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**Disclaimer** - I’m a long time role-player. Almost 30 years of experience. Examples and references below are based on my personal experiences and average responses of the people I’ve played with. This review assumes you have familiarized yourself with the publicly available information about the material discussed. (i.e. Advertised descriptions, RPGG game information entry, Possible publicly available rules, etc.) If you’re concerned about spoilers do not read this review. I try to limit details in my reviews, but some things have to be mentioned to give readers an idea of what is being discussed.
RPG ITEM: Home of the Brave
Overall Quality: -
The Product - Home of the Brave is a setting supplement for Cyberpunk 2020. It’s a 144-page book filled with information about America in the dark future. Having been released in the early nineties some of the “future” detailed has already come to pass and is beginning to become an alternate reality setting. The book itself is a color soft cover, and the interior is black and white. The art for this book was higher end for R. Talsorian Games, Inc. at the time, but still not as good as could be found in other widely distributed RPGs.
The book is designed as a historical reference to the future history of America. How the country collapsed from being a world power and what has changed making it the New America. The “fall” included economic upheaval, assassinated government officials, including the President. Also a conspiracy theory made reality of America’s top intelligence and law enforcement agencies working together to create a new regime. Mega Multinational Corporations become the new world powers and national governments struggle to maintain authority in their own borders. There are several natural and man made disasters which destroy some cities and kill millions. Also, America’s infrastructure suffers greatly fracturing the country and requiring a new organization of federal and local governments.
The organization of government and the new US Military are detailed within the book. Finally the current state of the US is given some illumination for GMs who wish to run adventures outside Night City, (the staple setting city for Cyberpunk 2020).
Layout – The first two chapters deal with the history and current events affecting the US. A timeline is included and major events are detailed. The next three chapters detail the current US government and the US Military, (both history and current standing), to include the levels of influence and organizational make-up.
Chapter 6 actually includes a character creation section dealing specifically with military characters. This includes a life-path and other character options specific to current or ex-military characters.
Finally there is a chapter dealing with the current state of America, broken down by geographical areas.
Mechanics: – Included are statistics of notable NPCs and some maps. There are also organizational charts and general explanations on how the economy currently works.
As mentioned above there are some new character generation options and statistics for new equipment and vehicles, mainly military type.
Fluff – With a large portion of the book dedicated to fleshing out the history, standing and personalities of future America, Home of the Brave offers GMs plenty of background and story material to help bring things alive in-game.
Character Offerings – A new life-path to use, as well as several new character options with military tie-ins. Players may find this a fresh change from what may have become stale options available in the core rules.
In addition there are plenty of new toys available for players who love things that go bang.
Behind the Screen Use – As a setting supplement this book isn’t your best option for being behind the screen during game-play. It serves better as a game prep tool. GMs may need to keep the book in arms reach during the game in case players happen to travel to an area the GM hasn’t prepped though. The book simply contains too much to commit to memory.
Campaign / Adventure Offerings – In addition to turning America into a dark future sandbox, there are quite a few adventure hooks sprinkled throughout the book and marked as such. These hooks offer GMs little kernels of ideas to help jump-start adventures. Though I wasn’t overly impressed with some of the adventure hook options, there are a few good ideas available.
Roadblocks – The main roadblock I’ve encountered with Home of the Brave is the Military character options. Military characters have a tendency to come out stronger in combat than general characters. As such, due to the level of violence inherent in Cyberpunk, players tend to all want to make ex-military characters using the life-path and options available in this book. This might be seen by some GMs as a balance issue.
As a fan of Cyberpunk, I enjoyed the idea of having all of America to play around in. The reality though is Home of the Brave is designed as a birds eye view of everything. This is great for GMs who enjoy detailing everything in a setting on their own. But for GMs looking to have a lot of detail about specific geographical locations, Home will not help here. Major cities may get a paragraph or two of explanation but most of the local information is left unspecified. This was a big change from Night City which detailed the city block by block.
If you’re looking for a generally laid out setting, with less local detail, this book should work for you. I wouldn’t suggest buying the book simply for the character options unless you’re really into having all the possible options available. Also if you’re looking for a highly detailed setting you’ll probably want to get Night City instead.
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Great review! I'm delighted every time a Cyberpunk-related link pops up in my subscriptions.
This was one of my favorite CP2020 sourcebooks. In contrast to some other ones, it painted what seemed like a fairly coherent and well-constructed world, one in which a perfect storm of tragedies had shaken civilization to its core.
In particular, this is one of the books that really drove home one of the things that fascinated me about CP2020 -- the fact that much of the US is simply empty. A full third of the population dies during the collapse, and even more are left homeless and economically ruined. In comparison to the stereotypical mega-metropolis setting of so many cyberpunk games (and movies, and books...) this world was often about the open road, the ruins of small towns, or blocks and blocks of derelict tenement housing. Between this and Neo-Tribes, you really got a feel for just how thoroughly stomped and broken the US had become. I always preferred the books that emphasized that grittiness over the anime-style neon-cyber-flash school.