Cyberpunk 2020

From 1d4chan

Cyberpunk or CP 2020 is a role-playing game published by R. Talsorian Games (also famous for various games based on Japanese anime and mecha) in 1990. It was the second edition of R. Talsorian's original Cyberpunk game (later known as Cyberpunk 2013) and was originally succeeded by Cyberpunk v3, also known as Cyberpunk 203X, in 2005, before 3.0 was deemed to be non-canonical, with Cyberpunk RED taking it's place as the successor. The Cyberpunk core rule book was re-released in 1993 with some revisions, including new artwork taken from the Italian edition of the game.

There was also a spin-off called Cybergeneration, originally published as a supplement to CP2020 in 1993, then as a stand-alone game in 1995. In Cybergeneration players played teenagers with super-powers which they have developed as a result of infection by a nanite-based disease called the "Carbon Virus".


CP2020 is a cyberpunk genre game inspired by the works of William Gibson and others and films such as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The game was set in the 2020 (2013 in the original version), when corporations rule the world, the USA has fractured and most of the population have been left to fend for themselves on the mean, dirty streets in the shadows of the glittering corporate towers. The philosophy of the game is summed up in 'The Rules' (not the actual rules), attributed to someone called 'Ripperjack', on page 4:

  1. Style Over Substance
  2. Attitude is Everything
  3. Always take it to the Edge
  4. Break the Rules.

'The Edge' is where the characters are meant to exist and operate, and so they are called Edgerunners. Scenarios usually involve the characters getting mixed up in some business which is either legal but deeply unethical, not strictly legal, or downright illegal. Ask no questions and you'll be told no lies. Violence and mortal danger are central elements to Cyberpunk adventures. Being a cyberpunk game, there are lots of disturbing concepts thrown into the mix, such as artificial intelligences, digital copies of people's personalities (trapped on corporate mainframes or loose in the internet), genetically engineered bio-weapons, human cloning, body-snatching and organ-harvesting, and individuals willingly replacing healthy body parts with cybernetic equivalents just to make themselves better computer hackers or killers.

In fact, it is plainly assumed that characters will have cybernetic 'enhancements', since the rules for them are dealt with under character creation. There is a huge variety of cybernetic options, including such gems as the Mr Studd Sexual Implant ("All night, every night, and she'll never know"). There's also the Cybersnake, a weapon that you can install in "any orifice of at least one inch", failing to define exactly one inch what. Unlike its main contemporary rival Shadowrun CP2020 does not cross over into fantasy, superheroic or high-science fiction genres (with the exception of Cybergeneration).

As an aside, the R Talsorian writers loved to give characters names that were some combination of "Jack", "Ripper" or "Hand". The ultimate CP 2020 character would be called Jack Ripperhand.


Each of the three editions used a similar rules system with some significant differences. The CP2020 ruleset is known as the Interlock system, whereas the third edition uses the Fuzion system.

In CP2020/Interlock, each character has a set of statistics: Intelligence (INT), Reflexes (REF), Cool (CL), Technical Ability (TECH), Luck (LK), Attractiveness (ATT), Movement Allowance (MA) and Empathy (EMP). Stats have a minimum value of two and a natural maximum of 10, with certain cyberware, implants and bioware capable of boosting certain stats above 10. Stat scores could be generated by several methods: the 'random' method of rolling 9D10 for a number of points, which are then assigned to the stats; the 'quick' method of rolling a D10 nine times, ignoring rolls of a 1, and assigning the scores as desired; and the 'cinematic' method whereby the Referee (the Game Master) decides how many points to give the players to spend on their stats.

Characters then have to choose a Role (a character class). Each role has a list of ten core skills, including a 'special ability' unique to that class. They have 40 points to assign to those skills, to a maximum skill level of 10. A player could take all ten skills to level four, or just four of them to level 10, or anywhere in between. A character's level in their special ability indicates their place in the pecking order for their profession, and therefore how much money they start with. After that, each character gets a further number of points, equal to the sum of their INT and REF scores, to spend on 'pick-up skills' not on their core list. This is where most characters get skills like Drive or Swim, or combat skills if they don't have any on their core list. This is also the first indication of which stats are most important in the game.

