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I had a lot of bad things to say about Chromebook 1, but at the end of the day, it’s mostly harmless.

Chomebook 2, on the other hand, is not harmless. It’s better written from a technical standpoint, and there are a lot fewer instances of important stats missing. But this supplement changes the power scale of Cyberpunk in a way that can’t be easily ignored.

Also there's one entire section that someone at R.Talsorian really should of just said "No" to. But we'll get to that.

1. Cybernetics

Chromebook 2 does better than its predecessor by not opening with a section called “miscellaneous”. This only covers new cybernetic components - the actual cyberware headliners are later in the book. This section is comparatively short, with 19 new options. And this time they didn’t forget the surgery codes! My personal favorite is the Nanooptical Upgrade. This bioware gives the patient’s natural eyes the ability to see in IR and UV, and “allows +2 to night vision” whatever that means. While this doesn’t do anything for Cyberoptics, it can be used with Smart Goggles, which frees up space for other options. Costs 1,500 eb and 1d6/2 HC. Surgery N.

The other good option here is Upgraded Skinweave. Skinweave now comes in various levels of SP, going up to 16 (costs 2,750 eb and 2d6+4 HC). There are other variable cyber-armor options, including upgraded subdermal chest and skull armor. Skinweave is the best because it ignores most of the armor layering rules. Skull armor is second because it mostly doesn’t cause layering problems (though a strict reading of the rules says it would), but has the drawback of only protecting the back and top of the head. All these options cause permanent ATTR reduction. How crippling.

Chromebook 2 also provides new Cyberfinger options. I actually like some of them. The one that shoots a screw-sized tracking device is the exact kind of enhancement I would want to put in my finger (wait, come back!). The Vid Cam is also pretty dope, but it’s let down a bit by requiring you to have a cyberoptic upgrade that uses two of the four slots. The cyberfingers can also have a Quick Change Mount that lets you swap in and out different options - though it does raise the question of how HC loss is handled.

Because there are fewer cybernetics, there are a lot fewer that I consider complete turkeys. There are only four cosmetic cybernetics, and only two cyberweapons of dubious efficacy. I’ve been unable to puzzle out what the Wetware Access Link actually does. Everything else I can see a PC using, or at least something to give to an NPC to give them a quirk.

So it’s off to a nice start, and we actually get one more well-written chapter before we fly off the rails.

Next Time: Oh shit, tech expectations changed!


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Part 2: Equipment

The first edition of Cyberpunk was released in 1987. Chromebook 2 came out in 1992, five years later. I remember it was around that year that my family got its first home computer, and I started getting keyboard lessons in grade school. I bring all this up because reading the Equipment section in Chromebook 2, it feels like a lot of the new equipment is updating CP2020 tech to not be lagging behind the actual real world at the time.

For example, out of the 69 new pieces of equipment, about a third relate to personal computers. I don’t mean Cybermodems - in fact the book makes a special note that these can’t be used for Netrunning. These are regular computers like the one that I’m typing this update on. And they’re actually worth purchasing for certain characters. One of the issues with the core book is that if you weren’t a Solo or a Netrunner, there really wasn’t enough for you to spend your starting budget on. The computers here go a long way to addressing that, giving characters bonuses to TECH and INT rolls or acting as a substitute for rolling skill checks. I think. Because personal computers weren’t given any detail in the core book, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do with the fact that a computer has an effective INT of 3. That said, there’s a lot of support given to computers, so even when the rules aren’t clear, I think there’s enough for Referees to come to a reasonable set of rules.

There’s also 5 entries dedicated to video game consoles! These are mostly superfluous, notable only because R.Talsorian put their chips down on Sega and Atari. Not all of these items are dumb kitch, however. The Scholar Home Learning System allows characters to learn a new skill up to +2 in two-and-a-half days. While this doesn’t fix the glacial IP pace (as it only provides new skills), it’s still a much needed speed boost to getting new skills.

The equipment section also gives more options for sneaking about. The Militech Ghostsuit and Mirage Gear, plus the Gibson Sneaksuit all basically do the same thing at different price points. The wording is that these suits penalize other’s Notice rather than giving bonuses to the user’s Hide or Evade. All the suits have an additional rule where there’s an extra -1 to Notice for every 10 meters away from the would-be observer. These are really good for actually challenging Solos with high Notice and Combat Sense, but they have the issue of further siloing off combat from non-Solos. And of course now that's it possible to be effective at stealth, then stealth characters now have their own mini-game that is effectively similar to the one Netrunners play even if it takes place in MeatSpace. There are a few other questionable design choices, like giving some stealth suits EV penalties. They’re not huge, but they just require more math and calculations to figure out exactly how sneaky someone is being. (as a reminder, EV penalizes REF, the stat used for making Stealth checks)

Another interesting addition that Chromebook 2 brings is Drones and Remotes. There’s a new skill to use them, Remote Systems Operations, that uses the average of REF and INT. However, a Netrunner can substitute in their Interface skill instead. There are a few things about drone combat that’s not clear, like how initiative is determined. The drones are also pretty expensive, with the cheapest option being the Bell Bumblebee Remote Rotocraft costing 4,000 eb, and can be outfitted with an SMG. It’s not outside the budget of starting characters, but because of the lack of clarity of the rules it’s difficult to say if a player would want to go with it (especially when it’s competing for other high-cost items). The other remote that PCs could purchase on their own is the Mitsubishi “Rover” Wheeled Remote. The Rover is about the size of a riding lawn mower and can be fitted with assault rifles. It costs 9,000 eb

