This article originally appeared in Pyramid #4
CYBERGENERATIONPublished by R. Talsorian Games
Written by Mike Pondsmith, Ed Bolme, David Ackerman
Scientific Material by Karl Wu
"Cinematic" is the best word to describe R. Talsorian's new Cyberpunk 18.104.22.168. supplement. From start to finish, it's a Generation X anime nightmare, and you're the star. Though it seems to aim more toward the younger end of the gaming spectrum, the very tail of the 13th Generation, it has an elegance under the grit that anyone could appreciate - yeah, even you old Boomers.
Certainly, the most admirable thing about Cybergeneration is that Mike Pondsmith, the man who introduced the c-word to dice and charts, is trying to take away some of its edge - or at least rechannel it into a kinder and more sensitive cyberpunk. The characters that inhabit this world are much easier to identify with, and frankly, much more likable than the typical cyberpunk anti-hero that gamers across the world are growing so bored of.
Another thing that makes this particular supplement so wonderful and, again, cinematic, is the great lack of any sort of esoteric charts or graphs, and highly simplified game mechanics.
The first 75 pages walk the GM and his players very quickly through the character creation process, which consists of announcing what you look like, based on the particular youth gang you belong to. As you create your character, he's being chased through the city with the rest of the players, driven forward by mysterious messages from "Morgan," an underground leader. You start playing fast in this game. While this dry run assumes players know the basics of RPG mechanics (rolling dice, etc.) in the beginning they exist only to get the players into the world and into comfortable roleplaying.
After their creation, the characters go through a fairly torturous process called cyberevolution, thanks to a plot device called the Carbon Plague. This plague is similar to the xenovirus from the Wild Cards novels. It's slightly more predictible but just as deadly. Of course, the players survive; I think death during character creation fell out of favor two versions of Traveller ago. You are now cyber-evolved, more or less a superhero whose powers are based on the labors of nanotechnological factories purring away deep within your body.
So: you're a kid, you're on the streets, you're the first of a new generation. The old regime got you down? Take your world back. Reshape it to your own vision, like it just reshaped you.
The character classes are unique in genre gaming, and their descriptions are quite vivid - as are the pages of heroes and enemies that fill out the rest of the book. Any GM who feels empty of ideas after reading the vast amounts of character sketches, background briefs and corporation descriptions provided with the game should consider another calling.
Now, the graphics. While the design is flashy and rough in a neat way, I feel the layout and the graphics sometimes get in the way. Things like putting the page numbers toward the spine of the book, rather than toward the edge, keeps you from flipping quickly through the book to find things. The whole thing was written to be seriously non-linear, but a cleaner design might have helped organize things better for players who don't want to memorize the contents of the book - the type of players who will love Cybergeneration.
R. Talsorian Games says you need to own their Cyberpunk 22.214.171.124. to play this game. You can, however, get through the guts of this book and up to speed without the basic set, if you're just a little creative. After the first session, if your players are still intrigued, get Cyberpunk 126.96.36.199. and show them a good time.
- Derek Pearcy
Article publication date: December 1, 1993
Copyright © 1993 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.