Reboot the Future, Everyone’s a Cyberhacker

Today’s Reboot the Future preview post is around the point that in the game, Everyone’s a Cyberhacker. One of the things that grinds my gears when it comes to many cyberpunk game systems, is that only one person can do cyber-hacking in-game.

Sure, it is consistent with the literature, where the hero is usually a cyber-cowboy who can run the ‘net and prise open its secrets, but in-game, it leaves the rest of the party twiddling their thumbs.

So the first design decision that I made for the game was that everyone given the all-persuasive nature of computer use in the 23rd Century,could interact with the game’s virtual reality, known as the Datasphere. 

Each character at birth has an Avatar created for them by the Local Data Authority (LDA), which is their digital representation in the virtual world. For normal citizens, this lets them do a limited number of functions that the LDA authorises. Like online shopping and banking, taking online-training courses, reporting a crime to the local police etc. One of the first things that every cyberpunk does, almost as an initiation ceremony, is get their avatar hacked so the authorities can’t track them through the Data Sphere and the real-world, and they can do much more than Joe Citizen. Like open locked doors and take control of weapons turrets controlled by building security system. Artificial Intelligences control the digital systems of the Data Sphere and oppose illegal use of it. So there are rules for such interactions.

Running the Data Sphere becomes much more of a team effort that the whole gang
can participate in. Either as a quick pop in and pop out activity to open
locked doors, for example. Or a more involved attack on a hardened corporate AI
responsible for controlling data, managing accounts and real-world defences for
an illegal black project.

If that intrigues you go check out the kickstarter.

Oh another update that I’d like to share with you, is that we now have a cover courtesy of Dan Barker.

Dan Barker’s Cover.

Reboot the Future, Cyberpunk in the 23rd century

This is the second of five preview posts about Reboot the Future which is coming to Kickstarter on Monday 1st November.

This time out I’m looking at the game’s setting, Cyberpunk in the 23rd century.

Most Cyberpunk games start at some year in the near future, which amusingly for some of the older games has been and gone. So pushing the setting’s date to further out protects against that and also opens up literally whole worlds of opportunity.

The Consortium is the name of Corporate controlled known space that the game takes place in. Its made up of three types of corporate-controlled worlds, and its capitalism gone mad. Where you either earn and pay for various corporate services, or get pushed out to the slums in the Demilitarized Zones. Within this tightly controlled system of Corporate-Feudalism, they have held back technology for hundreds of years. For example faster than light travel is still science fiction, and any commercial space flight, outside vast expensive colony ships loaded with cryo-stasis tubes, is far outside the means of the general population. Who despite it being a space-age live and die on the worlds they were born on.

The Galactic War was the latest in a series of corporate wars that have taken place in human history. In the mainstream media, it’s presented as a “consumer revolt” where ungrateful anti-capitalist guerillas attacked the corporations, causing a Consortium wide recession. After withdrawing to their corporate headquarter worlds and regrouping, the Corporations heroically fought back and saved the galaxy! The unpleasant truth is that the Galactic War was an inter-corporate war, where the corporations consolidated their assets after the initial colonisation of space, bigger corporations ate up smaller rivals, and one of the four major megacorps was actually ejected from human space.

Project Darklight. Is a collection of corporate black projects run by the ruling trio of megacorporations (known as Tri-Corp). The full extent of which is hidden from the public who are led to believe that it’s some super-science that will rebuild the prosperity of the Consortium after the war.

The Reboot Movement. It started off as a rather cynical marketing campaign, in which the CEO of megacorperation Imperial Sterling INC publically said it was time to “Reboot the Future”. The cyberpunks who had grown on worlds abandoned during the Galatic War, free from crushing corporate control, made this slogan their own. They use it as a battle cry, a focus that they can take control of the way that their communities are being run. That in this period of rebooting society after the Galactic War, they can create a more positive world, economically,  environmentally and ethically, for themselves and their families.  

Reboot the Future, The Rules

This article is the first of five preview posts looking briefly behind the main selling points of Reboot the Future, Cyberpunk Roleplaying in the 23rd Century.

The Kickstarter page is now set up and if you are reading before 1st November its currently a prelaunch page where you can sign up to be notified the moment the Kickstarter launches.

Today I will expand on At its heart, it’s a straightforward rules-light Cyberpunk game.

