Wired Neon Cities (WNC) is a game by Scott Malthouse (Trollish Delver Games). It is Pay What You Want.
This is a cyberpunk game by way of the 1980s. Think chiptune, Genesis games and bright colours.
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WNC impresses with a fast character creation. It has iconic classes like Hacker, Mechanic, Gunner, and more. The classes feel unique and have their own gimmicks. For example, the Doc is the only one who can do a Surgical Action and heal 2 wounds. The Face can reroll tests related to personal interactions.
As a player, you might enjoy adding Augmentations to your character. These serve to distinguish your character further. And they add some advantages to your repertoire. E.g. a Derma Shield increases your wounds by 2 for 1d3 rounds once per combat.
WNC uses a simple d6 system. Each character has four attributes: Brawn, Nimble, Mind, and Person. You have an array of numbers you can distribute. It says what number you have to roll for a success. So, if you have Brawn 3+, you need to roll a 3 or more.
Combat runs smooth, too. WNC uses a round-based combat system with Initiative. Each successful attack deals one damage. There is no armor in the game.
You don't make an opposed test or roll against Armor Class. No, you either test your own Brawn (melee attacks) or Nimble (ranged attacks) score. So it is one roll with your attribute.
Characters have a number of Wounds. If characters are down to zero, they are out of combat. Non-Player Characters (NPCs) die. Some Augmentations can make you harder to hit, and some increase your Wound score.
Status Effects (prone, stunned, poisoned etc.) and combat options (Bull Rush, Parry etc.) make the combat system surprisingly versatile for a minimalist game.
The rules fit on 2 pages. The game can be a bit unclear at times because of the small word count.
Can I use a Surgical Kit (heals 2 wounds) without the Doc class? If I have the Doc class, do I need it to take a Surgical Action?
The Eagle Eye Augmentation gives you a +2 bonus. On what? Attack or damage? Probably attack. Luckily, the bonus only works once per combat. Otherwise, it would be too powerful.
Also, I would like to see more stuff. More items, weapons, hacker gear, Augmentations, drones, yadda yadda yadda. I hope that Scott puts out some supplements in the future.
Speaking of drones and hackers, the rules here work well. Mechanics can make drones (e.g. a Spy Drone or Gun Drone) by making a Mind test. I find it a bit redundant to have to roll for it. Players will likely want to try as long as they have the money and time for it. So the test only serves as resource management.
I like the mechanisms for Hacking. The Hacker needs to collect a number of successes to break into a system. For example, a complex network needs 3 successes. So, after 3 fast rolls, everyone knows the result. That means you don't have to spend hours for a mini-game with one player when he tries to hack something. And everyone else is bored. I'm looking at you, Shadowrun.
Game Mastering WNC is a breeze because the game is so easy. The rules for creating opponents are ingenious. NPCs just have one number they roll against for tests and combat, and may have special actions. But that's it! Example:
Juicer: Drugged-up psycho. 5+, 5 wounds, special action: Make a Test. If successful, Juicer regains 1 wound.
How does it get any better than that? I can create opponents on the fly. Stick some special gimmick on them to make them unique. Done.
Kudos for including an example setting. Glow City is a sprawling metropolis without government - ruled by three mega-corporations. This is more a teaser than a fully fleshed out setting. But it should be enough to get you started.
WNC uses a simple layout and good stock art that fits the theme. There are some minor typos. All in all, the game is easy to read and easy to understand.
Trollish Delver Games has already published several good lightweight games. This one doesn't disappoint either. And it is PWYW. If you like the rules, you can also get a Fantasy version and a sci-fi version:
- WNC fits the bill of an ultra rules lite game with enough flesh to make it feel like cyberpunk.
- The system is dead simple. The use of a single d6 makes it lightning fast. But it comes at the cost of having not a lot of room for subtle tones - modifiers have a strong impact. This is offset by the fact that many Augmentations only work once per combat. There is not much room for mechanical character development.
- Please give me more gear, items, whathaveyou.
- You can easily expand and mold the game to your needs. Steal some ideas from In Darkest Warren 1, for example.
- WNC is a game that makes me want to play it. The rules fit together nicely and are wonderful in their simplicity. It would also be a good introductory system for beginners. No weird AC, grid based combat, and complex sub-systems.
- I would like to see an open license for this game. That way, others could add to WNC, translate it etc.
Give it a shot.