What is better than Cyberpunk? B/X Cyberpunk!
That is an interesting niche served by a Discord Channel called “Nightlancer Begins”. Or rather, by one part of it, called “Wasters”.
“Nightlancer” itself refers to the development of a new standalone game with a bit more detail and skill trees. My rules-lite-interest was quickly focused on Cyberpunk with OSE rules, though, and quick little raids into the dangerous city blocks out of a safe base, a hangout called “Club Lavender”. Bare bones of the true cyberpunk life.
So I created two characters, the teenage sniper girl Snips as a main, and her friend-zoned childhood sidekick Lancer as a backup character who comes looking for her in case she bites the proverbial dust. (poor boy.)
Snips is pretty confident in her sniping skills, or was, although the game session quickly established that she has still a ways to go until she can be ranked among the legends of long range killing. Her motto: “Live by the gun or die by the gun” is coming off a bit less than awe-inspiring when she repeatedly fails to overcome a regular guard dog.
But back to the beginnings:
The system is OSE, best described as DnD B/X (Moldvay) with better layout, better typeface, and crisper wording. Seph, a.k.a. adversity games, has skillfully repainted the standard dungeoneering rules of 1981 with guns, ammo and explosives, drones and minimalistic cyberdecks (because let’s be honest, hardly any actual Cyberpunk game ever delved into the complexities of crunchy hacking rules) to run apartment crawls in an urban wilderness.
Raid the Block
The setting is a quasi-Californian post-apoc cityscape of blocks — some of them more, some less dangerous, some ruled by gangs, others by corporations, etc. The mission of the day was to go and retrieve a stash left behind by an earlier delve because it was too much to carry. Snips joined Wispa and Jiro to make a happy gang of three level 1 “Infiltrators”, or in classic DnD lingo, thieves. They also have a wise and charismatic Sentinel (cleric) called Mieville, and two retainers, Polecat the Hacker and Melody, a level zero companion.
The group took down a civilian delivery drone carrying rotten old food since who knows when and quietly evaded a gang of rival “Wasters” who chose a damn unlucky place for their long, long picknick. Finally the young punks safely reached a ruined old residential building, where the stash was hidden. Entering the apartment was difficult because there was an angry/hungry/hangry watchdog, which was not to be calmed down, so we spent several rounds trying to kill it.
Snips, quickest shot in the land, spent several rounds putting holes into the trashy old faded wallpapers before the concentrated efforts of the team finally prevailed over raw animal aggressiveness. Of course, that all made tons of noise, not the best outcome if you try to sneak out valuable stuff in a harsh anarcho-world.
Next disappointment: The promised stash wasn’t there. Someone had moved it. But not far: only to the next bathroom, where it was protected by a combat drone. Again, they spent several rounds shooting up the scenery before the hostile drone was vanquished. Lucky for us, it did not destroy us.
Weighed down with loot and deeply paranoid about possible ambushes the group tried to sneak back out of the hot zone, only to once more meet the armed and armoured picknickers. The whole team went on high alert and readied guns, and proceeded to scare the other party away.
But as it is with taut nerves and loaded guns: one shot leads to another, and soon instead of being scared away the random other group was blown to bits. We will never know what drove them to spend hours eating in such a dangerous place, only to be gunned down by some teenage ne’er-do-wells. Full of remorse for this probably needless bloodshed the party made a beeline out of there. Meeting a lone crazyperson only a couple of yards from safety, the trigger fingers were a lot less happy, and this loonie was really just shooed away to see another day.
Lots of gunplay, lots of missed shots, but the gods of the dice were with the party, and we made it back home without losses and sacks full of semi-valuable junk. Snips could gather from the stories she heard that this was a highly unusual outcome for this gang, with most adventures leading to a number of fatalities. But anyway, this was a bloody success and she was anxious to prove that she could actually shoot way better than this, so she was happy to sign on for the next mission, a special delve that would take the team far outside of the broken city and out into the broken wastes.
But that is a tale for another day.