Wednesday, 11 May 2016


There are all sorts of reasons why the cyberpunk genre tends to generate complicated games, and why the most popular RPG in the genre is a byword for unnecessary, brain-smashing complexity (here's looking at you, Shadowrun!). Even Cyberpunk 2020 requires hours and hours and hours to generate characters, adding up all the finicky skill-points. What rules-lite genre games there are tend to be FATE-y things like Tech-Noir: great game, but I honestly prefer more traditional rules-systems.

Cyberpunk attracts people into technology and detailed future speculation (also people into drug literature and JG Ballard and weird intersections between fashion and art and the military industrial complex, but they're unfortunately less represented in the gaming culture...). There's a drive there towards "accurate," detailed technical simulation, with lots of dice modifiers and reliability stats and ammunition counts. I confess I like that stuff. On the other hand I hate maths and can't remember equations for shit, which ruins most cyberpunk rules systems for me. 

I've been thinking about - even drafting - D&D derived rules ideas for cyberpunk for awhile now. D&D sits at an intersection between simplicity, technical detail and fast play. That last part is less because of any inherent virtue of the rules and more because everybody knows the system. Even I know the system (I can only retain 1.5 rules systems at a time. 0.75 of those systems will always be my beloved Cyberpunk 2020. Right now the other 0.75% of my rules retention capacity is taken up with D&D 5E).

So, I was genuinely excited to hear about Mike Evans' new old school D&D hack cyberpunk game, not least because I only heard about it about a week before it came out.

Fittingly, it took several attempts to actually buy the game because my bank interpreted a £1.43 payment to DrivethruRPG as evidence my account had been hacked (exactly how many purchases do I have to make from that place in one week before it realises I'm a regular customer?).

...£1.43? Yeah. The Black Hack Cyber Hacked is a complete game including bestiary and hacking rules and the Open Game License all in 21 pages, has no art except what you see on the cover above and has been testing my assumptions about exactly how much mechanical detail you need to represent the genre all evening.