Creativity through constraint
Concept: “Generate an infinite number of baddies that wander the streets of Cy. Capable of generating GOONS, DRONES, BEASTS, CYDROIDS, PHREAKS and VEHICLES. 27 stylized pages detailing enemy creation rules. Over 100 new special abilities, more than 60 new NPC wants and 3d12 description tables per enemy type.”
Content: Tons of tables to determine encounter specifics–not only which enemies and how many appear but also what’s motivating them and what might be exceptional to this particular group (quirks, appearance, special attacks, etc.).
Writing: Imaginative and enticing table entries ensure each generated set of NPCs will feel like unique, fully formed characters.
Art/Design: Distinct two-page spread layouts include a background or centerpiece illustration surrounded by tables, mostly framed in translucent boxes to increase fore/ground contrast.
Usability: Font choices are easily readable, and headings/labels are consistently presented to help with ease of navigation and identification of desired info. However, text is not embedded, so searching/selecting text or using a screen reader are not possible.
Concept: “Trinkets, trash, and trouble…”
Content: An alphabetized list of assorted items that might be found in the pockets of an inhabitant of CY.
Writing: Concise, wide-ranging inventory to help bring a character to life.
Art/Design: A two-page spread with a glitchy portrait on the left and the list in two columns to the right.
Usability: Extremely navigable and readable with high contrast between fore and ground.
Concept: ”As you roam the streets of CY_ you see something. It's shiny, a little dirty. As you remove the garbage surrounding it you realise it's a: 23: Lost shoe with 1D4 toes inside. 35: RFID card with the locale company card’s name on it. 75: Spray paint. Colour label reads “Rotblack”. Get a fun and slightly silly D100 table of stuff you can find in the city CY_.”
Content: A table of assorted valuables, junk, and the miscellanea in-between that might be discovered in CY.
Writing: Concise description complemented with the occasional introspective element or quirky voice that reminds the reader of the game and world at hand.
Art/Design: Table provided as three primary columns of content: a left-aligned list of items (#s 1-50), a center set with the table name and author credits, and a right-aligned list (#s 51-100). The list columns are black on white, with the central column’s scheme inverted, while horizontal black bars stretch from the center in either direction to fill the white space in each list item line.
Usability: Overall layout of page allows for relatively easy navigation/perusal to desired content. Consistent presentation of content in each major column aids with comprehension and use of table and its entries.
Concept: “404//SAN is the demented frontpage of the NET, where manifold rumors, advertisements, hoaxes, and conspiracies produce a worthless information sludge. Still, more than enough masochistic users flock to the site to be entertained by trolls or cheated out of their life's savings.”
Content: A one-stop shop for adventures/scenarios, NPCs, monsters, apps, cyberware and equipment, additional rules ideas, and more.
Writing: Every page provides dozens of imaginative and enticing ideas for inspiration, with many pages offering highly engaging in-universe descriptions or framing for their game content.
Art/Design: A variety of artistic and aesthetic styles that embody the artpunk philosophy. The browsing experience feels in line with the CY_BORG rulebook itself.
Usability: Requires close, and often slow, examination to identify and make effective use of content (text and image alike), especially when moving across very differently styled spreads–but very worth the effort.
Concept: “>> Welcome to the twisted amalgamation of junky code and depravity that we call The Net, where non-euclidean labyrinthine nooks and crannies will leave you feeling both bewildered and exhilarated. But don't be fooled, for there is still a twisted structure lurking within the chaos, with some arcane notion of up and down.”
Content: A collection of Net-focused locations, tables, NPCs, enemies, and rules for app-like scripting.
Writing: Bursts of intense and ominous detail that shines light on myriad dimensions of the Net that punks might seek out or otherwise come across..
Art/Design: Pixelated and monospace fonts appear throughout on a number of distinct page layouts with a variety of color and graphic elements.
Usability: Despite the variety of layouts, text is consistently readable–pages with complex graphic elements keep text on simpler backgrounds. Note: text content for the scripting rules page is not searchable/selectable.
Concept: “Jailbreak your ride and take to the streets with the FULL AUTO vehicle rules for Cy_BORG […] FULL AUTO gives punks a straightforward set of rules with enough crunch to create engaging car chases through the streets or canals of CY.”
Content: A wide range of inspired vehicular rules packed into eight pages (full-size, mini-booklet, and plain text versions).
Writing: Concise, direct rule explanations surrounded by hilarious software-glitch flavor text.
Art/Design: A technicolor mix of mock digital UI and roadside aesthetics that manages to suggest both unique layouts/pages and consistency throughout the document.
