Play For Keeps
Cyberpunk Red is the tabletop prequel to the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game by CD Projekt Red. It is also the sequel to the original Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying game developed and published by R Talsorian Games. The full Cyberpunk Red rulebook hasn’t been released yet, so the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit is a starter kit for those who’ve never played a roleplaying game, and want a cyberpunk fix before the video game is released, or for veteran Cyberpunk 2020 gamers to get a taster of the upcoming rules.
The Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit contains 2 books, the rulebook, and the world book. The rulebook details the core mechanics of the game, how to make a test, what your action options are alongside some of the wider details like weapons, cyberwear and how to netrun (hack).
The world book updates the cyberpunk setting from 2020 to 2045, which gives veteran cyberpunk gamers a lot to work with, and also a peek into the world for those interested in the video game. It also includes an adventure, ‘The Apartment’ and tips for the Games Master (GM) on how to run a Cyberpunk Red game.
It doesn’t include the full rules for character creation, but it does include some pre-generated characters and details of the lifepath system for generating the backstory for your characters. So even though the stats are already in place, you still get to make the pregen feel like your own. The Jumpstart Kit includes 6 of the 9 Cyberpunk Red classes, so if you want to play Media, Lawmen or Execs, you will have to wait for the full release.
The Cyberpunk Red rules included in the Jumpstart Kit are light and extremely straight-forward. There isn’t a huge amount of rules to work with or detail on equipment. But this is great for new tabletop gamers, as you can focus on just getting it done, and veteran gamers looking for a little bit more will have to have some work done by the GM. It is refreshing to have a neat system that’s simple and fast to run as it allows you as a player, or GM, to really focus on the action and narrative.
The netrunning rules have enough to introduce new players and run it alongside the main combat rules without requiring too much focus or timing issues. They fit neatly into the round structure so that everyone plays together. We expect these to be expanded either within the full Cyberpunk Red rulebook release or within their own supplement. Those included here work very well with the fast-paced system.
The included adventure is short and punchy and encourages the GM to read the players and modify the story on their leads, rather than a prescribed adventure with a huge amount of set actions and events. It’s great for new GMs to get into the rules with and veteran GMs can add their own details and drive it in the direction their players want, involving the characters that they connect with. Those who prefer a full adventure, with all the details spelled out may find The Apartment lacking and my want to wait for a full adventure release to explore.
Where the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit eases back with rules, it more than makes up for in detail and both books give a lot of great information to flesh out and explore. After the adventure, several Screamsheets are included, which have a 1-page news article, followed by all the information the GM needs to turn it into an adventure.
The Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit is available both in physical print and digitally. The physical copy comes with custom red and black Cyberpunk Red dice, which for cyberpunk and dice fans, may alone justify the purchase. Also included in the physical copy are card stand-ups and coated game mats. The digital copy requires some printing and sticking if you want to use the mats and card standups, but offers a great entry value if you just want the rulebook and world book.
The Bottom Line:
The Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit is a fantastic kit for many reasons. The setting update from 2020 is essential reading for any 2020 fans or those who want to know more about the setting for the upcoming 2077 video game. The kit is a great starter kit for those who've never played an RPG before and want to try out tabletop for the first time. The rules are fast and light, easing players in. Veteran cyberpunk gamers will have to do a little work if they want more details in their gear and a meatier adventure, but if you've got sourcebooks from previous editions, it's not a stretch to fill out the Jumpstart Kit rules until the full version is released. The rest of the box contents are quality, and the dice alone are worth it for cyberpunk fans.
Get this game if:
- You are a hardcore cyberpunk fan.
- You want to learn more about the history and the setting before the video game's release.
- You are new to tabletop RPGs and want a taste of the cyberpunk setting.
- You want a preview of the upcoming Cyberpunk Red full release.
- You want some awesome Cyberpunk Red custom dice.
Avoid this game if:
- You want a fantasy RPG.
- You want a huge amount of rules and adventure detail.
The copy of the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit used for this review was provided by R Talsorian Games.