Monday, 5 December 2016

I search the [Cyber] Corpse

The other day I walked past the most embarrassed man in southern England. He was wearing a kevlar vest, a riot helmet and carrying a complicated neo-club in one hand. The other hand was cuffed to a fortified payroll briefcase. He was standing next to the doors of an armoured van belonging to an internationally regarded security firm, clearly locked out of his own vehicle.

The van was screaming - well, loudly enunciating, like a female Avery Brooks - "HELP, HELP. VEHICLE UNDER ATTACK! PLEASE CALL THE POLICE. PLEASE CALL THE POLICE" loud enough to penetrate the walls of the bank across the street. By the time I left the bank minutes later three police cars were hurtling down the high-street, past laughing office workers and startled grandmothers.

So my colleague in OSR-damaged cyberpunk Geist has a new blog: Neural Archive. He's been putting together ideas (and beautiful pages) for a cyberpunk City Kit - we've been talking Vornheim and science fiction and...

There's brainstorming on-going at the VFTE forums.

There's a small sample to the left. I'd encourage you to visit the blog and see the full pages, let them speak for themselves. Check it out! Add him on G+ (where he goes by the name "Geist" because he's more mysterious-than-thou).

There's lots to say about the a "city kit" for cyberpunk. That's for another time. Right now, this post is all about corpses.

Fancy looting some bodies before the meat wagons and the scavengers reach them? Need a D66 loot generator?

The main take-away from writing - and this has been a brainstorming session, more than anything else - is that it could/should have been so much longer...

Here's a printable googledoc.


Red candle dedicated to Santa Muerte, to find and hold onto love.
Work-in-progress death haiku scrawled on scrap paper.
Pack of “most-wanted” playing cards marked with faces identifying members of organisation allied or affiliated with a PC (3 of Hearts).
Apparently real Human eyeball in a climate controlled, completely transparent jar. Fixed angle. Residential address on packet.
Half-taken packet of pills for virulently contagious illness.
Competition winner’s back-stage pass to highly rated late night talk show.
Unmarked Clip-on IFF tag. Bearer identified as friendly until identified as hostile by human oversight by autonomous drones owned by 1-2 Police, 3-4 Major Corporation, 5-6 Local Cartel. IFF code expires after D3 days - requires quantum passcode provided by central server to update.
Tourist’s guidebook to this sprawl written in foreign language.
Body-lotto ticket - 25% chance that the owner’s death resulted in a winning number.
Gold plated bullet inscribed with chintzy script, serial number “2 of 5.”
Uncomfortable quantity of pink hair dye.
Scrawled jelly-fish recipe - motherly handwriting, champion taste.
Gold candle dedicated to Santa Muerte, to find wealth and prosperity.
Bag of contaminated drugs, three doses.
Annotated copy of Neuromancer. Line [D20] of page [3D20 + D12] marked for special attention.
Glass vial containing a live spider and eggs, not native breed.
3d printed 40mm figure of the a PC’s contact, exaggerated physical characteristics.
Photograph of PC printed on folded paper.
Illegally fabricated copy of police-issue robo-cab hailer thumb - can use to flag down passing robo-cabs and ride for free. Roll D6 - on roll of 1, codes have updated and vehicle secretly alerts police, locks riders inside when they arrive.
Emergency Medical Aid membership card belonging to person with different face, gender and complexion to the corpse.
Key to railway safety deposit box.
Brightly painted pollution filter mask, gang colours.
Unlocked datastick containing 200GB of cult Sludge Metal albums.
Strictly offline samizdat political pamphlet for luddite political organisation.
Shark Fetus in a test tube hung from a necklace.
Zen Prayer Beads - tactical ‘runners brand, non reflective material.
Creepy Lover’s Pendant - half of a matched pair which changes colour depending on physical distance from the bearer of the other.
Vial of water from the Colorado River, religious iconography.
Love letter from a ranking Syndicate leader.
Pristine physical copy of a classic album, obsolete format.
1kg packet of “flour” - (covert biological feedstock, identifiable by tech and medical specialists). Pre-programmed shape will emerge if introduced to the correct household chemical.
“Fitbit” style fitness device - hacking device will reveal detailed record of former owner’s movements, heart-rate and drug intake for the last D3 weeks.
Keycard and address for a very hidden, very private cyberware clinic.
Expensive condoms with STD detection sensors. Phone number scrawled on back of packet.
Black Candle devoted to Santa Muerte, to bring death and vengeance upon one’s enemies.

