Tuesday 9 February 2016

Mellow Cyberblues City by Polar Blues Press

Cyberblues City is a cyberpunk roleplaying game based on the Fudge system. Laid back Cyberpunk is a phrase I didn't think I'd write today. Squeeze out the gritty, harsh realities of social disparity, lighten the mood with bad guys who really are just very bad people and frame with a system that is Lite, tried and tested and you have a neat, mellow, dryly humorous Cyberpunk RPG.

You, punk

Your neo-punked dead tree avatar rises from the brain soup with traits of Thinking, Fighting, Shooting, Strength, Reflexes and Cool. In the Fudge tradition, they are ranked GREAT (+3), GOOD (+2) and FAIR (+1).

Your job in the team is defined by your role (Enforcer, Grifter, Ghost, etc), which jacks you up with bonuses and a career that gives you expert knowledge. The combinations produce some wonderful concepts: Radical Blogger Enforcers, Dentist Gunfighter or Lawyer Ghost.

Gifts are abilities, skills or possessions that give you specific bonuses and there are a load to choose from such as Cyber Adrenal Gland, Martial Arts and Signature Weapon.

Fate points are earned during play for doing cool things and are spent to give you bonuses when you need it most. Toughness is how much damage you can take before you fall over and default equipment tools you for the rain soaked neon streets.

Do you feel lucky, PUNK?

The GM (definitely a suit, don't trust them) sets a difficulty on the scale of TERRIBLE (-1) to LEGENDARY (6). You roll two D6 of different colours (one being negative) one being positive and add them together along with Traits, Gifts, Bonuses and any Fate Points.

Cyberblues uses Margin of Success (how much over your target you are) to determine damage. Damage is subtracted from toughness until you fall over. Once you're down, another dice roll shows if you're going to pull through. Initiative deals with the team as a whole and gives the opportunity for team-wide bonuses.

Complex tests are multiple rolls to achieve a result and characters gain reputation in place of XP. There are Goon creation rules along with cinematic vehicle rules too.

Mellow Cyber

It is no easy task to create a Cyberpunk game that gives the genre a new take. The 80s/90s tropes are well embedded in culture now and the cliches flow like nanite through veins. The Mellow smooths out the rough edges of punk by the tone of the Gifts, Equipment, Traits, Roles and the sketched imagery throughout. A soft pencil is in stark contrast to the sharpness of the chrome it represents. There is little grit here and that helps give it the feel of a Cyberpunk that The Dude might approve of.

Mild Cheddar

Cyberblues City could do with some more depth of flavour. The City itself is thinly described and although the language is clear, it could sound a little more Cyberpunk, either by callout quotes or adjusting the names of things. A map and sample adventure would do wonders. I wonder if the gentle tone is a side effect of being the product of a design collective rather than a single vision.

I'd like to see more examples of play to demonstrate the rules. Especially for vehicle combat. I can see it playing out really well in my head but I had to stop and think about it. It does a good job of describing Fudge, but those examples would help the game immensely.

Cyberblues City achieves what it sets out to do. It's a Fudge system game that adds enough punk sauce to make it feel Cyberpunk. I'd like more depth in setting but I did find myself smiling during my read through. If you have that dream spinning around your cortex and need a Lite system to run it then Cyberblues is for you!


Unknown said...

So if you had to pick between this and Rewired, which would you rather play?

Rob Lang said...

Ah ha, Michael, if I may, you are a devilish sort. I can see you're the kind that asks a parent to choose a favourite child!

I would perhaps play a mellow Cyberpunk on the Rewyred system. WYRM as a system is just brilliant and would play it at any opportunity.

I would also check what game my players would like to play because that has most of the influence over the system I choose!

Polar Blues Press said...

Cyberblues City is now Cyberblues City Deluxe. The new edition feature a brand-new, off-the-wall setting, Cyberblues London, and all new, full-colour artwork. There is also an event generation table to help create adventures. In now double the page count but still free.

The old link is still valid, but there is now a new, more informative link here: https://ukrpdc.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/cyberblues-city-deluxe/