THE HISTORY OF THE DATAFORTRESS 2020 CYBERPUNK GAMES

This is a brief detail of all the Cyberpunk campaigns that I have been a part of, some playing, but mostly running, since 1989.  They have an interconnected timeline, and from the beginning have influenced the site.  The in game timeline is not really accurate to reality; the events of the campaigns were retconned to make for a more solid continuity within our games.

YEARS RUN

PLAYER

GM

GAME TIMELINE

1989 - 1991

Chrome Crisis

 

2013 - 2015

1990 - 2000

 

Autumn Blade

2015 - 2020

1990 - 1992

Cyber Sunrise

 

2015 - 2016

1993 - 1996

 

The Badge, The Gun

2018 - 2020

1995 - 1996

 

Guns Of The Wasteland

2020

1996

Gutters and Blood

 

2020

1997

 

Man Without A Face

2020

1997 - 1999

 

Death Merchants

2019 - 2020

1998

 

Tokyo Boogie

2020

1998

 

On Tour

2020

1998 - 2000

 

Dust In The Wind

2020 - 2021

2005 - 2009

 

The Night Crew

2020 - 2024

2008

Cyrus Chronicles

 

2020

2009 - Ongoing

Broken Saints

 

2020 - 2024+

2009 - 2010

 

NCPD Blues

2021 - 2022

2010

 

Deep Six

2021

2010

 

Tattered Blue

2022

2010 - 2011

 

Night City Stomp

2022 - 2023

2011 - Ongoing

 

Hard Luck In The Big City

2023 – 2024+

2012 - Ongoing

 

Abandoned Sons

2024+

2012

 

Broken Saints Side Story:

The Road Hound Rides

2024

 

CHROME CRISIS 1989 - 1991

I had tried gaming in 1985, some old school Dungeons and Dragons, but I didn’t really care for it.  I loved gaming books though, and my parents would regularly buy me gaming books. And over the years I acquired DnD basic, Top Secret, all of the Robotech books, and Several Marvel Superheroes books.  I loved the books, but really only for the art and information.  I didn’t understand how the game was really supposed to work, and I really had no real interest in trying to game again because of my limited and disappointing experiences.  Then in high school, I lost a bet, and as a result I was supposed to give DnD a try again… only instead of DnD we played Cyberpunk… Chrome Crisis wasn’t the actual name f the campaign, the campaign didn’t really have a name, but it introduced me to gaming for real, and It started a lifelong obsession.  I played the game with Jeff Toney and Adam Wells, both students at the KC Art Institute.  Jeff played a character named Patrick Connor and Adam ran the game with an NPC named Susan… Occasionally another friend, Graham Lane, would join playing a corporate named Nakjimo.  I played 4 different characters as one would die or I would get bored of them, still struggling to get the basics of the game, and the basics of gaming itself.  The game itself was not very focused, but basically revolved around our characters gaining influence and power.

 

AUTUMN BLADE 1990 - 2000

As my interest in the game grew, Adams school schedule became tighter, so I began running the game myself for my other friends back in Blue Springs.  My core group was my brother James, Tim Covell, Jeff Toney, Bucky Coin, Chris Little, Ashley Able, and Chris Pemberton.  Of course there were other players as well, many of them in fact, but those were my hardcore gamer friends.  The entire list of characters they played can be found in the Autumn Blade sourcebook under the Operatives section.  As a beginning gamer, pretty much every campaign I had up until the year 2000 tied into this campaign.  Some tied in directly, others were more tangently associated.  The first few years were kind of a mess, with the only real connection being that everyone kind of worked, at one time or another, for one of my characters from the original game, a fixer specializing in talent brokering and arms dealing named Char Yojihiromata.  As the years went buy,  the organization grew, and even though I was still running the same type games, the old NPC’s faded from view as they took a more shadowy approach and let their Lieutenants make the eals under their own flags without ever mentioning the greater organization.  The Autumn Blade games were by far the bulk of early career as a GM, and dozens and dozens of characters were involved.  Characters died and were replaced, players got bored and retired old characters for new ones, and new people came and went.  When I moved to Arkansas in 1996, I kept the campaign going until 2000 with my new crew of gamers, most notably my brother James, Cameron Jacobs, Mathew Baldwin, and Jesse Miller.  In 1996 I also inherited Datafortress, and Autumn Blade was a good way to keep adding the new characters to the site, even if that was the only connection they had to it.  Throughout the campaign actually consisted of several small campaigns, related only by the theme of street criminals working in Night City for an often mysterious and unknown employer or benefactor.  I was young and didn’t know any better.   The most important thing about the campaign was how it helped me shape my view of Night City and the world as a whole.  It also was the introduction of some truly fantastic characters by my players.  I loved them all, but my favorites were Tim Covell’s Chin the shaolin pimp and Jaques Du Bois, a professional thief, Cameron Jacob’s fixer Rasta Mike, Chris Little’s solo Bevel, and my brothers solo Keosho… they certainly saw more game time than any of the others.