It's only theft if he was innocent. Or still alive.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Black Hack (Cyber) Bestiary

Way back when I reviewed The Black Hack Cyber-Hacked, one of my (few) disappointments with the system was its short "bestiary" - just the usual gutterpunk suspects.

Well, there's a simple solution to that.

Lurking below are over fifty new antagonists for a Cyber-Hacked, Mirrorshades or modern-day Black Hack game, giving the player characters targets to shoot from the blood soaked streets to the ash-coated wastelands. Not just criminals and cops and cartel soldiers 'neither - there are some surprises down the list!

I couldn't resist putting in (entire sentences of) fluff into this table, nor pretty-ing up this post with pictures. If you want a google-doc in the usual Black Hack format, unpolluted by images or unnecessary ink-draining descriptive words, there's a link at the bottom of the post.

A couple of the entries here use rules from David Black's Additional Things PDF, available free on his blog here, most notably the Panic! rule.

Black Bagger: a corporate spook, a government kidnapper, a paranoid fantasy.
3 HD
Pistol (2d4), electronic B&E tools, thermoptic camo (disadvantage to detect), Cyber-Optics, Cyber-Audio
Bounty Hunter: hunting your contacts down one by one.
4 HD 6 AP
Pistol (1D10), taser (CON test vs 1d4 rounds stun), tracking device, flashbangs (con test vs disadvantage on all tests 1d4 rounds), hand-cuffs, gas mask with in-built NVG, Cybernetic Grappling Hand, range truck, custom armour
Bubblegum Knight: neon super-vigilantes chase down hi-tech threats to society (like you), while looking super fabulous (I've never watched Bubblegum Crisis).
6 HD 10 AP
Hardsuit (AP10 articulated armour suit, with Knuckle Bombs (2d12, 2 uses), Laser Sword (2d8), Pulse Laser (2d8), full suite of visual and audio options, no disadvantage for running in high heels), high performance motorbike, preposterous/wonderful pop star costume, mic
Cartel Witch: the heady atmosphere of casual violence, superstition and religious fervour pervading Cartel culture inculcates a particular terrifying brand of esper. 
4 HD 4 AP
Machete (2d6), kevlar vest, ritual components, level three psychic powers: Hold Person, Terrify, Silence, Darkvision. Can cast Enhance and Cure Light Wounds as rituals if provided with the right cocktail of drugs, blood and ritual components
Chipped Serial Killer: a sabotaged skill chip or a black market personality reboot can turn an ordinary person into a terrifying, remorseless killer.
4 HD 2 AP
Fire axe (1d10), tranq pistol (1d6, CON test vs paralysis), Chip Socket, stab proof vest, advantage to strength tests, immune to most mind-affecting and charisma effects. Human victims must test vs Panic! upon first seeing the serial killer's eyes
Chipped Triad: the right skill chips can turn any teenage wannabe into something straight out of a Hong Kong martial arts flick. Almost, anyway.
2 HD 4 AP (Dodge)
Butterfly swords (2d4, two attacks), submachine gun (d6), d3 cyberware items, Chip Socket
Corporate Bodyguard: standing between you and the hostile extraction target.
4 HD 4 AP
Pistol (1D10), expensive taser gloves (unarmed attack, CON test vs 1d4 rounds stun), expensive armoured suit, iShades with visual enhancements, Cyber-Audio
Coyote: it seems like new walls rise every day - mental, physical, national, commercial. Good business for skilled blockade runners; their skills always come at a price.
2 HD 4 AP
Night-scoped rifle (2d6), electro-prod (1d4, CON save vs paralysis) range truck with search light and night vision windscreen, binoculars, flash-light, armoured thermoptic camo (advantage to stealth tests) with kevlar inlays
Coywolf: increasing numbers of feral coyote-wolf hybrids prowl the desiccated high plains, desperate for ecogee meat.
1 HD
Teeth and Claws (1d6). Gains another 1d6 if one or more other coywolves are attacking the same target
Crom Cultist: a few slabs of grafted muscle and black hair extensions freely available in any salon can turn the lankiest nerd into Conan the neo-Barbarian.
3 HD 1 AP
Carbon Steel Claymore (2d4 - two handed), Sub-machine gun (2d4), biker jacket, Dermal Weave Flesh, Bone Enhancement, 2x doses of +1 Str drug
Death Squad Paramilitary: when corporations, governments or the DEA want someone dead in the slums, they send in their latter days Contras.
2 HD 4 AP
Sub-machine gun (d6), machete (d6), binoculars, kevlar vest, NVG night-scope, lots of drugs, Adrenal Enhancement. Squad may have flamethrower (2d6, dex test vs catching fire), Humvee or aggressively ordinary sedan with AP4 bullet proof windows
Dolphin Prophet: the rumours about the underwater research lab were true. 
2 HD
Unarmed attack (1d6), advantage against landlubbers in water. Level four psychic powers: Clairvoyance, Sleep, Feeblemind, Telepathy, Screech (as Mental Blast)
Droog: those crazy nadsat spouting teens, spent too much time in the milk bar listening to classical music.
2 HD
Big stick (d6), fancy hat, advantage on melee attacks against enemies with lower HD.
Exterminator: someone has to deal with the sewer-gators.
1 HD 1 AP
Shotgun (d4) with bean-bags (d4, CON save vs d4 rounds stun), hardy work-wear with head-mounted flashlight, rebreather, unnecessarily loud motion-sensor, tool kit, small but vicious enhanced dog (HD2, AP1, teeth (d6) )
Feral Child: whether Area Boys in Lagos or Corner Boys in New York, syndicates and armies are always willing to exploit lost children. Meanwhile, gangs of dispossessed kids struggle for what they can take to survive.
1 HD
Knife (d4), d3 doses of random combat drug. Depending on local circumstance, may have rifle (d4) or kevlar vest (AP2)