There are two other Drones that are in the Chromebook aren’t really publically available. The Arasaka RDAK Spy & Assassin is a bug sized remote with sneaky assassination weapons that costs 12,000 eb, but Arasaka only sells it to “friendly” corporations. Then there’s the Militech RPV-400 Light Combat Tiltroter Remote. It’s armed with two 12.7mm Chainguns that carry 1,500 rounds each, have an RoF of 150, and a range of 1 km. These guns do 4d10+2 damage, SP halved, normal penetrating damage. It’s also equipped with flares that reduce missile hit chance by 30%. And that’s just the integrated weapons, because the RPV-400 has 4 wing mounts and one centerline hardpoint. The RPV-400 costs 150,000 eb. Both can be pretty formidable least until you remember that a Netrunner can use the CONTROL REMOTE function to hijack it pretty effortlessly. This whole subgroup of equipment is R.Talsorian continued effort to band-aid the problem with Netrunners, specifically by giving themselves something to do outside of hacking. This is evidenced by an in-setting quote (italics included):

Rache Bartmoss posted:

Netrunners moan all the time that they can’t stand with Solos when combat comes. I never needed more than a couple assassin remotes or a handy Robo-CabTM to level the competition.

So how does this not work in practice? First, there’s no initiative advantage for using remotes. In fact, it’s not fully clear how initiative is determined. Being able to shoot accurately with a remote does no good when your head’s already been blown off. Second, there’s all the issues with CONTROL REMOTE that I brought up in my review of the core book. Third, the stuff that Netrunners can freely purchase isn’t great. The rover may have been somewhat tanky prior to this supplement, but as we'll soon see it doesn’t get the job done anymore. So in order to get the best use out of remotes, a Netrunner is either going to have to hijack one (making the usefulness of CONTROL REMOTE more dependent on Referee-may-I) or hack a purchase (which puts us back into lengthy Netrunning scenes).

There’s a bunch of equipment for surveillance and counter-surveillance. It’s all very straight forward. It’s stuff you would expect if you wanted to do espionage scenarios in CP2020. The only notable thing is the artwork for the futuristic metal detector is a little juvenile, but not in a way that’s egregious I think. I’ll share it so you can be the judge.

While everything is pretty well organized, there are one or two items that just don’t belong with anything else. They make up for it by at least being worth getting. In particular, the MedicGear Combat Medical Armor is a must for anyone that wants to play as a Medtech that doesn’t just avoid combat entirely. It has a solid 20 SP to all body parts, comes with a bunch of medical supplies and gizmos, and provides a +2 to all “on-the-spot” medical rolls. It’s got a -3 EV penalty, but that doesn’t impact TECH skills. It costs 3,400 eb.

The only non-combat roll that I feel is left out from the equipment love is the Rockerboy. The DPI Body Rhythm Dance Bracelets let you use either Dance or Play Instrument (Synthesizer), whichever is higher. This feels like an item made for someone’s very specific character concept, or else pulled straight from a movie. The Washburn Soundmachine Guitar gives the user +1 to Perform if not performing in a band. Finally, there’s the SecSystems Protection Field, which zaps anyone that gets too close to the wearer. It’s presented as something to keep away overzealous fans. This game seems to imagine Rockerboys getting mobbed by fans a lot.

Overall the equipment section is a major improvement over the one from the last Chromebook. To drive that point home, of the 69 items in this section, there’s only one mention of fax machines, and that’s only an option for a cell phone. If Chromebook 2 had stuck to the level of gear we’ve seen so far, it would have been an alright supplement. Instead...

Next Time:


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Part 3: Weapons

There are two sections of Chromebook 2 that radically alter the power level of Cyberpunk The weapons section is the first part. There are 50 new entries, and very few are just reskins of weapons from the core book. Most of these weapons do something new. It’s just that often the new thing is “do more damage than anything before.”

Prior to Chromebook 2, the hardest hitting rifle did 6D6+2 damage. Now there’s the Militech Cyborg Rifle, which does 7D6+3 AP. It’s not a complete replacement, because it only has a ROF of 2, so you can't just Full-Auto multiple targets like I showed in by review of the core book. What’s more alarming is the entry right next to it, the Polymer One-Shot Cannon. At first it seems unimpressive (4D6+2, 1 ammo, 100 m) and has a 1-in-10 chance of blowing up on a jam. But the One-Shot Cannon fires a HEP round, which does 1/2 real damage, 1/2 stun damage, and ignores armor! It also only cost 90 eb and is concealable, so these are weapons that an entire gang can come equipped with and surprise a player with. This feels like the type of weapon meant to allow Referees to feel like cunning clods when they take out a well-tuned Solo by sheer volume of armor-ignoring attacks.

Chromebook 2 adds the Pursuit Security Webgun. If you’ve seen The Running Man, you know how this works. Unlike other forms of incapacitating weapons, this one doesn’t have one thing that instantly counters it. It can come with a taser enhancement or fire a net made of detcord, which will rip apart all but the most heavily armored cyborgs. The biggest limitation to this weapon is the range (only 30 meters.)

And here’s where Chromebook 2 says “Fuck it!” with the Rhinemetall EMG-85 Kinetic Energy Railgun. 5D10+10 EAP (Armor is 1/4 effective, 1/2 penetrating damage), 1,500 m range, and +3 accuracy. It’s also extremely heavy (35 kg), which is one of the other issues with this book: whereas the core book went out of it’s way to abstract the weight of everything, Chromebook 2 hopes you use encumbrance as a balancing factor. This comes with a bunch of special rules about using special harnesses and smart links. There are very specific rules to trying to acquire the Railgun on the black market (Roll 30 and a Critical Success on Streetdeal). Just under that is the Luigi Franchi “King Buck” Mulit-Magnum shotgun. It’s a pepperbox style gun that fires 10 gauge shells, doing more damage than any previous shotgun (6D6 at close range), although it forgets to list the range. Whoops. I've never been hot for shotguns in CP2020 mostly because I have trouble parsing the rules (it's like the Fireball from really old editions of D&D), but for players that have made them work there's no reason not to use this over any non-automatic shotgun.

