Meet the Party: Cyberpunk Red

A Solo who seems like an utter goofball until the bullets start flying, with a code of morals but a power-hungry streak behind it. A Netrunner with a massive chip on his shoulder who wants to take it out of someone else and leave this life behind. A Fixer turning friendships into profit, managing a delicate balancing act between their many (and often mutually hostile) customers. An Exec who clawed her way out of the Combat Zone, determined to get to the top. Update your Agent, check your ammo, and chip in. We’re taking a look at character creation and meeting a team of ready-to-play Edgerunners for Cyberpunk Red from R. Talsorian Games!

So, as Aaron mentioned, there are three ways to build a character in Cyberpunk Red: Street Rat, Edgerunner, and Complete Package. Street Rat is a pretty straight up template – you roll 1d10 to give you an array for the ten different Stats, your skills are pre-determined, and you get a package for your gear. Complete Package is all the points and all the choices – 62 to spread between your stats, 86 for your skills, and a cool pile of eurobucks to spend on anything from mirrorshades to reflex boosters.

Edgerunner is the ‘middle of the road’ option. You’re still rolling to determine your Stats, but you’re rolling for each Stat individually. You get 86 points to spend on Skills, but are limited to 20 Skills picked out for your role. You too determine weapons, armor, gear, and cyberware via a package. Now, there’s really nothing stopping you from mix-and-matching (Complete Package for Stats and Skills, a Rat/’Runner package for stuff) but for this outing … well, Edgerunners is what you’ll play, so Edgerunner is the method I’ve chosen all the way down. Let’s see who’s on the team; each member will tell us a little something about their life first, and then what they can do on The Street.

Ropata, The Solo

Lifepath

Cultural Region: Oceanic/Pacific Islander

What are you like?: Silly and fluff-headed

Clothing Style: High Fashion Hairstyle: Neat and Short

Affectation: Spiked Gloves

What do you value most?: Power

How do you feel about most people?: I stay neutral

Most valued person?: A parent

Most valued possession?: A recording

Original Background: Ganger “Family”

Childhood Environment: In a Corporate luxury “starscraper,” high above the rest of the teeming rabble.

Family Crisis: Your family is imprisoned, and you alone escaped.

Friends: 1 (Someone with a common interest or goal)

Enemies: 0 Sweet Revenge: N/A

Tragic Love Affair: 0

Life Goals: Gain power and control.

What kind of solo are you?: Corporate enforcer who takes jobs on the side.

What’s your moral compass like?: Always spare the innocent (elderly, women, children, pets).

Who’s gunning for you?: A Fixer who sees you as a threat.

Operational Territory: Combat Zones

Mechanics

INT: 6 REF: 7 DEX: 7 TECH: 6 COOL: 6

WILL: 6 LUCK: 7 MOVE: 6 BODY: 6 EMP: 3

Hit Points: 40 Humanity: 26

Seriously Wounded: 20 Death Save: 6

Role Ability: Combat Awareness Rank 4

Skills: Athletics 4, Brawling 4, Concentration 3, Conversation 2, Education 3, Evasion 4, First Aid 4, Human Perception 3, Language (Streetslang) 4/Maori 4, Local Expert (Your Home) 4, Perception 4, Persuasion 2, Stealth 4, Autofire 6, Handgun 4, Interrogation 4, Melee Weapon 6, Resist Torture/Drugs 4, Shoulder Arms 6, Tactics 5

Weapons/Armor: Assault Rifle, Very Heavy Pistol, Heavy Melee Weapon, Basic VH Pistol Ammunition x30, Basic Rifle Ammunition x70, Light Armorjack Body Armor (SP11), Light Armorjack Head Armor (SP11)

Outfit: Agent, Leisurewear: Footwear x2, Jacket x3, Mirrorshades, Bottoms x2, Top x2, 500 eb

Cyberware: Biomonitor, Neural Link, Sandevistan, Speedware

Ropata is the fighter on the team, plain and simple, good not just at the shooting and stabbing side of things but at knowing how to fight. Combat Awareness actually translates into a number of points that can be allocated and moved around for a variety of effects, from damage reduction to fumble recovery to initiative checks to accuracy to damage increases to situational awareness.

Ganbaatar, the Netrunner

Lifepath

Cultural Region: East Asian 

Personality: Rebellious, antisocial, and violent

Clothing Style: Asia Pop Hairstyle: Mohawk

Affectation: Strange contacts

What do you value most?: Vengeance

How you feel about most people?: People are tools. Use them for your own goals then discard them.

Most valued person?: Public figure

Most valued possession?: A tool

Original background: Corporate Managers

Childhood environment: In a decaying, once upscale neighborhood, now holding off the boosters to survive.

Family Crisis: Your family lost everything through betrayal.

