Body Conditioning

Body Conditioning or Body Building is a BODY-based skill represents the character’s knowledge of how to train the body to improve its condition. This idea originally appeared in Interface 1#1, but it was too easy to go from BODY 2 to 10 (or higher) without problems. So this is a rewrite of that idea.

Limitations

  • A character can train themselves or others.
  • The maximum increase of the BODY stat through body conditioning is half the current skill level, up to a maximum of 13.
  • A character starting with Body Conditioning can roll once per skill level to improve their BODY once character creation is complete.
  • If a character is training regularly, then they can roll once per month
  • If a character is not training enough, then they lose one point of BODY per month until their BODY returns to its original value.

Skill Checks

Current BODYTarget
Very Weak (2)5
Weak (3 – 4)10
Average (5 – 7)15
Strong (8 – 9)20
Very Strong (10)25
Super human (11 – 12)30

Fumbles

On a roll of ‘one’, roll again to determine the degree of the Fumble.

RollResult
1 – 4No effect. You just failed.
5 – 6You look like a fool and everyone knows it.
7 – 8 Minor injury. 1 point of damage.
9 Major injury. 1d6 damage.
10Severe injury. 2d6 damage and – 1 BODY.

Training Gear

Like most skills there are pieces of equipment that can make it easier;

  • Basic Gym Equipment: +1
  • Full set Gym Equipment: +3
  • Integrated Cyber-gym: +5

Beyond Body Conditioning

There is REFLEX training used by the US Air-force to improve the responsiveness of their pilots. The same is true for world class athletics training the lower half of their body for movement (ie MA).

MA Training would be limited to skill level / 3, with a maximum of 12.

REF Training should be limited to skill level / 4, with a maximum of 11.

It appears that there are other forms of training the can make people more Emphatic (EMP), deal with pressures (COOL), etc. However, it is difficult to know how these could be set up in game.

Using Isometeric Cameras in Blender

Settings for a Isometric Cameras in Blender, adapted from
Daring Dino’s video Creating Isometric Cameras in Blender.

Setting up the camera this way requires that it is set to Orthographic with the rotation adjusted 54.736, 0, 45 (X, Y, Z). The XYZ coordinates can be anywhere to set up a good shot.

  • True Isometric Camera. X rotation: 54.736, Y: 0, Z: 45
  • Game Isometric Camera: XYZ (60, 0, 45).
  • Game 4to3 Isometric Camera: XYZ (40.5, 0, 45).

I’ve also noticed that if the Z-rotation is shifted +-90 to (45, 135, 225, or 315), it still maintains an isometric view, but from a different side.

Cyberpunk Net Combat – Summary

Back in ’94-’95, I updated the Netrunning rules to make play easier, especially for Net Combat.  What follows is a summary / TLDR of those rules. Each round plays out at the same speed are the real world, just to keep the game flowing.

Initiative: The interface skill on page 46 says, “Other players can enter the Net, but cannot use the Menu.” This means that any action in the net requires Interface (See pages 149 – 150). I doubt this was intentional, so we just dropped this requirement and made Interface improve initiative. Making Netrunners, the Solos of the Net.

INT + Interface + speed – number of LDLs + 1d10
* LDLs in Africa get -2 each, not -1.

Jacking Out: The next change was logging out, the roll of 8 or less on a 1d10, seams at odds with the rest of the system and a character’s Cool should play a part.

COOL + 1d10 vs 12 

Using Software: This section was a little convoluted with Interface use in some places but not others. So the goal here was to simplify the dice rolls for Net Combat. Str vs. Str roll with program types acting against one another. If the roll is tied then favor falls to the defender.

INT + Str + 1D10 vs INT + Str + 1D10

Offensive Program Defending Program
Trace Evasion
Detection Stealth
Decryption Utility
Intrusion Codegate
Anti-System / Anti-Deck Datawall
Anti-Program / Anti-IC The Str of the program it’s attacking.
Anti-Personal Protection
Controller Controller in device
Utility vs 10
Interactive vs 10
Compiler (Demon) See the programs it’s loaded with

Things Mr. Welch can no longer do during an RPG

RPGs have been around for a while and one of the great joys is the stories that emerge from the game. The innocent-sounding ideas that become disasters ending in a TPK, and that epic-level bullshit that players try and get away with, and those stupid jokes that become core to your own game.

TheGlen’s list, Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG,  gives insight to some of those experiences. Read the full list here:

or Mister Welch, a website that spits them out one at a time.

I have been so tempted to build a Gnomish character around, just the references to Gnomes to try some out in the home game.

Creating dungeon tiles rollers

This week I’ve been design and creating dungeon tiles rollers for terrain crafting. The goal is to create a simple pattern that can be replicated around a roller to create a consistent imprint on XPS foam.

