Sunday, 11 September 2016

Cyberpunk 2020 PreGens: Corporates

Once upon a time I scrawled up some pre-generated Solos and Rockers for Cyberpunk 2020. You might remember, although at this point I doubt it!

This week's year's character role is the Corporate. Presenting the Company Man, the Dogged Investigator and the Ambitious Courtier.

As usual, this post is rounded out with some contacts. ALSO: a D20 table to explain why you failed your Resources roll!

These characters were generated using the basic rules in the Cyberpunk 2020 Corebook, with no detail from the sourcebooks. 

1. Every character has 60 Attribute Points and 60 Skill Points (40 career skills and 20 pick-up skills).

2. I haven't rolled for Humanity Loss or on the Lifepath tables (let the players do that!).

3. I've given everybody a (fairly) balanced array of equipment and cyberware based on the "Quick and Dirty" character creation guidelines.


Another strange, campaign defining role. 

The Corporate is a vital part of the cyberpunk milieu and yet surprisingly hard to fit into a CP2020 campaign. Part of this is simply a matter of tone - an explicitly corporate character seems far more in keeping with latter-period Shadowrun's amoral economic warrior ethos than Cyberpunk, whose characters often tend towards gutter-survivalism or pretensions of rebellion. CP2020's Corporates are also presented as 1980s Wall Street issue bastards, which serves to alienate them from the other roles. 

There are a few sympathetic Corporate characters in the literary genre - Islands in the Net's Laura Webster probably fits the role, as does Landon Kettlewell in Makers. Neither is a Wall Street issue bastard. Another example is Julia Evans in the Greg Mandel Trilogy, a character who is absolutely a 1980s-style besuited monster presented positively, because Peter Hamilton's Mindstar world is a uniquely middle-English Tory fantasy.

As usual, I've created three pre-generated characters. They've all been designed to fit in with a group of 'runners, one way or another.

THE COMPANY MAN: AKA Mr Johnson. The company official sent along to co-ordinate the action, select the targets, or ensure the team gets impregnated by xenomorphs.

THE DOGGED INVESTIGATOR: the employee who learnt too much to sleep at night. The whistleblower who risks exile or worse to expose wrongdoing inside the Company.

...and the THE AMBITIOUS COURTIER: the rising executive, prepared to scheme and spy and shoot her way to the top.

Below these three characters are the usual array of contacts and antagonists, and a D20 table you didn't know you needed.

For Laura Webster, use the Investigator. For a "heroic entrepreneur," mess around with the Ambitious Courtier (or frankly, use a Fixer or a Tech). For everybody else, read on...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Original Panzerboys

Back when I first read Cyberpunk 2020's Hardwired sourcebook my attention caught on one of the few paragraphs actually devoted to Panzerboys, the hi-tech hover-tank jockey smugglers who dominate Walter Jon William's original novel of the same name. Cowboy and his ilk might have been weirdly absent from the CP2020 book devoted to his own world, but his influence can be felt across cyberpunk RPG settings - what are the odds that Shadowrun's Native American Nations were conceived to give Hardwired-aping T-Bird smugglers suitable borders to scream across?

Anyway. In the book, Walter Jon Williams claims

"The new smugglers are called "panzerboys", after 20th century butter smugglers who ran armored cars across the Dutch-Belgian border in the face of Belgian tariffs on Dutch dairy products. (I'm not making this up, you know.)"

I'm sure you aren't, science-fiction-writer-posing-with-fake-cyberhands-on-back-of-an-RPG-sourcebook!

For years I failed to find any corroborating evidence for this claim, because my google-fu is weak and I don't speak Dutch. However, this has now changed:

THANK YOU, December 16th 1962 edition of the Chicago Sunday Tribune! 

According to the August 24th 1966 edition of the Tuscaloosa News, these bullet proof panzer wagons simply hurtled through border posts at high speed, dropping caltrops to hinder pursuit vehicles. 

I couldn't find any pictures of Dutch butter smuggling panzers. However, I could find pictures of contemporary German border smugglers operating near Aachen, mere miles aways... below the jump: