Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Regarding Zak S

Many of you are probably aware that Zak Smith aka Zak Sabbath has been outed as an abuser.


I believe Mandy.

And some of you may be aware that Zak's work on Vornheim inspired me to write and publish the Augmented Reality city kit. I asked him for his permission at the time, to ensure he was okay with an unknown such as myself taking his ideas and extrapolating them into an imagined future. He gave me the green light, for which I was very grateful. Hence why I credited him in the book - it seemed only fair.

Things have now changed.

Please do not perceive the book credit in AR as condoning or supporting his vile behaviour. I am looking at replacing the relevant text as soon as I can. I do not endorse Zak or any of his works. His behaviour is unforgivable. He has lost my respect utterly.

With that in mind, I sent him this email Tuesday morning (12/02/19):

I received this in return:

To which I reiterated:

I'll now wait and see what he comes back with.

I am making this public so that Zak cannot claim that he had my support or permission to use my tables for his Demon City project. I doubt he would have included my name in the book anyway, and no money was ever offered, but I wanted to make sure nobody mistook me for a Zak ally. I am not.

I want to thank Mandy, Hannah and Jennifer (and now Vivka Grey*) for speaking up. It was exceptionally brave of them to do so. I certainly hope that, with the truth now being known, they can all recover from this horrific episode and start to heal.


Friday, 25 January 2019


In my newly revisited Cape Point campaign, the players have been tasked with investigating a freelance media called Jacinda Walker. And what's the best way to find out a lot of meaningless detail about someone? Stalk them on social media.

As I didn't want to deal with multiple social sites, I envisaged a point in time where a major international data player, like Infocomp, would monopolise and monetise the social media game for their own ends. I took contemporary sites, such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram, and imagined a digital Frankenstein's monster of online echo chambers, vulnerable personal information, exposed net connections and virulent net advertising. I called this hideous chimera TRU.U.

TRU.U users create 'bubbles' for connections, work, hobbies, videos, and anything else they're in to. This gives lazy netrunners lots of dull, but possibly useful, information on a target. Pet names, favourite bands, family, friends, the kids, are all exposed and conveniently packaged for easy access. Probably the best way to ascertain someone's password EVAH.

Infocomp being the corporation it is, didn't go through multiple hostile takeovers and buyouts for nothing. The company uses TRU.U to monitor people; for personal data scrapes; to wage memetic warfare; to control PR; to engage in social engineering. Staging a coup and destabilising a central African nation? Contract Infocomp's analytics experts to disseminate your political message and publicly humiliate your opponents via TRU.U. Want to ensure a rapid take-up of the latest software update for this summer's Kiroshis? Talk to Infocomp's media marketing team and inundate users with targeted advertising. Control your brand message with bubbles. 

While many people acknowledge Infocomp's ownership of the TRU.U platform, the vast majority of users don't know or don't care. To keep them happy, anything goes on TRU.U; there are very few rules and only token moderation, and criminal activity is rife. Hire solos to knee-cap your boss, order a couple of grams of dorph, stalk your ex and her new partner, and swap aggressive memes about the latest season of My Two Clones, all from the comfort of your broken ass La-Z-Boy.

So, what will my players learn about Jacinda?

• Australian national
• 27 years old (born February 25th, 2003)
• Lots of self-recorded videos - mainly unimportant rants, gigs and social stuff (likes a drink) - last post was 2 days ago, missing Ellie
• Xhosa Trance fan, with a little Chip Hop and some old-school Angel Vision
• Big on social justice, has infosocialist leanings, anti-corruption, supporter of bioroid rights
• Vegetarian, anti-GMO
• Wheat intolerant
• Big fan of the Simsense & Sensibility reactive vidshow
• 83 friends, colleagues (assorted freelancers, correspondents and activists) and family members added to her bubble
• In a relationship with Eliza Myburgh, an admin/clerical worker at Biotechnica, for nearly two years
• In the care of a Trinity orphanage from 2013-2019, in Melbourne - was originally raised by parents on the family’s sheep farm

Will any of that be useful to them? Who knows? Maybe they should do some better research.

