Sucks To Be You
Life Sucks, buy a helmet... if you can afford one
Over the years of running I have come up with a few house rules related to Cyberpunk character creation.
No matter how well written character creation rules are there are always some players who will find ways to abuse them. These are tweaked character creation options I implemented to try and curb some of that abuse.
Cyberpunk 2020 character creation was mostly point-based, so my house rules were around those.
Get to the Point – Character Points
The Cyberpunk 2020 rules give three options for generating Character Points for Statistics; Random, Fast, and Cinematic. I used a variant of the Fast option, but instead of rolling a D10 nine times, ditching any 1s, I had characters generate the nine values by rolling one D6 and one D4 and adding them together for each value. This method produces values for the character's Stats between 2 and 10, so no need to throw out any rolls.
Math nerds will know that this method also produces a normal distribution more likely to produce values around the median. In this case the probabilities say that about 50% of the values would be in the 5 to 7 range, while only having about a 4% chance of generating a 2 or a 10. This is generally preferable to the Fast method, in which it is just as likely to get a 10 or a 2 as any other number, as it results in characters with a more realistic range of Stat values.
Get to the Point – Skill Points
Skill Points were another place where players could try and min/max their characters, splurging to pump the character's Special Ability all the way up to 10 right at the start. For my campaigns I introduced a rule that for Skill levels up to 5 it cost 1 Skill Point per level, but to raise the Skill above 5 cost 2 Skill Points per level; so the Solo putting points into his Handgun skill could get it to +5 for 5 Skill Points, but +6 cost 7 Skill Points, +7 cost 9 Skill Points and so on. This applied to both Career Skills and Pickup Skills, but only during character creation and did not apply when spending Improvement Points later on to increase a Skill.
Subordinate to No One
My game made use of the Subordinate Class/Role character option detailed in issues 2 and 3 of the first volume of the Interface Cyberpunk RPG fanzine, but with a slight modification to how Skill Points were used with them. Under the optional rules as defined in the magazine, the Skills listed under the Subordinate Class/Role were basically suggestions on where to spend the character's Pickup Skill Points. In my campaigns I gave new characters an extra 20 Skill Points at character creation that could only be spent on the Skills in their chosen Subordinate Class/Role. The higher Skill Point cost for Skill levels over 5 described above still applied to these additional Skill Points.
Experience is the Best Teacher
Under the core rules, new characters had 40 Skill Points that could be spent on Career Skills, and Skill Points equal to their INT Stat plus their REF Stat for Pickup Skills (any non-Career Skill). In my campaigns new characters also got Skill Points equal to the character's Age divided by 4 (round) down that could be spent on any Skill, plus an additional one D6 Skill Points that could also be spent on any Skill. The higher Skill Point cost for Skill levels over 5 described above still applied to these additional Skill Points and the Pickup Skill Points.
The higher Skill Point cost for Skill levels over 5 described above would keep Skill levels for starting characters lower than they would be under the regular rules. The rules I put in for Subordinate Class/Role Skill Points and the additional Age-based Skill Points helped compensate for this. Another option I sometimes used to help was an alternate rule for Pickup Skill Points. Rather than [INT + REF] in Skill Points for Pickup Skills, new characters would have Skill Points equal to each Stat that had skills associated with it (INT, REF, TECH, COOL, BODY, ATTR, EMP). These Skill Point could then be spent on Skills under the applicable Stat (i.e. a character with an 8 INT gets 8 points to spend on INT-based Skills).
Easy Come, Easy Go
Starting cash, and income in general, was another area where I used house rules.
Let's Get This Party Started
When combined with min-maxing their character's Special Ability, players would try and game things so they had a massive amount of starting cash with which to gear up with enough weapons, armor and equipment to make the starting character nigh-invincible (or as close as one could get in CP2020).
The first step to curbing this tendency, besides the alternate Skill Points rules detailed above, was to use alternate rules for starting cash. These rules provided more variability, and were also standardized so that the character's Role did not affect the amount.
- Starting Cash: D6 x 1000 + (Special Ability Level x 1000)
While the above rule made it so Roles had no impact on starting cash, as an option GMs can consider letting Fixers have an additional 10-100 times their starting cash in goods for trade and sale. Note that this is not intended to boost the character's personal gear, but represents part of their "regular job". Simply keeping this gear or handing it out to other player characters is not good for business, especially since in most cases the Fixer is simply a middleman and these goods do not actually belong to him, and the people on either side of the transaction might get upset if they did not get their money and/or goods.
The Clothes Off Your Back
The second step to put a check on powergaming players spending their starting cash on high-end equipment is a simple rule: when the new character starts in the campaign if the character didn't buy a piece of gear during character creation, the character doesn't have it. This applies to everything. Character didn't spend starting cash on clothes? Then the character is going into combat wearing nothing but whatever armor they bought (and hope it includes boots or shoes). Didn't buy food? Then they're gonna be pretty hungry. Didn't pay this month's rent on a place? Guess they're starting the game homeless.
This simple rule was enough curtail some of the more extravagant spending during character creation, since some of that cash had to go to necessities that in most games players don't need to give a second thought to.
Life in the Big City
Nothing in life is free. The character has spent their starting cash, hopefully including at least the current month's rent on a place to sleep, but what about tomorrow, or the next week, or the next month? Maybe the character has a regular job, providing a regular monthly income. In this case, use the following rule to determine how much the character makes per month rather than the value in the Occupation Table from the CP2020 rules.
- Monthly income: Special Ability Level x 1d10 x 100
This gives a little variability, as while it would be nice to have one's pay be based entirely on merit the reality is that people of the same skill level do not always get the same rate of pay. And remember, just because the character has a regular job right now nothing lasts forever. Keeping a regular job usually means actually showing up for said job, something that might not be easy for an Edgerunner.
Whether they have a regular job, or make money day-to-day from Edgerunning, characters probably want food to eat and a roof over their heads. The CP2020 Gear List includes costs for different kinds of food under the Groceries category as well as places to live under the Housing category, but feel free to use the costs in the table below in place of those Housing costs.
Rents in Night City
|+300 per extra room
|+1000 per extra room