R. Talsorian Games has always believed in the power of gamers to create their own rules, their own materials, and their own adventures for any game, Cyberpunk 2020 included. One of the greatest repositories for Cyberpunk homebrew has been, for many years, Datafortress 2020. The site may look like a throwback, but don’t let it fool you. That black and green exterior hides a heart of love for the world of Cyberpunk and the Interlock system. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our books, there’s a decent chance you’ll find it there.
Because we respect the power of homebrew and because Datafortress 2020 worked with dogged determination to keep the neon flame of Cyberpunk alive during our hiatus, from time to time we’ll be giving Deric, the man behind the site, space here on the R. Talsorian Games blog to share some of the highlights from the homebrew vision of the Dark Future. The one caveat: ultimately, nothing on Datafortress 2020 is canon to Cyberpunk of any edition. What you find there is created by fans, for fans. Without further ado, may we present…
The Combat Zone
Hi, I’m Deric, although online you may also know me as Wisdom000 in various forums and the like. For 20 years now, I have run and operated Datafortress 2020, a fan site dedicated to Cyberpunk 2020. THE fan site if I do say so myself. Mike Pondsmith and his media guru, J Gray, from R. Talsorian have asked me to highlight some of my best works from the website, because the site has been such an important tool in promoting Cyberpunk 2020 and keeping it alive all these years.
I have never been all that comfortable with self-promotion, I always felt that if your work was good enough, other people would talk about it for you. Though honestly, when the subject of something the site has covered comes up, or just the game in general, I have been pretty shameless at times plugging it. So, with all that out of the way, let’s get started on the first entry shall we…
Over the years I have written a lot of source books for the site. The most representative so far, not only of the game itself, but of what it feels like to play in a game of Cyberpunk 2020 run by me, is The Night City District Guide Volume 64: The Combat Zone. This project was just the first part of a larger planned series, detailing each of the districts outlined in the Night City Amalgamated Map I created. As the title suggests, this source book gives detail to the Combat Zone, which I realize was purposely left unmapped and somewhat abstract in the official products, because they wanted each GM to be able to tell their own stories. But after playing so long, I decided I really wanted to have some level of detail, some measure of consistency, in my combat zone, and in my Night City as a greater whole.
It is important to note, that for the purposes of the sourcebook, the timeline has moved forward to 2023. There may be some conflicts with the official material, as is the nature of time passing. Events in my game, for the purposes of the site, take precedence over official material. Though nothing found in this sourcebook should present any real problem. The only notable alteration is the “turf” of some of the gangs changing due to concentrated effort by the government and corporations, and because of gang warfare.
As for the sourcebook itself, it tries, with varying degrees of success, to give as much detail for the area as the Night City Sourcebook gave for the areas it covered. Individual locations and businesses, notable people, and of course the gangs, of the Combat Zone are fully detailed. The worst of the worst gangs are here, old favorites like Maelstrom and Slaughterhouse, and new gangs like Bushido and Stomp Street, all trying to carve out their piece of the Zone. It is a brutal look at the meanest streets of Night city, and a desperate, angry, and sometimes sympathetic glimpse at life there. It’s your tour guide to the zone, it will teach you where to go, who to talk to, how to survive, and most importantly, where and who to avoid at all costs.
I am a man who loves pop culture. I grew up fully immersed in not only the obvious staples of the genre, in terms of books, comics, movies, television, and anime, and of course music, but also in the kung-fu and black exploitation films of the 70’s and 80’s. The gangster film noir of the 40s and 50’s, and the gangsta movies and music of the 80’s and 90’s. I remember being distinctly, and childishly, disappointed when I moved to Kansas City in the mid 80’s and finding out that real gangs didn’t look or act anything like the ones from The Warriors, Assault On Precinct 13, Fort Apache, The Bronx, or most heart breaking of all, The Last Dragon. But in my Cyberpunk games, some could. Sure, they also looked like the much more realistic thugs of a Singleton flick, but some of them were made to appeal to that lizard brain 12 year old who wanted gangs who did kung-fu, wore cool outfits, and talked in cool slang. My Combat Zone itself was inspired by the New York of the 70’s and 80’s shown in movies like 110th Street, or Death Wish 3, the Los Angeles areas of Cali as shown in Colors, or Boys In The Hood. And, of course, the slums of more recent films, like Raid: The Redemption, and the cyberpunk staple ghettos of Judge Dredd, AD Police, and Robocop. This sourcebook is a love letter to all those things, with Chrome and Neon crammed in, and all the escalated degradation, depravity, and ruin and advanced age and advanced levels of tech that will fit.