 

CYBER SUNRISE 1990 - 1992

Back in those earliest days when I was just starting out, another member of my group also wanted to GM.  Chris Pemberton ran a high powered, munchkin happy, game, but we were new to the whole thing and it was fun at the time.  It Really was the game where my character Char Yojihiromata rose to power, and his closest Lieutenants (characters I played when I wanted to play something other than a fixer) took on a much more high power professional level of play…. After this game all the characters were retired to NPC status… but it was important in setting up the Autumn Blade organization.  I promise, I only Mary Sued with them a couple of times, way back in the early days… then I learned that was douchebag behavior by seeing other GM’s pull that nonsense.

 

THE BADGE, THE GUN 1993 - 1996

This was one of the only non-Autumn Blade campaigns of any significance I ran back in the early days in Kansas City.  It was a cop based campaign centered around a C-SWAT squad.  Chris Little played Marie, one of my absolute favorite characters to ever grace my game, and one that still shows up in my games as an NPC, not in any relelvant manner usually, just as a background or supporting character these days, mostly out of nostalgia and fondness for her.  Brent played Jack Smooth, a jive talking full conversion, and my brother played Sean O’Malley, an older hard boiled cop.  There were other players and characters, but those were the ones that stood out.  This game was important because it really helped me get a grip of the police in the city, and all the characters from it can be found in the C-SWAT section of my NCPD article. It was another long running campaign, but ended in 1996 when I moved from KC to NW Arkansas.

 

GUNS OF THE WASTELAND 1995 – 1996

In the last two years of my time in Kansas City I ran Tim Covell and Bucky Coin on a Nomad based game.  Their characters were bounty hunters named Christian Alexander and Dar.  Bad tot eh bone taking no shit bikers who tracked down their prey and brought them to justice.  The game was my first real attempt to delve into the nomad aspects of the game, but unfortunately as memorable as the characters were, we never found the time to play it as often as we would have liked.

 

 

 

GUTTERS AND BLOOD 1996

When I first moved to Arkansas, I didn’t have many friends here, it was really just my brother and my “kinda step brother” Wayne Crutchfield (long story).  For the first year I continued the Autumn Blade Campaign as a series of solo adventures for them, but I was getting kind of depressed, so my brother offered to run a game.  It was the first and only time he has ever run a game for me, but it was a lot of fun.  Wayne and I played absolute gutter level punks, Wayne was a dirt bag drug dealer named Donovan, and I was playing a scummy little homeless sociopath named Maddoc.  Hell I started play with nothing other than the clothes on my back, a pocket full of drugs, and a switchblade.  It was fantastically fun.  Our stats were abysmal, our characters had no real redeeming values, and it was all just a mess of hopelessness and desperation.   The campaign kind of died when I began making friends here in NW Arkansas, notably Cameron Jacobs, who introduced me to pretty much all my other friends here.  When he came along I switched back to running, and continued to do so exclusively (at least as far as Cyberpunk was concerned) until 2009 with the brief exception of a short online campaign I played in run by Joe Klemmen (CitizenX from the View From The Edge Forums).  These characters were put in the Autumn Blade section because there was no where else to put them at the time.

