Cyberpunk stat generation options

av Magnus Seter
Character generation in Cyberpunk is meant to be quick and easy to learn. Unfortunately, this means that the rules concerning character generation have a few quirks, which after a while, and after generating some characters (in Cyberpunk, you seem to generate a lot more charcters than in any other roleplaying game), leads to characters which causes trouble for the referee of the game, and since the referee have got enough trouble trying to run a good session without having to worry about gamers abusing the rules, I have put together some changes to the basic character generation rules.

Using the rules found in Cyberpunk 2020 gives either a very random way of generating character points for the characters or a very fixed, unyielding way. I will here introduce two new, rather similar ways of generating character points that provides players with some degree of randomness and some degree of control as to where the points are allocated. Also, these methods of generating stats provides us with plausible characters, where 10's and 2's will be rare sights, which will go towards making each character a bit different from the other, and at the same time, more interesting.

Option 1: Roll 9D10, and note every result on a scrap paper. Count every result of 1 as a result of 2. Then when youíre finished, distribute the results among your stats.

Option 2: Roll 9D10, and note every result on a scrap paper. Reroll every result of 1 . When youíre finished, distribute the results among your stats.

Example: Using option 2 the player rolls the 9D10, ending up with the results 10, 7, 6, 1 which he rerolls and obtains a 3, 8, 6, 4, 7, and 5. These numbers he then distributes according to his own wish: REF 10, EMP 8, COOL 7, INT 7, TECH 6, BODY 6, MA 5, ATT 4 and LUCK 3.

Extra Option: You may wish to give your players the opportunity to customise their character by some degree. Let them raise any one stat by one (1) step for every other stat that they lower by two (2) steps. This option may be used as often as the player chooses while still in the character generation mode.

This will generally result in "weaker" characters judging only by the stats, but will create more varied characters, where no one will be the same, as often occurs when using the current rules.

After playing several sessions of Cyberpunk, you begin to think about the stat called REF. According to the rules, the faster you are, the better you fight. This, I think, is wrong. Therefore, to get across the concept of speed being not related to accuracy, I hereby invent a secondary stat, namely COORDINATION, or COOR, to make it shorter. This stat is used as a base whenever making an attack, be it melee or missile.

It can also be used in whatever situation the referee finds appropriate, for example driving vehicles, disarming bombs, arming bombs and so on.

To decide the value of this stat, just add 1D10 to whichever stat generation system youíre using.

NOTE: The stats supplied in Cyberpunk generally suffers froom poor definition. In many cases you could logically use INT as well as TECH or ATT as well as EMP. The referee should decide which stat to use depending upon the situation and not follow the definitions given as to which skill is related to which stat. If the player can come up with a logical explanation as to why another stat should be used in a situation, then go ahead, let him/her use that stat.

Examples to where this could occur is when using the skill Streetwise (use INT instead of COOL) or Driving (use COOR instead of REF).

The referee should hesitate though, when introducing a new stat into Cyberpunk. With COOR added to the list, the total runs up to ten (10) different stats. This is probably enough, but if you think that itís necessary with another secondary stat, try it out for a while, and then decide wether to keep it or not. If the stat have been totally neglected in play, you should consider taking it away or begin creating situations that warrants the need for your new stat.

Since the rules have an option for fixed Character Points based on the position of the character in the game, I think it would be a good idea to introduce this option regarding Skill points also.

Decide what kind of character you are trying to create for your Cyberpunk game and then give him/her the amount of Skill points indicated in the following table.

Average: 40
Minor Supporting Character: 45
Minor Hero: 50
Major Supporting Character: 55
Major Hero: 60

These points can, as stated in the rules, only be used for buying Career skills. I suggest that points above Minor Supporting Character are used only when having a fixed campaign, with a clear path and a very fixed setting (eg police-campaigns or straight combat-campaigns). Consider that a Major Hero is in Martin Riggs's and John McClane's league, and that if you run such characters, they will work best in short, action-intense scenarios. But now you have the option of creating these crazy combat-gods from your favourite Nam-movie and go down in a blaze of glory. But, referees, be warned. If you give the players all these skill points and let them have a lot of cybernetics, things will start going downhill very soon. Now, don't come and say I didn't warn you.

Really difficult skills have Difficulty Modifiers which are multiplied by the base number of IP needed to advance one skill level, making them harder to learn, thereby reflecting the complexity of the skills involved. But...

If you buy these skills during character generation, you can reach a stupendous level of skill without really paying anything for it. You just buy the expensive skills during character generation, and trust upon you learning the other necessary arts later on. These particularly holds true for Solos, who can buy an expensive Martial Art without to much trouble.

Therefore, I suggest that the Difficulty Modifier is used also during the character generation stages. You simply pay the Difficulty Modifier to recieve one level of the skill (eg if you want to buy one level of Gyro Tech, you'll have to pay 3 skill points). As an alternative, you might state that the first 5 levels of the skill may be bought as usual, but that if the player wishes to purchase even higher levels, he'll have to pay the price.

These were some of the problems associated with character generation in Cyberpunk 2020. I hope the solutions suggested above will make your game smoother without bogging it down too much.