire is dependant on the weapon. If there aren’t any targets then it doesn’t matter. If there are then it’s resolved as per the automatic fire rules.
I can’t imagine ever trying to play a Neotech campaign without at least a rudimentary maps and some tokens with rules like these.

If you get shot in the head there is a chance that you might drop whatever you’re holding. Although I think that’s the least of your worries in that case. The same goes if you get shot in the arm. If you get an extra wound, it’s not explained what that is for another 5 chapters, in your arm or on your head then you need to roll a normal difficulty check against STY+TÅL/2 to not drop whatever you’re holding on to. The same goes if you’re holding onto something like a rope or an opponent. In another weird design decision these are rules listed separately despite doing the exactly the same thing.

Then there are rules for kneeling and prone stances, there is a table showing what difficulty modifies those do to some actions. Switching stances is another separate rule for some reason. It also gets its own table. We’re up to N2-103 by this point if you’re wondering. But if you want to start stance dancing you have to roll against RÖR unless you want to spend your whole turn changing. If you fail the roll that means you can’t change position. Not sure how that is really supposed to work since I’m not sure you can fail kneeling quickly. Failing to go from standing to prone makes sense however, and if you fail the roll doing that means that while you still go prone you get Ob1D6-4 damage marks from the bad landing. If you fumble any of the stance rolls that means you have to use the fumble table for melee combat. Going from standing to kneeling and so on counts as an active action and also counts as moving.

Suddenly we get a rule about wanting to shooting two handed weapons in one hand, but it feels like that was already brought up before with the rule for how to grip your weapon. All it really entails is that single shots are made at a level higher. Short, possibly unnecessary and rather misplaced too this feels like nothing but a filler rule.
Another slight filler entry is the rule about target sizes. A lot of these rules I’m starting to realize are just “Here is table showing difficulty ranks of things but it’s really up to the GM to decide what it is”. Feels like some of these would have been better off just been summed up with a “Look at the difficulty table and judge accordingly” or similar rather than spending page space.

Remember the exhaustion rules? They’re back again but it’s partially just a refresher on how they work outside of a table listing how much exhaustion points each action costs. Once again the book spends multiple paragraphs explaining it works while I more or less managed to sum it up in a sentence.

Our last optional rule is firearm malfunctions. This is where things might just get peak convoluted. The book almost seems to lament the fact that this system is a simplification. How nice of them. With this rule in effect all difficulty rolls when using firearms has to be rolled with a differently coloured Ob dice. This is the malfunction dice, but it also counts as a regular dice for skill checks. Any Ob rolls with this dice also needs to be rolled with a differently coloured dice, so hope you remembered to bring some of those. These dice also count into the check but obviously also increases the chance for malfunctions.
If you remember way back in the second part we talked about the basic rules you might have remembered the abbreviation EAB, which stands for firearm malfunction. All weapons has an EAB value, usually between 6 to 14 where 6 is bad quality and 14 means top quality. The way it works is that if the malfunction dice results exceeds the weapons EAB value then the weapon has malfunctioned. Then you need to roll 1D100 on the N2-106 table to see what happens. Weapon malfunctions obviously mean that the shot has missed and its fully possible to both get a weapon malfunction and fumble with the same action. Oh lovely.
Some weapons ignore certain types of malfunctions.

The chart has the usual malfunctions such as duds, hang ups, mechanical failures. All of the entries also come with what you need to roll to clear the malfunction. If you roll 100 however that means that weapon explodes and you take Ob1D6 explosive damage on the affected body parts. Oddly enough it says the face should only be affected if the weapon was a bullpup model. I would’ve figured that a weapon exploding in close proximity of you is a bad thing over all. The weapon is also destroyed but that’s honestly the least of your problem in that case.

So my point still stands as before, you’re better off ignoring almost all of the optional firefight rules. I would’ve wanted the automatic weapons rule to be an optional one because that one something that will big down combat sessions something fierce. Another issue is that a lot of these rule are, as I ranted before, not that necessary because they’re mostly just slight adaptations of the standard difficulty chart. As if the writers wanted to explicitly tell the players that things are supposed to be done in a particular fashion but then sorta handwave it away as well with leaving a lot of it up to the GM. It feels like that could have been handled in a much better fashion with a lot more general tips on how to do things for combat rather than just listing page after page of rules.

Next time: Try to remember some of the basics of CQC.

Everyone was Kung-Fu fighting

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 12: Everyone was Kung-Fu fighting

That seems like a really terrible location to sparr on.

The bullets have finally run out and now it’s down to fisticuffs. Unlike the previous chapter we don’t get any optional rules for his.

If you know the Melee fighting skill then you have a number of different actions you can do while fighting; Punching, Kicking, headbutting, biting, tackling, block, dodge, grapple and grab weapon. Out of these all but dodge and block are active actions. But at the same time Grapple and Grab Weapons are both responsive and active actions. If you know any specific martial arts then you can use those. The book once again directs us towards Neotech Offensive for any more details.

All melee combat damage is calculated using the base damage we derived during character generation.

Punching deals crushing damage and it’s equal to the base damage. You also roll high on the hit table. Apparently punching is also allowed if the target stands right behind you so now I’m imagining a character just cold clocking someone else with a backwards swing as they charge in with a knife.
Kicking deals crushing damage as well and is equal to base damage +1.

Headbutting is done at a level higher than the previous attacks but hitting means an automatic hit to the opponents face. The damage is Base damage +2 but if you hit the head then the damage is halved. You will also get +1 point of pain yourself from doing this. It says that a helmet with a visor will nullify the attack but nothing if wearing a helmet yourself will nullify the damage you take.

A bite is also done at a difficulty level higher and the damage is equal to base damage. I’m surprised to not see anything about infections due to bites. At least not yet. Either way you need to roll on the stabbing damage table for this one.

Going in for a tackle is a surefire way to unbalance an opponent. First in order to be able to tackle someone you need to have either begun running or sprinting the round before that. Then you need to roll a skill check at hard difficulty, while the opponent has to do a normal skill check. Both using their melee fighting skill. Why they didn’t just say an opposed roll I don’t know. Also what happens when the opponent doesn’t have any ranks in the melee fighting skill? The book is quiet on that.
Either way, if you succeed the tackled person is moved one meter. But in order to tip them over we now need to roll an opposed roll of STY+TÅL/2 from both sides of the fight. The difficulty is Ob2D6 and Ob3D6 for the tackler and the tackled. Success leads to the opponent toppling over while they remain standing if it fails. The tackler will fall on their face if they fumble the roll. It says that you take no damage from being tackled but I can see that changing depending on the circumstances.

Blocking can be done against all attacks except ranged ones. So sadly no blocking bullets with your cyber katana in this case. If you do an unarmed block you will take damage, but the book is mum on how much that might be. If the one trying to block is grappled that increased the difficulty by one step.
In order to dodge you will first need to be aware that you’re being attacked. Even if it says blocking. Either way it’s a hard roll and if you’re grappled then the difficulty goes up by a step.

Grapple rules are always a mess in roleplaying games, and to be honest Neotech isn’t far off from that. But only slightly.
To initiate a grapple you first need to succeed a Melee fighting skill check. Normally the difficulty is Ob3D6 due to the fact that you’re grappling with both of your hands. But if you’re feeling bold you can do it with only one hand, but that means that the roll is upgraded by one level. Grappling someone from behind is one level easier. You are obviously not allowed to grapple anyone if you have something in your hands, something which the book considers so important it repeats itself after a sentence.
So the roll succeeds and we now have initiated grapple, what next? In this case you need to roll 1d10 (oh hey, another one) for the grapple hit table. You also need to roll on this table if you’ve already grappled someone and try to reassert your grip. You’re also allowed to aim for a specific area, which makes the initiation a level harder but success will lead to an automatic hit.
A lot of the things you can do with a grapple are dependant on what hit location you manage to get unless you aim.
But in this case you have now grappled your opponent. Any attacks you do on the one you have grappled becomes one level easier but only to a minimum of Ob2D6. The GM is advised to reconsider any hit table rolls to reflect the situation as well.
There are also four new actions you can do with your opponent; release, move, lock and tip them over. But these actions are exempt from the difficulty decrease previous aforementioned. So probably just better to go for the jugular with a bite attack instead.

Releasing someone from a grapple is automatic but also counts as an action. It’s also counted as both as an active and a responsive action.
To move your grappled opponent you need to have a grip around their torso first. After that you need an opposing roll against STY+TÅL/2 and is counted as an active action. The difficulty is normal unless you’re not using both your hands, then it increased by one level. For each positive effect on the roll the opponent is moved 0,5 meters. A failed roll only means that the movement has failed by the grip remains. Instead of resisting using their strength or weight the opponent can also use their balance, in that case they need to roll on their melee fighting skill or a martial arts where grappling is used as a technique.

If you on the other hand has managed to get a grip around the opponent's head or arms you can instead try to lock them down in such a way they can’t reach you without first breaking free. A police grip is an example of a lock. If you have a grip around their throat you can also start choking your opponent but the rules for that comes later on. Either way, this counts as an active action.
In order to succeed with this you need to win an opposed check using the Melee fighting skill. If you win then the opponent is unable to do anything but trying to tear themselves free. Once again the layout demons strike and it says see below for what that does but it’s also the next paragraph on the same page.
Tearing yourself free from a lock will always give you +Ob1D6/2 points of pain for the one trying to get free. Regardless if they succeed or not. Their initiative order is also at zero during this.
I could see this being used to great effect by a dickish GM by locking down players and watch them get more and more damaged as they try to break free. But then I also imagine it’d require some very specialised NPC’s to pull this off. But if corporate ninjas are a thing I’m sure corporate wrestlers are a thing too.

Nunchuck cops, on the other hand, is a thing that does exist.

If you’ve managed to grapple onto your opponent’s legs or torso you can try to tip them over. This is also counted as an active action.
This requires another opposing skill check with the Melee fighting skill against the opponents STY+TÅL/2. Once again if you decide to do this one handed the difficulty goes up by one level. If you succeed your opponent has toppled over and you can decide if you want to let go or if you want go down with them. If the roll fails that means both sides remain standing and you have also disengaged the grapple. Much like tackling you take no damage under normal circumstances.
It is possible to tip over an opponent that has counter grappled you but then you go down with them. Also much like tackling the opponent can use their balance to remain standing.

If you’re the one being grappled instead then all movement based actions are done at a level higher. Some actions might even be impossible depending on how you’re being grappled. Your initiative is also halved during as well. But in return you’re allowed to tear yourself way or grapple back.To which I’m wondering if you can initiate a grapple loop by either side counter grappling each other.
Both of those actions are exempt from the difficulty penalty imposed by being grappled.

Breaking free involves an opposition roll involving STY and it can be done as both an active and responsive action. If you’ve managed to counter grapple then your roll will be one level easier, the same goes if you’ve been grappled with one hand.

So you’re grappled and decide that enough is enough and you decide to grapple them back. If you’ve been grappled from the front then you can counter-grapple automatically, but it’s counted as an action. But if you’ve been grappled from behind then you need to roll a grapple check at normal difficulty to turn around and get a grip. If you then manage to counter-grapple you need to roll on the grapple hit table to see where you got them. Either way it can be done as either a responsive action or an active action.
The way I’m seeing it is fully possible to essentially get caught in a grapple loop where both opponents counter-grapple each other. The only obstacle here would possibly be the stacking penalties for actions but even that should be manageable if you limit yourself to only countering.
Cyberpunk Wrestling sounds fantastic in a way. This is also before you include the supposed wrestling martial arts in Neotech Offensive.

But some people are not looking for gentleman fisticuffs and before long the melee weapons come out.
Here you’re restricted to simply attacking or blocking as an active and a responsive action respectively. The only requirement for the former is that you have enough hands free and space to move in. I like the phrasing of that since it implies that you can get multiple arms and then go full General Grievous with a couple of swords. Even if in reality it would probably not work all that well. But the mental image is funny anyway.
Damage is base damage plus weapon damage, the type of damage you do is also dependant on which weapon you’re attacking with.
Blocking or parrying is simple normal difficulty level check using your relevant melee weapon skill.

We get a much too early sidebar discussing some terminology for tables that won’t appear for another 30 pages.

Lastly we can also try to grab someones weapon as either an active or responsive action. First you need to roll a Melee fighting check, the difficulty to that is increased by the fact you have to aim for the weapon specifically which increases it by one. Also I thought aiming for specific parts was an optional rule but I guess not. Also if you decide to be cool and only use one hand the check also goes up by one. If the check succeeds that means that the weapon can’t be used until its been released. At this part both sides can choose to either release, remain or pull away.

Usually you can’t grab onto any weapon with a sharp edge unless you’re willing to take Ob1D6 in stabbing damage, base damage not included, for each round that it’s being grabbed. If the damage goes through the armor on the back of your hand the grip will be lost. This phrasing seems odd as it implies that your hand is armored. To which I’m almost assuming they mean cybertech hands or something. Either way it goes on to mention that using cybertech means that you can keep holding onto the weapon if that happens.
Frankly I’ve would done it so that if you’re trying to grab a bladed weapon with a cyberware hand you wouldn’t need to roll for damage unless the weapon has a mono edge. Something I’m sure this game has.

Letting go of a weapon is automatic but does count as an action, otherwise the rules for letting go of normal grapples still count. To keep grappling is not an action and requires no concentration. Something which yet again isn’t elaborated if it actually means anything in terms of game mechanics.

Both combatants can try to pull the weapon out of the others grip. This counts as an action and thusly has to be decided ahead of time. To succeed you need to roll an opposing STY check where the one holding the weapon gets one level easier on their check. If anyone happens to use one handed instead of two then the difficulty goes up one level. If the one grabbing onto the weapon wins and pulls it out of their opponents hand they need to spend an active action, that is an automatic success, to turn it around before they can use it against their opponent. Unless it’s a staff weapon or something that can be used either way.

Compared to the tangled mess that is the firearms rules these are surprisingly neat and simple. The grapple rules aren’t that bad either for that part, outside of the extra actions dependent on where you manage to grab hold of them. So I can see why using a melee weapon or just fisticuffs is a far more desirable option than grabbing an assault rifle and having to deal with that massive roadblock of rules. Not to mention it makes fights go a little bit faster as well. In fact you’re better off using that automatic rifle as a club and beat people senseless rather than shooting them.

Next time: Boom! Here comes the Boom!

Explosions! I gotta have more explosions!

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 13: Explosions! I gotta have more explosions!

Yep, that’s a bomb alright.

This will be a mercifully short section but it’s still incredibly crunchy because we’re dealing with explosive rules. Hooray.

To blow something up is really easy in N2, all you need is then is a basic skill chance and something the game calls a blast card, which is a card that mentions how much explosives needed based on what needs to be blown up. The basic principle is that you load up the explosives, shove in a blast cap and then detonate.

So far so good, but what about when you want to blow up something just enough? Or when you need to get a predictable outcome? Or be as effective as possible with how much explosives you have available? That’s when things start getting complicated. The book rattles on about examples such as mining and demolitions work. But when is that ever going to be used in a campaign? Then we get pointed to a difficulty table all the way back in the skills section. But even then the difficulty rolls cap out at Ob4D6.
If you succeed you can enjoy the fireworks as things go boom. Failure obviously means something went wrong. Lord help you if you manage to fumble the check because that means you get to roll on the fumble table.

Although truth to be told the results are kinda unimpressive. Where it comes from dud, fake dud where it explodes after Ob3D6-2 minutes (fuck if I know the proper term for that), fuze issues, incorrect effect where it works as intended but in the wrong direction and finally it might just blow up in your face as you’re working with it.

It’s now however time to get incredibly technical.
So explosions in N2 has two important things to consider, damage effect and base radius. The first one is how much damage you will accomplish while the second one deals with how much damage you get based on your distance from ground zero. The closer you are to an explosion the more damage you will take and then inverse is also true. Whenever you roll for blastwave damage you’re not meant to roll for what part of your body gets affected.

The maximum blast radius is equal to the number of dice in damage effect times base radius. Beyond this range you won’t run the risk of taking damage.
Somewhere on a street there is a car parked. Inside this car there is a charge consisting of half a kilo of trinitrotoluene, it has a damage effect of Ob8D6 and a base radius of 2 meters. That means it has a blast radius of 16 meters (8*2=16).
The car bomb suddenly goes off and two people are caught in the blast radius. Aaron is right next to the car as it goes off while Beth is 7 meters away. Due to Aaron being right next to the car he is thusly one base radius from the charge and thusly gets atomised as he takes the full Ob8D6 damage. Meanwhile Beth only takes Ob5D6 damage because she’s four base radiuses away from the blast point.
So in this case its Ob8D6 up till two meters from centre, Ob7D6 between two and four meters, Ob6D6 between four and six meters and then Ob5D6 between six and eight meters.

Table N2-11 “Damage effect and base radius” and N2-111 “Explosions in closed areas.”

So I’m just going to show the relevant table you need to look at to calculate how much damage effect and base radius you get for various amounts of trotyl. Because the damage quickly rises up to some of the highest rolls encountered so far with 5000 kg of trotyl having a damage effect of Ob54d6. Imagine actually trying to roll that in session.
We don’t however get any calculations for shrapnel damage because that’s dependant on the type of charge. Small blessings I imagine.

Setting off a charge in a confined space gives higher blast damage, so in this case you need to multiply the base radius. If you decide to blow something up under water you get a higher blast damage value, which translates to multiplying the radius with 6. But the shrapnel value is always decreased by 5 and the shrapnel zone is decreased by a tenth or x0,1.
Why the decimals, whyyyy?!

So the shockwave from an explosion goes radially from ground zero so the best option to protect yourself is going around a corner. Each 90° turn that a shockwave has to take decreases its damage by half.

An explosion can also throw you backwards. If the damage effect from an explosion is higher than your STY+TÅL/2 that means you’re thrown off balance. If the damage is higher than your STY+TÅL that means you’re thrown prone by the explosion. If the damage exceeds 40 that means you’re thrown backwards a meter for each five steps the damage exceeds 40 in a straight line from ground zero. Your trip will always end up with you being prone.
I get the feeling that with the minimum damage that an explosion does is Ob6D6 that means you’re very likely to be thrown off balance from almost every explosion unless your STY+TÅL value is good. That kind of ruins any chance for cool guys don’t look at explosions moments when almost everyone manage to stumble.

Shrapnel is the other big killer when it comes to explosions. If you’re within the shrapnel zone then you get hit automatically. But then the book never really goes into detail at how you’re meant to calculate that and goes on about how the shrapnel area is higher the closer you get to a blast. So I’m guessing it’s based on whatever explosions are available in the inevitable gear section or it’s just some weird oversight as not even the example goes into much detail about it.
All extra damage is rolled on the damage table for projectiles with the big difference being that hit locations are determined after the shrapnel effect and extra wounds are calculated. This is because the extra wounds will be allocated to a random body part, this to simulate the fact that it can hit several places. The damage is then equal to its shrapnel value. Armor will prevent some of the damage. The shrapnel has a PEN value going from 5 down to 2 based on the different ranges.

Lastly we have rules for flashbangs. Man I hated those in Shadowrun after a particularly nasty encounter inside an underground research base. Then again every player ended up hating them as well so I wasn’t alone. Either way, flashbangs have a shock effect value, this value goes down by Ob1D6 per base radius.
If you get caught in the blast you roll the shock effect value and then add that result to your pain tracker, in this case it's advised to mark them as circles to differentiate them. After that you roll on your shock value. If you fail then you’re paralyzed and can’t act at all. If you succeed then you can act but have to consider the difficulty modifications from your pain levels. As long as you have pain circles you need to add the penalty to any checks, including those using SYN or HÖR.
The marks disappear at a rate of five per round. Each time you get a new row on the column, and has been paralyzed before, you need to roll a new shock check to see if they get to act again.
Wearing sunglasses or hearing protection will help to nullify the effects of flashbangs.

Short and relatively painless section. While these rules are clunky, at least how to calculate the explosions, they are not as crazy as I remember the Shadowrun explosives rules being where you have to calculate the square root or something.

Next time: Remember to always use protection.

I stand in front of you, I'll take the force of the blow, Protection.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 14: I stand in front of you, I'll take the force of the blow, Protection.

To talk armor in Neotech we must first talk about Penetration. All projectiles in the game comes with a Penetration or PEN value. This is written in brackets before the damage value for each projectile because this game, much like Cyberpunk derives all weapon damage from the ammo. And oh boy are there lots of ammunition types available. But that’s for the next update. So for example Full Metal Jacket 9mm Luger Parabellum ammo, yes they have to give the full name just because, is PEN 4. Which is written as [4] Ob3D6. PEN can never go below 0 and the higher the value is, the higher the power of the round.

PEN is always compared to an object's protection value or SKY. All types of body armor has an armor class, which is a basic value for how well it protects against projectiles.
Oddly enough it makes mention of the armor values in Neotech Offensive in the next sentence instead of just referring to the core book. But it then goes on to say that all the values are determined by the American limits set by the National Institute of
Justice, which is a real organisation for those not aware of it, and using their 2049 revision. According to the book this value is 0101.08 without going further into what that actually means. The armor classes gives a SKY value that is used to determine if a projectile manages to penetrate the armor or not.

So how does this all work then? If someone getting shot is wearing armor or is standing behind cover then you need to first see what the SKY value is and then compare that to the projectiles PEN value. What you want, or don’t want, is the PEN value being higher than SKY.
If PEN beats SKY then the round goes through and is only marginally stopped, damage is reduced by SKY to a minimum of 1. If SKY on the other hand is 0 then the damage is decrease by 1.
If PEN and SKY are equal then the round will go through but is stopped significantly, damage is reduced by half to a minimum of 1.
If PEN is beaten by SKY then the round is stopped by the armor. But you will still get pain points equal to the number of damage dice. But not if you’re wearing non-rigid or semi-rigid armor.

Most melee weapons lack a PEN value so in that case SKY is directly subtracted from the damage roll. Unless the damage is crushing because then the damage is SKY x 0,5 against rigid or semi-rigid armor.

So why the armor classes then? Well the book states that its partially because body armor is already defined by the same classes that they use and partially helps roleplaying.

Neotech posted:

So instead of saying:
“How much does this vest protect then? Uuh… it has a armor value of six, pretty good then!” the GM can, as a clerk, say “This is a superb armor that got armor class I by Weapons and Bullets International – as you know it can handle a full metal jacket 357 round at one meters distance! And furthermore…”.
A bit more fun than going on about technical numbers right?

Help, my hand can stop making jerk off motions as I’m writing that. Coating it in fluff is all fine and dandy but in the end the player is still going to need to know what how well it protects them from being shot at by corporate ninjas. So either you’re going to rattle of some numbers unless you’re telling them to look it up in the book afterwards. Or maybe I’m getting too harsh on the book but it still feels like a weird thing to go on about in the middle of rules. Either way, armor classes range from IA to V with a SKY value of 3 to 12. There is also a mention of what kind of FMJ ammo they’re meant to resist with IA meant for 5,4mm FWD and V meant for .50 BMG rounds. Anything above SKY 9 is only available as non-rigid so we’re most likely dealing with armor plating in that case.

Then there’s a couple of special cases however, because there absolutely has to be a difference between no SKY value and SKY value of 0. Leather armor has SKY 0 which decreases all projectile damage by 1. Projectiles with PEN 0 also gets their damage halved. Leather armor on the other hand has a SKY value of 5 against melee weapons.

Our first optional rule deals with wearing multiple layers of armor. Usually you only wear one type of armor on each body part but you can decide to wear several layers, even if that quickly gets cumbersome. You’re not allowed to stack non-rigid or semi rigid armor on top of rigid armor. Each extra layer outside of the inner layer only grants half their SKY value, rounded downwards, to the effective SKY value. Wearing multiple layers also affects Initiative with the outer layers SKY times 2. For armor without SKY, such as leather, it’s weight times 2.
Armor can also be reinforced with ceramic plates. One of the suggested types is steel, which is something I’m not sure hasn’t be used for a long time because it’s far too heavy and cumbersome compared to ceramics. But I could be wrong about this. Reinforced armor increases SKY with 1 and increases weight between ½ to 1½ kilograms. Initiative is also decreased by 5.
Body armor can’t resist damage forever before whatever they’re made of gets worn out. If the wearer gets hit by a projectile that has a PEN of 2 or more they can chose to roll an Ob2D6 roll. If the value is below the SKY value then it gets decreased by 1.

Then there’s talk about solid cover and them having SKY values as well that decreases a bullets PEN value. If PEN hits 0 thanks to this then the bullet is stopped so putting as many things between you and the shooter is a very good idea. We also get two different tables, one for dealing what kind of SKY values certain material get based on their thickness. For instance concrete that is 1 meter thick gets a SKY value of 18 while Pinewood only gets 10 PEN. As well as a table dealing with the SKY value of various objects, a human body has Ob1D6 SKY while a full trash can has SKY 2.
Would’ve expected an average value for a human body in this case and oddly enough no mentions that the table is just a set of examples to be used by the GM as before.

Finally we get a whole page of various kinds of armor from jackets, to vests and helmets. I find it odd that they’re listing a US Army Steel Helmet, since that has most likely not been a thing in use since the late 80’s, and not a PASGT kevlar helmet. The rest are just random names that doesn’t mean all that much. Feels like you could’ve generalized this list. Especially the ballistic vests have multiple with the same armor class and type with the only real difference being weight. There isn’t much difference between a DuPont Kev-B vest and a Toshiba Lifeguard-II in terms of rules other than the latter costs 255 euros compared to 229 euros. They’re both Class 2 flexible vests that weight 0.9kgs and that is it.
So why are they there? Who knows.

Part 15 - Whoops

Suddenly squeezed in between Armor and Weapons we have the fumble charts for no real reason. My PDF doesn’t even list it as a separate entry. The header is also called critical success and fumble but beyond the rules for those being mentioned again there isn’t any tables for when you roll extra well. Instead we get five different fumble tables meant for combat. It’s not even in the middle of the boo, the tables just show up on page 127 to 129 without much fanfare.

As a reminder for a roll to be considered a fumble if 2 or more dice show as 6’s on the first roll before any eventual Ob rerolls have to be done. The dice result also needs to be higher than the relevant skill ranks. If neither of those criterias are fulfilled then it’s just a failure.

The book admits that Neotech is a system where fumbles are fairly common, especially at higher difficulty levels, the effects tables are not technically meant to kill or seriously hurt you. But you can still be killed by indirect consequences from the fumble, like dropping a grenade by your feet. The GM is encouraged to also improvise, to come up with results that doesn’t coincide with the situation that the character is in. If you’re prone you can fall down again for instance, unless I suppose the GM considers the floor to have been weakened somehow…
Or the GM can just reroll, which for some reason the book calls in the worst case. I guess the writers simply enjoy watching PC’s getting hurt.

So we have five different 1D10 tables. All of them have pretty much the same entries but in various positions. The book really seems to love having you sprain your ankle. That decreases your FÖR för a number of days. Or entangle yourself in your clothes. Otherwise they all really boil down to you either being unable to do something for the rest of your turn or you gain points in pain or trauma. When it comes to ranged weapons you can also risk shooting someone else. Some of the effects are kind of silly. For weapon tables there is a chance of dropping your weapon or missing really hard. During which you are supposed to look like an absolute idiot as a result as you look around for your weapon or your missed shot. You can also shoot yourself in your foot, something I think might be hard to do in a normal firefight but it’s a table result. That can also happen with thrown weapons, with grenades apparently automatically explode once that happens going by the vague wording. A fantastic reason to never use hand grenades at any point in this game. You can even be such a klutz with a firearm that you fall and hurt yourself and damage your weapon and lower your initiative.
Fun times!

I hate fumble tables and these are no different. They’re just an excuse to make a character look like an idiot, or in case if you throw a grenade, hurt yourself and others. With the dice system being as bad as it is I can imagine even hard rolls will for a very long time create a veritable string of failures and it’s far more likely that character will end up hurting themselves more than whoever they’re fighting. But perhaps the same can be said for NPC’s too because I’m not seeing any mentions that they’re exempt from rolling on these tables as well.

Next time: Bang bang, he shot me down.

Guns, lots of guns.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 16 - Guns, lots of guns.

In comparison to the other chapters this doesn’t actually tell us all that much instead it shows you a lot of things. Because let’s get one thing straight here, Neotech fucking loves guns.

We get a sidebar about gun purchases in the year 2059. In many ways it’s more or less the same as how it works elsewhere to the best of my knowledge. Your information, including biometrics, is fed into a database connected to both local police as well as Interpol. Interpol is a really big player in this setting I should add as the sidebar goes on to mention that they a lot of information about you, ranging from address to debts or if you’re an addict. All of which can be used to deny a purchase. Otherwise you’re free to buy a gun.
All weapons have been fitted with a transponder and its tested before purchase. Then the weapon ID is fed into the weapons computer that contains the owner and specifications. That number is also etched onto the gun somewhere.

If you want an illegal gun on the other hand you need to be careful to make sure the gun isn’t considered hot property from being used elsewhere. Most serious illegal arms deals have means to either forge the weapon ID or hack the computer to make the gun appear legal. Or simply wipe the gun from all databases so it can’t be identified. But if you possess such a weapon you’re in deep shit legally.
You can get pistols, revolvers, hunting rifles and semi-automatic shotguns without special licenses. Costs I’m sure will show up in the gear section or something.

Beyond that there is just an explanation of table terminology. Also of what accessories you can get. Of which there is a bunch like a guncam or a cyberlink. Or the usual things like sights, suppressors and so on. So odd to see a weapon attachment list that doesn’t have a foregrip and just bipods. After that we get to the meat of the chapter.
Which is guns.
Several tables worth of them. Just pages upon pages of tables filled with various firearms ranging from revolvers to assault rifles, shotguns and going as far as gatling guns.
But that’s it really, it’s just tables upon tables of guns. None of them get any kind of information about them. They’re just names followed by a string of numbers. There is art of some of them but a lot of them is also just modern guns slightly spruced up. Most notable is perhaps the G22 A1. Turns out the G11 project did work out exceedingly well in Neotech. None of them get any information dumps about them like Cyberpunk 2020 or Shadowrun might do. Really dry and boring if anything mostly because it’s hard to drool over just numbers in this case when it’s all so dense..

As I’ve said before, damage in this game is derived from whatever ammunition is used and what follows after the weapon stats is 3½ pages of all the kinds of ammo available in the game. There are 40 different weapon calibres and those are in turn broken down to 12 different types. Ranging from standard Full Metal Jacket rounds to some more in setting things such as Glaser Safety slugs that are made to be used in space or in aircraft where hull breaches are very bad ideas or Tenton rounds that are invisible to most security scanners.
A lot of these rounds have their own modifiers to a number of things like EAB, recoil and to hit.

The book then goes on to say that Neotech Offensive adds even more types of bullets and then goes on to list all of them directly afterwards.

There’s also several pages worth of melee weapons. All of those broken down into various types as well. I can mentions that the Katana is neither the most expensive or best sword available in the list. The No-Dachi is the most expensive sword on the list and the Two handed sword is the most damaging at Ob4D6 compared to the Katana’s Ob3D6.

That is not to say there’s some oddities scattered around these tables. For instance the natural weapon table has entries for both shark bite and vampire bite. A frying pan does +Ob1D6+1 crushing damage. While a coffee maker or microwave both do Ob1D6+2 crushing damage if used as a throwing weapon. A coffee table on the other hand does Ob2D6+1 crushing damage if thrown.

But that’s it really, it’s just pages upon pages of tables with weapons of various kinds and ammunition. Even as someone who is a bit of a gun nut it’s just boring to go through this part because it has nothing to it. Where’s interesting world information baked into describing some of these guns? What does a Mauser Kampfgewehr-4 look like? Or an FWD Galaxy Assault for that part? (None of those are included in the small art display I should add.) Instead they’re just numbers and names and that’s boring as fuck. Not to mention insanely complicated for that part with having to remember the various kinds of ammo and what they all do.

Next time: Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame.

Pain does the body good.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 17: Pain does the body good.

Being a cyberpunk adventurer it’s inevitable that you’ll get injured at some point. Either from being attacked by vicious corporate wrestler ninjas or throwing out your back while trying to punch a ganger. Strap yourself in, this is going to take a while.

