Black Chrome: A Tech & Style Guide [& REVIEW] For Cyberpunk RED

“Over 170 items to help you survive Night City.” Pulled from the cover of R. Talsorian Games’ Black Chrome: A Tech & Style Guide For Cyberpunk RED, the pitch and the stakes, they’re real.

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Everything an Edgerunner Needs​

On March 2nd 2023, R. Talsorian Games offered up a new book for Cyberpunk RED that recalled the days of their Cyberpunk 2020 Chromebooks. Written and designed by James Hutt, Jay Parker, Turbo, J Gray, Anne Morrison, Chris Spivey, Fran Stewart, and Linda Evans, Black Chrome is a sourcebook that combines a inventory buybook with worldbuilding. Available in PDF and print, the book might have some of the trappings of an old school mail order catalog, but it’s so much more. This is a shopping experience perfect for fans that want all of the crunch. In addition, it’s good for a flip through by a fan interested in a taste of the world. Since the project is art and keyword heavy, it serves as worldbuilding reference while offering details for those interested. The book speaks to all types of Cyberpunk RED fans.

This catalog is 168 pages plus the cover of cybernetic upgrades, fashion, apps, wheels, and things that go boom. This book provides your edgerunner the weapons, gear, and vehicles they’ll need to face 2045 and thrive. But a catalog is worthless without an outlet to select your wares so this sourcebook features six fleshed out and decked out Night Markets, cyberpunk flea markets. Combined with some basic ideas of how expensive it is to live after the 4th Corporate War, you’ll get a feel for the economy on The Street. If you want your cyberpunk to look good and win during the Friday Night Fire Fights, they’ll need to shop for some of that Black Chrome.

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What's Inside​

In terms of a review, the only way to know a sourcebook’s value is by talking about what’s inside, in effect spoiling some of the contents. To that end, let’s sample these products section by section.
  • Apps. It’s 2045, the world is a poverty party, and there’s all sorts of options to kill a night. Black Chrome offers apps to download onto your characters. “Digital Gladiator” lets you fight to the “death” online. Whoever loses, loses their Agent, though not their life. The “NCPD Crime Database” lets you know if your target is wanted by the cops or has a bounty on their head. There are a few more apps that let you interface with a variety of information, each useful to specific types of characters.
  • Cyberware. This is why you took to The Street, Choomba. Need a “Popup Shotgun” hidden in your cyberarm? What would be better than four fingers and a thumb? Eight digits per hand, each cyberfinger capable of a distinct and cool looking task. As a GM, are you sick of your players telling each other their character’s Hit Points? Does it break your game immersion? Then consider the “Heuristic Health Monitor” which allows the character to see their health score as Hit Points in-game. There are many body modification options ready to be installed on your edgerunner.
  • Fashion and Armor. The Cyberpunk RPGs always understood the need to be seen. No edgerunner lives this life praying for obscurity. They embraced this lifestyle and want to be noticed. That means the freshest, hottest looks, and protective gear from the first names in war and wardrobe. “Fire Brank Bunker Gear” is fabulous fireproof fashion. The “SkidRow Trench” is an armored trench coat cut for an executive look. There’s halo-wear, cyber-wear, and more in this book, each piece designed to showcase your flare.
  • General Goods and Gear. “Stay Clean. Stay Classy.” That’s the motto for S•I•C (Shower • in • a • Can). It’s 2045 and AXE Body Spray survived the Corporate Wars, which means our noses lost the war. “Ktech Doberman 500” is your best friend in home security. Unless it gets hacked and then it’s Cujo. Living on The Street is hard, but you can refine the experience with the “Everest VentureWare One Touch Habitat.” A tent with the comforts of home.
  • Linear Frames. Power-suits and mechanical exo-skeletons, these are what you need for the hardest of jobs. These options give you a physical boost, soaking damage and giving you the power to be superhuman. More importantly, they look killer.
  • Vehicles. The places you will go in these rides. This is the coolest section of Black Chrome showcasing the best combat car choices available. The “Highway Master Artemis” is a motorcycle with supercharge options and a bulletproof canopy because you’re going to make enemies with these wheels. The “TetraCorp America MegaHauler” is the type of semi your enemies will fear. With several trailers and a long-nose cowcatcher to move the other punks off the road, this is hauling in style. The “Tanson JetBoy Hoverboard” is a hoverboard, get on it!
  • Weapons. So. Much. Boom. This section is a listing of sharp options from blades to retractable blades to guns to explosives to things that look like a NERF supersoaker augmented with chain fed ammo. If it’s in this book, it kills up close or at a distance or your money back. [NOTE: No refunds. No apologies.]
That’s a taste of what’s on display in the pages of Black Chrome. You might ask where you can pick these up? Night Markets, of course. But selection varies by market. The book acts as a guide, delineating which markets carry which boom and which carry which ride.

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Night Markets​

Let’s talk about those markets. Black Chrome gives you a tour of six capitalist swap meets where you can get off-market enhancements. These locations range from an apartment to full buildings of options to a parking lot repurposed to sell you your chrome-heart’s desire. These are full service establishments with the hardware, software, and bio-mechanical integration expertise you can only find on The Street. Each market includes its proprietor, unique features, and a map to help you navigate the location as well as any firefights that may ensue.

Visually, this is inline with the other Cyberpunk RED books. The layout is authentic Cyberpunk RED, as well. Anselm Zielonka provides the cover while a list of 30ish artists create individual images for the items presented in the book. Black Chrome has an art range from great to amazing, with each item getting a picture that captures exactly what your cyberpunk is buying.

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Want More?​

At the end of the book, check out the quick reference appendix. This lists each item, some brief descriptions, cost, and where to find the full ad in the book. It’s a great way to cap off this sales guide.

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Do You Need This Book?​

While I’ve been all hyperbole, this was an easy book to get into and roleplay in-store sales. The book is everything you want for Cyberpunk RED giving you a deeper listing of options to pull into your campaign. Your players will enjoy the tech, the GM will enjoy the Night Markets and NPCs, and you’ll find it gets everyone more engaged in the cyber part of the setting. Because, as the back cover states: “Black Chrome: without it, you’re just another punk on The Street.”

Interested in another prespective? Check out Rob Wieland's review. Want a physical copy? R. Talsorian Games’ online store. If you want a PDF, try DriveThruRPG.

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
 

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