Roleplayer #17, November 1989

High-Tech Low-Life

Notes on GURPS Cyberpunk

by Loyd Blankenship

Cyberpunk – genetically-enhanced bodyguards flex their grafted muscles; media celebrities stare out of 50-foot holovision screens with vat-grown eyes and artificial smiles; netrunners send their electronically-amplified consciousness zooming through a surreal computer matrix; high-tech assassins strike silently with razor-sharp claws coated with deadly toxins.

Sounds like a party, doesn't it?

The cyberpunk genre took off when William Gibson swept the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards in 1985 with his novel Neuromancer. Other authors quickly joined in, turning out their own soot-and-chrome dystopic futures where the line between man and machine blurs and wavers. This movement was encapsulated by Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, (edited by Bruce Sterling) – a collection of short stories that all played to the man/machine interface that defines cyberpunk.

GURPS Cyberpunk is designed to allow your GURPS characters to step into the cyberpunk world of high-tech low-life. The character creation chapters explains how to add artificial limbs, microchip brain implants, computer jacks, body weaponry and other necessary equipment. It also covers new advantages and disadvantages, such as Terminally Ill.

Terminally Ill . . . . . -50/-75/-100 points

You are going to die, and die soon. This is usually attributed to some sort of nasty disease, but could also represent an unremovable explosive device embedded in the base of your skull, an unbreakable suicide pact or anything else that will result in your death.

Point cost is determined by the length of time remaining – one month (or less) is worth 100 points (and you'd better work fast!). More than one month but less than one year is worth 75 points, and from one to two years is worth 50 points. More than two years is worth nothing – we might all be hit by a truck in two years!

If the GM is running a one-shot adventure where the characters aren't going to be reused, he should disallow this disadvantage as meaningless. If, during the course of a campaign, the character acquires a "miracle cure," has his brain moved into the body of a machine, or anything else that extends his life past his termination date, he is required to buy off the disadvantage. If he doesn't have enough points to buy it off, all earned character points should go to this purpose until he does.

GURPS Cyberpunk has everything needed to allow the GM to create his own world, or to mimic the world of his favorite cyberpunk author. Advice and rules for campaigning, adventure design, world design and other important issues are all covered, and a sample world background is provided to allow the action to begin immediately!

GURPS Cyberpunk will be released in March, the final month of the Welcome to the Future campaign (see p. 2 in this issue). It is being written by the author of GURPS Supers and Deathwish, and is based on material by Alex von Thorn, Mike Nystul and Brian Edge.

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