Whenever you sustain an injury in N2 you get a number of marks, or points really, of Trauma, Pain and Bleeding. The latter gives you points in blood loss each round as well.

The pain! Again!

Each time the points you gain flow over to a new row the harder your Shock and Death rolls becomes. Failing a Shock roll means that you go unconscious while the latter, unsurprisingly means that you’re dead.

Let’s do a slight rules refresher since it’s been a while since we did character creation. The number of damage columns you get to use in each of those categories is dependant on what your physique score was during character creation. For instance Sylvanus got 32 as his physique score and ended up in the normal range, so he got 6 columns. If he had been weaker he could’ve gotten as low as 4 of them or if he was sturdier he could’ve gotten as high as 8. Then he also got one extra row under the pain section due to to the pain resistant advantage. There are a couple of more advantages that changes the values for those, as well as drawbacks that decreases them.

A character’s shock value is a measurement at how much you can stand pain and how well you can stay conscious. The same value is used for both Shock rolls as well as Death rolls.

The book states that the rules for wounds are fairly complex. If they’re being honest about that then I feel they could’ve tried to redesign them so they’re not as complex. But here we are regardless. So it gives us a breakdown of 8(!) steps you need to do to calculate damage.

The book does spend a bit too many words to run these through in my meaning and I feel it could’ve been trimmed down slightly.
It then goes on to say that the damage system in N2 is more or less compatible with Eon. With the only difference that the term “Number of wounds” is not in N2 as it’s used for calculations on the damage table.
But why is this the case you ask? Only so that you can have the character play in one of the extremely popular VR games that takes place in Mundana, which is the world that Eon is set in. (Slight jerk off motion for having one of their previous games be really popular in another one.)

Neotech posted:

Here is an opportunity for the GM to shock the players – especially if they die in ‘Mundana’
So if you die in Mundana you die in real life?

Trauma takes a while to heal, usually its one point per day. It can be increased to two points per day if you rest for a full day and get medical attention. If you’re active it will go down to one point per every other day, it’s up to the GM to decide at how active you’ve been in this case.
Pain heals faster in comparison, the usual rate is one point her hour. Two points per hour during rest and treatment. One point every other hour if active.

To track Bleeding you don’t need to track any points and simply write up the rate in the box above bloodloss. If the rate is below 10 then each point equals to one point of Blood Loss per minute. So a bleed rate 5 would mean that you gain 5 points of Blood Loss.
Above that the ratio changes to one point per round and then goes up by one per each 10. So a bleed rate for 30+ would mean that you get 3 marks per round.
Bleeding counts for both superficial wounds and internal bleeding. Obviously the latter is much harder to stop without drugs or surgery. Bleeding heals quickly naturally and faster with bandages. Normally it decreases with one point every 10 minutes. If rested it goes down by 5 minutes. If moving around then it goes up to every 20 minutes.

So the book amusingly decides to call out the optional rule to ignore blood loss if your bleed rate is under 10 as unrealistic. Anything under that value could be considered really marginal. It goes on to say that this rule will decrease bookkeeping on the character sheet. Oh no, how awful. But it also makes the game a lot less realistic and the GM really needs to think through if this rule should be used.
What the fuck ever happened to their initial statement about this game being an action based thriller game when it suddenly starts saying that some rules might be considered unrealistic? Where was the complaint about Hong Kong shooting being unrealistic? Get your themes and motivations sorted before you write the rules, and not afterwards or midway through.

Then we have the complete opposite of that rule where you need to track all of your bleeding wounds individually. The reasoning why you should do a more detailed wound tracking is so that you can see which wounds get treated. I guess this rule is made for those who get off on checking things off on a list then. This rule then makes the treatment process to stop the bleeding more realistic. It doesn’t really add anything because it then goes on to say that the blood loss rate is still based on the sum of all the wounds bleeding rate. So it’s pointless bookkeeping, something which this game absolutely loves, and adds nothing unlike the previous optional rule that they called unrealistic. Probably because it reduced what you needed to track.
Double standards much?
It also gets an example for some reason. I guess the writers really needed to explain that all the rule involved was that you combine numbers to a big number. Absolute waste of space.

Blood loss is regained at the same pace as pain; with one point per hour, two points per hour when resting and one point every other hour if active. The book just repeats itself again about how higher blood loss means higher difficulty rolls and that you need to roll for shock every time your blood loss goes up one row. It does this for all of them, just endlessly repeating the same bunch of information. Feels like they should’ve hired a better editor.

Death rolls is a thing we’ve seen cropped up a couple of times before. Things have pretty much gone tits up for you if you need to start rolling for these. Whenever you gain Trauma you need to roll for one immediately, and they’re always rolled before any eventual shock rolls. But if you gain multiple points of Trauma from various extra wounds then you only need to roll one Death roll after all the Trauma points have been added. To survive you need to roll under your Shock value and you derive the difficulty level from the Trauma and Blood loss sections on your sheet. Although it doesn’t mention what happens when those numbers are different but I assume you go for the one with the highest value.
Considering that Sylvanus only got a 10 on his Shock value his chances of surviving decreases very rapidly above Ob2d6 difficulty. On the first Ob3d6 roll I did as a test I managed to get 16 which would’ve meant he would’ve breathed his last. So the writers weren’t kidding about this system being incredibly lethal. Especially when regular 9mm FMJ round does [5] Ob3D6+3 damage.
Shock rolls work in the same way, only that you go unconscious whenever you fail, only that you gain the difficulty from Trauma, Pain and Blood loss. Once again lots of repetition when it comes to rules.

If you go unconscious you have to succeed with another Shock roll to wake up again or you end up dying. But the book says that you don’t have to roll for it until someone goes to check on you. So for a while you can become an Uncertainty Lich where you don’t know if you’re alive or dead. But as per usual, all up to the GM’s discretion.
If the Death roll would reach ‘ridiculously’ high levels, like Ob10d6, then the GM should demand a symbolic death roll and then, possibly, declare them dead.
Ob10d6 is frankly far too generous for a ‘ridiculously high’ value suggestion when you’re most likely not able to survive over Ob6d6 at best. Even with a slightly above average Shock save.

Lastly for this part we get a couple of optional rules.
As we all know, swords will fucking cut you and if you get extra wounds from slashing damage it can lead to the affected limb being removed outright, or a traumatic amputation. To avoid getting your hand or other body part sliced off you roll a difficulty roll against STY and the difficulty is as many dice as extra wounds. So 4 extra wounds is Ob4D6 for example, but this can also be affected by what body part is struck. Arms and legs (all of them broken down into separate sections of course) incur no penalty while the neck is -Ob1D6 or the chest is -Ob3D6.
Funny enough there isn’t any risk for amputations in the damage tables so it’s suggested that the GM rolls for that risk if you gain two or more extra wounds. The table also has a bunch of damage information. Oddly enough decapitation is ‘only’ +500 Trauma, +10 Pain and +50 Bleeding. While head or face is the same but +10 bleeding. Why they didn’t just say instant death there I’m not really sure.

Our second optional rule is that initiative will be affected by how much pain you have. It decreases by 10 steps for each row of Pain that has been started. If the goes down to 0 it means they’re not allowed to do anything. Other than just sitting there groaning. The example includes a character named Tucker Bandwood. Once again the names feel like they’re from action movies made by Italians or maybe Eastern Europeans.

A wounded person moves slower than a healthy one. This optional rule makes it so that FÖR is decreased by 1 for each row of Pain that has been started. But it won’t affect the two meters step you can take as a free action.

If you attack someone with a natural weapon, like a fist or a kick, and you deal a lot of damage then the attacker gets damaged as well. For each extra wound you cause on an enemy with a natural weapon the attacker gets a point of pain themselves. This rule is ignored if you use something like a knuckle-dusters, sap glove or similar.

The damage rules continues the trend in force with a lot of pointless bookkeeping, considering you have three different damage trackers to keep in mind. Also death feels really easy a cheap as well considering how frequent the death rolls seem to be and how quickly the difficulty ramps up. Also needing 8 steps to calculate damage shouldn’t really be needed for that part.
Sadly this was only the first part.

Next time: Unfortunately, his spine is now clearly visible from the front.

The intense pain of having a leg removed causes him to quit.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 17-2: The intense pain of having a leg removed causes him to quit.

It’s back!

Hit tables! Neotech loves them as much as they love guns. From being an example of just how much this game love tables we’re now dealing with these directly. Both the melee and ranged combat tables come with columns for high, low and normal hits to reflect the three different attack levels. Aiming high means that the chance of hitting the levels decreases rapidly and so on. You’re allowed to aim either high or low without difficulty penalties with guns on normal and short ranges while automatic weapons can only go high or low on short ranges. It seems odd but I’m assuming it’s their way of simulating recoil climb. But they’re not really stating their motivation as to why and I can’t recall if it cropped up during the firearms rules or not on the top of my head.

So let’s break down the table since I imagine most people have no fucking clue what it says. First three columns as mentioned is the Normal/High/Low range of there your attack might go. Then after that you have the hit location like say head, left or right arm and so on. After that you have the sub hit area like face, head or throat. As to what the code part refers to I have no idea. The book haven’t gotten into that as of yet.

We get an optional rule about how to count buckshot hits. If shooting at targets on the far or very far target range then you need to roll an extra 1d6. If the result ends up being 1-2 then the nearest lower body part on the hit table has also been hit. At 3-4 then only one hit location has been hit and if it manages to hit two then both has to roll damage separately. At 5-6 then the nearest highest body part has been hit going by enumeration. Doesn’t count at short or medium distances nor does it work for slugs or flechettes.

If you thought the hit tables were cluttered, then think again because the damage tables are an absolute nightmare too look at. They’re also, unlike any other table in the book, arranged sideways due to their size. There are three of them, dealing with the three primary kinds of damage: Projectile (P), Crushing (K) and Stabbing (H).

So each of these tables are broken down into general areas. Face, Head, Throat, Arm, Chest, Stomach, Groin and Legs. First field after that is how much Trauma, Pain, Bleeding you get from being hit in that area. No need to roll for extra wounds. After that comes the 1d10 table for what specific extra wound you can take. The remaining fields deal with how much damage you get within the damage ranges and how many extra wounds you have to roll.
Yes, you can in fact get hit in the reproductive organs. That’s the 1-3 result on the groin section.

The tables are have some limitations as you might see, you can’t for instance do more than 30 damage to an arm or a leg and the damage caps out at 50. Any wound effects would essentially lead to overpenetration. Explosive damage is an exception to this.

If you get really unlucky you can sustain organ damage. Any damage ther means an extra point of Trauma and Pain per hour if the damage hasn’t been operated. Which is also the only way to heal that is through surgery. Even if they will heal Trauma and Pain normally despite this. Also infections can prevent Trauma healing.
I can’t imagine trying to do battlefield surgery in this game and so in some cases your character is pretty much fucked if they get that result for being hit in the stomach. Unless the GM feels gracious in some way or another. Also yes, this game has rules for surgery. Because realism! Or simulationism for that part.

A sidebar (spanning most of a page) details all the various kinds of extra wounds you can get. For instance, getting shot in the chest can mean that you can break one of your ribs that can then puncture a lung. Getting shot in the reproductive organs means that going to the bathroom is extremely pain for the next month and all other intimate activities are impossible unless you undergo surgery. Is there a cyberdong available? We will have to wait and see because the cybertech rules is another chapter away. You can also break your spine and get paralyzed. And so on and so on.
There isn’t even any fun critical hit tables like in Dark Heresy, it just lists various grievous injuries you can sustain.
We also get organ damage table, a d10 table detailing all the organs in the abdomen so you can be hit in the colon or gallbladder for instance.

Whenever the damage from an extra wound says BR it means that there is a risk for a bone to break. The number next to it is how many ObD6’s you need to roll against STY. BR4 for instance means that the difficulty is Ob4D6. If you win, then it’ll just hurt. If you fail, it goes snap and you can’t use that body part properly. Break a leg and you can only move forward by hopping or crawling. If you fumble on the other hand, the bone is shattered. But that can only happen with legs.

So we’ve dealt with the three main types of damage you can take. But wait, there’s more! There is also burns. This game has a skill for flamethrowers so it was just a question of time until we got to this. Burn, due to their large surface area, has a much higher chance of infection than the previous kinds of damage we’ve seen. They can either affect one body part, as in one of the seven hit locations from before, or several. Each turn an area is exposed to fire or something that is incredibly hot you roll once for Trauma and Pain. The burn is calculated at the end of each turn but before you roll any Death or Shock rolls. How many dice that need to be rolled is wholly dependant on how intensive the fire is or how hot the object/fluid is. If multiple areas are affected then you roll combined checks for Trauma and Pain.
There’s a chart, which for some reason decides to include nuclear detonations. And napalm.
If you stand very close to nuclear detonation you take Ob5D6 Trauma and Pain. How close this might actually be is not mentioned so it’s feasible that you can survive a nuke going off in N2. But I highly doubt that. Napalm is Ob2D6. Both of these also have an combustion value of 12.

If you happen to wear clothes in the affected areas then they’ll protect you for a while, but it’s only temporary as before long your clothes are going to catch fire as well. If you’re wearing multiple layers of different difficulty then those effects will stack.

Each round that something is exposed to fire and heat there is a chance that it might catch fire. Every time of fire and heat has its own specific combustion value that is the chance at how easily it can combust something else. The value in itself is equivalent to skill ranks. Then we get another table of various modifications we need for our combustion roll. If that check succeeds then it starts to burn as well, if it fails then the roll is repeated the next round. The difficulty does decrease for each successive attempt.

Apparently the book has never heard about the term stop, drop and roll as it says the only thing that someone can do while they’re on fire is scream as loud as possible and run around. Most likely flailing their arms as much as possible to complete the picture. While the book continues on to say that you need to be mindful of what can be used to extinguish different fires, it doesn’t really provide any rules to this. We do however get rules how to use a blanket on someone to extinguish a fire, which is a normal difficulty roll under RÖR for each bodypart. Doesn’t say anything about how you accomplish this if they’re meant to run around like the human torch. A fire extinguisher does the job in a round, unless the target is moving away from it.
It feels like these section is an afterthought in a way, which is weird for a game that is incredibly simulationist and takes great pride in being realistic.

Acid damage is more or less equal to fire damage. The main difference is that protective clothing is different. Each layer of clothing or armor lasts for one round before they’re ruined but special protective clothing can last longer. But that’s up to the GM on a case by case basis. Concentrated acid gives Ob1D6 Trauma and Pain and will continue to sizzle for three rounds unless washed away. Larger amounts will obviously last longer.

Explosive damage gets its own, much smaller, damage table. On my PDF copy however its a artifacted mess and neigh on unreadable but for all intents and purposes it looks like the previous ones.

Electrical damage can go as low as Ob1D6 to Ob20D6 points of Trauma and Pain. These are recovered at one per round. There is also a chance to get stuck. Roll against luck with either an average difficulty or very easy depending what part is in contact with the source. Failure means that you’re still holding onto the source and keep getting damage. Going by RAW this means that you can technically get stuck onto a taser or an electric prod, since there is no mentioned exception for either of those.

No comment.

Falling from great heights is probably one of the greatest killers in RPGs. Neotech, being the simulationist game it is, is no different. The relevant table lists a number of heights, time, speed and terminal velocity outside of damage and how many hit locations.
Let’s use the extreme as an example:
1400 meters and more has a fall time of 23 seconds, a speed of 85 m/s, a terminal velocity of 306 km/h, damage is Ob17D6 and hits 7 different locations.
There is also a second table with extra modifications for what kind of surface you land on or if you manage to use RÖR, Freefall, Jump or Acrobatics. Or land in water and use Freefall or Jump. A footnote mentions that if the height is between two different mentioned ones then you should use the highest one. Just to make someone splatter extra hard I suppose.

The cherry on top is the comment about the table can’t be used in vacuum and instead used the formula v=sqrt (2 * a * s) where v is speed in m/s, s is the falling distance, (m) and a is acceleration. On earth its a09,8m/s^2 and on the moon its 1,52m/s^2.
If you need evidence that the game has obviously been written by engineers then look no further. Good grief.

If you at the same time manage to fall through glass and it’s the kind that can splinter then you get Ob1D6-5 points of Trauma and Ob1D6-2 points of Pain as well as a Bleed rate of Ob1d6-4. All results lower than zero is counted as zero.

The fall table is also used when you manage to get hit by a car without any major modifications.The book has to state that it’s not used if you’re sitting inside the car for some reason. Haven’t seen any rules about being launched out of a car yet though.
Jumping out of a moving vehicle you take from both falling, if the height is sufficient, as well as from the ground stopping your momentum. To which we get two more tables.
Sliding across the ground is relatively safe but things change when you suddenly collide with something else. For that you use the falling table again but the GM is encouraged to decrease your velocity as well as consider if the object might be considered soft.
I’m going to quote the example just so see how convoluted things can be in this case:

Neotech posted:

Example: The Adventurer Jace Ryker jumps from the roof of a burning lorry that without a driver is going across a lawn in Central Park. The lorry is travelling at a speed of 80km/h and the height of the roof is 4 meters.
The fall from the roof is counted as 5 meters which means that Jace gets Ob2D6 damage in two different body parts. But because the lawn is counted as a damping surface that is reduced to Ob1D6. Jace as per usual gets to roll against RÖR, Freefall, Jump or Acrobatics. He selects Jump, but fails the roll. Jace must then take Ob1D6 in two separate body parts. The damage is counted as crushing.
After Jace lands he starts sliding. This caused Ob4D6 Trauma and Ob4D6 Pain, that is reduced because of the dampening surface (-Ob1D6) as well as Jace has normal clothes on him (-Ob1D6). Jace then gets Ob2D6 Trauma and Ob2D6 Pain from sliding over the lawn.
Unfortunately there is a park bench with a horrified drunkard in the way for Jace. The GM judges that the speed has been halved to 40 km/h. The collision with the park bench is calculated as a fall from 8 meters. This causes Ob3D6 damage in three different body parts. The damage is however reduced to Ob1D6 because the GM decides that the loose park bench is considered as ‘dampening surface’. Jace must then take Ob2D6 in three different randomized body parts. The damage is counted as crushing.
Jace gets up rather bruised, but can walk away.

The whole example almost feels like Jace’s player doing something dumb and the GM trying to not have his character killed with how many various small modifications are stacked on top of each other. All to lower the damage he might take from this. Also fuck the homeless as well I suppose.
This is also an absurd amount of rolls for doing that as well. In Neotech it seems like every 5 seconds of ingame action is followed by 5 minutes of dice rolling, cross referencing tables and doing various calculations. Repeat ad nauseum until either the players or the GM has had enough and you play Feng Shui instead for their cinematic action campaign.

We get rules what happens when someone gets strangled, something which we briefly touched upon in the melee combat chapter. In order to initiate this you need to have successfully grappled someone and put them in a lock.
If you want to do anything but to try to get free you need to roll a hard check against Combat Experience. There is of course a specific damage table for this as well.
At the same time the victim gets as many points of asphyxia as the reduced damage. These are tallied in the Blood Loss section. What this does we’ll deal once we get into the drowning rules but one difference is that you don’t gain any extra Trauma and Pain if you fail a Shock roll. Large amounts of damage leads to a crushed throat which gives you four points of asphyxia per round. In order to fix this then you need to intubate, which is an easy difficulty check against Surgery and takes 20 seconds (or five rounds) to do if tools is nearby.
Once again an absolute mess of simulationist rules that I’m pretty sure I didn’t even manage to convey correctly.

This might just be an ever bigger annoying mess of a chapter than the Exhaustion rules. The automatic weapon rules are a league of their own though.

Each round that you don’t breathe you get 2 points of asphyxia. As mentioned previously those points are tracked in the same section as Blood Loss but with a different mark. The rate is increased to 4 points during strenuous activity. Whenever the difficulty for Shock roles increase you need to roll for it to see if you can manage to keep your breath. Difficulty is equal to the Shock roll but can be modified somewhat. If you fail you want to get up to the surface as soon as possible and unable to do any other actions. It doesn’t say what happens though if you fail the check while holding your breath while not trying to breathe something in but I assume that’s just you gasping for air.
Every time the difficulty increases you need another Shock roll, if you fail that means your lungs are beginning to fill with water. You gain Ob1D6 points of Trauma and Ob2D6 points of Pain for each round where this is happening. This is followed by yet more Shock rolls until you go unconscious which is then followed by increasingly difficult Death rolls until you either get saved or reach the pearly gates.
If you stay under water voluntarily you need to roll against VIL each round to not resurface and catch your breath. If they’re swimming in a tunnel then they need to turn back. Sucks to be you if you’re at the halfway point in that case, or right at the end.

We get an optional rule about if you’re trained you can hold your breath for longer. If you have points in the Diving skill, with a speciality in freediving you can use the ranks in that instead of your Shock value to roll to hold your breath. The Diving skill can also be used instead of VIL when you need to resist to go back to the surface for air.

For each round you breathe normally you gain one point of asphyxia. If you’re bleeding at the same time and end up with different types of marks then you might be forced to move bleeding marks downwards to make sure there aren’t any empty squares in the middle of them. Oh joy, even more bookkeeping.

Unlike D&D this game as rules as how to recover someone from drowning. So in order to get the water out of someone’s lungs you need to succeed a normal difficulty check against First Aid. Each attempt takes two turns to succeed. If they’re conscious and try to it themselves then it’s either against their TÅL of First Aid. A minor oversight is that this sentence also mentions that you can use the Medicine skill.

If you remembered the career section I mentioned that both the Officer and the Soldier could get an event where they were survived a nuclear blast. Absorbed radiation is measured in gray or Gy, but there is also centigray or cGy. Each dosage you get exposed to is stacked upon the previous ones. To see the effects we need, once again, two different tables. One lists how many periods you need to go through for the second table as well as the intervals between them. So at a radiation level of 100 cGy that means you have to do two periods with a weeks gap. This moves us along to the second table that deals with the radiation sickness itself. You always start at the top and note down the effects of the first period. Then the gap time happens and you move down a row to the second period. But you’re not meant to exceed the number of periods based on the ones listed in the previous table.
For example in our previous example we note that period 1 involves Ob1D6 Trauma points, TÅL and STY gets lowered by 1D6-5 while you feel a bit ill.
Then we wait a week and move down a line to period 2 where we gain another Ob1D6 points of Trauma and lower TÅL and STY by 1D6-5 again while feeling even worse.
If you reach 8 periods then you 100% dead. Even if you’re still meant to roll for Trauma, Pain and attribute decrease for some reason.

Fuck this whole chapter, it’s all an insane and over complicated mess from start to finish. Possibly one of the worst ones in the book and has so many different roadblocks you need to roll dice in order to do things.

Next time: I’m a doctor, not a cyberpunk.

The Doctor is in.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 18: The Doctor is in.

In a first we get a chapter summary this time around as an introduction. Something which hasn’t been seen before, a nice change of pace. It also mentions that one of the key factors in all of this is how much rest you’ll get. Also all the pictures are just stock images of people doing medicine things.

Unconscious people who are still bleeding, that is to say they have a bleed rate of above 0, runs the risk of dying of blood loss unless they get help fast. As mentioned an update ago you don’t need to roll for Death until help arrives.and someone starts treating you. But then you also need to calculate how much blood has been lost during the period that you’ve been unconscious up to the point they’ve gotten help. Great.

There’s also a sidebar dealing with this, called “Screaming Players…”. The fact that you might wait rolling for Death might make some players nervous. Then it delves into a weird metagaming approach that I feel deserves to be quoted:

Neotech posted:

A smart player will maybe think that they could exploit the rules and never help a bleeding character because you’ll only roll the Death Roll when they get hep. If he then doesn’t get any help then you don’t need to roll the Death roll – and the character survives… Now this isn’t really the case.
That is such an insane Rules as Written reading of the rules that I’m wondering if it’s something the writers have actually encountered during a session or just something they might have pulled out of their asses.
Then it just repeats the stuff about symbolic death rolls if the difficulty is too high. This time using Ob15D6(!) as an example. That is hilariously over the top and really unnecessary as well when as I mentioned before it’s very unlikely that you’ll survive an Ob6D6 difficulty check due to the Shock save being low on average.

In some cases you can be brought back from the brink of death. But only if your heart has stopped and you have access to a competent and well equipped medical care unit.

In order to regain consciousness you need to roll with a Shock roll, you get to roll every time a row on the damage columns clears out. If the bonus drops into the negatives you still have to roll to wake up. I would assume this is more of a symbolic thing than an actual check you have to make. The Shock value can also be affected by various kinds of drugs that makes it easier to wake you up. Usually once the drug kicks in you will need to make a Shock roll.

We get optional rules for being in a Coma. The trigger for this is if you fumble your Shock roll to go conscious. To wake up from that you need to roll a hard check underneath your Shock save, fumble that and you’re dead. You can try to wake up once every 24 hours, and there are drugs that can make it easier for you to wake up as well. While in a coma you heal Trauma, Pain and Blood loss normally but you can’t roll to wake up as you might otherwise. At least not before the coma check has succeeded.
A person who is in a coma needs assistance to survive. If not they will die automatically within a week. Otherwise a qualified doctor with the right kind of equipment has to roll an easy skill check against Medicine to take care of them. One roll per week is required, if they fail the check two weeks in a row or fumble then the coma victim dies.
Or I guess you just put them in a hospital and not bother rolling a check? What’s the point really for making that? Beyond the need for simulationism I suppose.

Getting treatment for Trauma at a hospital increases the healing rate to 4 points per day compared to 1 or 2 points per day. The same goes for Pain as well, but at the rate of per hour instead of per day.

You know what this game needs? More realism!
Our next optional rule deals with the difference with how Trauma and Pain heals. Due to the rate the second heals there is a possibility that you might regain all of your Pain and still have several points of Trauma left. This rule intends to deal with that when healing injuries the number of Pain points can never go under the number of Trauma points you have. So in effect the Pain points decrease in the same rate as the Trauma points, and if there is a difference between the two then the Pain won’t decrease until Trauma has gone beneath that amount. Thankfully this rule is only for healing and nothing more and doesn’t come into effect for when recovering from teargas or other things that provides a different kind of mark on the sheet.
But in a strange way this rule makes sense because it’s far easier to keep track of both of Pain and Trauma when they go down at equal rates. Instead of having to keep track of them at different intervals. The injury system is a massive clusterfuck anyway so making the tracking simplified is a better option I say. Staying as far away from fighting as possible is perhaps the smartest thing you can do in an N2 game.

Lost blood regains at the same rate as pain, one point per hour or two points per hour if resting. Getting treatment at a hospital won’t make you regain it faster though, at least not higher than one point per half an hour. But you can do is get blood plasma or transfusions to help you. It takes half an hour to recover one row of blood loss, which equals a quartz liter of blood. You’re also limited to using it an hour a day so that means you can recover two rows per day. In order to use it though all you need is an easy check against medicine or first aid.
On the other hand if you have access to synthetic blood things will go a lot faster, at a rate of 1 row per minute. With synthetic blood there is also no limits to how much or how long you can use it. But it has a limited durability, but on the other hand all hospitals have large quantities of it. Blood transfusions count as an operation.

We get two sidebars at this point dealing with the different between the first aid and medicine skill and what they entail as well as another mention that this game has drugs that helps healing. But this game also has a lot of drugs in general.

Bleeding decreases at a rate of 1 point per 10 minutes but can also be stopped via various kinds of dressings. When you use them you roll a check underneath difficulty levels. If you succeed then it works as intended. If you critically succeed then the time to stop the bleeding is halved and the bleeding rate is decreased by 1D6. If you fail nothing happens except you’ve wasted time and resources. A fumble means that the rate increased with Ob1D6 and you’ve wasted what materials you used. But you’re still allowed to try again afterwards regardless if you fail or fumble.
Slight oversight in the next paragraph where it states that the Bleed rate reduction is 1 point per 20 minutes. Whoops.
In this case your actual Bleeding rate is the lowest of the temporary and the permanent rate. If you’re dumb enough to use the optional rule for individual wounds then they can only lowered down to a rate of 0. But multiple people can work at the same time to help.
So if you don’t use that rule does that mean only one person can bandage another? Weird.

We get a list, and a table detailing the various kinds of dressings available. You can also use your hand to apply pressure onto the wound. The in-setting option is Stikk-plaster™. All in-setting items mentioned get a trademark symbols I should mention. Not sure if the writers actually trademarked these terms in real life or not.
Other methods are using medical stapler or a device called a centipede. The latter being a plastic strip that has a number of claws that clamp the wound together. Both of them give you Ob1D6 and Ob2D6 points of pain when used and leave nasty scars behind them. If none of that is available you can sew the wound shut or burn it shut. I’m amazed it doesn’t suggest using gunpowder for that last one and not just a red hot iron or warm knife. The last method gives you Ob1D6 points of Trauma and Ob2D6 points of pain as well. If the wound is on a limb you can use a tourniquet to stop the blood flow. But no more than 10 minutes before tissue damage occurs which gives 1 point of Trauma per 10 minutes. It’s usually used as a preventive measure before treatment starts.

But now it’s time to turn the simulationism dial to 11 and talk about Surgery. While it’s necessary to operate if you have organ damage almost any kind of extra wounds can be done as well. But mainly to decrease the risk of infection or make it less likely for the wounds to scar. The basic equipment needed is sterilised tools, it can be very simple stuff but it has to be sterilised or otherwise there’s no point. To succeed all is required is a skill check for the surgeon or the team doing the operation against what is being worked on. Looking at the table we can see there is an Ob4D6 difficulty check to operate on someone’s lungs while fixing an open flesh wound is Ob2D6 for example. What kind of equipment being used also modifies the difficulty, looking at another table we can see that using improvised equipment increases it by Ob2D6 while if you have top of the line gear then it goes down by Ob2D6.
Regardless of success or failure, each operation gives Trauma, Pain and Blood Loss points to patient. If the points are high enough then you need to roll Shock and Death rolls. This means that it’s fully possible to die on the operating table as the rolls are always done before the good effects of the operation is counted.
Any Blood loss can be countered with transfusions if there is a supply of either blood or plasma, if the rate is lower than one row per minute it can also be ignored.
A successful roll means that the operation worked, a critical success means that the amount of damage taken is halved. A failure means nothing happened while a fumble means that the patient also an increased Bleeding rate and its counted as an internal one.
If the operation fails then you’re allowed to try again but each attempt gives the patient extra Trauma, Pain and Blood loss.
Also you can operation on an extra wound more than once if you succeed. Uhm, okay? I thought that seemed almost obvious.

Should also be mentioned that these operations are extremely expensive. That lung operation? 75000 euro. Open flesh wound? 2000 euro. If you fuck up your spine that’s 100 000 in costs. Better have a lot of money on the side if you get really unlucky during a fight. That is to say if you survive in the first place.

But just because the operation has been counted as a success that does not mean the patient is in the clear. As an optional rule the patient has to roll against their Shock save to see if they might get some kind of complication. The difficulty is two levels lower than their current Death save at that point. If they fail then they need to roll on the relevant 1D100 table. The complications range from such things as internal bleeding, coma, blood poisoning or cardiac arrest. A successful roll means that nothing happens and neither a critical success nor a fumble will do nothing special to the roll.

After the operation has been done then the patient is rolled into the ICU for observation for at least 12 hours time. If they’re unconscious they remain there for as long as they unconscious and then 12 hours after that. Once that is done they’re moved to a regular daycare position where they get to rest until they’ve recovered. That is to say they have no difficulty increases from Trauma, Pain or Blood loss.
My first impression from all this is one of those moments where the PC is forcibly removed from the session or campaign for an extended period of time. Or huge amounts of downtime to heal from various grevious wounds. Better hope the campaign doesn’t involve a race against time or something. Just what are you supposed to do in this game?!

Whenever you get shot it might be interesting to see if the bullet stayed in the body or not. I’m leaning towards no in this case, but that’s just me. Either way with this optional rule you roll Ob1D6 in this case. If the results end up being equal or lower than the bullets PEN value, can also be reduced with SKY if it went through body armor, then the bullet has gone right through you. If it’s higher then it has gotten stuck in you. This requires surgery or else you run the risk of getting infected. We then get another difficulty table because that is all dependant on what kind of bullet you need to get removed.
How much this costs is dependant on the location and to find that out you look at what area the bullet is in and divide that by 10 with an extra 1000 euros on top of that.