The first version was kludged together and mostly work, but the imprint was not square and the design process wasn’t elegant. The second version highlighted errors in the process which could be seen in the distortion when comparing the X & Y directions. 25mm (1 inch ) in X to 29 mm (1 1/8 inch) in the Y direction. Rescaling the size of the cylinder corrected this mistake. Finally, I just need some more patterns…

Research & References

Most research starts with a search (Duck Duck Go in this case) to find suitable images & other resources. It has been very useful having the name of the tile patterns, along with the images to use for inspiration.

The Rollers

1-inch tiles

1-inch roller to cut XPS foam

Windmill Tiles

Roller for Windmill Tile Pattern

Running Bond Tile Pattern

Flagstone Tiles

Pinwheel Tiles

The four levels of success

Taking an idea from improv theatre leads me to four levels of success you can use in your game. To keep the action rolling for the characters.

Improv for Gamers

I’m still waiting for the book, Improve for Gamers from Evil Hat, as it’s released in November. It distills a workshop series also called Improv for Gamers. The basic idea from improv can be summarised as You cannot say No. As this can stop the scene.  You can get away with No but or No and. This leads to the four options listed below and how I mentally relate them to gameplay.

  • Yes, and. This is a critical success with it’s yes you succeed and another good thing happens.
  • Yes, but. This feels just like a regular success, but as a GM you throw something else in there to keep things spicy.
  • No, but. This is the standard, “I did not succeed” or failing, which tends to stop the action cold. However, if you describe how close they are and give a +1 to the next roll, then it keeps the story flowing. In essence, this delays success.
  • No, and. This is a fumble, critical failure, or similar. Here’s where The Alexandrian’s Three Clue Rule becomes critical as it can avoid the impassible roadblock. So still resolve the disaster of action and move on to the new.

Some bad examples of the four levels of success

The idea does not always work, but here are some examples.

Epic level bullshit. The critical success is great on the dice, but how does it translate into the game world. A crit feels less important when knocking out a mook with 1 HP. So as a GM, it’s worth having something flow on to give that advantage to the table. The mook’s weapon bounces into the villain, lower their defense. The ganger’s head flies across the room wedging the villains’ escape path open to enable pursuit.

Business as Usual. This is where the character tends to pass every check and lead to a lackluster session with few highs & lows as there little tension. And this is the point to spice it up with a “yes but” to complicate matters. But a word of warning is that you don’t want to just keep heaping on the complications as the session will need to move towards a resolution.

EG. The PCs are facing a hostile bard in the tavern, and the PCs deal with every social conflict the bard can throw at them. The jilted barmaid, the rowdy patrons, the song of ridicule all make for good conflict in a game session, but it should not go on forever. The bard is forced to leave by the PCs. Maybe to get more help in the form of street thugs, wizardly curses, or the town watch.

One chance only. Character’s do stupid things and while you give opportunities to succeed, or even survive. Sometimes the dice lay on the hate. So jumping from a building to grab the swinging arm of the crane on a nearby building is an example of one chance only. if they miss they are likely to plummet to their death.

If they fail, then having the +1 to another try makes little difference. But +1 to smash through the window below, grab and slide down the side of the building, or even to make the landing. All make for good narrative developments.

Oh my God No! What happens when a character fumbles SO badly that they derail the campaign? The equivalent of a magical supernova.

I’ve had this happen and I was at a complete loss of how to proceed. As Web DM and others have talked about, the only thing you can do is call a break to give you some time to think. Steal from character backstories, brainstorm some possibilities, or work with the players for ideas.

While not completely on point, once playing Crucible at Conquest, I had the privilege of watching a GM masterfully reassemble the climax of the game session into something truly special. (link)

So…

Constantly using the simple Yes/No success idea of early roleplaying can lead to some dead ends for the story. However, by using the four levels of success, you can enhance the flow of your game. This should lead to better sessions for you and your players.

Cyberpunk 2020 Initiative – Version 1

Cyberpunk 2020 initiative system favors solos with the idea of “move first kill first“. So to help balance out the turn order, to limit the number of multiple actions, and provide a chance to the others to act before the solo team laying waste to everyone.

Version 1 (the ’95 draft)

The first draft of these is from ’95 when we had a large group to test them on.

  1. The turn is in order of initiative with the highest going first. Ties favor Combat Sense, then Reflexes.
  2. Every character can have 1 multiple action per 10 points of initiative or part thereof.  So an initiative of less than 10 will still get an action. 10+ 2 actions, 20+ 3 actions.
  3. Characters still suffer a -3 per each additional action to every skill roll, but each an action will be resolved at the appropriate initiative count.
  4. Once a character action is complete, their next action is 10 points down the initiative order.

For example

A Solo & Fixer face off against 3 gangers. Their initiatives are 22 (Solo), 15 (Fixer), 16, 13, & 9 (for the Gangers).

Round 1: Everyone will take their maximum amount of actions. Solo (3), Fixer (2), Gangers #1 & #2 (2 each), Ganger #3 (1 action).