The Techtronica M40 Pulse Rifle is another in a line of EMP weapons, but this one is different for a couple of reasons. First, it can incapacitate people for minutes, even if they’re not loaded with cyberware. Second, if you use it at Point Blank range, it has a 50% chance of frying even shielded electronics. It’s main drawbacks are relatively poor range (50 m) and slow rate of fire (1/2 ROF).

Apparently a fucking railgun wasn’t enough for this book, because we get two more heavy cannons. The first is the Colt-Mauser M2X. It does 4D10+6 Extra High Impact (armor 1/4, no reduction to penetrating shots), has a range of 600m, and requires you to make an Average BOD check to avoid getting bruised. The second is the Militech AM-3 “Anti-Matter Rifle”. It actually uses depleted uranium slugs. It’s the M2X, but more so: 6D10+12 EHI, 1,600m range. The rounds are rocket propelled, so the weapon does more damage at longer range. A funny thing about EHI rounds is that if the round doesn’t penetrate but is half the SP, then it still does 1/4 damage from sheer kinetic impact. Which means there are ranges at which rolling lower actually does more damage. Game Design!

The weapon selections calm down after that. We get a micro-missile launcher. Micro-missiles have their own set of rules that I don’t want to reprint here because they don’t do enough damage to justify the book work (especially after the last couple of weapons). There are some more exotic weapons like the Techtronica Volt Pistol and the Arasaka “Nauseator” Riot Control Device that have niche uses but aren’t overpowering. The last set of weapons are a variety of melee weapons, including a chain knife (no sign of chain swords). My favorite of these is the Kedachi Mono Wire, which lets you re-enact those movie scenes where a well placed wire takes off a pursuer’s head.

The power creep isn’t over, though, because Chromebook 2 introduces new ammo types. Armor Piercing Incendiary (4x cost) works like AP rounds but do 1D6 extra damage the first round, then 1D6/2 the second round. Dual-Purpose Ammo (4x cost) works like AP against armored targets, but does 1.5x damage against unarmored targets. Then there’s Fragmentation Flechettes (5x cost). These treat armor at half value, but do normal damage if it gets through. We get a note that this type of ammo “cannot be fired from weapons with Electro-Thermal Enhancement”. We’ll get to that pretty soon. Aside from these game-breakers, we get a bunch of less-than-lethal ammo options (kudos to the book for noting that they can’t really be called non-lethal).

After the bullets we get a selection of grenade types, including options for pistol-grenades. Nothing really notable except here we get the labyrinthine rules for using micro-missiles. It turns out that you can get some effective damage out of them if you use HEP rounds. But it's hard to figure out because instead of repeating the rules for HEP it tells you to use the same rules as a weapon from Chromebook 1, but doesn't mention that it's in that book. Whoops. The section concludes with weapon modifications. It has some mundane options like a gun cam and security chips, but we get one more dinger for power creep derby. Electrothermal Ammo Enhancement is a modification for guns that still use cased ammo, (in CP2020 this means pre-21st century guns) and increases their damage by 50%! So if you go back to the core book, the hardest hitting old weapon is the FN-FAL, which does 6D6+2 damage. With this mod it does 9D6+3.

Well that was part one of “How Chromebook 2 Broke CP2020.” But before we get to part two, we have an intermission.

Next Time: If you’ve got a problem, if no else can help, and maybe you can find them...


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Part 4: Teams

Chromebook 2 has 6 different professional services, or Teams, available for hire. They can also be used as a basis for a campaign or a template for NPCs. Each entry has one or more full statblocs for a typical employee, which is probably going to be the most used by resourceful Referees. It’ll also be our first chance to look at what CP2020 considers to be reasonable builds.

SPHERE is the courier service of the world of Cyberpunk SPHERE charges 50/120/300/1,500 eb per kilo for ground/air/from low orbit/to low orbit, with a threat multiplier that goes from x2 to x50. There’s an undertone that they’re corrupt and maintain their market dominance by gunning down any competitors (which is how they achieved their position in the first place.) So that at least suggests a campaign model where the players take out and replace these jerks.

So that’s 57 stat points and 42 skill points. Despite having EMP tied for highest stat, this NPC has no skills related, nor is he so cybered up that he needs Humanity Unlike later entries, it doesn’t look like HL was deducted from his EMP (he’s got about 4D6 + 1/2 and change HC).

Lifetime Escort Services provides locally hired bodyguards that can pass as acquaintances. LES will also rent out transport. The rates start at 150 eb/day for an average escort. There’s a lot of add-ons and multiplies, but it’s all laid out in paragraph form so it’s hard to distill what the total cost is and what multipliers go where and what’s meant to stand alone. I’m loathe to say it, but this could have used a table to neatly lay out the options. There’s a strong implication that this would be an employment opportunity for players, but one thing that gets left out of all of these is what’s the operative’s cut.

A couple interesting things about this stat block compared to the previous one. For one, no LUCK stat, which tells me there are conflicting philosophies on whether NPCs need to have all the same stats as PCs (and/or the editing is bad). 62 skill points, but nothing over 5. About 7D6 HC loss (so 25 average). The stat block makes note that escorts have relatively low cyberware because they need to keep a high EMP (except any Cyberweapon is going to have a high HC cost). I’m hoping this is the bare minimum escort, because I would be very cross to spend thousands of euro a day for a Solo that would have trouble out-drawing a Booster.

C-Team is a mercenary group that specializes in soldiers cybered up to the gills. For 1,000/3,500/12,000 eb a day/week/month, you get a Team Leader, Heavy Weapons Trooper, A Comm Trooper, and 3 Line Troopers. An AV-4 and pilot can be added for 12,500 a week or 45,000 a month.

