Tabletop Game / Cyberpulp
Cyberpulp Adventures - Hardboiled
, more simply known as Hardboiled
, is a tabletop roleplaying game, drawing upon 20th century pulp fiction (especially noir-style detective stories) for inspiration.
It is presently still in development, but the development team is running a few games
to iron out the flaws in the system.
Set in 2929, the game has the players take on the roles of a small team of crime-fighters, private detectives and citizens caught up situations beyond their control in the labyrinthine underworld of Union City, a massive city-state
shrouded in everlasting night.
Union City itself is just one of several other massive city states on a tidally locked world, such as the Anglian Empire
, the Golden City
, the Networked Commune
, and Viteli
. The world is not Earth, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to our own world
The game is focused on investigative gameplay, though it places greater emphasis on the social and deductive aspects of investigation rather than forensic analysis.
It also features a small number of expansions/spin-offs in varying stages of early development: Adventure Awaits!, with players taking on the role of an Adventurer Archaeologist
or colonial era explorer searching the world for Lost Technology
; Shadow Precinct, where the protagonists are comic book styled vigilantes; and War Stories, which is about stories from the wars in the setting backstory
, and has a much stronger combat focus.
Cyberpulp provides the following Tropes:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Swords with pulse engines attached tend to be this. Note that a pulse sword will cut through Power Armor without even slowing down.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Home to Sewer Gators and other things. Not so much sewers as a very extensive and deep labyrinth of catacombs, tunnels, and caves. It should be noted that most of this underground was around long before Union City was founded.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: What the player characters will be in Adventure Awaits.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: The Constitutional Church and the Cult of Victoria, the dominant religions in Union City and Anglia respectively. The Constitution is religious scripture and Washington and Jefferson are worshipped as mythical figures who fought a thousand year revolution.
- Amazon Brigade: The entire Hiberian society.. The warrior/nobility ruling class is populated entirely by women, with all the men taking roles in the working class.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Golden City, a city state on the opposite side of the world from Union City
- Anyone Can Die: The combat system is intended to be extremely lethal. One lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) shot can kill you even if you are the strongest man alive. Generally, you don't want to get into a firefight unless the odds are heavily stacked in your favour.
- One of the test games currently being run, Gangster Squad, has surprisingly managed to avert this trope thus far. Despite the lethality of the combat system, and despite the fact that the game is a combat test that purposely throws the player characters into a lot of dumb gunfights, the GM has failed to kill a single PC thus far, though a few have come fairly close to dying.
- Apathetic Citizens: Union City is a city of these.
- Archaeological Arms Race: Given the world is littered with Lost Technology, this happens.
- Artificial Limbs: Augmentations.
- Black and Gray Morality or Evil vs. Evil: All of the major nations are at the very least morally dubious.
- Union City has large portions of its population subjected to poverty (the large and poor working class) and racism (servos), as well as a ineffective and often corrupted government and legal system.
- Anglia is a subjugatory colonialist empire.
- The Golden City is built on a philosophy of eugenics and has a rigid caste system. They also tend to exterminate servos wherever they go.
- The Networked Commune are intent on undermining humanity and instating global communism.
- Character Class System: Hardboiled has this, though the classes are based on narrative archetypes in a detective story. The classes are:
- Sleuth: A hardboiled PI looking to solve cases and fight crime. Has investigative abilities, lots of smarts, and a powerful intuition.
- Partner: The Sidekick. The Watson to the Sleuth's Sherlock. Usually more physically oriented than the Sleuth, and with a slew of supportive abilities.
- Dame: An outsider, unfamiliar to crimefighting but somehow caught up in the plot. They don't have the special abilities that other classes get, but they are the most versatile. Despite the name, not Always Female.
- Mentor: An older and more experienced person, helping the Sleuth and their party. Starts off more powerful, but gains experience slowly.
- Rival: The Sleuth's nemesis, another detective who is richer and more successful than the Sleuth. Has a tendency to try and upstage the rest of the party.
- Rat: A criminal looking to get out of the game. Well connected with the underworld, though it's hard to tell who's side they're really on...
- Copper: A police officer working with the Sleuth and his team, the Copper is the most combat oriented of the archetypes. They may lack subtlety or smarts, but they do have one thing in abundance; lots of firepower.
