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Cyberpunk Red: One Year Later

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Of the two big releases in the Cyberpunk setting late last year, the tabletop one seems to have had the better time of it. Cyberpunk Red sparked some nostalgia in old players while introducing a new generation of players to one of the definitive settings in the genre. Surprisingly, that included me, as I spent my youth (and early parts of my career) over on the other side of the fence in Shadowrun’s Seattle. I was lucky enough to run a few games as part of my duties as host of Theatre of the Mind Players both from the original Jumpstart Kit and the full book. To celebrate the release of some supplementary materials provided by R. Talsorian Games (those mini-reviews will pop up toward the end), I decided to look back at the game now that I have a few runs under my belt.

Cyberpunk Red Core Rulebook​

Cyberpunk Red is an advancement of the timeline between Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk 2077. It takes place in roughly 2045 and overwrites the materials seen in Cyberpunk 3.0 and Cybergeneration. Cyberpunk Red is not a radical revision of the original game. Think of it more like a remastered version that cleans up a few cosmetics and gameplay elements, but leaves the original system in place for better or worse. Seeing this late 80s/early 90s style of game design was jarring on my initial read, but after running it I’ve come to love much of it. The basic stat+skill+d10 roll works pretty well on its own and plays a lot more simply than other games of the time. The exploding possibility on both ends also offers a way to mix in some narrative twists as needed. The wide skills also inspired my players to think creatively. How can I use my Personal Grooming and Style here?

One of the areas that was streamlined well was the lifepath generation system The original game generated a lot of history for characters, while Cyberpunk Red’s version generated just enough. My players loved this part of character creation and didn’t need much prodding to mix each other up in their stories.

The Roles were also improved in Cyberpunk Red. Each skill works in a slightly different way, from the combat analysis of the Solo allowing shifts in attack profiles to the Nomad’s ability to borrow family vehicles for specific runs. I’m usually a fan of unified mechanics but the different Role skills really help give each archetype a distinct flavor.

Cyberpunk Netrunner Deck​

One of the big challenges of the cyberpunk genre is the hacker problem. Games are set up to emulate the fiction, which features hackers dashing through a cool VR dungeon to get the important information. In play, however, that often meant the hacker player monopolizing the GM’s time while everyone else watched.

Cyberpunk Red streamlined this process by giving Netrunners multiple actions based on their Netrunning skill and simplifying data fortress construction to a single path of risk and reward. My initial read on this was that they went too far in the easy direction but in play it felt like just enough spotlight was given to the netrunner during a job. It feels like the netrunner does all the exploration while the game shifts back into the meat world and now we’re just at the challenge points of the run. It’s also easier to add complexity back into a table’s taste than remove it.

As Netrunners are the closest thing to wizards in this setting, the Cyberpunk Red Netrunner Deck is more or less a spell deck for the Netrunner player featuring all the programs featured in the core book. It also includes the ICE programs they might face as well as a small mini deck of nodes that can be used to generate a hack on the fly. Pick this up if netrunning is a focus of your Cyberpunk Red games.

Cyberpunk Red Data Screen​

We didn’t get into much combat during our game, but the moments where we did felt fast and brutal. Things really turn on the critical hit mechanics which ends fights quickly. Beware; if players can’t hit matching sixes, it can be a while to put down an opponent.

The key question for a GM screen for me is always “Does this have useful charts that I will use during play?” The Cyberpunk Red Data Screen fits all the things I wanted for combat in one area, though I think the Jumpstart Kit still has good reference charts for other things like Netrunning. If you only buy one GM aid, get this one because it’s freshly filled with errata, but if you can afford both, this combined with the Jumpstart Kit makes a deluxe suite of GM data.

Cyberpunk Red Data Pack​

This product recalls another relic of 90s game releases: the book of materials that barely missed the cut for the corebook paired with a less sexy accessory. In this case, the Data Pack comes with a stack of double sided character sheets for those folks who don’t want to use their precious printer juice.

There are also battle maps included. Given the dearth of modern battle grids, that alone makes Cyberpunk Red Data Pack a worthy purchase, even if the maps are printed on glossy pages rather than wet/dry erase material. They also look like they could be useful for the upcoming mini combat game.

The real value in this release comes from the booklet which includes a few one-page screamsheet adventures as well as a series of 20 entry tables of everything ranging from contacts to pocket contents. Each of these works as a lovely story hook or as a bit of color to fill out Night City.