First observation, the HC has been deducted, but it doesn’t look like EV has been figured into these stats - that’s for the Referee to calculate! Second, the 11 REF on the Heavy Weapons Trooper is thanks to the Adrenal Boost, a core book enhancement that I missed when making Jamie (very shameful, I know). It gives +1 to Reflexes for 1D6+2 turns, 3 times a day. It costs 400 eb and 2D6 HC. While the HC is high, straight boosts to REF are hard to come by, even if it’s just temporary. Third, the game gives the Heavy the option for a SAW, but so far it’s never given the stats for a SAW, or defined what a SAW is. These days you can look it up but in the early nineties you would either have to understand that acronym already or do some guessing (which tbf you get the hint that the SAW has 800 rounds). Lastly, these are some really bad skill point distributions. It also doesn’t look like they’ve spent their full allotment of skill points. Overall, this bunch of cybersoldiers is at least useful for making a show of force or acting as a distraction, but I wouldn’t rely on them to actually accomplish an objective.

Cybernetic Intervention Services capture and treat Cyberpsychoes before the C-Squad blows them to bits. They are extremely expensive, costing 250,000 eb minimum for retrieval and treatment. If you just need the metal-head captured, CIS can drop the price to 100,000 eb. Unlike the other entries, there’s no sample team member or anything like that. Instead, there’s a list of gear that would be used to make the capture. Most of the equipment is from earlier in this book or Chromebook 1. There’s one item from Interface #1, the Sharpwire Net Under-Barrel mount that fires a monofilament net that does damage if the enwrapped target tries to escape. Which seems like a bad choice for trying to capture someone. There’s one brand new weapon, a Gauss Field Projector. It weighs 200 kg and is normally mounted on a truck or set up as a trap. But there’s no range for it, and it causes disorientation but doesn’t define what that means.

Orion advertises itself as a rescue service for kidnapped individuals. They do kidnapping themselves, because there’s a surprising amount of overlap in those skillsets. Orion is the type of organization Corporations hire for extractions and counter-extractions when they don’t have an entire Black-Ops division like Arasaka. The investigation alone is 10,000 eb. The rescue/kidnap itself starts at 20,000 eb. and goes up to 2 million depending on how important the person is and who’s guarding them. “Some missions cost more, but all are tax-deductible.”

This group at least seems competent at their job, but their stat line highlight some of the oddities of CP2020 character creation. Assuming a 2 to 3 point EMP drop from modest cyberware packages, these NPCs have total stat points that’s between “Minor Hero” and “Major Supporting Character” way back in section two of the core book. With that many stat points, these NPCs have no weak attributes. Take the basic operative. There’s no reason for this NPC to have a ATTR of 7. But they do because there’s literally nothing else to allocate the points into. Also they have +4 skill chips, even though RAW skill chips top out at +3.

Autojoks are a network of Netrunners. They watch each other’s backs and make sure clients don’t just shove the cyber-nerds into lockers. I suspect the main reason they’re in this book is when no one wants to play the Netrunner, so the group can just hire one and forget about that side of the game. Unfortunately we get no price guidelines. The only clue is a short story where an Autojok is hired to do a job with a quick turnaround for 150,000 eb (if she had prep time it would have just been 145K). Assuming the example Autojok is the same as our Netrunner from the story, 150K will get you this:

It’s hard for me to evaluate how competent this example because the Netrunning rules were painful to work through. I feel like spending over a hundred grand on a somewhat above average hacker for one job is not a good hire. And checking the math, I see that the sample character has 74 total skill points. Which doesn’t line up with my theory that this is the Netrunner in the fiction (she’s only 16, not even the lowest starting age for PCs).

Next Time: The Main Event

Full Borg Conversion

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Part 5: Full Borg Conversion

The Full Borg Conversion is a brand new category of cybernetic enhancement added in Chromebook 2. A character replaces everything except their brain and a few other organs with cyberware. Full Borgs have a baseline 10 REF, 10 MA, and 12 BOD, and can easily boost them higher. Full borgs are so machine they stop having normal hit points and just have Structural Damage Points. Full borgs come with 25 SP on all body sections and can take 30 SDP to the torso/20 SDP everywhere else before it becomes disabled (and an additional 10 points before it’s destroyed).

Full Borg Conversion is feasible because it breaks the Humanity Loss rules for cybernetics. The justification is that replacing everything at once greatly reduces the psychological impact. Specifically, the book tells you to assume that every d6 of HC for cyberware is reduced to 1. Furthermore, for every 6 points of HC you take, that converts to a d6. So a character is paying 1/6th the HC for cybernetics at most, and on average is paying 1/12th the cost! As a point of comparison, the book shows what you would have to buy individually to have the same benefits as the full borg, and the HC cost is higher than all but the most ridiculous borg chassis (we’ll discuss him later).

The cost for the base full borg conversion is 40,000 eb, plus x2 Critical Surgery (which costs 5,000). This is beyond the funds of any starting character. The only way to start as a full borg is to sell out to the military/megacorp/mafia. If your character has an EMP of 8 or higher, than you have a 20% chance of being offered the opportunity to be a full borg. This feels very pre-millennial mindset in RPGs: “Want to have a fun toy? First you need to agree to my restrictions, then you have a chance of getting what you want.” Assuming you are lucky, then the full borg is hooked into a 10-to-25 year tour of service. During this time, they have a baseline chassis but get inserted into specific builds when it’s time to fuck shit up. Once their term is up, they can either go for another round or left with the baseline body.

There have been experiments to implant human brains into non-humanoid forms, but this just causes instant cyberpsychosis.

Full Borgs demolish what little balance there was to combat. The high-powered guns and upgrades from earlier in Chromebook 2, as ridiculous as they are, don’t change the combat from being rocket tag. Because even if a gun shot doesn’t straight up kill you, there’s still a good probability of it messing you up and taking you out of the running. But Full Borgs don’t have to worry about Wound Penalties or Stun Saves. Whether a section has all its SDP or just 1 remaining it will operate fine. And that’s baseline. SP can be increased to 40, while an extra 25 SDP can be added to whichever section. And the extra armor not penalize Reflex, unlike almost every other heavy armor option.

