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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: Deep Space
Overall Quality: -
The Product - This 120-page soft cover book, is another setting expansion for Cyberpunk 2020. The book has a color cover and black & white interior. The art and printing are of good quality. The writing is interesting enough to keep the reader focused on what is being discussed.
Deep Space updates the information released in Near Orbit for Cyberpunk 2013. As an outer space supplement, much of the book deals with space as an environment and how vehicles and people interact with that environment. Cyberpunk has a history of trying to create a gritty level of realism in the game. And for space the authors try to do justice with the realities of space. The environmental hazards of space are present, in flavor, but obviously the physics are dumbed down and simplified. This is done in order to ensure the rules are playable within the context of an RPG.
The background presented details the history of space exploration and habitation. They detail the assets available in space and how space is divided up. Also detailed are the different organizations and governments vying for control of the assets available in space. Of course this is all laced with political and personal agendas and strife creating a setting rife with adventure possibilities. This book explains that the extent of human exploration, so far, has been our own solar system. Space beyond our solar system is effectively still unexplored by man.
It probably goes without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway. Having been printed in 1993 this book is beginning to show its age. Some of what is included has become dated as we close on 2020 in real life.
Being a Cyberpunk supplement, you can rest assured that the expanses of space will be even more deadly than walking the streets. Which is to say very deadly.
Layout – The layout is pretty straight forward. They begin with history and background. Next they get into the environment of space as well as how to maneuver about both personally and with vehicles. The moving around chapter included vehicle specs, travel costs, etc. Next is the equipment and weapons section of the book, which is followed by a chapter detailing artificial habitats in space and on off planet surfaces.
The book finishes out with a chapter dealing with daily life and an adventure. The chapter about what daily life is like details mundane things made difficult by space, careers and occupations available to people and what characters can expect up there. The last chapter is a 30-page adventure called “Red Conflict”. I’ve never actually run this adventure. I personally didn’t find inspiring enough to push it to the table. I’ll admit it is decently put together for a supplement included adventure, (as opposed to a dedicated module).
Mechanics: – This book, though a setting supplement, includes a lot of new mechanical information as is required. The environment of the setting demands some rules be presented to mitigate how actions and in-game physics work. Also included are rules for space vehicles, equipment & weapons specifically designed for space use, and how space travel works in Cyberpunk.
Also included are the stats and condensed rules necessary for running the adventure.
Fluff – Though a lot of room is taken up by an adventure, and the mechanics needed for running a game in space, there is a decent amount of background info. Which mega-corps, governments and other organizations have presence in space. What their agendas and motivations are. The history of how they got to where they are. Locations, including space stations floating about and planetary settlements & outposts. The types of technology used. What life is like in space physically, mentally and emotionally. As well as a few other things.
Character Offerings – Some new in-game toys to play with and some new options for characters.
Behind the Screen Use – You’ll probably need this book close at hand when running games in space. The rules will occasionally have to be referenced. I will note that adventures in space for Cyberpunk added a new level of complication to a game that could already become bogged down with complicated action resolutions, especially when dealing with combat. This required, for me, what felt like a noticeable amount of extra effort. I didn’t mind, but I also hadn’t run long campaigns in space for Cyberpunk. In the games I ran it was more of a place to visit.
Campaign / Adventure Offerings – Obviously we have an included adventure, but beyond that we have an entirely new frontier for characters to explore and destroy. There are plenty of opportunities for fans of space setting stories and adventure.
Roadblocks – The biggest challenge I found was the added on levels of complication due to environment. (Zero-G maneuvers, donning and moving about in bulky suits, etc.) These are by no means insurmountable hurdles, but they can cause game-play to drag at times.
I bought this supplement originally due to the idea I had for running a game in which the players had to explore an alien ship that was discovered on Mars. Inside would be Aliens they could fight. I did run this adventure and, based on feedback, with some level of success. I did find that I didn’t really need this supplement though. I have found use for the supplement in other games when for whatever reason the characters needed to make a trip into orbit.
Space adventuring in the Cyberpunk world is a bit of a niche. It’s a nice option to have, but if you want to campaign in space you may want to use a different RPG all together. If you want to take your Cyberpunk game into space, this supplement will help.
Thank you for reading my review. It makes the effort worthwhile.