Ryan Macklin, RPG writer, editor and all around Renaissance man, has posted the Furious Game Jam. This is a hugely fun idea which asks people to hack an existing tabletop RPG to fit the ‘creative and industrious thrill seekers do stuff’ aesthetic of the Fast and Furious movies.
Oh and it can only be 1320 words long. Because that’s how many feet are in a quarter mile. Game doesn’t have to be about street racers but it has to fit in a street race. I like that.
Below is my entry. ‘The Effs’ takes the ‘creative and industrious thrillseekers’ idea and folds it into the, these days, slightly ludicrous, world of Cyberpunk 2020. I cut my teeth on that game and I still love it but holy wow the aesthetic is dated.
I used that as my in. How would you run a game in Cyberpunk 2020 now? What would it be like to run a modern group in that ridiculous world of big haired chrome-covered angst? What do the normal people do?
They’re the Effs. They’re everywhere and this is how you play them. In exactly 1320 words.
Gearheads, hobbyists, nerds and normals of the dark future team up to build old cars, fight crime and, odds are, do crime.
What they think:
Rocker, Street Samurai, Netrunner, Fixer? Those take MONEY. Those take hefty bank accounts and finishing schools and years of military service. Oh sure, some Samurai in particular are poor kids. Best way to get the education is to be paid to try not to die for a few years, right?
But not everyone’s tall enough. Not everyone’s fit enough. Even for that.
Where are the normal people in the dark future? And what happens to normal in a world where people can hack your computer with their minds and download a lifetime’s martial arts skills in the blink of an eye?
They go old school.
What they are:
The Effs are the real people in the dark future. They’re the ones who can’t afford cyberware, don’t want their computers in their heads and have no interest in going corporate or going cop. They’re the original street, the original counter cultures.
All of them.
The Effs can be anyone. Street dancers, podcasters, martial artists, pastry chefs. Anyone with a skill and a crew that doesn’t fit into the complex and annoying world that the big haired, chromed out, plastic faced tourists who everyone thinks own the street these days have. Cyberpunks drop albums, fight C-psychos and rob corporations. Effs work for a living and try and make what they love what they do. Cyberpunks are cyberpunks. But Effs? Effs are every other kind of punk. They’re not pretty, they’re not rich. But there are more of them than anyone else. And they know where everyone else lives.
Who they are:
Effs are flashmobs and discussion groups, knitting circles and youtube videographer teams. They’re groups of people united by a common skill or hobby. They’re not quite tribes but they are definitely the sort of ‘mi familia’ that Dom and his crew are.
Another way to look at them is as cyberpunk-adjacent. An Eff group could include a hacker, a cop, maybe even a wannabe Rockerboy but only ever in their spare time. They work just as hard, are often more talented but either choose to be underground or can’t get a break. They’re every band who’ve never opened a stadium, every fighter who’s never fought for a title. Every character actor, every work for hire writer. Brilliant, gifted, overlooked. Some of them are happy with that. Others…not so much.
How they’re viewed:
Most of the time, they aren’t. Effs are the people who look up at the punks hanging off an AV-4 shooting at another AV-4. They’re bystanders, background and, sometimes, collateral damage.
But not always. Some groups have not only found them but found them to be particularly useful. Any Fixer worth a damn will get his info from a dozen different Effs. Any Rocker who wants a career will have a handful of Eff musicians and journalists he or she leaks their work to or makes sure they’re seen with. Any cop who pays attention has either got outstanding warrants for an Eff or two, uses them as C.I.s or is one himself.
Cyberpunks are the rockstars. Effs are the audience and the supporting band.
How to Create A Group
Effs are much easier to run adventures for than normal punks because they have a reason to stick together beyond the latest job. Take some time with your group to work out just what they do and what unites them. Here’s a couple of ideas:
-A family run MMA gym with associated fighters and trainers. Ties to police, gangs, corporate and media write themselves here.
-A tech startup. Ties to corporate, techies, media and gangs.
-A group of street artists, desperate for exposure and at war with the owners of the buildings they tag. Police, media and fixer ties abound. Also probably the odd consulting detective. Or maybe just AN odd consulting detective.
-A team of surfers and extreme athletes who balance zen philosophy with a series of increasingly risky heists. Ties to fixers and gangs are obvious. The undercover FBI agent who’s part of the group is less obvious. For now.
How To Create An Eff
The best way to create an Eff is fast and dirty. Role 9D10 and that’s your character points.
The fun way to do it is to go for the minor hero option. Never anything more than that. So give them 75 character points to play with.
If you’re going through the lifepath as normal then go ahead. There’s a lot of gloriously Fast and Furious-esque options on there already.
Alternately, roll twice on Disaster Strikes! And twice on You Get Lucky. The first two are your problems, the second two are the favors you’re owed.
Now, let’s talk cyberware and special abilities.
You don’t get any.
Oh and no guns larger than a pistol or a shotgun.
Here’s what you do get:
-First off there’s the double rolls on Disaster Strikes and You Get Lucky. Those are the result of your never ending hustle and the perils of trying to get noticed in a world full of chromed posers.
-Then there’s the fact while you don’t know everything, you CAN know everything. Effs are more connected than anyone else simply because there are more of them. All Effs get a level of Streetdeal. If an Eff group is working together, their levels are cumulative. It pays to be people who know people.
-Then there’s your Pride and Joy. All Effs have the option of burning 10 Character points on something truly exceptional which is unique to them. They also have the option of combining those 10 points and buying, as a group, a base of operations or something that would make cyberpunks sit up and take notice. Some examples include:
10 Point Options
-A perfectly restored ’67 Chevy Impala, with all original parts.
-The highest end non-cyberdeck computer on the market.
-Equivalent to level 9 in any single skill.
30-70 Point options
-A fully equipped garage/chop shop
-The top level of a luxury apartment block
-A recording studio
-A satellite transmission van
Alternately, they can pool their points and buy a patron. As a GM, this is a dream come true. There’s nothing more relaxing than saying ‘Your phone rings, it’s the plot.’ As a player, it can be a two edged sword. Here are some examples;
-A prominent Corporate who wants to sponsor the gym. But also wants first rights on the contracts for all the fighters.
-A TV company who will film a reality TV show about the startup and fund them for two years. But will also script false drama and spread them across the gossip sheets to ‘raise their profile’.
-A private detective who holds dirt on all the artists and will use it if they don’t act as his eyes and ears.
-A nameless FBI agent who wants to recruit the group for a war in the shadows…
–Fight Club-An Eff group gone feral. Not necessarily bad but feral. That speech Tyler gives the police chief? Could be The Eff Manifesto.
–Halt and Catch Fire-The birth of the modern computer age and a classic example of a fractious but vital Eff group.
–Hit by Delilah S.Dawson-Forced to murder people to clear her mother’s debt to the bank who’ve bought America, a teenaged girl, the brother of one of her future victims and their dog team up to fight back.
–Kingdom-Drama about a family owned MMA gym.
–Leverage-There’s a strong case for Nate’s team being punks, or, maybe Shadowrunners. But their frequent low tech, slight of hand approach says Effs to me.
–The LXD-Gloriously executed and slightly incomprehensible superhero street dance webseries.
–Mysterymen-The definitive Eff superhero team.
–Pointbreak-Bodhi’s amiable surfbros, in the first half of the movie, are Effs. In the second, they’re cyberpunks.