The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 4

It has been a while since I’ve written one of these, but with the move to a new job on the horizon I’ve been a bit busy. Combine that with some scheduling issues and we just haven’t had a session for a while.

Following on from the previous session’s conflict, our player character roster has changed slightly. We have:

  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.
  • Yuveleva “Loader” Konstantinovna – A Russian netrunner with a day job who seeks to earn mega-money through edgerunning.

Important NPCs that came up in this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Corrupted_Angel – A young netrunner under Iron Hawk’s employ who has started making a name for herself after a few successful clean up operations
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Doc Locke – A fully qualified doctor and medtech working for MediCare who has taken to edgerunning as a means of gaining practical experiences, as well as truckloads of cash.

We picked up the day after we last left off, with Hard Truth recovering from the wounds he suffered in his fight with Plata. He wanted to move, but couldn’t afford to pay a full month’s rent for what would have been about half a week, so he took his chances and waited for the month to be over before he moved apartment. During this time he decided to put his plans into motion and started a smear campaign against Plata, which gave mixed results. He successfully convinced one of the Jackals that Plata was a child molester and all around awful guy, hoping to get some rumours spreading within the gang that they both used to be a part of, but his attempts online were met with failure. He set up a fake profile on social media, spent a few days making “normal” posts, before making posts implicating Plata in sexual assault and pedophilia, however a netrunner by the name of n3t_sh4d0w uncovered the falsification and exposed it to the public.

Plata simply got out of hospital and was told by one of his colleagues that there was this smear campaign that someone tried to do on him, but the account was shut down shortly after being exposed as fake.

Meanwhile, Crossfire decided that he wanted to be homicidal and decided to go into the combat zone, going into Jackals territory in the middle of the night. He crit his streetwise check (hitting an almighty… average difficulty DC. He’s really not streetsmart) and managed to not get lost or stumble upon a group of angry combat zone gang members. Instead he found a pair of mildly intoxicated lovers, waited for the street to be clear, crept up behind them and shot the man in the back of the head, before grabbing the woman and choking her to death. He then put the bodies on top of each other, shot the woman in the back of the head and started to sneak away.

Now, for the record, I’m just as confused as you are, intrepid reader (unless you are Crossfire’s player, as I’m sure you had your reasons). Apparently, this was done to gauge reaction times of the Jackals, but I’m finding myself wondering if it was really necessary. Regardless, Crossfire was spotted sneaking away (as eight nearby Jackals heard the gunshot and one of them crit his awareness roll) and started trying to lose them in the alleys. Not being the most streetsmart of individuals, he got a bit lost and couldn’t seem to shake them. He eventually decided to climb up a building, rolling an impressive athletics check to start the climb, but he was seen by four of the Jackals who opened fire on him. Fortunately, they were unable to hit him before he managed to climb onto the roof of the building. He then managed to lose them while they worked out what to do about this and made his way back to the safety of the checkpoint and the moderate zone.

The PCs were then summoned to a meeting with Iron Hawk as she had a new job for them. They convened at a bar in Syndicate territory, where the PCs were introduced to Loader, a Russian netrunner who was to help them with this job. Iron Hawk’s motivations for giving the PCs this job were mixed. She has her reasons which I cannot disclose here for wanting Loader on the job (can’t say it because then the player could find out and it’s super secret right now!), but the reasons she’s giving this fairly big job to the PCs is a bit of forced development. Either the team will die on the job, or they will learn how to work together and not screw up as much. She used a bird metaphor and no one had the all-important zoology skill and I was disappointed, talking about how birds learn to fly. It seemed to go over the PCs’ heads.

The job itself was an important corporate extraction. The party were to extract an anti-AI researcher and bring him to a secure location in the combat zone. The party asked who was hiring for this job, but Iron Hawk advised that she could not divulge such information, but assured them this was not a kidnapping, as the target desired the move. Furthermore, Iron Hawk informed the party that three of her other more competent edgerunners were unavailable for hire as they were taking care of another job for her; these edgerunners were Corrupted_Angel, who had led the clean up operations following the PCs’ latest screw ups, Ghost and Doc Locke.

