The game that we are going ahead with at my table is the Cypher system. We are going to run it in the Android universe of Fantasy Flight Games fame. The thing that I am most familiar with there is obviously the Netrunner game, though I have played all of the games that fall under that universe umbrella. I even have the art and world book that came out to help me with the setting. But how is it for a fit with the Cypher System and what do I need to consider.
The Android universe falls into a brighter version of Gibson’s cyberpunk ideals. Brighter, because it appears at a surface level that the average person lives well. Corporations are not necessarily ruinous and oppressive. They are large and powerful though. Gibson paints the Corporation as ruinous and villainous where the Android setting is much more on shades of grey for both sides. Both sides are doing what they need to do to keep moving forward. This is a clear delineation from most games out there that deal with this genre. Most set up this dichotomy where the players fight the oppressive corporations like the big bad. In my game, it can’t be that way. I want the players to perceive the world from both sides of the coin.
First and foremost, I have made it clear to the players that they will have two characters in this game. One will be a member of a corporation. This character will have a focus on making moves and monitoring operations from the company perspective. the focus of this will be a player driven thing. Perhaps they will want to take the role of executives. Maybe they will want to be an enforcement squad or special operatives branch. Maybe they are deeply involved with the research and development of the company. The only thing I will draw a line at is that the characters need to be more involved than just a desk job.
On the flip side, the players will have a “street” character. Here I need to broaden my own horizons. I am very focused on the “netrunner” angle and it is unlikely that the players will all want to play cybered up matrix runners. There is a lot more involved in the street than that aspect though I will want it to play a part. Although there is little focus on it in the games and surrounding material there have to be cybered up warriors. Vehicle specialists, data couriers and the like. I am interested to see what comes out of all of this to be able to work both sides of the same coin.
Cyphers. Where do I start?
The one thing that is a little daunting to me in this system is the Cyphers that are integral to it. Little single shot power-ups that the players can use. In a fantasy game, it would all be about potions and magical items and charms. Here it is a bit different. The core book has some good material but I want it to be a lot closer tied to cyberpunk. There is not a lot of material out there that can help unless I want to dish out a heap more cash for a full-on system set in the genre. But then I had a brainwave and have started doing some work along the same lines.
I have every card that was ever printed for the Netrunner game (maybe not alternate arts but normal playable cards). So, I am going through those cards and turning some of them into cyphers! Pure brilliance. This approach is also helping me to understand cyphers better too. Some of these cyphers have no physical form so it is making me think how inspirations can be offered up as cyphers. This is in the core book but it never really gelled with me. Basing the cyphers off the card game though is helping me with that.
It is a good fit
The Cypher System will play well in this setting. The Android universe is full of stories and on the whole, they are familiar to my players. One of the players has not played any of the attached games but he likes his cyberpunk and is a story driven player. All but one of the players have played the Cypher System and we were all impressed by its gameplay. I am just hoping that the stories we build are going to make for a long term, brilliant campaign. Keep rolling!