Anyone else have any thoughts on social media in Cyberpunk? Anything I've missed?

Leave me a comment below and I'll add you to my bubble.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

That's Entertainment | The Drug of the Nation [D10]

Here's another D10 table, detailing and expanding upon the vid show list from page 38 of the Augmented Reality city kit. I've fleshed out these 10 contemporary vid shows, and added associated plot hooks, for your viewing pleasure. Don't change that dial.

Roll a D10:

1. Implant Fixers - a popular and irreverently amusing reality show, where, each week, three kooky cybertechnicians attempt to fix or replace embarrassing failing implants for members of the public, from their pop-up clinic equipped throughout with cameras.

Hook: Someone the PCs are hunting down (heavily augmented) has signed up for a day at the Implant Fixer clinic. So, your target is now surrounded by cameras for the next 24 hours or so. The good news is they will, at some point, be anaesthetised and be very vulnerable. Have they put a contingency in place? And who knew THAT was a problem on the early Mr Studd® models?

2. Simsense & Sensibility - respected drama about love and virtue, staged in both the modern world and a lovingly-crafted virtual of the mid-19th century. The show is also reactive, with viewer-subscribers making plot proposals in realtime.

Hook: The PCs are hired by the production team who are having issues with a particularly mendacious troll, who keeps shitting-up the plot lines; ratings are tanking fast. They need you to trace the culprit and deal with them - trash their computer, destroy their television, kneecap them, whatever, but it cannot be known that the PCs are working for the show crew; it would be a PR nightmare the execs would never forgive. Turns out, the troll is someone dangerous and connected that the PCs already know.

3. Zone Runner Xtreme - contenders, on foot, battle to complete a course which snakes through some of the worst parts of the combat zone. Eye-in-the-sky camera drones follow the action, as competitors are picked off, one by one. Celebrity pundits provide commentary from the safety of a far-away studio.

Hook: A powerful corporate's eldest son has signed up for Zone Runner Xtreme. Obviously, said corporate is non too happy that his son and heir is putting this life at risk like this, for money he doesn't even need. Yet, the old man admires his drive. He wants the PCs to protect his son and help him to win (without him knowing), or, if things go badly, extract him from the zone. Alive. 

The trouble is, the corporate's rival knows the son is entering the competition (it's all over social media), and plans to send a team to grab him, for leverage.

4. Crash & Burn - promising and talented console jocks go head-to-head through a series of hacking challenges, cooked up by the production team, for big cash prizes. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, pop-up windows and big screen backdrops show the action, with an over stimulating layer of rapid-fire graphics and stats.

Hook: One of the latest Crash & Burn contestants recently turned over a corporate mainframe, and has been doxxed by the company IT team. The PCs are contracted to assassinate the hacker, before they win the cash and buy their way to a new identity. 

The studio has very tight security, as has the hotel the participants are staying in. Unknown to the PCs, contestants are shadowed by network security contractors and production crew, and are encouraged to keep a video diary for the duration, with sections being edited and inserted into the show; could be bad news if the hacker is doing a piece-to-camera when the team decide to strike.

5. My Two Clones - long-running sitcom, following the trials and tribulations of poorly-paid Zoom Corporation retail exec, Poppy Langmore, as she navigates a plethora of zany relationships (and shoots for a pay rise), whilst managing the unwelcome assistance of the two illegal clones her deceased father made of her. 

Hook: The actress who plays Ms. Langmore, Crystal Green, is a train wreck, and has a very expensive drug habit which the studio has enabled for far too long. Fortunately, her onscreen clones are ACTUAL non-consensual clones, and not actresses cut to look like her, as Crystal believes. 

The network want the PCs to smuggle a compliant and vat-fresh third clone into her secure penthouse apartment and eliminate Green - but the team must dispose of the body 'cleanly' (NB: a bodybank won't touch her ruined junkie ass). Problem is, the new clone is having a crisis of conscience, and has her heart set on getting Crystal the help she needs, or she won't play ball. And the real Crystal's narco-paranoia has led her to hire some of the best private security money can buy.

