Friday, April 1, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk: Neuromancer Tables and Rules (Draft 1)

Before I knock out the full combat program descriptions for the neuromancer, I wanted to cover the rules for combat programs and rigging. (Essentially reskinned spells and turning)

Combat Programs
Neuromancers are assumed to have numerous regular utility programs on their personal computers and in their headware; combat programs are operations that the neuromancer has ready to go and can discharge in seconds. Neuromancers keep their program code on their personal devices and load them into a special headware implant that lets them interface directly with networks.

The neuromancer can prepare a number of programs from his deck (neuromancer slang for computer) according to the table below. The neuromancer can prepare redundant copies of a particular program by using more than one "slot."

Neuromancer Combat Programs 
Level             1      2     3     4     5              
1                    1      -      -     -      -
2                    2      -      -     -      -
3                    3     1
4                    4     2
5                    4     2      1
6                    4     2      2
7                    4     3      2     1
8                    4     3      3     2
9                    4     3      3     2     1
10                  4     4      3     2     2

Optional Rule: Neuromancers with an Intelligence score of 13 or greater can prepare one extra 1st level program. 

Neuromancers begin the game with the Copycat program and two other programs determined either by the GM or the player. (Or perhaps each picks  one) Neuromancers can learn other programs using the following methods:

-Gaining experience levels (the neuromancer may add one program of a level he can use)
-Creating new programs (GM's discretion- should involve time and resources)
-Using the copycat program to decode a program from a data node or a purloined deck
-Convincing another neuromancer to share their source code (Good luck with that, chum)

When a neuromancer executes a combat program, the player must make a saving throw. On a success, the neuromancer successfully launches the program to the desired effect. On a failure, security countermeasures block the program. The neuromancer must then roll 2d6 and consult the following table: 

Neuromancer Program Failure 
2: The program is wiped from the neuromancer's headware  and the neuromancer takes 1d6 damage per level of the program.
3-5:  The program fails and is wiped from the neuromancer's headware
6-8: The program succeeds, but is wiped from the neuromancer's headware 
9-10:  The program fails, but is not wiped from the neuromancer's headware 
11-12: The program succeeds but is delayed until the following round and is not wiped

In addition to loading combat programs, the neuromancer can use their headware to "dive" into a drone, vehicle, or other machine. (This is also called rigging, though that term is considered outdated and is often used ironically) The neuromancer rolls 1d20 and consults the chart below. On a success, the neuromancer gains access to the machine for 2d6 rounds. Note that if the chart lists a result of "H", the target is automatically hacked and control can be maintained indefinitely. A neuromancer can only have a total HD of machines indefinitely controlled equal to their experience level. Neuromancers can also rig a cyborg with less than 5 points of cybertolerance, though the victim is entitled to a saving throw to fight off the effect and cannot be indefinitely controlled. If a neuromancer fails to dive into a target, they are locked out of that particular target for 24 hours.

While rigging, a neuromancer must maintain concentration. They cannot execute any combat programs, though any programs already running continue to do so as long as they don't require concentration themselves. They can move at up to half their movement rate and can engage in combat, though at -2 to attack.

At the GM's option, this table can be used to resolve complex hacking attempts on the part of the neuromancer. In this case, assign the computer system a number of hit dice based on its complexity and restrictiveness. A small business wireless network probably has 1 hit die, a corporate arcology might have between six and ten, whereas an AI might have many more. (Especially the rumored 'Black AI' that exist in the deepest parts of the networks)

Neuromancer Rigging

Target                       Neuromancer Level
HD                      1    2   3   4   5   6   7   8  9-10
1                         10   7   4   H  H  H  H  H    H
2                         13  10  7   4   H   H  H  H   H
3                         15  13  10  7  4    H  H  H   H
4                         17  15  13 10  7    4  H  H   H
5                          -    17 15  13 10  7   4   H   H
6                          -     -   17 15  13  10 7  4    H
7                          -     -    -   17  15 13 10 7    4
8                          -     -   -     -    17 15 13 10  7
9-11                     -    -   -      -    -   17  15 13 10
12-18                  -    -  -       -   -     -    17 15 13
?                         -     -   -      -   -     -     -  17  15



  1. Very interesting, Wieg. You've gone a different direction with this than I've considered, by using the spells=programs concept. For my version, since I'm aiming at SR which will have magic, I wouldn't want to duplicate that mechanic with programs. indeed, my intention was to mirror the clerical turning mechanics - which you've done here with your rigging, and even offered as an alternative hacking system.
    I plan to simply let the hacker class carry out one action per round within the system once they've hacked in and gained control (as in your rigging). I'll have a simpler list of program/action options than your long spell list version. That seems too fiddly for my taste.
    I'm very curious to see what other feedback you get on this from your readers.

    1. I provided the optional hacking rules for those who might find the programs too fiddly as you do. I like your idea of just doing one operation per round once in the system. Who knows, it's quite possible that I'll scrap the spells-as-programs list and go with something like what you've got.

      If you look back at my first draft, the neuromancer was originally more like a thief than a cleric/magic-user.

      I'm also hoping some others chime in as well.

  2. Variety is always a good thing, in my book. You seemed to discard your original neuromancer draft pretty quickly after JB chimed in, but now I need to go back and look at that again.

    1. Heh - you know what? I like that version for the skills bit. Your 'mancer needs to first hack into the system to do anything (turning roll) then still make a skill check to successfully accomplish his various actions. In this case, he should definitely be able to improve those X-in-6 chances as he devotes time to coding better versions of his program s to do so. Just a couple of points per level, especially if the skill checks improve overall as he levels, as we discussed in the other post.

      This discussion is really helping me clarify how I want my own version to work, too. even if we end up with similar but different mechanics.

    2. Do you mind comparing notes on your hacker class?

      Right now I'm slowly moving back to having some kind of skill improvement for the other classes, although it needs to be much slower. My reasoning is thus:

      In Lamentations, niches are pretty thoroughly protected. The fighter is the -only- class that improves in fighting ability. A 10th level specialist and a 2nd level specialist have the same combat capability.

      On the flipside, the specialist is the only class who ever improves at common activities. While some other classes start off with certain tasks rated higher (dwarves and halflings, etc) nobody but the specialist -ever- improves.

      Here in my cyberpunk rules, all classes improve at combat, but nobody holds a candle to the enforcer. I think perhaps I should consider letting the other classes improve at tasks, but nobody should ever come close to hacking like a neuromancer or sneaking like an infiltrator.

      I might stick with the neuromancer-as-caster model, though, because otherwise there's too much similarity between the non-combat classes.

    3. I don't have much written up in detail, to be honest. At least, nothing reflective of my most recent ideas on things. Lot's of "head time" on this project.
      Let me gather my thoughts and I'll post more. The big difference is that by moving away from WB, and using BFRPG as my base, I'm not using X-in-6 checks anymore.
      More to follow...

    4. I'm really having a crisis of faith on the neuromancer. I'm currently working on yet another version of the class.

    5. It's the toughest to design for sure. Lots of problems with the versions in the original CP-inspired games, yet still a crucial role to be filled within the party. it's still one I think would be fun to play, so relegating them to an NPC isn't a solution in my book. Ultimately, it will need a lot of playtesting to be sure it's feasible at the table. I think that was JB's point early on. His attempt didn't play well, at least to his satisfaction.

    6. I think I might try to stat out one more level of combat programs before I scrap that version. Have you looked over that entry yet? What do you think?

  3. Not yet - at work. I'll check it out...