Continued below the jump! Juicers! Cyborgs! Things that should not be!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Wage slave 3: the redundancy!

A long time ago, I wrote two posts listing dozens of entry level jobs in the grim darkness of the near future - not the dreamy tech-graduate aspirations conceived in optimistic futurist blogs but the street level roles left behind as every low income career gets automated out of existence. 

These are the roles your 'runner characters found so horrifying they chose a life of shooting computer programmers and chopping off their own arms to fit ugly metal replacements. These are the jobs their relatives scrabble for. These are the jobs their fixers and mob contacts pretend to hold in their front offices. This is the sprawl and the people in it.

Wage Slave 1 covered everything from 3D Printshop Attendants and Chicken Little Trimmers to Industrial Origamists and Intercourse Trainers.

Wage Slave 2: The Restructuring began with Kelp Strainers and followed up with Persona Bums, Ractors and Scop Scoopers.

A year and some later, Wage Slave 3: The Redundancy finally presents thirty more dead-end careers for your cyberpunks to aspire to when they finally choose to retire from the 'runner biz.

Apprentice Nostalgist: the great mass of elderly people, unable for their all collective political efforts to return the world to an imagined 1950s, can at least remake their own living spaces. With the aid of historical textbooks, vast databases and few 3D printers, you help your employers turn their home into something resembling whatever idealised prior-century year they care to wallow in. 

Architectural Beta-Tester: every new physical and virtual environment is now carefully designed according to nudge theory and the architectural precepts of a generation brought up on video-games, where every element is designed to channel the human ratsoccupants into pre-determined behaviours. Your job is to inhabit architectural mock-ups, while sensors monitor such things as heart rate, visual stimulation hooks and the speed with which the security drones activate in the event you enter while poor.

Depending on circumstances you may find yourself testing physical architecture in a virtual environment or virtual architecture in a physical mock-up, because the near-future is nothing if not painfully meta.