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Sunday 26 March 2023

The Other OSR: CY_BORG Asset Pack

The CY_BORG Asset Pack is a supplement for CY_BORG, a cyberpunk purgatory that is modelled upon Mörk Borg, the Swedish pre-apocalypse Old School Renaissance retroclone designed by Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell and published by Free League Publishing. It is both useful and utilitarian, consisting of four things that the Game Master can use to enhance her campaign.

The first of these is a double-sided map, done on heavy stock paper. On one side is a map of the city of CY, the location for CY_BORG. It is done in full, dark, grim glory on black and with interesting touches such as the district of Galgenbeck—the central city in the land of Tveland in Mörk Borg—being marked in gold. At the bottom of the poster is an index to the district locations in the rulebook. This is great to lay out before the players in play, to help them and their doomed characters around the city. On the other side is the diagram showing the major corporations, their logos, and some details connected to them, such as advertising, rumours about them, opinions, and more. Both the diagram and the map are reprinted from the core rulebook, but the map is definitely more useful than the diagram in play, whereas the corporation diagram may provide the Game Master with some possible scenario hooks.

‘Reaper Repo’ is a scenario for CY_BORG. The second item in the CY_BORG Asset Pack, it has the Player Characters hired to steal the new chrome legs of a Killmatch VIP! Instead of resting, Steel Jackhammer is of course, holding a marathon party. Cue the Player Characters getting in amongst the guests, including random other VIPS, subduing Steel Jackhammer, stealing his legs and getting out again. The two-page spread presents a detailed and described floorplan of Steel Jackhammer’s apartment, stats for both him as well as his guards, pet gene-spliced big cats, and random VIP NPCs. The Player Characters then, are reapers, jacking cyberware off an unwilling victim. Getting this done will be a challenge, but doing so without notice even more difficult. The Player Characters have the advantage of the party going on around them and will doubtless act accordingly. The floorplans for Steel Jackhammer’s apartment are very well done and everything that the Game Master needs to run the scenario is placed in front of her on the two-page spread. ‘Reaper Repo’ is a one location scenario, playable in one session—and therefore a good convention scenario—driven by a combination of the Player Characters’ and random acts. Steel Jackhammer’s party would probably have run its course in a few days, but with the intervention of the Player Characters, it will probably turn into a chaotically memorable party.

The third item in the CY_BORG Asset Pack is the ‘Location Pad’. This a thick sheaf of locations—a cargo ship, clinic, dive bar, street alley, bodega, coffin hotel, killmatch arena, underground anarchist art commune, and more—a total of thirty-four of them, which provide a floor plan of each, plus three random tables of what the location is and what might be found there. There is also room for some notes. With a roll of three six-sided dice, the Game Master has some basic details about the location, and with the addition of a hook to get the Player Characters involved and stats for NPCs, she has a ready-to-play location. For example, the Datacrypt, the answer to “What’s in the Crypt?” might be that “Cables merged with roots from forgotten biological experiments below Cy, creating a sentient biotech ghouls that have taken over the crypt.”; “Secured on their local servers you can find”… is … “the far-reaching cyber tentacles of a powerful AI trapped deep in the Net long ago.”; and “Stuffed inside an unused server rack is” … “a motion detector alarm.” Roll again and the Game Master has an entirely different Datacrypt and with three sheets per location, she can mark it up again and add notes as needed. With a mix of contributions from both Stockholm Kartell and freelance contributors, this a resource that the Game Master can come back to again and again, creating new plots and encounters each time. The maps in the ‘Location Pad’ will, of course, work in any Cyberpunk roleplaying game.

The fourth item in the CY_BORG Asset Pack is a pad of characters sheets. These are clearly laid out, simple to use, and have game notes where necessary.

Physically, the CY_BORG Asset Pack is a decent package. The Artpunk style of both CY_BORG and Mörk Borg is kept to a minimum, whilst the ‘Location Pad’ is more utilitarian. The layout of the scenario, ‘Reaper Repo’, is very well done.

With the CY_BORG Asset Pack, the Game Master has some that she can immediately prepare and run for her players in the form of ‘Reaper Repo’. Then the poster map and the character sheets provide useful, serviceable support to a campaign, but in the long term, the Game Master has a set of tools in the form of the ‘Location Pad’ which she can use to quickly create a scenarios and encounters, whether that is before a game or even during a game, if a particular location is needed. Although it does not look it at first glance, the ‘Location Pad’ is actually the best item in the CY_BORG Asset Pack and certainly the most useful. It would be fantastic if Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell could produce a companion to the ‘Location Pad’, a book of encounters and scenarios built around designed by contributors and fans of CY_BORG. In meantime, the CY_BORG Asset Pack will energise the Game Master’s CY_BORG campaign until the last Miserable Headline…

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