OCEANPUNK: THE PLAYERS GUIDE
Introduction Cargojock Comber Deep Miner Freeholder Pirate New Skills
The first part covers optional new character roles for players that find the existing roles in the basic rulebook seem too limiting for an oceanpunk campaign. Each listing includes a brief player introduction to the role, description of the role's special ability, a standard career skill listing, typical cyberware options, and some commentary from the denizens of the future to help explain how the character is viewed by the rest of the world. All of the roles have some new skills in their initial career packages, but anything not included in the basic CP2020 rulebook is fully described here. Feel free to modify the career package if a skill you think is appropriate to the role isn't listed here or can be found in one of the supplements.
The second section covers new skills appropriate to an oceanpunk campaign. You'll find descriptions of some specialized neo- cetacean skills in addition to what your character needs to live and work in a marine environment. The skill descriptions use the same format found in the basic rulebook and shouldn't be too difficult to understand, but the final word on how appropriate they are to any situation is, as always, up to the Ref.
You can't even remember all the stuff you've hauled since you first signed up. Machine parts for the huge landcrawlers mining Antarctica. Boxes of bulk protein powder from the algae lagoons of Pacifica. Questionable crates of "farm equipment" destined for rebels in Matto Grande. No matter what it is, or where it's going, you get paid to make sure it gets there on time.
There are times when you wonder why in hell you keep doing it. The money ain't that great, the working conditions range from fair to horrendous, and sixteen hour days are the norm. Add piracy and economic terrorism to the natural hazards of the sea and you seriously have to wonder if it's all worth it. That's when you remember the first time you saw a laser launcher flinging cargo pods into the star filled sky over Guantanamo or the drunken carnival of shore leave in Hong Kong.
It's not an easy life, but for the right kind of person it's a dream come true. You're seeing the world up close and personal and you know you can rely on your mates to cover your back when things get heavy. More often than not you run into old buddies in port and spend the night swapping lies over drinks. Once in a while you really live it up with bonus money from cargo on the far side of legal. You've got your freedom, some cash in your pocket, and a network of friends to get you through when times are tough. You're a Cargojock.
Special Ability: Fraternity. This is a variant of the Nomad special ability Family. It reflects your ability to call up the resources and manpower of the close knit fraternity of professional sailors when you need some help. Whether you need equipment, money, or raw muscle you can put out the word and expect your mates, or other sailors that owe them favors, to respond. Fraternity is applied to your Intelligence stat.
"Whatever you do, don't mess with one of 'em when he's on shore. Chances are he'll come after you a couple of cybered up pals that can lift a full cargo pallet with their bare hands."
"Just because they do a lot of physical labor doesn't mean they don't have brains. Everybody has this mental picture of cargojocks being slabs of muscle without too much upstairs, but that's more the exception than the rule. Life on board a ship is pretty dull, so they take classes at virtual colleges through the satellite network. I've even met a couple with doctorates humping cargo to pay for school."
"It always pays to be nice to the cargo guys. Buy some drinks once in a while and you'll be amazed how fast they can transport your packages or slip your merchandise past customs. If you've gotta lay low for a while you couldn't ask for a better means of escape than jumping on a ship. They can smuggle you anywhere you want to go and they know how to keep their mouths shut when the wrong people come around asking questions. Investing in a round of drinks can sure pay off."
Now you've built yourself a nice little operation turning debris from the ocean into cold, hard cash. You spend your day combing the beaches and open sea to recover goods and refuse cast adrift by nature or misfortune. There are people that say you're not much more than a glorified bottom feeder living off of society's waste, but you prefer to think of yourself as a shining example of success through recycling. Like the cliché says, one mans junk is another mans treasure.
Most of the time you're reclaiming raw materials the corps are willing to pay for: recyclable polymers from the huge floating trash shoals out at sea, scrap metal and alloys dredged from wrecks, and the increasingly rare scraps of natural wood. Deforestation is a bitch for the environment, but last year a Yak flew in from Tokyo with ten grand in cash for a teak log you pulled up out of the silt.
