Cyberpunk Red Live

Stumbled onto this, and its relatively new, so I put a review of the first session together. This way you don’t need to devote 3+ hours of time to find out if you are in or not. It was intended as a one shot, but they had fun, and are planning to go for 2 (… or more?)

Pondsmith has an awesome voice for these, and he’s cleary having fun. Its not often the creator of a setting sits down to run games in it on camera, so this was a treat. He clearly loves the setting and knows it very well. He throws out the jargon offhand, like its normal, which really sells the setting. Speaking of which, this is a progression of the classic setting, Cyberpunk, or more commonly Cyberpunk 2020. This game is set in 2043, and takes place after a gigantic cyberpunk future war, and Mike does a really good job giving the high level overview of what happened and why. Its a neat update, and takes a classic setting, Cyberpunk, and adds a new element. Its a little more post-apocalyptic than I’m used to in cyberpunk, and its neat. There used to be mega-corps, but they got blown away. That sort of thing.

The players, are

  • John Kovaleski: Former CEO of Gale Force Nine, and current CEO of Monster Fight Club.
  • Luke Gygax: Son of the late great
  • Beast: I have no idea who he is, and he doesn’t use a real name, or link a twitter or anything really.
  • Matthew Lillard: Reprising his beloved role as Cereal Killer.
  • Noura Ibrahim: Cosplayer and geek personality.
  • Jason Azevedo: the founder of Realmsmith, the youtube channel posting the video.

I think 6 players is a little much for this format, and I’d probably cut John and Jason or Beast. They have a thing at the end where they say who they are, and Beast basically declines. Maybe I just don’t recognize the names, but they aren’t a Gygax. Jason and Beast are playing almost literally the same class/archetype, and its not the end of the world, but why have more? Four players would give each of them a little more screen time, and some of the others spend some more time sitting silently than I’d like.

The first 50 minutes or so are some world-building, and fun light RP. Focused on Cereal Killer, and that’s not a bad thing. He is certainly the stand out player, from a personality standpoint. Who’d have thought the actor is good on screen. I get it. Mike gives each player a little solo vignette, and then has them meet up and pick up the quest.

I thought the quest introduction was a neat way to use the medium. They have another person (I think they said his name was John) call in as the NPC Turbo. Turbo takes the Charlie role to the parties angels, and steps in via phone call to tell them quest and talk for a few. Then step out. You can’t really do that IRL, without wasting a lot of someone’s time. I wish the guy they got were better though, it kind of came off like he was reading a script, and he probably was.

Throughout the session, they have some cool techno music playing, and during combat scenes the tension ramps up. Whoever did the selection did a good job of picking something ambient, but still interesting.

I’d like to see some practical stuff fixed for the next episode. At one point Mike is struggling to describe a layout, and mentions he can’t share maps, but that’s something with an obvious fix for a pre-recorded game. He can share the stuff early, or throw it in a chat with them. Some of the alarms and calls that go off are handled well, and kind of funny, but other tech issues less so. Matt tries to talk a couple of times, and is on mute, and there is one part where Mike walks off screen entirely because his office heater is too high, and spends some time messing with it. Or the time John’s connection just shuts down and we have a 10 min break. Frankly, that could just be edited out. I get its a live play, but they could touch that up before posting the video.

All in all, I liked it a lot and look forward to seeing how the second session plays out.

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