Jet Black / Red Planet

The Glass Dreams adventure at the university gaming convention proved popular enough for some players to ask the GM if he could start a regular Cyberpunk game. Myself and one other player from the convention game carried on playing our characters from the con (Snake Eyes and Tank, for those curious as to which characters). I started co-GMing the regular game fairly early on, and in short order the original GM left and I took over the campaign. The game started with the first edition rules for the RPG (Cyberpunk 1.0) and was set in that original timeframe of the then-future year of 2013. Time passed in the game, and the campaign timeline progressed into 2014 and beyond. When I decided to switch to the newer Cyberpunk 2020 rules, and its later setting of the year 2020, I ran an adventure to serve as a sort of finale for the initial campaign ahead of a time jump and soft restart. Here are some of the highlights of that initial campaign, leading to the soft reboot for the jump to 2020.

Rock and Roll

The early days of the campaign revolved around a Rockerboy named Jet Black. The other characters, like Snake Eyes and Tank, served as bodyguards and support for Jet and his burgeoning music career. Aside from Jet's rise the campaign also involved an ongoing conflict with the megacorporation Osaka Industries, which had been the antagonist in the original convention game. Players came and went, and due to the lethality of the Cyberpunk 1.0 combat rules some players wound up playing a succession of characters over time.

One such change was personal, as once I had taken over running the game full-time I could not keep playing my character from the con, the solo Snake Eyes. In game I had it seem like Snake Eyes had been killed, but in reality he had faked his death in order to adopt a new identity and dedicated himself to fighting Osaka as "Renegade".

Night City is Burning

The underground war against Osaka Industries eventually reached a head with a massive Boostergang war that engulfed Night City. Osaka had hoped to leverage the chaos to gain control over the city's law enforcement contracts, but efforts by Jet Black and his allies, helped by the sabotage conducted against Osaka by Renegade over the preceding months, exposed Osaka's secret involvement in the gang warfare. Osaka Industries was crippled and its assets later acquired by the Arasaka corporation, but the company leaders did not go out without a fight. Their final actions were to attempt to take vengeance on Jet Black and his people. As a result Jet and his immediate entourage chose to leave Night City, moving up the well to take up residence in an orbital habitat.

Sending several characters away was primarily done because the players were leaving or had left, and it presented an opportunity to "write them off the show" so to speak. For a brief period afterwards the campaign relocated to New York City.

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

In addition to the main game there were often opportunities for one-off sessions. These were still part of the larger campaign, and would sometimes involve some of the regular NPCs. One of these one-shot games was set in deep space, aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Saturn. A conglomerate of orbital corporations were engaged in early terraforming efforts on Mars, efforts involving attaching powerful engines to chunks of ice from Saturn's rings and sending them to crash into Mars to increase the water content on the arid world. On this mission to attach rockets to the next batch of ice-teroids the crew consists of a pilot, two technicians, and a corporate representative; as well as the ship's onboard artificial intelligence the JCN-2100, aka "Jason". Unknown to most of the crew, the corporate rep has secret orders, orders that the computer is also aware of. The rep's orbital corporation had been taking advantage of the distance and solitude to conduct illegal biological experiments out at Saturn. Contact had been lost with the ship conducting the experiments and the rep had orders to find out what happened.

The Jason AI put the ship in an orbit that would make sure they would approach the derelict research vessel. When the crew boarded the derelict they found all but one person aboard was dead. They brought the survivor back to their ship, unaware that what they brought back had been mutated by the illegal genetic experiment being performed on the derelict. The mutant creature attacked the crew, who barely survived. They set course back for Earth, entering suspended animation for the years-long journey, realizing only too late that the corporate rep had betrayed them and infected them with the same thing that had created the creature from the derelict.

This one-shot was mostly just a fun Alien-type horror adventure run using the Cyberpunk rules, but I still considered it part of the overall campaign. I would periodically remind the players from the one-shot, who were also in the regular game, of when the ship from Saturn would reach Earth. Sadly the campaign ended before the in-game timeline reached the point where the ship and its mutant creatures would reach Earth.

Saturday Night Massacre

It is difficult to pin down an exact point for when the campaign transitioned to Cyberpunk 2020 rules, but there is one particular game session I consider a front runner. This was one of the most lethal sessions I'd ever run, with several player characters killed or effectively written out of the game. What is most surprising is the fact that I as the GM had very little to do with the actual events that took place.

The events revolved mainly around the character of Tank, one of the original characters in the campaign, still being played by the same person who had played the character in the Glass Dreams convention game that spawned the ongoing campaign. The main instigator of events was a Media character, being played by a player who was relatively new to the game. For whatever reason the Media told Tank, who was being hunted for being AWOL from the army, had been betrayed to the military by one of the other characters, though he did not know which one. This was not in fact true, and to this day I do not know why the Media's player had his character tell this to Tank.

Tank proceeded to brutally interrogate the two other main player characters in the game, a Techie and a Netrunner, to find out which one had betrayed him. Since neither actually had, there were no answers forthcoming. The Techie managed to discover that it was the Media who had set Tank on this path, the Media that had also been badgering the Techie to get him a chipped heavy machinegun. The Techie decided to get revenge on the Media and recruited the Netrunner to help. Acquiring the heavy machinegun, the Techie booby trapped it. First, he had the Netrunner place some Black ICE software in the interface socket so that when the Media jacked into the weapon it would attempt to erase his mind. Just in case the Media was able to disconnect before the ICE did its job, the Techie also implanted plastic explosive into butt of the weapon that would be armed when the Media plugged into the weapon's interface socket and detonated when he unplugged. The machinegun was provided to the Media, who was ecstatic to have his new toy.

When the Media finally decided to try out his new weapon, it happened to be when he was in a news helicopter flying over Night City. As soon as the Media jacked into the gun the ICE attacked, trying to fry his brain. Luckily, so he thought, the Media managed to pull the cable free and disconnect from the gun. That was when the plastic explosives detonated. In a helicopter. Several hundred feet in the air. Surprisingly the Media actually survived the initial explosion. He did not survive the fiery crash to the street though. One down.

On learning of the death of his “friend” the Media, Tank immediately, and correctly, blamed the Techie and the Netrunner and set out to hunt them down. The Techie saw the writing on the wall and immediately fled Night City, a contingency he had planned for. Two down. The Netrunner was not so lucky. He ran to a contact of his for help, a senior official at City Hall. Along with the official's bodyguards they took a secret underground subway to try and get the Netrunner somewhere safe. Unfortunately Tank, being a full-conversion military cyborg, was not easily stopped. Tank made his way into the subway tunnel, caught up with the train, tore his way inside, and proceeded to empty the clips of both his implanted sub-machine guns. The bodyguards, the Netrunner, and the City official were a fine red paste coating the inside of the subway car. Three down.

Needless to say the Night City authorities were not thrilled with the murder of a City official and his security detail. In short order Tank was the most wanted man in Night City and had gone into hiding. Tank was located by the Solo named Renegade, who revealed that he was really Tank's old compatriot Snake Eyes, having faked his own death some time earlier. Renegade helps Tank acquire a new identity, including hiring a Netrunner to create the necessary background and credential data in the Net and, more radically, arranging for Tank's brain to be transplanted into a new full cyborg body.

The player continued to play Tank in his new identity for a short while, but then decided to create a brand new character to play with instead. With no player characters from the original Glass Dreams and start of the game active it marked the start of a new era in the campaign.