6. Atomic Geisha Dojo - body-perfect competitors face the challenges of the fearsome Dojo obstacle course, while fending off the stealth attacks of the cute-but-deadly Atomic Geishas; a string of brutal, demeaning endurance trials, disrupted by random acts of violence, played for laughs. 

Hook: The titular Atomic Geishas are unregistered synthetics manufactured by Ashoka Robotics in India, illegally brought into the country by a network of fixers, paid by the studio. Three of the units have violently escaped the studio during a routine maintenance cycle, and are at large in the city. The show's lead tech contracts the PCs to find them and bring them back, before it makes the news. She doesn't know if they planned to travel together or separately, but can give the PCs the frequency of their implanted RFID tags. The tech also warns the group that the Atomic Geisha's are hard-coded for cruelty.

7. Personality Adjustment - moving reality show which follows the difficult lives of six people undergoing chemical, psychological and virtual reconditioning, to mend a range of past traumas. Follow their stories, as they each embark on their own journey to a healthier self.

Hook: One of the lead psychologists working on the show is testing illegal personality chips on the participants. Legality and ethics aside, EBM would very much like to get their hands on those chips, and will pay the PCs handsomely for the doctor's bespoke suite of persona-altering chipware. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the show, and the importance the psych team have to the production, they are guarded by teams of close protection specialists contracted from Arasaka at all times (probably with extraction protocols written in to their deal). And EBM don't know which of the six psychologists is the one dicking with their patients.

8. The Clade - surreal CGI soap opera, focussing on the interwoven lives of the inhabitants of a downtown closed socio-economic franchise-state. Scripted and plotted by a specially-coded expert system, the show is renowned for it's sometimes amusing algorithmic glitches.

Hook: The PCs are asked to find Miles Davy, the original creator of The Clade series, by his estranged and very wealthy ex-wife, along with a cabal of production execs who believe only Davy's talent can turn the show into something great again. Miles, in a creative malaise, has been on a two week bar-crawling, whore-hopping, sofa-surfing odyssey around the city.

In reality, while the execs are genuine (!), the ex-wife is being blackmailed (she likes atrocity porn) by the show's now self-aware expert system into finding Miles so that he can be 'written out' permanently.

9. Fracture Point - classic buddy cop show, following two Organic Damage detectives, Jake Siegel and Rachel Wolffe, as they attempt to investigate the homicide-of-the-week, despite pervasive corporate interference and complex personal relationships. Popular reoccurring characters include Valentina-3, the wisest and most understanding of Seigel's sexbot harem, and Gunnar Wolffe, Rachel's full 'borg and veteran cop dad.

Hook: Fracture Point merchandising is a very lucrative business for the network, with everything from mugs and t-shirts, to v-games and even branded sexbots. The production team hire the PCs to track down the source of Valentina-3 counterfeits that have started showing up in the city, and to halt the operation. They're coming in from a factory in Venezuela, but the shipments are being intercepted by the triads in Florida. The 14K syndicate aren't keen to cease selling their sleazy knock-offs, and they laugh in the faces of your puny gweilo IP lawyers...

10. Alt Cult Zero - slightly judgey and slow moving documentary series following the ups and downs of a number of alternative subcultures, revealing their sometimes difficult interactions with a wider, but still fragmentary, society. Most of the footage is shot via cameras worn by those taking part, shining a realistic, but gonzo, spotlight on hypercurrent alternative lifestyles. Voiceover provided by a neural net encoded with the dulcet tones of Kelsey Grammer.

Hook: Peterson-15, a founding member of a misogynist bro-borg franchise involved in the show, was witness to a mafia shooting at a restaurant a few nights ago. The Family hit man that did the job remembers that the metal-head was loaded with body cams, and that there's probably incriminating footage. The local Don, brings in the PCs as an expendable neutral party and tasks them with taking out Peterson-15 and anyone he's with, and retrieving any footage from the night in question. Sadly, for the PCs, the bro-borgs' compound is well defended, as is Peterson, and the footage was uploaded to the production team's servers automatically.  

