|These are mean dudes for a mean world.|
All of this adds up to the fact that the world of SW setting books can be a little competitive as SW Game Masters have a lot of choices in what they want to run. I recently received a review copy of the pdf for Interface Zero (IZ) from Gun Metal Games. Keep Reading to find out what this meaty supplement has to offer to SW Game Masters and Players alike!
The first thing you'll notice is just how much bang you get for your buck - IZ weighs in at a hefty 300 pages. The pdf runs for a paltry $15.99, so if you think you want to give it a shot, I'm going to save you some reading - the thing is worth it. From the looks of Gun Metal Games' (GMG) website, IZ is just the first book in a planned line of products to support this weird cyberpunk dystopian setting. Of course you probably want more information, don't you? Of course!
To be honest, I'm not sure how they could expand on what they give you in IZ. Here's a quick rundown on the chapters. Chapter 1 - History 101 - this is your major setting chapter. Because IZ takes place on Earth in the year 2088 GMG has given us an extensive history leading up the year 2088 and then tons of actual world information in the "Life in 2088" subsection of the chapter. Chapter 2 - Systems of Control - is the meat of the book and what makes IZ stand out from other SW settings. We get rules to make combat more deadly (more on that below), rules for cyberware and hacking, and a system for keeping track of your street cred. Did I mention this was a cyberpunk game? It really is and creates rules that address some of the biggest conventions of the genre. Chapter 3 - Character Creation - is a nice aid for the steps needed to make truly awesome cyberpunk characters. Chapter 4 - Gear - contains tons of really neat weapons and items appropriate for a high-tech and dangerous world.
|Historians will look back and say "2088 was a weird time."|
There are two sections I really want to focus on beyond just a description of the contents. Combat and hacking. I could got into a lot of detail on the setting content, but honestly it'd probably lose some of its kick in the translation. Instead, I'll just comment on the flavor of cyberpunk offered in IZ. First, it's a fairly straight-faced setting. A lot of the time cyberpunk can be very tongue-in-cheek (think Paranoia). IZ is not this. It presents a harsh dystopian society full of cut-throats and backstabbers. It's impossible to tell if the corporations or governmental militaries hold more oppresive power, but needless to say, your character is screwed and has to fight tooth-and-nail to make it through another day. Perfect stuff for a good cyberpunk game.
|Here - you're going to need this.|
While the gritty combat rules aren't original to IZ, it shows the intent and thought put into making SW work right for the setting. It also shows how cool Pinnacle (producer of SW) is in allowing GMG to reproduce the gritty combat rules and use them in their product. This is a bit of a tangent, but I really like this sharing and cooperative philosophy Pinnacle has developed with producers of SW-compatible books. They specialize in making it easy, and I think it's one of the main reasons SW has taken off as much as it has.
|Boot Up or Shut Up indeed.|
Of course, if you are like me you'll greatly appreciate the cheat sheets they offer for hacking (as well as the other subsystems that change or add mechanics) that simplify the whole process. The cheat sheet breaks down hacking into a very manageable two step process. 1. Make a check based on your gear and skill against a target number of 4 + modifiers based on how hard the system is to hack to get past the system's firewalls and 2. If you're successful, follow the rules for manipulating the hacked system as you want. This involves making another check, but there's a ton of rules here for different actions to take once you're inside the system. They simplified it quite a bit but give you numerous options. It's like they say at the beginning of the Systems chapter - they worked to be comprehensive without getting too complex.
Here's the big question for any reviewer to answer - should you buy this? The simple answer is yes - if you like cyberpunk as a genre, you should definitely pick Interface Zero up for a spin. To be honest, cyberpunk is not my setting of choice, but I know it's rather prolific in science fiction and general nerdery, and I love reading new Savage Worlds supplements. To that end, this is a great product that helped me to learn more about how the rules presented in the Explorer's Edition can be expanded and worked on to make a setting's genre shine. It's also a great setting book for general cyberpunk playing. It's not overly-laden with Savage Worlds lingo or rules, and the setting of Earth 2088 is incredibly well fleshed-out as a setting to be used with any system. If you like Savage Worlds or have an interest in cyberpunk settings, it's a great product that can offer a lot of fun.