Hard Wired Island
- HARD WIRED ISLAND is a retrofuture cyberpunk TTRPG, inspired by 90s anime.
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Humanity has spread to space. GRAND CROSS is a space station orbiting Earth, a high-tech city, and a gateway to the stars. But in this distant future, it's in crisis...
HARD WIRED ISLAND is a retrofuture cyberpunk TTRPG, inspired by 90s anime.
- An easy-to-learn system where social actions and problem-solving skills are at least as important as hacking and getting into fights.
- A shorter player reference document for quick rule access.
- An alternate 2020 setting in an O'Neill cylinder near Earth.
- Descriptions of the many areas of Grand Cross, from the busy downtown Voyager Ward to the high-tech parkland of Mariposa to the Agriculture Ring that feeds the station.
- Seven Occupations, including the Fixer, the Hacker, and the Influencer, along with a plethora of character options.
- Over 100 detailed NPC descriptions, from corporate heavyweights to android crime lords to just regular citizens of an Earth-orbit city.
- A flexible mission prep system that allows characters to adapt their plans on the fly without wasting their earlier efforts.
- A wealth system that tracks the financial burdens placed on you by the capitalist system you live in.
- A cybernetics system that doesn't dehumanize you for installing augments.
- A lot of great art from a lot of great artists.
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(Character sheets are provided for free below. Fillable versions by Colin Chapman.)
When we say HARD WIRED ISLAND is cyberpunk, here's what that means to us.
Capitalism? No thanks. Good cyberpunk is anti-capitalist. It's about how technology without ethics can make social inequality worse. The wealthy use it to cement their power and perpetuate the status quo, while marginalized communities are kept that way. The PCs want to use it to break the current system. They work against their enemies, not for them.
Cyberpunk should be relevant. It is a study of where our society could go in the coming years. The issues faced by people in a cyberpunk setting should have some relevance to issues faced by the audience, even if they're not the same. Retro future, present problems.
Cybernetics are not inherently good or bad. Like most tech, what matters is how it's used. In Hard Wired Island, the problem is that cybernetics often serves the needs of capital rather than people; Any alienating or dysphoric effects come from being reshaped into some corporation's property. There is no mechanic that suggests wearing a prosthetic makes you less human, or prone to mental illness; instead, the tradeoff of augments is adding to your financial burdens.
Cyberpunk is not just an aesthetic. Cyberpunk shouldn't just be about the neon-lit adventures of a group of trenchcoat futurists as they amass wealth and power through violence. Hard Wired Island is about a group of marginalized people using technology to try to change the status quo.
Many perspectives. Good cyberpunk examines how technology and power intersect in many different communities. As an orbital space station, the city of Grand Cross can and should include perspectives from all over the world. The setting includes cyborgs and androids, but they're not stand-ins for minorities; they have their own identities and issues, which can change depending on how they intersect with other things.
HARD WIRED ISLAND's system uses six-sided dice.
- The system includes rules and unique actions for Social situations, Stealth, Hacking, and Conflict.
- Each character has one or more Occupations, which define how your character solves problems: the Fixer, the Hacker, the Influencer, the Operator, the Soldier, the Street Fighter, and the Thief. Each has its own unique abilities.
- Instead of wealth, characters track their Burden, which represents how comfortably they can live on Grand Cross. Between missions, characters can suffer an Economic Shock that affects how well they can perform; higher Burdens risk more frequent Shocks.
- Before missions, characters create a pool of points called Prep which can be spent later on items, flashbacks, and other bonuses. This flexible system allows characters to adapt and change their plans on the fly without wasting their earlier efforts.
- Characters can install cybernetic Augments to improve themselves, at the cost of increasing their Burden. (Cosmetic and medical Augments are free, so if you just want to have cat ears or a cyber-arm without any bonuses, go for it!) You can even replace your body with a full-body prosthetic.
- Further rules allow characters to grow and call on a Community of side characters during play, or make a little extra side-cash with a Gig Work App.
"With firm pillars grounding it in the genre it wants to embody, easy to understand rules, and a vibrant setting, Hard Wired Island is worth any cyberpunk’s time to check out."
— Seamus Conneely, Cannibal Halfling Gaming
"There is a strange hopefulness that doesn’t just come from the fact that the PCs may be heroes, but from the fact that the PCs may get to live their lives."
— Jared Rascher, Gnome Stew
"This is one of the most gorgeous and also best written RPGs I've ever looked over. It's smart and it's funny and it feels like it came out at exactly the right time. I can't think of a system I want to spend as much time with."
"An excellent blend of settings and mechanics. The setting of Grand Cross is built to be explored."
"This game is freaking phenomenal. Everything I could want in a cyberpunk rpg."
— itch.io reviews
"It's a game that sells itself as "cyberpunk done right", and it makes a strong case for itself all the way through."
"The best cyberpunk rpg I've ever seen when it comes to nailing the street level ethics of the genre."
"Frankly I'm impressed with the author's ability to hit every high note [...] hope is a needed commodity; for the protaganists and for us."