The Solo will take 3 actions, the fixer 2, and the Gangers 1 each as they aren’t that skilled.

  • At 22 the Solo acts, shooting a Ganger #1, in the head, but misses as all actions are at -6.
  • At 16, Ganger #1, shoots the Fixer, doing 1 point to the Left Arm.
  • At 15, the Fixer shoots Ganger #2, who takes 10 points to the Torso.
  • At 13, Ganger #2, shoots the Solo, for 3 points to the Torso.
  • At 12, the Solo acts for the second time, shooting Ganger #1 again, for 10 points to the Head. <Pop>
  • At 9, Ganger #3 shoots the Fixer in the Right Leg for 3 points
  • At 5, the Fixer acts again (with the penalties), shooting Ganger #2, finishing them off.
  • At 2, the Solo has their final action, popping Ganger #3.

Review

All in all our groups found the rules easy to follow and it makes for an interesting combat as the situation evolves around the characters. It  works, however, it limits the style of game play to back and forth gun-play.

A cyberpunk life

One of the things that I had not considered when playing Cyberpunk 2020 & Shadowrun back in the ’90s was how people live, day to day. The cyberpunk life consisted of doing jobs until you die. They may be a little lip service to the background world, but it was rare to inhabit that world in your game.

This profile of Serge Faguet provides some insight into the life of a Corporate character. The article goes into the mix of lifestyle, drugs, and technology all focused to give himself an edge. It may be a set of extreme steps to take, but it may become to the norm.

A story from Mirrorshades (or I think it was) about a medical student regularly using a drug to enhance her mental state to be able to absorb the huge quantity of information needed for med school. So taking this to its logical extreme. If drugs, cyber-technology, and any form of enhancement you can make could give you an edge. Then those technologies become required to run with the pack, or even to be in the race.

A few questions emerge from this.

  1. So what do characters need to compete?
  2. What enhancements are needed and the consequences that could involve?
  3. How can you create this in a game?

22 by Akira Miyagawa
22 by Akira Miyagawa

Character Roles

Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, & Cyberspace provide useful definitions of character types, the gear they will need, and the tech they are likely to use. So while the game-systems are different, the intent behind them is the same.

Soldiers, Fighters, Gangers, Punks, Killers, Street-samurai are all examples of the Warrior Archetype. In the cyberpunk genre, it all about who shoots first kills first and enhancing those critical combat skills.  Cyber-optics, neural links, and reflect boosting become the order of the day.

Facemen include Fixers, Corporates, Mr. Johnson, and Tricksters in general. The goal is to win social conflicts to get the best deal, persuade the right person, or intimidate the gangers. To this end, they will need cyberware that enhances the social encounters.

Knowledge brokers (aka Wizards) include Netrunners, Deckers, Jockeys who access the digital web to find stuff that others can not. It can also include a character with specialist knowledge, like a Tech or Ripper Doc. The cyberware will be focused on enhancing the mind and allowing access to new data sources.

Arm Fix by EJ Dela Cruz
Arm Fix by EJ Dela Cruz

While not exhaustive, this really just provides a gateway into the character’s world and the lives they could live.

The exploring the Lows

As a GM the challenge here is to balance the good with the bad. So how do you set up the consequences of cyber-enhancement? What enhancements are needed and the consequences that could involve?

The use of cyberware tends to lead to a loss of Humanity (in Cyberpunk 2020) or Essence (in Shadowrun). These are common ways of regulating a character’s actions. However, there are other GM techniques to manipulate the character’s behavior.

Peer pressure plays a part in any sort of social game. As a GM you can use NPCs reactions to your advantage.

  • A street punk would look for obvious enhancements, like cyberware and skin tattoos.
  • A sleek corporate looks for high-quality cyberware, as examples of wealth and sophistication.
  • A Neo-Luddite would look on any cyberware as abhorrent.

Regardless, of why NPCs react they way they do, the effect is still the same in flavoring the cyberpunk life.

Excessive drug use can lead to addition. Cyberpunk 2020 has rules for that. Not too sure if Shadowrun or Cyberspace does.  Regardless of the game-system media like, there is media other there that provides some examples of the consequences. So the question now becomes how could you model the pitfalls of addiction for a character?

Starting the Cyberpunk life with Session Zero

Inkpunk 80: Datahunter by Marthe Jonkers
Inkpunk 80: Datahunter by Marthe Jonkers

One way to create the feeling of the world is to explore a character’s daily life during session zero.  During it, you can bring in all the cyberpunk elements that you want in your game. Focusing on the particular things that are important, with the others becoming faded into the background.

To help set the foundation of the cyberpunk life, you can explore a day in the life or common experiences. Some examples that you could explore are;

  • Use the character’s Lifepath as a starting point for session zero.
  • What was a character’s first piece of cyberware?
  • What crime has the character committed?
  • Has the character ever been caught for something?

The whole goal of this for the GM is to tease out more details about the character.