- Professor: A highly intelligent inventor and scientist, the Professor tends to be physically frail, but can supply the team with high tech gadgetry. Can also double as The Medic for the team in fights.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Inverted. The setting's analogue for France, Merovinland, is regarded to have one of the best trained and competent armies in the world.
- City Noir: Union City.
- Critical Hit: Roll a 10 while using a weapon in combat? Roll again, and add that result to your first roll. More Dakka is a good way to increase the chances of getting one.
- Dirty Communists: The Networked Commune.
- Electronic Eyes: They give you perfect eyesight, night vision, and a slew of other advantages. The disadvantage is that you can only see in grayscale unless you buy an expensive upgrade, and they look nothing like organic eyes.
- Endless Daytime: Due to the planet being tidally locked. The Golden City sits almost exactly in the centre of the daylit side.
- Conversely, Union City is in the centre of the night time side. However, due to a solar reflector satellite put into orbit in a bygone era, there is a part of Union to the south which receives a more Earth like cycle of day. Even further south, the reflected sunlight is constant and intense, resulting in an inhospitable desert.
- Fantastic Racism: Servos are discriminated against in every city state. In Union City, they are the equivalent of blacks. In Anglia, servos make up the entirety of the working classes, with the humans all being nobility. In Vagaria, they were the serfs until they rebelled to form the Networked Commune. In Vitelia, they were the slaves who did all the work. In the Golden City, they've all been exterminated.
- Gut Feeling: Intuition points, which players can use to ask the GM a yes/no question that they must answer truthfully. Notably, Sleuths get extra intuition as a trait.
- Hardboiled Detective
- Hive Mind: The Networked Commune is a giant hive mind consisting of servos, all connected by radio signals; their government is basically a direct democracy taken to extreme levels. This actually doesn't work all that well for them, as it's exceedingly difficult for them to actually agree on anything.
- This is the reason why they haven't crushed the life out of the hilariously underequipped and outnumbered Vagarian resistance, despite their vastly superior manpower and technology - a lot of the Commune's members don't want to.
- Smaller scale hive minds are a lot more functional however; for example rings of Networked Commune agents operating in Union City.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Owners of heirloom sparklocks are able to pull this off. Though it's the gun, rather than the skills of the wielder, that is responsible.
- Land of One City
- Light Is Not Good: The Golden City. Located on the opposite side of the world, it is a city with Endless Daytime. It is also practices eugenics, segregation by caste, and genocide of servos.
- Lost Technology: Archaeotech.
- Magic from Technology: The setting includes superpowers, trinkets that let you sprout flaming wings, and a fountain with life extending properties. All of them run on extremely advanced archaeotech.
- Mega City: Union City, where Hardboiled is set in. Additionally, every world power of note is one of these.
- More Dakka: Taken to extremes with Networked Screamer weapons, which fire a lot of bullets in a very short frame of time. Unfortunately, they have to be reloaded after every time you fire them.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Servos. They are very similar to flesh and blood people, save for a few differences such as being made of metal, running on electricity, and being too dense to swim.
- Schizo Tech: The game's setting shares similarities with the 1920s, but some of the tech available includes RayGuns, Artificial Limbs, FreezeRays, and Nanomachines.
- Servos use magnetic tape to store their memories.
- The Mafia: Usually made up of Viteli immigrants.
- The Morlocks: Morlocs. They're humanoid monsters that live Beneath the Earth or in the unexplored parts of the world. While their culture is savage and primitive, they are capable of constructing very sophisticated tech,even though their understanding of technology is is entirely instinctual.
- The Night That Never Ends: Union City is located right in the middle of the dark side of the planet.
- The Roaring '20s: The game's setting draws quite a bit on this time period.
- Underground City: Sindhu, a city located underneath a mountain range, and filled with vast amounts of machinery that no one really knows the purpose of.
- The Morlocs may have some, buried well beneath the surface.
- Vast Bureaucracy: Xian is run by one.
- Weapons Kitchen Sink: The firearms run a gamut from mid-19th century muskets (though fired with sparkplugs) through revolvers and bolt-action rifles of the early 20th, a few post-WW2 autoloaders and assault rifles, and onto strange pulp sci-fi weapons that shoot lightning, laser beams and disintegration rays.