"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Night City - Cyberpunk, Psi-Bond

Night City is an city sourcebook for Cyberpunk released by R. Talsorian Games. It was released in 1991 so there is a little bit of the issue where they could not have predicted the way some things would change or that there would be some things happen. Let me start by saying that regardless this may be the best modern urban offering I have seen.

The book details Night City which is a planned community operated by a conglomeration of corporations. One can not help but think of New Detroit from Robocop when you start thinking about this. The book comes in at 184 pages and every one is useful' The book is a cross between a keyed encounter book and a travel planner like you would get for San Francisco or other major city.

The premise of the opening section of the book layout is that this is a hard copy of information you would get from Dataterms. Dataterms are data terminals that are located through most urban areas. I can not stress how well these are done. There are even cross link pointers on pages telling you where else you could find information. Once you get into the keyed areas this is not present but it is not really needed.

One of the best items in the book are the maps. These are presented in a manner that they are easy to read. In addition they are black and white line drawings. I know that this may seem like a drawback but this makes them easier to read. There are overview maps that are two larger maps and then maps for Urban Controlled Zones which are a small subsection of city blocks.

The book contains material on the city in an amazing level of detail that the GM might never use. It has ways to get to the city via public transportation, parking regulations and, transportation in the city. It also has sections on media in the city, hospitals, personal services and, financial services.

There are maps of all the major means of access into and around the city. These provide information on schedules for the transportation as well as a map of the location itself. The surrounding area of Night City is mapped out for the GM as well. There are then overview maps of the city with locations for services mapped out. These maps are below. Each map is on a single page and includes specific information that the GM can use to make the city seem alive. Each maps key then points the GM to the page where each keyed item is described.

Colleges & Fine Arts
Hotels & Lodging
Clubs & Nightlife
Performing Arts & Sports
Public Services
Restaurants
Shops & Services
Parking and AV Facilities

The next two section give a synopsis of what life is America is like in 2020 and the state of the union as it were. It goes over a number of topics that not germane to the sourcebook will give the GM an idea of how society might be doing as a whole. The section on Night City history is smaller but provides the GM an idea on how things were and perhaps adventure ideas that could be derived from that.

The next three sections cover the people of Night City, threat levels plus threat codes & security in the city and finally the gangs of Night City. The people section breaks most people into certain types and then describes them. There is then information on working, eating, fun and shopping for each type. The security section is much smaller and not so useful it seemed. The gangs section is a gem though. It shows where each gangs territory is. Each gang is then presented with a brief writeup and stats provided for an average member. While looking here all I heard in my head was "Warriors, come out and play."

For the record this is all contained through page 55 of the book.

Pages 56 through 181 contain information on the Urban Controlled Zones. My count may be a little off but there are nineteen distinct zones that are provided. These range in size from four to twelve city blocks. The map showing the zones has a legend telling you what page each starts in. It also has a brief one paragraph description of the area.

The zone description are nothing short of exhaustive. In some cases each building is described. It tells you what the building houses and something about them. For those who have the City State of the World Emperor think of that but with more detail. In addition to the site information each zone is presented with a section on Personalities special to the zone, a encounter table for the zone and then contacts that might reside in the zone. There is often a what might be thought of as a pop up window with local color or other zone specific side information that helps the GM add color and life to the city. I won't describe each of the zones but I think I have painted a picture of what to expect.

The last section of the book is called Dataterm Utilities. This is actually something the the GM may use more than anything else. It presents guidelines on what information the players would be able to get from the dataterm and if the information would be available. For being 1991 they came pretty close to describing what the information we see today on the Internet is like. One has to wonder if perhaps this influenced programmers who design things today.

Get this book if you play any sort of modern game. Not much more needs to be said.

Spell:

Psi-Bond


Level: Fifth
Range: Touch
Duration: Special
Ares Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Saving Throw: None/Special

By means of this spell the magic-user creates a bond between themselves and the willing recipient of the spell. This spell can not be cast on a non-willing recipient. The spell can be broken at anytime by either party but will remain in effect until broken.

The bond is one that will allow both the caster and the recipient to see, hear and even feel what the other is experiencing. There is no connection as far as memories so they will not know what the other knows or even what they are thinking while under the spell though other spells or abilities might allow this.

The level of detail from the connection can be somewhat controlled by either party for themselves. If desired it can be powered down so that the sensory input is next to nothing comparative to what the other is experiencing. So if it is all but off there will be only minor impact through normal situation but if the other party experiences something major it will jar the other as well. It can also be powered to full when the person is all but in two places at once as far as sensory input is concerned.

Even at the lowest level of connection there will be some impact on the participant. While connected all ability checks, combat rolls and saving throws are made at a -1 or the reverse if higher is worse. The highest level requires full concentration and the person maintaining this level can perform nothing more than basic tasks and can not carry on conversation or do anything requiring in depth thought.

As stated earlier the spell can be broken at will by either party. The spell will also be broken if either party dies or goes unconscious. If the bond is broken by either of the latter two occurring the other part must make a saving throw versus Death Magic. If the other party loses consciousness this save is at -2 and if the other party dies it is at -4. Those who save a re merely stunned for one round unable to perform any action. Those who fail must make a second save or pass out from shock for 2-5 turns and if that save is made they will still be stunned for five to eight rounds.

The material component of this spell is a pair of matching necklaces. Each will be half of some whole object. Both parties must wear the necklace while the spell is in effect. Taking it off can occur as long as it is off for no more than two rounds but during this time there will be no contact and if off for more than two rounds then spell is considered willingly broken even if the taking off of the necklace was not.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit. 

1 comment:

Ka-Blog! said...

I second your review of Night City. It's one of the best sourcebooks from the Cyberpunk game and I've used it for modern settings -- even for Superhero campaigns.

Also, the amount of cross-referencing is incredible. It's almost like a paper Wiki.

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