Friends (3): Someone with a common interest or goal, an old enemy, someone you know from the Street

Enemies: 0

Tragic Love Affairs: 0

Life Goal: Get off The Street no matter what it takes.

What kind of Runner are you?: Just like to crack systems for the fun of it.

What’s your Workspace like?: It’s taken over your entire living space.

Who are some of your other clients?: Local gangers who also protect your work area while you sweep for NET threats.

Where do you get your programs?: You have backdoors into a few Corporate warehouses.

Who’s gunning for you?: Corporates who want you to work for them exclusively.

Mechanics

INT: 5 REF: 8 DEX: 7 TECH: 7 COOL: 6

WILL: 3 LUCK: 8 MOVE: 6 BODY: 5 EMP: 4

Hit Points: 30 Humanity: 36

Seriously Wounded: 15 Death Save: 5

Role Ability: Interface Rank 4

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawling 2, Concentration 4, Conversation 2, Education 4, Evasion 4, First Aid 2, Human Perception 2, Language (Streetslang) 4/Mongolian 4, Local Expert (Your Home) 4, Perception 4, Persuasion 2, Stealth 6, Basic Tech 6, Conceal/Reveal Object 6, Cryptography 6, Cybertech 6, Electronics/Security Tech 6, Handgun 4, Library Search 4

Weapons/Armor: Very Heavy Pistol, Basic VH Pistol Ammunition x30, Light Armorjack Body Armor (SP11), Light Armorjack Head Armor (SP11)

Outfit: Agent, Cyberdeck (7 Slots), Virtuality Goggles, Program: Armor, Program: Sword, Program: See Ya or Eraser, Program: Sword or Vrizzbolt, Program: Worm or Sword, Generic Chic: Top x10, Leisurewear: Footwear x2, Jewelry, Bottoms x2, Urban Flash: Jacket, 500 eb

Cyberware: Interface Plugs, Neural Link, Shift Tacts

Ganbaatar is the team’s expert on all things NET, able to chip in to gather information, crack security, the works. Interface is what lets him do that – the better his rank the more NET actions per turn he can perform, which range from getting through passwords to avoiding Black ICE to planting viruses to melting the brains of other Netrunners.

Angel Andrada, the Fixer

Lifepath

Cultural Region: South East Asian Languages: Filipino

Personality: Shy and secretive

Clothing Style: Bohemian Hairstyle: Striped

Affectation: Tongue or other piercings

What do you value most?: Friendship

How do feel about people?: I like almost everyone

Most valued person?: A brother or sister

Most valued possession: A piece of clothing

Original background: Reclaimers

Childhood Environment: In a Drift Nation (a floating offshore city) that is a meeting place for all kinds of people.

Family Crisis: Your family was exiled or otherwise driven from their original home/nation/Corporation.

Friends: 0 Enemies: 0 Tragic Love Affair: 0

Life Goal: Gain fame and recognition

What kind of Fixer are you?: Broker deals between rival gangs.

Got a partner: Secret partner with mob/gang connections

What’s your ‘office’ like?: Spare room in a warehouse, shop, or clinic.

Who are your side clients?: Local Nomads and Fixers who use you to set up transactions or deals.

Who’s gunning for you?: Old client who thinks you screwed them over.

Mecchanics

INT: 6 REF: 5 DEX: 6 TECH: 4 COOL: 7

WILL: 7 LUCK: 7 MOVE: 7 BODY: 4 EMP: 7

Hit Points: 40 Humanity: 64

Seriously Wounded: 20 Death Save: 4

Role Ability: Operator Rank 4

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawling 2, Concentration 4, Conversation 4, Education 4, Evasion 4, First Aid 4, Human Perception 5, Language (Streetslang) 4/Filipino 4, Local Expert (Your Home) 5, Perception 4, Persuasion 5, Stealth 4, Bribery 6, Business 4, Forgery 5, Handgun 4, Pick Lock 4, Streetwise 6, Trading 6

Weapons/Armor: Heavy Pistol x2, Light Melee Weapon, Basic H Pistol Ammunition x100, Light Armorjack Body Armor (SP11), Light Armorjack Head Armor (SP11)

Outfit: Agent, Bug Detector, Computer, Disposable Phone x2, Generic Chic: Contacts, Jewelry, Leisurewear: Mirrorshades, Urbanflash: Footwear, Jacket, Bottoms, Top, 500 eb

Cyberware: Cyberaudio Suite, Internal Agent, Subdermal Pocket, Voice Stress Analyzer

Angel Andrada brings together people, places, and plentiful resources to keep Edgerunners and other customers happy in business. The higher their Operator Rank the more (and more powerful) Contacts they can reach, the more expensive and rare the gear they can find, the better they are at haggling over prices and pay, and the better they are at getting along with other factions and cultures.

