So we’ve stated some design goals, and we’ve set a baseline with an in-depth review of Cyberpunk 2020. Now, it’s time to get into the weeds. As I stated in the design goals, I want to create a game inspired by Cyberpunk 2020. As such, most of these articles will revisit one or more mechanics from that game. That said, after considering the implications of these mechanics, I will more often than not rip them apart. Want to see us journey from nine stats and a d10-based resolution mechanic to three stats and a dice pool? Read on.
Cyberpunk brought a new vision to science fiction roleplaying in the late 80s, which was further refined by Cyberpunk 2020. As described in the design goals, the intent for Cyberpunk Chimera is to take what’s already there and adapt it to the sensibilities of me as a GM and what I’ve learned in the 15 years or so since I started playing Cyberpunk. In order to do this, it’ll be necessary to dive into Cyberpunk 2020 and take a look at what’s there to see what I like, what I don’t like, and what’s not necessary to change or adopt. So let’s take a look at the core rulebook, chapter by chapter, and see what conclusions we can draw about both mechanics and presentation of the game. While this is setting up a baseline for the Cyberpunk Chimera, it’s also a detailed, chapter-by-chapter review of the mechanics of Cyberpunk 2020. Whether or not you’re interested in my project, if you want to play Cyberpunk you’re likely to find something useful here.
Something funny happens when you spend a lot of time reading and reviewing games. At a certain point you reflect on all the games you’ve read and all the mechanics you’ve studied, and say to yourself “I bet I could design a game”. You see it a lot over here. Site founder Seamus is the co-author of the recently released Transit: The Spaceship RPG, and newest contributor Jason wrote Blessed Engines for the Emotional Mecha Jam. There’s design chops floating around in this blogger soup, and I suppose it should be no surprise that on the tails of the first System Hack, Genesys Mecha, I’d be throwing my hat into the ring.
What Genesys Mecha has consisted of up to this point has been theorycrafting, thought processes, and building blocks. I’ve mulled over what I wanted this particular series to do, built some giant robots, designed some pilots, tweaked some rules here and there, and went back and altered things as other ideas developed. While different pieces have built off of one another, and even influenced changes in the ones that came before, they haven’t quite been properly tied together yet, until now. In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha we’re talking character creation XP, starting mecha, tone, and logistics with some Campaign Setup!
Of all the ideas percolating in last month’s Alternate Rules for Genesys Mecha think-tank the one with the most concrete ideas had to be transforming mecha. Giant robots that can take different forms of giant robot have been around in the genre basically since the beginning, whether singular machines or combining ones (I’m staying away from the latter for now). The free space in transforming mecha bingo would have to be one that turns into a jet-like form, and that’s where I started, but I also managed to come up with an extra pair of machines with specialized roles. So, let’s roll out some new technology and see what kind of Transforming Mecha will be joining the Genesys Mecha battlefield!
Mecha that follow the movements of their pilot’s limbs. Carrying gear and weapons into battle instead of bolting it on. Putting your machine together piece by piece instead of wholesale. Believing in the you that believes in yourself and throwing galaxy shurikens instead of firing bullets. Stomping from one hex to the next. Engaging the transformation mechanism. Genesys Mecha has tested its prototype, its advanced models, and its experimental machines. We’ve mustered the pilots, and seen the kind of damage that mecha can inflict on one another. We’ve launched the ships and support craft that will carry our squads into battle. Now it’s time to revisit the drawing board, tweak a few things, and think of some new ideas with Genesys Mecha: Alternate Rules!
Ah, Fiasco. While not one of the first narrative games or one of the most unique, Fiasco captured the hearts of players because it accomplishes what it sets out to do so well. A game of characters with powerful ambition and poor impulse control, Fiasco takes the recipe set out by its predecessors like Primetime Adventures and distills it to one zany formula, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a Coen Brothers movie. Requiring only a few six-sided dice and one key decision point, Fiasco is a sweet and simple narrative game that can do no wrong.
Sensor technicians call out an incoming squadron of CHM-01S Space Ogos. The Captain orders all mecha to launch, all bulkheads sealed, and the cannons to begin firing. Vibrations can be felt through the deck as the first CHM-02 Dacar is hurled out into the void, and energy fire from the cruiser’s cannons begins to sear its way downrange as the distant thruster flares of the Ogos start to swirl into an attack pattern. In this month’s System Hack for Genesys Mecha, we aren’t adding any more giant robots. Instead, we’re taking a look at the vehicles that will carry them into battle!
As the original models start to show their age and make way for newer models, the mecha arms race continues. Whether they’re looking for an edge or racing to break the status quo, sooner or later mecha designers find themselves tapping into new technology, experimental weapons, and unique equipment. They’ll need above-average pilots to master them, but soon enough the Super Prototypes will arise to conquer the battlefield. We’re going to need some sharp test pilots for this Genesys Mecha System Hack!
So far, System Hack has highlighted Seamus working through the process of writing a hack for an existing role-playing game, specifically a mecha hack for Genesys. In my first System Hack outing, I’m going broad, super broad! We’re not talking about a specific hack, or even a specific game. Instead, I’m going to talk about a design choice that is so prevalent, so widely assumed, so transparent, that it’s not a given that everyone will give it much thought. What’s that, you may ask? Well, it’s dice. Good old dice.