Monday, March 21, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk Pt. 2: Contacts

On the mean streets of the cyberpunk dystopia, who you know, and who owes you favors, can make all the difference.

All characters start the game with a certain number of contacts, which can be accessed on the roll of 1 on a 1d6. Characters who begin with more than one contact by dint of character class can spend more than one contact on the same category, having fewer but more reliable contacts. For instance, faces start with 3 contacts. The face's player could start with hackers 1, fixers 1, safehouse 1, or perhaps fixers 2, safehouse 1, or fixers 3 and nothing else, or any other combination. 

As characters gain experience levels (and thus reputation), they gain additional points to put into contacts. These points are accumulative. Contacts cannot be raised above 5. 

When a character needs to get in touch with a contact, the player rolls 1d6. If they roll equal or less than the level of the contact, the contact is able to do them a favor. If they roll higher, the contact is either unavailable or unable to help. A category of contact can be called on only once per game session. 

After the favor is carried out, the GM should secretly roll against the character's contact. If the roll is successful, the contact will require a favor in return or otherwise cause a complication in the character's life in the near future. This is at the GM's discretion, but the return favor should roughly match the assistance provided. 

Note that if a player refuses to do the return favor, or if the contact is killed or somehow compromised, the PC can lose a point in that category. If that category of contact reaches zero, the character has burned his bridges and cannot access contacts of that category again until they have points to raise it back above zero. 

Here are the categories of contact and what kinds of help they can provide. The GM is free to add her own, alter existing categories, or disallow certain categories entirely. 

Corporate- Corporate contacts can slip an executive's shredding to the PCs, arrange for a brief hole in security, or simply supply them with the present state of the ongoing clandestine wars between the corps. They might even be able to identify which corproration has hired a particular group of operatives. 

Criminal- While most of these contacts are in fact criminals, the criminal contact specializes in finding out information about the 'plex's underworld: who's warring with who, what turf to avoid, etc. 

Fixers- Fixers can get hard-to-obtain black market items and find buyers for the same. Anytime a PC needs some illicit gear or needs to sell a commodity, they can dial up their fixer contacts to get it done quickly and discretely. 

Hackers- The PCs can use hacker contacts to sell purloined data/information, as well as obtain data. (The password to a network, perhaps) Hackers can also create technological chaos at a given site, allowing PCs to slip in more easily.

Law Enforcement- Most law enforcement in the cyberpunk future is privatized. Nevertheless, PCs can pull contacts to get minor offenses overlooked, divert the presence of police at a soon-to-be crime scene, or perhaps keep an enemy jailed a few days longer by cocooning them in red tape. 

Medical- The character can call up a back alley doctor, moonlighting paramedic, or other source of medical attention. Only relatively minor attention can be rendered by a contact; anything too severe and the character will likely have to pay. 

Muscle- The character can call on NPC thugs of some sort (ex-cops, gangers, freelancers, etc)  to provide protection, assault a target, or accompany the character into battle. The PC can call on a total number of HD worth of muscle equal to his level in the contact. If any of the NPCs are killed, the character loses a point in this category. Return favors will almost always involve violent situations. 

Safehouse- The character can call up an NPC who has somewhere to lay low for up to one week per level of the safehouse category. A character in a safehouse can rest, heal, and generally not worry about being hunted down by enemies for awhile. 


  1. You could adapt the MU and Cleric spell tables, contacts per level instead of spells ?

    1. I'd actually considered something like that, but in the end I decided to go with x in 6 to make contacts always at least a little unreliable.