Friday, 19 October 2018

That’s Entertainment | Place Yer Bets [D10]

Life in the rusting habstacks of the slum zones is far from easy, with money increasingly hard to come by, so many do whatever it takes, just to get by. While most will gravitate towards criminal activity, many also turn to underground gambling for a chance to strike it lucky and land that big score. 

Here are 10 activities for the desperate to place a wager on.

Roll a D10:

1. Drone Dash - contestants race their homemade drones through the hollow shells of abandoned habs. Anything goes, and dirty tricks are encouraged. The winning drone is the first to complete the course, or the last drone standing.

Hook: An Arasaka surveillance drone went missing around a week ago. The remote's tracer became active again today, and the corporation want you to go and retrieve it ASAP. Said drone was hacked, disabled and stripped by scavengers, the components sold to a group of teenage Drone Dash enthusiasts, looking to enter the next race. Problem is, the teens all live inside a Militech gated community, and the next competition is tonight. But where?

2. Combat Zone Run - tricked-out street cars undertake a circuitous rally through some of the most dangerous turf in the combat zone. Crews compete any way they can, running the gauntlet of the gangs, the crazies and the security drones, to try to make it to the finish line in one piece. 

Hook: The PCs are contracted to crew a dubious looking hotrod in the next run, and meet up with the current warlord of the Painhaus gang, Iron Face, in a contaminated industrial ruin, where they will deliver a cargo of explosive munitions, bought by the gang from the Russian mob. 

3. The Freak Fights - popular illegal combat event, where modified fighters are pitted against one another, in cages, pits, parking lots and cellars, in the decaying districts of the city. Bouts can be to first blood, to the death, or anything in between. (10 infamous Freak Fighters can be found on page 41 of the Augmented Reality city kit).

Hook: Your fixer wants you to make friends with freak fighter Ghengis Klang, and keep him alive. Seems he's the only witness to a double-homicide that the fixer is being set-up for. Corrupt FBI agents really need the fixer to go down, so will be doing all they can to take Klang out before he can testify.

4. Holo Dogfighting - ‘trode-controlled holographic aerial combats, fought out in the darkened back rooms of bars, noodle joints and pool halls. Miniature ghosts of fighter planes strafe and barrel-roll mere inches above the spectators heads.

Hook: Lorenzo Valentine, a local mafiosa, lost a ton of money on the last dogfight. He plans to bet on rank outsider, Hamed Riley (current odds of 150:1) when he goes up against the circuit champion, Tammy Reed. Valentine wants the PCs to sabotage Tammy's rig, lean on her to throw the match, or inhibit her ability to win. Whatever. He doesn't care how, she just has to lose. Turns out that Tammy Reed is 14 years old, and only able to walk with the use of a linear assist frame. 

5. Augmented Animal League - illegally enhanced animals (mostly dogs, cats, large rats, and the occasional fox) are set against one another in spiked pits, for the entertainment of a baying crowd. Combatants are classed by their cybernetic implants, and the fights matched as best they can.

Hook: The AAL goes through animals at an astounding rate, so the organisers always need more. And where's the best place to find virgin animal stock? The uptown rich districts, of course. Make good money petnapping from corporate families, in secure residential areas.

6. Counting Coup - groups of juvenile gang members are sent out into rival turf, tasked with landing a blow on an enemy ganger. If any make it back in one piece, they win prestige, and may tattoo their body to mark the event. Sometimes, rather than striking a rival, they will be required to steal an item, or tag a difficult to reach location.

Hook: Word on the street is members of the Reject Parade gang are planning a coup run on the Altitude Boyz, where they plan to grab a nano-fabricator that the Boyz 'liberated' from a Microtech courier three nights ago. The company will pay top dollar to get their toy back, undamaged.

7. Parkour Marathon - a number of free runners compete to cross entire city districts, without touching ground level, in this gruelling test of stamina and endurance. Sabotaging or attacking your opponents is expected.

Hook: Spider Wozniak is the current number one free runner in the city, winning the last four parkour runs in a row. EBM have started sponsoring Holly Dhahar, an experienced runner they brought in from Detroit, and they need Wozniak out of the picture. The corporation want Spider to have an 'unfortunate accident' during the next scheduled marathon, and to never, ever run again. 

