[1:02 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Hi everyone. I’m Christian Sahlén, writer of CY_BORG – the Nano-infested doomsday RPG about cybernetic misfits and punks raging against a relentless corporate hell. I’m part of the creative coven Stockholm Kartell who have done things like MÖRK BORG, Death in Space and more.
[1:02 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: (done)
[1:02 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Thanks, @Sahlén | CY_BORG! The floor is open to questions!
[1:03 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Is the setting future Earth?
[1:04 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: It can be. It can also be alternative Dying Lands from MB or a completely different planet. It’s left vague and undecided on purpose.
[1:05 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Can you give us an overview of the tech level? How does it compare to well-known sci-fi settings in general and cyberpunk settings in particular?
[1:09 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The tech level is pretty similar to most cyberpunk RPGs. There’s still Automatic Rifles basically working the same as today, but also cybernetic claws, mechs, genesplicing, etc. You also have Nano Powers and Infestations – technology more like a disease than something you completely control. At the same time your hackers Apps are described as casettes or cartridges so there’s some sweet retro feel to some technology.
[1:11 PM]Vile Traveller: Hello everyone. I just played my first game of CY_BORG this afternoon (UK time). We were all beginning characters (see attached), and we noticed that it was hard for us to succeed at “stuff”. Everyone has, on average, a 40% chance at this point. We expected this as beginning characters and our failures led to interesting situations. But I understand characters get better – my question is, how much, and how quickly?
[1:14 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: You get better when your GM say so, the first time is usually after surviving the first mission and then again after a few more. When you get better you generally get more HP and have a good chance of raising all of your abilities with 1.
[1:16 PM]Vile Traveller: Do you think there is an upper power level for players, when they are just “too good”?
[1:19 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: CY_BORG is not a super hero type of game. You will never reach a point where you are basically immortal since your stats max out at +6 and you always run the risk of actually lowering them as you level up. Most of your survivability comes from gear, and your opponents will have access to the same gear as you do, and better. You are also playing as a group of outcast that go up against mega corporations, organized crime and cults. They will find a way to beat you if you become to much of a problem, no matter what.
[1:20 PM]Vile Traveller: I think what I am getting at is, what is the sort of power level is the game designed for. That answers it nicely, thank you.
[1:21 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Can you go into more detail regarding the Nano Powers and Infestations?
[1:24 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Sure! Nano Powers are something that showed up after The Incident (the cause of the big catastrophy-zone G0 in the middle of the city of Cy). It’s rumored to be alien bacteria piloting human built nano-bots but no one knows for sure. Nano Powers gives your character strange and weird abilities, not unlike magic. They also come with an Infestation which is a passive, often apperance altering effect that can trigger when you fumble with your Power. This triggered effect can sometime cause you and your friends great pain.
[1:25 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Can you give some examples of these powers? (edited)
[1:25 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: An example of a Power is Lifetap – siphoning HP from one target to another.
[1:25 PM]Dan the GMshoe: (brb)
[1:26 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: An example of an Infestation is Radiance, where the passive effect is a eerie glow, but when triggered you actually give off radiation that can hurt you and your nearby friends (an enemies).
[1:27 PM]Vile Traveller: One more question if I may – we used an online character generator with an option to use classes. What is the difference between a character generated with a class, and one without?
[1:30 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The classes are optional but comes with more background, some variations for starting equipment and usually either a special ability or a special item. For example the Burned Hacker will always start with a cyberdeck and at least two Apps. But their chances of getting good armor is reduced and their starting Debt is much higher than the other classes/classless friends. And the Discharged Corp-Killer will always have a large weapon of some kind that is not generally available to other characters.1
[1:30 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: They also get a small bonus to one or two stats suitable for the class and a malus to one other.
[1:31 PM]Dan the GMshoe: (back, sorry)
[1:31 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The classless on the other hand gets bonuses to two stats of your choice and can start with all sorts of stuff.
[1:31 PM]Dan the GMshoe: To what degree are the megacorps making use of Nano Powers?
[1:33 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: That is left to the group and GM to decide, but there are hints that at least some of them are investing heavily in researching Nano to see what they can do with it. And if they have found away to earn credits with Nano they will use that as much as possible for sure.