Full Borgs not only have access to almost every type of Cyberware (Bioware and Organware are the main exception), but also get unique upgrades. Most notably, you can increase your REF, BOD and MA up to 15, 20 and 25 respectively. This is basically the only way to permanently boost a character’s Reflex. And as far as I can tell it can be stacked with the initiative booster’s from the Core Book (nothing explicitly forbids it). Other unique options for Full Borgs including quick-change mounts for limbs, letting you swap in heavy weapons when you really want an arm cannon, and an interchangeable biopod so you can be moved from your day-to-day cyberbody to your killborg chassis as needed.

Chromebook 2 has 10 models of Full Borgs. I’m going to present them in the order that I think they’re going to appear in a campaign (least to most likely). Except the last one. Like Chromebook 2 I’m making it the closer for this section for what should be obvious reasons.

International Electric Cybernetics Wingman is the dream of any aeronautics engineer. No need to worry about your plane killing its pilot if they can just ignore physics! It’s a logical use of Full Borg technology. It’s also, in my opinion, the Borg least likely to come up in play. Players would only want this if they very specifically want to be Cyber-Maverick. And that assumes everyone is on board with this narrow campaign idea, because “High Speed Plane Guy” as a character concept only works if the game is about High Speed Planes. And as a Referee, a Wingman NPC as an adversary only matters when the Wingman is in an aircraft, where you wouldn’t be able to see the pilot anyway.

One thing that I remember is that at some point, the Wingman’s manufacturer changes to Militech. There’s one other ‘Borg that gets this change. I’m sure there’s an in-setting explanation somewhere.

Cost: 54,000 eb HC: 20D6

Dynalar Technologies Brimstone is a fire-fighting full borg. It has systems that make it really good at fire-fighting, including being able to hook into the water lines. Like the Wingman it’s the sort of conversion that it makes sense it would exist in setting. But only the most niche character concept would find this conversion attractive. On the other hand, there’s more of a chance that a group would interact with a Brimstone NPC either by getting stuck in a burning building (as the intro quote suggests, though with the added detail that they caused the fire), or if they cause a riot.

Cost: 47,000 eb HC: 19D6

Dynalar Technologies Aquarius is a deep diving Full Borg. It can move 30mph (15 MA) underwater and dive up to 16,000 feet. Deep Sea hijinx is a pretty specific sub-setting of the cyberpunk genre. But it is a part, and even more-normal cyberpunk stories can have parts where the protagonists go down where it’s wetter (the Sea Base level in Deus Ex comes to mind). So while I don’t see many PCs wanting to get this, I can better envision them running into one, even on the surface. Just be prepared for a lot of SeaLab 2021 references.

Cost: 50,000 eb HC 18D6+2

Cybermatrix Copernicus is like the Aquarius, but IIIIIN SPAAAAAAAACE. It’s options include built-in EVA jets and prehensile feet. While space probably has more of a cyberpunk pedigree than deep sea, I feel like the average group has less chance to run into Copernicus’ because you can do missions near the deep sea while you can’t really do near space. On the other hand if the PCs are heading to outer space, Copernicus is a really attractive package. If you read the Deep Space supplement, it turns out that armor and even moderately damaging weapons are hard to come by. If you have a full 25 SP and are made of SDP, you are pretty damn untouchable while in space (the Space Corps and the ESA will eventually get something heavy if you’re a jackass, but they’re going to try everything else before they risk a catastrophic hull breach.)

Cost: 60,000 eb HC: 19D6

I just noticed that he has a mustache

The NovaTech Limited Samson is a Full Borg specialized in industrial work. Their selection of options ensures that when they shake hands with danger, it’s a power move. A Tech might get this for the skill boosts, but they can get the same bonuses for cheaper from earlier in the Chromebook. On the other hand an NPC with the Samson conversion is feasable even for a low-powered campaign. They’re just civilians, so they’re not going to overshadow any of the PC. But because they’re made of SDP and SP, they can have a firefight happening around them and players don’t have to worry too much about them being reduced to paste by a stiff breeze.

Cost: 50,000 eb HC 20D6+1

The Militech Enforcer is Robocop, minus Peter Weller’s luscious lips. And the spike reader has been replaced with a tape cuff dispenser, which is admittedly more applicable to law enforcement. It’s pretty easy to imagine PCs having to deal with an Enforcer (especially after trying out all the weapons from earlier in this book). It’s also a conversion that a pretty broad group of players would want. On the other hand it’s not sold the street, so it would have to be part of an agreed upon campaign. The one strike I would give have against it is that the base model doesn’t max out Reflex

Cost: 55,000 eb HC 21D6+1

The Militech Eclipse is a covert ops Full Borg. Think Grey Fox from Metal Gear Solid. This Borg is everything a stealth-focused character would want. It has all the good camo-stuff from the equipment section of Chromebook 2, but with the added bonus of no EV penalties, so no offsetting penalties to your stealth checks. And because they are made of SP and SDP, when someone inevitably succeeds on an Awareness check the Eclipse has enough staying power to get out of the jam. While the Eclipse is also not available to the public, unlike the other military-grade Borgs if you do manage to steal one it is well suited to staying stolen.

Cost: 65,000 eb HC: 21D6+3

The Raven Microcybernetics Gemini is for people that subscribe to the Six Million Dollar Man school of cybernetics. You’ve got a synthskin cover and simulated musculature so it’s nearly impossible to tell you’re a full borg with human senses. Advanced scanners will still pick up your made of metal, which makes infiltration harder than advertised (synthskin cyberlimbs are pretty common, after all). If you’re determined to make it work, you can get a Disguise option to let you change your appearance. Gemini comes with Mr. Studd (misspelled)/Midnight Lady. Thanks, Chromebook! The Gemini is the only Borg with an Attractiveness score, and the purchaser picks what they want. No reason not to get it at 10, but ATTR never mattered so whatever. Unlike other Borgs, the Gemini’s BOD can’t be increased, and they can’t increase their SP or SDP.