8. Aero Drag - backstreet aerodyne ‘hoppers’ are paired and compete, usually two at a time, to be first to cross a set finish line from a set hovering point. A definite risk to legitimate air traffic.

Hook: A fixer you know needs someone skilled to pimp out a getaway aero for an upcoming job, and wants the PCs to snatch Mechanized Mikey, the best damned hopper tech in the aero drag scene. But Mikey is bankrolled by the local Mob.

9. Scrapbot Wars - teams of amateur teleoperators control their own home-made robots to fight against each other, whilst also avoiding arena hazards and more powerful ‘House Robots’, which are not bound by the same weight or weapon limits as the contestants.

Hook: Someone the PCs' are looking to liquidate will be in the crowd for the next scheduled rumble, but it needs to look like an accidental death-by-scrapbot. Fit deadly weaponry to some rigger's pride and joy, and make sure it targets your mark.

10. World of Vornheim Tournaments - a warehouse or other large space is rigged with big screens, packed with spectators, and the e-sports networks hacked, to broadcast teams from across the globe battling their way through their respective regions, to gain XP, gold and magic items.

Hook: The yakuza are looking to launder cash through WOV games. Sign up, roll your characters, buy as much shit and as many levels as you can with the syndicate's money, and shoot for the treasure (trade it in for real coin) and the sponsorship dollars. The Osaka boys won't take too kindly to you making a loss.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Paydata PLUS [D10]

Inside Job by Clark Huggins

Following on from my previous Paydata post, and to help you avoid simply recycling those results after a while, here's another take on a D10 list of saleable or useful files, links and vulnerabilities your sneaky netrunner might discover in the corporate grid she's infiltrating.

Roll a D10:

  1. The Science Division techs working the labs have biomonitors contractually implanted, as standard, synced with the network for 'safety' (plus, it allows the company to keep tabs on them). And their unique identifiers are left exposed after an incomplete system update. How long have you got to manipulate, tag or trace them?
  2. One of the Rapid Response Team managers has left their memory chip connected to their terminal, after a particularly hectic nightshift, followed by a brutal debrief. The chip contains the designated wireless frequencies for the team's smart weapons, apparently good for the next 36 hours.
  3. Looks like a company commtech forgot to turn off the 'share' settings for the video-phones on the 14th and 15th floors, after a routine installation. The v-phone cameras and contact lists for Marketing, Analytics & Modelling and Public Relations are all currently accessible. With the right software, you just might be able to worm your way through the rest of the comms network.
  4. This part of the system is haunted by fragments of a partially de-rezzed AI 'ghost', who is clearly quite insane, but courteous and happy to chat. If you ask the right questions, who knows what secrets it's deteriorating mind will reveal? Can it's unstable psyche be trusted?
  5. An innocuous branch of the network leads to an unsecured terminal currently running the route-planning software for the company ad blimps. Also, the GPS system for each dirigible can be accessed by the reasonably intuitive guidance application, each blimp's current location mapped in real-time.
  6. A hot-desking account manager has accessed the network using a private cloud account, which is still connected. Wading through the spreadsheets, DRM-hacked music and porn, the netrunner may realise that the cloud is quietly auto-syncing with any and all enabled devices in the vicinity. Smartphones, tablets, cheap neural processors, robovacs, autonomous trashcans and the office smart-fridge, all pop up and drop out of the wireless network, periodically. Perhaps the same cloud can lead the hacker to the employee's home system.
  7. The system exposes the central hub for an intelligent washroom on one of the executive floors. A versatile software suite manages a plethora of voice-activated assets - cubicle doors, an air freshening system, soap dispensers, taps and the all-important power flush. And that means there are mics in there…
  8. A glitch reveals the LAN of office environmental sensors across three floors - the locations and operating systems of the smoke alarms, air conditioning, atmospheric regulation, fire suppression and acoustic weapon sensors are all disclosed to the netrunner. There's only D6 minutes until the glitch is corrected, and any tampering will be detected.
  9. A link to the company spam filter is being used by an operator. Normally handled by an expert system, an employee has logged in to double-check that it's performing correctly. The netrunner can see the database being altered in front of them, v-mails slowly being white-listed and others moving to trash. The netrunner, of course, moves at the speed of thought, so has a narrow window of opportunity before any useful v-mails are reclassified by the wage-slave in meatspace.
  10. A very recent update to the OS creates an as-of-yet unknown vulnerability in the building's air traffic control system, giving the netrunner access to the company IFF database. Only identifiable aeros are permitted to land on the rooftop pads, but some subtle changes to that stored data could change everything. 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Paydata [D10]