 

MAN WITHOUT A FACE 1997

When Cameron came along he shared my enthusiasm for Cyberpunk, so when my brother and our other friends weren’t available for the regular Autumn Blade Campaign, I ran him on his own solo game centered around a Corporate spy in Europe with heavy ties to organized crime.  The game didn’t last long, but it was a lot of fun.  This character was put in the Autumn Blade section because there was no where else to put them at the time.

 

THE DEATH MERCHANTS 1997 – 1999

With our circle of gamer friends growing, I decided to try a new campaign idea completely detached from Autumn Blade, (though like al my cyberpunk games it was set in the same world/Continuity).  I decided to run a military based campaign in Africa.  The players consisted of my brother, Cameron, Mathew Baldwin, Jeff Sykes, Daniel Baldwin, and Jesse Miller.  I liked running this game a lot.  It gave players in my game their first chance to play with some of the bigger and more ridiculous toys… tanks, power armor, heavy weapons, etc… it also gave a pretty strict focus and gave me a lot of control over the direction of the game from my usual sandbox style of running.  The campaign was the basis for Conflict: The African Sourcebook, and the characters can all be found in the US Special Forces section.

 

TOKYO BOOGIE 1998

In 1998 I tried something different again, a campaign based around street fighters in Tokyo.  It was an almost exclusively martial arts based game played by Matt Baldwin, Jesse Miller, Jesse Palmer and Allison Vale.  The characters were all involved in an underground fighting ring, and eventually it would have explored the Japanese underground street gangs and organized crime.  Sadly it only got two sessions in, but it would be a campaign premise I would revisit later to much greater and ongoing success.  Most of the characters were forgettable, and eventually they all ended up glommed in with Autumn Blade because I had no where else to put them.  But one character would live again in another campaign later.

 

ON TOUR 1998

Another failed experiment.  This one got 4 sessions in before it became so boring for everyone that it was quietly forgotten.  The game centered around a band, on the road, going from gig to gig.  It was basically Josie and The Pussycats in a dystopian future.  The only thing I remember about the game is that it was our attempt, almost on a dare, to see if an entire group of rockerboys was actually a viable concept, or if a group of them just sucked as much as having one in your party.  The answer we reached was that Rockerboys just suck no matter what… The characters are given brief mention along with a few other failed rockers that showed up over the years, in the Wake Up Records section of Nakajimo Plaza.

 

 

DUST IN THE WIND 1998 -2000

This was the last successful campaign of the 90’s, a nomad campaign that explored the entirety of America, from the perspective of the two main (as in most consistent to show up) players.  One was a protector in the nomad community, the other a nomad journalist printing and distributing his own newspaper to the nomad community.  It was in the earliest days of this game that I ran what to this day is perhaps my single best night of gaming ever.  The Chicago Tower exploration  we played in the dark, and I set up such a spooky atmosphere that one of the players finally broke down and made me turn the lights back on, he was shaking badly… I won’t give up the players identity, but he has been mentioned by name a couple of times in this article.  It was a great game and served the basis for what would become The Nomad Market and a large portion, including the title, for Dust in the Wind.  The characters can be seen in the Nomad Market sourcebook.

 

When Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition hit, it pretty much stopped every other game were playing.  In addition, I got myself into a horrible relationship with an awful person.  Not going to go into it, but she sucked the fun entirely out of my life, and as a result of her issues I actually stopped gaming almost altogether for a while.  It was 2005 before I could really get back into Cyberpunk.  I worked on the website off an on during that time, but it was pretty sparse in updates.  I tried running small games here and there, but the longest of them only lasted 3 sessions, most didn’t get past the character generation.