The character roles and their corresponding special abilities are:

  • Aerojock (Aircraft Sense) - Pilot.
  • Con Man (Con) - Tricking people into giving you their money instead of stealing it.
  • Cop (Authority) - YOU ARE THE LAW.
  • Corporate (Resources) - You are The Man. Even if you're a woman.
  • Covert Specialist (Combat Sneak) - For someone who wants to be sneaky when they're not shooting people.
  • Dancer/Prostitute (Vamp) - Selling yourself.
  • Divemaster (Aquatic Sense) - For those who want to spend all their time underwater.
  • Fixers (Streetdeal) - Gun-runnin', drug-dealin', product-fencin' ne'er-do-wells.
  • Media (Credibility) - The brave and crazy sons of bitches who get in the heat of things to report on them.
  • Medtechies (Med Tech) - MEDIC!
  • Netrunner (Interface) - Hackers. Playing one will have the rest of the party hate you because once you're Nethacking there's nothing they can do.
  • Nomads (Family) - Playing Mad Max is fun, but sometimes you just want to get beyond Thunderdome.
  • PA Trooper (APCA Combat Sense) - For those who ust want to shoot people up while wearing a giant suit of power armour.
  • Private Investigator (Research) - Finding things that might not want to be found.
  • Prowler (Sneak) - Thief.
  • Rockerboy (Charismatic Leadership) - What rockers and punks all over the world wish they are.
  • Runner (Vehicle Zen) - Drivers.
  • Scavenger (Scrounge) - Finding ways to use trash.
  • Solo (Combat Sense) - For those who just want to shoot people up.
  • Spy (Chameleon) - A spy, but not the James Bond kind.
  • Subjock (Sub Tactics) - Submersible pilot.
  • Techie (Jury Rig) - All that tech needs maintenance.

All skills are linked to a stat. Tasks are resolved by rolling a D10, adding your skill level and stat score plus any positive or negative modifiers for the situation, and trying to beat a difficulty number for the task (usually a multiple of five). A roll of a one on the D10 is an automatic failure, with a roll on the mishap (fumble) table to see if something bad happens to you. A roll of a 10 is an exploding die: You roll the dice again (ones are not automatic failures this time) and add the score to that of the first die. A second roll of a 10 means another re-roll. If you roll enough tens in a row you can succeed at any difficulty of task. Skills which the player has no points in receive a -3 modifier.

Combat starts with everyone rolling D10 plus their reflexes for initiative. Solos add their Combat Sense ability to the roll as well, which makes them far more powerful in combat than any other role. Shooting is a task like any other, although there are special rules for suppressing fire (hosing down an area) and some unusual weapons. Hand-to-hand combat is an opposed roll between the two enemies. Rounds are three seconds long, but characters can take multiple actions at a cumulative -3 modifier for every action after the first.

Weapon damage is rated as a number of D6s or D10s to roll, often plus or minus a few points. Armour and cover have a Stopping Power (SP) number, which is subtracted from weapon damage. Each character has a Body Type Modifier (BTM) from 0 to -5 or more based on their BOD. BTM is applied to damage that gets through cover and armour, but cannot reduce the damage to less than one.

Body locations are used for hits (so make sure you wear leg armour) which is either determined randomly or by a called shot to a location (with a corresponding penalty to hit). However, while locations have their own SP, damage is applied to a single wound track, with boxes to cross off for each point of damage taken. The boxes are arranged in blocks of four, which correspond to different wound states: Light, Serious, Critical, Mortal 0, Mortal 1 etc. When a character takes a Light wound, they have to make a Stun/Shock save (rolling under their BOD on D10) to keep from passing out or collapsing. At Serious, they must save against their BOD -1, at Critical against their BOD -2 and so on. At Mortal 0, the character also has to make a Death Save against their BOD to avoid dying, and then again every round until thay are stabilised by a First Aid task or they die. At the Mortal 1 wound state the Death Save is against BOD -1, at Mortal 2 against BOD -2 and so on.