Puppet Master by Dmitry Kalinichenko

Yesterday, I spotted this request in the comments of a previous post:
Kash Register12 September 2018 at 20:23I know that you are very good at producing "lists" of things in cyberpunk. So my request is a list of possible types of paydata a netrunner can find in a corporate system while they are there doing whatever it is they do. Paydata being info they could sell that is not specifically part of the mission at hand, but valuable none the less. Thanks in advance!

So, here's my take on a list of 10 potentially valuable files your netrunner may stumble across while illicitly datascraping a company network.

Roll a D10:

  1. A zero-day vulnerability in the software of a concealed long distance link, which exposes a direct line into a secure Korean server farm generating cryptocoin for a jopok black bank. There's only D6 hours until the vulnerability is patched and becomes worthless. Tick tock.
  2. Some admin noob has created a text file that includes the teleoperators' passwords for the company's onsite security drones or patrol bots. How long until the passwords are changed?
  3. Somehow, a copy of the chemical composition of the company's performance enhancing drug of choice has been saved in the wrong folder. The file contains enough information for a competent street-chemist to synthesise the compound, and also includes the latest molecular tweaks that may alter it's current classification status to legal.
  4. A system user has, for whatever reason, secreted a video file in an innocuous looking folder. It's three day old footage of one of the company execs, who can be seen in a number of compromising positions with escorts of varying genders and questionable ages.
  5. Filed amongst a number of marketing PDFs, the netrunner discovers a spreadsheet containing the names, addresses, contact details and 'financial contributions' to a number of prominent politicians on the take from the company.
  6. Unsecured compressed folder, containing the IT department passwords used for software updates to the company's fleet of autonomous and teleoperated delivery vehicles, docked at the nearest company distribution centre.
  7. Someone has left their remote access setup active, allowing the netrunner to utilise the live editing software on an ad-heavy, company sponsored simsense serial, which is extremely popular. Programme in a back door, and you'll be able to come back and spread whatever message you want, live and direct.
  8. A botched satnav update has dumped the favourites list of a company limo GPS into the  main system. Each of the locations appear to be visited routinely and regularly, and many seem… unorthodox.
  9. Numerous internal reports which prove beyond doubt that several popular company products are toxic/carcinogenic/hazardous/dangerous, each report being signed off by the same Quality Control exec.
  10. The netrunner notices that the network hosts a poorly secured peripheral device (meant to be offline when not in use), which holds a number of cipher keys used by the company medical division, to access several high-profile executives' neural processors for injecting software updates.

I hope you find 'em useful Kash!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Not At All Official But Still Wicked Awesome

Super stoked to discover that R. Talsorian Games have included the Neural Archive in their list of Not At All Official But Still Wicked Awesome Stuff. As a long time CP2020 player and referee, it's cool to be name checked by the company that has given my gaming group DECADES of dark future fun-times.

Follow the link to discover more more cool blogs and sites on the Wicked Awesome Stuff list.

The R. Tal blog is hosting a running celebration of all things cyberpunk, including the new Cyberpunk RED (about which I am more than a little intrigued), the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 computer game, as well as that venerable classic, Cyberpunk 2020.

And speaking of Cyberpunk 2077, here's a must-see link to a 48 minute gameplay walkthrough, jam packed with excellent little details, that's definitely worth a watch.

To any new visitors who have found their way here from the R. Talsorian blog, WELCOME and feel free to rummage around in the dark corners. And don't forget to check out the links to the Augmented Reality city kit while you're here - it comes in two great flavours, PWYW POD and a lovely Lulu hardcopy (links to the right; on a mobile device, view web version to see them).