Usability: Recognizable organization on each page and high contrast text (although white on red on one page might be difficult for some readers) makes for an engaging and enjoyable experience. Plain text version allows for incredibly easy reading and selecting/searching.
Concept: A random generator that displays a glitchpunk band name and the name of their worst album.
Content: A generator to immediately provide depth and atmosphere to life in CY.
Writing: Band and album name lists are both hilariously over-the-top and also seem completely appropriate for the genre.
Art/Design: Simple page design with a generator button beneath the main text output area, which provides some color-coordinated indication of static and randomized content.
Usability: Easily identifiable “kill the band” button functionality to generate new bands/albums. Text is mostly readable, although blue on black might be difficult for some to discern.
Concept: “A Fungal themed Zine to Cy_Borg, It contains: 3 Enemies; 4 Themed Items; Hallucination condition.”
Content: A cluster of mushroom-based threats and loot.
Writing: Brief mechanics-focused stat blocks with thematically potent names and descriptions.
Art/Design: Two pages of bright pink and blue with green, with the first page having a fungal background image.
Usability: Color scheme and layout feel appropriately chaotic for the theme, but color intensity and relative lack of consistent organization may lead some readers to overlook important elements (e.g., small-text Hallucination rule just above the 3rd party license on p. 1).
Concept: “The world is a simulation, policed by AIs But you know the truth, and can learn to see the code hidden behind the veils of flesh and matter. Break free, Ascend.”
Content: A set of rules to provide PCs the opportunity to transcend across simulation reboots and to commune with a powerful AI overseeing the reality program.
Writing: Rules, stats, and descriptions are straightforward and informative, with a focus on explaining the subject in a manner useful to players as well as GMs.
Art/Design: Single-column black text on white background, with red background for headings and an illustration of each AI’s avatar/appearance. A green-on-black computer terminal-style net chat log offers an in-universe glimpse at how some characters might understand the notion of transcendence and the reality-simulation AIs.
Usability: Headings and labels are consistently provided, and key terms are bolded for quick identification and reference.
Concept: “You can never have enough new character names. This one-page PDF with 100 names, 100 aliases, 19 origins and thousands of possible serial numbers is intended for the world of CY_BORG, but can work in any sci-fi or cyberpunk setting. Print it and bring it to the table. Your gravestone will thank you.”
Content: Several tables for generating names, aliases, origins, and serial numbers.
Writing: Table data contains a wide range of choices both exceptional and mundane.
Art/Design: Black-on-white organization with minimal graphics (an icon to distinguish each table) and simple table ornamentation.
Usability: Tables are consistently and easily laid out and distinguished from one another, with names and aliases alphabetized for an additional means of navigation.
Concept: “Want to use Mork Borg modules as a virtual reality simulation in your Cy_Borg game? Or to give your Mork Borg players a taste of Cy? This five-node mystery adventure path introduces the Dying Lands as an MMO game/simulation in Cy and can be approached from either game as a starting point!”
Content: The content centers on an ingenious scenario that blends Cy_Borg and Mork Borg (whether you’re starting in either game!), detailed locations and maps for each, an “emaciated sim-farmer” class that works well for the scenario, a small set of optional rules that the MMORKG facilitates, random encounters, and several pieces of equipment to consider buying.
Writing: A mix of thematic narration, straightforward rules explanations, and direction for PCs to respond to–all of which is presented succinctly and consistently throughout the supplement.
Art/Design: Distinct layouts for each section (major adventure locations, PC class, etc.) that provide individual character about its subject matter, with a bright accent color to help underscore section distinction and scope.
Usability: Despite the variety of page layouts/aesthetics, text is consistently readable and identifiable as different kinds of content (headings, labels, NPC stats, etc.).
Concept: “Gritbeat 6x66 Songbooks provides d66 albums to listen to as soundtrack for your cyberpunk RPG sessions, for six separate moods/settings.”
Content: Six tables of albums suitable for Cy_Borg games, organized by general atmosphere: cinematic, cerebral, urban, visceral, heavy, disruptive.
Writing: Tables are consistently organized, with artist name, album title, and year of release. A set of hashtags is provided to help further clarify or help with determining each table’s usefulness for a given session/table’s intended ambience.
Art/Design: Table content is provided in two three-column spreads, with a different image evoking CY as the background for each table.
Usability: Each table is easy to navigate, with artist names in bold to help distinguish visually from album title and year of release.
Concept: “CY is a great beast and these are its bowels, the living guts of the city. Awash in filth and the prowling grounds of criminals, scvm beneath notice, maintenance workers, bounty hunters and strange monstrosities bred in the noisome darkness beneath this city. Features a d66 table of encounters in the sewers of CY and a d20 table of tunnel graffiti.”