Upon my first reading of Cyberpunk Red my thoughts were mixed but after playing it I find that the rules are a solid base refined just enough to appeal to more modern tastes. It’s a great entry point into the Cyberpunk universe, regardless of one’s opinion of its videogame big brother.

This post contains affiliate links to the products mentioned within. If you found the review useful, please consider buying the products via the link to help support the reviewer.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

MGibster

Legend
I can't recall ever playing a Cyberpunk 2020 campaign with someone playing a Rockerboy. Which is somewhat odd because Johnny Silverhand was one of what we'd call iconic characters from the book along the likes of Rogue, Armitage, and Blackhand. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I ever saw someone play a Media either. I don't know if it was because of a lack of interest or people just didn't know how to fit them into the game. Anyone here have trouble with any of the roles? If I ever get my next campaign up and running, I'm probably going to ask players to avoid making Lawmen and Corporates though I might be able to make the latter work.

Anyone remember Interface magazine? They had a license to published Cyberpunk 2020 information and each issue had things like cybernetics, police profiles of gangs/individuals, new drugs, corporations, etc., etc. you could introduce to your game. They even had movie and book reviews including Street Lethal and Highlander 2. There were only six issues published between 1991 and 1992, but, wow, they left quite an impression on me. I had to include Spider Lady, a ripper doc feature in issue two in 1991, as an NPC in my upcoming campaign.


Spider Lady.JPG
 

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BrokenTwin

Adventurer
There's the common joke I've heard about Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun games where people will say "Let's just play a band!", but I've never actually seen it done. Which is a shame, because I honestly think both systems have the class archetypes to play that really well. Rockerboy for the lead/face of the band, Media for their public relations, Solo for the bouncer, Executive for the financial backer, Tech for the roadie, Netrunner for the studio mix, Medtech for their substance supplier (an important part of any cyberpunk rock band)...
 

"Rockerboy" as a class in CP2020 made my skeleton cringe out of my body when the game first published. That they kept that name in Red is just wild, and indicative of how little they actually wanted to update, and how set they were on leaning into nostalgiapunk.

I don't have an issue with the character option itself, and I agree with @BrokenTwin--the game basically provides the framework to support a band campaign. But boy oh boy, Rockerboy....
 

MGibster

Legend
Which is a shame, because I honestly think both systems have the class archetypes to play that really well. Rockerboy for the lead/face of the band, Media for their public relations, Solo for the bouncer, Executive for the financial backer, Tech for the roadie, Netrunner for the studio mix, Medtech for their substance supplier (an important part of any cyberpunk rock band)...
One of the Cyberpunk 2020 publications actually makes this suggestion but I can't remember which one. I think for some GMs and players, they have trouble figuring out how all the roles might fit together in one campaign. Pondsmith and others weaved Johnny Silverhand into the game effectively as did Rockstar with Cyberpunk 2077, but I can see how people might have a hard time with bringing a Media on a heist mission even if it happens in the fiction.

"Rockerboy" as a class in CP2020 made my skeleton cringe out of my body when the game first published. That they kept that name in Red is just wild, and indicative of how little they actually wanted to update, and how set they were on leaning into nostalgiapunk.
I think some folks were also unhappy with Dog Boys and Glitter Boys from Rifts. I probably wouldn't have changed Rockerboys myself if I were running the show. The game has a legacy and I'd probably work to preserve it. I might include Riot Girls or some other alternative name though. Though, in the end, I'd probably still just refer to them as Rockerboys in the text.
 

One of the Cyberpunk 2020 publications actually makes this suggestion but I can't remember which one. I think for some GMs and players, they have trouble figuring out how all the roles might fit together in one campaign. Pondsmith and others weaved Johnny Silverhand into the game effectively as did Rockstar with Cyberpunk 2077, but I can see how people might have a hard time with bringing a Media on a heist mission even if it happens in the fiction.

Its one of those things that I think is easy a couple times, but starts to feel strained after that.
 

Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
I like your interpretation a lot. I might disagree about it being all that feasible--if we've learned one thing since Neuromancer came out it's that digital innovation is insanely rapid, but mechanical innovation, whether for prosthetics, space travel, or personal jet packs, creeps forward at a snail's pace--but I think you're totally right about how humanity loss fits into CPR's premise and tone.
Yeah, I think in our actual real world we're moving toward a more biopunk future. CRISPR tech alone is starting to revolutionize what we can do with gene editing to the point that international conferences have been held to address the ethical issues the technology brings up.
 

