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Cyberpunk: From the Mayor’s Desk 2.5.21

Cyberpunk RED’s being played at virtual tables (and maybe even a few real ones) across the world! With great play comes great responsibility, so James Hutt, TRPG designer and Mayor of Balance Town is here to answer your questions! Let’s hit The Street, choombas!

From the Mayor’s Desk

Good day, Citizens of Balance Town!

This is your Mayor, here to answer any question you may have related to Cyberpunk RED!

We’ve got a lot of great questions, and I say, keep them coming! We also want to note some, but not all, of the questions answered by the Mayor have been added to the Core Rulebook FAQ. You can download the latest version from the Downloads/Game Aids section of our site of from this link.

Send your Questions to the Mayor’s office here:

Your Questions

Jimmy Copperfoot asks: When netrunning, must a Netrunner Eye-Dee a file before it can be downloaded, or can it be downloaded and then Eye-Dee’d later?

You can Eye-Dee a File either before downloading it to your cyberdeck or after downloading it to your cyberdeck. Downloading a File into your cyberdeck doesn’t take a NET Action either!

Jerry Tinheart asks: My understanding is that most Skill Checks cannot be repeated after a failure. Does this apply to the Netrunner Backdoor ability as well?

If you fail a Skill Check, you can’t repeat it unless your chances of success have improved for some reason. This applies to the the Netrunner’s abilities as well. You could always rez a program like Worm in the case of Backdoor to raise your chances of success in order to get another shot, or Take Extra Time, or try Using Your Luck, or use a Complementary Skill to raise your bonus. Essentially, as long as you can keep piecing together a higher bonus to your roll than the last time you failed to break that Password, you can get a retry. Good luck in there, Jerry!

Stygian Outlaw and Daniel Huk ask: How are surprise attacks handled? An example would be a player doesn’t see the Solo hiding around the corner and walks past them. What about silent killing. What rules you could provide for GM and players to resolve silent instant kills, ambushes and surprise attacks?

Use the Ambush rules on pg. 399 of the core rulebook: Anyone about to be ambushed gets to make Perception vs Stealth Contested Check against all prospective ambushers. If even one Perception Check wins out, they’ll raise the alarm and bam you are in combat. If all Stealth checks win, theoretically, they can all use the Hold Action and fire at the same time, after which bam you are in combat, roll Initiative. You can still miss a shot due to poor marksmanship, but if they don’t see you, try taking Extra Time and using a Complementary Skill (both pg. 130) to make that headshot of your dreams possible. You can’t dodge something you don’t sense coming, so all Melee makes a great stealth tool, capable of no-roll head aimed shots.

Completely Silent Instant Kills are essentially perfect ambushes with silent weapons (bows and crossbows, dart guns, thrown melee weapons, melee weapons) that do enough damage to instantly reduce a victim to 0 HP, after which the target must also fail their Death Save immediately. This is the fate of nameless night guards without helmets who meet the swift skeletal hand of fate embodied by your player Solo. Attempting to make a silent kill should be a risky moment of high tension within a “stealth mission”. It shouldn’t just be the roll, but also the context of the silent kill that should make it dramatic and tense.

Stygian Outlaw asks: Lawman Role Ability to call for back up- can it be used prior to entering combat or only “when you are in danger”? It appears to be rather unremarkable at first glance.

This is not meant to be strict rules text. You can be in danger and not be in combat. Also, ultimately, it is your Boss’s call if you were in enough “danger” to call. Technically, this means as long as your Boss likes you, you are golden. The rule is written to make you feel like you have to at least try to justify your actions as a Lawman. There is a secret here…and it’s that you can bend the department’s guidelines a lot before you step over them.

The effects of the Role Ability are rather powerful. Even at Rank 4, your Backup is adding eight heavy pistol attacks per round, and four bodies to the fight, each individually armored, with 100 total combined HP. On the table, this ability is quite a sight. It does require some roleplaying – but we hope that roleplaying will make you feel like a Lawman.

Obviously… if you are doing crimes…don’t rat yourself out by calling the police on yourself… If you can justify a raid and get paid on the side though… that’s just good business.

Sanpat Suvarnadat asks: Agents and CitiNet don’t have the NET architecture so netrunners cannot jack-in. But in one of the Screamsheets in the corebook, an NPC’s Agent was hacked to get data from it. If PCs want to hack an Agent, what is the best way? Can it be done from a distance or does someone need to get their hands on it? What is the skill that should be used here? Electronics/Securities Tech?

(Warning: Some minor spoilers for the Big Break Screamsheet below)

The Agent in the Screamsheet was the target of a manual hack using the Electronics/Securities Tech Skill during a failed break-in that happened before the events of the Screemsheet. This was more like jailbreaking a phone, and not at all Netrunning.

Agents and the CitiNet don’t have NET Architectures and cannot be Netrun. If a player wants to get information off an Agent, they’ll need physical access to it and either use the password, or make a good enough Electronics/Securities Tech Check, set by the GM. If you aren’t good at computers, you could always “convince”  the owner of the phone to give you the password, voice sample, fingerprint, retinal pattern, or whatever else is required.

Tormented by Gnomes asks: Some questions about anti-electronics weapons like Microwavers and EMPs. First, how do they interact with drones and defenses like turrets. Do they shut them down entirely or do they do damage as if they were normal weapons of the type (pistols and grenades). Second, how do they interact with vehicles like motorcycles or ground cars? Finally, what’s the largest electronic device they can shut down? Can they shut down something the size of a fridge or cryotank or an external linear frame?

If it’s not EMP shielded, an EMP effect that’s powerful enough to do so can impact any device.