The PCs then spent the rest of the session planning what to do and considering purchases on the 40,000eb expense account they had been given for the job (they were told it would be a bad idea to run away with it. Spoiler alert, it would be an absolutely awful idea to run away with it). Loader demonstrated her netrunning prowess, subtly setting up a meeting between her and their target, as his email and phone contact details were undoubtedly tapped, so she hacked into a speaker at his home and made it play a message for him. As I had work the next morning and all most of what was going to happen was planning and purchasing, I decided to end the session there.


I thoroughly enjoyed this session, even though not much really happened. I’ve been waiting to spring proper jobs on the party for a while, and felt this was a good opportunity that would make sense. It’s a fairly substantial problem that the PCs have to tackle and multiple ways to go about it. It will be interesting to see how they go about it.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to compare how the PCs do it compared to the other team who are on a very similar job. The NPC crew, I will admit, were given the bigger, harder job, as Iron Hawk really needs the bigger job done right and didn’t want to risk giving it to this dysfunctional group of PCs she has; they are doing another extraction, but on an Autosoft executive. I have mapped out their plan, done the rolls and bought the gear they would need and I said I would show a comparison of the expense reports for the two teams and the two jobs, as anything bought on the expense accounts needs to be documented.

I can’t wait to see how it all pans out next week / the week after (depending on how long it takes).

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 2

What a roller coaster ride we had this week. I planned the next job for the PCs, intending it to be a thinker, one where they would really have to think about it rather than just attack it head on. Thought it would be good to send them up against some more organised opposition without throwing them against corporate security. Yet.

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Panther – An edgerunning solo who works for Iron Hawk. Very, very good with one-handed guns
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.
  • Acid – An edgerunning solo working for Cold Snap, dangerous in hand to hand combat
  • Omen – An edgerunning driver who works for Cold Snap
  • Aspect – A corporate manager of some sort who edgeruns by night, also working for Cold Snap

We picked up where we left off last session, with the PCs resting and recuperating after taking some hits from the last job. Plata bought some items through Iron Hawk, which we had already rolled for and mechanically taken care of during the week, and Crossfire came to the Combat Zone every day to perform first aid on Hard Truth to ensure he would heal and his wounds wouldn’t get worse.

This is actually where the initial fun began. Hard Truth, being a paranoid man, took different routes to meet with Crossfire each day. I had him roll streetwise checks each day to navigate the Combat Zone safely, which he did most of the time, but he managed to fumble the third day’s roll hard, so I brought out the random encounter table. The first one I rolled was that he got too close to corporate security guarding someone and they would shoot at him as soon as he got close, but I felt that didn’t make much sense as corporates have very little reason to go into the Combat Zone unless they’re edgerunners (who generally don’t have their own corporate bodyguards…), so I re-rolled and got possibly the best result I could have hoped for. Hard Truth, eternally wary that the Man was after him, started being tailed. He took alleyways towards his location, to see if this man who was shadowing him would follow through alleyways and he did; Hard Truth was being stalked! Hard Truth hid in an alley, pulling out his gun and holding it head height. The man shadowing him fumbled his awareness check and walked straight into the barrel of Hard Truth’s handgun. Hard Truth pulled the trigger, instantly killing the man following him. As he searched the man, he found a few eurobucks, a gun with some magazines, a wallet and two badges. One was his SIN card, the other was his detective badge. Clearly, the Man had sent this one to chase Hard Truth, when in reality he was wrongly following Hard Truth and was trying to locate a drug dealer who had gotten a corporate executive’s child hooked on drugs.

After this, Hard Truth approached Iron Hawk for information about this man and, being an information broker, she found the information and sold it to Hard Truth at a discounted rate, as he is one of her edgerunners, only charging him 750eb for the information. Hard Truth took photos and then burned the documents, as Hard Truth gave the information in document form to avoid an online paper trail. However, at the same time, Plata learned of the murder of the detective from his colleagues, but didn’t know Hard Truth was the one who was responsible, so he started to look into it himself. He looked around, not finding any evidence, so he approached Iron Hawk for information as well. She was hesitant to give it, as she knew it was one of her own edgerunners who had committed the murder, but promises from Plata of an in with the city police force and a persuasion crit of 26 (the DC was 25 because she’s very hard to persuade) meant that she said she would deliver the information, but told Plata that no one could know where the information came from and that she would deliver it to his place of residence in document form.

