CyberTex (2nd edit)
This is a little intro sheet I wrote for my players back in 2015. Need to spend some time improving and updating it.
What’s the vibe? (added 4/20/17)
Think William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy meets Gunsmoke meets Bladerunner. CyberPunk in the enclosed ecology of the Texas Corridor Megacity. Rain, fog, mist, bright lights, shadows, saloons, mercenaries, religious wackos, rogues, street samurai, cyberspace cowboys, underground fighting leagues, designer drugs, SimStim addicts, loosely enforced law, people after you, people you are after, trying to get enough New Pesos to move to el Grande and retire, spinners (the flying cars from Bladerunner) and crappy conversions of old cars from the 20th century, mag-lev mass transit, black clinics, cranial chip slots, bionic body parts, struggling to survive in an urban jungle of neon and microcircuits. Everyone has a hustle, you snooze you die.
Players should read the intro material on character types from GURPS Cyberpunk. While our setting will not match the 1980s vision of the future exactly, the character types (body guard, cop, etc) will fit in nicely.
Please put some thought into an interesting background that fits with the genre. Write a few paragraphs. Make up any names, corporations, entities you wish. I will fit them into the game even it it takes a little adjustment of them — this will all help make the game world richer and assist me in its creation.
Coming up with a good character concept before the Character Building session will make it all go much better and result in more interesting characters to play. An ex-cop with a cybernetic leg and an addiction to synthetic endorphins? Sure — he can have green hair too.
Here are a few notes to think about ahead of time, as well as some premliminary notes about the game world that each character would know.
The campaign will take place mostly in the Texas Corridor MegaCity. Picture Texas with it’s current demographic trends in 2065. Heavily hispanic population. Also a heavy Asian-Texan population. Most people of mixed descent. English, Spanish, and Vietnamese are useful languages. The Texas Corridor (TC) interacts a lot with the Mexico City Super Complex (El Complejo Grande, or simply El Grande — 50 million people).
World tech level is 9, but you will see all tech levels below that too. Not everything is TL9, and the highest TL stuff that exists is reserved for the super rich/powerful. A few technologies have simply not been developed. Advances in nanofabrication and engineering came to a halt in 2045. Quantum computing, while initially promising, also failed to be developed. Rumors of the creation of a quantum super intelligence in 2044 are sometimes tied to the “death” of these technologies, and have led to the formation of several religions.
Starting Money — $30,000
Starting Character Points – 200pts and max of 50 in disadvantages/quirks.
GURPS primary character attributes are very different than D&D in their scale. First, point cost for Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Health are rather high.
Example: each +1 STR costs 10 character points. Each +1 DEX costs 20pts. The base of each is 10 — average human value. There is a formula for calculating a character’s maximum 2-handed “lift”, based on STR. Just as a benchmark, a STR 11 can lift about 193 pounds max. STR 12 and lift 230 pound. STR 15 can lift 360 pounds. STR 20 can lift 640 pounds. So as you can see, even Conan would be well under 20. 20 will be considered the un-cyber/bio enhanced max.
I will be posting a list of required/recommended/allowed skills.
Each character would be well-served to have “Contacts” and/or Streetwise, or one or two similar advantages or skills, as this kind of campaign involves a lot of social interaction, “fast talk”, etc.
Each Skill is linked to a primary attribute (STR, DEX, INT, HT) for success rolls.
Skills are relatively inexpensive to purchase at their base (Attribute +0) level. They are ranked Easy to Hard to learn, and the cost is based on that. There’s a table for skill point cost.
While things in the MegaCities are wild, it is generally not cool to walk around with a machine gun. Handguns are typically concealed. Even in Texas. Surprise is your friend — as long as it’s in your favor. You may assume that your character can start the game with an appropriate weapon or two – just have to spend the money.
Cyber/Bio Enhancements (referred to as Cyberwear in GURPS Cyberpunk)
We’ll be using the Cyber Enhancements from GURPS Cyberpunk and Ultra-Tech (which I will make available), and Bio Enhancements from GURPS Bio-Tech (when tech-level appropriate). Cyber/Bio enhancement will require both an outlay of character points and $$. Changes to existing cyber enhancements, if the same point cost, require only $$ outlay, and a skill roll by the surgeon/technician for success. Damaged cybernetics must be repaired at the owner’s expense unless they have a special arrangement with an employer or patron.
The year is 2065. Climate change has rendered vast areas of the world uninhabitable, resulting in ultra-urbanization of society in massive cities covered by self-repairing bio-synthetic polymer domes.
While the climate has gone wild, science has made great strides in three areas; energy, bio-engineering, and cybernetics.
In the late 2020s, scientists and engineers created the first stable, self-sustaining fusion reaction at Los Alamos National Labs. 6 month after the announcement, the hacker group Anonymous gained access to lab data and made it accessible all over the internet.
By 2030 the world had abundant cheap energy thanks to fusion technology, but it was too little, too late. Climate change was far past the point of reversibility. Sea levels were rising, reclaiming huge sections of coastal cities. The Atlantic Current had shifted, bringing a permanent Winter to the United Kingdom and most of Northern Europe.
In the US Southwest, permanent drought began took hold.
As the climate changed, cities began an unorganized process of “dome-ization”. First, vast areas of major cities were retrofitted to make outdoor travel unnecessary, through systems of covered roads, tubes, and giant AC systems. Large metros created huge water reclamation systems, air filtration systems. As the planet’s biosphere was ravaged, food production became an issue. Genetic engineering allowed creation of crops suited to indoor/vertical gardening, but vat-grown food products became the staple for all but the super rich.