But if you read the full text of the EMP Ammunition (pg. 345) and the Microwaver (pg. 348), you’ll see that these EMP options are anti-personnel in nature, and their effects are temporary. They aren’t intended to interact with vehicles, or non-held electronics as written. As written, they only impact “cyberware” and “held electronics”. This is intentional for game balance.

It’s up to your GM how the Microwaver or EMP Ammunition could work on things they are not designed to work on. Be warned. It would be, dare I say, imbalanced if the Tech Role in Countering Electronic Security with the appropriate Skill could be easily replaced with a 500eb rechargeable gun.

Mythandros asks: What’s the advantage to replacing a meat limb with a cyberlimb beyond striking damage and cyberlimb options?

You can also repair Critical Injuries to it with the Cybertech skill. Additionally, cyberlegs react a lot better to falling from height than meat ones (see Falling pg. 181). Cyberlimb options are where all of the fun stuff is in RED. Plus, they make a fantastic fashion statement. No one ever talks about Johnny Silverhand’s cousin, Jackie Flesharm.

Little Avatar asks: There seem to be three options for defenses: controlled by a demon, controlled by a Character, and not controlled at all. How do you determine Initiative for the defense in each option?

  • Controlled by Demon: Initiative of the Demon (see Demons, top of pg. 212)
  • Controlled by Character: Initiative of the Character
  • Not Controlled:These enter Initiative at the exact moment their “trigger” goes off, and then stay in Initiative at that spot in the queue if they have a repeating effect. If the defense triggers combat, act as if it won Initiative and put them at the top of the queue.

Void asks: can a character use an Airhypo filled with a speedheal which was given to them by a medtech? (the Airhypo was filled by the medtech for a correct dosage)

No. The Medtech must also administer the dose. They have to inject it correctly, which requires training. There’s a reason trained medical professionals give you injections when you visit the hospital and not just any random staff member. Street drugs, however, can be crudely jammed into a vein in a dirty alley by anyone.

Jason Denton asks: Joe insists on wearing nothing more than an armor T-shirt when on mission, and as a result keeps getting his left arm blown off. In order to reduce downtime, he begins to buy new arms with the Quick Change Mount option, and stocks up on spares. Then he decides that he should customize each arm to different jobs, One arm has a pop up heavy smg, another has a pop up shield, and a third has rippers and a tech scanner. How much humanity does Joe lose? If he decides to get therapy, what is is new maximum humanity? Does his max humanity change when he changes arms?

Okay, let’s define terms. Joe has 8 EMP to start out, meaning he has 80 Humanity. This is at Character Generation, so I’ll be using the average numbers provided there instead of rolling, just for ease of reading. He buys three cyberarms, each loaded up with different options.

  • Arm 1= Cyberarm + Quick Change Mount + Popup Ranged Weapon (7 + 7 + 7 = 21 HL)
  • Arm 2= Cyberarm + Quick Change Mount + Popup Shield (7 + 7 + 7 = 21 HL)
  • Arm 3= Cyberarm + Quick Change Mount + Rippers+Techscanner (7 + 7 + 3 + 7 = 24 HL)

Joe’s total HL is 66, meaning his Humanity is 80 – 66 = 14. His EMP is now 1. That’s obviously not good… and Borderline Cyberpsychosis… but still playable!

Let’s read the Full Rules for Quick Change Mount on page 365: “The first time you install a brand new cyberarm…you always accrue humanity loss. Reattaching one you’ve used before with a Quick Change mount does not do this.” So, Joe can now swap his three arms all day every day as much as he wants and be fine.

Maximum Humanity is discussed on page 230: “each piece of cyberware will decrease your maximum Humanity by 2” Each piece of Borgware decreases max Humanity by 4 instead, but Joe doesn’t have any of that, so we’ll just add it up: with Arm 1, Joe’s max Humanity is 74, Arm 2 max Humanity is also 74, Arm 3 max Humanity is 72. When he’s not wearing an arm (or perhaps wearing a specially prepared medical grade cyberarm), his max Humanity is 80.

Joe will need LOTS of Therapy to reach his max Humanity, but assuming he gets all the way back to max Humanity through Therapy (page 230), swapping between arms will only change his max Humanity by 2, and only when he wears Arm 3… and, since your EMP stat is always the tens place of you Humanity, this change won’t even impact his EMP score! He’ll be at 7 EMP wearing each of his three arms, and if he opts to remove his arm, he’ll be at 80 Humanity, and 8 EMP, as he will have removed all his cyberware!

Bonus Math: Since the average of 2d6 is 7, and the cost of Standard Humanity Loss Therapy is 500eb, and Joe will need recover 66 Humanity to get back to 80 Humanity, it will take on average 10 sessions * 500eb = 5000eb for Joe to get back to 80 Humanity. That’s 10 weeks of Standard Therapy!

If you’ve got a Medtech buddy, Richard, willing to give you at-cost Therapy, that’s only 1000eb though! Of course, neither of you will be able to do anything for those 10 weeks… and remember, your rent is still due! Maybe your Exec, Francine will let you crash at her place. Otherwise, maybe you should move in together to save on costs? Also, Joe, thank you for dropping the civil suit against Rocklin Augmentics. We’ll return your precious baby car tonight.

The Mayor’s Award for Service to Balance Town

As always, I’d like to highlight the fine contributions made by the Citizens of Balance Town to our fair metropolis. This week, we’re going to highlight the Discord Servers dedicated to sharing the Cyberpunk love:

The official RTG Discord Server and our incredible mod team who run it

The 2020/RED Fan Server run by JonJontheWise

The Cyberpunk Uncensored Server

Cyberpunk RED UK. A server dedicated to creating UK-based homebrew content

And three servers dedicated to playing Cyberpunk online!

Night City Stories:

Night Marches CPR:

Cyberpunk Party!

Much Love Choombas,

James Hutt, Mayor of Balance Town

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