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Friday 30 September 2022

Profitable Packets

Cyberpunk RED Data Pack
is a supplement for Cyberpunk RED, the fourth edition of the classic Cyberpunk roleplaying game. It provides a number of tools that the Game Master can use to support her Cyberpunk RED game, including scenarios, lists, maps and character sheets. These are useful in a number of different ways, the least of which is probably the pad of character sheets. The character sheets are done in landscape rather than in portrait and in a mix of red and black. They are clear and easy to use. The twelve maps are full colour, double-sided, and marked in one-inch squares. The majority of them are road sections and connect link up easily. There are plain desert sections too, as well as a helicopter or aerodyne landing pad atop a building and an underground carpark—the latter which Game Masters and players alike will probably recognise from playing through Cyberpunk 2077. However, there are no internal locations mapped, which restricts their use. Perhaps Cyberpunk RED Data Pack 2.0 will address that? Fortunately, they are compatible with the Cyberpunk RED Battle Maps from Loke Battlemats and that range does include some internal buildings.

The meat of Cyberpunk RED Data Pack consists of a thirty-six-page booklet, which can be divided into two sections. The first consists of six Screamsheets, the single-sheet newspapers which can be purchased from kiosks on the streets of Night City and contain the most up to date news, printed at the moment of purchase. In game terms, they consist of a one-sheet which contains several news stories that can be handed to the players to provide them with information about what is going on in Night City, some of which form the background to the scenario which is effectively on the back of the Screamsheet. So effectively, one side for the players and their Edgerunners, and one side for the Game Master. For example, the first Screamsheet has stories about Night City PD reporting a rise in missing persons cases, a Militech executive being sacked for ethics violations, Night City hiring labourers for the city’s continued reconstruction, a rise in gang activity, and a hit on the Forlorn Hope, the signature Solo bar, by the Bozos, the clown gang. On the other side is ‘Hilaria 2045’. This is a scenario outline, in which the Edgerunners are hired to protect a block from an annual and very violent celebration held by the Bozos, Night City’s ultraviolent clown gang. This is in effect a big sprawling combat as the Bozo gang members ride into the neighbourhood in ice cream vans and will definitely be easier to run and manage with maps and counters.

The other Screamsheet scenarios continue with ‘The Digital Divas Burn It Down’ and its sequel, ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’. In the former, the Edgerunners investigate a rash of arson attacks linked to an up-and-coming local band, whilst in the latter, they follow up a death that occurred at one of the concerts for the band. ‘Cargo Race’ sends the Edgerunners into the Badlands in search of a downed Delta and the cargo it was smuggling. It leads to a standoff between several interested parties. ‘Snuff’ is another investigation, this time into someone selling bad Braindances and giving other ‘legitimate’ sellers a bad name… The sixth scenario is the longest in the Cyberpunk RED Data Pack. ‘ThrillKill’ drops the Edgerunners into the middle of a new craze, a competition for territory between gangs in which points are scored for killing particular types of individuals. The Edgerunners are hired to shut the competition down and this requires them to identify the next victims and prevent them from being killed, which means tracking the gangs involved. This is this the most mobile of the half dozen scenarios and the Edgerunners will definitely need the Drive skill. Of course, there are other stories on the front of the Screamsheets which are not given the scenario treatment and so there is potential there for the Game Master to develop them into something playable for her campaign.

Rounding out Cyberpunk RED Data Pack is ‘20 Things in Night City’. This consists of five separate lists: ‘20 Freelancers of Night City’, ‘20 Night Spots in Night City’, ‘20 People in the Night City Subway’, ‘20 Safehouses in Night City’, and ‘20 Vendors at Mister K’s Market’. These are an excellent set of tables of thumbnail descriptions for each of the categories and they can either be rolled on or an entry be selected by the Game Master to provide an element which she can add to her campaign. This can be done as their broader subject comes up in play, or the Game Master could consult the tables ahead of time, possibly even for inspiration. Overall, these tables are ready to add detail and flavour to a Game Master’s Night City.

Physically, Cyberpunk RED Data Pack is decently done. The booklet is sturdy, the maps colourful if not necessarily as varied as they could be, and the character sheets serviceable.

Cyberpunk RED Data Pack provides solid support for Cyberpunk RED. Whilst the maps and the character sheets are serviceable, the Screamsheets and the quintet of ‘20 Things in Night City’ tables really help support a Game Master’s campaign. The ‘20 Things in Night City’ quintet is rife with inspiration and ideas and flavour, and the Screamsheets are a varied selection of scenarios and set-ups. They can easily be dropped into a Night City-set campaign or run as the occasional scenario. Hopefully, Cyberpunk RED Data Pack will provide as equally good support for Cyberpunk RED.

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