MGibster

Legend
Yeah, I think in our actual real world we're moving toward a more biopunk future. CRISPR tech alone is starting to revolutionize what we can do with gene editing to the point that international conferences have been held to address the ethical issues the technology brings up.
I would agree and I think a lot of us kind of felt like that by the end of the 1990s. I think Cyberpunk 2020 did have bio technology like new limbs, organs, and whatnot but they were pretty much reserved for the wealthy. I designed an NPC Fixer for my yet-to-be-realized campaign named Otto Sharkey whose had some bio-sculpting to resemble a man/shark hybrid. They had poser gangs in old school Cyberpunk, folks who were bio sculpted to achieve some sort of uniform look sometimes based on celebrities. I remember one gang where all the men resembled one of the Kennedys and the women Marilyn Monroe. I figure you'll have furries living their furdom at all times with bio sculpting available.
 

Cuberpunk is one of the few RPGs that i think could be run successfully if everyone was the same class.

I could see a party of all rockerboys trying to make a name for themselves.

My dream is to play in a cyberpunk heist where everyone is a netrunner.
 


CTPhipps

Villager
A big sticking point for me was that the mega corps accepted the amount of individual power that cyber gear provided. They were arming the very people who opposed them. The key to power is the control of power.

Eh, isn't that part of Cyberpunk that the corporations aren't very GOOD at instituting control? The trains don't run on time in Night City because the corporations are at each other's throats and humanity has balkanized even further. Hence society is degenerating even further because governments, as bad as they were, at least had the pretense of being for the people.

Re: Ableism

I think you could easily overcome a lot of it and make it relevant satire with the idea that most cybernetics produced either on the street or by the corporations aren't designed very well and lots of corners cut because, well, of course they are. Mind you, they totally removed the concept of "cyberpsychosis" in the video game and revealed it was just an excuse for police to shoot cyborgs rather than deal with the option of desescalation.

I liked that twist.
 

MGibster

Legend
I think you could easily overcome a lot of it and make it relevant satire with the idea that most cybernetics produced either on the street or by the corporations aren't designed very well and lots of corners cut because, well, of course they are. Mind you, they totally removed the concept of "cyberpsychosis" in the video game and revealed it was just an excuse for police to shoot cyborgs rather than deal with the option of desescalation.
I mean, sort of? On all the cyberpsychosis missions you go on those people are legitimate threats to the safety of all those around them.
 

Eh, isn't that part of Cyberpunk that the corporations aren't very GOOD at instituting control? The trains don't run on time in Night City because the corporations are at each other's throats and humanity has balkanized even further. Hence society is degenerating even further because governments, as bad as they were, at least had the pretense of being for the people.
That doesn't work on an economic level. Balkanization is good for business, after all. I just don't see corporations producing high-end, durable, and easy to both install and maintain cyber gear whose principle purchasers are elements hostile to the corps' interests. Not only is it counter-productive, but there is no continuing sales.

A modern-day example is arms sales to Third World factions: lots of small arms and light-medium support weapons that are fine for the sort of conflicts being fought, but which consume ammunition and magazines, especially in the hands of low-skill troops. You sell the rifles, SAWs, GPMGs, etc at a moderate profit, and then gouge them on ammunition. Its a money machine, and the customer base remains strictly a low-threat local power.

Its a tried and true sales model as old as firearms.
 

MGibster

Legend
Eh, isn't that part of Cyberpunk that the corporations aren't very GOOD at instituting control? The trains don't run on time in Night City because the corporations are at each other's throats and humanity has balkanized even further. Hence society is degenerating even further because governments, as bad as they were, at least had the pretense of being for the people.

Like now, if its in the best interest of a corporation to maintain some infrastructure they'll work towards maintaining that infrastructure. This might not mean paying anything out-of-pocket (but it might), even something simple like some form of putting pressure on the local government to do something about it. In Cyberpunk Red, the city has a light rail lev train that runs to different locations including the Executive Zone. Some of those trains go to other districts in Night City and I bet they run on time more or less. After all, corporations need their employees to be able to get to work in a timely manner. In Red, it mentions that the city runs police patrols on the line to control crime and vandalism though the corporate stations are much nicer than the city stations. I would probably think of the trains as akin to 1970s New York subways.

