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Cyberpunk RED Alert: The Economy

Let’s jump right into the mix with some news!

We’re pretty hype to say we’ve got physical copies of Cyberpunk RED in hand. Don’t believe us? Here’s a couple of pics.

Things are still on track for release: November 14 (digital) and November 19 (physical, in the United States). Shipping times are hard to predict right now, so some stores might have it later than others. If your’s doesn’t have it on day one, please be patient.

For stores outside the US, we’re hoping for December or January.

We are participating in the Bits and Mortar program for the core rulebook and the Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit. If you go to a participating friendly local gaming store, you’ll be able to get a free copy of the PDF with the physical book. That PDF will be available to retailers starting 11/14 (the date of the digital release) so if they take preorders you should be able to grab the digital early. Also, no, we can’t direct you to specific stores. Please check the Bits and Mortar site for their retailer list.

Why are we releasing the digital before the physical? Good question! The legendary Maximum Mike Pondsmith will be running a game of Cyberpunk RED as part of Twitch’s GlitchCon on 11/14 at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern. Four special gamers (to be announced a bit later) will be joining him to play a new story, set in the Time of the Red, and the audience will be able to participate via a chat-driven Character. Mike talked about Cyberpunk RED, the game, and guided the audience of Twitch’s The Weekly through a series of questions to make the chat-driven Character yesterday! You can watch the VoD here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/792909809?t=00h37m41s

With that said, let’s get into the meat of today’s Cyberpunk RED Alert and have a chat about the economy.

Just like with combat, we’ve overhauled the economy in Cyberpunk RED to work faster and smoother at the table. One big part of that involved setting up Price Categories.

In RED, most goods and services break down into one of eight Price Categories: Cheap, Everyday, Costly, Premium, Expensive, Very Expensive, Luxury, and Super Luxury. Seven of the eight categories have set prices. Cheap goods always start off costing 10eb (aka Eurobucks), for example, while Expensive goods start off at 500eb. These values can change with some good haggling, of course, and that’s where Fixers can really shine. The Super Luxury category begins at 10,000eb and goes up from there. A state-of-the-art security drone and a Yacht are both Super Luxury items, but the yacht costs more.

We created Price Categories for a few reasons.

  • It makes bartering easier. In a time of scarcity you might be trading items instead of spending Eurobucks to get stuff and this system makes it easy to know the Chipware Socket you ripped out of that ganger’s skull is worth about the same as 5 clips of Armor-Piercing Ammunition in a bartering session with a local arms dealer.
  • At some point in most campaigns, there’ll come a time when a Player will want to buy something that isn’t on the gear lists. When that happens, the GM can quickly compare the idea of it to various items that are on those lists and come up with a price. For example, say some Edgerunners want to rent out the back room of a bar for one hour in order to hold a private meeting. There’s no specific listing in the book for that but the GM can flip to the Services and Entertainment list on page 376 and do some quick comparisons. A basic hotel room is Premium for a night and so is an hour of services from a good Professional. The GM decides this is a combination of the two. You’re paying for space but also the services of the bar to keep things private and somewhat safe, so they decide this is a Premium expense. It’ll also make it easy to quickly convert prices from 2020 sourcebooks to the RED economy via the same process. The Gun Cleaning Kit from NeoTribes (page 53) isn’t in the Cyberpunk RED core rulebook but Lockpicking Kits and Personal CarePaks are, both rated at Everyday. The GM can make the call that a Gun Cleaning Kit is on the same level and price it at Everyday as well.
  • Likewise, the Price Categories act like a ladder, making it easy to decide how to go up or down depending on quality or added bells and whistles. An Electric Guitar is Expensive but if a Rockerboy wants to get a model renowned for sound quality from a legendary manufacturer, the GM can bump up the Price Category to Very Expensive. Likewise, a used guitar that works but is known for going out of tune every time someone bumps it could be popped down from Expensive to Premium.
  • Finally, all the numbers end in 0, making them quicker to add up. Putting together multiples of 10 goes faster than summing up everything from 4 to 49 to 1,925. It also makes it easier to track on a Character Sheet. Like the rest of the system, we wanted the Economy to flow at a speedier rate at the table. Shopping trips are fun but the entertainment usually comes from getting new toys and roleplaying, not from working out prices on a spreadsheet.