Cost: 55,000 eb (+1,000 for Disguise option)
HC: 16D6+2 (extra +2 with Disguise)

The Borg that’s most likely to show up in a typical campaign will be the standard chassis modified to whatever the PC or Referee wants. While IEC is the listed manufacturer of the Alpha-Class, the books says that all cybernetic manufacturers have their own brand of “base-line” borg for sale. Nothing special about them, other that you can customize it to your heart’s content. Also the stat bloc fucks up the number of options available for the limbs.

Cost: 40,000 eb HC: 16D6

And finally we get to this asshole. The IEC Dragoon is a military borg, and it is as over the top as it looks. Max physical stats. Max SP and SDP. Quick-change mounts for all four limbs to swap in whatever weapon system you want, from submachineguns to the cannons from earlier in the book, and each is hooked to an integrated ammo hopper filled with 20x the weapon’s standard magazine capacity. A Front Optic Mount to allow it to have every Cyberoptic option. A fucking “Combat Crystal” system that allows it to coordinate actions with four other Dragoons - because you’re really going to need more than one of these! IFF Transponder, satellite uplink, full EMP shielding. Just...fucking hell.

The Dragoon costs 120,000 eb, before you even include weapon systems. The Humanity Cost is 42D6+3, or on average 150. So the Dragoon (the manufacturer later gets switched to Militech because of course this should be from a signature MegaCorp instead of a company that only shows up here and nowhere else) cheats the Humanity rules even further. The interchangeable Biopod includes a Behavioral Inhibitor Program that forces whoever is inhabiting it to follow orders strictly to the letter. Effectively they act like a non-AI robot and. They are also easy to trick, so they aren’t put in sensitive missions. As written the Dragoon isn’t appropriate for players since they don’t really get a choice in their actions. Also I have to question why not just use a drone if human decision-making has to be constrained this much. I suppose that could be the point - the Dragoon reads like something that came out of a Cyber-Pentagon design committee. It’s just that the ’ing over how awesome this thing is leads me to doubt that was the intent.

If it were up to me, I would have gone with making the brain inside the Dragoon entirely dependent on IFF identifiers. This gives players the opportunity to use the Dragoon while presenting enough of a reason to not be in it all the time. It also gives a specific weakness that a PC group can exploit, rather than relying on Ref-May-I to get around trying to numberslam it.

Amusingly, the Dragoon is the only Full Borg chassis that includes a Chipware Socket by default. It’s also the only Borg that comes with a built-in time piece. That’s got to be a nod of some sort to Palladium, though whether out of respect or making fun of them I can’t tell.

The Dragoon is intended to be a capstone fight for a Cyberpunk campaign even if players are never going to use it. For a game that doesn’t really have a “Monster Manual” I can respect that. However, it doesn’t take long for the Dragoon to get overshadowed when CP2020 finally updates its vehicle rules in Maximum Metal. Speaking of which,

Next Time: Fuel Wars


posted by SirPhoebos Original SA post

Park 6: Vehicles

According to the CP2020 corebook, CHOOH2 has fully supplanted oil as vehicle fuel, with plastic being the only reason oil was still drilled for. However, someone at R.Talsorian, or one of their contributors, didn’t like this set up. I can only guess at the reason. Maybe this person thought fuel shortages were an important trope to Cyberpunk? Maybe this person really wanted Future Zeppelins but felt it necessary to justify their existence in-setting? Maybe it’s an attempt to hamstring players that got their hands on an AV? Whatever the reason, CP2020 now has AvGas, a high-octane fuel that can only be refined from petroleum. Aerodynes and Jets must use AvGas, which costs between 70-170 eb a gallon (50+2D6*10). I went back to the core book to check what the cost of CHOOH2 was as a comparison, but if it’s in there it isn’t on a page it would logically be, such as equipment. Go figure.

Overall this section is much better put together than the one in Chromebook 1. All the vehicles have a standardized stat block that includes top speed, maneuvering speed, acceleration/deceleration, fuel efficiency, fuel capacity, passengers, SP, SDP, and maneuverability modifier. The special equipment is clearly separated from the fluff text (though there are some misses), and if there are special rules they are clearly marked.

Let’s move on to the new vehicles. First up are Aerodynes. The writer for this section must have noticed that despite AVs being better that helicopters in every way, people were still selling helicopters. So we get a bunch of situational disadvantages-helicopters can auto-gyro if they lose power, and IR-guided missiles don’t lock on as easily. The only ones that’s supported by the rules is that copters are cheaper.

The AV-3 “Aerocop” is the cop car from Blade Runner. It can even transition into a street car. The flavor text says that there’s a turrent option, though there is no indication in the equipment section. It’s got a top speed of 350 mph in the air and 150 mph on the ground. Costs 500,000 eb.

The VMW Family Flier is the economy Aerodyne marketed to the middle-class. It’s bad compared to other AVs, (top speed 150 mph, -2 maneuverability, etc.) but it’s pretty affordable at 50,000 eb. And since these are owed by “normal” families, stealing one would be pretty straight-forward. If a PC group just needs any air vehicle, this is a viable option.

The Nissan Ford Fanmaster isn’t actually an Aerodyne. It’s more like a hovercraft without the skirt. While it can’t fly, it’s fully amphibious and can operate off-road. The Fanmaster has a top speed of 100 mph and can carry 750 kg. Costs 20,000 eb.

The Lambo-Fiat Mach is the fastest Aerodyne available. It has a top speed of 500 mph. The Mach has a +2 Maneuverability for pilots with a skill of 5 and greater, but -5 for pilots of lower skill. At least the Mach comes with an auto-pilot. Costs 650,000 eb.

