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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Cyberpunk RED: Black Chrome

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Technology is one of the core elements of any cyberpunk setting.  As such, Black Chrome, a sourcebook for the Cyberpunk RED roleplaying game, is filled with details about new equipment and gadgets.

Black Chrome could be compared in many ways to the Chrome Books for the earlier Cyberpunk 2020 RPG.  However, whilst the Chrome Books advanced the technology curve of the setting, Black Chrome reflects William Gibson’s quote of “The street finds its own uses for things.”

Those hoping for cutting edge cyber-wear and full-body conversions will be disappointed, as Black Chrome maintains the same level of technology.  Instead, the sourcebook introduces new equipment without making existing technology redundant.  It offers new equipment that is sufficiently balanced so that it expands the options available to players, rather than making everything else redundant.

There is a lot to be found in this sourcebook, with new weapons, vehicles, apps, armour and fashionwear (Cyberpunk is all about style over substance, after all).  One thing that is new is the linear frames, essentially exoskeletons similar to those seen in Elysium or Edge of Tomorrow.  Whilst these do bestow obvious advantages to the wearer, these are balanced by their high costs and limited accessibility.

Black Chrome also discusses the economics of cyberpunk, specifically how players acquire new technologies.  It is no longer a matter of players browsing  through the equipment section and choosing what they want.  These restrictions reflect modern-day challenges of supply and demand, but can also create new story-hooks for adventures.  The players can have this new – and highly restricted – artifact, but only if they are willing to do a dangerous mission for a ‘fixer’.

We are also introduced to ‘night markets’, regular gatherings of grey/black market traders where players may be able to acquire new toys.  Black Chrome includes five sample night markets, the organisers behind them and floor plans for each one.

Every item in Black Chrome also comes with its own illustration, which always helps in describing new technology.  The artwork is in glorious full colour and reflects modern aesthetics.  It is great to see how the digital version of the book is fully hyperlinked, which makes ‘flicking’ through the pages far easier.

Overall, Black Chrome is an excellent addition to the Cyberpunk RED roleplaying game. It may not be an essential addition, but it will be one that becomes increasingly useful as GMs look for new and interesting things that can be introduced to surprise unsuspecting players.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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Black Chrome is an excellent addition to the Cyberpunk RED roleplaying game. It may not be an essential addition, but it will be one that becomes increasingly useful as GMs look for new and interesting things that can be introduced to surprise unsuspecting players.Cyberpunk RED: Black Chrome