Content: A set of tables to flesh out the grimy, dangerous CY undercity.
Writing: Vivid descriptions of encounter seeds (not only who/what players might find but what’s going on when they find something) and graffiti messages and styles to be found on sewer walls.
Art/Design: Black text on yellow in a single column of text. A glitch-art illustration of a sewer tunnel frames the supplement title on the first page.
Usability: Tables are numbered, with bolded labels for NPCs and their special attacks to emphasize details a GM might be scanning the page to locate.
Concept: “gutter_PUVNKS is a fresh supplement for CY_BORG. You'll get all you need to explore the city of CY, even if you really don't want to. Locations, encounters, NPCs, adventure, two new classes (BROKE CEO & CY_BORG), and a few odds and ends.”
Content: 48 pages of content: NPCs, cults, a radio station, locations throughout CY, random encounter tables, infestations, “broke CEO” and “cyborg” classes, and (amazingly!) more.
Writing: Tons of detail on each page to provide GMs and players with numerous possibilities; writing style oozes the essence of Cy_Borg: thematically grimy and vile and also compact rules/mechanics explanations.
Art/Design: Layout and aesthetic choices for each section are as varied and imaginative as the writing, contributing significantly to the fullness of immersion in the game universe and vibe.
Usability: “Consistency” is somewhat relative here–although there are many different layouts, aesthetics, etc., there are similar gestures throughout: highlighted headings/labels, text size to reflect hierarchical relationships between content, etc. so that navigation and identification of desired info is enjoyable rather than frustrating. Contrast is high throughout as well; only one page has a busy enough background to potentially slow reading.
Concept: “When you need to steal secure data from a CORP and you don’t have the luxury of doing it as a downtime activity you can attempt a HACKING RUN. THIS requires physical access to A CORP’S system from within a facility belonging to THEM. Expect to do this under fire. BRING BACK UP.”
Content: A set of rules to flesh out networked tech infiltrations for those punks looking to score lucrative or sensitive corp data.
Writing: Direct explanations and descriptions of relevant rules and procedures for hacking.
Art/Design: Two-column spread of text details over a neon green patterned background. An additional "light" format has a softer gray background color.
Usability: High-contrast text is easily readable, with consistent and visually distinct elements (headings, key terms, status conditions) that indicate their relationship to other elements.
Concept: “Escort a live streamer into the G0 wasteland in search of an underground cryovault! More action means more viewers, and viewers are creds. So remember to smile for the cameras while the nanophreaks shred your face!”
Content: A job to make sure a streamer survives a break-in attempt to a cryo facility, with extra cash on the line if the stream looks dangerous and exciting. A player-facing map and a ‘frozen celeb head generator’ (for potential inclusion in the cryovault) are also provided.
Writing: Tons of imaginatively expressive details provided in brief phrases and statements so that a broad range of locations, enemies, and unfolding events can be mentioned.
Art/Design: Trifold pamphlet layout with mission parameters on the outer panels (with a white-on-black color scheme) and the location/NPC specifics, along with a map, on the inner panels (with a black-on-white scheme).
Usability: Visually apparent organization/arrangement of content, with distinct headings, labels, and section borders to more clearly indicate scope and relation of each to the others. Room descriptions even include references to other rooms via map/description labels for quick navigation.
Concept: “This is a subsystem to allow PCs in a CY_BORG campaign to buy and maintain a hideout or base of operations.“
Content: A set of rules for base-building, for the enterprising punks who manage to save enough creds to afford it.
Writing: Direct and helpful explanations of rules options that might work for or against the PC and their properties.
Art/Design: Mostly single-column body text with several tables of upgrades, misfortunes/threats, and contractors/employees.
Usability: High-contrast text is easily readable, with different kinds of content visually distinct (bolding, font size, table background color, etc.) to help with navigating to desired text.
Concept: “A CY_BORG zine featuring soul-throttling cyberpunk occupations. Your past, or perhaps your alter ego, in the crush of CY. Demeaning and pointless jobs that drove you into a new path.”
Content: A two-page d10 table of mundanity meant to provide PCs with painfully dreadful backgrounds that reflect the oppressive daily existence of the masses.
Writing: Morbidly hilarious and creative options speak to the breadth of crushing banality that makes for most characters’ familiar reality.
Art/Design: Mostly single-column text (black on yellow) with key terms/phrases emphasized in either a different font or a chaotic collection of fonts. An image of faceless workers in an office setting frames the zine’s title on page 1.