[1:34 PM]Andy-C: Taking a look at the game’s listing in Free League’s store, I’m interested in the headlines. It reads like there’s a looming end to a campaign. Would you tell me more about how those work?
[1:37 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Yeah! So MÖRK BORG had the Calendar of Nechrubel – a doomsday prophecy with miseries you roll up as your campaign progressed. The 7th misery always ended the campaign as the world ended. CY_BORG have a similar system with Miserable Headlines. Basically doomscrolling… They affect the city and your campaign in different ways and the 7th headline does something to your game. I’m not going to say what because some people may want to play to find out, but it doesn’t necessarily end the campaign.
[1:39 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Examples of some headlines are that an entire district is covered in poisonous smog, or that a corp war breaks out in the middle of the city and millions die.
[1:39 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The GM is encouraged to change details of these so that the PCs and the campaign is affected by them. Involving known NPCs or areas where the PCs live or do missions.
[1:40 PM]Andy-C: Okay, that’s really nifty!
[1:42 PM]Dan the GMshoe: You mentioned mechs earlier. Can you say a bit about them in this setting?
@Dan the GMshoeYou mentioned mechs earlier. Can you say a bit about them in this setting?[1:44 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Mechs are only described in the enemy chapter really: The awe-inspiring pinnacle of mankind’s murderous ingenuity. Bipedal constructs of war, death personified in steel. Destroyers of worlds. Either remotely piloted, traditionally operated or in worst cases fully automated, self-aware, and AI imbued. The horrifying end state of humanity’s desire for fusion powered, blood-soaked cyber-apotheosis.
[1:46 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The illustration leans more Mechwarrior than Patlabor, but who knows how the different corps make their mechs?
[1:46 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Speaking of AIs, what other roles do they play in the setting?
[1:49 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: There are drones and droids that run on simple AI widely available in the game. True AI are mentioned only briefly, and often in mysterious and eerie terms
[1:50 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The first true AI is mentioned as being shackled by a large shipping company, running logistics for them.
[1:51 PM]Dan the GMshoe: So there may or may not be “ghosts in the machine”?
[1:53 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: There are some pretty obvious hints to the fact that the Net hides rogue AI of some sort. But as the game also leans into the occult those may be demons, or aliens as well. It is, as most details of this magnitude, left up to the group and GM to decide what they want in their game.
[1:54 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The playtest campaign had a corp AI that was gearing up to break it’s shackles and the campaign ended with the AI inhabiting a Mech in a lab deep into G0, defending a data centre it had escaped to due to actions of the PCs.1
[1:55 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: But what you do with them in your game is really up to you.
[1:55 PM]Dan the GMshoe: The occult? I wasn’t expecting that. How does the supernatural manifest in this setting?
[1:58 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: There are some crazy cults worshipping weird stuff. They often but not always seem to be connected to Nano somehow. If the stuff they worship is actually true or exist is up to you of course. But we like our cults, they are always fun to include to get a different angle on the dystopian future setting.
[1:59 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: It’s also a hack of MÖRK BORG, so the occult had to be included in some way or another (edited)
[2:01 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Is the alien angle totally up to the GM as well, or is that made explicit one way or the other?
[2:03 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Up to you yeah. Most of our settings are written with hints and suggestions to use as seeds rather than as completed manuals with lots of facts to study.
[2:03 PM]Andy-C: I feel like every character in a given game could have a different, but compatible, connection with whatever the reality of the game is.
[2:04 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: We want you to be able to be creative and include or exclude things without feeling like you go against the games “truth” or whatever .
@Andy-CI feel like every character in a given game could have a different, but compatible, connection with whatever the reality of the game is.[2:04 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: That’s also true, and rhymes well with other secrets in there.
[2:06 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: And your next campaign may decide to go a different way with one of the core concepts if you want to. But for most people’s games it won’t matter if Nano comes from aliens or not. That will only matter if you chose to make it a core thing of the campaign.
[2:08 PM]Dan the GMshoe: How ubiquitous are cybernetics?
