Night City: A shattered, roaring metropolis car where dirt, blood, and flashing lanterns under a darkened red sky in the afterglow of a nuclear explosion that tore the city to pieces.
It is a city of extremes, a rift between those who have everything and those who have nothing at all – but it is also a place of overlap where flesh meets metal, isolation satisfies bonding, and those who have spent the better part of their days in cyberspace are simultaneously present. and missing.
On the roof of a tired, five-story apartment building – near the center of a tall corporation rises – a curious scene unfolds. Nikki Lovelace, an alcohol-soaked Rockerboy, tries to hurl a large woman over a railing, while Montana, a former farmer turned gun zealot, tries to rip off the cyber arm of Bolt Harrison, a rough ex-military Solo on a rooftop door he somehow soldered himself. Meanwhile, both soldiers are taken, trying to force themselves through the other side.
And it all started with this first team, donuts, pizza and a quest to learn more about Cyberpunk 2077.
First comes countertops
Here on the first video, we don't tend to cover board games. They are not exactly 'technology' and therefore do not fall within our parameters. However, as we patiently wait for the release of the cyberpunk CD Projekt Red in 2077, we thought to ourselves. We don't necessary wait to go to the night city. We can do it right now with Cyberpunk Red.
Now, for those who don't know, Cyberpunk 2077 is based cyberpunk pen and paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020. By pen and paper RPG we mean like dungeons and dragons where the game is played through speech. You create a character using stat sheets, which outline their background, skills, etc.; and then you describe the actions you want them to take based on what you think they are will do.
Meanwhile, there is a very stressed gamemaster (GM) serving as narrator, referee and organizer (among other things). They take players through the game, setting each scene and making sure everyone doesn't too get involved.
Essentially, every action you want to do requires you to roll a certain amount on the dice - paired with your own skills to do so. So let's say you want to hit someone, whether that's successful will depend on how athletic you blend in with how high your dice roll is. It's a little confusing at first...
Cyberpunk 2020, which is an upcoming video game based on, is the second edition of the original Cyberpunk RPG by Mike Pondsmith, and was published in 1990. Since then, several new editions of the game have come out.
Cyberpunk's latest new release is Cyberpunk Red, which was released to coincide with the launch of Cyberpunk and CD Projekt in 2077. Even better, Talsorian R. Games published the Cyberpunk Red Push set, which is touted as the "perfect introduction" to Cyberpunk - in other words , this is for beginners.
So our idea was that we could fix the night city by trying cyberpunk red and maybe learn a little more about cyberpunk 2077 in that.
After seeing one hour of Cyberpunk 2077 at Gamescom 2019, I knew we were successful.
Let me set the scene for you, because tabletop RPGs are a slow burner. Our group had three members: myself (game writer Victoria Good) as Rockerboy Nikki Lovelace, our phone editor James Peckham as Bolt Harrison, and Bedford's staff correspondent as Montana - who fell into the mold. Not one of us has ever played a pen and paper RPG before.
Meanwhile, our GM was staff member (and regular DNR player) Henry St Leger. It's Henry's job to take us through the trash-littered alleyways and neon-clad streets of the city at night.
However, before starting, we all had to brush up on cyberpunk knowledge. This means reading the world and the rule books to understand the world we inhabited. This in itself already painted a clear picture of cyberpunk, it forced us to explore the history of the city at night, techniques, character types and even the food we would eat. If you want complete knowledge and immersion before Cyberpunk 2077, go to the world of cyberpunk books.
But, in fact, we found that just playing cyberpunk red was enough to automatically clean up aspects of the cyberpunk world. Once we got more real connections of embarrassment and plunged into our dystopian madness, everything fell into place.
We learned about the beanie exotic, the odd cyber-enhanced cat lady our group gathered at the start of the game, and discovered the disturbing power of the mega-corporations through our brutal scuffle with Militech (which saw Montana's sweet farmer chastened the man at point-blank range and Nikki punched the woman in the throat). He was undercover fun, but at the same time we were getting more and more into Mike Pondsmith's world - more connected with every encounter.
It didn't become immanently obvious until I went to see Cyberpunk 2077 at Gamescom 2019 - about a week after our first dive into the night city. I used to watch footage of Cyberpunk 2077, but in this hour long gameplay presentation it seemed more select than ever before.
Character Creator, Skill Distribution: This was essentially the stat sheets we filled out for our own characters for up to a week. The terms, the symbols used, the atmosphere of the city and the gangs that inhabited it, everything became clearer than before. It also shows how Cyberpunk 2077 hasn't abandoned its roots.
As a player, Cyberpunk Red is pretty straightforward. You sit back and enjoy the ride basically. The real hard work of taking the world of Pondsmith and making it real will fall on the master (aka Henry).
So after the Red Cyberpunk session, I caught up with our Narrative Wizard to talk about how he found that experience - because as a player, you're not allowed to read certain parts of the rulebook to avoid spoilers and all.
Henry's points were pretty basic: Cyberpunk Red has an extensive GM sheet music and manual; while the stats can be intimidating, the mechanics help with guidance; a game in PDF format is much easier to navigate than a hardcover book; and Tom Bedford Montana the Psychopath. To be fair, Montana fired at least three characters during our short playthrough.
“As a previous tabletop RPG player, I was familiar with the kinds of mechanics and stats that the Gamemaster startup game has to deal with, but red has its own personal flavor that doesn't make me feel like copy,” Henry explains.
“I found it a little easier to pick up and play than some other TTRPGs - like Dungeons & Dragons - as character customization is much more relaxed and sticks to only 1-2 pages per class, with ready-made concept characters to choose from if you don't want the pressure to make your own.
“As a game master, for example, the story they presented ran after me through everything I needed from environments, characters, and plot threads too – even though we naturally ended up setting up a template for any game we played (all journalists with a taste for sensationalism) .”
What do we say...
You don't need to play Cyberpunk Red before Cyberpunk 2077, but if you want to immerse yourself in the world before the video game comes out, then we highly recommend it.
With the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit you can control the game world within your boundaries, without conflict or living within certain developer interpretations. It's the perfect time for those who were intimidated by tabletop RPGs to finally jump in and for veterans to remember why they loved it in the first place - even if it's the mere pleasure of a spare player that sent the GM back on track.
The Cyberpunk Red Start Bundle is now available and Cyberpunk 2077 will release for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadiums on April 16, 2020.
Henry St Leger, James Peckham and Tom Bedford contributed to this article.
- Looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077? Here are nine games to play until then