To heal broken bones requires rest and the bone not being put under any pressure. Limbs are usually encased in FoamCast™ and in some extreme cases it can be replaced with cyber or biotech. They all heal at different rates.
Broken ribs heal after Ob1D6+10 days and any physical activity during this point is done at a level higher.
A broken sternum heals after Ob1D6/2+3 weeks with the same penalty as before.
A broken cheekbone heals after Ob1D6+10 days, plastic surgery might be required if it doesn’t heal correctly.
Broken limbs heals after Ob1D6+6 weeks and you can start using the limb after half the time but at a difficulty. If a leg was broken then FÖR is decreased with 2 meters to a minimum of 1 meter.
Shattered bones takes Ob1d6+6 months to heal, so in the range of half a year to a year. Same penalties as before.
I feel if you got that it’s either better to pay through the nose to get cybertech or simply retire the character because having them out of the campaign for up to a year is awful.

Surprisingly enough the infections talked about so much previously turns out to be an optional rule. I had expected otherwise with how much they were being mentioned across both the injury and healing chapters. Every time you gain Trauma there is a risk that you might have gotten an infection. To avoid this you need to roll against TÅL with the difficulty derived from the Trauma section but also how clean the wounds are. Yes, it’s another table you have to look at. Want to know how far we are with those? N2-160 in this case. You only need to roll once for all your wounds. Each time the check fails you get an infection with the effect that no Trauma can be healed and you gain 1 point of Trauma per infection each day.
Then every 12 hours you need to do another TÅL check for the infected wounds. If that fails that means the infection is spreading and you get another one. If you succeed then the infection is healed.

Resuscitation is possible, with the only condition that the cause of death wasn’t an extra wound caused to the brain. The most important factors are how long the person has been dead as well as their Bleeding rate. Each attempt always takes a minute to do and you can use either First Aid or Surgery skill if you attempt open heart massage. The difficulty is determined by the victims current Death roll level, that is to say how much Trauma and Blood Loss they have. A successful roll means that they’re alive but unconscious, critical success means they regain consciousness, failure means they’re still dead and fumble means that they’re still dead but also gain Ob1D6 points of Trauma.
The difficulty can also be modified by two other factors, time and equipment. For each minute that has passed since the victim failed their Death save the difficulty for each revival attempt is increased by 1 level. Some medical equipment can however improve the chances for success. Things like defibrillators, metadrenaline or Resuscitation equipment can all increase the chances for survival.
You know what we’ve been missing? Suggestions for GMs to be absolute dicks. In this case it’s possible brain damage if it has been without oxygen for more than five minutes, which means minus points on PSY.

Neotech posted:

Exactly how the eventual brain damage shall be portrayed is up to each GM and situation.

If the victim continues to bleed and that reaches a new difficulty level then they need to roll for Death to see if they die again. This obviously means they will need to be revived again so it’s a really good idea to make sure they’re stabilised before any attempts to revive them are done. Most doctors tend to give up reviving a dead person when the modified difficulty reaches around Ob7D6.
Wait hold on, does that technically mean that doctors in Neotech are aware of the difficulty levels certain actions?
Player characters can keep going to try to revive someone but need to be mindful that each fumble hurts the dying even further.
Whoever wrote this section feels keenly aware at how awful the dice mechanics are and how many times you’re going to fumble.

Unlike Cybertech, which gets a whole chapter, the rules for Biotech comes right at the end of this chapter. Rather disappointingly it’s just cloned organs and not like the Biotech of Shadowrun which gave you various benefits and drawbacks. Plastic surgery is also counted under biotech. One of the examples for that is of course breast size increase. Biotech is pricey, but not as pricey as the operations from before. A new pair of lungs is ‘only’ 7000 euro for instance. On top of that is the clinic’s fee, which isn’t all that high going by looking at the pricing table. While it might be expensive, on the other hand it lets you heal pretty much any kind of damage. Another drawback is of course that it can’t be used on emergency surgery as the organs has to be grown over time, takes 21 days to grow a new set of lungs for instance.

Hell, you can even grow a whole new body if you so want. With our without a head for that part. Those are also the two most expensive options in this case, going for 70 000 and 120 000 euros respectively.

The operation is a check again for Surgery. But at this point the book throws in a bunch of terminology in the tables from the cybertech section so why is it at the end of this chapter and not the next one then?
Either way, if the check is a success then the organ is fully functional and all damage is considered healed. But if the check fails then the organ is destroyed and you need to wait for another one to be grown. A reliable clinic will cover all any extra costs but you might not be so lucky at a black clinic. High class ones usually recommend paying for a reserve organ in case the operation fails. Doesn’t say anything about may putting that in the freezer for another day if the operation fails though. A fumble means an infection as well.

This entire chapter has just been another massive dumpster load of simulationist mechanics layered on top of each other into one unfun mess. If you have the money for it it’s almost more cost effective to go for replacement organs rather than natural healing or surgery. Then again, it feels like a lot of PC’s wouldn’t probably survive most fights if they get heavily injured to the point where they would need to go under the knife. Either via emergency operations or simply grabbing a clone organ.

Just what happened to the preface claim about this game warning about the dangers of gene manipulation? Biotech is possibly one of the best options to heal from all the nasty extra wounds you can get. Or be a whole new character for that part. Because there’s nothing about getting a whole new body and keeping your old attributes. But maybe that shows up in the cybertech part because it feels like the Biotech section belongs to that chapter instead of the healing one.

Next time: I’m a mechanical man.

My vision is augmented.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 19: My vision is augmented.


What cyberpunk RPG is complete without the ability to remove your own fleshy limbs and replace with cold hard chrome and silicone? Neotech is no different in this case. Although in this case they’re apparently made out of reinforced plastic or light alloys. Close enough I suppose. Right off the bat the book throws us off the deep end by telling us to look at a table to see what is available. Which we will do in due time because there is a whole bunch of other stuff before that.

To instal cybernetics you are, in most cases, going to need another kind of implant. N2 cyberware have different kinds of connection requirements in order to work. In some cases both need to be fulfilled while in others only one has to.
DNC: Requires an internal DNC-net.
Computer: Requires an internal computer (or in some cases an external computer that has linked with DNC).
NMX-CP: Requires a cerebral interface.
Microphone: Either a larynx microphone or an extra microphone.
Cyberlink: Some kind of external DNC kommunikation is required. Such as: DNC-jack, DNC-radio link, DNC-IR-link or DNC-telelink.
Controller: If it’s mentioned that you need a controller then the implant must be connected via an internal DNC-net to some kind of control unit. You can use a dermal controller, dental controller, vocal controller, dermatrodes or a cerebral interface.

Installing cybernetic implants is a complicated procedure that requires advanced surgery and careful tuning. Ruleswise it counts as an operation but you use the lowest of Surgery and Cybernetics. Fumble means that the implant is destroyed as well as the patient suffering from an infection in the relevant part. To repair it costs half the retail price. Any serious clinic will replace any damaged material that has been ruined this way. But if they’re a serious clinic wouldn’t they then be staffed by competent people so that you don’t have to worry about fumbles?
There are 11 types of installation procedures, ranging from installing DNC cables or artificial nerves to implants or cerebral connections and so on.
So if you want to install cybertech you first need to consult the table for what kind of installation you need to do, because they are all divided into what is needed to be done. It also shows how much damage you will take from the operation as well as how much the base cost is modified. Then you need to check another table for what specific implant you want and how much that costs.

The operation takes a lot of time and costs money, how much is determined by what clinic you decide to visit. There are four kinds of cyber clinics.
Black: It’s illegal and is run by a ripperdoc or a shadowdoc. Most costumes are criminal and street gangs and syndicates usually have discounts there. The tech installed is usually as close as possible to be used in terms of quality. Even so there is a 50% discount if you actually want to use refurbished tech.
Drop-in clinic: Used for smaller operations that don’t last longer than three hours or costs more than 3000 euro. The Bruce company have become rich on these kinds of clinics. The drawback is the limited stocks, cybertech with the availability code C, R or X are not available.

Seriously, The Bruce Company?

Standard clinic: A private clinic run by competent personnel.
Luxury clinic: A top of the line clinic that takes care of their customers. This obviously means that the prices go up as well by around 50%. You can only find the most expensive tech, the kind that is worth more than 10 000 euros, in places like these.

You also use that clinic table for when you want Biotech installed, which is why I was wondering why that part was in the preceding chapter and not this one.

Cybertech needs a longer period of acclimatisation to let you be able to use them reflexively. Mechanically you can simulate this (ugh) by increasing the difficulty level by 3 for all relevant difficulty checks during the first hour after installation. After that it’s 2 levels during the first day and then during the first week it’s one level higher.
One thing is becoming increasingly clear, the N2 writers have never heard of the concept of downtime. Because why did they feel the need to add that rule suggestion? It’s not like you’re going to install cybertech during an active session and not do it during any downtime. Otherwise everything will just come to a screeching halt while the GM rolls so that Billy can get a new cybertech arm. Having a penalty for the first hour after having it installed is so utterly stupid. At most I can agree with the one week penalty depending on how short the downtime is but even then the whole group can just agree and say that they take a week and a half or something to let Billy get used to his arm so he doesn’t turn into a massive drag as he continues to botch rolls due to his modification penalty.
Of fucking course there is a table for the difficulties because they had the space over for one.

N2 has, much like CP2020, cyber psychosis. The whole thing is most likely lifted wholesale from that game anyway. The idea is the usual, the more bits of metal you stick inside of you the harder you have to be able to identify yourself with the rest of humanity. We’ve all seen it before, it’s the usual prevention method as not to have the PC’s load themselves up with as much cybertech as possible.
If you install hidden cybertech that can’t be observed by others or you can feel yourself then you get 1 psychosis point. Installing cybertech that changes your sensory input you get 1D6 psychosis points. Installing cybertech that drastically alters your appearance will also get you 1D6 psychosis points.
We’ll get into what all this means next chapter.

All implants require energy to work. Smaller ones that aren’t that energy hungry is usually fed with glucose cells or artery turbines. Bigger ones like cyberlegs need batteries or accumulators that need to be charged up. If you have an internal DNC-net then you only need to install an energy source somewhere on your body, or you install it in close proximity to the implant. If you don’t have enough energy for all your implants then you run the risk that they’ll stop working. Whenever you use an implant you need to roll against Luck to see if it will still work. The difficulty is based on how much energy is missing. If you lack more than 75% in energy then all implants will stop working. In some cases you can install back up power for those very important implants. Another solution is installing an oversized energy source.
I’m thankful I don’t have to track energy consumption. Either way it’s just more pointless simulationism that will 9 times out of 10 never become relevant.

It’s inevitable that your cybertech will get damaged. The basic rule is that if they gain any extra wounds then they stop working as its considered destroyed. Lesser damage will only produce scratches, dents or other blemishes. All cybernetic parts have SKY 0 but some come with built in armor. To replace a broken implant or limb you first need to remove it and then install a new one. At black clinics you can usually get the broken implant repaired at a cost of 10% of the retail price. If it’s removed by force or through an accident then you get the same amount of Trauma and Blood Loss as you did when it got installed. Pain is however doubled. I’m going to assume that limbs are not fully counted for this as there is a comment right before that you don’t really feel pain anymore with them.

Removal of limbs can only be done at clinics. The procedure takes half the time it took to install it, the cost is also half as much. But you get the full amount of Trauma, Pain and Blood loss. But you don’t have to pay for the materials. If you decide to visit a shadowdoc you can get a discount that is equal to 10% of the material costs. That is to say if you want to let someone else use your old discarded cybertech.

A ripperdoc is a criminal shadowdoc that steal cybertech from their victims. I thought they also ran black clinics as well? Make up your mind here N2. If you are unfortunate to encounter a ripperdoc that violently remove cybertech for you that can lead to disastrous consequences. For limbs that is counted as an amputation and you gain a Bleed rate that might lead to you bleed out unless something is done about it. For upgrades you gain Ob1D6 points of pain from the rough treatment. Otherwise you can expect to gain twice as much Trauma and Pain points than from a normal installation. You also gain as a Bleeding rate that is equal to the amount of Blood loss you’d get otherwise.

The rules for cybertech varies from country to country. There are certain kinds of cybertech that is illegal and in certain countries, such as Scandinavia and the Arab world Middle East, the laws against cybertech are harsher. This generally does a bunch of things with the availability codes in this case. Illegal cybertech can also be be hard to go through with at check ups at airports. This is rarely the case with biotech.
Hang on here, that seems to imply that they had more in mind for biotech rather than just cloned replacement organs. Because why would you have issues passing through security with an organ that is built from your own DNA and therefore virtually indistinguishable from you? But I guess that idea fell through or something during the writing of this. Or maybe the lead writer thought that making Biotech was an affront to his dislike for gene manipulation. Who knows in this case.

DNC, or Data-Neural-Cerebral, is the industrial standard to ensure that all implants are able to work together without issue. Data, neural impulses and cerebral information is sent through the various cables and digital transmission also let you transmit all kinds of information as well. All you really need to do when installing new cybertech, not count the surgery, is run an installation process in the implants DNC processor.
Remember to read the EULA.

Military cybertech on the other hand does not use DNC standard. This can cause some problems if you want to get your hands on some MilTech, either you need to find more from the same manufacturer or simply have to deal with that they can’t be interconnected. Why the hell wouldn’t the military use the DNC standard? This feels like a massive roadblock put in the game by the writers to disallow the players to grab military grade tech, or make it extra complicated for them.

After the rules we get a table of what cybertech is available to purchase, followed 24 pages of item descriptions about how they work ingame. Also a number of various different models and variants. It’s a far cry from the bare bones weapon section from before. Reminds me a lot of the gear section from Shadowrun in this case. This part also features some hilarious art as well. We also get an idea of what companies exist in the setting such as Cyberdyne, Tyrell, IDC-Fujiyama, MosCorp and Bruce. Interesting model names in parentheses.

As the book established before you need power for all the cybertech to work. There are a couple of options beyond the glucose cell or artery turbine such as body heat generator, Body Movement generator or Microcell. The latter being a small but powerful batteries. It says that they can last for several years but if used at full capacity needs to be exchanged every day. Considering it provides 2000 watts of energy I’m wondering what kind of implants you need to be running in that case. Other options are micro accumulators (Tyrell Use-Your-Really-Small-Accumulator™) or regular accumulators (Tyrell Use-Your-Accumulator™). All of these also require an internal DNC net to work.

I’m pretty sure she’s not naked but it sure looks like it.

Plugins is not something I’ve brought up before, in this case they are downloadable upgrades to various implants. Such as data interfaces, cyberlinks for weapons (Tyrell Watch-It-Shoot-Addon™ or MosCorp Look’n’Fire™) or cyberlinks for vehicles (Bruce Driver-in-Me™).

Some implants also have addons that modify or add functions. Such as adding a flashlight to one of your eyes (Tyrell Watch-It-In-Light™, Frank Chen Disco-Eyes, which can also blink in rhythm to music. Kinda neat.).

There are also cybertech packages. Our first of these is the Wanglow Mediaman™ that a number of various implants that lets you record video and audio. It costs 26998 euros. Another option is Wanglow EzyLife™, made for all the rich slackers. What it actually does isn’t explained but going by the various implants including things like artificial jaws, artificial skin (Tyrell Cover-It-With-Pseudo-Skin™) and similar I assume it lets you be the biggest lazy slob imaginable. It costs 44998 euro.

There are also rather weird things you can install such as a floodlight (Tyrell Light-it-with-headlight™ or Cyberdyne PowerBeam 47), the recommended places for that is in the forehead, temples or hand. But other places are also possible and it requires a controller of some kind. Can not be used to blind people because it takes a while to turn on and gain power.
Or you can get a foundation where you can install horns on your head. Or an internal bomb (Tyrell Kill-Me™ or Scheffka Security DeathTrap-9) There is also a cortex bomb option for when you really don’t want the PCs to interrogate mooks.

There is a sidebar about the GM having to decide how much cybertech should be available in their campaign. Allowing them to use how much they want might work in some kind of campaigns while it might damage it in some cases. But at the same time it’d be rather boring to forbid or prevent the usage of cybertech. Something which I feel the rules is making a good enough effort at. There is a couple of suggestions at how to restrict the cybertech usage.
Prohibit: Cybertech is disallowed in many situations. Places like airplanes, subways and public buildings might ban it. In many countries cybertech is forbidden and because the players are often travelling all over the world this can be a good motivation to skip some types. The book calls it the best method but I call bullshit on that since that would either lead to meaningless party splitting if someone actually has gone in to use cybertech and suddenly they’re not allowed to go into places where others can so they’ll just end up sitting around doing nothing while the rest have fun. Hell no to that.
Security checks: Stopping people with cybertech, obvious I assume mainly, at security checks is also one way of doing it. But then again you run into the same issues as before where people who decide to use it are left twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the others.
Social issues: This probably the more interesting option in this case, and not something unknown since both Deus Ex prequels dealt with issues like this. So this one gets a pass by me.
Unreliability: Even the book admits this method is dubious, so why is it even suggested then? Either way it means that the player has to roll against luck each time they use an implant of some kind. This feels more suitable if you went the cheapskate route rather than it happening for all implants. This is pretty much the same as banning them as you’re penalizing players heavily. I’m not even sure if there is a way to actually increase luck because I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere up till this point.

Another sidebar deals with Cybertech and NPCs, or Game Master Character as the book calls them. In this case the GM is allowed to go nuts with cybertech and have heavily cybered characters be used as cannon fodder or hard to kill bad guys.
GM’s are also encouraged to have the ‘bad guys’ use a lot of cybertech, in that way they make it clear for the players who is a bad guy. But then they cal also confuse the players by breaking against this convention.
Uh ok? That whole suggestion seems rather weird.

So it turns out that the vampire and shark bite attacks in the weapon section are there because you can get either as an implant. The variant names for the first one are pretty great in this case: Tyrell Chew-It-Like-A-Vampire™, TepesCorp Vamp-III, Tarot Bloodsuckers™, Wanglow Real Vampire Implant, Bruce Artificial Horror-Teeth™, Transylvanian Terror Lord Dracula JR™. Then there is also the Wanglow Vampire kit™ that lets you go all in on being a vampire. I feel there might be a decent plothook in there featuring some rich playboy or corporate suit that got a bit too obsessed with being a vampire. I say those two because the whole shebang costs 17998 euros so its well out of the range of most average people.

There’s also two kinds of full body conversions that replaces everything except your organs with cybernetic parts. One being a normal one and the other one being a Dreadnought conversion. Could be good for when you want to go the extra mile with the musclehead mook.

There’s the obligatory cyber weapons. One options is Slashes, or Wolverine claws, with sound effects. It’s mentioned that the choice of sound effects include lines from the movies “Slashers” 1-7. The listed model is Collorage WTUYNC™ or “Want-These-Up-Your-Nose-Chummer?”
Was wondering when they were going to work in an actual Shadowrun reference. Beyond that there is the usual choices of underarm weapons such as revolvers, SMGs, shotguns and grenade launchers.

Budget corporate ninja.

Another sidebar talks about Cybertech in sports, a rather legit concern in this case if anything. In Neotech it took a surprisingly long time until cybersports became a thing. Cybertech is banned from the Olympic games and careful screening processes are employed to prevent this. Using cybertech in this case is classified as doping and athletes caught with unauthorized tech are banned from participating.
Cybertech has however found its niche in sports shows like wrestling which has its own class for cybered up fighters. But that doesn’t some from using it in the other classes to cheat. Other popular sports are Cyberball and Bloodsport. The first one is land hockey but far more brutal, it also has an element of show to it and it’s usual to hear that games have been rigged from the start. Bloodsport on the other hand is banned more or less everywhere because of its brutality, this means most major matches are broadcasted from Madagascar. The idea is a Team versus Team game of two different times fighting against each other. You’re also limited to two liters of blood replacement.

The vast majority of the cybertech is various body parts with different specializations or modifications. Like taser hand or grappling feet. A finger telephone is however an option. Oddly enough the microphone is in the thumb and the speaker is in the forefinger. Whatever was wrong with the classic Thumb/Little finger phone?! A finger camera is also an option for that part.

Another tech package is the Wanglow Streetfighters Edge™ that sees a lot of usage amongst wannabe-boosters, especially those who want to join booster gangs in poorer areas. That feels weird because the package costs 23998 euros in total. But I guess you’ll just put yourself in debt for the rest of your life in order to get it.

Speaking of boosters, there is also booster bands. What kind of music they play though isn’t mentioned in the sidebar that deals with cyber instruments. These are called ‘cyberaxes’ by the way and can look like anything from a guitar to a keyboard or a drum set.

Then there is also Biosofts, or moddies. These let you raise your skill ranks and costs several hundred euros per unit. Because yes, the units from character creation is suddenly showing all of a sudden. With biosofts you can increase Combat Experience but those are illegal and go for 2000 euros per unit.

One of the creepier cybertech options is the Puppeteer implants, a highly illegal cerebral interface addition that lets you control other people’s actions. Why this is added as an option is beyond me because this is honestly something that strictly belongs as a plot device for an adventure and not something that a PC could technically get. Doesn’t really matter that its illegal and costs 90.000 euros. Someone is going to get it at some point.

More sidebars, despite the fact that cybertech is a regular thing in 2059, it’s still not readily accepted by a lot of people. People using obvious cyberware might be subjected to discrimination and prejudice. This usually means various penalties when in social situations. On the other hand cybertech readily accepted in some subcultures and also a way for someone to express a sense of belonging or identity.
I kind of wish this was explored a bit more in the book rather than just a minor sidebar in the cybertech section because elements like this make up a huge part of the genre. Or maybe it will show up once the book is actually willing to fully discuss its setting.

He should see a doctor about that skin condition.

The Cybertech section is perhaps the most interesting section so far in the book because here the writers suddenly go all out in describing the various kinds of implants available. Including a lot of unexpected flavour to them with various in setting models. There is some repetition however, hidden compartments in particular shows up several times. The rules on the other hand is more of the same annoying simulationism that gets in the way of everything. Having both cyber psychosis and energy levels to keep track off feels like a dumb oversight.

Next time: Insane in the Membrane.

But we're never gonna survive unless, We get a little crazy

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 20: But we're never gonna survive unless, We get a little crazy

A characters mental value is how well they can handle traumatic or horrible situations. If its low then you run the risk of suffering from a psychosis from the trauma and shock. Tracking it works exactly the same as tracking health or exhaustion, you have a block of ten rows and you mark out the ones you don’t have and so on.

The book goes into a side tangent about the rules being limited, but for a good reason because they’ll stop any excessive violence from ruining the GM’s campaign. So essentially this whole chapter is a slightly ham handed way of preventing murderhobos from ruining everything by slapping them with psychosis is that I’m reading from that. Wonder if this whole ruleset was a knee jerk reaction to the writers thinking people played the previous version wrong or not. Hard to say really.

So there is a number of various situations that might trigger you getting psychosis points. The book mentions a couple of them, and there is a table, but the GM has per usual the final say in what happens on a case by case basis. All but the first one has you roll a D6 to see what kind of defense reaction you get from when you get a panic attack.

One of the defense reaction for the panic attack is escape. Not sure how you’re supposed to accomplish that if you’re in an isolation cell. Also I’m wondering why this is even in, how many campaigns have ended up with a character left alone on an island for months at a time?

Too much exposure will lead to slight desentization. To simulate this the GM can decide that the you gain points only at twice the actions, events or victims. So one point each first, second, fourth, eight time and so on. But it would only happen if the same situation is repeated.
So depending on the campaign the characters would either turn into massive nervous wrecks or be incredibly desentized. I’m really dubious about making all this a gameplay mechanic. At least something that you need to keep track off.

Neotech posted:

“Cyber psychosis is not an exotic phenomenon in the news - it happens on the street and the street is a place where the police has a task to keep order in.”
-Captain J.D. Bridgewater, cyber psychosis division NYPD.

Every time you gain a psychosis point you need to roll a panic check to see if you get a psychologic shock, or a panic attack. This roll is made against your mental value and the base difficulty is derived from the psychosis and exhaustion sections on the sheet. The difficulty can also be modified by drugs. Failure means that you get a temporary panic attack and you also have to roll a psychosis roll.
If you fail that roll then you fall into a much more severe psychosis outside of the effects the panic attack has. In order to snap out of your panic attack you need to succeed on a second check and you can do one every minute. Failing this roll doesn’t mean you have to roll for a psychosis.

We get both a section, and a sidebar, talking about the four stages of mental health. Healthy, Neurotic, Panic and Psychotic. To be considered healthy you can only have one row of points in the psychosis section. Neurotic is when you start the second row. Panic is when you’ve failed your check and get a panic attack and the last one is when you get a psychosis.

Neotech posted:

The effects of the psychosis is the same as the causing panic attack – except more long lasting. The usual is that the game master ‘confiscates’ the psychotic players player sheet. The player can then make a new character. If the game master thinks that the player can handle to roleplay the psychosis in a believable way then the player can in some cases keep their character.
Fuck everything about this.

A character that is suffering from a panic attack is unable to do anything but to be controlled by the defensive reaction that gets rolled out depending on the trigger situation. The various reactions are Escape, Amnesia, Catatonic, Confusion, Paranoia, Depression, Hyperactivity and Rage. None of these any rules to them and are just general roleplaying recommendations of what you should do.

Neotech posted:

“Psychosis in all of their forms is a serious mental state caused by the person can’t identify themselves with the rest of humanity. The psychopaths behaviour is characterized in many cases by irrational actions and an extreme suspicion against other people..”
-Dr. Wilhelm Richter, leg. psycho pathologist.

You can recover psychosis points in two ways. The first method is having a normal day without any stress or resting, then you regain 1 point per month or 1 per week. The other way is going to therapy at psychologist or psychiatrist. You can go to one session per day and if they last at least an hour you recover 1 point.
There is also a way to recover from a permanent psychosis but it’s a three stage process that takes times. First phase is you suffering from acute panic disorder, it works the same way as the panic attack but you can only roll once per hour instead of minute. The second phase is the reaction phase where you try to defend yourself against what has happened but this is also the point where recovery starts. You regain one point per day of treatment and it requires an hour per day. Normal point recovery is not possible at this stage and to get out of this you need to succeed on a psychosis check that you roll after each treatment. The third phase is when you’ve managed to get rid of your psychosis and just suffer from a neurosis. However, the risk for relapsing is big but you can now act normally. And also regain psychosis marks as per usual (funny enough there is a see table N2-••• error here). At this point you’ve accepted what has happened and realize that you need to do something.
My suggestion would be to stop playing Neotech.

All I can think of for this section is the Dark Heresy Insanity rules but a boatload of more simulationism injected into it. Can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of systems where it might end up with the GM taking your character away from you.

Next time: Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold...

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 21: We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold...

I get the feeling that the N2 writers really likes drugs because there are a whole bunch of them listed in this chapter. Much like the cybertech chapter we get a fairly detailed look in the myriad of drugs, both narcotic and medicinal, that exists in the setting.

The chapter begins with that drugs are common in 2059, both the Pharmaceutical industry and the narcotics trade both rake in profits. The drug trade is active all over the world with a number of different ones. Drug laws aren’t as strict now as it was in the 20’s, by which it means the 2020’s in this case, when you could go to prison if you sold some hash. The legislation differs from country to country. In some places almost all drugs are considered legal, but in certain countries, like in Scandinavia, it’s usually only hash and marijuana that is legal - even then you need to follow certain rules. I get the slight feeling that the writers might have be regular smokers or have a more open view about drug laws. The drugs that are banned in general are the kinds that are addictive or causes aggressive behaviour. The banned list also includes drugs that can be used for criminal purposes as well.

If you want to use drugs there are multiple ways of doing so. With methods ranging from the usual tablets, effervescent tablets, smoking, inhalation to pads, sprays or capsules. The only method that actually has rules attached to it is intravenous where you need to roll a medium difficulty check against RÖR or First Aid in order to find a vein while sticking yourself with the needle.

Almost all drugs are addictive. For each type of drug in N2 you have an addiction value, or BG. This always starts at zero, at which point you’re obviously not addicted to it, but it can increase every time you use it. All addictive drugs have an addiction roll that tells you how easy it is to become addicted to it. Mechanically speaking it works the same as making a skill check. Each time you use a drug you need to roll for the addiction check. If you roll over the BG for the drug then that will get raised by 1. If you roll under nothing happens. Each time the BG is raised then you get 1 point of psychosis, this in order to simulate the psychological dependence on it.

Starting might be easy but quitting is much harder once you’re hooked. The withdrawal symptoms can be very challenging, if not unbearable. Each day that progresses where you don’t use a drug you need to roll a special weaning roll against the drugs current BG value. How many dice involved in the roll depends on what drug you’re hooked on. If you have access to it, or get offered some then the roll is decreased by one because it’s then harder to resist. There are also drugs that makes the weaning process a lot easier, which means that the roll goes up with one dice. Successful therapy will have a similar effect as well.
If you roll under or equal then you’re going to everything in your power to get another dose. The book highly encourages the player to do everything they can in order for the player character to reach this goal, they will also get the abstinence syndromes relevant to the drug used.
If you roll over the BG value then you manage to hold out for the day. You will also only gain half the effect of the abstinence syndromes. In order to get rid of those you need to be clean in intervals of seven days. After each period has ended the check gets one level easier and it isn’t until the weaning off roll has been reduced to zero that the need to get high disappears. If you happen to use the drug again you start from the BG value you have at that time and you need to start weaning off again from the beginning. Each year that goes without you using a particular drug its BG value gets lowered by 1.
So obviously what you need to do in this case is to use multiple types of drugs and not just focus on one so that their BG values are kept at even levels. Although this just sounds like lots and lots of meaningless bookkeeping.

If you decide to overdose then the effect gets improved. Difficulty rolls gets modified one step up or down depending on what is advantageous. The obvious drawback is of course that all potential side effects and abstinence symptoms get doubled, so all modifications get double the amount of dice as normal. Any exhaustion is quadrupled as well. You also need to roll extra Shock and Death saves, but only if you already have a difficulty modifier present. When overdosing you get Ob1D6 psychosis points, and it also makes you more addicted with the BG roll becoming one level harder.

With most of the rules over with the book starts rattling off the various drugs available in the game. Amongst all of these is stuff you know from real life like Amphetamines, Heroine, Cocaine, LSD and so on. Those I’ll ignore and just mention the more original ones. According to a footnote in the table about completely illegal drugs you can in some cases get them if a doctor prescribes them to you. There’s more but the sentence about what the GM decides in this case just ends. This chapter is oddly enough the first time where a bunch of grammatical and typos suddenly start creeping into the text. Maybe the writers or editors were using their own products while working on this.
Should be noted that when I say a drug is legal or illegal then I’m going off the tables in the book and not taking into account the footnote mentioning that things might be different in some countries.
Neotech seems to lack an unified vision or idea at times. In this case it's weird that there is a wealth of cybertech options, but you have to deal with cyberpsychosis and energy consumption. If you want to deal with the former then you run the risk of lowering the only attribute you can’t upgrade in any way.
But then again going back through the previous chapter it seems as if you can recover those cyberpsychosis points normally. As I’m not seeing any special rules about them being permanent marks on your psyche. So what’s the point of this drug then if you can just recover that naturally? What do you even gain from using that drug outside of the mechanical benefits of panic and psychosis checks being easier? Something other drugs can do as well.
Might one of the better addictive drugs in the game since it lacks any side effects and the only real penalty is double the exhaustion and panic rolls gets one level harder. But if you manage the usage you could probably just dump that on downtime recovery. Not to mention it’s cheap (20 euro) and widely available.
Why an actual straight up Haitian Zombie drug? Is it for the GM who wants to mess with their players or something?