[2:10 PM]Andy-C: @Sahlén | CY_BORG For whatever reason(s), I bounced pretty hard off of Mork Borg, but you’re really selling me on Cy.
@Dan the GMshoeHow ubiquitous are cybernetics?[2:12 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: We use the term cybertech specifically for things that enhance your character in some way. And most PCs will not start with one of those really. You have to invest after your first mission or so. But other types of cybernetics are widespread for sure. Things that only change your appearance or so is used by the masses. And everyone has an RCD – Retical Communciation Device. It’s what you have instead of a smartphone and it beams information into your optical nerve somehow. They may be some cool shades, or a bulky VR-headset-thing, or cybereyes. How they look doesn’t really matter to the rules of the game, so we leave the stylistic choice up to the player.
@Andy-C@Sahlén | CY_BORG For whatever reason(s), I bounced pretty hard off of Mork Borg, but you’re really selling me on Cy.[2:14 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: They are similar in many ways, but also different. Having different writers does that. (edited)
[2:15 PM]Vile Traveller: Most of our characters had debts of some kind, is that common for starting characters? I imagine they paid for some of the cool stuff we started with.
[2:16 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Are there any legal issues regarding cybernetics? Any blackmarket “chopshops”? (Granted, I’m guessing “legal” is a very relative term in this setting.)
@Vile TravellerMost of our characters had debts of some kind, is that common for starting characters? I imagine they paid for some of the cool stuff we started with.[2:17 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Every PC starts with debt and someone they owe that money to. The idea is for the GM to use that debt and the debtors as important drivers in the campaign. It’s the reason why you are forced to take jobs from the corps you hate.
@Dan the GMshoeAre there any legal issues regarding cybernetics? Any blackmarket “chopshops”? (Granted, I’m guessing “legal” is a very relative term in this setting.)[2:19 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Some items are marked as illegal or restricted and SecOps (private cops) will get hostile if they find you with it in their turfs. There’s absolutely a black market for cybertech. One of the adventures included in the game is also about repossessing some stolen cybertech. It’s called Reaper Repo and is in the Asset Pack for the game.
[2:20 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: ReaperDoc being our term for black market/street level cybertech suppliers.
[2:21 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Are the PCs considered to be freelancers, or are the all beholden to one corp or another?
[2:21 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Freelancers!
[2:22 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: The Corps are the enemy. You may be forced to work for them every now and again, but they are absolutely the enemy. (edited)
[2:23 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Is it possible for the PCs to take jobs from “the average Joe” in A-Team fashion, or is that simply not a thing?
[2:25 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: That’s absolutely a thing and is the case in Lucky Flight Takedown – the introductory heist fromt he book. You are asked to help a neighborhood to get back at a local casino that is using unfair means to get people indebted to them. The mission generator that is in the book also have several similar options.
[2:26 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Cool. As a matter of personal taste, I have a hard time enjoying a game that’s stictly about the Bad Guys.
[2:28 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
[2:29 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: sure
[2:30 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: give me a second
[2:32 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Sorry, just a screenshot of a fillable PDF.
[2:33 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG:x_CY_BORG_Asset-Pack_Character-Sheet.pdf601.95 KB
[2:34 PM]Dan the GMshoe: That works. For those unfamiliar, can you describe how the system works?
[2:36 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: You roll a Test when something interesting can happen if you fail whatever you try to do. A Test is d20 + Ability against a normal Difficulty Rating (DR) of 12. Your abilities are scored between -3 and +6.
[2:37 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: All rolls are player facing. Meaning that as a player you roll to hit an opponent, but also roll to defend when an opponent attacks you. The GM does not roll to hit.
[2:38 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Armor reduces damage taken. Glitches is a meta currency that can be used to get a reroll, avoid a crit or fumble or similar things.
[2:38 PM]Dan the GMshoe: What counts as a crit or a fumble?
[2:38 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Nat 20 or Nat 1
[2:38 PM]HOO (Biological Male): that’s the wildest character stat sheet I ever saw!
[2:39 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: But Apps and Nano powers can have higher risks of fumbles depending on how many you have used for the day.
[2:39 PM]Dan the GMshoe: How does that work?