Then there's all the other stuff you and your crew have collected. A treasure trove of merchandise washed off ships during storms, dumped as trash, or floating around as a memorial to the brutality of pirates. Cyberware? You've got racks of the stuff you've collected from dead bodies washed out to see. Parts? Fifty years worth of tech salvaged from wrecks or found drifting at sea in it's original shipping container. Drugs? Where else can a smuggler dump his stuff when a delivery goes bad?
It's a lot of hard work getting the good stuff, but that's what you do better than anyone else. You're a Comber.
Special Ability: Comb. This is your talent for finding quality "stuff" in the flotsam and jetsam that collects on beaches and the open sea. It also functions as the Tech special ability of Jury Rig at half level. Finding bulk recyclables is Easy. Getting merchandise equivalent to the stuff you'd find at a cheap department store or flea market (clothes, housewares, bric-a-brac, etc.) is an Average task. Laying your hands on electronics and machine parts is Difficult. Obtaining drugs, ammo, watercraft, or weapons is Very Difficult. If you're willing to settle for stuff that needs a little repair work you can reduce the Difficulty of your skill check by one level. Comb is an Intelligence based skill.
"There's a comber about 300 km out from San Francisco with the biggest collection of ships and marine parts I've ever seen. He's got at least 200 ships filled with salvaged gear tied up to one of those old naval depot platforms from the war. Just floating out there in the middle of nowhere. A lot of it's out of date trash, but if you're looking to save money you can make some great buys on electronics and engine parts. He's also got a vapor distillery that cranks out the most godawful booze you've ever tasted. It's total swill. Sure made crawling through that maze of ships entertaining, though."
"I heard about one guy who was working down in the gulf. He cut a deal with the local pirates to take the boats and heavy gear off their hands once they finished with the high value stuff. They got rid of the evidence, he got new merchandise."
"I've seen some real strange ones. Ever hear of Loony Lisa? She lived just off the California coast on a trash island and made her money selling off plastics she mined from it. Wore clothes made out of fish skin and never seemed to bathe, so you can just imagine the smell. Total skeezer. Come to find out she's got herself a freakin' huge computer on her ship that she built from scrap and rents out memory on for mucho bucks. Even had a couple of rogue AI's hiding out there, from what I hear."
Things are a bit different out on the big blue sea. Millions of square kilometers outside the control of any national government haven't been surveyed, much less claimed. The sheer size of it all guarantees you won't have any problems finding a promising patch of real estate that might be holding a fortune for the person willing to invest some time and work. You've heard about guys doing it with gold, platinum, oil, manganese...even a decent thermal tap. Get yourself a stake of equipment, grab an exploration permit from the Seabed Authority, ramble around doing surveys, and you just might find yourself sitting on top of the mother of all strikes. You could also end up floating with the fishes, but you have to take some risks if you want to get the rewards, right?
You're one of the new breed of wildcat miners working under the waves. Even with the latest satellite imagery, seismic surveys, and deep core drilling techniques it still comes down to trusting your gut instinct to find the deposit that will put you on easy street. You've spent so much time underwater trying to find it that you sometimes forget what day it is, but you keep plugging along because you know it's out there somewhere. Until you find it you're living a lifestyle with more risks than you care to think about: crushing pressure, bad weather, defective gear, rival miners, and the ever present risk of the corps arranging for you to stay under permanently so they can grab some easy pickings.
You know the risks. You've got the skills, the equipment, and enough luck to keep the dream of that big strike alive despite all the hardship and sacrifice. You're a Deep Miner
Special Ability: Strike. This is your sixth sense for finding valuable minerals and gets added to your Geology skill when you're prospecting. If you locate a deposit it's value doubles for every point that you roll over the Difficulty to find set by the Ref. You can prospect once a month. Finding a deposit with a value of 1D6 x $1000 is Average. Locating a deposit worth 2D6 x $1000 is Difficult. A deposit worth 1D10 x $10,000 is Very Difficult. Finding a mother lode worth 1D10 x $100,000 is Nearly Impossible. Multiply your Strike level by $2000 during character creation to find out how much extra cash you have to buy mining gear.