Living the Life

We’ve also retooled and streamlined how your personal economy works on a monthly basis. After all, every Edgerunner’s got to eat and needs a place to sleep. Our Lifestyle and Housing system finds a balance point between ignoring living expenses, which doesn’t really get the feel of a Dark Future across at all, with having to do the drudge work of tracking daily meals.

Like the name implies, at the start of each in-game month, you’ll be paying two expenses: Lifestyle and Housing.

Lifestyle’s primary purpose is to determine what your diet’s like but also covers how often you might go out to a movie or even a live sporting event as part of your payment (you always have the option of just going out and paying from the eb in your pocket). The table starts with a Kibble Lifestyle and moves all the way up to a Fresh Food Lifestyle. If you can’t afford a Lifestyle, you need to pay for your food day by day and chances are you’ll starve pretty quick.

Housing’s much the same. You’re paying rent on a place. How nice a place depends on how much you spend. It starts at the Cube Hotel level and pops through a list of options to the top with a Corporate Beaverville McMansion. Where you hang your hat isn’t just about status, though. Different places have different quantities of available beds, meaning you can split the Lifestyle rent with friends. And the better the quality, the better the security and less likely it is you’ll get attacked in the middle of the night. If you can’t afford monthly rent, you’re living on the street and have to pass an Endurance Skill Check or be fatigued, suffering a penalty to all actions. That Check has to be made each day until you find a bed to collapse in.

You can’t buy a permanent Lifestyle but you can buy yourself a permanent Conapt or house. And if you’re an Exec, good news, you get your Housing costs paid for by the company. They’ll even upgrade you as your Teamwork Level rises. Who knows, maybe you’ll get that McMansion someday!

Side note: Your first month’s expenses are free. Sure, you’re eating Kibble and living in a Cargo Container (unless you’re an Exec) but at least you have a month before you have to worry about starving or dying of exposure.

Making the EB

Which brings us to the last part of our lecture about the economy today: how you make your money. Of course, a lot of Edgerunners do jobs set up by Fixers to bring in the eb. Sometimes legal, sometimes not, those jobs are some of the best ways to grab some cash and tend to be high risk, high reward. And the good news is, for the first time in Cyberpunk, we’re giving specific (but simple to follow) guidelines for how much a client should pay a team, per person, for a job. You’ll find that on page 381.

In periods of “downtime”, your Character can perform the Hustle, working as part of their Role to pick up some cash in whatever job they can find.

Yep. The gig economy is alive and well in 2045 and we’ve modeled it and, in theory, your Character could do nothing but the Hustle and survive (barely) for a while, assuming nothing unforeseen occurs. Did we mention James Hutt, the Mayor of Balance Town, has a degree in economics? He’s scary!

The Hustle works like this: when you have seven free days, you can go out searching for a gig. You (or the GM) will flip to a table based on your Role. If you’ve multiclassed into multiple Roles, you’ll pick which one you’re trying to pick up work for. Then you roll a d6. That determines what work you find and how much you make for the week doing it. The better your Role Ability, the better your chances of earning more money.

For example, say Grease, a Fixer with the Operator Role Ability at Rank 4, has a week free because his Solo partner is resting up after getting shot in the spleen. Grease’s Player turns to page 384 and rolls 1d6 on the Fixer Hustle table. With a 3, we learn Grease spent the week helping a client locate a desirable item and getting a cut of the sale, earning 200eb. The Player breathes a sigh of relief. With a 4, all their wheeling and dealing would have gone south and they would have earned a big, fat 0eb. From here, the GM and Player can let it go and just add the money to Grease’s Character Sheet. Or they can engage in some roleplay to tell a story about who the client was and what sort of item Grease procured. In this way, the Hustle’s not just about grabbing money. It is also a storytelling opportunity and a way to generate new plot hooks and world depth.

And, yeah, before you ask, there are rules for making money by selling stuff from downed enemies, including cyberware. Don’t expect to be chopping up bodies to bring to the organ bank, though. In 2045, it is actually cheaper to clone new parts than process and store old ones. The whole organ black market has collapsed as a result.

That’s all we’ve got for this week, choomba! Join us next week for the last Cyberpunk RED Alert before we roll out the digital release of the core rulebook. We’ll be giving you a tour of the PDF and an advance view of the Character Sheet.

Until then, stay safe on the streets!

5 thoughts on “Cyberpunk RED Alert: The Economy Leave a comment

  1. I can’t wait to get this book! So anxious for it. Are you gonna cover ACPA and Borgs also in this book?

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