So, after all of this, the PCs finally got their job. They were to disrupt a deal between the Jackals and Cold Snap, who was selling sex workers. They were also instructed to bring the sex workers and the Jackals’ payment (as it would be in cash) back to Iron Hawk as well, as Iron Hawk was still looking to profit from the run. Plata hung back to hire on some additional firepower, the party choosing to hire a solo named Panther and a runner named Ghost, both fairly pricey, but also fairly skilled. It was amusing to me, as they hired one of the beefiest NPCs at Iron Hawk’s disposal and the weediest, with Panther coming in with Body Type 8 (strong) and Ghost coming in with Body Type 3 (weak).

Crossfire and Hard Truth went to find some information, approaching a prostitute in the general area of the deal and asking for information while visibly counting a few hundred eurobucks. She didn’t know the answers to their question, however I gave her a cool save to see what she would do… and she failed. So she lied. She told the PCs what they wanted to know and, as a class (yes, it is a class in cp2020) that relies on empathy skills, was quite good at lying to the PCs, so they went away believing they had the correct information. The bogus arms deal the prostitute told them about was later confirmed to be bogus information by Iron Hawk, as Crossfire sent it over to her as something of interest, and eventually Plata had to go undercover as a Jackal to find the real information, being a very good cop by mugging someone in the Combat Zone to ingratiate himself to a group of Jackals.

With information in hand and scouting performed, the group felt confident in their preparation and stormed in, with the exception of Hard Truth who had to loop back around after being spotted by one of the people at the trade. They went forward, trying to shoot the driver in one of the vans and shooting the tires. Panther destroyed both front tires on the van in the alley and put a large hole in the engine block, but was then shot at by Acid, a solo hired by Cold Snap to oversee the deal, who got lucky and hit Panther in the left arm and left leg, which were the parts that were out of cover, causing him a large number of wounds. Ghost channeled her inner Assassins Creed and climbed up the building, disappearing from sight for the time being while the rest of the group pushed in. Aspect, the corporate who was there to negotiate the trade for Cold Snap, grabbed one of the sex workers and threatened the player characters that if they didn’t back off she would execute one. The player characters continued pushing in, Plata trying to intimidate her to make her give pause, however Acid intimidated her more and she kept to her threat, shooting the prostitute in the back of the head. By this point, the remaining three were loaded into the van that the Jackals had brought, Acid intimidating the Jackals to let them take the van and rolling a 29 on his skill check. The driver, Omen, then rolled a 35 on his driving check and smashed through the pseudo-blockade presented by the original, disabled minivan that Crossfire and Panther was taking cover behind. Crossfire managed to dodge out of the way, but Panther was not so lucky, taking 3d10 damage, putting him deep into mortal wounds. Crossfire tried to stabilise him, but with his low tech stat and not great first aid skill was unable to hit the rather challenging DC to stabilise Panther.

Hard Truth also slowly made his way back around to the fight, trying to shoot out the tires of the minivan as it sped past, but was unable to hit it due to its speed. Ghost dropped from the rooftop and onto the Jackal who was running away with the money, killing him with her katana before getting shot by another ganger, failing her stun save (as her body type stat was a paltry 3) which kept happening over and over, as every turn a single attack would get through her armour and cause a single wound, triggering another stun save.