"Had a woman named Ngor that used to come into my bar about once a month when she came in for supplies. What a wreck. You can always tell when they've been at it for years because of the arthritis- those deep dives build up nitrogen in the joints that makes 'em wince every time they move. After a few drinks and some poppers she'd start telling me how close she was to finding the big strike, how she'd be able to settle down once she did, what she planned to buy with it. She would talk like that for hours, even if no one was around to hear her. And you know what? Her suit gave out one day and she ended up smeared like jelly inside her helmet. So much for that mother lode."
"One word: paranoid. They're so damn sure someone's gonna steal their claim that they don't trust anyone and see plots everywhere. Be a lot easier to get along with if they lightened up a little. Then again, I wouldn't put it past the corps to stomp some wildcatter if money was involved. Maybe they aren't so paranoid after all."
"They really don't care about the money. I think miners are so in love with the idea of searching for wealth that they don't have a clue what to do with it once they find it. I've known two guys that made a big strike, we're talking millions here, and frittered the money away so fast they were back to prospecting in less than a year. Life around here was great right after they struck it rich. Free food and drinks for everybody, lots of great parties, good looking hookers...it was paradise. Then the money started to dry up and they just went back to prospecting. They had nice boats and top of the line equipment, but their lives didn't change at all. I hope they both luck out again just so we can have some more of those parties. They were great."
You were hanging out with some out of towners when you first heard about The Line. Hop on a ship, head straight out for 200 klicks, and you'd cross an amazing, invisible line in the ocean. Inside of it the Man would say "Jump!" and you'd say "How high?"- or get a nightstick across the head. Beyond it? Miles and miles of open water that you could turn into anything you damn well pleased if you were willing to pay the price in blood and sweat. You packed up everything and hopped on a cargo zep that weekend.
After drifting around for a while you found a Freehold that had the same ideas you had about what it meant to be free. Now you're helping to build a community where the people matter more than money and you can live your life any way you damn well please. Hard work is slowly turning an old industrial platform into a thriving city on the sea with it's own schools, economy, culture, and laws. Nobody's getting rich yet, but the money from aquaculture, freelance pharmaceutical manufacturing, mining, and a little smuggling is helping the community buy a better quality of life. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Life in the 'hold has been pretty good, but now the corps are setting up shop on the ocean and they don't like the idea of competing with a bunch of misfit independents with delusions of grandeur. Some of the recent "accidents" don't seem very accidental, and there's talk of mounting a pre-emptive raid to show the big boys that it ain't going to be business as usual. You ran away from them once, but you're going to make a stand this time because now they're not the ones in control. They can't mess with your people and get away with it. You're a Freeholder.
Special Ability: Community. This is your ability to call on other members of your Freehold for assistance. Square your skill level to find out how many of them will show up when you put out the call. It also functions as the Fixer ability of Streetdeal at half level for the purpose of acquiring goods or information from your contacts in the group. Community is an Intelligence based skill.
Career Skills- Community (Special Ability) Aquatic Survival Awareness/Notice Basic Tech Brawling Education Diving Handgun Marine Tech Pilot Watercraft or Sailing Typical Cyberware- Anything goes. About half the population of the typical Freehold has been there a year or less and is carrying whatever they had before joining the community. Long term members might invest in minor pieces, but most of the group's money goes into major improvements for the community.
"Building a relationship with a Freehold is good business. They can throw some work your way if you've got skills they need and you'd be amazed how much money they've got on hand. Hell, they don't have to pay taxes to anyone! Establish corporate citizenship and you won't have to worry about hiding your ill gotten gains from the tax man anymore."
"It's a stereotype that Freeholders are reliable, hard working, salt of the earth type people, but don't believe for a second that they're all like that. I've been to some Freeholds that practiced some strange, and I mean really strange, lifestyles. Some of these groups are out there beyond the reach of the law to practice their particular perversion without worrying about getting caught. Remember the story last year about that cult that was sacrificing kids in Toronto? They'd feel right at home at the places I'm talking about, you know what I'm saying?"