That doesn't work on an economic level. Balkanization is good for business, after all. I just don't see corporations producing high-end, durable, and easy to both install and maintain cyber gear whose principle purchasers are elements hostile to the corps' interests. Not only is it counter-productive, but there is no continuing sales.
I don't think elements hostile to the corps' interest are the primary purchasers of cyberware. Most people who purchase cyberware probably become lifelong customers (with lifelong being defined as the life of the product). The average person who purchases a set of Kiroshi cyber optics probably goes to their licensed clinics for maintenance and upgrades. And when the next model comes in, they'll find a bunch of eager customers just waiting to purchase the new version just like we do with iPhone today.

Most cyberpunk games present a group of PCs with a fairly skewed perspective and I think that's especially true of Cyberpunk 2020 and Red. The truth is, these PCs could make a fairly comfortable living as corporate drones, but, for whatever reason, choose to live on the edge of society. Maybe they like the excitement, maybe they're not cut out for an office job, or maybe they just don't want some master jerking the chain attached to their collar, but for whatever reason they've chosen to live outside the system.
 

CTPhipps

Villager
I mean, sort of? On all the cyberpsychosis missions you go on those people are legitimate threats to the safety of all those around them.

I mean, none of them are rampaging because they've been driven mad by cybernetics. If you read the shards, they're all going on killing sprees for entirely other reasons like poverty, their cybernetics being badly installed, their daughter being sex trafficked by the Tyger Claws, and so on. It was a nice twist, I felt.

That doesn't work on an economic level. Balkanization is good for business, after all. I just don't see corporations producing high-end, durable, and easy to both install and maintain cyber gear whose principle purchasers are elements hostile to the corps' interests. Not only is it counter-productive, but there is no continuing sales.

A modern-day example is arms sales to Third World factions: lots of small arms and light-medium support weapons that are fine for the sort of conflicts being fought, but which consume ammunition and magazines, especially in the hands of low-skill troops. You sell the rifles, SAWs, GPMGs, etc at a moderate profit, and then gouge them on ammunition. Its a money machine, and the customer base remains strictly a low-threat local power.

Its a tried and true sales model as old as firearms.

What I'm saying is the corporations don't actually have nearly the control to dictate terms. The governments of the world still exist in the Cyberpunk world with Europe being still in power. The United States as of RED is also in charge of Militech (albeit its slowly taking over from within) and other corporations compete. There's also the fact the majority of hardware an Edgerunner possesses isn't going to be "straight off the rack" cybernetics.

Arasaka employees will have Arasaka brand cybernetics and civilians will buy the normal stuff but any Edgerunner worth his salt will have their own privately made and assembled cybernetics from their local Ripperdocs. Sort of like how you're not going to see Hackers get their hardware from computer stores but assemble their own.

Like now, if its in the best interest of a corporation to maintain some infrastructure they'll work towards maintaining that infrastructure. This might not mean paying anything out-of-pocket (but it might), even something simple like some form of putting pressure on the local government to do something about it. In Cyberpunk Red, the city has a light rail lev train that runs to different locations including the Executive Zone. Some of those trains go to other districts in Night City and I bet they run on time more or less. After all, corporations need their employees to be able to get to work in a timely manner. In Red, it mentions that the city runs police patrols on the line to control crime and vandalism though the corporate stations are much nicer than the city stations. I would probably think of the trains as akin to 1970s New York subways.

I imagine it's a careful balance of the fact you need the corporations to keep enough infrastructure going they can do but also preserve the satire that is central to cyberpunk: that privatization of basic public needs and government has utterly naughty word over the world. Its a capitalist dystopia where WW3 was fought between Militech and Arasaka. So you need to make the corpos competent enough to be rulers of the world but also incompetent enough to note that their takeover of so much is what has ruined the planet and life for themselves.

Like in 1984 where it comments that even the Ruling Party's lives suck due to how hard and demanding the world is.

One detail I always liked was Mike Pondsmith's sourcebook on Japan (I forget the name) which revealed that Japan had every bit as much misery and anti-Arasaka sentiment as Night City because Arasaka had ruined it as well--because fascists gonna fascist.
 
