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My issues with cyberpunk

For a while I was the DM for Shadowrun and I liked that. Nowadays I much prefer simple systems with big ideas coming out of the osr scene. With the release of Cyberpunk Red & 2077 I wanted to see if I could design something that would allow quick character generation and provide a good framework for stories where player skills are more important than character sheets.

The thing is, while cyberpunk settings bring plenty exciting world building ideas, I find it hard to translate them into a game for multiple reasons:

  • Games have a big focus on character customization: what type of mods have you installed? mechanical legs? wolverine styled hidden blades? Those often provide only minor mechanical advantage and are mostly picked for aesthetic reasons.

  • Same problem with "normal" equipment: there are often big lists of weapons. Complex weapon stats are introduced in order to distinguish different types of similar guns (damage, rate of fire, penetration, etc).

  • Characters are often specialized agents (hacker, fighter, spy, etc). You get large skill lists with all the associated problems: slower character generation and tricky rulings. Many games introduce complex subsystems (for driving, hacking, drone handling). In shadowrun a hacker literally plays a different game all by himself while the rest of the table stares at him. This kills the pacing (and the GM that have to learn whole set or rules and equipments just for this single player).

  • Sessions are very rigid. So this might very well be a lack of experience on my side but I have lots of troubles getting over the "steal the tech macguffin from this evil megacorp" template. You might argue that many people like robbing dungeons over and over. But I find it easier to suspend my disbelief with weird dungeon tricks and monsters. The design space for corps seems much more limited. They are not made by some unknown forgotten forces but by modern people with rational goals. So you can design a rich and fun political backdrop but the actual game is less varied.

Certainly there must be some way around those issues.