Usability: High-contrast color scheme helps with readability, as does simple layout of table content. Font(s) used for key terms can be difficult to read thanks to the purposeful disruption of character size/decoration/etc.
Concept: “Characters die quickly, doesn't mean they shouldn't be special. The concept behind this expansion is to take the original styles present at character generation in Cy_Borg and give them a mechanical bonus. Some are more crunchy, some add flavor and some are brand new!”
Content: Seven pages of assorted punk styles that also provide a variety of mechanical effects.
Writing: Concise descriptions and explanations of style benefits/effects alongside similarly brief but potent style labels (e.g., “cadavercore,” “cybercrust,” “neurotripper”).
Art/Design: Each page includes multiple rows of style labels and descriptions, with each exuding its own visual aesthetic (font choices, color choices, background patterns or relevant images, etc.) to create full-page effects that resemble walls plastered with numerous flyers or screens crammed with assorted ads.
Usability: Most of the text is high-contrast and in visually distinct and recognizable sections, creating an easier navigation experience than the busy pages might initially suggest. However, files are provided as .png files, so text content is not embedded (so no searching or selecting text).
Concept: “Nothing ever goes smoothly, does it? Life of a pvnk in CY. There you are, about to score big on your job after the gunfights and hacking and double-crossing and more, and there's just one problem in the way: the door. This zine presents ten unusual conditions for getting at your loot, likely the brainchild of paranoid corpos with too much money on their hands. You'll have to put your mind to work on how to get past them. Available in Classic yellow, Nite grey or Clean white.”
Content: A set of potential complications or other unexpected qualities oriented around physical or digital keys, any of which can be used as twists or obstacles to just about any job a group of punks is looking to complete.
Writing: Each key is described in terms of its essential features, the specifics of its use, and potential reactions or consequences that might occur from its (mis)use.
Art/Design: Three versions are provide: a “classic look” version of black-on-yellow, a “night mode” version of black-on-gray, and a “squeaky clean” version of black-on-white. Each version includes a cover page with the supplement title centered on an illustration of a high-tech vault door. Layout is single-column text with a unique quality of each key provided in bold.
Usability: Easy to read and navigate, with clearly identifiable list elements.
Concept: “Ultra rear secrets cheat codes for your weapons rumored in the dark web.”
Content: Unlockable modifications for firearms–if one can find the cheat sheet for them.
Writing: Brief setup and modification details that allow a GM to work the cheat codes into their game as they desire.
Art/Design: Two white-on-black images, each with a block of text (setup) above three-column presentation of weapon mods, with a neon-colored glitch art illustration of a gun below.
Usability: Text is high contrast with clearly labeled sections of content, but due to JPG format, text is not selectable/searchable.
Concept: “Quack Quack! Compatible with CY_BORG and made for the URBN_LGND.exe jam.”
Content: A vending machine that provides an assortment of items–some trinkets, some useful items, and potentially more.
Writing: Inventive item names offer entertaining potential, and vending machine rumor/secret extends that significantly.
Art/Design: Three-column layout of basic info, vending machine contents, and a glitch-like illustration of a vending machine below a lucky duck icon.
Usability: Visually, content is extremely easy to navigate and identify. File is provided as an image, so text cannot be selected/searched or recognized by a screen reader.
Concept: “Everybody Wants to be a Cat!”
Content: A class for the fan of fighting the system as a feline.
Writing: A mix of playful and poignant details complemented by straightforward explanations of class features/mechanics, along with a brief set of optional rules applied to cats.
Art/Design: Three versions in different color schemes (black/green/yellow; red/purple/black; black/white) each present content on three pages with illustrations of a cat (silhouette filled with stars) in a cityscape above text columns of class features. QR codes on the margins of each page link to cat-themed songs that fit the class.
Usability: Consistent text colors and font choices for body text and headings help with identifying and navigating to desired information, and hyperlinked QR codes are usable even with a mouse/cursor. Different color versions present the content in ways that might contrast distinctly to individuals with assorted color blindness, so examine each version to determine which might be most visually helpful.
Concept: “NEON BORG is rot, chaos, death, home. Millenia ago, ‘twas a fortress standing firm against the demon hordes. Then, the demons ate the humans and the world ended. When times began anew, NEON BORG became prison for the most feared. The kind of irredeemably debased scvm for which a death sentence was by far too lenient. Today, NEON BORG is subsidized housing. Filled to the rafters with aged corpkillers, filthy nanomancers, burned hackers, and you.”
Content: A solo microadventure that, like Dark Fort that inspired it, provides an immersive dungeon-crawling experience through the Neon Borg housing complex while escaping from corp harvesters.
