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Saturday 29 April 2023

Magazine Madness 20: Interface RED Volume 1

The gaming magazine is dead. After all, when was the last time that you were able to purchase a gaming magazine at your nearest newsagent? Games Workshop’s White Dwarf is of course the exception, but it has been over a decade since Dragon appeared in print. However, in more recent times, the hobby has found other means to bring the magazine format to the market. Digitally, of course, but publishers have also created their own in-house titles and sold them direct or through distribution. Another vehicle has been Kickststarter.com, which has allowed amateurs to write, create, fund, and publish titles of their own, much like the fanzines of Kickstarter’s ZineQuest. The resulting titles are not fanzines though, being longer, tackling broader subject matters, and more professional in terms of their layout and design.


Technically Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 is not a magazine. It collects some of the downloadable content made available for Cyberpunk RED , the fourth edition of R. Talsorian Games, Inc.’s Cyberpunk roleplaying game. So, its origins are not those of a magazine, but between 1990 and 1992, Prometheus Press published six issues of the magazine, Interface, which provided support for both Cyberpunk 2013 and Cyberpunk It this mantle that Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 and future issues is picking up in providing support for the current edition of the roleplaying game. As a consequence of the issue collecting previously available downloadable content, there is a lot in the first is that is immediately useful can be prepared for play with relative ease. There is also some that is not, and may not make it into a Game Master’s campaign.

Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 opens with ‘Old Guns Never Die: A step-by-step conversion guide for bringing weapons from Cyberpunk 2020 into Cyberpunk RED’ by Mike Pondsmith, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith, and J Gray. One of the issues with Cyberpunk RED is that its technology is often genericised and that includes its guns. This is in comparison to the weapons of Cyberpunk, in which all of the weapons are named and branded. In part, this has been offset by the release of the Black Chrome, but that does not include weapons or piece of gears from the previous versions of the roleplaying game. Which is where this article comes in, providing a step-by-step process that enables a Game Master to take a design from the previous editions of the roleplaying game and bring it up to Cyberpunk RED. The article is nicely supported by an example and enables the Game Master to loot her old sourcebooks for material just as the Player Characters can loot the city and beyond for old technology.

‘Red Chrome Cargo: A Cyberpunk Red Screamsheet’ by Cody Pondsmith is the single adventure in the magazine. Tensions have come to the boil in Night City’s Combat Zone as two gangs, the neo-fascist Red Chrome Legion and the heavily cybered Iron Sights, the Player Characters are connected by a fixer. His clients wants them to rob a train and steal a Red Chrome Legion shipment. In other words, this is a train heist, and it is as simple as that. The Player Characters have to get from one train to the target train, deal with any opposition, and bring the goods back. This is all action and combat, though the mission definitely requires a Netrunner. Although simple, the mission is nicely detailed and the Screamsheet makes a great handout. The mission will also make a decent demonstration scenario and so could be run at a convention, and it is easy to add to a campaign.

Mike Pondsmith, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith, and J Gray further provide ‘Single Shot Pack: Pregen Characters and NET Architectures’. This presents ten pre-generated Player Characters (or detailed NPCs as required) and six ready-to-use NET Architectures for the group’s Netrunner to hack. There is one Player Character for each of the roleplaying game’s archetypes and the NET Architectures include ones for conapt security, clinic security, a small corporate facility, and even a vault for anyone who likes to lock their valuables away. All of these are designed for use on the go. The NET Architectures are easy to use and the ten pre-generated Player Characters can easily be used as replacement characters, as NPCs, or even in conjunction with the ‘Red Chrome Cargo: A Cyberpunk Red Screamsheet’ for the demonstration game.

‘Cyberchairs: New options for mobility’ by Mike Pondsmith, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith, and Sara Thompson detail two models of cyberchair. The Mecurius Cyberchair is wheeled, whilst the Spider Cyberchair has legs. Both require operation, but both can plugged into operated cybernetically of course. Their inclusion opens up options in terms of representation of the disabled in the Time of the Red and enables their characters to become actively involved in missions and adventures.

The longest entry in Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 is actually two entries, dedicated to the same in-game MMORPG played via Braindance. ‘Elflines Online: A Segotari Rush Revolution Exclusive’ by James Hutt and Mike Pondsmith explains what it is, whilst ‘Elflines Online: Expansion Pack’ by James Hutt and Melissa Wong adds further background—online and offline—as pre-generated ready-to-play characters for the MMORPG, to the game within a game. Essentially this pair of articles is about a popular leisure activity in the Time of the Red, that the Player Characters really can play if they want to, almost as if they were roleplaying like the players. It has rules for in-game character creation, but otherwise uses the mechanics of Cyberpunk RED. The articles suggest the game as a platform where the Player Characters met, can encounter other NPCs, or simply as diversion. It is an interesting option that adds a layer of both immersion and complication, and that perhaps means it may not be suitable for every Cyberpunk RED campaign.

Lastly, the all-new article in the magazine is ‘All About Drones: Your Amazing Animatronic Friends!’ Written by Mike Pondsmith, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith, and J Gray, this adds the element of biomimicry to drone design, such as the giraffe-like Zhirafa GRAF3 construction drone (there is even a junior model, My First GRAF3 for the budding engineer to build) and the Savannah Panther patrol drones. The five drones here have a generally utilitarian to them despite the thematic design, and they are all solid additions which add colour and flavour to the streets of Night City.

Physically, Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 is cleanly, tidily laid out. The map for the screamsheet is somewhat scrappy, but the artwork elsewhere is excellent, and the shorter page count means that that it feels as if there is more of it.

Although much of it was originally available for free, with the publication of Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 it is nice to have it in print. There is much that is useful and helpful in its pages, but none of it is absolutely necessary to expand either the rules or setting of Cyberpunk RED, and some of it, will be simply labelled as silly by some gaming groups. Overall, Interface RED: A Collection for Cyberpunk RED Enthusiasts Volume 1 is a solid, but essential first issue.

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