"Incorporation. That's where the power comes from. Once these little communes get incorporated they're able to play with the big boys. They can't take on something the size of GaltCo, but with the rights of extra- territoriality, self-governance, and internal police powers they can sure as hell make life difficult for the average runner. Personally, I think that microcorps are the way of the future. If everything keeps falling apart the way it is now I bet it won't be too long before one or two corps own almost everything while a million microcorps swim around them like minnows feeding on the scraps."
You make your money by ripping off valuables from ships at sea and selling them off on the black market. How you do it is a matter of taste. Some guys like to prey on refugee flotillas, others prefer playing smash-and-grab with the Freeholds, and a couple are able to make a living with high risk, high pay hits on commercial vessels. In the end it's all boils down to using your wits and your firepower to take what the other guy has.
Pirates have a nasty rep, but just because you're a thief doesn't mean you're a cold blooded murderer. Robin Hood was a thief too, right? Half the challenge of pulling off a heist is doing it without getting everybody killed, and the other half is doing it with style. You get the goods, insurance pays out for the theft, and if people would just do what they're told and keep calm nobody has to get hurt. Things get really hairy when some security goon takes his job too seriously or some passenger thinks a trinket is worth dying for, but that's the way the business is. The big bang-bangs aren't just for show.
There are even times when you get paid to pull a job. Make the right kind of deal and you'll get ten grand in an untraceable account and the coordinates of your target in exchange for passing a particular piece of merchandise along to the right people. You might even pull a totally legit gig running "revenue patrol" or "blockade duty" for some third world junta that can't afford a real navy.
You're literally the last of a dying breed. It's pretty tough to hit a ship and disappear when a satellite starts tracking you the second somebody triggers the anti-hijacking system. Even dinky little pleasure boats are starting to carry weapons, and the ships worth stealing are mounting miniguns and grenade launcher. It's getting tougher to make a living everyday, but until you retire you've got your ship, a reliable crew, and a network of fences to move your merchandise. You're a Pirate.
Special Ability: Band. This is your ability to call on like minded individuals to help you hit a target. You have a number of associates equal to the square of your ability that you can rely on to help you out, but they have to be paid appropriately for the risks involved to insure their reliability. Band also operates as Streetdeal at half level for the purposes of buying and selling goods through the black . At the discretion of the Ref you can receive a boat or a discount on the purchase of one during character generation.
"It's the amateurs you have to look out for. A real pro concentrates on making on or two hits on big ships a year, while a newbie goes for easy pickings from refugee ships and pleasure craft. The idiots just starting out know that the small ships are easier to hijack, but don't realize that in the long term they're setting themselves up for a trap. If I had my choice I'd much rather be boarded by an experienced guy that's not going to do anything stupid....like kill me."
"...mayday, mayday. I repeat, we are under attack and requesting immediate assistance.
Seal it, right now. This is the GaltCo Regent out of Guantanamo requesting assistance. Mayday, mayday. We are at waypoint Charlie Victor seven niner in the Hinton channel. Repelling boarders from a force of at least three, I repeat three, attack hydrofoils. Our engines are disabled. I think they had help fro... This is Captain Tishiro Botha of the Galtco Regent. Mayday. I need combat support. Mayday, may... Oh Christ, don't tell me it was you Nikki. Not you Nik.. ."
"If you're looking to buy a boat and someone offers you one at less than market, think twice. There are guys that hijack boats for re-sale and then hit the same boat after it's been refurbished and heads out to sea again. It's kind of a revolving investment scheme."
You can reach me by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBOCyberpunk is a Registered Trademark of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Original Cyberpunk material Copyright 1995 by R. Talsorian Games, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission. Any use of R. Talsorian Games, Inc.'s copyrighted material or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. I've seen how devious Mike Pondsmith can be and wouldn't want to annoy him.
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