Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cyberpunk Character Sheets and Tips

Cyberpunk Version RolePlaying in the Dark Future came out in 1990 and it was too edgy for the teenage me.  I wish I played this game when I was younger.  But, as Cyberpunk puts it, I was one of those players still playing that other game with the happy elves.

My appreciation for the Cyberpunk genre was a much later development.  I read Gibson's books and liked them, but didn't love them because I feel that in my mind Cyberpunk had already taken on a certain style.  A style that Gibson touched upon sometimes.  Perhaps I was tainted by anime, I don't know.

For me, I didn't care so much about the A.I. or philosophical aspect of the genre, it was the style and the gritty, street-level action that caught my eye.  I love the Cybernetics.  I love the thought of jacking-in and hacking the world and the fact that people fry their brains trying to do so.  I love the thought of endless city arcologies where it's always night and almost always raining.  I love the thought that the woman shooting at you is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.  I love the fact that the world is merciless and will utterly kick your ass because that's the way it goes.

That's Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk is back in the news these days.  R. Talsorian Games is set to release their Witcher RPG which is supposedly based on Cyberpunk's Fuzion/Interlock system.  This is creating a lot of buzz for the company.  Apparently the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 video game is not too far away.  And this fall/winter is supposed to see the release of a revised Cyberpunk RPG called Cyberpunk Red.  Take all of that with a grain of salt, I only know what the forums know.

Sooo, this put Cyberpunk back into my head.  I revisited the rules, gave them some thought, rolled up some characters, and redesigned the character sheet.  This character sheet reflects my philosophy for playing this game.  There is no second page for life-path generation or for excessive amounts of gear.  I prefer the notion that you don't really know who you are until that first roll of the die. It's a more pulpy take -- I prefer mysterious backgrounds.  Nor do I like characters armed to the teeth.  There's plenty of space on this sheet for your stuff.  Besides, you're about to get wasted and put into the spare parts wagon.

Some thoughts on playing Cyberpunk

  • This is a deadly game but players can armor-up and become quite bullet-proof.  Cut all of the armor values in half.

  • Equipment.  Everything in this game is CHEAP.  Multiply the cost of everything by 5 or 10.  Players should almost never get the really fancy stuff unless they find or take it.  Buying stuff on the black market should be a mini-adventure all on it's own.

  • Some stats are almost meaningless and then there are super-stats like Body.  Randomly generate stats by rolling 1d6+2 in order, switching any two.  This will give a result between 3 and 8.  Nothing terrible or godlike.  Another method, under the fast-and-dirty expendables rules (pg. 30) is roll 2d6, re-rolling 11's and 12's.

  • Consider randomly determining starting skill values based on the Career Skill charts (pg 44).  There are multiple approaches to this, like going down the list and rolling 1d6+1 for each skill.

  • Use the fast-and-dirty expendables (pg 30) chart to give each player one randomly rolled piece of starting cyberware.  Do this for armor and weapons as well. This adds built-in history.  Also, assume starting characters are all unemployed and they have cash equal to that listed on the special ability table.

  • Hacking is a beast and has never really been done well in any game.  I suggest, for now, simply use skill challenges like 5 out of 7 successes, or 3 consecutive successes --- or else you get disconnected, catch a virus, etc.  How to handle hacking is a future topic unto itself.

  • Finally, if you're not willing to make life hard for the players, play a different game.  This doesn't mean be a jerk.

"It's not enough to be good---you have to look good while doing it (Attitude is Everything)."


  1. Hello,
    Hope you keep up-to-date with your site still (after a year from original post date),
    Just the other day I found someone running this game, when I had been looking for a Shadowrun group. I want to play, but the GM became unavailable today (today being when he would show me character generation).
    My question is, is there any way I could look at char gen without a book? I really don't care to see anything else, I'll see it soon enough, but I want to get a feel for the game before I decide to jump in, I want to flesh out what character I want to play, and I just like to draw up characters (even if I am not going to play the character anyhow).
    Please and thanks,

    1. Hi JR, I'm not aware of any online Cyberpunk 2020 character generation resources. But the basics are this: 10 Careers -- Solos, Corporates, Medias, Nomads, Techies, Cops, Rockerboys, Med Techs, Fixers, and Netrunners. In my experience, everyone wants to be a Solo because they're obviously the toughest and it's a brutal setting. Each career comes with a recommended list of skills that you have so many points to put into and it's primarily a game based on skills, so the main skill list is massive. You should be able to find the official character sheet online and that has all the skills listed on it -- it will tell you a lot.
      If you want your character to be a bad-ass, Body and Reflex are the most important stats in the game. If you're doing a lot of "role-playing" then all stats can matter. There is also a life-path generation system that gives you a back story -- everything from personality traits to how many friends and enemies you have, contacts, lucky events, disasters, lovers, rivals, etc. This generally wont't affect your stats. Anyway, look up the official character sheet, it will tell you a lot.
      Hope this helps a bit, and whatever your character does.....look good doing it, and if someone gets in your way, waste'em!
      Good Luck!


Just Saying...