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What I'm saying is the corporations don't actually have nearly the control to dictate terms. The governments of the world still exist in the Cyberpunk world with Europe being still in power. The United States as of RED is also in charge of Militech (albeit its slowly taking over from within) and other corporations compete. There's also the fact the majority of hardware an Edgerunner possesses isn't going to be "straight off the rack" cybernetics.

Arasaka employees will have Arasaka brand cybernetics and civilians will buy the normal stuff but any Edgerunner worth his salt will have their own privately made and assembled cybernetics from their local Ripperdocs. Sort of like how you're not going to see Hackers get their hardware from computer stores but assemble their own.
Its not terms, its economics, which corps most definitely control.

Let's use the cellphone example: right now your phone is tracked, listened in upon, have either the camera or the mike activated by the manufacturer, or your provider, or both, depending upon brand. Ditto for game platforms and smart TVs. Increasingly common for smart appliances. Later model cars as well.

So, why would the future, less-regulated corps produce gear that was stand-alone, no back doors, no service contract needs, nothing?

I do not believe that the ripperdoc concept could contain enough infrastructure to be able to build high-end, cutting edge technology, much less in quantities sufficient to gear up so many street samurai.

Sure, some hackers assemble their own computers, but a lot don't; very few write their own code, but rather buy programs off the lower Web.

It just doesn't track, especially in the light of current trends. As time passes and the corps are freed from civil and criminal penalties, the worst aspects of today will be magnified. So even if a ripperdoc somehow had the time and resources to build gear from parts in bulk, why would a corp not send a few large types around with a 'cease and desist order' in the form of multiple broken bones?
 

CTPhipps

Villager
Its not terms, its economics, which corps most definitely control.

Let's use the cellphone example: right now your phone is tracked, listened in upon, have either the camera or the mike activated by the manufacturer, or your provider, or both, depending upon brand. Ditto for game platforms and smart TVs. Increasingly common for smart appliances. Later model cars as well.

So, why would the future, less-regulated corps produce gear that was stand-alone, no back doors, no service contract needs, nothing?

I do not believe that the ripperdoc concept could contain enough infrastructure to be able to build high-end, cutting edge technology, much less in quantities sufficient to gear up so many street samurai.

Sure, some hackers assemble their own computers, but a lot don't; very few write their own code, but rather buy programs off the lower Web.

It just doesn't track, especially in the light of current trends. As time passes and the corps are freed from civil and criminal penalties, the worst aspects of today will be magnified. So even if a ripperdoc somehow had the time and resources to build gear from parts in bulk, why would a corp not send a few large types around with a 'cease and desist order' in the form of multiple broken bones?

It's very much part of the setting's central conceit that the Street Stuff is far more advanced than anything used by Arasaka and the corporate thugs as a general rule. The whole point is that the mass produced garbage produced by the corporation is taken and improved by the geniuses and people who know the workarounds by those in the know. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the corporations hiring mercenaries rather than using their own people who are by and large inferior to the Edgerunners who can command larger fees as well as do better as independent agents.

The Corporations are at the mercy of each other and their own constant wars after all. Its very much a DIY setting.

At least that's my interpretation. It has an idealized view of the criminal underworld versus the man.
 

MGibster

Legend
I mean, none of them are rampaging because they've been driven mad by cybernetics. If you read the shards, they're all going on killing sprees for entirely other reasons like poverty, their cybernetics being badly installed, their daughter being sex trafficked by the Tyger Claws, and so on. It was a nice twist, I felt.
I did read the shards and you're right that there were exacerbating factors. But well balanced people don't generally go on violent spree attacks even when under stress. And quite frankly, dealing with people in the process of a spree non-violently or with less-than-lethal force would be very difficult. I'm not sure how I did it in game as I didn't switch to non-lethal weapons. If I had a big ass sniper rifle I used a big ass sniper rifle and somehow the psychosis guy would live.

What I'm saying is the corporations don't actually have nearly the control to dictate terms. The governments of the world still exist in the Cyberpunk world with Europe being still in power. The United States as of RED is also in charge of Militech (albeit its slowly taking over from within) and other corporations compete. There's also the fact the majority of hardware an Edgerunner possesses isn't going to be "straight off the rack" cybernetics.
Oh, yeah. The corps are still recovering from the last corporate war and are less powerful in Red than they were in 2020. But even in 2020, the U.S. government is a force to be reckoned with. They're still buying all sorts of equipment from Militech and others and invading places like Central America. This is an example of the skewed perspective we get at players. For the most part, we're dealing with corporations not the US Government.

