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Character Creation 55: Cyberpunk 2020

The Game: Cyberpunk 2020
The Publisher: R. Talsorian Games
Degree of Familiarity: Played a few times, but only several years ago.
Books Required: I'm sticking with the corebook

As I mentioned way back when I did a Cybergeneration character, CP2020 is straight gamer-cyberpunk. That's a genre distinct from real cyberpunk, I hasten to add. Gamer-cyberpunk is a narrative ghetto, a blank fictional dead-end that refuses to accept that the future's already here and has been for the past twenty years. If people don't have shiny robot-arms and big guns and Japan doesn't control the world and mirrorshades and mullets don't dominate the artwork, it's not gamer-cyberpunk. Snow Crash is not gamer-cyberpunk. Nor is Accelerando.

Gamer-cyberpunk is fundamentally closed. When Cyberpunk was re-envisioned as Cyberpunk v3, people lashed out against it. It "wasn't cyberpunk". Not, as most of the droning idiot fanboys claimed, because the art used photographs of action figures, but because the game tried to be about something a bit more relevant to today's cyberpunk reader than Gibson's pre-1998 catalogue. If it's not 20 years old, gamer-cyberpunk doesn't want to know.

Unfortunately, I've never held on to a copy of Cyberpunk V3 for a long time. I keep 2020 around as a reminder—it's an easier system than Shadowrun to learn, and doesn't include the hackneyed D&D crap. But I'd never run the game out of the box. I like cyberpunk fiction too much for that.

Annoyingly, CP2020's properly old-school. Character creation's strewn across about half of the book, and some steps are pretty much implied. This is going to be interesting.

1? Choose Role
A splat by any other name would still be a splat. Solos do violence unto others before they do unto you. Rockers are musicians and revolutionaries (yeah, believing your own hype much?), Netrunners have all the fun of doing nothing while the other characters are off having fun, and having fun at speeds that other characters can't comprehend. Medias are reporters and revolutionaries (hype much?), Nomads are wandering members of road-tribes (aye, right...), Fixers get to play social monkey with the criminal element, Cops get to arrest the criminal element (including the other PCs? WTF?), Corps are the Men In Suits and social monkey for non-criminals, Techies fix anything with wires, and Medtechies fix anything that bleeds.

I'd forgotten how primitive this system was. Cybergeneration replaced all that with four much broader roles, which had the gall to make sense and be better than the 2020 breakdown. That game spoiled me so much.

I always used to play netrunners or techies, people who never saw the front lines and got smart compared to the other characters. So let's mix it up and create a Solo. Every Solo's name sounds like an action movie protagonist. Rather than making an Ahnuld clone, I might as well rip off Jason Statham and go for Turkish Frank. Ex-military, ex-mercenary, ex-corporate security, ex-husband to three ex-wives. Not a man who is very capable of keeping himself abreast of changes that go on outside his immediate focus in life. Early on, he discovered that this focus involved taking orders and not fucking about when it came to making someone else dead. He's tried getting out, ignoring the calls to combat, but it never works. Someone's always got something they can hang over his head.

At least, that's what I figure. I just remembered this game has lifepaths. We shall see how easily that shakes out...

2ish Statistics
Nine stats, some derived bollocks as well. Of course, of the three means for determining how many points a character has, the only one that doesn't involve rolling dice is for NPCs only. How delightfully (pron. "sucktastically") old school.

Nine dice and total them. 2 7 9 9 6 8 2 9 5 means 57 points to spend (yeah, I used random.org). Slightly over average, but nothing special.

Five points in everything is a good start and costs 45—getting average and deviating later makes more sense. That leaves me with 12 points. I want high Reflexes, Body Type (strength/endurance), and Cool. Four points in Ref and Cool, three in BT. One point spare. Drop Move and Intelligence to 4, and raise Luck to 7 and Tech to 6.

That means Run is 12, Leap is 1, Humanity (oh god kill me now what a stupid fucking mechanic) is 50, Carry 80, Saves (told you this was old skool) are both 8, and BTM (soak) is -3

e Lifepath
I'm going to roll one and then I'm going to ignore it because I came to the table with a concept in mind—an ex-soldier who keeps trying to pull himself out of the gutter but just falls right back in.

I'm not using random.org as I'm not taking this at all seriously. Instead, I'm using a dashboard dice widget. Sue me.

Dress & Personal Style comes out 3-10-3. Corporate suits, long, straight hair, and ritual scars. Ethnic origin is 7, Black American. Which means he knows English and "Blackfolk" as languages. How suddenly racist.