In the meantime, Plata had jumped onto the back of the speeding minivan, grabbing onto the doors and trying to rip them open. However, Acid noticed this and maneuvered to the back of the van, opening the door and stabbing Plata twice with his combat knife, causing Plata to go into mortal wounds. Stun saves and death saves were rolled, but Plata failed them, causing him to be clinically dead. Crossfire heard this and ran over, activating Plata’s healthcare plan by manually snapping the card (as he didn’t have an automatic biomonitor that could trigger it and went down before he could manually do it himself, before rushing back to Panther. When he got back, he discovered that Hard Truth had taken a nasty hit to the leg, the bullet going straight through the knee and rendering the leg inoperable (limb loss is a bitch), but Hard Truth was not quite on death’s door yet, having passed the initial death save for the limb loss, but not quite being in mortal wounds. Ghost managed to have a turn where no attack got through her armour and she promptly walked up to the two gangers near her, decapitating one and severing the other one’s leg, killing both. Crossfire picked up Hard Truth and carried him on his back, before performing a feat of strength to also pick up Panther’s now dead body, calling over for Ghost to get the car. She ran back to her car, unlocking it and power sliding into the alley, allowing Crossfire to load Hard Truth and the body of Panther into the back of the pristine car. She drove them to a ripperdoc known as Bonesaw, who also worked for Iron Hawk, who tried to resuscitate Panther but to no avail; Panther was permanently dead. On the other side, a MediCare team dropped into the street and recovered Plata, successfully resuscitating him with the help of their field ambulance and driving him off.

Crossfire reported to Iron Hawk, who docked their pay for failing to retrieve the sex workers, but then used his own pay to facilitate Plata’s medical costs and Hard Truth came to an arrangement with Bonesaw to replace his leg with the new one. The last thing that happened was as Ghost gave Crossfire a ride home, she was stopped at the gate due to her katana not being a “self-defense” weapon and was therefore illegal. She got on the phone, having a brief conversation in Japanese, before handing the phone over to the policeman who was causing the issues and after a brief phone conversation he waved them through.


This session was looooooooooooooooooong. Literally 7 hours long. There were interesting shenanigans and there’s likely going to be some conflict within the group as Hard Truth killed a detective, which Plata is going to learn about once he leaves hospital as the documents will be waiting for him, telling him exactly who murdered the detective…

I enjoyed the session, though I was a little disappointed with the direct, sledgehammer approach to this job. The players were told that there would be multiple parties here and one of those parties would be a rival edgerunning team. Really what they needed to do was turn the Jackals and the rival edgerunners against each other, and then mop up the survivors, or plant seeds of doubt in the Jackals’ minds and then side with them against the edgerunners. Taking the sledgehammer approach was far from optimal and I feel like they paid for it, making no net profit from this run and losing access to the stronger hire-able solo under Iron Hawk’s influence. I’m hoping that in the future they take the threat of rival edgerunner teams a bit more seriously, as Acid, the solo in the rival team, seriously messed the PCs’ team up.

I’m unsure what I will be planning for the next session. I believe it may be the last Cyberpunk 2020 one for now, as my fourth player is back for the week after next so we will be returning to D&D 5e as that game has priority, but I will see about having this as a regular game as well, but will need to check availability with my players. I’m perfectly happy to run two games per week (as I love doing it), but I will see what my players can do too.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 1

As promised in my last post I ran Cyberpunk 2020 last week, and will at least for the next few weeks due to player absence in my 5e game as working night shifts suck (I feel for you, my dear player). This was the first session of Cyberpunk 2020 with this group, though everyone was at least partially familiar with the system, having played it before. I will start by introducing the PCs:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And the important NPCs who came up this session:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So the PCs were told to meet Iron Hawk in the Combat Zone at a bar within Syndicate territory (who are one of the major gangs of the Combat Zone who operate more like an organised crime outfit) where she would give them the details for their first job. Hard Truth got their first, scoping the place out to make sure The Man wasn’t watching, before making his way inside and taking a seat at a very visible table that had all the entrances and exits in sight. Iron Hawk arrived second, with Plata and Crossfire arriving in quick succession shortly afterwards. Plata immediately shouted over to Hard Truth, asking if he had any drugs and if he was still hooked, to which Hard Truth replied he was over it.