It's very much part of the setting's central conceit that the Street Stuff is far more advanced than anything used by Arasaka and the corporate thugs as a general rule. The whole point is that the mass produced garbage produced by the corporation is taken and improved by the geniuses and people who know the workarounds by those in the know.
At least in Cyberpunk 2020, most of the gear you end up using is pretty much what you find off the rack. A Solo might add a few bells and whistles to their Arasaka Minami 10, but that doesn't mean the Minami 10 started out as a piece of garbage. The same goes for limbs, eyes, armor, and other equipment. The average corporate thug is unlikely to be as well equipped or armed as group of cyberpunks, but the elite forces the likes of Arasaka and Militech ought to put most PCs to shame.

Otherwise, you wouldn't have the corporations hiring mercenaries rather than using their own people who are by and large inferior to the Edgerunners who can command larger fees as well as do better as independent agents.
Edgerunners are a deniable asset and if they're neutralized then the company hasn't lost an asset. Those are two good reasons why corporate interest might use them. Even today, corporations use independent contractors.
 

Its also not actually uncommon for independent contractors to have more experience in a lot of fields than specific corporate employees in a wider variety of situations. Lets face it, unless you're literally using them constantly, corporate security gets a lot less action than criminal contractor would. There's probably a lot less of them, but that's a different issue.
 

MGibster

Legend
Its also not actually uncommon for independent contractors to have more experience in a lot of fields than specific corporate employees in a wider variety of situations. Lets face it, unless you're literally using them constantly, corporate security gets a lot less action than criminal contractor would. There's probably a lot less of them, but that's a different issue.
That's fair. Most of our independent contractors have skills and/or are assigned to tasks that our employees aren't good at or can't do. And even if a corporation does have those assets, they might not be available when and where they're needed.

Mid-Level Manager: Who the hell do these clowns think they are? If these Bozos think they can rip off SegAtari and get away with it they're going to be sorely disappointed. Tell Nancy I need to requisition our repo team. Ask for Sanchez, he's messy but gets results and I want to send a message.

Assistant: I'm sorry, sir. If you'll recall, Sanchez's team took heavy casualties in our, uh, misunderstanding with the 6th Street gang in Vista Del Ray.

Mid-Level Manager: Fine, how about Alex's team? Alex isn't as brutal as I want, but they know how to get results and I have confidence in them.

Assistant: Their team is currently on another assignment for Wilson and...

Mid-Level Manger: I'm not swinging a big enough stick to cross Wilson. Could we get Reddy's team here?

Assistant: We could, but getting his entire team here in a timely manner would be, well, cost prohibitive. If I might be so bold, sir? We do have an outside resource who assisted us with smoothing over our relationship with the 6th Street gang. No doubt he knows of some resourceful individuals who might assist us with the Bozos for a reasonable fee. And we could pay this service fee using our discretionary funds. The employees won't get any soy ham for Christmas this year, but to management it'll look like you took care of the problem without incurring any additional expenses.
 

It's very much part of the setting's central conceit that the Street Stuff is far more advanced than anything used by Arasaka and the corporate thugs as a general rule. The whole point is that the mass produced garbage produced by the corporation is taken and improved by the geniuses and people who know the workarounds by those in the know. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the corporations hiring mercenaries rather than using their own people who are by and large inferior to the Edgerunners who can command larger fees as well as do better as independent agents.

The Corporations are at the mercy of each other and their own constant wars after all. Its very much a DIY setting.

At least that's my interpretation. It has an idealized view of the criminal underworld versus the man.
I get that it is part of the setting, but it is a part of the setting that does not work. Genius or not, the idea of a lone craftsman hunched over his workbench out-producing a factory line in both quality and output doesn't work. And his remaining unmolested yet publically-accessible likewise fails.

As to why mercs are used, that reason is as old as war: why risk loyalists when you can use hired guns instead? Again, an age-old reason being played out today.

I really want to love Cyberpunk; back when it first came out I bought the entire product line. But the setting has not aged well, and the writers have not addressed the failing core issues. I had hoped that they would have moved the corps in a direction based upon drug cartel's ruthless securing of both economic and political power, coupled with the electronics industry's already mentioned design maneuvers.

I haven't given up hope, but Red is not going to be The One.
 

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