Monthly Archives: August 2013

CyberNoir: Agendas and Principles

Some people think you should start with these first for your hack.  Here’s what I’ve been kicking around for CyberNoir.  Most of these are just reskins of the Apocalypse World stuff, with the exception of calling out Being Generous with Information, and some drilldown into what this setting is.



Embody the cybernoir nature of the world.

Keep your world authentic to your cybernoir sensibilities. Portray a plausible and internally-consistent world, and your players will take it seriously.


Embroil the characters in a web of crime and intrigue.

Set up the Crime Web, get the characters hooked into it, and watch as they attempt to unravel the whole thing.


Play to find out what happens.

Your job is not to craft a masterful story arc. It is to set up the situation, wind up the PCs, and watch them go to work. When you allow the unexpected to happen, you get truly exciting play.




Always say what honesty demands.

Honesty, and the rules, demand you show fidelity to the rules, to the results of the players rolls, that you stay true to the principles, and be open, honest, and fair in your interactions with the players.


Be Generous with Information.

This is a mystery game. The players can’t solve the mysteries without clues. So you should be giving, even overly so with information. You have the advantage of knowing all the answers. Mysteries are meant to be solved, and secrets are meant to be revealed.


Think Cyber.

Consider your specific Shocks and other examples of futurism. Whenever you introduce a setting element, think of ways to emphasize the fact that the characters are living in the future. Exaggerate aspects and current trends, especially those you view as negative.


Think Noir.

Play up the dark aspects of the world, the corruption, the moral ambiguity, and confusion.


Everyone is Expendable.

Don’t protect your NPCs. They are not there to provide physical challenge to the PCs, but rather moral challenge.


Everyone is Human.

Any NPC you introduce, give them a name, a motive, and think a little bit about life through their lies. What do they want? How do they fit into things?


Collaborate With Your Players.

Allow, or prompt the players to provide setting input. This way, you’ll all feel ownership of the setting, and your players will feed you ideas you never would have thought of.


Take What They Give You and Run With It.

Once the players give you input, take it, expand upon it, and make it your own. Turn up the Cyber and the Noir.


Be a Fan of the Players and their Characters.

We’re all here to have fun, right? The players are not your adversaries, and neither are their characters. Look for what makes those characters awesome and embrace it. Give them a chance to shine, and don’t try to grind them down.


Think About the Big Picture.

Keep your Crime Web map in hand. Between sessions, or whenever you have a spare moment, take a look at it, and consider how events onscreen affect those actors offscreen.


Zoom in on the Little Details.

Take moments here or there to showcase the little details. Sometimes this can draw attention to a useful clue, but often it’s just to show off the setting and characterization.


Sometimes, Delegate the Big Decisions

To play to find out what happens, you need to give up some of the big decisions. Let your NPCs make them in character. Put them on your player’s hands. You can even roll for it.


Address yourself to the characters, not the players.

Keep the players rooted in the fiction, and the players immersed in their characters.


Play by the rules, think in the fiction.

When you make a move, make it about the fictional content of the move. Never say a name of a move you’re using, instead say what happens. It should seem seamless to the players. This goes for players too- when they use moves, think in the fiction- what’s going on?


Draw Maps Like Crazy.

Maps. Draw them.

Tagged ,

CyberNoir: Basic Moves, First Shot

Savvy Moves:


Assess a Person:


When you Assess a Person in a conversation, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a 10+, hold 3. Spend your hold 1 for 1 during the conversation to ask that character’s player a question from the list.

*Are you lying to me?

*What are you really feeling?

*What do you intend to do?

*What do you wish I would do?

*How could I get you to ______?

On a miss against an NPC, ask one question anywy, but they identify your attempt to read and manipulate them, so they clam up or otherwise react.


Assess Your Surroundings


When you take a few moments to Assess Your Surroundings, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, ask 1 question from the list. On a 10+, ask 3.

If you make a followup move that builds on the answer, take +1 forward.

*What’s my best way in/out/through?

*What here is immediately useful to me?

*Where are my enemies vulnerable to me/which enemy is most vulnerable to me?