The job details were given, a relatively simple smash and grab. Iron Hawk had an arms shipment coming into the Combat Zone that got hijacked and she wanted it back. She would pay the party 3000eb (eurobucks, the currency in cp2020) to retrieve it and sent them on their way, telling them it was hijacked south of one of the gates into the Combat Zone.

Plata made his way to talk to the police at the gate, which went well as he flashed his cop badge and rolled pretty well on his Authority skill check (the cop’s special ability) to gain information that the cops at the checkpoint had. He got some details as to where it was taken, as well as the plates and information that the hit was not a gang hit, but a more professional hit, implying another group of edgerunners had taken the van. Meanwhile, Hard Truth, being tailed by Crossfire, headed to the nearest bar located near the site of the hijacking. He looked for someone drunk and fumbled his awareness roll, so he found a drunkard… an aggressive drunk. He tried to butter the drunk up while attempting to pick his pocket, trying to steal his money so he could buy the drunk a drink, as he had no money himself, but then fumbled his pick pocket roll as well. A fight broke out between Hard Truth and this aggressive ganger who punched him in the leg (he was drunk and hit locations are amusing), then pushed him over when he failed his stun save. Crossfire ran in to help and grabbed the drunkard after he managed to stomp on the prone Hard Truth, once again hitting the same leg, but another ganger entered the fight, shoving Crossfire and telling him that it was between the two others. Crossfire’s attempts to pass it off that he was Hard Truth’s grandfather failed miserably, but then Hard Truth put on an impressive performance of pretending to be a prostitute, with Crossfire as his pimp, managing to crit the roll. The fight broke up after Crossfire threw the drunkard to the ground, who failed his stun save and was stunned and the bartender told them to get the hell out of there.

Afterwards, they approached a prostitute, paying her money to tell her what she saw on the night the minivan was taken. Shortly after, the PCs met to corroborate facts and eventually called Iron Hawk with the details, who told them it was likely the work of another fixer by the name of Cold Snap. Cold Snap had hired edgerunners to hijack the cargo and had sold it on to a group of junkies in Madhouse territory. She gave them the address and they headed to the location.

Once they arrived, Hard Truth managed to pick the lock on the back door and Crossfire snuck in to stealth kill a dealer who was looking around in the pantry of the house. He then continued upstairs, where he heard music, and proceeded to stealth kill a junkie and shoot another before being found out by the screams of the junkie who survived. The group was quickly swarmed by Madhouse gangers wielding knives and some poor quality firearms. In a feat of Neo-like dodging, both Hard Truth and Plata got caught in a spray of full auto fire from a sten gun wielding ganger. They both fumbled their dodge rolls, but both used a re-roll and both spectacularly crit their rolls, avoiding all of the shots. Plata took down multiple gangers with his .45 automatic and Crossfire fended off more in melee combat, dodging a lot of attacks by a hair’s breadth a lot of the time. Hard Truth fell prey to failed stun saves again, getting shot in the same leg that he had been hit in before, which by this point was getting rather amusing, but eventually the group managed to overcome the gangers. They tried to intimidate the last one down, but he was too out of his mind on drugs to be reasoned with and stabbed Hard Truth (as he was the closest one, but was quickly brought down by Plata.

Top Floor

It got scary at times, but the PCs eventually triumphed against the crazed, drugged up gangers!

 

The group then searched the house, finding the minivan and the full arms shipment, before driving it back to Iron Hawk and getting paid. Battered, bruised and, in Hard Truth’s case, limping a bit from repeated leg abuse, the party went their separate ways to rest, recover and await their next job opportunity.


I really enjoyed running this session and I loved how… dysfunctional the group is. Plata is very aggressive and is constantly berating his team, Hard Truth is a paranoid mess and Crossfire is an old man. It’s great. 10/10, would GM for again. And that I will, as next week will be another Cyberpunk 2020 session again. Need to work out what’s going on for next time, but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I am definitely more of a natural sci-fi GM than I am a fantasy one. Not saying I don’t enjoy 5e (as I also love that with this group), but sci-fi definitely comes more naturally to me. I think I make better plots and more interesting NPCs in sci-fi games.

I look forward to seeing what unfolds next session!