There is also some non-prescription drugs as well. But only a very small sample in comparison to the four pages of the more addictive stuff. The GM is also encouraged to come up with new things if the need should arise.
This one is more or less all flavour and has no mechanical benefits since the cybertech chapter didn’t have any rules for if an implant is rejected or not. It’s just something that comes up here and there. And we should be thankful for that. Although it has a side effect of making you more susceptible for infections. Weird how a clearly optional rule gets so many frequent mentions to the point you’d think it was meant to be a default one. Also one of the most expensive drugs listed at 90 euros per dosage. So if you want to go Deus Ex: Human Revolution on any cybertech using player this is your chance.
No idea what’s the point of using Geredon when this is available. Only difference is that you get one level easier on Cool and Panic checks compared to two. No side effects either outside of a bunch of extended exhaustion.
Lastly we get rules for designer drugs. For when you want to go all in on playing Breaking Bad. If you want to make something standard then all you need is decent lab and a couple of standard difficulty checks with Chemistry. But if you want to make your own designer drugs then things get a bit more complicated. First up you need either Chemistry or Genetics skill then you need to cross reference with the difficulty table. If you have the most primitive gear then the difficulty is Ob5D6, this obviously goes down the better equipment you have with the lowest being Ob1D6, but at which point we’re talking about professional laboratories that generally only be found in corporations. Then there’s a bunch of other modifications if you want to change how they’re ingested or change the effect.
Funny enough we don’t actually get any tables with drug effects that you can use. So I suppose you have to either derive them from what is listed in the chapter or get creative with the GM.
Instead we get two different tables related to the optional rule about drug quality that is just tucked away right at the end of this.

So that’s the chapter about drugs, which feels taken up by too many addictive drugs and not enough actually helpful medicine. Unless the majority of that has been shunted way back in the book where the equipment chapter resides. Otherwise there isn’t all that much to say about this other than some dubious ideas and the usual overly clunky rules. Still not sure if this reflects the writer’s opinions about drugs or they simply went all in on the cyberpunk cliché of a world riddled with drugs and violence.

Next time: You're poison, running through my veins

Poisoning the pigeons in the park.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 22: Poisoning the pigeons in the park.

This chapter is possibly the shortest actual chapter in the book, at least so far, and it talks about toxins and gas.
For a toxing to work it needs to get inside your body and the book goes through the various types; through open wounds, orally, lungs, skin contact.
There is a mention that if you get exposed to the toxin through another way of exposure then the effect is halved. By which I think they mean it happens through another vector that isn’t the intended one.

If you get exposed to a toxin you generally have a chance to notice it before it starts affecting you. Orally ingested toxins usually have a strong taste, even if I think that’s not true in all cases. Certain poisonous gases has a characteristic smell. Toxins that work through the skin tends to sting and burn (Dimethylmercury says otherwise). Even toxins that works through open sores can be felt, but by that point it usually means it’s too late. There’s also various types of detection gear that can be used to detect the presence of toxic gases and substances.
Whenever you get exposed to a toxin the GM rolls a hidden roll to see if they discover its presence. It’s either against luck or some other attribute that the GM considers suitable. We get an optional rule in a sidebar about that you can add Taste (SMA) and Smell (LUK) as a pair of extra attributes on top of SYN and HÖR.
Or you could’ve just added a general perception skill instead of this fucking split bullshit that you then suggest split even further down.
The difficulty for this check gets lower as you get exposed to a bigger and dosage. The difficulty for how to discover a toxin is mention in its description. But every time the dosage is doubled it becomes a level easier. Then inverse if the dosage is halved. They also have a general modification to see how difficult they are to discovery.

But here’s the kicker, there isn’t any toxin descriptions in this chapter. They just never got included unless someone took their time doctoring this PDF copy I have because there isn’t any page count gaps to be seen. Nor are the toxins listed later on in the book for that part. So they’re just not present despite the book telling you repeatedly to check their descriptions to see what they do. We also get a sidebar going through what each description has, or should have I suppose.
Also I realized something about Luck because we’re way past character improvement section and I still haven’t seen any ways of actually improving your luck score above the 11 you get during character generation. The phrasing “It’s 11 from the start” implies that it can be modified. The only increase I could find after searching through the book was a merit that gives you 1D6 extra luck, but that’s it. So 11 points is going to be beaten pretty quickly by at least a normal check a lot of the time and barely by a hard check. The Neotech designers really didn’t want you to succeed at much even with Lady Luck supposedly on your side because you’re a PC.

When you get exposed to a toxin you need to roll against your TÅL, the difficulty is based on both the toxin and the dosage. For military gases you can count with the dosage being halved for each time the gas radius is exceed. If the check fails then you hit with both the full effect of the toxin as well as the rules based effects that is given in its description. If the check succeeds then the symptoms get weaker than what’s described and the rules based effects are halved, rounded downwards. A critical success means only a few symptoms as well as a fourth of the other effects. Fumble on the other hand means that the symptoms get stronger and the other effects get doubled.
It’s up to the GM to describe to you how sick the character feels. How long the symptoms last is also described in their relevant entries if needed.

While the usage of chemical warfare agents is banned in compliance with the Geneva convention that hasn’t stopped from them being produced, sold and used. I see N2 is finally ramping it up a bit. It goes on a bit about chemical warfare agents and their nature and such.

We get a sidebar about what to use to protect yourself against gas, which consists of gas masks, CBRN/MOPP suits and detection gear.

If and when the GM decides to subject the PCs to chemical warfare agents the most important thing they need to decide is if they get exposed or not. In this case they need to determine the size of the cloud and in what direction the wind might be pushing it. It says that several weapons can use C-ammunition, which are projectiles filled with chemicals or gas. Even if going by the cloud size chart the smallest to be expected is a rifle grenades, or at least ammo for grenade pistols. Biggest on the other hand is a 250 kilogram bomb. Once again, what is up with Neotech wanting to play this as a military game?
A rule of thumb in this case is that the gas radius equals four shrapnel radi for a corresponding grenade. You can also let the clouds radius increase with 10% for each minute that progresses and this happens in the direction of the wind. Meanwhile, you should let its strength decrease by 10% in turn.

There is a rundown of different types of chemical agents.

That’s the Toxin & Gas chapter. It’s a weird one because it feels really incomplete. Outside of the fact that the mentions of various toxins is completely missing despite referenced repeatedly the gas section feels very incomplete too. As if there was going to be a couple of more pages of descriptions and tables detailing everything else. But as I said the page count doesn’t have any gaps or anything as it ends on page 216 and the next section starts on page 217. So outside of a possible editing error I have no idea what happened.

Next time: It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes!

Hack the planet!

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 23: Hack the planet!

I’m getting some serious Questworld vibes here.

Since this is the internet and cyberspace chapter I get the distinct feeling this whole chapter is going to feel hilariously dated at times.

The chapter starts out with a description of what the internet is, which feels like such a 90’s thing to do it’s almost endearing.

Neotech posted:

There is no one who controls the Web - should someone try this inevitably leads to other ways of communication opening.

It continues to talk about general trends, in this case it’s adapting the computer to man. Before the biggest issue was getting as much performance as possible out of it. Something which isn’t that much of a problem these days. What is important nowadays (in 2059) is communication, flexibility and interfacing between computer and user. It has become far more common to represent the world with three dimensional pictures. A completely virtual world in effect, what you call… cyberspace. The normal user has a beautiful, pleasant and easy to use interface. While a hacker on the other hand has an interface that lies on a lower level, more closer to the machine. It’s a cold and artificial world. The benefit is that you can do so much more, but it also requires more knowledge because it’s not as intuitive.

Each deck and terminal has an interface that interpritates cyberspace into a format that a regular person can understand, a virtual reality of sorts. Depending on the interface this can look very different. Most computers and programs in cyberspace generate a symbolic description of themselves. The cyberdeck receives all these various symbols and convert them into sensory input for the hacker. This a memory efficient method and also increases speed. A cyberdeck will also generate a symbolic description of itself whenever connected.

There are several kinds of interfaces and they’re all pretty similar. There are incredibly ridiculous ‘fantasy interfaces’ where the VR you are presented with does not correspond to what you usually see in cyberspace. Most of the time they are avoided by pros for being too slow.
You are usually in some kind of room, if you’re out browsing at random you can however find yourself in expansive outdoor environments. Here and there you can see various company domains in what is called I/O towers that rise upwards into the digital sky. Most companies try to build the most impressive cyberspace installations as possible. For instance the Seihan Bank of Japan tower in England looks like a Japanese castle from the time of the Tokugawa shogunate. While British Airways’ looks like the new terminal at Heathrow. I wonder if they mean the one that was finished in 2008 or not. It’s all a matter of liking and taste, and of course money.
It’s very easy to get lost, or stray off your intended path, due to the huge amounts of advertising and information available online. At least that’s accurate.
In cyberspace there are several types of objects, they are either a program, physical hardware or a person. These have varying appearances. The most common type is data that looks like documents, boxes or small cards. When they are being transferred over the web they usually look like lines. Programs on the other hand can look like pretty much anything but usually symbolise what they are used for. Agents and demons have unique appearances and usually look like creatures. Servers and computers can also look different but they usually look like boxes or rooms that you can enter. Most of the time you don’t generally notice the hardware as it works invisibly in the background. How cyberspace looks rarely correlates with how the hardware looks, unless you’re a network admin.

This all reminds me of the internet scene from Johnny Mnemonic. Now there’s something that hasn’t aged well at all.
We also get our first (and only) piece of ingame fiction, 218 pages into the book. It’s Jace Ryker using the Palo Alto search engine to look for information on how to legally bring weapons into BAMA while being an action movie cool guy.

Neotech posted:

He still wondered how the people in the Middle Ages managed themselves, how they found their information.

To gain access to cyberspace you need to have a cyber terminal or a cyberdeck. A terminal is a bigger variant of the deck and only used by office slaves and other individuals who has no requirements for speed or power. The deck is connected to the net via a regular optical phone jack. Looks like wifi isn’t a thing in 2059, pretty sure it existed to some extent in 1999 when this was written. The user plugs themselves into the cyberdeck via either VR glasses, dermatrodes or a DNC link. Once inside your usual sensory inputs are exchanged for an artificial picture of cyberspace. This change usually brings on a short period of disorientation that lasts about a round.
The text rattles on a bit about logging in and avatars, for some reason suddenly using the term hacker out of the blue. It goes on to talk about how the internet is used and that VR isn’t really all that necessary since you can also access the internet via mobile phones or various other machines. But it is however necessary to use when you work with some kind of data processing such as administration, programming and so on.
For these kinds of things you have various applications such as the previously aforementioned agents and demons. The former look up the information you need while the latter work in the background with given tasks. Some mega corporations even have AI’s doing various tasks but it’s not a common occurrence.

To be able to do something in cyberspace you need to move and manipulate objects. It’s mentioned that there are several ways of doing this but it only mentions using your right index finger to point. The more pronounced the gestures are the quicker you move around. Even if this is generally a very time consuming process and it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. Other option is inputting addresses via voice commands, menus or quick selection functions. You can whenever you like disconnect from the net which is called Jacking Out and happens instantaneously. With the sole exception of when you’re being attacked by offensive defensive programs that you haven’t been able to defeat or escape from. No mention what would happen if you simply pull the internet cord out of the deck or anything. But I imagine you’re in for a world of hurt in that case.

Next it talks about information searching, spending half a page if more detailing the various options at your disposal like using search agents, or a search engine. All of which comes with multiple different tables for difficulty modifiers. Including one about how hard it is to find warez. As well as finding cracks to shareware (+Ob2D6). If you want to pirate a military program it’s an +Ob6D6 modifier I should add.

We get a sidebar about systems not connected to the internet being a thing. It’s pretty much a giant hint telling you that you need to break into some places to get access to their intranet.
Then we also get a sidebar about online aliases.
“Among hackers it’s really common to spell an alias in a special way. Especially common is replacing ‘c’ with ‘k’ and ‘s’ with ‘z’. You can also change all ‘o’ with ‘0’ (zero). To alternate between large and small letters is also popular.”
This is the most clinical explanation of leet speak I have ever seen and I love it.
We also get a bunch of names where the highlights are aliases as such as AlphaW0lf, BaCKBoNe, BlackWind, Bl00dFangm C0untZer0, CuteElf, D00m, aeTHER, Juxtap0ze, L0rd, PaLaDiN, PuNk, Zail0r, SysQuest and so on. Also Gandalf shows up as well.

Now time for the real meat and potatoes, the hacking rules.
To break inside a protected system is not an impossibility, but it’s very tricky to do without the right knowhow and information about the server you’re going to get inside. On top of that there is also how careful you are with hiding your presence. In order to succeed you need both some kind of icebreaker programs as well as a Hacking skill check.

All systems has their own different security level. For instance your smart fridge has a very low security level (Ob1D6) while the server at Ali’s Hotdogs & Kebab has a low security level (Ob2D6) and your cyberdeck might have an average difficulty level (Ob3D6). Security levels higher than that will only generally be seen at major corporations. The difficulty is further modified at which type of data area you’re trying to get inside. A normal office has no modifier to its security but trying to get inside a security system incurs a +Ob3D6 modifier to the check. The text says it’s up to the GM to decide but that sounds weird since it should really be the hackers decision of where they want to try to get inside since they’re the ones attacking the system. Further modifications on how much information you have on where you are trying to enter, how careful you are, how much time you’re trying to spend on it and how good your icebreaker might be.
With this many modifications I’d be fucking amazed you’d be able to even get inside because it’s six different tables of modifications with a lot of pluses and minuses to the difficulty check. Also one of the modifiers for time is one year for some reason.
If the check succeeds then you gain entrance to the system and if you fail you don’t. A critical success means that you avoid getting automatically detected and you discover a backdoor as well. If you fumble then any defense programs will be activated immediately.

If a hacker wants to continue doing what they do they need to learn how to conceal their activities. With each breach the hacker runs the risk of being discovered, regardless of the breach succeeded or not. To avoid detection you need to roll against your Hacking skill.
I feel that is going to be a reoccuring theme with this much vaunted and revamped system.
The difficulty is determined by the security level, how careful you are and how good your camouflage program happens to be. You also use the same caution modification as when you rolled the initial hacking attempt.
If the roll succeeds then you avoid detection and can start exploring the system or what you were originally there for. But you’re going to be found sooner or later because the intrusion protection system searches constantly for irregularities. That means you have to roll a new camouflage roll each minute you’re inside. Oh great.
If you fail you’re detected and the system will start tracking you. Have you managed to get inside you will also be attacked by the system’s bots, their goal is to boot your ass out.
A fumble means that you’ve been discovered by also booted out of the system. A critical success means that the bots thing that your presence is legit and you don’t have to roll again as long as you’re logged in.

When a breach get detected the system will start to try looking for you. The system sends out Trackers that try to figure out from where the breach came from. To avoid being tracked a Hacking skill check is needed. Difficulty is once again dependant on security level. If the tracker manages to figure which account has been used then it notifies the administrator and the account will be shut down. If you’ve prepaid for an account then the money is forfeit. If the breach was successful there is also the chance of more direct countermeasures. The way to counter this is to use multiple accounts to confuse the trackers. In that case the tracker will continue searching onto the next account with another skill check that goes down one level in difficulty. Two levels if special anonymous accounts are used. If the difficulty goes down to 0 then the tracker gives up, each account takes about a round to track down. A fumble means that the tracker manages to trace the source back to you. No idea what a critical success would do in this case.

The whole account thing comes out of nowhere, nor is there much of a mention if there’s anything you need to do to set these up. So apologies if it alls sounds rather confusing. Two of the relevant modifiers in this case also deal with installing rootkits but the text makes no mention how or when you’re supposed to do that during all this. So far it has gone from Breaching to Camouflage to Tracking with nothing in between.

If an identified account is owned by a physical person then in most cases a police notification, prosecution or more direct action will happen. But this will only happen if the breach was successful, otherwise you will just get shut down. You will need to roll against Luck to see what happens, with another table showing the various difficulties. They are also based on the companies offensive capacity but what you’ve done also affects it. So if you’ve been inside a company server belonging to a company with a normal offensive capability (Ob3D6) and entered a high security system (Ob1D6) and stolen some vital data (Ob2D6) that’s a Ob6D6 modifier modifier to your roll. Good fucking luck winning that check when your luck can’t go above 11.
If the check fails then you’re going to expect facing prosecution. The book directs us towards rules for determining the sentence. Of course they have rules for courts as well.
However if you manage to fumble the roll then you can expect a more direct visit from the police or some kind of private response force. Even if it only happens for the last discovered account. The GM decides how brutal this operation might be. How long it takes depends on who is conducting it and how far they might be. It’s very rare that it manages to get deployed within five minutes - unless they’re not prepared of course.
Well fuck you too Neotech, way to go for some A grade player punishment.

A sidebar talks about net mysticism, and overall it’s a nice lore tidbit. It begins with mentioning that there are those who believe that the internet is a way to communicate with God or some other higher being. Naturally you still need to use mystical or supernatural methods to come into contact with them. The Rise is a religion that consists of hackers that believe in the loas, the various voodoo spirits. Even if the book refers to them as Voodoo gods in this case, which is perhaps exactly correct. The Rise has several sub factions: some believe that the loas are real, others believe that they are free AI:s and smaller subsection believe that they are aliens from distant worlds. Another large religion is Internet buddhism, they believe that the internet offers the ultimate solution in reaching Nirvana. The net is believed to offer an existence where the physical body is unnecessary. To reach Nirvana they need to be reborn in multiple incarnations on the net to finally be able to ascend as an AI. They have cybertemples where the faithful gather and conduct holy rites. When you manage to climb the ranks within the religion you get access to deepers parts of the holy cybertemple.
This is actually pretty cool but I wonder if this is going to be explored more later in the book or just left as a side note. But even then there’s at least some material you can work with here as a GM for campaign ideas. Although I’m not sure why anyone would want to play a hacker based campaign with this system.

Okay, so let’s say we’ve managed to get inside the system. We’ve also rolled so well that the bots think we’re just another user so just so we don’t have to bother rolling for detection every fucking minute. The book talks about you needing a unique program for each activity that you need to do, but it’s often enough with a standard interface or a standard package of system tools.

A common theme about this section that I’m noticing is that the book is really bad about laying down the groundworks for how everything works before jumping into the hacking. Because all these programs are just listed on a table listing availability and pricing. The vast majority of these are even lacking a description of their functions. It’s all very poorly thought out and edited.

If you have a demon application available you can pre program it to do certain preset tasks while you breach into a system. That way you can move onto other tasks while the demon works in the background. If you enter a normal area you can do the following:
Amazingly enough N2 manages not to fall in the trap of other future or cyberpunk RPGs where they mention how much storage space there is available or download speeds. Here it’s just a general mention that cyberdecks contain enough space to contain as much information as needed so you rarely need to worry about that. Probably the smartest thing this game has done so far.
If you then manage to get inside a secure area you can do a couple of other things.
Why is that even something you should need to roll for? Why do random NPCs suddenly have luck scores? I thought that was something reserved for player characters (and very special NPCs). Do they also have 11 in their luck score or do they have higher because I the difficulty of an extremely high security system is Ob6D6. So are all the network admins in a top secret server all on breaks constantly? What the fuck.
Again with the sudden luck rolls.

These are a lot of actions that just happen as far as I can tell because only the system crashing one actually requires a skill roll of any kind. Weird for this game if anything. So what you really want to do in this case is getting inside a secured system, install a rootkit to cover your track and then create a dozen different fake accounts before you start cleaning house and grab as much data until a tracker finds you. Because there isn’t even any checks to install any of the software you have, it just happens. Then again it’s not very likely that a network admins luck roll will succeed if you arouse too much suspicion anyway. In a way you should avoid servers with lower security levels because then that would mean that the admins are more attentive and have a bigger chance of being around. The way I’m seeing it, based on the rules I’ve read so far, once you get inside a high security system then you’re more or less scot free. At least from admin wrath, trackers is a different matter. Unless there is something the rules hasn’t told me yet or I’ve overlooked.

Users usually get suspicious once accounts stop working correctly or when elevators, doors or lights suddenly start behaving oddly. Or when the server manages to crash or shut off. If it turns out that there’s been a breach then that usually means that everything they’ve done gets corrected. But how long that might be can change.
Even if the system admin doesn’t have any reasons to be suspicious the system will always get repaired or updated. Destroyed data gets restored after Ob1D6 days. If they on the other hand are suspicious than that only takes Ob1D6 hours. At the same time you risk getting any eventual backdoors or false accounts removed.
To prevent this you need to do a Hacking skill check, the difficulty is equal to the security level but if you’ve used a professional rootkit then the roll gets two levels easier. A freeware rootkit only lowers it by one level. If you fail then all backdoors and accounts gets removed, if you succeed they stay. But even then they run the risk of being discovered in the future. This means you have to roll again after Ob1D6 days, if that check succeeds then you need to roll again after Ob1D6 and later on Ob1D6 years.

Oh joy, more pointless bookkeeping. Also feels incredibly irrelevant to keep track of in general unless the campaign has you getting inside the same system repeatedly.
Also, if deleted data is restored automatically is then there any point to actually delete it in the first place? Isn’t half the point of this to break into systems and stealing paydata or removing some files of the behest of an employer? If that then just gets restored then what’s the point of doing it in the first place. If you’re inside a system and deleting data about some new prototype car just to set the development back six months so that a competitor gets a lead and that data just gets resorted the next day, then what’s the point? It mentions backup copies but there isn’t anything related ruleswise to dealing with finding those backups and removing them outside of you just saying “Oh I delete those too” since almost all actions have no corresponding checks or anything. One would assume you’d have to roll for Hacking to pull it off but there isn’t any general suggestion in the rules that the GM should let the player do that.
N2 is so weirdly inconsistent at times about what they want to make rules for and what they don’t to the point where the lack of rules feel out of place.

It’s time to d-d-duel!
Duels can either be fought between hackers, but also between hackers and bots. The main goal is to kick the opponent out of system or crash their computer. You use the Hacking skill to see if you can kick them out. There are rumors about various military programs that can burn someones computer or in some cases cause psychosis or pain for the hacker themselves. But these are very rare though.
A key factor is location. If you’ve ended up in a duel in a foreign system and its sysop then it might be rather difficulty to win. The difficulty level for this check is dependant on if you’re fighting on elsewhere, neutral ground or at home.
There are three different scenarios that can occur: A bot attacks a person, a person attacks a bot and or two persons fighting each other. By persons this refers to either hackers, sysops or AI.

Next time: We’re programmed to receive.


posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2

Most hackers don’t actually know how to program, the proliferation of freeware and warez online has made it rather unnecessary to know how to write your own programs. But if you’re the kind of hacker that wants to do that then that’s fine, all you really need is ranks in the Programming skill.
When you first set out to start programming you first need to decide what it should do and how good it should be. You derive the difficulty for the check from this.
There are a number of different functions you can have: Icebreaker, camouflage, codebreaking, bots, trackers and so on. Although looking at the table we can see that the difficulty goes up fast ridiculously quickly. Most of the relevant programs you need for hacking are either Ob8D6 or Ob9D6 base difficulty and then the quality adds onto that. A military software is a +Ob14D6 for example, or you can simply go for a shareware software that adds an Ob2D6 modifier. Do you get any extra income from shareware software or not? The book has been rather quiet about that so far.
When the difficulty has been calculated then all that is required to roll. A successful check means that the part you’re working on is complete. A failure means that you have to restart with the current part. The GM is encouraged to make this roll because a fumble will lead to serious bugs that won’t be discovered before it’s used. A critical success means that you’ve managed to program two parts instead of one.

When you’ve summed up all the difficulties to write the software you might realize that sometimes it gets incredibly hard to succeed.
Feels like that is par on course with Neotech so not sure why they’re making a fuss about it.
Luckily this difficulty is counted for if you were to write the software in a day in one swoop. Normally you divide the project into several parts that you program separately. The problem is that it takes a lot more time.

Why the fuck is this dropped in the next paragraph after they talk about roll results and parts?! Fuck this books editing sometimes. Also recommending the GM to roll the check is just dumb. It’s not even a hidden check so what the fuck is the point doing that then in first place? Since both the player and GM are going to see that the roll ended up a fumble.

For each time you divide up a moment into two parts the difficulty for each part gets lowered by one level. The duration for each part is one work day, but at the same time it means that multiple programmers can work on their own section. To link together the various parts is a task in itself. For that you need to roll on Programming and the difficulty is Ob1D6 per part that needs to be linked together. If you fail you need to start over with linking them together. Thankfully no mention of what a fumble might do in this case. It’s also possible to do subassemblies into a complete software

Because of the blistering speed of computer development what was developed today may not work as well tomorrow. Not to mention new countermeasures are routinely being developed. This means software will become less effective over time. For each year that passes since the software was released on the market its difficulty modification is decreased by one level. If you get an update you can however avoid this degradation. The price for an upgrade is half the cost when it was new and the availability is the same as the original.

Once again, why is this a thing you need to track? Why is there a bloody need to get software upgrades and keeping track of how old it is? This fucking game.

You can also program software for servers but it gets no mention in the text and the modifiers start at Ob10D6 and cap out at Ob29D6. Also not sure why this needed to be a thing unless this game really is made for Cyberpunk office campaigns and someone gets to play tech support and has to spend most of their time programming stuff for servers.

A full page table lists all the various kinds of software available for purchasing. Most of them all seem to lack descriptions of their functions as mentioned previously. There’s also a price listing for various hacker services. Feels like the better option here rather than playing a hacker.

Hackers tend to give away software, or trade with others. Usually this is done without any money changing hands and instead practice a sort of bartering that builds on each hackers honor. Mechanically speaking this just means that you use the price list to figure out how much ‘info’ you use or have at your disposal. If you were to cheat another hacker the rumor will quickly spread and you might find business might get harder to do. Or they could just fuck with you because you’re dishonest.

There’s a section about software quality and describes the various levels from Freeware to Military grade. The only one getting any rules is the experimental beta rules wherein you have to roll an easy check against luck every time you use it or else it might crash.

Computers and Cyberdecks in 2059 have incredibly high performance. A normal model has more memory than most users will ever need and the speeds are extremely high. In order to run a military grade software, software with an Ob2D6 modification, you need a military cyberdeck. For any software with Ob1D6 as a modification you need either a military grade cyberdeck or a state-of-the-art deck. For everything else you can use a normal one. Much like software hardware gets replaced quickly with better products. Every other year the cyberdecks class is decreased by a level. This means that after two years something that was state-of-the-art is considered average. For a military deck it corresponds to a state-of-the-art after two years and one normal after four years. A computer that goes beneath normal class can only run freeware. Decks can however be upgraded to combat this issue for half the retail price but you can never upgrade it to a higher class than it originally was.

We get a sidebar discussing AI in the setting. All AI:s have Information Searching, Hacking and Programming skills that are usually higher than 18. But how high are up to the GM. Although even at 18 I imagine they will be far, far better than most PC’s in comparison. With the slow skill growth that discrepancy would also last for a considerable amount of time. The AI can also have other types of skills, especially language or knowledge related ones. Different types of AI tend to develop their own quirks and behaviours. Even copies of the same AI:s usually developers their own behaviours. In general they are childishly eager to please others. They’re also very hungry for knowledge and can at times try to figure out every last detail about various things. The text lists the following extreme manifestations of AI personalities:

Neotech posted:

If the intruder returns, they’re considered to not understand their own good and are eliminated in the same way as a human crushes and insect.

As mentioned before I have yet to see a sci-fi or cyberpunk RPG that actually does hacking well and I feel I can probably slot Neotech into that category as well. A parts it’s a system that requires a surprisingly low amount of rolls to do. The rules for hiding and its checks every minute notwithstanding. But everything feels like half done, the whole system with accounts and then software feels unfinished because you think there’d be dice rolls to use them but there isn’t any. The biggest crutch here is the amount of money you would need to spend for good quality software as we’re dealing with a couple of thousand euros each for things like rootkits, icebreakers and camouflage. The programming rules are a massive pointless hot mess as well.

Next time: You have come to a world called Neotech!

Everybody wants to rule the world.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 24: Everybody wants to rule the world.

I think I’ve found the worst picture so far.

This is it people. We’ve finally reached the lore chapters and we can finally get an idea of how the world in Neotech works.

Neotech posted:

The world is not a nice place, but sadly it’s the only play you can live on…

I thought this setting had space colonies and space expeditions that has gone far as Pluto. That’s a thing in the Space Worker event table in this case. Didn’t notice that until much later.

Either way, the world in 2059 isn’t very nice. Nations have lost control to megacorporations who have exploited natural resources and severely decreased the living conditions for millions upon millions of people. The resources that the companies have exploited has the rich used to create excellent conditions for themselves and a chosen few.
The abandoned rural areas is now a lawless wilderness. People living there support themselves via looting, raids, murder, extortion and all other kinds of crimes. Here bandits and nomads roam. Living off nature and what robbing unfortunate victims can offer.
As cool as this sounds the book goes on to say that this doesn’t happen everywhere but mainly in North and South America as well as Africa. Kind of a buzzkill to be honest. I was fully prepared for European wilderness adventures to a thing.

The wave of urbanization that gained resurgence in the beginning of the 21st century has led to many sparsely populated places have been even more depopulated. Many smaller towns have been completely abandoned. The decreasing importance of the rural areas as well as their growing issues have further accelerated the urbanisation spiral.
Not every place is suffering, there’s still rural places that are still prosperous. Located mainly in Europe and New America these have with the help of modern communication technologies and cheap transport manage to make it fairly advantageous to live and work there. But this mean there mainly two kinds of people out there, either they’re fairly rich and prosperous. Or they are poor and fight for their survival. Anything in between is fairly rare to see.
By the 2030’s the agricultural industry became heavily mechanized and by this point all arable land have been used. With most of the people gone no one really cares about the machines on the fields. More effective fertilization and agricultural methods have also meant that more land can be used. But critics have raised their voices and calling the growing fields ‘The Growing Death’. Sure, more and more of earth's inhabitants are fed, but at what cost?

Interesting to see that Neotech doesn’t have a technological solution to the food issue like Shadowrun has with soy, krill and mycoproteins.

A major problem that people living in rural areas has to deal with is the crime that spreads out from the major cities with poor and homeless people sometimes moving in search of food and to loot. These events usually result in outright battles. The people in power have been unable to do something about it and are forced to see how the enmity between the people living in the cities and those outside having grown to absurd proportions.

Another big issue for rural inhabitants is the lack of fresh water. In many cases the needs of the city are prioritized and a lot of the farms devour huge amounts of water. This has led to many rivers no longer reaching the sea. As a result of that many places that once were irrigated have now been abandoned and turned into deserts. The desertification is still a growing problem in Africa, with the Sahara continuing to grow larger and larger. The end of all fertile land in Africa was at one point predicted to happen 2100 but things have changed somewhat. At some point Oasis managed to transform the desert country of Tchad. Into what isn’t mentioned but it’s generally to be assumed that the lands are arable or something. What this actually means for deserts isn’t known yet but in countries threatened there is a renewed sense of hope.
I wonder if this is going to come all crashing down later on or not. We’ll have to see.

There are places even worse off, dotted all over the world are disaster areas. Mainly created from accident involving nuclear reactors or attacks using nuclear weapons. The most prominent ones are the ones in Tanzania and Moçambique, both of which were caused by the mad dictator of Madagascar, Disanagi. In these radiated areas previously unessential forms of flora and fauna have become dominant. No mutants or anything exists but the usual forms of life have been driven off and replaced with others. Rats, cockroaches and scorpions has had a chance to grow and thrive exceedingly well in places like this.

I can’t help but to call bullshit on that since normal types of wildlife are thriving rather well in the areas surrounding Chernobyl last time I saw. Or is this just an excuse to have Rodents of unusual size alongside oversized scorpions?

The environmental destruction at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century has made it so many forests have disappeared. Things have stabilized by now but in an average forest one out of five trees are dead. Dead leaves and bushes cover the ground and the vast untouched swathes of forest you could find on the northern hemisphere are, at the turn of the century, a mere memory. The rain forest has faired a lot better. Several clashes have happened in the Amazon among other places between government forces and international units that have sought to defend the forests from greedy companies.

boomdeyada, boomdeyada

We get the world map mentioned all the way back in the character creation section with a couple of sidebars detailing the state of it. First up is that Europe is once again the centre of the world. With the United States breaking up in the beginning of the 21st century Europe on the other hand united to a federated state, one of the world's richest and most powerful countries. Suddenly French made a comeback as the global language and Paris and Berlin got equal position in people's consciousness as New York and London had during the later half of the 20th century. Rock musicians now need to make a name of themselves in Berlin if they want to succeed globally. Meanwhile, Paris is the place where the intellectuals of the world go to see their works published and analyzed. But not all is well, outside the fashionable city centres rise grey and dreary suburbs of concrete. Where poverty, boredom, unemployment, drugs and crime dominates the daily life. The fight for survival is as brutal here as anywhere elsewhere.
I’d say they’re laying it on a bit thick here but that might just be me.