*How is my enemy most threatening to me/which enemy is the biggest threat?

*Where is the true danger?

*What should I be on the lookout for?

*Who is really in control here?


Search for Clues


When you take time to Search an area for Clues, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a 10+, hold 3. Spend your hold 1 for 1 as you search the area to pick an option from the list.

*Ask: What happened here recently?

*Ask: What is hidden here?

*Ask: What doesn’t belong here?

*Ask: What’s missing that should be here?

*Find a piece of physical evidence.

*Find a useful or valuable item.

Moxie Moves:


Call in a Favor


When you Call in a Favor from one of your Contacts, roll + Moxie.

If your request puts them at great risk, take -1 to the roll.

On a 10+, choose one.

On a 7-9, choose three.

*It’ll take a few days to follow through.

*They can come up with something similar- close is close, right?

*They ask a lot of questions.

*You owe them one for this.

*Their participation draws attention.

*You have to grease the wheels- spend 1 Payola.

*After this, they’re out. Cross them off your list of contacts.


First Impression


When you make a First Impression on an Npc, roll + Moxie.

On a 7-9, the character reacts normally as they would to someone of your position. At the very least, they’re willing to talk.

On a 10+, they are favorably predisposed towards you. Take +1 for your first Manipulate a Person or Assess a Person against them this scene.

On a miss, you get off on the wrong foot. Take -1 forward all Manipulate, Assess, or Threaten rolls against them this scene.


Manipulate a Person


When you attempt to Manipulate a person, you must have something they want. Tell them what you want and roll + Moxie.


Against NPCs:

On a 7-9, the character will tell you something they want. If you provide it up front, they’ll do what you want.

On a 10+, the character will tell you something they want. If you provide promises or assurances that you can get it later, they’ll do what you want.


Against PCs:

On a hit, the character will tell you something they want.

On a 7-9, if they do what you wanted, they get xp.

On a 10+, additionally, if you do what they wanted, you get xp.


Grit Moves:


Resort to Violence


When you Resort to Violence, roll + Grit. By default, you will do your harm to your opponent, and if they are in a position to fight back, they will do their harm to you.

On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 10+, choose 3.

*You do +1 harm.

*You take -1 harm.

*You seize control something important: terrain, an item, or just the tempo of battle.

*You impress, dismay or frighten your enemies. They must change their current behavior or actions.


Take a Beating


Whenever you Take a Beating, roll + Grit.

On a 10+, you’re fine. You can fight and act, no ill effects.

On a 7-9, the GM chooses one:

*You drop something you’re holding.

*You temporarily lose track of something important.

*You fail to notice something important.

*You lose your footing.

On a miss, the GM chooses one:

*It’s worse than it looks, take +1 harm.

*You’re out cold, possibly for several hours.

*The GM chooses two from the 7-9 list.


Threaten Violence


When you Threaten Violence, say what you’re threatening, what you want, and then roll + Grit.

On a 7-9, your opponent must do something they think you want, or call your bluff.

On a 10+, your opponent must do what you want, or call your bluff.

If your opponent calls your bluff, choose one:

*Do nothing and back down.

*Resort to Violence now. Do not roll, instead use the result you got for this roll.

*Come back later to carry out your threats. Resort to Violence, with +1 forward to the roll.

Defy Danger


When you are in a tight spot and taking a risky action, roll to Defy Danger.

Are you acting with tenacity, physical fortitude, or sheer physical ability? Roll + Grit

Are you acting with cunning, or implementing a well thought out plan? Roll + Savvy

Are you fast talking or otherwise trying to talk your way out of a bad situation? Roll + Moxie


On a 10+, you avoid the danger, and achieve your goals.

On a 7-9, you’re mostly successful. The GM will give you a mixed result, a hard choice, or a Pyrrhic victory.


Optional Rule: Psi-Powers


If Psi-Powers are in the game, each character has an additional stat, Psi, and access to the Hunch move.




When you get a Hunch, roll + Psi.

On a 7-9, the GM will tell you something interesting about the current situation. On a 10+, the information you get will be precise and detailed.

On a miss, you draw the attention of psychic threats.

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