Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Neuromancer: Design Notes

I'm working up yet another draft of the neuromancer.

Draft 1 was a skill-based class. All of the different hacking tasks were basically analagous to thief skills.

Draft 2 was a magic-user/cleric analogue. Programs were spells that could affect networked or mechanical targets and the turning table becomes the rigging table.

Draft 3 will likely use the rigging table for everything. For rigging, the HD of the target is the variable. (It's easier to hack a tiny drone than a helicopter) For hacking, the "HD" will measure the network's complexity and security. Once in, the neuromancer either controls the drone/rigged device, or can do one "hacking task" to the system each round.

First, some things I want to fix firmly as elements of the implied setting:

1. Earth is now permeated by wireless networks. As long as you have a device, you can access the network from literally anywhere.

2. Wearable tech is the norm, especially contact lenses.

3. Interfacing directly with the network is not the norm and requires specialized implants and training.

4. Pretty much everything is network ready: your car, your gun, your toaster.

5. The network can be seen as a series of icons and swipey holograms a-la the Avengers movie, the Minority Report flick, etc.

6. Not all hackers are neuromancers. 

Neuromancers are people with the specialized headware mentioned in point 3 above. They interface with networks and devices and can hack at the speed of thought.

The role I originally wanted neuromancers to play was that of the thief: they open doors, detect "noise," disarm traps, steal things covertly, etc. While I wanted the retro-cool of Shadowrun-esque deckers, those tend to be a huge pain in the ass in play. Therefore, I'm going with the "Minority Report Internet" model to keep the neuromancer running in real-time with the party.

So that's where I'm at right now. Once I've ironed out the neuromancer, I think I can move on to cybernetics. 

Oh, I should also mention... my soundtrack to this entire White Box cyberpunk thing so far is Nightstop. Listen to Nightstop for a track or three and you'll be in my headspace for this project.


  1. As always, curious to see more. Your vision of the future here is a bit more advanced than mine for sure - I'm still seeing something closer to 1e/2e Shadowrun. Most interested to see Draft 3 of the Neuromancer as it's closest to what I plan on. Not much to offer for feedback on the spell programs I'm afraid. Too far out from how I see things, so any feedback wouldn't be very meaningful...

    1. That's kind of how I envisioned mine to being with. (Shadowrun 2, anyway... that's my favorite edition of the game) I can't seem to keep the "swipey magic hologram internet" paradigm out of my head for this one. I also felt like the mechanics of the original draft of the neuromancer were too similar to the infiltrator and the face.

      You can continue to provide feedback on all things non-neuromancer if you wish.