The story of the Cyberpunk role playing game begins in 1988 when the original boxed set designed by Mike Pondsmith began. The storyline evolved with each release, pushing forward into a dark future full of megalithic corporations, shadows full of deadly operatives and a city full of high tech and low life. This is the world that inspired the hit video game Cyberpunk 2077 which is seeing a resurgence of popularity thanks to the Phantom Liberty DLC or downloadable content.
The most recent print version of the game, Cyberpunk RED, has also been producing DLC on a regular basis since its release in November of 2020. Fans can pick up that DLC for free from the R. Talsorian website, but they have an opportunity to collect all of the free files, some exclusive articles of Interface magazine, many of the official titles from the Cyberpunk RED line and a few classic titles from Cyberpunk 2020. There’s a Cyberpunk Humble Bundle going on through February 24th, 2024 that’s a great introduction to the tabletop game.
“As demand for Cyberpunk 2020 exploded in the run-up to the release of Cyberpunk 2077,” said J Gray, Cyberpunk RED Line Manager, “[the Pondsmiths] saw a need for help in managing the company’s online presence and thought of me. At first, it was for ten hours a week. Then twenty. I kept finding things to do and, finally, they brought me in full time. I also refused to stay in my lane. If there was a need I could fill, I volunteered to fill it. Writing, design, layout — I helped where I could. I was just so thrilled to help make RPGs! Over time, I grew as involved in making the games as I did in promoting them via social media. And I guess my whole ‘dabbler in many fields, master of none’ schtick proved valuable because I could leap where needed when a hole opened up. Long story short (too late!), when Mike decided he needed someone to lead the Cyberpunk line so he could better focus on his role as CEO of R. Talsorian Games, he asked me to take the job. It was a dream come true, so how could I refuse?”
Every month, Gray and his team produce a small expandion for Cyberpunk RED that’s made available on the website. They span everything a fan could want in an expansion; new maechanics, new lore or even new guns and gadgets. As of this writing there are over 30 DLCs available with enough content to fill around 350 pages.
“From a more practical business-minded point of view,” said Gray. “We want to keep people engaged with Cyberpunk RED and nothing engages gamers quite like shiny new stuff. It takes time to create and release sourcebooks so we wanted to offer GMs new ways to enhance their games, players new toys to play with, and every Cyberpunk fan new information about Night City.”
The DLC program also lets the designers explore some of the more unusual corners of the setting. There will always be a desire for more weapons and bad guys, but the DLC can explore cultural aspects of Night City like rules for salvaging equipment or elements that can be dropped into any game. Need a discreet cargo container safe house where the players can hole up after a job gone bad?
“We would probably never put an entire subsystem for online dating into a sourcebook but a DLC allows us to examine what the romance/hookup scene of Night City feels like,” said Gray. “Sometimes, DLCs represent passion projects. James Hutt, our senior designer, wanted to take his experiences with online gaming and satirize them in Cyberpunk RED, which led to an entire line of DLCs about Elflines Online, Night City’s premiere MMO. I wanted to explore how, when high technology becomes expensive, people often find low technology solutions and so introduced bicycles to Night City in a DLC. Neither Elflines Online nor bicycles would be more than a blip in a soucebook but via DLCs, we can really dive into them in meaty detail.”
The DLC projects are annually collected into Interface magazine which also includes an article that’s exclusive to the magazine. All the current Interface issues are available as part of the bundle for fans who don’t want to manage dozens of small downloads. The latest issue, currently exclusive to the bundle, inclides a long awaited addition to Cyberpunk RED; Full Body Conversions, where a person replaces the majoirty of their human body with a sleek machine.
“We wanted FBCs to be real characters with real lives,” said Gray, “not combat machines made to decimate enemies. We emphasize them being people in different ways — from the fiction included in the FBC article to the art, where we show the FBCs wearing clothing, painting their bodies for self-expression, and posing more like fashion models rather than war machines.”
Two full releases have been announced for the line.
“The first is the Cyberpunk Edgerunners Mission Kit,” said Gray. “This will be a box set and introduction to the game in the era of 2070s. Like similar starter sets, it will be completely self-contained and stand alone — you can play the included mission and even make up your own without need of anything else. We’re also ensuring it is fully compatible with Cyberpunk RED, though, so existing players who want to add a little 2070s style and tech to their game will be able to. The second is Tales of the RED: Forlorn Hope. This is a six-mission campaign centered around the Forlorn Hope, a classic and much loved bar from the 2020 era. In Cyberpunk 2020, it was a hangout and job hub. In Cyberpunk RED, the players will have a chance to do more than just drink and find work there — their actions will determine the future of the Forlorn Hope in their version of Night City.”