 

THE NIGHT CREW 2005 - 2009

The Night Crew consisted of characters originally played by my brother James, Cameron Jacobs, and Jeff Gray.  It was the first cyberpunk game I had run consistently in years, and it was done right.  The game started out as total gutterpunk but evolved into the single highest stakes power player game I have ever run.  As the game progressed a few others joined the ranks at our table, Jesse Miller (playing that character from Tokyo Boogie), Matt Baldwin, Critter Pop, Brandon Fleming, and Nick Navarro.  The game naturally progressed from the characters being gutter scum just trying to survive, to an entire group of full conversions working for a shadowy government organization.  It started with zip guns and broken bottles, and ended with characters regularly using anti-tank rifles and heading tripping around the Crystal Palace and the Moon for their final mission.  It was EPIC.  The original lineup is mentioned in Autumn Blade, and then updated versions are mentioned in the NCPD sourcebook.  The entire group will eventually be featured in a sourcebook centered on the shadowy government organization they worked for.  The characters were so well played, so consistently played, that they reside in the most honored folder of retired NPC’s.  Occasionally the players still try to get me to run those characters, but I haven’t had any stories to tell about them left… maybe someday.

 

The Night Crew campaign also marked several milestones in my gaming history.  First, player involvement reached soaring new heights.  Each player needed their own three ring binder just to store all their campaign notes, designs, important contacts, NPC’s they were directly in control of, vehicles, gear, the works.  One payer, Jeff Gray, was so involved, that he took detailed notes of the entire campaign… which isn’t something unusual, until you realize his notes were entirely in the form of Stick Figure Comic pages!  To this day I can open up the entire three ring binder full of those comics and find myself laughing out loud.  The dynamic between player, game, and GM was magic, and all of us reached a new plateau in what we bring and what we expect from games.

 

It was also during this time that I began working on Interlock Unlimited, the revamped Interlock System.  The game was still going on before the first copy of IU was put out, making it the first campaign I ran using the new system.  This was doubled with the fact that during this game is when I was finally able to convert my garage into a dedicated gaming room:

 

The excitement rampant in this game was ridiculous.  Every aspect of our gaming, including the character sheets which for the first time had color illustrations of the characters, was elevated so high none of us ever looked back down.

 

THE CYRUS CHRONICLES 2008

In 2008, a friend from the View From The Edge forums named CitizenX (Joe Klemann) ran me and a friend of his, Kent Andrews,  on a short lived but much loved cop game online through various chat rooms.  While the game died abruptly due to scheduling concerns, I had a great time with it, and my character as well as the other guys character can be found in the NCPD sourcebook as Homicide detectives.

 

THE BROKEN SAINTS 2009 – ONGOING

In the summer of 2009 several things happened.  The most drastic of which was a move to a new house, which meant a new gaming room, but it also heralded a change in jobs for most of the group, including myself.  Also, schedules changed, people got into serious relationships, and the dynamic of the group kinda switched gears.  So as the Night Crew Game came to an end we were at a loss as to what to play next.  

 

Brandon Fleming, awesome possum that he is, asked if he could run a Cyberpunk game.  It would be set in the same continuity of my game.  I was speechless.  I had had really been running so long that I had forgotten what it was like to play the game, and I jumped at the chance.  The respect he showed my continuity (which allowed other players to bring in their characters) and his skill at running the game after a relatively short exposure to it, was amazing.  Originally the game consisted of Brandon running, and my brother, Cameron, Jeff, and myself.  It was hardcore nomad, and out adventures took us all over the place, with a common enemy being the Monsanto Corporation.  That group lasted about 3 months, and then once again new jobs, new relationships, and new schedules, conspired to dissolve the group.  But thankfully, Brandon kept running Swift on an epic solo campaign.  By this time in my gaming career, I was sick to death of running games for remorseless sociopath killer characters, I played a hero, a Hero named Swift, and he quickly became my single favorite character of all time.