[2:40 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Each attempt increases the risk of fumble by 1. So after using 4 Nano you risk a fumble (when using Nano) at Nat 1-5. And a Nano fumble means triggering your Infestation.
[2:43 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Other than that, there’s Reaction Rolls, Morale Checks and similar systems that will feel very familiar to anyone who played games of the older variety.
[2:43 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Are there anything resembling skills?
[2:45 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: No, but certain classes can have abilities that reduces the difficulty when performing certain kinds of actions. So your Forsaken Gang-goon is going to have an easier way sneaking around and your Gearhead will probably be your preferred driver. It’s rules light and heavy on everything else.
[2:45 PM]Dan the GMshoe: How does combat work?
[2:47 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: To attack you roll d20 + the ability used for your type of attack – Strength for melee, Presence for sniping, etc. A 12 or more is usually a hit, then you roll damage modified by the targets armor. When you are attacked you roll to defend with d20 + Agility to avoid taking damage yourself.
[2:49 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: There are some optional rules for cover, range, etc. But the core is very simple and fits on the end papers of the book.
[2:49 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Interesting. I was thinking that combat was level-based as with D&D. Or… are levels even a thing in this game?
[2:49 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Not really no.
[2:51 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: You get better, as mentioned above, but there are not tables with XP requirements and predetermined stat increases.
[2:51 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: or any abilities that unlock only after reaching level X
[2:51 PM]Dan the GMshoe: And armor is damage reduction, you say?
[2:52 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Yep. With the optional rules of Hits Always Hurt – meaning that damage taken can never be reduced to 0.
[2:53 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Well, this certainly fixes some issues that I have with the usual D&D-based rules. I forget — does MORK BORG use the exact same system?
[2:54 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Pretty much yes. We added the Knowledge ability for CB so we have a stat for Tech/App-use and so on. And MB didn’t have any rules for auto-fire for some reason…
[2:54 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: But the core is very much the same.
[2:56 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Does the game have a “bestiary” (to whatever degree the term applies here)?
[2:58 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Yes, it comes with about 10 spreads of Foes. Ranging from Guards and Goons, Drones, Cydroids, Combat Vehicles, Nano Phreaks and Enhanced Beasts (edited)
[2:58 PM]Dan the GMshoe: What are Cydroids, Nano Phreaks, and Enhanced Beasts?
[3:01 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Cydroids are different types of robots made to kill. Nano Phreaks are creatures from G0, weirdly mutated by Nano and/or other things. Enhanced Beasts used to be animals but are cybernetically enhanced and gene modified, often to guard special places.
[3:02 PM]Dan the GMshoe: What is G0?
[3:04 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: G0 is the destroyed part of the City of Cy where the Incident took place. It’s a post apocalyptic quagmire full of ruins and horrors.
[3:05 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Oh, Ground Zero?
[3:05 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Yep
[3:05 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Gotcha.
[3:06 PM]Dan the GMshoe: You mentioned the Net. Is it a full-immersion VR environment? “Enhanced reality”? Something different?
[3:07 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: It’s an amalgamation of AR, VR, old internet and cyberspace. It’s ever present and beamed directly to you through your RCD.
[3:08 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Your surroundings is always full of ads and information. You use it constantly and when you are on a heist you probably stream your POV to all your team mates
[3:08 PM]Dan the GMshoe: In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[3:10 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: We made some digital generators for Characters, NPCs and Missions that we are pretty happy with. You can try it here: https://cy-borg.vercel.app/CY_BORGOPEN%TRANSMISSION://LOAD [official_digital_generators_for_CY_BORG].cy
[3:10 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Awesome!
[3:10 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Thanks very much for joining us, @Sahlén | CY_BORG!
[3:10 PM]Sahlén | CY_BORG: Thanks for having me!
[3:11 PM]Dan the GMshoe: Usual reminder: If you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee or two, you can do so at https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe. Anything’s appreciated! Ko-fiBuy Dan Davenport a Coffee. ko-fi.com/gmshoeBecome a supporter of Dan Davenport today! ❤️ Ko-fi lets you support the creators you love with no fees on donations.
[3:11 PM]Dan the GMshoe: If you’ll give me a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!