Nadia Wójcik, the Exec

Lifepath

Cultural Region: Eastern European

Personality: Intellectual and Detached

Clothing Style: Businesswear Hairstyle: Long and straight

Affectation: Fingerless gloves

What do you value most?: Love

How do you feel about people?: People are obstacles to be destroyed if they cross me.

Most Valued Person?: A friend

Most Valued Possession: A musical instrument

Original Background: Combat Zoners

Childhood environment: In a Corporate luxury “starscraper,” high above the rest of the teeming rabble.

Family Crisis: Your family was scattered to the winds due to misfortune.

Friends: 0

0 Enemies (3): Estranged Relative –  Caused the other to lose face or status Just themselves and even they won’t go out of their way.

Sweet Revenge: Verbally attack them

Government Official –  Accused the other of cowardice or some other major personal flaw. Just themselves and even they won’t go out of their way.

Sweet Revenge: Backstab them indirectly

Childhood Enemy – one of you set the other up for a crime they didn’t commit. They’ve got themselves and a few (2) friends.

Sweet Revenge:  Set to murder of maim them

Tragic Love Affair (1): A rival cut you out of the action.

Life Goal: Get what’s rightfully yours

What kind of corp do you work for? Personal electronics and robotics

What division do you work for? Manufacturing

How good/bad is your corp?: Willing to bend the rules to get what it needs.

Where is your corp based?: National

Who’s gunning for your group?: International Corporations are eyeing you for a hostile takeover.

Current state with your boss?: Your Boss mentors you but watch out for their enemies.

Mechanics

INT: 6 REF: 7 DEX: 7 TECH: 3 COOL: 8

WILL: 5 LUCK: 6 MOVE: 5 BODY: 5 EMP: 6

Hit Points: 35 Humanity: 58

Seriously Wounded: 18 Death Save:

Role Ability: Teamwork Rank 4

Skills: Athletics 2, Brawling 2, Concentration 4, Conversation 6, Education 4, Evasion 4, First Aid 2, Human Perception 6, Language (Streetslang) 2/English 4, Local Expert (Your Home) 4, Perception 4, Persuasion 6, Stealth 4, Accounting 6, Bureaucracy 6, Business 6, Deduction 4, Handgun 4, Lip Reading 4, Personal Grooming 6

Weapons/Armor: Very Heavy Pistol, Basic VH Pistol Ammunition x50, Light Armorjack Body Armor (SP11), Light Armorjack Head Armor (SP11)

Outfit: Radio Communicator x4, Scrambler/Descrambler, Businesswear: Footwear, Jacket, Bottoms, Mirrorshades, Top, Jewelry x2, 500 eb

Cyberware: Tech Hair, Cyberaudio Suite, Internal Agent, Toxin Binders

Nadia Wójcik is climbing the corporate ladder, and she’s got the sharp tongue and the resources to cut down anyone who gets in her way. Teamwork grants things like free clothing and rent-free corporate housing (nothing to sneeze at), but also provides her with Team Members, NPC allies who are put into her employ. One option that would go well with this group would be a Company Driver. They would look something like this:

Company Driver

INT: 6 REF:DEX:TECH:COOL: 7

WILL:MOVE: 5 BODY:EMP: 2

Skills at +2: Athletics, Concentration, Conversation, Education, First Aid, Human Perception, Language (Streetslang), Local Expert (Your Home), Perception, Persuasion

Skills at +4: Brawling, Endurance, Evasion, Land Vehicle Tech, Pilot Air Vehicle, Pilot Sea Vehicle, Sea Vehicle Tech, Stealth, Tracking

Skills at +6: Drive Land Vehicle, Handgun

Cyberware: Radar/Sonar Implant, Cyberaudio Suite, Internal Agent, Homing Tracer, Radar Detector

Gear: Light Armorjack (SP11), Very Heavy Pistol, Compact Groundcar with Seating Upgrade, Basic VH Pistol Ammo x50

Opinions

I’ll be honest, the Lifepath? Not as thrilling as I remember it being in Cyberpunk 2020. Now, I’ve got a huge amount of bias here. My first ever 2020 character, Roy the Unluckiest MedTech, came out of character creation with Three MegaCorps and a Boostergang all looking to skin him alive to one degree or another. My second character, Leobardo, didn’t have quite so many enemies but made up for that with a feud with his sister and no small portion of the U.S. government at her beck and call looking for him.

Their lives were terribly interesting, is what I’m saying, and as a result I think I’m a little poisoned against a Lifepath that doesn’t offer Traveller-grade chaos. Don’t get me wrong, you still get a lot of interesting stuff out of the ‘generic’ Lifepath. It’s just that rolling 1d10 and subtracting 7 to a minimum of 0 means that most characters won’t add many Friends, Enemies, or Tragic Love Affairs.

