I found the boss in the R. Talsorian Games radio library. He was sitting in front of a giant, antique radio we’d retrofitted to play just about every form of audio media, eyes closed.
“Mike, we need to talk about your next Maximum Mike Minute. Did you want to…”
My words were interrupted as a solemn, distinct, and scratchy voice spoke to us from beyond the veil of history.
“Hello America, this is London.”
I admit, it took me a minute to figure out just what it was we were listening to.
“Is that a new broadcast from World War II?”
Mike nodded, though he never opened his eyes. Instead, he learned forward and tilted his head, one ear aimed at the speakers as Edward R. Murrow described the devastation wrought upon London during the Blitz.
I admit, I was puzzled. Mike is working on a new edition of Cyberpunk, after all, and not a game about World War II.
Then it clicked into place.
“You’re listening to Murrow’s broadcasts to help you refine the Media Role’s Authenticity Special Ability.”
Mike grunted an affirmative, then reached out and turned a dial on the radio. Inside, the reel to reel containing Mr. Murrow’s war report squealed as it rewound. He released the dial and it all began again.
“Hello America, this is London.”
“I can see you’ll be a while,” I said. And it was true. Mike Pondsmith in research mode is a force of ultra-focused nature. Unstoppable and intense. “I’ve got your notes. I’ll go write the Maximum Mike Minute.”
Mike nodded in agreement and closed his eyes again, listening to one of the greatest Medias history has ever given us as he quite literally used the Credibility to change the world.
Hello! I’m J Gray, the media ambassador of R. Talsorian Games. Mike’s eyeball deep in the writing and designing pool, so I’m stepping in to convey what’s going on with our upcoming game, Cyberpunk Red. I’ll try to do my best to convey the notes Mike’s given me in an interesting and understandable manner.
In this Maximum Mike Minute, we’re going to examine some of the mechanics of Cyberpunk Red. If you’re a regular listener of our Q&A podcast, Listen Up!, you’ll recognize a lot of what I’m about to share but I promise there’s at least one new tidbit about character creation here.
Cyberpunk Red uses the same Interlock rule set as Cyberpunk 2020 but there will be updates and tweaks based on decades of feedback and observation of the game in action. We know, though, that some people will want to bring along their favorite Edgerunner from 2020 to Red, so we’re going to include a simple set of conversion rules which will allow you to age your Edgerunner from the 2020 era to the Red era with minimal fuss.
Statistics in Cyberpunk Red’s mechanics have evolved. Here’s two examples.
Reflex, a previously overpowered stat, has been divided into two stats: Reflex and Dexterity.
Reflex will cover tasks requiring hand-eye coordination such as shooting, while Dexterity governs tasks of full body movement such as eviscerating people with a set of Bigripps.
Attractiveness has been removed entirely as a statistic because it was too easy to change in game. Either your face was getting hacked up in combat or it was getting prettied up using surgery and cyberware. Since Attractiveness could be maxed out with a quick trip to the ripperdoc, it ended up as an almost universal dump stat.
Roles will still exist in Cyberpunk Red but there will be flexibility.
In the past, if you were a Rockerboy you were a Rockerboy. You had a Rockerboy’s Skill list and a media’s Special Ability and that was it. If you wanted to change things up, you needed to define a new, custom Role ahead of time. Now, there will be rules for changing Roles. If your Rockerboy sells out and signs on with a megacorp as a record executive, there will be guidelines for how the transition from Rockerboy to Exec will happen. I’ll explain what an Exec is a bit later on.
Role Changes and Special Abilities
Roles are changing. Some Roles will have new names to better explain their focus. Some will also have optional choices for Special Abilities, allowing players to customize their character better. Here’s three examples:
Cops will now be Lawmen. This expands the role past being a member of NCPD to being able to play a federal law enforcement officer, a corp cop, a wandering Texas ranger style lawman, and so more. They will have an optional Special Ability called Backup, which will scale based on level/rank and be contextual. A marshal out on the road needs a different sort of backup than a beat cop pinned down by gang fire and Backup will take this into effect.
Corps will now be Execs. No one will be playing a greenhorn in the mailroom but an executive with some level of authority. Their optional Special Ability is Team, allowing them to create a series of specialized NPCs who they can call on for specific tasks. These NPCs will be as quick and dirty or detailed as the GM and player want.
Nomads remain Nomads but their role in the Cyberpunk universe has expanded as they are now one of the only reliable ways to transfer goods from place to place. The lack of reliable transportation and the dearth of new manufacturing means Nomads need to be ready to jump into any vehicle in order to finish the job. Their optional Special Ability will be Vehicle Zen, which will allow a Nomad to understand everything from motorcycles to deltajets as needed.
Going Beyond Your Role
One other thing Mike has shared involves the addition of Perks. These will be optional but they will allow players to further define their characters. Two Solos in a party might both have Combat Sense, but their Perks will differentiate them beyond even their chosen Skill load out.
That’s everything I have to report in this Maximum Mike Minute! We’ll be reporting more in a few weeks. I have to say, our excitement about Cyberpunk Red is growing, and we’re honestly having to hold back from telling everyone more. After all… no one likes too many spoilers.