Writing: Tight, concise descriptions maintain a sense of imminent danger and urgency to motivate and inspire the solo player on their journey.
Art/Design: Clean black-and-white layout with a portrait of the player character and a consistent design grammar distinguishing different blocks and types of content.
Usability: Easy to navigate and identify desired information that should minimize delays or questions about how to undertake the adventure.
Concept: “H@ck the Pl@net! Use this streamlined system to hack network, or try to, as your fellow Punks take care of business in meat space. Included are rules to break into and hack systems one node at a time, activate commands in those nodes when accessed, and deal with any ICE or black ICE launched against you in addition to any other virtual denizens or invaders. Also, slot d12 new .Apps into your 'deck designed for use in virtual spaces.”
Content: A set of rules for netrunner-specific hacking procedures, along with brief stats for security/ICE NPC entities and a set of apps to kick that hacking into high gear. Full-color and black-and-white versions of the supplement are included.
Writing: Concise explanations of the hacking workflow and apps, complemented by flavorful names/labels for elements of both.
Art/Design: Full-color version resembles a green terminal UI aesthetic, with color-coded NPC info based on severity of threat and a yellow list of netrunner apps. A sample network diagram/map is included. Black-and-white version provides a clean alternative (although yellow alert symbols appear in both versions).
Usability: Text in both versions is visually identifiable and distinguishable, thanks to color and bolding/underlining to indicate certain kinds of content. Hacking workflow includes code-like line reference numbers and consistent indentation for subordinate/clarification details.
Concept: “A Cy_Borg zine featuring: D12 Cybertech from Nueuropa [...] D6 Legends of Cy [... and] Street Cred - A New Mechanic.”
Content: Options for gear, NPCs, and a ‘street cred’ reputation tracker that can add extra dimensions to a game.
Writing: Four pages of enticing tables filled with flavorful descriptions and mechanics that reflect strange, horrifying, and completely appropriate events and circumstances.
Art/Design: Four two-page spreads each have a distinct focus and color scheme that extends from one to the next, from a stark red/black/white to a neon purple/blue.
Usability: Language is direct and straightforward in describing and explaining each subject, with each table making use of a consistent visual grammar to help with navigation. However, text is not embedded, so no searching or copying/pasting is possible.
Concept: “Gaining superuser access to corp-owned satellites for fun and profit.”
Content: A set of rules and tables relating to hacking into satellites or similar orbital systems.
Writing: Straightforward rules doused in cyberpunk flavor/effect to make each hacking attempt a memorable one.
Art/Design: Content provided in both .png (with a two-column, black-on-white, one-page portrait scheme) and .txt (single-column text with some ASCII art/embellishment) formats.
Usability: Distinct rules sections are visually distinguished in each format type, and ASCII art in .txt version provides an aesthetically similar experience to viewing .png version.
Concept: “This is a tool to build a community for the player characters in a CY_BORG game.”
Content: A set of tables to be rolled and discussed during an initial party’s character creation session to flesh out a community for the PCs to be involved with in some way.
Writing: Succinct, varied options in several tables that breathe life or inspiration into community possibilities.
Art/Design: White text on a purple gradient background, organized in one- and two-column layouts.
Usability: PDF and plain-text versions are both easily readable and navigable.
Concept: “PHREAKS have busted out of containment and taken over the Nanogenesis Corporation Tower. Are you a bad enough PUNK to take them out floor by floor?”
Content: A set of rules for an opposed-dice-based arcade game that may or may not serve a more insidious purpose.
Writing: Rules are very concisely explained, while similarly brief description of the game and its creators’ ulterior motive offer potently nostalgic inspiration to those who enjoy(ed) 1980s’ video game tropes.
Art/Design: White text on black and splashes of red with a dither-art illustration to complement the game “pitch” and explanation.
Usability: The primary file is a PNG, but a simple, accessible PDF of the text is provided as well, with clearly labeled headings and whitespace groupings of related content.
Concept: “<RE: THIS GAME KILLS > Whispers about a killer new game have flooded the BBS message boards. An acquaintance said they knew someone who played it and ended up in a body bag. Is it another ACGS marketing stunt, or is there something else going on in vid-cades around Cy?”
Content: A mysterious arcade game, its rules, prizes, and a technician NPC.
Writing: Emphasis on rules/mechanics complemented by terse, flavorful names/labels.
Art/Design: Black and white text on a blue patterned background in a mostly single column layout accompanied by several monochromatic and full-color illustrations.
Usability: Large font size, distinct use of black and white for particular kinds of content, and border markers for distinct sections of content all contribute to ease of browsing and engaging the material. However, text is not selectable/searchable.
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