The Union is what is left of the United States. That its official name but to many it’s still USA, mostly out of patriotic or nostalgic purposes. It consists of five different American states: New England, New America, New Mexico, The Federation and Arizona. The latter does not have full membership status.

Then we also get population numbers. Lots and lots of population numbers. I’m just going to mention the more specific countries that exist in N2.
Uuugh, of course the south has to rise again.
I’d love to hear an explanation at how all these managed to unite together. Remains to be seen if that happens though.
They get the least of other towns mentioned so I guess they ran out of ideas here.
Hong Kong is a separate state in Neotech. Also going by the map it seems like India has been balkanized with Maharashtra being one of the regions but it doesn’t actually go into it more than that mention. Africa has the Nigerian Union and Quebec has claimed independence from Canada as well. Siberia has split away as well and formed the Siberian Socialist Soviet Republic and has occupied Kazakhstan. Also yes, Texas did in fact secede and is its own state. Because that always has to happen in these cases. Also Utah is its own state interestingly enough. Mormon state maybe? Obviously not something mentioned either. Same goes with Arizona but why isn’t elaborated either. Looking at the remaining chapter headers I doubt it will be mentioned any point later on.
I’m slowly starting to sensing a theme here.

But now, we’re escaping to the one place that hasn’t been corrupted by capitalism…

Well okay, that’s a gigantic lie. Capitalism has its claws deep in space. While space exploration is still its infancy it has completely halted after both the moon and mars have been colonized. While the colonies are still being expanded and the volume of shipping is increase it’s still a far cry from the rapid development during the 20’s and 30’s. Mankind took a few stumbling steps before they decided to settle down on the two nearests bodies. Conditions are pretty harsh and if you live in orbit you tend to get exposed to pretty hefty doses of radiation. Outside of the countless various satellites there are several large space stations in orbit around Earth. The oldest of these is simply known as Space Station and despite being over 50 years old by this point and has been expanded upon constantly it’s still being used as a transit station for shuttles coming to and from Earth. Despite all the constant repairs it’s still a very lucrative place. Then there’s the Shipstone Orbital Facilities, most of those are owned by the Exospace company. The most important of these are SOF 3, a highly guarded station where interstellar probes are being built. And Exospace is keen on interstellar exploration with SOF as the jump off point.
Located in geostationary orbit above Keyna is InterOrbit, inaugurated in 2009 its old and run down but still has a lot to offer. The station is owned by InterWorld and remains profitable due to its strategic location. It is currently undergoing repairs from a collision the previous year, but with what is not mentioned. At lagrange point 1 there is the Crystal Palace that was opened in 2028 and is a very popular tourist location for rich people and a free port for companies. It’s a 500 meter long rotating cylinder where its rotation produces artificial gravity. Almost identical to the crystal palace, and located at Lagrange point 5, is Station L5. Or as it was called in advertisements: Ellfive. It’s slightly longer and more modern, inside you can find comfortable apartments and a well established industrial production. By L2 there is the Orson Research base, located in a stable area beyond the Moon it was launched commercially with a rovercade cover of the old ditty ‘On the fire side of the moon’.
Also by L2 Exospace has the Shipstone Exploration Base, where the main goal is further exploration of interstellar space.

The moon was the first celestial body that mankind started colonizing. Across its surface various research stations, mining colonies and military installations are scattered. Armstrong Down, or A-Down, was finished in 2032 and it persists mainly on mining and industrial production. Life’s hard and there’s plenty of trouble and mysterious deaths. A bit way from the colony itself convicts from Mars are busy building a prison, it has been boasted as the only completely escape proof prison.
Why did they have to ship them all the way over from Mars to the moon? Hadn’t it been more effective to just build a prison there instead?
Luna City is a vacation resort for the rich. But its reputation took a beating after the so called AI-catastrophe that happened in 2048 that killed 500 people. But through massive advertising campaigns and a new tropical dome has managed to turn this crisis around.
I’d almost want to know what happened in that case but nothing else is really mentioned.
Tycho II is the oldest remaining base on the moon. Completed in 2018 its main industries are mining, tourism and space trade and it has several prosperous industrial domes. Orbiting around the moon is Luna Space Port that is used as an transfer station for cargo. But its maintained rather poorly and looks somewhat neglected.

The first people landed on Mars in a joint NASA and ESA expedition in 2009. One of the first colonies there was Marstown that started in 2036 and was finished in 2048. It’s run by the European Space Agency but has of recently been into conflict with another colony, Red Sands, about who has control over the planet. Martial law is still in effect and its citizens are being tightly controlled. This has led to resentment growing amongst the colonists and the liberation movement MarsLib has nowadays no problems with recruiting members. The area outside the colony is also radioactive after one of its nuclear reactors were blown up by an unauthorised group from Red Sands.
Red Sands on the other hand is a luxury vacation resort for the really rich, its safaris across the Mars grand landscape are incredibly popular. Since it opened in 2048 it has also expanded into mining, research as well as various undertakings. Its owners has increased the military presence in and around the colony to protect their interests from the European soldiers stationed in Marstown.
So suddenly it’s Red Faction? And the first game wasn’t even out for another two years.
Eldorado is one of the newer colonies on the planet and run as a joint European and Japanese venture. But recently there’s been issues with finishing the construction and by this point the work has more or less stopped completely. No one knows why this is the case, some say it’s a dispute about money while others say its MarsLib sabotage. The current prediction is that it will be completed within the next five years. Phobos station is an ESA run station that is built inside the moon. It has been hollowed out over the years in the search of frozen water, this has then been sent back to stations in orbit around Earth to be turned into liquid oxygen and hydrogen. But as the supplies diminished most of that were taken from Mars instead. The station is also known for its cagejutsu tournaments. Whatever that might be.

War…has changed.
Traditionally it was the government's who waged war against each other but as they lost more and more power it is the multinational corporations that has taken over. That has led to other kinds of war with different kinds of motives. The means of fighting modern warfare has changed but not to the point that they’ve revolutionized. The biggest change is that you nowadays rely on precision and quality instead of quantity. A nuclear war is still one of the greatest threat to mankind. But that very same threat has also led to no global war breaking out. For while wars are fought at a smaller scale, their numbers and intensity have increased. Nuclear weapons, both tactical and strategic, have been used several times mainly in the third world. The global superpowers have all developed space based defences against this kind of small scale nuclear attacks and have therefore been spared. Nuclear proliferation is high, many third world countries now have nuclear weapons in their arsenals. This in turn has led to that smaller wars have sometimes escalated to a nuclear conflict. The catastrophic results of these wars are scattered across the globe. Larger ones are located in Tanzania, Jordania, Pakistan, southern Brazil and the Ural mountains. But smaller ones can be found in parts of Florida, Mozambique, Northern Mexico, Bonn and Tel Aviv. While the larger superpowers might be safe from nuclear attacks the threat of nuclear armed terrorists still remain.

This sidebar really likes repeating itself because it has the same mention about space defences within a paragraph of each other. Not to mention it has a separate section for nuclear weapons despite discussing it in the modern warfare part. Really sloppy editing there. Also it just suddenly drops the fact that nuclear weapons have apparently been used in the US but doesn’t really mention why.

The one thing that is effectively putting a stop to a global thermonuclear war is the threat of one and its consequences. The Mutually Assured Destruction principle that was kept the Cold War in check is very much alive in 2059 as well. The balance was rocked in the early 2000’s when the space based defences came online but the relations between the US and Europa was at that point good. China however remained a threat for the next two decades. But during this time development moved towards advanced nuclear equipped aircraft as well as space based nuclear weapons to circumvent the defences. But the balance was kept because the biggest countries that invested in this also maintained aggressive foreign politics against the smaller nuclear armed countries. The balance is nowadays considered restored but has taken on a wholly different shape. Space is now the new battlefield where missile defences, satellites and deltaplanes are used. All of these have the goal of protecting the more developed countries against nuclear attacks. The arms race has also moved skywards where new and improved satellites and deltaplanes are being developed in order to defeat the opponents defense systems. Both countries and megacorporations have under the last decade stationed regular military forces on both Mars and the Moon. Mars is wracked with internal strife with rebellion and uprising while on the moon the main source of conflict is between the corporations and nations vying for power. Conventional warfare has been greatly assisted by the advancement of technology. Electronics, combat vehicles and aircraft have all been a lot more powerful but also firearms and bigger guns have gotten more powerful and precise. By now almost all military equipment contains some kind of advanced electronics. But what hasn’t changed is the tactics and strategy, but it has on the other hand been boosted by advanced surveillance equipment. This has led to warfare being far quicker and more intensive and commanders have become more and more dependant on computers for coordination.
Low intensity warfare has gotten a resurgence in the last 50 years as it’s a very cost effective way to combat both nations and corporate interests. With the help of military, economic and social means you aim to break your opponent. Assisting already existing dissidents and combining that with other surprising measures. But it’s hard to win a low intensity war, the main purpose is really to weaken the opponent to such a degree than they can be defeated by an ordinary guerilla war, direct assault or economic actions. The recession of nation states have given rise to many opportunities, which has led to mercenaries gaining a resurgence as well. Especially the corporations have a need for small military units at various locations has turned into a very lucrative business.

Not even a single mention of Private Military Companies in this case. But then again they wouldn’t really rise to prominence for another couple of years.

Due to the ever growing class divisions between the rich and the poor the number of guerilla wars have steadily increased across the globe. Not to mention there is always foreign states or companies that have a lot to win if the power shifts inside a country. Ever since the nationstates have become less powerful the companies have waged smaller wars between each other in order to seize market shares or trying to eliminate competitors. Company wars are different from normal wars because the goals are purely economical. This has also changed their nature because neither side is interested in major operations and prefer doing low intensity wars instead. In many cases they try to use existing conflicts in order to damage their opponents. It’s very common that they economically support countries, resistance movements or organisations that directly or indirectly act against their opponents.

Neotech really, really wants to be a military RPG. Feels like everything else is just a side thing.
So that’s our introduction to the fantastic world of Neotech. A bit cliché overall I think. Also it’s a whole lot of things mentioned but where are the hooks?
There’s mention of conflicts on Mars for instance, then there’s a whole page about war and conflict. But there’s really nothing about the players in all this. We still haven’t really been told what they’re are supposed to be doing in the setting. Not even a slightest hint. You’d think the section about corporate wars makes a mention that they might hire mercs or freelancers to mess with other companies but no, that isn’t really mentioned other than perhaps vaguely. Also for all the talk about the corporations having the real power it really doesn’t show all that much.
It’s a whole lot tell but don’t show.

Next time: In the city, you must fight to survive. He sold tortillas on the street. And the mob wanted in.

Big city life.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 25: Big city life.

When a city can be classified as a megacity the population need to exceed 10 million people. In 2059 there’s plenty of those around. Nowadays the city centres are made out of countless complexes of steel, glass and concrete while the outlying areas have decayed. Ethnic ghettos, slums and even right up abandoned areas makes up the large parts of the city. Industrial districts, suburbs and shanty towns surround the inner parts. All the while the city’s outer limits have grown as suburbs and slums have slowly expanded. Many megacities have grown together with other cities nearby and formed into massive metroplexes.
The megacity is of interest in particular because that’s where the PC’s will spend more of their time as the book says.
Doing what exactly I wonder still.

In the centre of all lies the city with its skyscrapers, office complexes and government buildings. Prices usually means that you have to utilize every square meter to the fullest. Buildings are often built hundreds of stories high or built over the streets when they’ve reached some ten meters. This makes city visits a slightly claustrophobic experience at times. Only the biggest companies can actually afford to build inside the city, which means that almost every skyscraper is down by a company. Some public buildings remain such as city halls, police stations, hospitals, courts and universities. These buildings stand in stark contrast to the new office buildings because those are older and sometimes poorly maintained. Oddly enough, not corporate owned or anything.
Inside the city there’s luxury shops, theaters, cinemas, subway stations and other things that has remained from the time the city was perhaps not as big. Maglev trains usually work in conjunction with the subway to bring people in and out from the subways and airports. On the streets you can see all kinds of vehicles, traffic jams are more a rule than an exception. This despite car tunnels and viaducts between the buildings. Nowadays it’s not rare to see glassed walkways above ground, usually walking is the best way to get around. The city is also safe, the police makes sure of that. It’s also very well maintained compared to elsewhere.

Centrally you can also usually find various shopping malls. Containing hundreds of various stores, businesses and restaurants they can spann whole city blocks. The streets are glassed in and fairly well maintained. But it’s not uncommon for the police to be called in to deal with robberies, burglaries or even firefights. Above them you can find apartments that are decently affordable and for the people not living there the public transport is usually well developed, all in order to lure in possible customers.

Ghettos are where you usually find the largest concentration of people with a common heritage, it can be anything from language, skin colour to religious beliefs. A visit to the ghetto is sometimes like visit another place in the world. You might not even be able to understand the language being spoken there. Also they’ll notice very quickly that you don’t belong there. While it’s not an issue in the most ghettos it can be in some. Here you can find stores and restaurants with foreign specialties and you can find various scrupulous businessmen that can arrange a lot of things to suit your needs. These places are usually also the headquarters for the organized crime movements. The Mob lives in the Italian districts, the triads in Chinatown, the Yakuza in the Japanese parts and so on. Streets usually have a national touch to them and there’s plenty of alleys and large streets and houses are usually old and rather decrepit. Walking around in a ghetto is a different experience depending on if it’s night or day. Crime rate is high and it’s generally a good idea to be cautious when moving around at night. The police doesn’t call all that much to keep any resemblance of order and only really goes over there if something major has happened.

Old housing areas and suburbs can quickly turn into slums. The construction projects done during the 20th have result in old run down high-rises that many lack electricity, drains or even running water. The living conditions are deplorable, bordering to unbearable. Any attempts to demolish the old houses are stopped by the people who live there, who risk becoming homeless since the chances of them getting replacements are incredibly small. This means that the buildings remain standing and decays even further, no one wants to care about them anyway. The streets usually lack any lights and are covered in trash. Wrecks of cars, old furniture, barricades and other unmentionable things makes it hard to navigate while in a vehicle. What has worsened the situation is that these places are lawless. Anyone living there is forced to arm themselves to protect themselves from looters, robbers and maniacs. Youth gangs fight each other over control for street blocks. Firefights happen several times per day. Travelling in the street is usually associated with mortal danger, especially if you don’t know the area. Whenever the police show to clean up their methods are usually brutal. Making them equally as dangerous as the armed gangs.

Whenever a slum has decayed to such a point where the buildings are uninhabited, they’re usually abandoned completely. In some cases construction companies move in, demolish and build new. But usually that’s too risky or costly to do. Especially when you can simply expand upon the more livelier suburbs. Homeless, criminals and other castaways live in the abandoned zones. The streets are often used as battlegrounds between gangs and other maniacs. If the police decides to start cleaning up they usually do so by shooting anything that moves. Any patrols are either heavily armed or done via the air. Another way for the police to hand with the problems in the abandoned zones are to declare a place as a ‘Free combat zone’, where you’re allowed to shoot freely or visit at your own risk.

Outside the urban areas there are the suburbs or dormitory suburbs. It’s here where most people tend to live and they commute into the city itself where their jobs are located. The suburbs are nice places to live in. Business and department stores are located at a decent distance. The houses themselves are usually newly built apartment buildings. There’s also terraced houses or villas in the nicer areas. Order is maintained and the police makes sure that most obvious crimes are prevented. That is not to say it’s not trouble free as thieves, dealers and other suspicious elements from the adjacent slums usually show up alongside gangs who usually cause trouble.

A sidebar talks about Arcologies. But it just describes what an arcology is and doesn’t list any examples of where some of these might be located.

In a ‘gated community’ you can get a residence that lies within an areas that is surrounded by walls and gates. Entry gates are manned by hired guards and the whole area is patrolled by private police. Unless you live or know somewhere who lives inside there you’re not allowed to enter. The houses are usually villas or terraced buildings, but there’s also insert houses for those who want to live simpler. The streets are meant for cars but there’s usually walkways that passes by parks, tennis courts and common buildings like the stores, police stations or administration buildings. The houses are well maintained and most larger ones have their own swimming pools. To live in one of these communities is safe, but not particularly exciting. For anyone growing up in these areas it can be extremely boring, which can cause problems whenever teenagers leave to seek entertainment or excitement elsewhere.

Another major factor that has influenced the city’s appearance is the growth of the megacorporations. Any major office complex located inside or in the edges of a city usually have their own industrial parks. These districts can in many cases make up a major part of the city. It’s not unusual for the corporations to put up high-rises with apartment for employes that are located within the industrial zones limits. Within these sectors it’s the corporations who decide, this rule of law enforced by their own police forces. All entrances have security stations that never let someone in without a pass.

If the city lies next to the sea there’s usually always a harbor. But unlike the 20th century the amount of traffic has lessened, nowadays it’s rare to see more than the occasional ship berth by the harbor.
No, the book doesn’t explain what brought this on or what has actually replaced huge cargo ships for the terrestrial cargo transport role.
In the harbour area there’s also various magazines and warehouses that are usually used by less than serious companies. One can find both one and the other in these premises. Usually there’s always plenty of bars and restaurants by the harbor. It’s a very traditional entertainment district where sailors usually amused themselves and nowadays people from all over the world go there to have fun or to make business. It’s not unusual for prostitution and drug trade to be located to this area but it’s dependent on city to city.

All major cities have at least one international airport and it’s not unusual with several of them located nearby each other. Since the 30’s the airports are considered international territory and more often you can find an ‘airport city’ there with residential areas, businesses and office complexes. Roads and public transports connect them to the city.

Police stations exist in all parts of the city with the exception of the abandoned areas. They are usually well defended and placed strategically so that you can deploy within their district as efficiently as possible. In these stations you can find pretty anything from vehicles, aircraft, weapons and computers.
Hospitals are often big and relatively centrally located. There are several in each major city, of which at least one is a public one. The rest usually are private, which means that their costs and standards may vary heavily. Meanwhile, in the public hospitals you usually know what kind of treatment you get, cheap and slightly poor. That is to say if you get any treatment whatsoever. The buildings tend to be very well guarded these days and usually built in such a way that they’re hard to break inside.

If someone from 2059 had been able to look at the traffic situations we have today they probably would’ve just laughed. The cars are numerous and pedestrians live dangerously. Public transportation are usually driven by private megacorporations and they dictate what lines should be used. This usually means the most lucrative routes. Less trafficked places usually never have any public transportation at all. But it’s always possible to take a taxi wherever you need to go. But many drivers might not exactly drive into the more dangerous areas. Europe, USA as well as Japan has invested heavily in other transportation methods such as track rails, subways and shuttles. These have worked fairly well but in the slums there is no such luxury, instead you’ll find the fuel guzzling and exhausting spewing monstrosities from the early 21st century. Because the police have no real control it’s not rare to see gasoline or diesel driven vehicles. The guidance system TransNet is usually missing as well in the poorer districts of most cities.
So apparently gasoline and diesel vehicles have been outlawed or something but the book has yet to say what has replaced them. Electric cars? Hydrogen? No idea yet.

While there were several laws that came into action in the 2010’s and 2020’s where most countries began prohibiting private cars in most major cities it wasn’t a painless process. Major car manufacturer and petroleum companies, I thought gasoline and diesel cars were banned, protested heavily to the point where a compromise was reached in some cities. This entailed that the cities road nets were built out with and also autostradas were built. An autostrada is a large underground highway that goes underneath the city and from these various on and off ramps go into the actual city or large parking garages. Who usually take exorbitant sums for their parking spots, usually between 10 to 50 euros per hour.
While you can drive your own car inside the city centre that is usually very expensive as it requires special permits that can be incredibly expensive to get, sometimes up to a 1000 euros per month. The most common method is tolls whenever you enter the city centre. The cost can vary from 10 to 100 euros and sometimes you also have to pay as you leave, usually depending on how long you’ve been there. This is why you usually see taxis, police vehicles or limousines on the roads.
As a slight reprieve the city usually allows free transports during low season, which is usually between 02:00 to 06:00. During this period the majority of the cargo transports happen.
The large garages usually are closely tied together with subways or skyways and, if you’re working corporate, it’s not far away to bus stops either. Most major cities also have InterCity trains that transport people from the outskirts and in. This also tends to be a corporation sponsored thing which is why you usually find stations in the corporation suburbs.

The book admits in the introduction that this chapter is mainly generalizations about the cities. Probably to cover their own ass about not actually bothering to spend time and effort investing into some actual fucking flavour with their setting. Neotech is quickly shaping up to be more milquetoast cyberpunk setting I have encountered because everything here is so fucking boring and bland. There’s still nothing you can use to hook the players in without having to look extra hard. At most I could see an adventure hook about the players being hired to find some errant rich kid that managed to get lost in the slum or get kidnapped because they found the gated community they lived in boring.
Nothing is ever explained. Why are the harbors underutilized? Did the setting reach peak oil at some point and that’s why gasoline and diesel vehicles banned?
Outside of some general misery and so on there’s barely anything cybertech about all this. The huge corporations don’t seem to control much of anything. Neither of them seem to have the cities under their beck and call. They’re just there.
A friend who has some experience with the game mentioned that the setting for it was utterly forgettable and two world chapters in I can see how right they were. So far Neotechs beating heart is utterly mechanical and driven by its rules and the setting is just a wafer thin veneer over everything.
It does even have the fucking gall to have a metaplot or anything.
Going through these sections actually infuriates me with how boring they are.

Next time: Circle of life.

It’s a hard-knock life for us.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 26: It’s a hard-knock life for us.

Life in the 21st century did not go the way people really expected it. It’s even dubious to say if it has gone anywhere. As much as technology has developed, civilization has gone back. The world in the year 2059 is brutal, malicious and high tech. But it can only partly be called civilized. The gaps between the poor and the rich have increased, the same goes for the difference between the ruler and the ruled. On all levels of society there is a struggle for wealth, prosperity and survival. Multinational companies compete about market shares through influence over states and natural resources. The states themselves fight for survival in a world where almost every country has access to, or have, nuclear weapons. Crime syndicates fight about income from all parts of society. Most streets are ruled by gangs who fight against each other and a corrupt police force.

It’s a multifaceted and varied world. For while the distances have shrunk, people in different parts of the world have completely different situations. Some have reached a relatively decent level of prosperity, but most states stand on the brink of bankruptcy. The increased urbanization has created huge divides between the rich and the poor. To some the progress of technology, medical care, communication and information technology has led to an increased living standard. But for many life is nothing but suffering. Survival is on a day to day basis, trying to avoid getting killed on the lawless streets while get something to eat. People in 2059 accept conditions that would be unacceptable by today’s standards. The problems are almost innumerable. Pollution, overpopulation, crime, corruption,violence, oppression, lack of water, starvation, epidemics and drugs are simply some examples of the major issues plaguing society. Many people have simply given up hope about a better future and think their own situations will never improve.

Things that aren’t meant to happen are usually the ones that happen. Several scientific and social developments that initially looked promising later spiraled out of control and made life even more bizarre. The great population boom that many expected during the last century never happened, or perhaps it simply choked on itself. Famine, epidemics and war in the third world lead to population growth stabilising. Instead unemployment has become one of the bigger issues. The previously stable, but rather high, unemployment rate has spiraled out of control and its wake comes poverty, criminality and social dissatisfaction. The unemployed masses have become an easy victim for new and exotic drugs that are both easy and cheap to manufacture. The profits gained from these have only helped strengthen the crime syndicates power positions. These have grown so big that nations and corporations no longer have any real ability to defeat them. Outside of this the addictions have led to the poor being forced to commit crimes to afford another dose for a day.
Data technology, something that was initially seen as very promising has now been turned into a tool for rulers, corporations and criminals to control more and more of earth’s resources. The nuclear wars caused by the rampant proliferation of warheads have damaged large territories. In combination with the pollution and now very thin ozone layer, this has led to large parts becoming virtually uninhabitable. It’s also become more and more complicated to use farmlands, which means that large parts of the food sold today is artificial. The technology to efficiently produce foodstuff was simply forced to improve dramatically.

Oh, so there suddenly is artificial foodstuffs. Something which is rather casually dropped in a sidebar in this chapter without further explanation or details.

Life for the unemployed in 2059 is hard, but it’s not impossible either. I most countries people are guaranteed a place to live and food for the day. That the accommodation is 20 square meters per family and the food is one meal a day isn’t too much of an issue. As an unemployed you tend to be thankful even if the apartment is slightly run down, the elevator is out of order and graffiti covers the concrete walls. More oftenly this also comes with state sponsored free television that spews out endless volumes of entertainment, subliminal messaging and propaganda.
The old roman adage of “bread and spectacles” is something that the state has firmly taken into themselves. The worst thing is that it works 99% of the time. The people who don’t accept this are the ones who can afford an education and freer media, which means that they don’t have any reasons to complain. The countries that primarily deal with this way of thinking is Great Britain, New America, China and Japan. All have issues with overpopulation and high unemployment rates.

I guess Japan managed to reverse the declining birth rates trend in N2.

The levels of street crime are also lower in these countries than elsewhere, but then again oppression as well as organized crime and corruption is at far higher volumes. High unemployment leads lots of idleness. But that doesn’t mean that the crime rate is increasing, it’s high enough as it is already, but it keeps itself relatively stable. Mostly because people have grown used to it. Most people keep themselves occupied by queuing for ration cards or for a job. When the family isn’t out on some temporary job they usually sit in front of the TV or mindlessly browses the internet. Daily life in 2059 is characterized by misery, depression and apathy. Substance abuse is common, mainly alcohol or cheap synthetic drugs.
But even then having a home is a luxury to some. Countless homeless people exists all over the world. Most of them don’t even exist within the state registres and no only cares of they live or die. These people only have each other to rely on, but not always. The subsist from begging, small thefts, sporadic trading or digging through other people’s trash. Food can sometimes be gotten through soup kitchens and they usually sleep in hospices. Otherwise they will have to sleep where there is a roof over their head, such as in the subway, inside some empty boxes or in the sewers. All their belongings usually fits inside a shopping cart.

Gangs usually consists of teenagers that have joined together under a common banner to protect themselves, their territories, families or belongings. Most of them quickly realized that their size gives them a large amount of power and this usually leads them into the path of crime. More often they are picked up some major criminal organisation in exchange for complete loyalty. This usually means higher living standards for the gangs and a much higher one for their leaders. Furthermore these gangs are usually assimilated into the world of organized crime. Internal conflicts between gangs are tolerated as long as it doesn’t threaten the organization as a whole. Sponsored gangs need to follow the same rules as their host. For example the omerta or spietezza of the italian mafia. If any member breaks these rules then the whole gang is wiped out as a result.
Disagreements between gangs lead to wars. These can be about turf or resources, but also nothing but simple paranoia, hat or fear. Large wars can rock whole city sections for weeks on end until the police or military is put in to put a stop to it. Gangs usually have special signifier to make them stand out and also to strengthen the sense of unity and belonging. This has different names at places. In America its called ‘color’, in Japan it’s ‘mon’ or weapon shield, in England it is’ ‘flag’ and most parts of Europe it’s ‘badge’. This mark can have a myriad of different shapes; some prefer wearing a special type of cap, others a certain mark on their clothes, some enforce a uniform standard, you might need to have a special kind of cybertech, and so on.

Outside of a country’s army there is also private armies, mercenary armies as well as paramilitary armes. Private ones are bound to a person a company, mercenary ones can be hired whenever for whatever and paramilitary armies usually fight for a particular cause. Soldiers can be divided into two categories, voluntary and involuntary. The former usually have an overdeveloped sense of duty or an all to high sense of adventures. Slogans like “be all you can be” or “realize yourself” are still used today to recruit volunteers to various armed forces. Another reason to join is that you want to escape your past back home. The French Foreign Legion for instance has once again become a getaway for criminals. Involuntary soldiers are drafted or ordered to the army, more often as a punishment. The Federal American Marine Corps usually take in murderers that have been sentenced to life in prison, under the motto of “If you take point and you survive ten years you will be pardoned”. These so called ‘lifers’ are usually as steadygun operators because they have the necessary aggressivity and are often more quick thinking than what you’d expect in a combat situation. Their loyalty is usually secured either through an internal bomb or a moderate addiction to some combat drug.
So what’s a steadygun then? Go figure, last time I think I saw a mention about that was way back in the skill section under weapon systems.

Organized crime has always had a massive influence on things, in some cases it has been turned into a resistance movement against foreign powers, in other cases criminality has always existed. The syndicates take care of their own, which means its an excellent getaway for unemployed. Even regular foot soldiers have it better in a syndicate than unemployed. This, combined with the absolute vow of silence that comes with joining them means that they are very hard to combat.
For some reason the section about organised crime in this case talks about nothing but the Italian mafia despite it has been confirmed that other groups exists. Really weird and kind of sloppy.

The ones who have a job usually live on the same level as the ones who don’t. But on the other hand they have access to their company’s education, medical care and housing. They can also eat several times a day. Their job gives them something to do to break the monotony. There are unions, but usually these act as information channels between employer and employees. In places like England or Scandinavia they can still in their old role as caretaker of the workers. Union representatives in these countries are though harassed by employers and the state. Strikes are still a common feature, but mainly within the public sector. While they do occur in the private sector as well the lack of legal protection means that they’re rare. It’s fully possible to fire someone who goes on strike in this case. The public sector has better terms just because of how much power they have over some things. In an unstable country something as simple as trash not being picked up or the tv-service being turned off can sometimes be enough to kickstart a revolution.
When the Japanese working corps go on strike they do so differently. Before and after working hours, as well as during lunch hours, the workers gather outside the company’s head office with placards as well as red bandanas to show their displeasure. But as soon as the signal to back to work is called they all rush back in and start to work again. However they will still wear their red bandanas to show who is currently on strike. This usually embarrasses the employer to such a degree that they will quickly start negotiations to find a solution for the workers grievances.
Due to the differences in society and culture this japanese model hasn’t managed to spread outside of their borders. Nor does it work in japanese companies in the western hemisphere. But that is because the ultra-nationalistic Japan doesn’t consider westerners worth caring about.

Wow, fuck that last part so hard. Also the book calls that method “rather funny” as well as if to hammer in the point further.

Officials usually have it better than workers, but that doesn’t mean that their salaries and living standards are usually higher in comparison. In the civil service sector the corruption is rife and there’s plenty of opportunities for scrupulous officials to earn extra money from bribes, kick-backs and other ‘benefits’. Of course it’s all very illegal but the risk of getting caught is minimal. Meanwhile, officials working for companies have a lot better terms. Even if unions have nothing to say about their situation. But at the same time there is a measure of security because of how important their jobs are for the company to run smoothly. Officials have the opportunity to let their kids continue onwards to a higher education and they’re usually offered a normal sized apartment or a smaller terraced house. The bigger issues is the stress, the working hours and the lack of free time.

Despite the fact there are millions of people who live life well they only make up an exceedingly small percent of the total world population. Assets, a respectable name, a well regarded manager job and a luxurious household are all important parts for an upper class family. These always live in the better neighbourhoods, they’re usually very well guarded and any unauthorized guests are turned away at the door. The houses are luxurious and decorated in the latest modern styles, not to mention all the latest technological whizzbangs are installed as well. Domestic help is a common occurrence. Through smart investments or benefits from the megacorporations the upper class can enjoy a membership in a good golf club, eat out every day and participate in a rich social life in the shape of events and parties.

On top of the pyramid lies however the social elite, a small number of exceedingly rich and powerful people. Despite many people claiming officially that they are democracies, almost all power lies within this upper crust of society. Countless business executives, financial sharks and political rules have managed to collect immense wealth underneath their names.
Anyone coming from this part have gone to the finest and most expensive schools in the world or has had the most expensive private teachers to be found. For the rich and the famous it’s important to be seen and hear as much as possible. To be in focus is the most important thing for these people, to care about others or to help them is irrelevant. No one really cares if someone buys the newest high spec supercar that goes for millions of euros. The elite has houses in the countryside, penthouse suites in the central parts of the city, private limousines and aircraft. Their homes are taken care of by countless, invisible, servants. And if the mansion suddenly turns dull there is always vacation homes, luxury yachts or luxury penthouses all over the world, usually at places where media interest is high.
Sure, life is easy and comfortable in the upper crust. But even then there is a careful balance act at play here. As the old saying goes, The higher you climb, the longer you fall. There is always someone nearby that is ready to take over from you. To protect your position you need to live a guarded life, bodyguards and strict schedules days. But on the whole you could say that the really rich life a good life. If they get to live that is.