Reboot the Future is built on Paul Mitchener’s Liminal RPG. About nine months ago, Paul kindly sent me a Liminal SRD with all the setting info and examples stripped out since I had expressed an interest in using the ruleset for my projects. Paul and I have collaborated on many projects over the years, and Liminal to my mind is a logical endpoint of the no-nonsense approach that Paul and myself share. It’s on its surface a very simple 2d6 vs Target number system. but there’s other things going on under the hood that make it a very powerful ruleset.

At the heart of Liminal, there the things that define the characters:

Concept. This is a quick summing up of what the character is all about, a pen picture. It also comes attached with suggested and required definitions which are detailed below. I completely rewrote this section to include all the standard cyberpunk roles, such as cyber hacker, Ronin, Black Marketeer etc.

Drive is what makes the character tick. It’s the goal that they are working towards in-game and nicely sums up their beliefs. You score extra experience for pursuing your drive and being able to reroll skill tests that involve the Drive.

Focus: Each character has a focus. This gives them bonuses for certain attributes, and access to Talents, which are traits that only characters with that focus can have. Reboot the Future has focuses of, Commerce, Determined, Hacker, and Tough.

Skills. Liminal has a short but comprehensive skills that tend to be broad rather than narrow in scope. Hence we have Athletics that covers movement abilities rather than separate skills for Jumping, Climbing etc

Traits. Are the additional abilities and talents that the character possesses outside of their skills. Some traits add bonuses to skill tests of a certain type. Others open up whole new areas of endeavour.

Attributes: Will, measures mential fortitude and can be spent for rerolls. Endurance measures physical health. Damage and Protection is the harm that an attack inflicts and your armour aborbs, both measured in d6 plus a modfier that goes up with effectiveness.

Liminal Characters are also part of an adventuring party called a Crew. I’ve renamed this the Gang in Reboot the Future, and added some cyberpunk style assets that the gang can collectively call upon.

The game system is short and concise and mainly revolves around skill tests and challenges.

Skill Tests and Challenges. Skill tests are very straightforward roll 2d6 add an appropriate skill rating, and see if you’ve rolled higher than a Target Number, which defaults to 8 but can be adjusted by the Game Moderator. Challenges are slightly more involved procedures for Combat and Social interactions.

Areas I’ve added to character definitions.

Style, in keeping with the fashion-conscious genre aspects of cyberpunk, every character has a style that defines their visual appearance and attitude and gives a bonus up to three times a game session to any skill test where it is appropriate.

Origins and Flashbacks. Each character has an Origin, such as Archology Terminte, Spacer, Rough Neck etc. As well as a quick background of the characters upbringing for the purposes of roleplaying, they can also be invoked, up to three times per session in the form of Flashbacks that give the character insights from their past which allow them to reroll failed skill tests where appropriate

Cyberware. I’ve used the traits system to add the many types of cyberware that the game features.

Circles and Contacts. Cyberpunk literature has many examples of where a contact is quickly contacted to get the characters out of trouble, or the character’s association with various social circle. So I’ve added rules for this.

To the overall game system, I’ve added some additional rules in keeping with the Cyberpunk genre, that add to straightforward Liminal’s rules for skill tests,social and combat challenges.

Rules for interacting with Virtual Reality. This all revolves around Avatars that act as a digital version of the character in the virtual world. Opposing them are Artificial Intelligences, which guard and control the computer systems that the characters want to loot, manipulate and hack. Unlike other Cyberpunk games, where a dedicated hackiing role gets to have all the fun, while all the other characters sit there twiddling their thumbs, every cyberpunk character has an Avatar which can interact with the virtual world, and take part on data raids, seizing control of computer remotes, and engaging in combats with system AIs.

Vehicluar Mayhem. This type of challenge covers both vehicle combat and chases in one swift go.

Load Out. This chapter adds descriptions and game rules for the many bits of technology that the characters can pick up.

If this interests you, check out the Kickstarter page.

  • Reboot the Future Kickstarter page.
  • Reboot The Future, Kickstarter 1st of November

    On Monday 1st November, I’m opening a month-long Kickstarter for Reboot the Future, a cyberpunk RPG set in the 23rd Century that uses Paul Mitchener’s Liminal RPG as a rules base.

    The Kickstarter page is now set up, and the pre-launch page, where you can sign up to be notified when it launches, is live.

    What is Reboot the Future ?