Any hit to a limb or the head that does a total (after all modifiers) of more than eight points of damage either severs the limb or mangles it beyond repair, so that it will have to be amputated. The character has to make an immediate Death Save at Mortal 0. For head hits this means instant death, and damage from head hits are doubled (so wear a helmet, or a Kevlar bandana!). What this meant in effect was that after a few fights you ended up with a mix of odd-coloured donor limbs or you went maximum metal -- the name of the most power-gamey supplement they published by the way.

The three most important stats in the game are Reflexes, Body Type and Intelligence. Reflexes is used to determine your chances of hitting, as well as dodging. Body Type, which helps you soak up damage, can be increased by up to 5 via a couple of bioware and graft implants. Intelligence is important because it gives you more starting skills. Furthermore, most of the skills are based on INT or REF, with hardly any based on Cool, Attractiveness or Body Type. ATT can be raised from two to ten by spending enough money at the plastic surgeon. Movement Allowance is useful but can be increased to 12 by buying the Speeding Bullet or Corvette cyberlegs from one of the Chrome Books.

A high Empathy can be important because having cybernetics installed gradually reduces this stat. When your EMP reaches zero you enter cyberpsychosis and go on an uncontrollable killing spree -- which probably describes your pre-cyberpsychosis lifestyle quite aptly -- and the GM takes control of your character. It is important to note that intelligent players can use genetic modifications (available in Eurosource supplement books) and bioware to minimize Humanity Loss while still increasing combat effectiveness.

Every character gets a number of points equal to their Luck stat every session, which they can use to modify die rolls (by adding it to the roll, some players argue this is the most important stat to have).

The Net[edit]

A central concept of the cyberpunk genre is the internet and computer hacking. One article in R. Talsorian's referee's supplement Listen Up you Primitive Screwheads asserts that the internet is the minimum technology required for a cyberpunk setting. Not surprisingly, the chapter on Netrunning (hacking) is the longest in the CP2020 rulebook.

The game takes a 'classic' 1980s approach to the subject, with the internet described as a three-dimension grid (complete with fluorescent gridlines on a black background) through which move icons representing users and programmes. Servers are referred to as 'data-fortresses' protected by 'data walls' which the intrepid Netrunner knocks down with a programme like a medieval battering ram. Referees are encouraged to design datafortresses using blank crossword puzzle grids as maps.

A second line of defence for valuable data is Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (Black ICE -- straight outta Gibson) programmes, which can chase the hapless Netrunner back through the net to their 'deck' (laptop with a 'modem') and kill them making their hardware malfunction and zap them!


A veritable plethora of supplements were produced by R. Talsorian, including splatbooks for the different character roles, sourcebooks for Europe, the UK, the Pacific Rim, orbital space and various major corporations, and the four Chrome Books, containing new equipment (often taken from articles in the game's companion Interface magazine). In keeping with the game's focus on high technology and ultra-violence, the Maximum Metal book introduced rules for designing all sorts of military vehicles and powered armour (PA) suits.

The last supplements were the Firestorm campaign series, two books chronicling the Fourth Corporate War between the setting's two largest private military corporations, which ended in a nuclear exchange and the destruction of the CP2020 world. This paved the way for Cyberpunk v3, which did not surface for another seven or eight years, by which time some of the players had (obviously) moved on, considering no group remains 100% intact over time.

Many players, upon reading this article, were upset enough to edit it, having continued to use the existing rules for several decades with no problems or complaints.


Cyberpunk is a great role-playing game. It has both style and substance. It was far more popular than its sequel, and many websites dedicated to the game, featuring homebrew rules and source material, are still active on the net. CP2020 deserves a seat in the pantheon of tabletop role-playing games. There is a very strong following of the original RPG active in the world today, with many new campaigns starting every day and running for long periods of time. It is highly recommended as a system for anyone trying to capture the feel of 'Gibson-Like' cyberpunk role-playing.

Lazorpunk shadowrun vs cyberpunk2020 by johnnycompor-d5ldmj5.jpg

Cyberpunk 2077[edit]

A computer game based on the PnP RPG, entitled Cyberpunk 2077, has been under development since late 2012 and is tentatively scheduled for release somewhere between 2018 and the end of god damn linear time at this point finally here. Set 57 years into the future (to make the futuristic visuals and tech more in line with current future predictions, without discarding what came before it). Here's the trailer, and the original gameplay demo.