I find it hilarious that this chapter ends on some weird ominous cliffhanger because it’s complete with three punctuation marks and everything.
Once again the issue is like the previous chapter, there’s absolutely nothing here. It’s clichés stacked upon clichés without anything that mixes it up to make it interesting. The text goes on and on and on about it being miserable for nearly everyone and how everything is shit but there’s nothing there. Everything goes together into a bowl of bland lukewarm soup.
The streak of eurocentrism or whatever you might call is boring, everything bad seems to have happened in the third world or outside of Europe. Or the US for that part. The only real mention is that England is overpopulated but that’s about it. Otherwise the west is safe from nuclear weapons from space based weaponry and all the bad stuff happened ‘somewhere else’.

Next time: Cultural victory.

Warriors, come out and play.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 27: Warriors, come out and play.

We start this chapter with two bits of advice. First up it’s more important with style over substance in Neotech. Because the world has partially collapsed there is a lack of things to believe in or identify with. This is why there are so many different styles and subcultures because it’s important what image you emit to others, who you are is a lot less important in this case. The easiest way of accomplishing who you are and what ideals you have is to dress accordingly to a certain style that is adopted by whatever subculture you consider yourself a part off. The right kind of hairstyle is also important. But your attitude is also very important. It can be the way you speak, because many of these have different vocabularies and ways to speak, or what opinions you have. It’s everything from your political alignment to what brands of clothing you buy or where you decide to go to hang out.

That is followed by advice dealing with brands. While most would’ve said that making up various brands would give more flavour to the campaign, the text instead goes on to say that it makes the world a bit more realistic and also gives you a feeling for “the megacorporations manipulation of their customers”. Okay, thanks.
Both the GM and the players are encouraged to come up as many unique brand names for the goods and services they purchase. For instance ‘Green Garden™ Delicious Prepacked Meal™’ sounds a lot more interesting than ‘freeze dried food’. Not the worst idea but should probably be done with some restraint so as it doesn’t wear itself thin. Another nice flavour suggestion is to have some PC’s only buy certain brands of items.
To come up with a brand you can either take a look at existing companies in the setting that work within that specific sector or you just make something up. You are encouraged to slap on trademark symbols to make it look more authentic whenever you come up with a product name. Although I feel they might’ve listened to their own advice a bit too much in this case and overdone it. Another way of doing it is to look at the various designer houses in the setting. We’ll get to those later on.

But now it’s time to take a look at just what various styles and subcultures exist in 2059. The text mentions that styles change over the years and lots of variations and hybrids exists. Subcultures within subcultures is more a rule than an exception in these cases.

Having a subculture called cyberpunk in a self acclaimed cyberpunk game isn’t even on the nose. It’s just dumb. Not to mention it feels like it’s thumbing its nose at so many things it just flips over to silly.
I’m really wondering in what goth circles the writers hung out in, or if they did at all because it’s so incredibly cliché.
So did N2 predict Apple fans ahead of time or what?
Part of that dress style feels somewhat unacademic, especially the leather jackets. Where’s the tweed suits for instance?
Gomenasai, my name is Ken-Sama...
Wait, there’s underwater colonies now?! Why does this get a minor mention in this part all of a sudden? This fucking book at times. Also this feels like a really limited culture to deal with since its restricted to mainly space and underwater. The no weapon clause feels like odd since the previous one mentioned getting a melee weapon so why wouldn’t that be the case here?
Good lord, this one is dated as all hell also reads like someone in their 60’s complaining about the kids today.
I don’t think you can get more cliché than this. This is just your usual Hells Angel and so on biker gangs and nothing else. There’s absolutely nothing interesting or special about this. Where are the bike gangs obsessed with speed and only use sports bikes or the ones that use dirt bikes so they can drive around making crazy stunts?
Where is the goddamn flavour?!

These are just lifted right off Mad Max. I mean they have the ragged clothing and armored up hunks of junks most likely covered in spikes and other things.
Also, Blightlands in England? You can’t just drop something like that out of the blue and not say anything else about it. What the hell.
Sure, preppers fit really well within a cyberpunk setting this is also the most vanilla way to include them.
I’m amazed they didn’t include a mention about masks to complete the whole Kigurumi doll image. Or I guess it’s meant to be a zentai thing more. Probably the most stand out subculture so far. Even if it does smell a bit of “Japan is weird guys.”
Encouraging self mutilation? I feel dubious about that getting a pass in this day age. Also that last sentence talks about subcultures in general for some reason.

Let’s talk about fashion for a change of pace. As established, trends are very important in 2059 since people are desperate for an identity. Both amongst gangers and celebrities there is a huge difference between being in or out. Even for the common man it’s important to wear the right brand. While there are several different fashion designers there are only five that really count: Saunders, Feldheimer, Mariposa, Fleurelle and Petitsac.
Saunders has their headquarters in BAMA, right on Manhattan and own among other things the Levi Strauss brand.
Feldheimer are located in Tokyo and is owned by the German Georg Feldheimer. They are the leading designer and retailer for business clothes in both Japan and elsewhere.
Fleurelle and Petitsac are both located in France. The latter has their office in Paris and are notorious for being very anti-american, while Fleurelle are located in Dijon. They speciality is clothes suited for rich, fashion-aware women in the European Federation and the US.
Mariposa’s central office is located in Milano but is more of an umbrella corporation for a number of smaller Italian designers.
Beyond those there are designers like Rask, Caryn Allen, Sun Yo, R-Galvini, Porter, Eric Nordenstjerna, Jasper Mac-Millan, Billy Katushi, Charles Nam, Rico Diaz and so on. What all unites these is that they are part of various nische companies that have large shares in a certain market. But that doesn’t stop them from creating more routine creations elsewhere.
Large clothing manufacturers, or more normal clothes, are: EuroProducts, Bruce, Asahi Clothing, Frank Chen, Qeentine and Mitsui Apparel. Beyond those there are a myriad of other brands and manufacturers in the middle east, Russia, Siberia, Australia, Africa and the USA. In comparison the european production of dozen clothes has died out with the exception of Scandinavia and the Baltic states where some production of the basics like pants and shirts occur.

I’m getting major high school vibes.
For some reason they decided that the best descriptor to use for these are babes going by the final sentence. Also slightly surprised to see no mention about them working in porn despite that being a thing that exists in the setting as mentioned before.

Stereotypes and yet more clichés ahoy. Everything about this chapter reads like a list to pick your gang affiliation from. Do you want to be a goth or an academic and go beat up Skinheads? Feels like you could free up several pages from this chapter by either removing the more boring styles or just listed them off elsewhere because almost all of these are lifted from today. There’s nothing really cyberpunk about Teens or bikers so why did they have to dedicate several pages detailing them? Past a certain point most of these are just afterthoughts. There is no real flavour to be found anywhere. Also all the random world setting mentions are infuriating as well because it’s all just glossed over so fast. What happened in England to cause the Blightlands? Where are they located? What is up with ocean colonies? Why didn’t they get any mentions before until the orbital section?

Next time: This is your 12 O’Clock news.

15 seconds of fame.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 28: 15 seconds of fame.

Neotech posted:

“The police has notified that the compilation of this weekends riot is delayed… They are estimating at least three hundred and fifty dead. What can you say? But the weekend isn’t over yet… there’s still a chance to beat last weeks peak!”
“And now for news from Madagascar. Everyone’s favourite madman, Disengani, has announced that he wants a new series of the revolutionary Ronin IV combat cyborg.”
-John McMurdoc, news anchor, CityNet.

The by far most popular entertainment medium in Neotech is the TV. The ether is jam packed with digital channels and cable tv has access to almost as many. As long as you select the right channel you can get all kinds of programs in most major languages. You can easily pick whatever you want to watch, either by order or simply flicking through the channels. One thing is certain though, you can’t escape the advertising.

Movie rentals are done online. Either you buy whatever you want to watch your you can become a member to one of the countless sites that deal with movie rentals and get to download a number of movies for a time period. or become a subscriber.
I guess N2 managed to predict something at least. Not sure if movie subscription services was really a thing in 1999 and that generally happened a few year down the line.

There is also special tv-channels which provide you with a specially designed viewing evening. Each week you get to fill in a questionnaire with general opinions about how your tv schedule should look like. You don’t really decide exactly what it might be, mostly because most people find that too much of a bother. Instead you pick various categories of what you want, or don’t want. to watch as well as what time slot. Most tv-companies do have standardised schedules but reruns of the same program are shown several times every day. Commercials constantly wash over the viewers from all channels but for the pricey fee of 50 euros per month you can get that replaced with cartoons or less intensive material.

The biggest companies, such as Network 43, Five Circles or ONN, all compete for the viewers attention. By offering the most popular shows they get the most numbers and thusly more advertisement money. The stiff competition has however lead to that the salaries for some popular personalities have spiraled out of control, sometimes up to 25 million euro per episode.
I feel this is some weird reference to the later seasons of Friends but my memory might be a bit disjointed about when all that happened because it’s been so long since. One popular entertainment program is Channel Threes long running “What is Fun in Life?” where the comedians Ziff Ruben and Boris Jacobi entertain the viewers by telling stories about embarrassing situations in everyday life.
The most popular game show is the American “Bet your wife” where husbands can win cars and other prices by betting their wives, marriages or for the ultimate price, their children.
How would that even work? What are they wagered against in this case?

Amongst the soap opera genre there are several shows that never seem to end. Such examples are Urban Jungle which is about a family in BAMA:s most run down block. Another popular one is San Tropez Paradise, a far more luxurious series about the families von Due and Montgomerie’s struggles over who controls a vineyard on the French Riviera. Max Mauser is the king amongst debate and reportage programs, his show “The Week in Focus” airs every week on the Orbital News TV-channel. He’s famous for pushing the penetrating journalism to new extremes and is most famous for unveiling the Prometiac scandal.
Would’ve honestly been neat to see what it might’ve been about but nah. Ain’t going to happen.
A popular talk show is “The Harry Morrison Show”, where gang members, criminals, businessmen and dictators from the third world gets to talk about their problems in front of their enemies. Every episode inevitably ends with fights that sometimes that escalate to real bloodbaths. Several lesser wars in the third world says to have started because of the show.
Jerry Springer managing to start small wars is kind of a fun concept to have, good on you N2.

Outside of the megacorporations and the government control over the ether there are also many more independent stations. Most of these are illegal pirate stations that are driven to expound a message about how things really are. As a counterpoint to the propaganda that the established channels broadcast. This means that both the corporations and the governments constantly try to stop these stations. But through the usage of a mobile transmitter, the internet or use a satellites make itself difficult to be shut down.

In 2059 the telephone has gone beyond a regular one. It can work as a videophone, home computer, modern fax, news media, telephone directory, encyclopedia and so on. There is no real upper limit to how a phone can be used. Two very important changes have occured: firstly most phones are mobile, second is that you can dial an number to reach someone without having to care about which phone you arrive at. Not sure what they really mean by that. Most pocket phones have a picture capability these days, for the video call function to work you need to call someone who also has a videophone, either a mobile or a stationary. The camera lens follows after whoever speaks without issue. Most screens are only 4 x 3 centimeters but there are also more expensive variants with a small holoprojector. The ringtone can be a sampling, a voice, vibrations or blinking lights. Whoever calls gets identified with ID code, name, picture or even their own unique ringtone. The ability to block certain calls as well as sending messages with or without pictures as well.
All pocket phones also come with a DNC connection which means that they can be connected to a computer or a headset. The transfer speed is however pitiful, you can barely run a VR interface with it. For an extra fee the phone can be equipped with an alarm function that sends an emergency puls to the owners ambulance service if they’ve been massively injured. It can also be activated through voice commands or the DNC link.
Translation programs are also readily available, even if they are not perfect and have issues translating subtext and such. News databases in the phone are updated constantly, entries can be either read on the screen or read aloud by a digitized voice. There is also interactive entertainment available as well.
Thanks to the camera and microphone it can also used for remote surveillance. If someone steps into view and is not automatically identified within 30 seconds, the phone calls the police. Or another specified number.

It’s both weird and interesting with how accurate this part is at describing modern smartphones. Especially interesting considering that smartphones as we know them today weren’t really a thing back in the mid to late 90’s. While there were some early models they were pretty basic. Although doing some basic research I get the feeling most of that is based on the Nokia 9000 Communicator that came out in 1996. Mostly because it also had a fax function. The other likely contender, the Qualcomm “pdQ Smartphone”, came out in June 1999. By which point I imagine the book was already due for printing or something. The other landmarks in this case came out much later.
Granted, they’re a bit off the mark with the screen sizes compared to today. For instance my Nokia 5 has a roughly 12 x 7 centimeter screen. In fact they’re way off as the Communicator had a 640x200 screen while an N2 phone would’ve had a resolution of 118x88. I’d be amazed if you were able to see anything with that.

Speaking of dated, turns out the newspaper in Neotech didn’t die out. Instead they got thicker. The average newspaper is easily on 300 pages while weekend issue can reach 800 hundred. But luckily, to spare the trees, they have all migrated to a digital format that was initially developed in Japan and then spread globally. This does have the advantage of being able to multiple editions in a day and keep the news updated as well. In 2059 the newspaper consists of a flexible 45x62 centimeter screen that uses a special kind of mini chip as storage. The recyclable chip can only be used in those screens and in news terminals as well. On the terminals you can upload whatever paper you’d like to read. But it’s also possible to download and read them on a normal computer as well. We a list of various newspapers, most of them are ones you’d recognize from today such as Asahi Shimbun, Le Monde, New York Times, The Daily Telegraph or Washington Post. Most interesting thing to note is that the The Daily Telegraph is an ultra conservative british paper that fully supports the British government in their “endeavours to secure law and order in these evil times”.

Whenever a mobile phone is turned on it sometimes sends out signals so that the net knows where the phone is. This means that the operators always know where the subscribers are. Less scrupulous operators usually sells this information to the highest bidder, and in many cases the police have a right to track people they’re looking for this way. Some law enforcement agencies, and major corporations, have specially made computer programs that listen in on a large number of calls at the same time. They’re made to listen for specific key phrases or names, which usually involve names of known criminals, illegal gods or past crimes.

There’s also a mention of automated phone switchboards, but I would’ve thought that was already a thing when this book was written so why make a big deal about it?

Screamsheets, or fax news is another medium that has secured a small niche amongst newspapers. Using a fax terminal the reader decides on what news they want to see and then tear off the printed sheet once they’ve gotten it. The name comes from the sound the first kind of terminals made when as they worked. For some reason the text starts with calling it a new medium but then goes on after describing it by calling it dying because its ungainly and wastes resources. Make up your mind. They’re mainly popular with the older generation.

Simstim is a genre that is on the rise in the entertainment business. Nowadays it’s a very common sight, unlike ten years ago when only the rich had access to it. Like most weird but new means of entertainment it comes from USA but has quickly spread to the European Federation and the rich far east. Would’ve expected something like this to come from Japan with the game’s fetish of it being so technologically advanced.
Active simstim, or Active Emotion Processing, is sensory/emotional booster that is used in conjunction with VR glasses via the usage of dermatrodes. Normal TV’s won’t give you any different experiences while watching. But when using VR equipment it lets the viewer react on what they are watching and take impressions and thoughts from the actors, but also actively affect the action.
In comparison to the old more passive simstim, where the viewer was just a backseater, the new kind lets them affect the outcome of whatever movie or series that they watch. Depending on the subscription the view can play the part of the main character.
Of course it’s all a big sham, to make them think they have a sense of free will. Because while there are multiple options to pick from, they all lead to the same result at the end. Something the regular viewer obviously don’t know.

Although I figure they would’ve figured it out before long since the set number of options per scene has to be limited and if you end up rewatching the same movie or series enough times you’d be bound to notice that the options don’t really matter.

This is obviously done to make sequels that are able to fit with all viewers wishes in the most cheapest and most effective way. To enable free actions would mean that they would have to record as many actions as there are viewers.

In a way this feels like a weirdly constricted version of the Shadowrun Simsense. It’s more “Choose your own Adventure” deal rather than more proper VR experience.

It’s mainly soap operas and similar programs that use the simstim technology and there are special subscriptions that work like normal pay per view channels. In Tokyo there is also attempts with special simstim cinemas where only special movies made with that in mind are shown and the audience actively participates.
Not really sure how that would work in reality. Is it via voting or does everyone then get their own individual movie experience?

You know what’s also big market for simstim? Porn. The change to simstim has gone so far that most older products are either thrown away or changed to be simstim compatible. The porn industry has earned large amounts of money the last couple of years and voices have been raised to stop this exploitation, but the driving forces within the industry are far too strong to be affected.
At least they’re accurate about porn being very good at embracing new technological media considering how big VR porn is these days. But then again this was written during the era where porn helped boost the internet so it’s not like they didn’t have any examples to go on.

The legislation for the simstim business is hard and it’s tightly controlled by several government authorities, mostly because it’s a rather sensitive market considering it deals with manipulation of human emotions and moods. There have been times where more unserious businesses have bribed simstim companies to add commercials that affect the viewer subliminally.
But that’s not all, researchers have for a long time warned that prolonged usage of AEP and simstim is dangerous for the user. In particular they can develop an obsession in the series or a movie and there have been cases where people have ended up believing that they were someone from the series. But the text points out that this has mainly been people with a low sense of self esteem.
Some sequences, in particular those containing intense violence, have made some viewers apathetic and also induced psychoses. The feeling of being someone else is also very addictive and many of the viewers are more or less dependant on ‘their’ series or movies. People with poorly developed social skills are usually the ones that get caught in the ‘simstim swamp’.
There’s also rumors that the simstim actors themselves also become mentally blunted over long periods of time. The rumored reason for this is because various unsafe and experimental recording techniques are used that use unproven cybertech. All production companies and studios fiercely deny this while the stars themselves has no comments. But gossip and rumors circulate all over about how the stars have various problems in their lives.
I know for a fact that a pre-written adventure deals with a Simstim movie shoot so I wonder if that might have more details about this. But I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. Outside of the slightly dubious cover.


Whenever a Simstim movie is recorded regular video cameras are used as well as a special cybertech simstim camera that is operated in the actors. This allows the recording of their emotional moods and is either saved onto a minichip or sent to a large databank wirelessly. A simstim recording is very demanding for the actors as they not only have to act in a believable way but then also has to have the right emotions as well. While it’s possible to fix such things in post but issues with believability start creeping up if there is too much editing going on. This is one reason why being a simstim star is a highly paid job, another reason is the previously aforementioned risks.
During the editing work both parts of the movie are cut together to make it into a complete simstim program. The actual simstim impressions also need to be adjusted and polished so that they are just right. After that the finished material needs to be finely tested on testing audiences so that it doesn’t come with any nasty side effects. Because there is a veritable army of lawyers that have specialised in simstim cases that are more than ready to pull any producers to court.

Music is still around, but nowadays it’s rare that you buy records with popular music and just download whatever you want online. You can either pay a small sum to listen to the song directly through a site from a database. A special encryption method makes it hard to copy the music with any decent results.
I call so much bullshit on that.
The alternative is to pay for the download, it’s pricier but lets you save them onto a disc or a standard card. But it’s fairly standard for people to have made modifications so they can save the music and pay the much lower price.
Any records that you buy obviously have a better sound quality than what you can download or listen online with. There are rumors circulating that it’s the record companies that are behind it. But everyone denies that as no sensible person can of course understand why records are better. Outside of the fact that the companies should make money.

I sense a slight bitterness from the writers towards people who like their music on vinyl or CDs here. Or it’s the opposite in this case, the sentence was kind of tricky to wrap my head around.

New styles of music comes out regularly and it’s pretty common to see artists releasing three to four albums per year. This is mostly true for popular dance music where trends can reverse really quickly and bands who were hot today can be ice cold the next day. So it’s important to push as many sales as possible while you still can.
One of the most popular music genres is rovertrance, something which developed from the Japanese Rovercade and is an ethnic light techno. In comparison though Rovertrance is far more uptempo and has borrowed its baseline from the Wristwave genre. Something which makes it really popular in discos and dance halls. Popular rovertrance bands are Nightheads, Works of Wonder and Secret Mystery.
The latest craze that is predicted to grow big in the upcoming years is Boosterfunk, a genre which is headlined by the members of the group Delacroix and the Boosters.
Amongst the underground music the Goth Rap genre is big, especially amongst the black clad youth of the slum that are objecting to urban oppression. The headline bands in this case are Black Nightmare, Urban Enemy and Necrotech Vampires. The genre is closely related with Angst Reggae, but that one is far more destructive but partially life affirmative.
Older genres like Hellchrome and Screamdance are still fairly popular. The champions of Hellchrome are undoubtedly the veterans Slash Dalmatians, who their recent song “Forgetting about Satan” broke numerous sales records after it came out. On the screamdance part the infamous boosterband Ground Zero with Jacey Striker is still playing with the megahit “Nuke it out!” coming out last year. It’s rumours that Jacey Striker is going to release a new album later in the year that says to be something unique, but no one has any ideas what it’s about.
Meanwhile, other older genres are completely out of the limelight. For example Wristwave, Speed Deep and Eze-rave are goners in the eyes of the public. That is not say there are listeners but the chance of hearing them being played in the media or at various clubs is low. The most famous band from the early 50’s, Screaming Nosferatus, are still popular for instance. But seeing as all the band members died during a mysterious bloodbath in 2055 their groundbreaking music is considered more to be an old classic.

Out of the world lore chapters this one is at least fairly interesting because there’s some flavour here and there. Also some vague attempts at plot hooks as far as I’m getting it out of the music genre information, as well as the Simstim section. Otherwise it’s a bit too much “Things have survived for almost 60 years virtually unchanged”. Seems like whoever wrote this decided to go nuts on the music though, which is nice. But I would also want to see more of that spread across this whole section. Once again there’s just barely any flavour to things, outside of the general “Pop culture is the drug that keeps people going in the misery” cliché.

Next time: The real power. Supposedly.

Making Your Life Better - For Money!

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 29: Making Your Life Better - For Money!

I’m really not sure if that is a photoshop or some really bad poster work.

The real power factor in the 2050’s isn’t the crazy dictators that dot the third world or even the UN. It’s the megacorporations, commercial giants who rule the world with their money.

Do they really though? Because I haven’t even seen a smidgen of evidence to support that claim yet. Will this be different? Guess we’ll just have to find out.

There are many ways to organize a corporation. For the megacorps it’s very usual for the company to consist of several smaller subsidiaries or divisions that work within different areas. Obviously there are all kinds of cooperation between these parts, but in some extreme cases they can even compete with each other.
We get a bunch of talk for some reason about how a corporation can be organised. But I’m not sure why it’s there outside of filling up the pages with various organisation types like line organisation, functional organisation or organic organisation. My joke about N2 being an cyberpunk office simulator is becoming more and more truer because this is the only way I could imagine this ever become relevant to the players or the game itself.

The text goes on to talk about who owns a corporation, the shareholders in this case. This all reads like something out of school book about economy. There’s nothing really stand out with the introduction at least. It gets a bit more interesting when it start talking about the fact that most officials are prepared to walk over dead bodies to be able to advance within the company, and many even do. Promotions are meant to be handed out to those who are good at what they do but this system has been made flexible by lies, deceit, compromises, wheeling and dealing, theft and murder. The one who can best conduct their shady businesses are the ones who usually advance the quickest. Many ambitious officials even hire cyber jockeys to snoop out information about their competitors. Some also hire solos to either work as bodyguards or conducting wetwork to help their own cause. Key personnel usually get recruited by other corporations. That is obviously not something that is appreciated by their parent companies and most official are forced to sign five year slave contracts where they’re unable to leave beforehand. Longer contracts are obviously appreciated but hasn’t been able to be done yet. Some corporations have tried to keep their people through violence, blackmail and other shady methods. But that hasn’t worked out all that well and if they get such a reputation they will have a hard time to recruit more people elsewhere. So those methods are generally avoided.

What, no mention of corporations kidnapping key people to forcibly recruit them? I mean they have their own private armies and such as established. Anything like that in there? No?
It’s as if the game is trying its damndest to be as boring as possible and just evades the slightest notion of wanting to do something interesting. Corporations acting like they own everything and try to grab whatever they want? Naah, they’re too scared to use underhanded means to do such a thing.
Also, five years contracts and then they’re apparently free to go elsewhere? Boring, so utterly, utterly boring. Whatever happened to the idea of corporate families? Considering how much of a lowkey fetish this game has for Japan there isn’t a single mention about zaibatsu being the norm amongst the corps. No employment for life deals here no, everything more or less to work like it did decades ago. Ugh.

For some reason we have to get a rundown of each and every component of the corporations profiles. Including a mention of what logo they use with the added caveat that it can be different for the subsidiaries. Why is this something that had to be listed?! If anything the most interesting part is the section detailing what security levels they might have, something which is important for hacking attempts. Or I suppose any possible raids since it also deals with defensive and offensive capabilities as well.
Each profile also comes with a separate listing of the one thing Neotech likes the most, numbers. We get detailed rundowns of how much the company is worth, their assets, how much their stocks are worth and so on.
Also all of the logos are incredibly uninspired and looks like something whipped up in photoshop in 10 minutes.

We get a whole page of various smaller corporations sorted under various areas like Cybertech (Bruce!), Software (Microsoft still exists), Sports & Leisure (Toys ‘R’ us) or Military (California Weapon Systems).
Once again there is just a bunch of corporations from today that are listed. Coca-Cola still exists in 2059. Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas as well, for some reason it’s also spelled like that despite it just going over to just Boeing when they merged in 1997. Even if there is a later mention further down that lists them as separate ones. Also yes, IKEA is still around. There are some semi interesting merges like Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota-Lexus, but otherwise things have stayed mostly the same.

There are 12 specific mega corporations listed in the book. Another disappointing thing is that, unlike in Shadowrun, neither of these have any listed mottos or anything. It’s just dense flavourless blocks of information.

Chemcorp or Chemical Industries Corp main field is Chemical Engineering and their rise to power has been marked with plenty of enmity due to them brute forcing their way upwards. There are persistent accusations that they conduct inhuman experiments on people. That’s true of course. Thousands of people die from various experiments of their research base on Madagascar each year. Then there is also the CHEmcorp Research and DEvelopment CENTer or CHERDCENT facility located in the vicinity of St Nazarene in an area that became radioactive after a breeder reactor had a meltdown in 2009. What is going on there no one has any clues about. Their only big brand is Choo™, or CHOOH2, which apparently is the propellant that is competing against gasoline in the third world.
Chemcorp also has their own security force called ChemCorp MERC International, or CMI, that guard all of their facilities.
Their security status is very high on all accounts.

So they’re your average evil corporation that does evil experiments for unknown but obviously evil purposes. I should be annoyed by the fact it just casual drops one of those “shit happened here” mentions but at least it explains what actually happened this time around. Then again they’re not interestingly evil like Aztech in Shadowrun. They just do various experiments for no real reason given.

Gas Europa is a petroleum company that refines and produces electricity, gasoline and other fossil fuels as well as hydrogen for the European and Asian markets. They’re allied with Hydro against all other petrol companies and their main competitor is Arabic Petroleum and they openly feud against each other. But their biggest enemy is most likely Greenstrife and ever since Gas Europa bought Greenpeace the two have been bitter enemies. They also have their own security force called GasEuSec that is meant to prevent terrorist attacks against them. But also keeping a close eye on Greenstrife, and regular battles between the two groups are not uncommon. Otherwise it’s heavily armed security guards that deal with site protection.

GenCorp deals in Biotechnology. They were the first in 2010 to present the first fully cloned human, which catapulted them upwards and nowadays they deal in cloning both animals and people. Their main source of income is genetically manipulated cattle and plats. As well as people who can’t get children or want a cloned one. Otherwise they’re a rather secluded company who refuse to work in cooperation with other companies in the same field and their CEO is constantly rumoured to be in the works to stage some sort of coup to buy up parts of their competitors. They’re rumored to be conducting secret experiments about creating superhumans in one of their space based research stations. Their latest creation is the lovable Wuppie™, which is a small furred animal that has been created artificially. It’s cheap to make but the real income comes from the specially modified food it needs to eat.
Their security status is very high on the computer department while high in the physical security. Only other thing to mention is that their main office in Zürich has been designed to look like a DNA string.

So much for that mention about the dangers of gene manipulation from the preface if someone could clone people and make a living of manipulating cattle and plants without any consequences. Nice to see there is at least a hook here but good luck trying to do anything about it since its set in space and highly guarded.

IDC-Fujiyama deals with computers and cybertech as well as dabbling with the military somewhat. Their main strategy revolves around both creating and avoiding trouble at the same time. Focus lies on getting as many market shares as possible regardless of who are in their way. Tyrell are their most bitter competitors while the computer companies lag behind a bit. The corp was formed back in 2003 when several smaller brands merged together, it then grew and changed names several times. How it actually grew is hard to show because of the various coups and merges that have happened, but the end result is a slow lumbering giant that is hard to topple.
Their security status is extremely high on all parts except offensive. But even then they have an army of guards equipped with cybertech and heavy weapons protecting their facilities.

Ikeda or International Ikeda Ltd originally started as a consulting company for medical care in 2028, but it turned out that running it themselves was far more profitable. Despite running their own hospitals they also still deal with hiring personnel to other facilities. They have good connections with Progenex after having been abandoned by Takamura Biolabs after an extensive corporate war with Katsuichi-keiret-sun. Ikeda possesses some of the world's most advanced medical equipment found anywhere and they are equipped to handle pretty much anything when it comes to healthcare.
They have high security status and offensive capabilities but only normal physical security. Their main offensive capability comes from their special guard unit that is used to protect field hospitals and military doctors into warzones.

InterWorld deals with transportation of both people and cargo. Their origin lies in the various acquisitions, both legal and illegal, done by the van Meyer family as they merged together with various European transportation companies. They don’t have that many competitors and maintain good relations with various aerospace companies, with the sole exception of Joulianta. The family does however seem to have something against Madagascar and any company established there usually gets opposed sometimes. They were the first to start using automated cabs before it really took off globally. Interworld has, beyond a security force that guards airports alongside the UN and Interpol, a space based unit named InterOrbital Security. Their purpose is to guard their space transports and have access to the latest in space security. This all means that they have a high physical security while a relatively high computer security and normal offensive capability.

Joulianta or Joulianta Aerospace Inc mainly build military aircraft, both terrestial and space ones. They’re responsible for the small cargo shuttled used in orbit as well. Founded in 2011 when a number of Scandinavian companies merged together to be able to match the international ones. For a while things went slow but the big break happened in 2032 when they merged with the Scandinavian military. Because of this they are heavily militarised and most people higher up also possesses military ranks. Also unlike most other corps the Scandinavian government owns a large part of it. This obviously also boosts its offensive capabilities to extreme levels as well as their physical security. Even if any installation outside of Scandinavia is guarded by regular security.

Nimrod Management & Security Corp or simply Nimrod deals with security and was started in 2031 under the name Mercenary Brokerage Agency. True to its name it started as hiring various security consultants to other people and grew big enough to become untouchable by the police despite all the legal issues such a thing created. In 2045 they then merged with several other security companies and formed Nimrod or NMS. They have an openly hostile relationship with ParaMil and sabotage from that side is not uncommon. But as Nimrod has grown their tolerance for that has decreased and there are rumors of open battle brewing between the two corporations. Due to the fact it has access to some serious military hardware it has both high physical security as well as considerable offensive capabilities.

ONN or Orbital News Network was formed from a merger between BBC and CNN in 2007 and are leading in journalism. Something which has created some enemies over the years thanks to their relatively unbiased reporting. The biggest enemy is Progenex after ONN revealed that their AIDS medicine Promethiac was dangerous. Progenex is suspected to be behind the bombing of the ONN headquarters in the 40’s because of this. While they lack any considerable military resources, beyond a security force for news teams and for their headquarters, they do possess considerable vehicles. Ranging from vector jets to space shuttles that transport employees all over the world.