Family: Combat zone poor, both parents alive, Childhood spent in a nomad pack moving from town to town. 5 siblings. Sister-older-likes, sister-older-hero worship, sister-younger-hero worship, brother-older-dislike, sister-younger-neutral.

Motivations: Sneaky and deceptive, values himself most of all, lusts for power, likes almost everyone, and values a musical instrument.

26 years old. That means 10 rolls through interminable fucking tables... no. This is godawful. I stand by my original concept. The worse thing is that by rolling on the tables, you can get cash or free skills before even buying skills. Lifepaths as an optional thing work fine. As an ingrained thing, they're wobbly (q.v. Hellas). This is just awful.

3.141592 Skills
40 points for career skills, and we've got 10 of said skills. Problem is, one's got to be the class' Role's special ability, which controls stuff like how much cash our boyo starts with. For Solos, that SA is Combat Sense, the one skill that means they kill shit better than other shit-killers. Seven out of the 40 goes right into that one, no question. Of the rest, I want at least two combat skills at decent levels—pistol & melee, probably—decent noncombat scores, and some facility in other areas. As this is stat+skill+1d10, decent scores range from 4 up. Handgun and Melee get 6 points each. Awareness gets 5. Athletics gets four, and then things get tight. Three in Weapons Tech (repairing guns), and Rifle (ex-military). Two each in Martial Arts: Karate, Submachinegun, and Stealth to round out the list.

Pickup Skills have nothing to do with actual class Role skills. Notably, can't spend them to improve role skills. Which is arse, given the slow rate of XP. REF + INT is 13, Resist Torture 4, Education 1, Gamble 3, Track 3, Drive 2. I think that rounds things off.

4-if-you-squint Gear
How much starting cash? Well, cross reference the Special Ability on a table and multiply by d6/3. Because frankly, giving everyone a similar amount of cash is wank. Nine grand to spend. Luck is on my side.

Weapons first. 500€ on a Colt AMT 2000 handgun, and a further 600€ on a Kendachi monokatana (hey, it's the 80s, might as well roll with it). The only weapons that do more damage are assault rifles and missile launchers, and they're for the kind of nonces who don't fancy being on the receiving end of a bit of a beating. A kevlar trenchcoat for €200 is a good investment.

1300€ spent. I'll avoid the laughable "other gear" section and dive right into cyberwear. Fuck it. Neural link, with smartgun link and Sandevestan reflex boost. 2700€, plus another 500€ for the gun adaptation comes to 3200€. The only important thing is being the one who draws first. That's 4500€ spent so far. Humanity loss of d6 + d3 + 2, 8 total.

I could be cheesy and drop 1500€ on skinwaeve armor... what the hell. Done. 2d6 (8) humanity, but SP12 when naked, SP22 with the jacket on and no extra REF penalty.

Cyber up both eyes (1000€, 14 Humanity) and add Targeting Scope (400€, 2), AntiDazzle in both (400€, 1), thermographic (200€, 4) and infrared vision (200€, 4). Total of 2200€ in his eyes. 25 + 16 is 41 Humanity down already, and that reduces Empathy to 1. Oops. €800 left to spend.

Pants, top, footware, and mirrorshades come to €80 (they're good mirrorshades). €20 gets a box of 50 rounds for the gun. The rest is for rent and provisions.

Name Turkish Frank
Role Solo
Stats INT 4 REF 9 CL 9 TECH 6 LK 7 ATT 5 MA 4 EMP 5 BT 8
Run 12, Leap 1, Humanity 9, Carry 80, Stun Save 8, Death Save 8, BTM -3
Combat Sense 7
Athletics 4
Awareness/Notice 5
Drive 2
Education 1
Gamble 3
Handgun 6
Martial Arts (Karate) 2
Melee 6
Resist Torture 4
Rifle 3
Stealth 2
Submachinegun 2
Track 3
Weapons Tech 3
Gear
Colt AMT 2000 (P 0 J C 4d6+1(12mm) 8 1 VR 50m) smartgun
Kendachi Monokatana (M +1 N R 4d6 VR 1m)
Kevlar jacket (SP18 Torso&Arms +1)
Neural link (smartgun link, Sandevestan reflex boost)
Skinweave armor (SP12)
2x Cybereyes with Anti-Dazzle, Thermoptic, Infrared vision, 1x targeting module)
50 12mm rounds
Clothing, mirrorshades
€700

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