Plot-wise, the game leads on from Firestorm: the Fourth Corporate War happened, destroying Arasaka Tower with a pocket-nuke and generally causing significant havoc in Night City, but it didn't go full MAD and thus the utter shitshow that was Cyberpunk v3 never came into existence. Soon after this, the legendary Netrunner Rache Bartmoss (one of several God-tier NPCs from the original CP2020) released DataKrash onto the Net as an effort to break the corporate stranglehold on it, royally fucking up the internet and screwing Corpo and Cyberpunk alike over - with the Net now a jumbled hellscape of rogue AIs, Black ICE programs, and sanity-sandblasting corrupted code, every gang, corporation, and government promptly begins establishing their own mini-internets where they can rule without any oversight (the exact opposite of what Bartmoss wanted.).

Fast forward past Cyberpunk RED to 2077. Arasaka has developed a biochip known as the Relic, which can effectively 'back up' a person's mind as pure data. V, the player character, and their fellow mercenary/cyberpunk Jackie get contracted by the Fixer Dexter DeShawn to steal it on behalf of a contractor. Unsurprisingly, shit goes south once they actually get it: it's in a prestigious hotel penthouse owned by Yorinobu Arasaka, oldest son of Saburo Arasaka (Bill Gates + Japan's Emperor in all but blood, i.e.: the really big cheese). While Jackie and V hide, Saburo gets murdered by Yorinobu in front of them, then Arasaka guards later discover them fleeing the scene, jump to conclusions and attack. Their Netrunner gets her brain fried by Arasaka security, Jackie is badly wounded, and the case containing and maintaining the biochip is badly damaged as the two of them are forced to sneak/fight their way out of the hotel. Jackie dies from blood loss as the two of them escape via an AI-controlled car, forcing V to implant the biochip into themselves to prevent it degrading into uselessness.

In a twist no-one could've seen coming (considering the fucking trailers spoiled it), Dexter promptly betrays V to save his own hide from Arasaka's manhunt for Saburo's killers, shooting them in the head and dumping their body in a landfill. Unfortunately for him, the Relic manages to resurrect V despite what would otherwise be fatal brain damage, and an Arasaka bodyguard who didn't buy Yorinobu's bullshit drags V off to a Ripperdoc to be healed. Unfortunately for V, it turns out that the Relic had already been used to back up someone else's consciousness and their brain is now being steadily overwritten with this engram, essentially dooming them to the complete death of their personality within a few months. V wakes up in their apartment to find they now have a rather pissed off Relic-dweller in their head - Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves aka John Wick aka Neo aka Ted "Theodore" Logan), who was captured by Arasaka at the end of the Fourth Corporate War and subjected to the engram-creating Soulkiller program.

From there, the main plot shifts from making a name for yourself on the streets of Night City to V's desperate search for a way to stop their personality being overwritten by that of Silverhand, with various side quests allowing you to expand upon V's relations with Johnny (slowly changing him from 'pissed at being dead and stuck in your gradually-degrading brain' to 'Vitriolic, sarcastic, but somewhat friendly voice in your head'), attempt to find a treatment for Cyberpsychosis beyond 'Shoot them until they stop moving', take jobs from Night City's collection of Fixers to make a name for yourself, and catch up with several surviving members of Cyberpunk 2020's old guard of top-tier NPCs.

Cyberpunk RED[edit]

August 2019 saw the release of a new edition of the RPG meant to bridge the gap between 2020 and 2077 (so can be used for campaigns set anywhere in between). With its existence, and per the creator's confirmation, it's apparently supplanted V3 as Cyberpunk's successor. In this version of the game's continuity, the Fourth Corporate War took place, but did not go nuclear, leaving the world battered but intact. The side benefit is that it explains why things have changed and how between CP2020 and CP2077 (for example; the Voodoo Boys went from an all-white gang of voodoo posers in 2020 to a predominantly-Haitian gang of actual Vodun practitioners in 2077 and CPRED explains how that happened).


The roleplaying games by R. Talsorian Games
Castle Falkenstein - Cyberpunk 2020 - Cyberpunk v3
Dragon Ball PNP RPG - Mekton
Teenagers From Outer Space - The Witcher RPG