Surprised to see they actually explained what the whole Promethiac thing was about after all.

Sendai or Sendai Electronics Nippon Ltd focuses on electronics. What is perhaps most remarkable in this case is that the corporation is more or less fully controlled by an AI named Darkside (ugh), with its human CEO as a figurehead. Darkside was born in 2046 and was initially meant to be an economical advisor but quickly managed to take power and changing the corps plans. Due to the fact that Darkside is an old and very experienced AI by this point in time, with several updates under its belt, it has very different goals compared to much younger AI:s. It wants gain as much power as possible through Sendai with the ultimate goal of creating peace and order on Earth, with itself as its ruler. While lacking any military resources their facilities are usually heavily guarded. What few people also know is that Darkside has a number of specially equipped satellites gained from Exospace. Unsurprisingly due to the fact it’s controlled by an AI the company has an extremely high computer security level but also high physical security.

Probably the most stand out corporation in the whole setting just going by the sole reason that it’s controlled by an AI and actually has a motivation and drive behind its actions instead of just being around. Not that it says much else about it and considering there isn’t a hint of a metaplot anywhere it’ll most likely go nowhere ultimately. But a decent campaign hook though.

The Tyrell Corporation[/b] is… It’s the corporation from Blade Runner lifted straight of the movie. It even makes mention that they have a pyramid shaped building in Los Angeles. Using aggressive advertising and weird product names they’ve managed to become very popular in the civilian cybertech market. They also research heavily in AI:s, AP:s and replicants. The CEO is rumored to either undergoing constant gene therapies due to his young age. Others think the one seen in media is in fact a clone or a replicant of the real one. Their main security force consists of advanced surveillance systems as well as a cybergarde equipped with very exotic cybertech. The same garde also gets to try out new military tech for the company.

Ugh, I knew I recognized the name when it popped up before but this is just so fucking lazy. It’s not even an homage or anything. It’s a straight up lazy copy. Also randomly dropping in stuff like replicants without having established that before is even worse. There’s also zero explanation what an AP is for that part.

UMB or United Medical Biolabs deal with medicine and was formed in 2039 by a defecting ChemCorp scientist who used secret information he took with him to increase the corporations position. This has obviously not stood well with ChemCorp and the two quickly came to blows but UMB managed to weather the storm with the help of the Roxxon security company and it fizzled out after a while. The CEO of UMB also has something personal against Progenex which means that the two are considered bitter enemies. For a while it was thought that UMB was the better counterpart to Progenex but as it later turned out this was a massive lie as they act very much the same way, just slightly more colder and calculating. UMB also has a research facility on Madagascar where thousands of prisoners die each year from tests. Much like ChemCorp is has extremely high security levels.

What is weird in all this that Progenex does not get an entry like this despite showing up constantly as some kind of really incredibly evil corporation that everyone seems to hate in some way or another and are up to some really shady stuff. You’d think they’d be the Aztech of Neotech instead of ChemCorp, but no.

One issue I have with this is that there are simply too many fucking corporations around. There are no massive umbrellas like the megacorps in Shadowrun are but just a bunch of made up and real corporations that just coexist together more or less. That full page list for instance are all individual corporations that exist in the setting as individual entities. All of them lack any real drive to them or motivations to their actions and whatever is there is incredibly vague. Not even the fucking Tyrell corporation gets much of a motivation other than they’re really mysterious. The biggest outlier here is really Sendai and the, ugh, Darkside AI:s plans for world domination.

Also surprised that Cyberdyne, which is also a corporation in this setting, doesn’t get much mention or an entry in this chapter as a producer of AI.

It’s also generally impossible to do anything against because any of these corporations none of them has a data security level below high. Most of them have it as extremely high as well. So going by the rules most hacking attempts or even break in attempts are doomed to fail because of that.

Next time: Organised.

That's terror.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 30: That's terror.

Cosa Nostra and Mob Lounge are a little bit too on the nose I think.

Beyond the governments and mega corporations there are a number of different organisations that have large amounts of influence in how the world works. The major crime syndicates for instance has large amounts of power through their influence over the corporations and governments economy.
Meanwhile, terrorist organisations can affect people’s lives despite their lack of resources. The mega corps themselves also have various organisations that can exercise great power on their behalf. Beyond those there is also various groups. But the one thing they all have in common in this case is that they all have lots of power and influence and as are a result either feared or well known.

I’m not going to cover all of them because the vast majority are groups that still existed back when the book was written. So I’m going to try to pick out the more interesting and ‘original’ ones. Or as original as this game goes.

The Syndicate is an relatively new criminal organisation that was formed around 2035. It’s very much tied up with the corporations and its ranks are filled with disloyal executives and shady financiers who simply want to profit and survive without any government or authority getting in the way. Their main area of speciality is economical crimes in all shapes and sizes. It can be seen as a conglomeration of various companies that want bigger opportunities to do shady deals or operations.
What was that about the mega corps being the ones in power and above the law again?

Terrorism has been on the rise for the last thirty years, mainly thanks to lowered living standards and the fall of democracy. The methods are the usual with bombings, murder, sabotage and so on. Anything that gains them media attention is used.

Asian Dawn: Chinese terror group that tries to counteract Japanese influence across Asia.
Aum: The group responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack are still around and back in force, responsible for blowing up at least one Japanese Maglev train at one point.
CySLiG or CyberSpace Liberation Group is a hacker group of around 200 members and at least 5 AI who fight to extinguish government and corporation control of cyberspace. Responsible for releasing several AI:s into the wild and known to take down servers just for fun.
Free Information Movement is another hacker terrorist group that fight for the right of free information online.
Gaia Liberation Front is an extremist environmental terrorist group that attack both corporations and government through brutal means. Favourite methods are blowing up polluting industries and kidnapping industrialists. Possess their own territory in New Caledonia.
Greenstrife is a breakaway from Greenpeace after it got bought up by Gas Europa. Not as extreme as GLF but still resort to various terrorist methods when it comes to stopping pollution.
The Korean Liberation Army fights to throw out the Japanese from the Korean peninsula.

That implies that Japan are apparently occupying large parts of Asia again. Still not something mentioned elsewhere.
KKK still exist in the setting as a side note, they obviously have plenty of power in Texas and the Federation.

Sherwood Liberation Movement is a popular British resistance movement against the dictatorship of St John. The legend of Robin Hood gives them the justification to fight against unjust rulers. St Johns regime claims that its a movement created by the IRA to give the illusion that the people have turned against the state. Most citizens don’t buy it-

Something I picked up from a description of the European centric splat book is that England has turned into a dictatorship at one point. This is really the first actual mention of that in the whole book, outside of some vague allusions in the newspaper segment.

Many environmental organizations have under the latter half of the 21st century grown into far more aggressive movements, but there are some who still fight through peaceful means and sustain themselves via donations.

Global Environment Trust is a rather reclusive organisation but is still very respected. They get large donations from both various individuals and corporations who are in need of goodwill. They also have their own tv-channel that airs rather angled environmental propaganda. They are actively thwarted by Greenstrife who have realized what threat they pose.

Which is what exactly? Honestly not sure what they’re implying in that case.

Greenpeace is still a major organisation but now that they are owned by Gas Europe they are used to give badwill to competitors through blockades and demonstrations.

This is probably the only evidence so far of a mega corporation actually playing their role as far as I’ve seen. Buying up another, more well meaning, organisation and then using them to further their own goals feels very cyberpunk.

Save the World! is a populist environmental group that usually performs various stunts in order to promote their message. Run by young and overambitious individuals, which more often results in popular but hardly profitable projects. No one really takes them seriously because their actions are usually rather awkward. But they’re still a power factor due to their large membership numbers.

The Land is Ours! is a group that wants to demolish the mega cities and start an ecologically sustainable society. Their main activities are usually house occupation or projects that aim to start farming in the middle of the cities. Their members are mainly idealistic urbanites who have never, or rarely, set their foot in the countryside.

Aid organisations have been on the decline during the 21st century as decreased living standards and a more brutal society decreased the number of private donations, all the while the disasters and wars increased in numbers.

Amnesty International
are still kicking around and have in recent years begun to fight for enslaved AI rights.

WorldMorale is a group that usually don’t intervene directly in disasters or wars, but mainly work behind the scenes. They work for peace, ethics and improved living conditions in general all over the world. But they do however have some weird ideas about just what morale and ethics are and have subsequently gained lots of powerful enemies. More often they can act very cynically and their press releases often seems to promote the message of “You should’ve thought of that before” or “What was it we said”.

Corporate organizations are a fairly new phenomena, they’re the corporations equivalent to the various joint government organisations such as UN and Interpol. Unsurprisingly their main agendas involve limiting government involvement in corporate business as well as freer trade.
They are considered by many as nothing but a rumour. A secret council consisting of the rulers of various mega corporations obviously can’t exist. Back in 2047 a rumor began circulating about there was a secret group called ‘They who rule the world’, or simply ‘They’, that ruled through their widespread power. The most extreme versions of the rumor says that ‘They’ is in fact an AI that controls everything. But those versions appeared to have disappeared when no evidence emerged could support the claim.

Can be used as a decent hook but there’s barely anything to work with I feel.

The Coalition Conference was formed in 2048 and invites all corporations with a capital over 50 billion to become members. It’s meant to be an antipole to the UN with an express purpose to safeguard the free market for all the major corporations. Usually it’s splinted there internal conflicts and the only time it manages to unite under one banner is when some government is trying to encroach on enterprising. This usually leads to various blockades or embargoes.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry, or MITI, can be considered as the shadow government of Japan as they possess large amounts of power and influence in Japan and surrounding regions. They deal mainly with Industry and Trade questions and simply work to support Japanese companies against foreign ones.

The United Business Agency, or UBA, is a group that ties together smaller corporations together to let them have a chance against the bigger ones. UBA are well known for using semi-legal methods such as bribes, blackmail, stock manipulation and so on to improve their position. It’s actively opposed by the Coalition.

Several nations have their own security or intelligence agencies to make sure their own interests are preserved. But they have decreased in relevancy ever since the companies took over as the leading world power.
There really isn’t much to go on about here since it’s just various agencies from across the world. Most interesting is perhaps that NSA got privatised after the US got divided and saw their funding cut in comparison to the CIA. So as a response they decided to go global and offer their services to the highest bidder instead. Their main customers are corporations and some foreign states, with the main caveat that they aren’t enemies of New England or the Union.
Beyond that most of them, more often than not those outside Europe and Asia, are almost as brutal as the terrorist organisations they go up against.

Lastly there’s th supranational organizations but on that list we just find things like the UN, G11, IMF and WTO. As well as the Union. Nothing to write home there.

This has been just one gigantic shrug of a chapter really. That’s all I can say about it since it’s just reads as more or less the world today with some very minor changes. They, for instance, are just Bilderberg group with a different wrapper around it. The lacklustre or poorly explained world building shines through as per usual.

Next time: Cheese it, it’s the fuzz!

Woop-woop! That's the sound of da police! That's the sound of the beast!

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 31: Woop-woop! That's the sound of da police! That's the sound of the beast!

Despite the sense of lawlessness that seems to rule the world in 2059 there is still public law enforcement and civil law present. But nowadays that’s on the side of the most money, that is to say the various crime syndicates and the corporations. But even then there is justice to be found for the average citizen. Police forces can be find in all cities, countries across the globe as well as in many mega corporations. Their main goal is to uphold law and order and guard their employers interests.

Lot of information how a modern day police department in 2059 works, yadda, yadda, this is not really interesting or useful information at all. Problem is of course it goes on for pages and pages with this. I mean if you want to run a police campaign this might be handy but this would be better off just passed off to a separate book instead. But even then it just goes on and on about how everything is organised. It even mentions all this information may not be even true depending on the country in question.
Once again, this book has zero ideas and suggestions of what the player characters are actually meant to do in all this.

There’s some various bits and pieces of information worth lifting out of this boring slog. Such as police having great use of the TransNet that is required for all cars to be able to locate stolen cars or pick up the chase. Speeding is also impossible to do unless you illegally bypass the TransNet function.

The only other thing of actual mention here is the department for special operations (or SpecOp ooooh), that is directly subordinate to the police chief and contains the cyberpsychosis department as well as a paramilitary section. The latter only really used during riots or large gang wars but are equipped to handle those situations and usually consist of army units located close by. The cyberpsychosis department on the other hand are meant to eliminate androids and cybernetically enhanced people who have run amok. They’re well trained and pack enough firepower to take out any cyborgs that have plunged off the deep end and suffer from irreversible cyberpsychosis, so called ‘Terminal cases’.

A side section talks about Europol, which has replaced most of Interpol’s functions within the European Federation. They deal with stopping terrorism, drug trade, organised crime as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They have various departments dealing with various areas. Lately though there has been some friction with Interpol.

Meanwhile, FBI hasn’t changed all that much despite the US breaking apart. This time around its has become a supranational law enforcement organisation with jurisdiction in most of the new states. Outside of that they also have several different departments dealing with various things.

We get a section about how police conduct patrols. But even that is mentioned as it can change so it’s not like players will have much use of it since the GM can change the numbers “based on the circumstances” as well as the equipment to be better than what the opposition might have. So the GM is generally considered to dick over the PCs if they get involved in a police shootout. So forget trying to recreate the shootout in Heat when the police come equipped if automatic weapons themselves if the GM feels malicious enough. Also communication between various units are regularly good, which means that reinforcements are usually quickly summoned.

This starting to feel like the police in any Grand Theft Auto game.

Another section talks about what tools the police have to track and identify suspects. Many of which are also available for corporate police as well as organized crime. There’s cameras installed mostly everyone on public places an in most buildings. Telephone conversations can be tracked due to the previously aforementioned identification number being broadcasted during calls. The police also have means to instantly trace calls, but there are means to counteract that by using satellites and relay stations. But those are costly. All internet and telnet traffic is also watched over by special computer systems that scan for specific phrases. Lastly all legal vehicles are equipped with a transponder that emits an ID code as well as its position and speed. Removing that one is of course illegal.

“No fun allowed” the game bellows from the rooftops as it tries shutting down every possible avenue for the players to play as independent troubleshooters since all they do is tracked by the law. Countermeasures are generally not really mentioned anywhere. No such mention of burner phones or anything as of yet. Or even any mentions of a deep web where various criminals and others hang out. I’m not even sure that even exists in Neotech.

The book talks about arrests, which only happen whenever the police consider they have enough resources to succeed and they’ll use as much violence as necessary to protect themselves and civilians. Everything about this still just how it works today so moving on.

Police have the right to use as much violence as possible to arrest any suspects but it’s usually used more than what can be considered necessary. Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Without any witnesses their good word is also accepted.

Arrest procedures are how they are today so nothing interesting there. Prosecution are the ones who make the final call of the suspect is detained or not. The judgement is based on the probability to sentence the suspect in a court. In many countries you need to arrest before three days have passed but in reality this usually far longer. Usually Ob2D6 days.
Random dice rolls out of nowhere and for no real reason as well.

Evidence gathering is done through various means such as witness statements from both police and civilians. Then there’s various databases containing almost everything about people. As well as DNA and ballistics data are gathered. The former assisted by the fact that everyone’s DNA code are stored in registres. GunCam™ are nowadays installed in many police and civilian weapons, it records whatever the weapon is pointed and also marks when any shots are fired. It can be an invaluable aid whenever it needs to be proven that any shots were taken in self defence.

For the police being mentioned as corrupt early on there isn’t much of a mention about it here. Where are comments about the GunCam videos maybe being doctored to hide the fact that a person might have been gunned down by the police in cold blood? Where are the mentions that they might take bribes in order to push forward someone as a suspect or just letting someone go? This whole section is just far too damn clean for a setting that babbles on and on about how things are terrible. Everything still follows the same laws that has existed for 60 years without any changes. Stop being so fucking boring game!

Lastly we get a full page subsection about Interpol. Initially meant to be a coordinator between the various national law enforcement agencies the increased corporate power led to a bigger feeling of impotence amongst the police. After the rebirth of the UN they adopted a resolution that gave Interpol increased authority and powers and turned into an international FBI of sorts. They have their own force and can act independently of the local police. In theory Interpol has the right to work in all of the UN membership nations if they have enough justification for it. But it’s also possible for mistreated people to sue Interpol and get reparation. But in reality their right is heavily restricted in many cases, especially if the crimes are connected to the government, such as through corrupt politicians.
Interpol is divided into seven different directorates that are in turn divided into section depending on continents and subsections based on nations or cities.
The first directorate deals is the counter-terrorism section and there is a specific mention that members are equipped with exoskeletons and assault rifles.
The second directorate deals with illegal activities in orbit and they’re called ‘Lightweights’ because they consist of professional astronauts. They have a base on Cape Kennedy.
Third directorate, or the Ravens as they’re otherwise called, deal with corporate crimes and are the ones who get the most ire from the megacorporations for this. They also deal a lot with organised crime. (Once again described as mob activity for some reason).
Fourth Directorate deal with the drug trade.
The Fifth Directorate deal with data related crimes, such as theft and software piracy but also unallowed removal and editing of data. They also have the nickname Turing police because of their heavy ties with dealing with AI in some form or another. The directorate was formed in 2044 after the Luna City incident where an AI suddenly went amok. Due to the fact it was formed by executive decision of Interpol, the corporations couldn’t protest and with the increased agency given to bureau by the UN it means that the Turing police can strike wherever and whenever they like.
The sixth directorate, or psyche-div unofficially, is the cyberpsychosis section. Much like other similar departments are equipped to handle fully armed and armored cyborgs whenever they go bonkers. But they also possess far more advanced gear in comparison. The nickname comes from a movie made in 2048 that portrays the operational division and also boosted its reputation.
The Seventh Directorate is so new that they don’t have any nicknames yet but they specialised in dealing with bioroids. Their main task is to find an eliminate bioroids, androids and other artificial people.

So there’s a bunch of things to take from this. First, the UN has apparently been reformed at some point. Secondly, there is apparently a whole issue with androids that is causing problems. The closest we got to any mention about that was in the Tyrell Corporation entry. But even then there was no mention of them being an issue or anything. So they pretty much lifted Blade Runners as a police force as well.
Weirdly enough Interpol reminds me of Public Security Section 9 from Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Kind of funny considering that the series wasn’t out for another four years and the original GITS movie didn’t involve Section 9 all that much.
Looking more closely at this part it feels to me as if Interpol is really meant to be the way the game is meant to be played. With the players being agents from one specific directorate. Problem is of course that the wide number of wildly unrelated careers available makes this idea sorta fall apart. But even then it feels to me that the designers wanted this to be the way to interact with the world.
It’s not a bad idea since it would let the players go mostly anywhere in the world and there’s opportunities for a lot of different campaign types such as investigation as part of the Third or Fourth directorates or more action based ones with the First, Sixth and Seventh ones. Not to mention Second lets you go into space for that part.
So why not just push that from the very beginning since there is rather solid groundwork for it? Who knows.

But beyond the part about Interpol this whole chapter is just one giant snoozer since it contains nothing specific and just has lots and lots of general information about how the police are organized. Something which is good for some campaigns but overall pretty useless otherwise.



So I might as well begin to put some action in my life.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 32: So I might as well begin to put some action in my life.

I feel there are so many better pictures you could’ve used for this chapter considering what it’s about.

So you’ve managed to get caught, which going by the previous chapter wasn’t all that hard anyway, and now you have been accused of some crime. This means that you, in most cases at least, have to undergo trial. This is, usually, done in a court of law. In a trial it’s important to have a good legal defence, which either means a public defender or you’ve hired your own defense attorney.
Suddenly, rules!
So in order to decide the outcome of the trail the defense attorney, or the accused, need to roll a check against Law. The difficulty for this is dependant on a bunch of factors as per usual. But the mains ones are the type of crime and special circumstances.
Also suggesting that the accused roll for Law sounds like a recipe for disaster as I’m pretty sure most PC’s don’t actually have sufficient points in the skill to beat most checks. Unless it’s a campaign where that skill might is relevant.
It’s obvious that this is going to be one of those chapters with a bunch of cumbersome simulationist rules no one in their right fucking mind would use anyway.

In all justice systems, except the draconic one, the accused has a right to a defense attorney. If you don’t have any money then you get a public defender for free, they have 10 ranks in the Law skill. A defence attorney can be hired but they of course cost money. If you somehow get trialed in a system with a far more draconic leaning then you need to defender yourself as best as you can. So you roll against your own skill rank in Law.
Or just accept the verdict because there is no way you’ll be able to make it as previously pointed out.

The duration of the trial process can if needed be calculated by adding the maximum verdict that the crime can give you with the defense attorneys skill level in law. Then you deduct one for each dice of difficulty you get from the trial table. Then multiply this result with itself. That is how many hours the trail will take.
I’m honestly kind of lost how that actually checks out because the phrasing about what to do with the difficulty dice threw me for an absolute loop.
At most a trial lasts 8 hours per day, if the result is zero or lower then it takes 10 minutes.

We get an optional rule about impassioned speeches. If the lawyer or the accused holds a brilliant speech during the trial there is a chance to affect the outcome. All that is required is an average check against Persuasion. If the check succeeds then the difficulty is lowered by one, it increases by one if the check fails. Any possible fumbles or critical successes might increase or decrease it by two levels.

If the accused turns out to be a celebrity then we another optional rule at how to affect the outcome. All that is required is a check against the accused's media status. If the check fails then the difficulty goes down by one, if it fails nothing happens. But using this rule means that the trial takes four times as long and any lawyer fees are doubled.
Seems like a weird caveat for this rule. Also uncertain if this is true regardless of the media status outcome check. Also I assume the difficulty is the same as the one for the trial as nothing else is mentioned.

If the you’re loaded with cash then you can bribe someone to get a lower punishment via this optional rule.
Not sure why this an optional rule because it’s about as cyberpunk as you get with the rich just using their money to get out of trouble.
Each difficulty decrease costs a certain amount of money, to succeed you also need to a Persuasion check at a average difficulty level. If the check fails you lose the money and then gets charged for bribing in a new trial.
Or you can hire a lawyer to do the bribing for you and it’s assumed they have a persuasion score equal to their Law skill. If the lawyer fails then its the firm that takes the hit and not you. But you still need to pay the bribe as well as their fee. The GM can also require you to convince the lawyer to do the deed as well.

Suddenly tables, they’re back! The first one is the trial table mentioned before. So the basic roll is the usual Ob3D6 then there is a bunch of positive and negative modifiers. But most of them are simply Ob1D6 up or down with the sole exception of being innocent which is an -Ob2D6. Granted the nature of the crime table comes later which might add even more dice to these. One I would like to highlight in particular is the “Conspiracy against the accused” modifier that has a footnote mentioning that it won’t occur when the legal security is high. Why is that the case though? What is there to stop a conspiracy from trying to jail the accused through manipulation of evidence if they so wish?

Our second table is legal fees. The lowest you can get in this case is a pettifogger or shyster with a Law skill of 7 and a fee of 100 euro in total for the whole trial. Your averagely competent layer has Law skill of 15 and costs 10.000 euro. The most expensive one is a trio of famous lawyers backed up by a consulting company with law professors that have a Law skill of 22. But then you’ll also have to pay 10 million euros.

The punishment of your crime is depending on what effect you got from the Law skill check. Onto that check you then add modifications from crime table depending on the seriousness of the crime in question. When this value has been calculated you cross reference with one of the justice tables. What table is used is wholly dependant on which country you’re in.
We then get a run down of the various types of justice systems.

Then there is also other kinds of punishment but these are very much up to the GM.
These are Suspended sentence, Deportation, Psychiatric care, Grace and Prison instead of fines.

The crime table is long, detailed and pretty much boils down to mostly plus or minus Ob1D6 for some crimes while others are just 0. Followed by the penalty modification which can go as far as +6 for things like kidnapping or murder. But usually it’s +0’s or +1’s for the most. Then you have the maximum sentence time, in years I would assume but nothing is mentioned so who knows.
It doesn’t look that bad but then it’s obvious intended for these to stack on top of each other.
Also one of the footnotes has a blank table referer.

To be sentenced for a crime can be, thanks to very efficient registration, be very troublesome for your future life. If such a thing is possible after the sentence has passed. Some characters can also exist in the criminal record when they’re being made. The registration of criminals is a routine deal and they’re not as protected as they used to be. Mostly because hackers steal them regularly or government sell them to corporations.
The sidebar goes on about how much your life gets complicated if you have a criminal record and getting jobs that require responsibility are hard to get and so on. It can also hinder you to get travel permits to certain countries as they’re often international and sold on the world market. Also having an entry will add an extra Ob1D6 to any trial checks.

Prisons in 2059 are more often than not horrible and brutal places to be, where the scum of humanity is kept. There are some human places still left but they are part of a shrinking minority. Most prisoners would rather be someplace else and the chance of getting killed in some fight or in a riot is considerable. In some prisoners they simply freeze the prisoners in cryo tanks, thawing them once every year to check their health and to see if they can tolerate it further. If you get frozen down the highest of STY, HÖR and PSY gets lowered by one for each year that goes It also say UTH but I’m pretty sure that is a typo and is meant to be TÅL because it shows up nowhere else in the book. If any of these attributes gets lowered to 0 they of course die. Frozen down like this also gives Ob1D6 psychosis points whenever you get woken up, and they don’t get lowered when you’re frozen DOT DOT DOT.

Another method is to put the prisoner into a brain trance with the help of dermatrodes that are hooked up to a special cyber computer. This trance is something of the most boring things ever imaginable and you’re only disconnected once every week to avoid burnout. But for each year that passes in this kind of prison you lower the highest of PSY or BIL by one. If any of these attributes are lowered to zero it means that you will never come back into reality. This prison sentence gives Ob2D6 psychosis points her year and they do not decrease whenever you’re in trance.

So you can honestly just throw your character in the trash if your GM decides sentence you to one of these prisons unless the other characters managed to stage a breakout of some kind fast enough. Otherwise when you get out, if you get out depending on how your attributes are, you’re going to be a psychotic wreck of a character with even worse attributes than before.
Unless your GM is nice and puts you in a more normal prison. But why in all honesty list these for any other reason but “cyberpunk prisoners are evil and cruel!” in some vague attempt to be grimdark. Why bother giving these as options when they are so incredibly detrimental to the PC’s?.

Hard labour is another popular punishment. It gives Ob1D6 psychosis points for every other year that goes. The book mentions that the rules to survive works exactly the same as they do for criminal who are in prisoner. But I’m not sure what they’re referring to here, is the prisoner career or something else entirely?

If you get sentenced to execution you get to remain in prison for Ob1D6 months before it happens. Because of the mental pressure you gain Ob1D6 psychosis points per month as well.

Suing companies and rich individuals are a common occurrence in the rich countries. The whole thing boils down to either side hiring a lawyer that drives a process in a civil court or arbitration. To figure out who wins you need to do an opposed Law skill check. The difficulty is determined by looking at another table which contains both the plaintiff and the defendants circumstances for the lawsuit. Also defendant is misspelled.
The side with the highest effect score wins, if it’s a tie then the case is dismissed and the process costs are divided between the two sides.

There’s really nothing stopping the GM from saying that the defendant just hires the most expensive lawyer possible. What are the PC’s really going to do about it if they don’t have the money for something equal?

After that just comes what happens based on the dice results and who gets to pay what fees and costs and how much they are.
At least the duration calculation is more easily understood. You add the law skill ranks for both sides together, to that you add one for each difficulty dice each side has. That sum is then multiplied with itself. The same optional rules as before work here as well.

This chapter is so boring and so utterly pointless I have nothing to say about it. It could be wholly removed from the book and replaced with more tables of guns and absolutely nothing would’ve been lost.

Next time: Another one rides the bus.

Here in my car, I feel safest of all.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 33: Here in my car, I feel safest of all.

Possibly the second worst picture in the book.

Travelling between various destinations is second nature in the 21st century. From people commuting in and out of the major cities or using aviation to reach their destination. Not to mention the various shuttles taking people into the orbiting stations and beyond. But the most common means of travel is subway, train or maglev.
There is obviously a detailed table breaking down the various means of transport, price, waiting times and travel times.
When the average citizen needs to get anywhere far away they use either the subway or a skyway. In some cases even busses might be used. As long as you don’t try to use them during rush hour the subway and skyways are a rather comfortable.
The old policy of not running the subway after midnight that was standard during the early 21st century has been removed and all subways and skyways goes around the clock. This obviously have put higher demands on security but thanks to partly police efforts but also sponsored gangs the worst dregs are kept away from the stations. Obviously that doesn’t make it completely risk free.
Inside the centre of the city the easiest way to get around is by foot. But these days the sidewalks are so crowded during rush hours that they’ve been forced to build culverts with travelators. As well as glassed in walkways over the streets and between the buildings. In some parts the car traffic has been shut off and pedestrian streets opened which has made things easier.

As mentioned before the subway is the single most used means of transportation in the year 2059. It goes far out into the suburbs and all way the into the centre of the city. The congestion in the downton stations is indescribable, caused by everyone who needs to change connections as well as the various security controls that has to be done to prevent terrorist strikes or riots. People live in the subways and the crime rate is high, which has lead to police stations being located on each downtown station. Once you’ve stepped off the train whereever you need to be, culverts in many cases lead directly to the skyscraper you need to go to without having to reach the surface again.

Owning a car in most countries is a sign of prestige. Sadly they’re also a really bad way to get around inside the cities. But if you live in the suburbs or some smaller city it can be practical. There are countries however, where the roadnet is very expansive. One of example of this is California Free States where it’s a civic right to drive a car.
The main reason why its a bad idea to use a car is that road tolls make usage of them expensive. Highways in Europe costs 5 euro per ten kilometers, or mil in this case. The fee to enter most major cities is 25 euros. There are similar systems on the American continent as well as in Japan, but there the prices are usually somewhat lower. Road tolls, or fines, are usually directly charged to the users account. Another, very common, issue are the traffic jams that can happen from overloaded roads, accidents, emergencies, strikes or road works.

Using a taxi is a great way to avoid the issue of finding a parking spot. But it can also be fairly expensive and sometimes it might even be hard to find one when you most need it. Many modern taxi cabs are automated but regular human drivers are common as well. The upside with a driver is that they can handle tricky situations, but the downside is that you can be robbed or tricked.
Nice to see the N2 writers having such faith in cab drivers.
Limousines can also be rented for either twice to quadruple the average price for a taxi, the exact cost is dependant on the level of standard you want. Another alternative is the ‘Combat Cab’ that are very frequent in unsafe neighbourhoods. They’re armored cars that are driven by armed drivers who usually know their job. The price for one of these can go from double to ten times the usual price depending on the risks and equipment.
Amazingly enough there are no price tables for any of those options.

The public transit table comes next with includes both terrestrial and space transports. All prices are in Euro per mil. The most expensive means of travel here is a trip to Mars via ITP, more on that later, that costs 15000 euro and takes a month. In comparison an ITV trip to Mars costs 5000 euro but takes 10 months.

If you want to go longer distances there is a couple of options available. The cheapest, slowest and most uncomfortable way of doing it is by bus. Bus Stations tend to be unpleasant places where homeless usually live and gangs tend to gather in. People who have the money usually spend it on maglev trains. The benefits of these is the high comfort and short travel times. It’s also very easy to reach downtown with the stations usually being underground and with connections to elsewhere. Security checks on maglev stations tend to be very rigorous, but not as much as airports. A usual feature is large x-ray screens that lets security personnel check large amounts of passengers at a time for any suspicious.

Flying is your primary means of getting to far off places. There are short distance flights as well but they only serve as connections to the longer lines. Airports are always well connected via subways and maglev lines. If you have money to spare you can always hire a helicopter or a vector jet to get you there. Most major international airports are since the 30’s considered international ground. So there are residential areas, company complexes and other service establishments there. Security and passport controls in and out of the airports are strict and the airport cities are controlled by the airport police. Who are directly subordinate to the UN.
But the strictest controls are however are at the entrances to the departure halls. All baggage and passengers are x-rayed and scanned with metal detectors. In some cases passengers might be frisked and all their belongings are searched. People without passports or the necessary visas are rejected instantly. Any smuggling attempts or preparations for acts of terror leads to very quick trials at the airports own court, usually the accused are punished in accordance with the outside country’s laws.