Maybe I just want my characters to suffer a bit too much.

What I like without caveat  are the role-specific portions of the Lifepath, though. Those provide some really good bits to give your character a place in the setting, and also serve as a quick and easy narrative way to differentiate between two characters of the same role.

Mechanically speaking the Edgerunner method was pretty quick and easy. Stat wise, you’re pretty likely to fall a few points short of the 62 points of a  Complete Package character. Not by a lot, but every point counts on The Street, so there’s your reward if you want to put in the Complete Package time.

They did a fair amount of work here to make the math easy to digest. For instance, yeah, there’s a calculation for hit points based on the average of your WILL and BOD times five plus ten, but why crunch the numbers when they’ve given you a neat table to find your HP on? Skills were also pretty easy – 86 points sounds like a lot to spread around, but certain base skills (Athletics, Brawling, Concentration, Conversation, Education, Evasion, First Aid, Human Perception, Language (Streetslang), Local Expert (Your Home), Perception, Persuasion, Stealth) being mandatory at rank 2 takes a fair amount of choice weight off. The advice for Edgerunners to drop 4 points into the 20 highlighted skills, put the remaining 6 where you want, and then shuffle as desired is pretty simple but effective (and its counterpart advice for stats is equally effective for Complete Packages).

Finally, the Street Rat/Edgerunner gear packages are great. They get you what you need with a minimum of muss and fuss, with spare change for extra flavor. I know some people love to shop around, even I do sometimes, but I think I still have some psychic damage from Resources Priority A characters in Shadowrun, so this is much better. Even making an otherwise Complete Package, I’d be strongly tempted to go for the Street Rat/Edgerunner option for gear.

Who They Are

Well, the Lifepaths do a lot of this part for us, don’t they? Looking at the puzzle pieces, some stories start to come together . . .

Ropata is the kind of Solo who you listen to for five minutes and conclude that he’s an utter goofball – then someone kicks in the door looking to steal back the prototype you just stole, Ropata draws his gun, and a whole lot of people die. He’s a friendly enough guy, and though he does corporate work he has a code – no kids, pets, or little old ladies – but he walks the combat zones like they’re a playground and will do anything outside of that code for more power.

Ganbaatar should have been an Exec, but some backstabbing scum sent him and his family tumbling from their ivory tower until they hit The Street – hard. It didn’t exactly do any favors for his personality, which wasn’t the best to start with, and he’s generally known as an uppity bastard on a good day. Somehow, though, he’s got more friends and allies than is typical for an edgerunner – that could be chalked up to his skills as a netrunner, but then again maybe having an uppity bastard around is fun from time to time.

Angel is very well traveled, even compared to Nomad standards, having first been among the Reclaimers before winding up on a Drift Nation, before eventually winding up in Night City. They’re more quiet, less flashily outgoing, than you’d expect from a Fixer, but that’s just part of their charm. Their willingness to be friendly with just about everyone made them the perfect intermediary for all kinds of disputes and deals, and that’s built a reputation that they can put to good use.

Nadia got her start in the Combat Zone, and while she’d never say she’d never go back (business is business), she has no intention of ever living there again. After getting ‘adopted’ by a corporate headhunter, Nadia dedicated her life to climbing the ladder – a storybook ending might be nice, but the likelihood is low. She’s made plenty of enemies in her time, gotten her heart broken at least once, but nothing is going to stand in her way.

How They Interact

Ropata‘s tenure as a corporate enforcer and Nadia‘s position as a troubleshooter for her corporation means they work together comparatively often. They likely bond over the fact that they both came from much rougher beginnings, as well as their personal goals provided they don’t contradict one another.

Ganbaatar‘s odd tendency to attract friends and allies despite his antisocial attitude carries a fair bit of weight here. While his family’s fall from corporate grace makes him grind his teeth at Ropata and Nadia in principle, in practice they’re allies – the corporation that saw his family hit The Street is probably a rival of the one employing the Solo and Exec.

Angel, appropriately for a Fixer, is the one who tied them all together, probably even providing an introduction between Ropata and Nadia and definitely having been the one to bring in Ganbaatar. The other members of the team might disagree or snipe at one another from time to time, but everyone likes the Fixer . . . and that’s exactly how they like it.

The Dark Future

Will Ropata gain the power he wants, or catch a fatal bullet along the way? Will Ganbaatar get off The Street for good, and leave his enemies rotting in the gutter? Will Angel be able to maintain their friendly balancing act between Fixer, gangers, Nomads, and whoever else? Will Nadia reach the top of the ladder and even get that storybook ending, or will the whole thing collapse beneath her? As always, that up to you (and your dice) to determine, choomba. Better hit The Street and find out!

Header image is by Pedram Mohammadi, from the Cyberpunk Red core rulebook!

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