If the Mach is a flying lamborghini, then the Swan (made by “the aircraft and automotive manufacturers of Scandinavia”) is a flying cadillac. Nothing all that special. Costs 200,000 eb.

Onto ground vehicles. The New American Motors Crowder is an electric car. It’s also pretty terrible, with a top speed of 40 mph, and has to spend as much time charging as it does operating. Costs 4,000 eb.

The Max Interceptor is a cop car. It has a top speed of 180 mph and can be armed with a machine gun turret. Costs 40,000 eb.

The Toyota-Chevorlet ’17 Chevy is either a full stat block for the basic sedan in the main book (which were admittedly not present), or an obscure jab at an existing line of cars, with snarky comments about it being “the least inspired automobile in the history of automobiles”. Also just looking at the picture I realize that this could have easily been a drawing for an AV, especially when you compare it to the Swan. The ‘17 Chevy costs 10,000 eb.

The Mitzubishi Ashigaru is an electric motorcycle. It’s not as terrible as the Crowder, but presumably has the same charging problem. It has a top speed of 70 mph and costs 1,750 eb.

The Delta Motors Bermuda is actually a tricycle. The game notes indicate that it operates as well off road as it does on them. Only this vehicle and the next give any indication that this matters. Top speed 155 mph. Costs 3,000 eb.

The Harley Darkwing is an off-road bike. It gets a +3 to maneuverability that only applies off-road. The Darkwing is also armed and it’s here, of all places, that the uninitiated learn what a SAW is (a light machinegun) and what rules to use (light assault rifle with 150 rounds). Thank. You. Top speed: 100 mph. Cost: 4,500 eb.

The next category of vehicles are fixed-winged aircraft. The first two entries are “Mini-jets” and...there’s something about them, the first one in particular, that has me wondering if these were intentionally written as theory-crafted boondoggles. Maybe I’m giving the author too much credit, but the General Dynamics F-36 Coment has 20 SP and 175 SDP, but if it takes over 50 points of damage, then there’s a 10% chance per turn that the pilot loses all control and the plane crashes. It’s top speed is 1,400 mph, but has an operational range* of 500 miles. It’s armaments consists of a 20mm cannon and two air-to-air missiles. On the other hand, the Comet has a whopping +10 maneuverability thanks to its swept forward wings. The Comet costs 45 million eb.

*I just multiplied fuel capacity and fuel efficiency. I’m sure IRL it would be even less

The MacDonald Douglass F-33 Wasp is a little more practical. It’s operational range is just over 1,000 miles and has a top speed of 1,250 mph. It’s armed with a 30mm cannon and can carry 4 air-to-air missiles. Unfortunately, most of the information on what these weapons do (along with the active defenses these planes and others carry) is back in the Solo of Fortune book, and as I mentioned in my review of Chromebook 1 it isn’t really compatible with this edition of Cyberpunk. The Wasp costs 35 million eb.

The Fed-Boeing Falcon is a STOL cargo plane. It’s the C-130 Hercules, but futuristic-looking. Costs 1.25 million eb.

The GD Hummingbird is a passenger jet. Nothing really to say about it except that while it’s unarmed, it does have defensive systems. Costs 15 million eb.

The Lockheed-Cessna Pinto is a STOL weapon platform. It’s armed with 2 20mm cannons and can carry 1,400 kg of ordinance. The cannons and most of the ordinance options need Solo of Fortune, but there are rules here for bombs. Bombs do 1D10 per kg within 1 meter per 10 kg, and then 1D10 per 5 kg out to 1 meter per 5 kg. The heaviest bomb the Pinto can carry is 455 kg. As for how to attack with them, I’m guessing that rules weren’t present in Solo of Fortune otherwise they would have directed us there for the bombs. The Pinto has a top speed of 450 mph and costs 10.5 million eb.

hang on what are they casting their shadow on?

The last group of vehicles are Future Blimps. They include the India Sky-Barge (10 million eb), the “Madison Avenue” Advertblimp (2.5 million eb) and the Sky-Queen Cruise Liner[/b] (20 million eb) Admittedly they look pretty cool. But get full stat lines for them, as if the players were going to use these for chases. The only really interesting detail in all three of these is that the Sky Queen is armed with 6 AA missiles. I like to imagine the missiles were added after a Referee tried to have his grand campaign finale on one and didn’t anticipate his players just blowing it out of the sky.

Next Time: Nope. Nope. Nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope.


posted by SirPhoebos Original SA post

Part 7: Exotics

Chromebook 2 concludes by introducing Exotics. This is how to be a Furry in Cyberpunk Also bolted onto this section are an elaboration on the cybertherapy rules that were briefly mentioned in the core book. Because this is the logical place to include them, not in the part where you add full borgs to the game!

Chromebook 2 posted:

Therapy is a regimen (referred to as "torture" by patients) designed to assist the patient in recovering use of damaged muscles and nerves. In game terms, therapy lowers the humanity loss from any injury/implant as the patient is helped to understand what has happened and how to use his/ her new parts; and is given practice in using them.

The anti-therapy attitude of this section is just the beginning of the problems with this section. Setting that aside for a second, this is clearly based on someone’s house rules, because Humanity Loss only occurs when you install cybernetics (and take certain drugs). You don’t suffer it from taking damage or needing regular surgery! So there are three levels of therapy: Outpatient, Inpatient, and Intensive Care. The first two are self-explanatory. Intensive is like Inpatient but, well:

uhhhhhhhhhhh posted:

The patient not only lives in the facility but has his/ her nervous system and psyche probed each day for "fine-tuning" (in essence, a trained psychological team rebuilds the patient's personality into one that minimizes identity loss. By the time they're done, the psych team knows more about the person than the person does, so you'd better trust these people with all of your innermost secrets).