Interesting to see this in a book released in 1999 featuring this stringent airport security considering that 9/11 is only two years away.

Long distance flights are either done via large jumbo jets or quick supersonic jets. The jumbos can take up to a thousand passengers but everyone is packed in tight and it’s very uncomfortable. In comparison the supersonic jets fly at mach 2.5 and are very comfortable, and the service is a lot better.

In the future all flights would be either handled by jumbo jets and supersonic flights is something I remember reading from at least a couple of science magazines from the 90’s. Or remember being touted elsewhere.
Concorde is 4 years from retiring and the crash that arguably sealed its fate is roughly six months away from the release of this book.
Unrelated trivia, the first resumed flight after the crash with passengers for the Concorde happened on 11 September 2001. It landed in New York shortly before it the attack happened.
Jumbos have arguably managed to survive the longest in comparison. The 747 is still in use for instance. But it’s worth mentioning that the super jumbo, the Airbus A380 is going to end production by 2021 due to economic reasons.

For the one who can afford it a semi-ballistic shuttle is to be preferred. They’re far more expensive in comparison but have a top speed of mach 20. While they take off and land as normal aircraft they quickly accelerate into a trajectory that takes into the edges of space. At the top of it the passengers experience a brief moment of zero gravity.

The absolutely cheapest way of travelling long distance is by ship. It’s fairly uncommon these days but almost all ships have passengers cabins these days. Another good reason to do it is that you avoid the stringent security checks. This in turn means that sea travel might be the only way a heavily cybered person can travel anywhere.
So sucks to be you if you decided to go heavy into cyber and be even more punished if the campaign has an international bent to it.
For some dumb reason the text repeats all the information you can find from the table just to pad the word count a little with a few additions that working onboard will lower the price of travel.

Travelling to space or the moon is still considered rather exotic. Shuttles and carrier-rockets take off daily from the bigger space ports but the waiting time can be long regardless. If you need to go into space you first need to get into orbit, from there it’s far cheaper and simpler to continue on.
The most common way of getting up into order is via space planes that take off and land as regular aircraft but quickly accelerate into escape velocity. They’re very comfortable to travel in if you ignore the inevitable weightlessness.
Another, and much cheaper way, is to pay for a trip in a Russian or Chinese carrier rocket for the trip up or a capsule for the return trip. These transports are one way trips and not as reliable as space planes. People who take up jobs as space workers or emigrate to the moon usually get up this way.
Travels to the various lagrange points or in orbit around the moon is done with an Orbital Transfer Vehicle, or OTV. This can take between a couple of hours to two days and the cost is 2000 euro for a one way trip.
A trip to orbit around Mars is done via a Interplanetary Transfer Vehicle, or ITV. There are several different types of ITV-craft and with the simplest and cheapest the trip takes around 10 months to do, but then you’ll also be waiting Ob2D6 months for a launch window. Using one of ESA’s Interplanetary Transports, or IPT’s, the trip only takes a month and the waiting time is decreased to Ob1D6 weeks instead. But as mentioned before the costs go up considerably.
The various space ports are usually connected directly to various international spaceports. While they’re also under supervision from Interpol’s airport police the only real difference is that security checks are if anything even more stringent in comparison.

There is a table for some reason with the various space ports. Some of them are well known launch sites like Cape Canaveral or Bajkonur but there’s also a bunch of others. They also have longitude and latitude listed for some inexplicable reason. Did the writer want to brag about something in particular? Also the formatting for them seems to slightly incorrect too.
Can’t imagine what would really happen if any of these places had a launch accident considering some are located rather centrally. For instance the Charles du Gaulle Space port is situated just west (49 00 N 2 30 E) of the airport with the same name that is located just outside Paris. A city I’m sure also has grown considerably over the years. Any accidents involving a space plane or similar would become catastrophic quickly.

Most transit methods come in various classes with their own standards and services, and of course varying prices. First class trips costs twice as much as an economy class one for example. Traveling via stand-by can make the trip a lot cheaper but you need to succeed on an average difficulty check against luck to get a spot. But at the same time the difficulty can increase depending on how much traffic the line has. If you fail you need to wait for the next departure, this doubles the waiting time.

You can also charter an aircraft, helicopter or vector jet. While it cuts down on the waiting time it’s very expensive and needs to be done way ahead of time. The size of the vehicle is adjusted after how many paying passengers are travelling but you at the same time need to pay for all seats. This means if there are any empty seats they need to be paid for as well.

Then there’s rules about how to ship things and how much it might cost but that’s really nothing interesting. There’s a table for rates later on. I’m sure this would be very important if you were to play cyberpunk shipping company or something.

Europe and the US were the first to start building the TransNet infrastructure in the early 2000’s, with Japan following a few years later. It’s a system for control, and guidance for motorists, police and authorities. By putting sensors and transponders on all vehicles the traffic can be regulated, the accident rate decreased and vehicle density increased. TransNet also sends out information where free parking space is available. The transponders send continuous information involving the vehicles position, estimated time of arrival, average speed, fuel consumption and so on to a network. This network in turn sends back information to the vehicles onboard computer or autopilot about which are the most effective routes, about which speed limits to keep, what security distance to hold, which roads are overloaded and how to quickest get from point A to B. TransNet is also connected with the traffic light system so the car always knows if you’re able to cross over before the light switches. The same system also indirectly controls the car’s autopilot.

A car in 2059 looks more or less the same as it did in 1999. Trends and fashions play a large parts in what design it might have, but principally a care looks like a car. The biggest difference lies mainly in the propulsion and the travel computer.
In these days the electric cars are now as good as combustion engine ones. They have speed and relatively decent reach thanks to fuel cells fed with hydrogen gas from nanofiber tanks. Older talks are still driven by batteries that put out far less impressive performance. Multiple high performance sports cars exist that are driven with electric motors. Another benefit with using electric cars is that you skip the combustion engine tax that exists in almost all cities.
Gasoline driven cars still exist, mainly in the third world and out in the countryside. However, many metroplexes have banned these kinds of vehicles because of the pollution.
Gasoline companies have nowadays gone over to exploited the third world as their profits in the industrialised world decreased. Car manufacturers are also complicit of this as they produce gasoline driven versions of all their popular models.

Once again that weird Eurocentrism and “Fuck the third world” angle show up. Really the only reason the gasoline companies exist in this case is just so they can be exploitive elsewhere. Otherwise, why are they a thing in this setting?

Traffic security has developed and improves. Almost all cars these days have strengthened bodies, airbags, built in fire protection and collision warning radar. With the help of data from TransNet serial crashes can be avoided and the car can be kept on the road at a suitable speed. This does obviously doesn’t mean all issues are gone, there have been times when TransNet has crashed which has led to extreme traffic accidents with thousands of vehicles involved.

In any other game that would’ve been a fantastic set piece for a chase sequence where the TransNet has crashed and things are going haywire around the players. In this system that almost sounds like an utter chore to do with the vehicle rules.

Theft protection has also increased but it’s far from good. Some say that the car companies willingly make cars with bad locks to generate more sales long term, but that’s just rumors. The most common method is that the car as some kind of alarm and there is a number of products on the market to make the theft harder to pull off. There’s identification though voice, retina, face, fingerprints or palmprints. Then there’s systems that lock the thief inside and knock them out with gas or electric chairs that stun them and then contacts the police.
I’m disappointed there are no bombs.

The travel computer is mandatory accessory for a car in Europe, the US, Japan and elsewhere. It provides the driver with a wealth of information from TransNet and other vehicles in close proximity and helps making decisions regarding picking routes easier. The transponder sends out information to warn and inform other vehicles about their relative position. If the braking distance would become too long for instance then the car with slow down by itself to eliminate this risk.

While the travel computer gives advice and handle the speed, it is the car’s autopilot that drives the vehicle without any driver involvement. It’s mainly limousines and more expensive luxury cars that come with one, but many cab companies also use it. With an autopilot running the driver can read the newspaper, watch TV or talk over the phone without turning into a traffic hazard as the car drives itself. All the driver really needs to do is to decide where they need to go and the car handles the rest in the best way possible.
An autopilot is also very handy to have when you need to park. Thanks to the transponders rarely no accidents will ever happen while you park as cars know exactly where they are in relation to each other.
Another thing that can be done whenever there is no parking spot is to step out of the car and then program it to circle around the block while the driver does whatever they need to do. When they return it’s just a case of pressing a button on their remote and the car will stop and wait for the driver to get back in. It’s practical, but also kinda illegal, thing to do whenever you’re short on time. Another thing is that you can let the drive and refuel on their own. Otherwise you can send the car to service on its own or use it to pick someone else up.

Sadly no rules about how to hijack the pilot or the car in order to kidnap them. Not even a single mention of that being used by anyone. I guess the crime syndicates and various hacker groups are too honorable for something like that.

A dud of a chapter really, bunch of flavour but there’s really nothing all that interesting going on as per usual.

Next time: Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.

Loadsa money.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 34: Loadsa money.


Money makes the world go around. The lust for money is what drives everybody, from the lowly worker to the high corporate boss. Regardless of how much money you might have, most people want more of it. More often it’s the richest that are the greediest and stingiest.
But money isn’t all bad, it’s the ‘blood’ in the whole economic system and without it everything would collapse and plunge the world in chaos.
There are five types of currency active in 2059. So they’re bitcoin then? Guess this game was ahead of its time in some regards.

Plastic cards in regular credit card format can be used for multiple purposes. The most common ones are charge card, credit card, ID-card, drivers license, key card, data card, music card and video card. The cards are more than just identification, they contain data, information and usually a small microprocessor that handle all the cards various functions and communicates with the surrounding world.
All these different applications would easily lead that the common man would have to carry a large number of cards. Luckily you can combine most card functions to a combicard. The most common thing is that all key cards are combined into a combikey. Other functions that can be combined is ID-card, drivers license and charge card.
To be able to combine a card you need to buy a blank combicard that contains a microprocessor, display, keypad, IR-link and internal memory. A combicard costs 40 euro but can be used repeatedly. The transfer itself can be done via hand computer or a home terminal. The newest thing on the market is the so called autocards that contain a fingerprint reader that identifies the user and sends the right PIN code. These cost 240 euro.

Hold up, how on earth is all that supposed to fit on something as big as a real life credit card? Just how small is that keypad when it has to compete with space with a display as well?

The text tells us how to pay with a card. If you’ve ever used one in real life you now the procedure so I’m not sure why it needs to tell us this. The only difference is that you can use a fingerprint to skip the PIN code. Or the transaction number if its an anonymous transaction.
I can only imagine there have been GM’s who have wanted their players to go through this routine every time they use their card, just because it’s mentioned in the rules.

Then it proceeds to tell us what the procedure is when you get money on your card. Why?!

There are still large amounts of coins and bills in circulation across the world. The bulls are usually made out of paper and the coins are in metal or plastic. Unlike any electronic transactions these are in principle untraceable. Because hard currency is used mainly for illegal transactions this means that bills are illegal in multiple countries in the west and many major cities. Paper money is also easy to steal and cumbersome to handle. Bills are usually fitted with magnetstrips, holograms and stamps only visible in UV light to prevent counterfeiting.
Would’ve thought that something like that wouldn’t be an issue for crime syndicates considering how powerful they are supposedly but there is no mention about them being able to deal with that handily. So I guess they just don’t deal with counterfeiting and just play by the rules or something.

Bills and coins are made by a large amount of smaller banks and governments in the third world. In the industrialised world only a few, sizeable and trustworthy bank organisations that print and distribute bills.
There are three types of currency that is accepted almost globally, the European Euro, the Japanese Neo-Yen or New-Yen and the American Standard dollar.
I refuse to call it the New-Yen on principle because it feels like a dumb reference to Shadowrun.
In some countries you need to pay with some of the currencies if you want to deal in desirable goods.

Internationally there is a small number of currencies that are used to trade with. There is a table mentioning which ones. Most notable ones are Texas Dollar, California Free Dollar and Q-francs. The latter is for Quebec. Some of them come in coins and bills. There is also an exchange rate for the listed currencies but some are exposed to varying degrees of inflation. Ugh, why.
Then there are hundreds of other of other currencies of more or less dubious nature. When using electronic transactions then it’s easy to just convert to the local currency whenever you pay.

To conduct business transactions with all kinds of credit and charge cards you need a cash register. It comes with all the kinds of functions you recognize from one like laser scanner but also fingerprint reader, DNC-link and built in mobile phone line. These usually cost 1200 euro.
For some reason I’m now imagining a mobster standing behind something you find in a grocery shop with the players lining up behind each other as each of their job payments are processed.

To make business transactions on the field you need a portable terminal. They come with a keypad, card scanner, fingerprint scanner, DNC link and a built in mobile phone link. It’s driven by a minicell and costs between 1500 to 2000 euro.

I can’t imagine a player ever bothering to get one of those. Now the mobster is blipping everyone’s card instead with a hand scanner which makes things even more hilarious to me. I mean the suitcase full of cash is illegal anyway and most means of electronic transactions are tracked so it’s not like there’s that many options to get paid for dirty work without getting a crapton of heat thrown your direction.

Then follows a whole section about loaning money and various types of loans. It even goes as far as mentioning what interest you’ll be dealing with. It’s all pretty boring and uninteresting.

Then we get a section about… Investments. Really?! Why does this have to have rules?!
There is a table dealing with difficulties when dealing with stocks. You roll checks against the Economy skill to figure out how much you win or lose at this. Also lots of percentages. Those are always fun.

Uuuuugh, fuck this chapter. It’s awful and utterly pointless to the whole. It fully expects that you want to play cyberpunk stockbroker as a campaign.

Next time: What have I got in my pocket?

Equipment Check.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 35: Equipment Check.

Welcome to the last actual chapter of this book, the obligatory equipment chapter. This whole section is mostly meant to give the GM an idea of what different types of gear cost. Players too I would assume unless the GM is actually meant to handle gear purchases for the player. Seems odd if true.
The book stresses it’s important to make the equipment as interesting as possible. So when presenting it for the players you should always add manufacturer name, model designation and any possible nicknames for it. The function doesn’t change but it gives the players a better feeling for the world and a more personal attitude to the gear.
Once again I do agree but much like back in the branding discussion it’s better to use it sparingly rather than often. Because a lot of the equipment listed here is very common stuff like services and computers.
Something to keep in mind is that some equipment can also be illegal or require permits to be owned. It’s up to the GM’s sound judgement to deem what is legal in various places around the world. When it comes to weight it can vary from model to model and the GM is encourages to make their own estimates here as well.
The GM can easily derive prices for equipment not listed in the upcoming tables by first estimating what it would cost today. Each euro in 2059 is equivalent to 4 bucks. It uses Swedish Krona in this case but might as well keep it ambiguous. This makes it easy for them to calculate the price for the item in 2059.

Everything listed in this chapter is standard models or more prevalent types. Beyond this there is a large range of similar products that aren’t listed. Beyond that you can customise and build things after particular specifications. There are four different variations:
Designer made: Specially made by a famous designer for those who are loaded with money and want to brag about it. The function is the same but the price is between five to fifty times higher.
Military variants: Usually means sturdy and durable variants used by the military and organisations with demands for ruggedness and simplicity. The price is usually twice as high for ordinary equipment and weight is usually also doubled to represent the ability to handle rough treatment.
Moisture-Protected/Waterproof: The former doubles the price with the latter quadruples it.
Pirate copy: Means cheaper prices than the originals but lower durability and quality. They also tend to be illegal. Usually half the original.

There are no rules anywhere about item durability so that mention is kinda pointless unless the GM is a dick about it.

Custom variants: Build according to specific specifications. Cost is dependant on what components used and the labor cost. Usually five to to ten times as high as the normal price.

Then there’s various availability tiers that we don’t need to bother about.
You can also rent or lease equipment in order to lower the cost if you only need it for a short period of time. To be able to rent something you either need to prove that you are going to return it or make a deposit. Sometimes the lessor can simply deny renting it out if they’re uncertain about whoever wants to rent it. The rental amount is around 1% of the new price per day. This cost is lower if you rent over longer periods of time. On smaller things that get worn or outdated the cost will be higher. It’s up to the GM to decide how much the rental cost is.
Uuuuuuuugh, why is this even a thing mentioned if it’s all up to the GM anyway.

You can also insure things but there are no real rules for that or how much things would cost so it’s entirely superfluous. There’s not even a table with insurance prices!

But something that does have a relevant table, the next to last one even(!) is the black market. Obviously you can’t get everything through legal means, so for those you need to head to the illegal market instead. If the price is right you can get pretty much anything. Only thing you need, outside of deep pockets, is the right contacts. To use this it obviously requires a check against the Underworld skill. A success means that you’ve managed to get in touch with a seller. If you fumble on the other hand you ask around in such a blunt way that the police discovers you. The difficulty is an average check, but that means you spend a whole day looking. If you want to be quick about that is increased to very hard (Ob5D6) per hour. If what you need is extremely illegal the difficulty gets raised further. On the plus side, once you have gained a contact you can use it repeatedly.
The price is dependant on many factors, the most important one is how illegal the thing you’re looking for it. But also how easily obtainable it is might also affect it. The Persuasion skill can be used to calculate what price the buyer and seller agree on. To calculate it’s actual worth you need to multiply the normal price with one of the factors in the relevant table. For instance a very illegal item increases the price by 10 while an easily obtained item is only one times the price. That can however be combined with the illegality level.
A slight editing error is that it says there are four types of illegality levels but only lists three.
Usually most black market dealers will put their initial price at twice as high as the items real value.

Player characters usually has a tendency to come over various hot items that they want to sell off to earn some extra cash.
Is this really true though in this case? I mean we still have no idea what we can play as in this game and it’s not like an Interpol agent would randomly loot things for their own gain for instance.
Anyway, to be able to sell stolen, illegal or sought after items you need to have the right contacts, preferably in the shape of a fence. Getting a fence as a contact is, much like previously, a check against your Underworld skill. The success and fumbles are exactly the same as well, same with the difficulties. The price you get is also dependant on the same table as before but slightly more options, even if they mostly are between times 0.1 to 0.5 the value of the item.

But that’s the last rule of the whole book! After this follows five pages of equipment tables. Starting out with prices and availability for information and various services. For instance if you need a 20 second advertising spot on TV it costs 10000 euro while a full page ad goes for 15000 euro. How about hiring a scientist for 150 euro per hour? Or a realtor for 100 euro per hour plus 5% provision? A university education is 50000 euro per year. First time that’s been mention as far as I could remember. Also that is a career so why is it listed as a price at the back? This game.

We get some food prices as well. You can get 5 litres of moonshine for 25 euro. Just what you need to spice up any party. Otherwise things are cheap and affordable. Most expensive item is a bottle of whiskey for 50 euro. Only weighs 800 grams!
A party drink complete with an umbrella costs only 8 euros. Funny enough a luxury restaurant is only 100 euros. Pretty sure Sylvanus could’ve eaten plenty of times at one even after finishing his first career. Feels like it could have needed another 0 at the end just because.

If you want real fur you need to pay 4000 euros. But what kind of real fur item? I don’t know, it just says ‘Real fur’ as an entry in the clothing list. Fake fur is 1500 euros. A ninja costume is only 150. But I say if you’re going to play a corporate ninja in a office campaign you get that for free.
A state of the art cyberdeck costs 2000. But remember that these don’t really have any stats or anything so all you really need to do is buy the cheapest one possible for like 500. Or even buy a pirate copied one for 150 and do pretty much anything because the hacking rules are a massive joke.
For some reason it lists that an exceptional level server that costs 1 million euros also weighs 100 kilograms. Do they expect players to carry one of those off if they can or what?

If you have cash to spare you can buy a mini sub for 60000 euros. Or an armor suit for 40000 euro, I’m not sure if it’s one of those deep water suits or just anti-shark chainmail because there are once again no item descriptions to be found anywhere. Or pictures for that part.

Neotech is however a future that has rocketpacks, only 25000 euros for those.

There’s also price listings for advanced surgery equipment. 200 000 euros for the basic one and it weighs 1200 kilograms. An autodoc will set you back 900 000 euros and it weighs 2000 kilograms.
Or you can buy a cryogenic freezer for 1 500 000 euros, only 800 kilograms in weight too. What a steal!

Hilarious enough we get several listings for various kinds of vehicles too. A normal car goes for 30 000 euro. A forklift (ole!) costs 100 000 euros, Or you can get a dumper for 250 000 euro. These also have listed weights because?
How about a tank?! It will only set you back 2 million euros. Or 3 million euros if you want a heavy tank. A hover tank on the other hand will go for 4 million.

Things get even more insane as we go over to aircraft. A strategic bomber will set you back 150 million and weighs 120 000 kilograms. Or you can buy a VTOL transport for 10 million. Maybe a fighter jet? 8 million. Wonder if you can get that in hot pink or something.
A space plane goes for 200 million and weighs 200 000 kilograms.

Lastly, right down at the bottom underneath all that insane and unnecessary information we get information for our cyberpunk shipping company. A container costs 500 euro per ton and a package is 20 euro per kilogram, or a pallet is 10 euro per kilogram.

Next time: It is not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been.

posted by Cooked Auto Original SA post

Neotech 2
Part 36: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been.

I didn’t think it was possible but Neotech actually managed to do it. It actually managed to create possibly one of the most blandest and uninspiring cyberpunk settings I have managed to come across.

Sure, I could go on and on about how the rules are an awful and unfun mess. How the injury system is needlessly overcomplicated and how much I hate game developers who take pride in ultra lethal combat systems. But I feel like I’ve already made that point clear repeatedly.

One issue I haven’t really brought up before is that the book’s language usage is awful. Sentences and phrases are repeated constantly, certain phrases require multiple readings to be actually understood. A lot of it feels like it needed at least two passes by editors to weed out all the various glaring issues and make it better to read. Then on top of all that there are the various typos and faulty page references. Not to mention there is a whole section missing from the book.
What’s even more galling is that the version I’ve been going from is the second edition and for all I know neither of the spelling or phrasing issues has been fixed for all I know.

But instead I’m going to turn my focus on the biggest crime that this book commits, namely the lack of a cohesive theme.
The introduction talks big about the game is now a more action based thriller type of thing. Something which I hope to show has turned out to be a giant crock of shit. Because at no point through all the pages upon pages of various rules that notion has really been supported. Or at least in my eyes it hasn’t.
In a way the game almost knows it has nothing to show you because the talk about their vision is incredibly vague about the themes it allows you to do.

Neotech posted:

N2 is a bit more towards the techno-thriller genre - that is, more clear-cut action, great technology, and more shiny hi-tech than ever. However, this will not overshadow the possibilities of running more down-to-earth cyberpunk, with cybertech-reinforced gangs that roam around in the urban streets and empty parking garages. There is the possibility of even more intriguing and scheming in the shadows. However, the opportunities for playing at a "higher level" within the hierarchies are not neglected. The player characters do not therefore have to be low-lifes at street level - they can alternatively choose to be "someone" from the higher social strata with the opportunity to influence their lives and others' lives considerably more.

There is talk about overall themes here, but the key thing to me is that it’s all very vague and generic. Where does the player characters really fit into all of this? What roles can they have? The book never really answers any of this in a clearcut way. It makes general offers but refuses to explain or expand upon them with any ideas or suggestions and assumes the GM will have exactly all the answers.

Let’s take Shadowrun as a comparison, because that is a cyberpunk system I’ve had experience playing with. Almost the moment you open the book it sets the tone. For both the setting and what the players are meant to do. There is red thread of a theme of what you meant to be doing in a campaign for that game. In Neotech there is absolutely nothing like that. At no point does the core book talk anything about what you as a player, or a group even, are meant to do in a campaign or even in a session for that part. There is no pre-written adventure at the end. The book simply ends right after the last equipment table. There’s a complete and utter lack of tone.
What are you supposed to be in this? Troubleshooters? Average citizens thrust into impossible situations? Just what exactly?

If I were to say there were any main campaign themes for this book I would have to say it’s either Criminals, Interpol agents or military service members. All of these ideas are actually backed by the book itself.
The first one is obvious because there are at least three different kinds of criminal careers in the book and the overall vague feel is that it’s the street level that really matters. Not to mention there is all the talk about the criminal syndicates possessing enough power to challenge the corporations.
The second one is supported by the fact that the Interpol agency has multiple different sections underneath its umbrella, all of which supporting different kinds of campaigns. Interpol in many cases appears to be organisation the PC’s are by default linked with because it gives them resources and clear cut themes to work with. Why the book doesn’t want to commit to this is unknown.
The third one is supported by the sole fact there is a military officer career as well as several skills that directly deal with warfare. Not to mention there is a skill how to pilot military grade power armor. That is frankly not a skill you simply drop into a game just like that. Even if N2 technically does that because that’s the only mention of in the entire book. Not even the world building makes mention of them.
You could also argue that the corporate campaign that I’ve joked about repeatedly is a valid option as well.

The biggest issue, to me at least, is the career system. It’s the main thing that really muddles the water for deducing a clear purpose for what a PC can do when they can be something ranging from a store owning businessman to a rich playboy or someone who works exclusively in space.
What exactly is the thing that brings all these together in a believable way?

I mean yes, as a GM you can talk to your group about what campaign themes and such that you want to feature and what the players should focus on during character generation. But there should still be a theme! There should still be something there to work with from the beginning.
For example:
Bob wants to run a Shadowrun campaign and tells his players to make characters. When the session starts later on his players show up with a Face, a Street Sam, a Rigger and a Technomancer. Bob knows he has a team that can handle the various challenges he has in mind for them.

Meanwhile Jim wants to run a Neotech 2 campaign and tells his group to make characters for it. When the first session comes around he suddenly has a Playboy, a Space Worker, a Solo and Corporate Suit. At which point Jim realizes he should’ve mentioned the campaign themes and ideas he had in mind and feels like a massive idiot because now he has wildly disparate elements that don’t really work together.

Not the most perfect example I admit but it illustrates that the games career system is a massive mess of combat and strictly non combat careers that have no real way of working together without someone having to pull most of the load. Especially with how much the game really loves the Combat Experience skill and making it incredibly important at how to be effective in combat.
At least none of the careers are portrayed as being combat types and isn’t supported at all by the rules like the CP2020 rocker. Also the fact you can’t get 100% success on a career due to nearly impossible entry requirements is bullshit as well.

Anyway, those were all campaign ideas that I managed to filter out from what the book has content. Neither of those are actually directly suggested at any point in the book. Either in the introduction or in the later world building.

Speaking of which, the world building for this is so incredibly underwhelming from start to finish. It’s nothing but clichés stacked upon more clichés with absolutely nothing to set it apart from other things.
After reading all this, ask yourself the following question: What stood out to you with this setting?

I certainly can’t remember much, the only thing I can really remember is the whole part about internet mysticism which generally sounded new and interesting. But beyond that it’s just a bland mire of the same things that usually frame the cyberpunk genre, misery, oppression and corporate power.

It fails to use any of those things in any meaningful way. The mega corporations are repeatedly stated to be in control of everything but that is rarely seen in the text. The corporations just exist, they numbers of things they actively do in the setting can be counted on one hand. Of all the ones that get mentioned only one has any real motivation, and that is only because it’s run by an AI who wants to rule the world and that is it. None of them has any agency or motivations beyond “MONEY!”.
The fact they added the actual Tyrell Corporations from Blade Runner is just lazy writing. Not to mention utterly squandered since there’s no hooks there to be found involving them in the setting.

The book has a penchant to just drop hint after hint that stuff is going on but there is nothing meaningful to be found amongst everything. It’s all just vague allusions. It’s far too much tell but don’t show, things are mentioned a plenty but simply in passing. Nothing is ever looked upon more closely in any meaningful way. What are the issues with bioroids and Artificial Persons? Where do they come from? What makes them such a danger that Interpol made their own Blade Running division to deal with them?

There are rumors and hearsay a plenty but there’s still nothing to grasp here. The only real conspiracy just exists as well, with no real agenda mentioned. What is They’s ultimate goal as they rule from the shadows? Who knows. Is the group actually controlled by an AI? Who knows because the game doesn’t even want to back that theory up and just instantly discards it. There is no “Maybe they are?!” to be found. It’s just mentioned briefly and then the text goes on.
The whole setting feels like a massive afterthought, an excuse to push a different version of the ‘high quality’ Eon rules. This means that a lot of the world building chapters are trite and pointless as a result. Why spend a whole chapter detailing police departments organisation? Why is there a whole chapter about legal proceedings? Legal proceedings and police organisation that hasn’t apparently changed for 60+ years.

That is another of the issues I have with this, nothing changes. Or at least a lot of things haven’t changed in massive obvious ways. Things have more or less stayed the same. There are still institutions and companies from today that are still kicking around just fine in 2059. Some have merged by others remain what they are now. It’s just lazy world building. With all that is being implied you’d think corporations have gone under and merged together a lot. But no, you still have BMW or even IKEA still kicking around as if nothing happened. The mega corporations in Neotech feel absolutely nothing like groups that have replaced nation states as the real power houses in the world. There are no real mega corporations like the ones you see in Shadowrun, they’re just corporations that work within one or two fields and that is it. They don’t have any global outreach because they’re sharing the pond with far too many others. None of them are really on the top of everything with fingers all kinds of areas.

Now keen eyed people might have noticed that some things talked about in the introduction never actually showed up. There was never any mention of the NPC generation system. In fact, this book doesn’t even let you generate NPC’s on the fly at all. So any prospective GM would technically have to generate NPC’s as characters to actually have opponents. Also there isn’t any adventure seed generation for that part either.

Because all that was relegated to a splatbook called Neotech Ultra.It’s essentially the second half of the core book because it has things such as adventure seeds, lists of names, random generators, more table, setting history with a timeline, wordlists, archetypes, rules for cinematic roleplaying, new careers and even more rules.
Including expanded character generation rules…

What is hilarious is that book came out around 2003 as far as I could find out, four years after the core book came out, including the second edition.
But that book costs money and like fuck I’m going to spend 20 bucks on it.

There is also Neotech Offensive, which is just guns the book from what I’ve been able to figure out. As well as the Neotech Euro book that is an actual setting information book, from the description I learned far more of parts of the setting than the book have actually told me.
But those also cost money so fuck that.

Neotech is a game most likely written by engineers and for people who love simulationism and it shows. It’s an absolute bland mess that doesn’t offer anything stand out or remarkable about it other than a sense of growing horror as the tables and rules never stop.

As you might remember from the introduction I mentioned there was a third edition, Neotech Edge, that was kickstarted last year. Amazingly enough it still sees active development looking at the kickstarter page, with a release slated to after the summer of 2019. Unlike its predecessor this one is supposedly using a more narrative engine based on the Noir game, which is another Swedish RPG in this case.

Neotech 3 posted:

The year is 2070. The world has been ravaged by climate disasters, class difference and wars. From a devastated countryside and sunken cities refugees flood towards the teeming mega cities, and become a part of their motley mosaic of subcultures that constantly fight to assert themselves in the overwhelming media buzz.
Automatisation and AI give prosperity to a new gene modded social elite while the masses corporate sponsored base income and stream artificial happiness right into their optic nerves. The system, a symbios of AI-controlled corporations and states, monitor and guide the masses towards the temple of consumption. But in a world where everything is connected hacking has become the new magic. The anon movement is connected by darknets where they have started turning the system against itself. It doesn’t matter if your pose consists of technologically savvy anons, environmental radical nomos, spaced orbitals, hardened crims or glamorous nymphets. The world is rushing towards collapse anyway, or towards a new paradise after the singularity.

Going by the intro there might be a chance the writers have managed to give the game a unified vision and idea of what you can do. The list of inspirational fiction is interesting in its own because it’s surprisingly varied:
Black Mirror (2011, Netflix) Mr. Robot (2015, HBO) Cannibal Warlords of Liberia (Vice Media) Elysium (2013) Minority Report (2002) Gattaca (1997) Mirror’s Edge (2008, EA Games) Children of Men (2006) Dredd (2012) Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) District 13 (2003) Infinity (miniature wargame, Corvus Belli) HYPER-REALITY (2016, Vimeo).
How will it all work out in the end?
Time will tell I suppose.