 

Occasionally my friends would rejoin the game, but never for very long.  Other new players would join the game as well, notably Kris Zorn, Will Schieffer, Jesse Miller, Matt Baldwin, Critter Pop, and others, bujt it would rarely last more than a few sessions and it would be back to just me and Brandon.  This campaign was the direct inspiration for most of Dust In The Wind, and all of the characters can be found there except for a couple which will either be added with an update, or placed in a future sourcebook.  Brandon has done a fantastic job, and this game has been the best I have ever played in.  As of 6-1-12 we still play it weekly, though right now we have a new person playing with us, Beth Bishop, and Jeff might join back in.

 

NCPD BLUES 2009 - 2010

In exchange for running me solo on the Broken Saints Campaign, I offered to run Brandon on a game.  The first of which was a cop game.  Brandon played Victor Pestroi, an aging hard boiled homicide detective with family ties to the Russian Mob.  My brother played in this game frequently until his epilepsy started worsening and he could no longer continue to play.  The game itself was run weekly, sometimes more, and saw Pestroi go from a homicide cop to getting transferred to C-SWAT, getting his own unit, and ended when he became Captain of a C-SWAT division.   Throughout the campaign, many figures from past games made cameos, in particular Jack Smooth, Marie Daisho, Sean O’Malley, and virtually every other surviving cop pc that I ever ran a game for.  Victor has yet to be added to the NCPD book, but as soon as I can find a reason to do an update he will find himself placed there.  Or perhaps he will appear in a different sourcebook, the future only knows.

 

DEEP SIX 2010

In 2010 enough of the old group had been able to arrange schedules to accommodate a regular game again.  After putting it to a vote, it was decided I would run another military based game, this time in Central and South America.  Sadly the game didn’t last long due to sudden scheduling conflicts (Jeff Grays Girlfriend got pregnant, Cameron got a new job that had him working nights), but what we did get in was amazingly fun.  The military characters they created still need to be added to the sourcebook Conflict II, which was actually written a year before the campaign.

 

TATTERED BLUE 2010

In 2010 I tried my hand at running a game online for the first time.  The campaign was sort of to pay the debt to Joe Klemann for running me, but also because I had a great idea for a campaign, one that would explore the gang scene in Night City and run concurrently with the offline gaming I was running for Brandon.  Eraser, another member of VFTE, and a few of Joe’s friends were also involved.  The characters would play anti-crime cops trying to stop a drug war between the Voodoo Boys and the 2-3 Set.  Unfortunately, while I loved the premise of the game, and Joe and Eraser were brilliant players, the game fizzed out quickly due to scheduling, and also to the fact that a couple of the players were looking for something much different, or were beginners to gaming and didn’t really grasp the concept.  Still, the concept was solid, and I would revisit it later in another campaign.  Because the campaign only went 2 sessions, which wasn’t long enough to get to know the characters and I never had decent copies of the characters themselves, the characters from this campaign are the only ones, in my 22 years of running and playing this game, that I never drew or had plans for adding to the site.  I wouldn’t have minded adding Joe and Erasers characters, but the way the campaign ended I never got around to asking for them.

 

NIGHT CITY STOMP 2010 – 2011

This was the second Solo campaign I would run Brandon on.  It is also significant that it was the only campaign I have ever run where no one ever really joined.  The only time we ever had other players in the game was for a one night only thing where Jeff and Jesse jumped in.  Brandon was running a bounty hunter/pawn shop owner in the Combat Zone.  It was a fantastic game, which lots of interaction between the characters and NPC’s, and elements of it would show up in later games.  Ultimately however, the characters own lack of direction and initiative, as well as being confined to the Zone due to arrest warrants, led to a premature end for the game.  This character will be featured in an upcoming sourcebook I am working on right now that will serve as a guide to the Combat Zone.

 

HARD LUCK IN THE BIG CITY 2011 – ONGOING

After a brief hiatus, I started running Brandon on his third solo campaign at the end of 2011.  However plans quickly changed when he brought a friend from another gaming group, Heath, in.  The game centered around 2 private detectives in Night City’s Chinatown.  It was a great game, but a great premise, and it had good characters.  We played regularly, but Heath lost his job, got a new job, and as always scheduling conflicts kind of killed the game.  We have revived it, replacing Heaths character with a new character played (at least briefly) by my mother if you can believe that.  And Heaths character has been relegated to an NPC.  I would really like to get his campaign moving again, as I still have lots of great ideas for it… ideas I didn’t get to explore with the NCPD Blues campaign.  Like the character from Night City Stomp, the characters from this game will be in a future sourcebook on Chinatown in Night City.