Eventually, giant, interconnected domes were constructed over the world’s mega-cities. Advances in material science allowed the fabrication of thin, self-healing polymer films with the properties needed to insulate the interior from the outside temperatures (be they hot or cold). These mile-high structures effectively sealed the cities from the outside environment, creating their own micro-climates and artificial biospheres. All this made possible due to a combination of fusion and solar power.
While the world’s megacities do have governmental and security organizations, the corporate world controls most resources. By 2065, the rich are not only richer, but hold the means of life and death. Though technological advances might allow the “cleaning” and regeneration of Earth’s natural biosphere, there’s no money in that. The rich and powerful suppress such technology and planning to further their own goals and ambitions.
As the climate changed, and people moved “indoors”, notions of state borders and national borders came to be less important. While the United States still exists on paper, it is now composed mostly of 3 mega-cities — the East Coast Complex, the Texas Corridor, and the West Coast Complex.
The United Kingdom exists primarily as the London Complex. Mexico City has claimed most of that country’s population.
Inside the MegaCities
Environments inside the MegaCities are quite different from those outside the domes/barriers. The self-repairing dome membranes are designed to seal in moisture and air, and provide an effective insulation from the sun’s heat. Giant filtration systems clean the air inside the domes, dumping waste chemicals out into the natural environment.
The Cities have their own “weather”, with precipitation, fog, mist, etc.
In most cities, there is a 2-mile wide border between the inhabited area and the wall. This area is agricultural — or at least an attempt at it. Trees are allowed to grow. Not enough natural food is grown, however, and most people get 80% of their calories from vat-grown food stuffs. Cloned animals are also released into these Agri-Zones. It is illegal to own or to kill an animal.
The cities themselves are a direct contrast to the Agri-Zones. Dirty, gritty, ultra crowded. Technology of all sorts is pervasive. The night-day cycle is artificial. (Picture Blade Runner, but without depopulation).
The world’s major religions still exist, but in general have morphed, adapting to cybernetic/bio engineering (see the Church of the TransCyberation below under Organizations). Each religions still has adherents to the “old” ways of the late 20th century, but those people are considered cultists by the masses. In general, for any country the religion of the late 20th century is still there, just different adapted to technological realities.
Another religion has grown up in the last 20 years – a global religion — the Machinists. This group holds that all of human experience exists as a program within a vast cybernetic intelligence. WE are the ghost in the machine. They consider Cyberspace to be the real world.
Long distance transport within the MegaCities is generally by high-speed mag-lev rail. Transport between cities also by tube. Air travel is very rare.
Corporations control space. There are several orbital cities for the ultra rich.
Law Enforcement in Texas
The Texas Corridor is divided into zones roughly equivalent to the major metro areas of 2014. The center of power is still Austin. Within each zone exists a police force, answering ultimately to a Zone Administrator. The Corridor provides a higher level of government, roughly analogous to the current Governor/House/Senate structure. Cor (Corridor) Troopers have replaced State Troopers as the state-level law enforcement agency. The Texas Rangers exist as an elite all-purpose law enforcement/special forces organization that answers to the Governor. While Cor Troopers and zone-level police are normally fairly common people (not having super high stats – just a few skills and a gun), the Texas Rangers are not to be messed with. Each Ranger is potentially cyber/bio-enhanced and quite lethal.
Perot-Ueshiba – in the 2030, Texas tech giant Perot merged with Japanese biotech giant Ueshiba Corporation. Based in the DFW Zone, PU (haha) exercises great influence over Corridor business and government at all levels. Computing, Cybernetics, Bio-Tech are their core businesses.
Hernandez Engineering – based in Mexico City (el Grande), Hernandez conducts US operations from the San Antonio Zone. They run most of the fusion reactors supplying el Grande and the TC with power.
Perry Consulting – political and business “consultants”, PC operates on the fringes of legality.
Childers Enterprises – secretive investments organization owned entirely by Lester Childers, who is now kept alive by machines and floats in a huge vat of nutritive fluids.
Los Fantasmas – Mexico/Texas cyber criminal organization. The Mexican drug cartels, by 2065, have morphed into one big criminal organization, with affiliates in Texas. One such affiliate is Los Fantasmas.
Church of the TransCyberation – Melding of the Roman Catholic Church and CyberPagan theology.
Los Purísimos – Underground cult whose members denounce any form of cyber-enhancement of the body, who seek to undermine the existence of cyberspace, force the use of technology to return the planet’s natural biosphere to a state of health, and generally cause problems to the powers-that-be. Fanatical, it’s members will wear false cyberwear in public to remain undetected. Considered to be terrorists. Allied with similar groups in other megacities around the world.
North American Defense System (NADS) – replaced the United States Armed Forces. NADS is not allowed in the Texas Corridor. Operates both in both Real Space and Cyberspace. At highest levels extremely sophisticated. The Right Hand of the President.
Drugs are popular, available and varied. There is no war on recreational drugs or those intended for any kind of enhancement. Lethal (weaponized) drugs are illegal.
Very little is illegal, other than the outright killing of people or the abuse of children. Most people participated in direct-neural feed entertainment, though not through cranial jacks/slots. Most use exterior headgear/electrodes to enjoy cyberspace.
Professional sports are still popular, with great levels of violence in many of them. Mixed Martial arts is huge. Cyber/Bio enhancements allowed.
It’s just a very dark world.