    I love cyberpunk, from the first days of Cyberpunk 2013, and the genre’s heyday as the setting of various RPGs in the 90s. I stopped mentioning that I could run it either at home or at cons to play other games, such was the demand.

    By the early 2000s, I was burnt out on it as a setting, the ‘punks vs corps default, and the systems, which started off simple and rapidly descended into twiddly complexity when you start working out the effects. The computer hacking element of the game or Net running had got unbearable in the same way that low-level magic-users do in 80s versions of D&D. With the Netrunner sitting out most of the game. In contrast, the others charmed and shot their way around the adventure until it was time to hack the enemy’s computer system. When the tables were turned, and it was the time for the Netrunner to have their 15-30 minutes of fame while the rest of the party sat by twiddling their thumbs.

    So Reboot the Future is my latest attempt to make the Cyberpunk game of my dreams. It’s based on an earlier attempt called Project Darklight, which I realised back in 2016, which used a D6 dice pool system called Wordplay, which worked ok, but wasn’t as lean as I wanted. So this time out, I’m using Paul Mitchener’s Liminal system, a 2D6 vs target number system, which is simple and accessible, yet has some very clever rulings to give it meaningful depth both in a rules sense and to support roleplaying.

    The main selling points for Reboot the Future are:

    1. At its heart its a straightforward rules light Cyberpunk game. If you want to discard the setting and make your own you still get value for money just from it. The character generation, game rules, and even the example npcs and organisations are rooted in traditional cyberpunk tropes.
    2. Cyberpunk in the 23rd century. I wanted a setting that even if the players want to play straightforward cyberpunk, that was a little bit more than the Cyberpunks vs Corperations. Dragging the setting’s time period forward into the age of fringe colonies vs core corperate worlds, and the mystery of what’s in space, has done this for me.
    3. Everyone’s a Cyberhacker. Although there is a dedicated concept for cyberhackers, everyone can interact with virual reality and do stuff there. In fact sometimes they will have to work together to overcome the Artifical Intelligences that run Virtual Reality and guard its secrets.
    4. Play the Cyberpunk you want. Using a setting questionarrie and other player centred tools, the group gets to run the version of cyberpunk you want.
    5. Deep setting info you can ignore if you want. If you like the deep occult conspiracy type of cyberpunk that the Matrix brings, with a mixed with a dash of Ufology, the game supports that. But keeping with the point above, you can easily switch that off and ignore it it, if you or your players don’t want to engage with it.

    I will expand on these five points as separate posts in the week before the Kickstarter opens.

    What is Kickstarter going to Deliver?

    The main rule book, 6-inch x 9 inches, 200-300 pages, colour hardcovers and black and white internals. Colour cover by Dan Barker, with black and white internal art by Jesheilds.

    Sample of the books internal art by Jeshields
    Mandate of Heaven, Cover by Dan Barker
    Mandate of Heaven, Cover by Dan Barker

    Three versions

    • PDF with full bookmarks and hyperlinked page references.
    • POD via
    • Signed and Sent. A properly printed book, with ribbons, endpapers and if they fund as a stretch goal colour plates, sent directly from me to you. Postage payable via my web store before I ship.

    ETA for the final book, April 2022, with 1st artless draft as soon as the successfully funded Kickstarter ends at the beginning of December.

    Unlike previous D101 Games, this Kickstarter, apart from a few already written adventures, will not have a long list of supplements attached to it as stretch goals. I’ve got ideas for sourcebooks, adventure campaigns for Reboot the Future aplenty, but they won’t be part of this campaign.

    Stretch goals

    I’m still figuring out the entire list of stretch goals, but here are the ones that will be in place.

    1. More art. I’ll commision more images to do some of the setting-specific pieces, and colour plates for the Signed and Sent printed version and Pdf.
    2. Liminal SRD. Working with Paul Mitchener a combination of what’s in the main Liminal rulebook, and some of the new bits I bring to the table in Reboot the Future.
    3. Operation Wolverine. This is my go-to adventure at cons to demo what the game is all about. As well as the adventure it will come with a set of six premade characters.

    There’s an Early Bird offer!

    If you are a backer within the first two days of the Kickstarter, I have a short adventure for you in pdf format that you’ll get at the end of the Kickstarter.

    • Brain Dead at the Shopping Mall. A Halloween themed adventure where the cyberpunks explore an abandoned shopping mall on the outskirts of their home city.