 

ABANDONED SONS 2012 – ONGOING

The Abandoned Sons consist of characters played by Brandon Fleming, Jeff Gray, and Matt Baldwin.  The game is focused on 3 young men, between the ages of 16 and 17, who started out as homeless kids brought together by their circumstances.  They are underground streetfighters, skateboarders with hopes of turning pro, and are starting their own gang in the city of juvenile car thieves and pick pockets while undergoing training from another gang in the combat zone.  It sounds like a silly premise, but this is one of the most fun campaigns I have ever run.  The characters are idealistic, honorable, and brutally ruthless if you cross them.  Combat is actually a rarity, but when it does happen it is big, explosive, and enormous fun… while also being extremely dangerous.   Matt can only make it about 1 in every 5 sessions, but Brandon and Jeff carry it just fine by themselves.  The amount of enthusiasm they have for the game is so infectious that the CDC should be investigating them, and the amount of work and thought they put into their characters is astonishing.  The characters themselves will be featured in an upcoming sourcebook detailing the gangs of their section of the city.  This game also involves many of the concepts I had tried to bring in from previous games, such as the immersion of the gang culture I was trying to explore in Tattered Blue and Night City Stomp, ad the underground fighting culture of Tokyo Boogie.

 

 

THE BROKEN SAINTS SIDE STORY: THE ROAD HOUND RIDES MAY 23 -24 AND MAY 28-29 2012

I know that sounds a bit weird with the time frame up there, but let me explain.  Jeff Gray and I drove to Colorado for a week, both to visit out gamer friend who had moved there (Cameron Jacobs, Kris Zorn, Jesse Miller) and so Jeff could do some work for a friend of his.  During the car ride there and back, 18 hours each way, I ran Jeff on an epic non-stop cyberpunk adventure, completely on the fly, for a character he originally played when he was part of the Broken Saints game run by Brandon.  I include this here because it was such an amazing and involved game, which I am hoping to continue it outside the confines of abysmally long trips across the Kansas flatlands.  While I have run several one off and short campaigns I didn’t feel necessary to include in this list, this game was 36 hours of awesome, and made for one of the best road trips of my life.



 

MY CYBERPUNK GAMING GROUP - PAST AND PRESENT:

Deric Bernier (myself), James Bernier, Cameron Jacobs, Brandon Fleming, Jeff Gray, Tim Covell, Kent Beyers, Matt Baldwin, Jesse Miller, Bucky Coin, Chris Little, Jeff Toney, Adam Wells, Graham Lane, Brent Ashley Able, Critter Pop, Nick Navarro, Kim Donald, Allison Vale, Jesse Singer, Beth Bishop, Kent Andrews, Troy Shelor, Heath Adams, Jeff Sykes, Pat Gabalvi, Kim Mouse, Sharon Bernier,  Daniel Walker, Grag Mack, Jason Horton, Sean Phillips, Tracheotomy Scar Mike, Erik Brandt, Wayne Crutchfield, Chris Pemberton, DJ Heath, (There are some people I have forgotten, I know that makes me a horrible person, and I am sorry)

 

People who don’t play Cyberpunk, but have still been valuable gaming friends.

David Lamb (my cousin, the first person to ever game with me), John Bernier (My father, who bought me game books before I even knew what they were), Shawn Greenwood (rarely get to play with him, and it’s always DnD, but he is a good friend nonetheless), Adam Black (for the exact same reasons as Shawn), Robin and Mike Lea (only got to game with them once, but they ran an awesome store), Jeff Vasquez (he is the one who convinced me to give gaming a try again, without him I likely would never have discovered Cyberpunk at all)