The amount of time needed for therapy is based on the surgery code of the operations needed to install the cyberware (hope you don’t have anything that forgot that info!). You add all the surgeries together, counting 4 Negligible surgeries as 1 Minor, 2 Minor surgeries as 1 Major, and 2 Major surgeries as 1 critical. You then consult the following tables to see how many weeks of therapy you need, how much it will cost, and the percentage of HC you recover.

Let’s go back to the Full Borgs for a bit. The surgery code for them was Critical X2. That’s 16 weeks of Inpatient/ICT therapy, or 32 weeks of Outpatient therapy. Outpatient therapy costs 32,000 eb, almost as expensive as the basic Full Borg itself. Inpatient therapy costs 80,000 eb, higher than any Full Borg save the Dragoon. ICT costs 160,000, which tops even the Dragoon.

What do you get in return? Let’s set aside the Dragoon because that mega-cheats with the HL rules. The highest HC after the Dragoon is the Eclipse, which costs 21D6+3, or on average 76.5. With outpatient therapy, after 32 weeks the Eclipse recipient gets back 19 Humanity, rounded down. Inpatient therapy recovers 25 Humanity after 16 weeks, and ITC recovers 38 over the same amount of time. But the patient is doing nothing else while doing Inpatient or ITC.

And Full borgs are special cases. Just getting a cyberlimb requires Critical Surgery. So if instead of a full conversion, someone just gets a pair of cyberlegs, then they spend the same amount of time and money for therapy but on average they can only recover 7 Humanity even with ITC. And there are some important questions that don’t get answered, like what happens if a patient quits part way through, or whether you can take therapy again to get the same benefits.

In conclusion, these rules are bad, mostly due to the fact that it’s based on surgery codes. It’s also just too expensive unless the Referee is forking out money. I’d base the time on the cumulative HC dice.

Now onto the Exotics. There are 19 different options to modify your body. These modifications include everything from facial modifications to giving you an exoskeleton. Of the 19 modifications, 15 have special notes. There are a couple of notes worth talking about. First, the modifications reprint the Scratchers and Rippers cyberweapons from the core book but at lower HC “due to implantation in a good hospital environment”. I think the writer of this section has a different idea of what HC represents than R.Talsorian does. Second, the modification to become an actual furry/scalie/insect person has a 10% chance to cause cancer! Cancer can be cured in CP2020, and is actually going to be less expensive for the average player than the therapy costs from earlier.

Finally, there’s the Behavior Chips. Behavior chips create a strong urge to act in a certain way. They were briefly mentioned in the core book as a way to control prisoners, but according to this section people just use them recreationally! There are no rules for what this does, I guess you just have to do whatever the Referee says you do now? Instead we get lots of rules about how quickly you get addicted to them, and these rules more or less ruin any character that uses them.

I...I want to try and be fair and give the writer the benefit of the doubt that maybe he intended this to be a story hook, like drugs but in the form of a cyberchip. But there’s no indication on how the implantee feels when the chip is installed, just how they act. The only notes on how the recipient feels is after the chip is removed. And it’s been included here with all this furry fan-service. And when we get to the one example of the chip in use...yeah the writer had no greater thought to adding this to the game. This was meant to enforce wackiness. Or as we'll see, enforce his Magical Realm.

One last bit is that there are several options that give penalties to REF, the most important stat in the game.

Damnit, Father Mushroom, you’ve gone too far!

And now onto the examples of exotic packages, and it’s just filled to the brim with unfunny animal puns that you’ve seen a thousand times. Are there lots of implications that these body modifications are the most shallow representation of your personality? You bet there are! Does each one look like a trace of an 80s cartoon? How could it not!

Cyberfuraffinity posted:

For those really interested in deception, psychological studies indicate that people are less threatened by mice than by any other exotic. What better way to conceal your true nature ... until they find that you're the mouse that roars!

totally not threatening!

This fucking section posted:

And girls, remember, men world-wide have been conditioned for over half a century to regard the "bunny" as the epitome of feminine sexuality. Okay, so they won't think you're likely to win any Nobel prizes, but you'll be popular!

Shut. The hell. Up. posted:

Tempted, but afraid to scare off the girls? Don't worry! Independent research has found that Dragon-Men rate on a sexuality scale alongside and sometimes even higher than the felines!

I’m sorry, but Trogdor references deserve better than this

So, what are the stand-outs? Well there’s a fantasy package if you just wanted to prentend you were playing Shadowrun instead. There’s the Superhuman package for all the fascists playing the game. I’m not kidding.


Thanks to gene-splicing nanotech, cloning, chemical enhancement and bionics, you can be an Ubermensch, the future of humanity!

And lastly, at the conclusion of this book, there’s the Playbeing. It has the Behavior Chip in it’s package.
( for really bad camel toe. And just sod this entry on principle.)

Just... posted:

The "erotic exotic" is always a welcome and popular guest. And what makes a playbeing different from anormal exotic? Those "special extras under the hood," so to speak. lose your inhibitions. Become a master {or mistress) of the arts of physical pleasure. Who needs drugs or pleasure-center wireheading? Please yourself and others at the same time, with just a few "enhancements."

This Cannot Continue posted:

Warning: Biotechnica refuses to install the playbeing package in any person without a signed waiver indicating that the applicant wishes to become a playbeing and absolves Biotechnica of all legal responsibility for any psychological aberations or problems arising from the playbeing package.

Call the police posted:

Disclaimer: The rumors of persons being converted to exotic playbeings against their willby Biotechnica are false; as can easily be seen below, Biotechnica requires a legal waiver indicating intent and protecting against unfounded legal action before allowing any person to purchase a playbeing accessory package for installation. Any proven incidents of playbeing "manufacture" are due to unscrupulous agencies not related to Biotechnica.

As a quick reminder, Biotechnica invented CHOOH2, one of the foundational technologies of the setting. And this is there big follow up.

I have no words. Only vomit.