Attacking Cyberpunk that's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.

 I'm a big fan of "reskinning," in role playing games. I don't think that you always need to create a brand new system, subsystem, or character class to create what you want out of the game you're playing. It's far better to simply change the look and description of elements in the game you're playing to make them look the way you want. After all, mechanics are just that: mechanics. What does it matter, for example, if a monster stat block represents the vicious claws and stench of a ghoul or the rusty knives and unwashed mess of a filthy junk dealer hoodlum?

With that in mind, I was watching the 2021 cgi animated series Blade Runner: Black Lotus the past couple days and it got me thinking about using Night Shift: VSW to do a cyberpunk or tech noir game. After all, not all horror and urban fantasy has to involve supernatural creatures. A dark crime thriller that's rife with technology in a gritty world where nobody ever sees the sun can also be a fantastic type of game to run, and NSVSW already includes most of the rules you need to do it. 

So considering all of this, let's look at how you can run a tech noir or cyberpunk game using Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars. Keep in mind that none of this has been playtested; it's spitballing and ideas off the top of my head that may be further developed down the road. It shouldn't be considered "Official" or "Core" in any way. Nor is it in any way some sort of "Official" O.G.R.E.S. take on the Blade Runner universe. I don't have the license for that, so I won't be offering those sorts of specifics. I was inspired by the animated series, but this is not a licensed official take on it. Make of that what you will. 

Image from Kraken Press
Working with Archetypes

One of the beautiful things about the O.G.R.E.S. system is that the character classes are very archetypal, so they fit into a wide range of settings, and the "Supernatural" species can be tailored to represent just about anything you want. If, for example, you want to play a renegade android who is amnesiac and doesn't remember who they are, but their programming includes superhuman capabilities, the Supernatural is ideal to mimic that. 

Dealing with Cybernetics

Cybenetics are an important part of cyberpunk and tech noir, there's no doubt about it. Arguably the best way to create a character that has cybenetics and bioware is, again, to use the Supernatural species and re-skin the arcane powers as implants. Another way to do it is to look at my recent blog on doing street-level supers by re-skinning the Inventor class. This approach to a "Powered" character, again, sees you buying implants that let you do superhuman things. 

This brings up an important thing to keep in mind: the Inventor is, in many ways, your ticket to making NSVSW do just about anything you want it to do. This "catch all" class lets you really kick up your game to customize it in many ways. 

Point Buy Characters

To get a truly unique and customized cyberpunk / tech noir game, take a look at the customized point buy character system in the Night Companion. This system will allow you to buy single "levels" of class abilities, so you can in this way represent the character that gets injured during the course of play and ends up with cybernetics, by buying a level or two of the Devices ability. 

Combining the Two

It's possible to combine the two systems by using the class and level system as standard, but allowing characters to buy levels of other class abilities. In this case, multiply the cost of any purchased ability by 100 to get the standard XP cost. Thus, a 5-point ability costs 500 XP to buy, reducing the XP total of the character by that much. A character can never spend enough XP to lose a level in this manner, nor can they borrow against the bank. Abilities bought in this way do not progress unless a new level of the ability is purchased. Characters can only advance their base class (or multiclass) using the standard XP leveling method. Purchased abilities remain frozen unless bought up.


Skills should absolutely be adopted for a cyberpunk game, as they represent that additional level of specialized knowledge that many characters have. 

Computer Hacking

Computer hacking, whether it's using a laptop or a cyberjack to "jack in" to computer networks, is an important part of this genre. It can generally be accomplished in one of two ways. The first is using the Computers skill. Simply apply difficulty modifiers to the skill to represent how tricky a network's security is to bypass. This is the most straightforward way to handle computer hacking and is probably best for "analog" games (for lack of a better term) where computer hacking is simply accomplished by using a laptop or other equipment and done by hand. 

Optionally, finding the necessary data in a system can work identically to the Veteran's Tracking ability (and indeed, Veteran hackers may be able to use this ability instead of Computers once they are in the system). 

The Cyberjack

For games that use a cybernetic jack to allow a hacker to send their consciousness into the network, you may want to run hacking as a combat between the hacker and any security systems therein. In this case,  two factors are necessary: 

  1. The hacker must have a cybernetic jack to get into a system
  2. The hacker must have the Computers skill. 

Hackers must first make a basic Computers check to get into the system and bypass basic security protocols. This check can be at whatever difficulty modifier the GM feels appropriate for the system in question. Essentially, give the system a level of 1 to 10, and reduce the chance to access based on the system's level. 

Once inside the system, the hacker will have to deal with various levels of security protocols that manifest as "attack programs." Create the security systems as monsters, with stat blocks. The hacker, in turn, will attack and defend as though they were Veterans of the same level (their Attack Bonus becomes that of the Veteran instead of whatever their nomral progression is). Hackers add their Intelligence bonus to attack rolls and to their Virtual AC. A Hacker's base Virtual AC is 10 minus their virtual attack bonus. So if a hacker's virutal attack bonus (again, using the Veteran progression) is +3, their base AC is 7, minus their Intelligence bonus. 

The hacker's Virtual Hit Points are equal to 1d10 per level of experience. When these hit points reach 0, the hacker is ejected from the system. In games where firewalls and security protocols can deal physical damage, the hacker whose hit points reach 0 within the system also sees their hit points reduced to 0 in the real world when ejected. 

Forcible Disconnect

Forcibly jacking out of a system during combat can be done by making a Computers check at a difficulty modifier equal to the hit dice of the security program being fought. So if it's a 3 hit die program, you jack out at a 30% penalty. Success means you get out safely. Failure means you're stuck there. 

You can choose to jack out without making a roll; success is automatic, but you also automatically suffer all the physical damage you've suffered within the system. That is, if you've taken 15 points of virtual damage and you forcibly disconnect without a roll, you've taken 15 points of real damage from neural feedback. This also happens if someone pulls the plug on you while you're in the system.

Reskinning the Sage

Another option for a cyber hacker character is to re-skin the Sage. In this case, the Sage is renamed the "Cyberjacker" or "Cyber Cowboy," and their Lore ability becomes Compuer Hacking. It represents their ability to navigate within almost any computer system. The rules for cyberjacking apply above, including using the Veteran attack progression and determination of virtual AC while in a network, and all Sages are assumed to have a cyberjack. Their spells, then, represent the various attack and defense programs they have access to while within the system, and their spellcasting chance is their ability to enact such software. 

Yes, this does mean that cyberjacker/sages won't be casting spells in the "real world," UNLESS you want to allow them to have cybernetics (or even better, drones and vehicles) represented by what those spells can do. This is also a valid option, but to keep the flavor of the game, the cyberjacker should never refer to these abilities by their spell names. Never should they say, "I cast magic missile," for example. Instead, they call down an attack drone to make a strike. Likewise, spell backfire rules should be re-skinned to represent some manner of technological failure. This takes a little work on the part of the GM and player, but not much, and can add a great deal of flavor to cyberjacking. 

Witches, Warlocks, Theosophists, and Psychics

In general, magic simply doesn't exist in a cyberpunk or tech noir world. If you're going for pure sci-fi in your approach, Witches, Warlocks, and Theosophists are out. Period. Theosophists, especially, are a bit pointless in a world with no ghosts, spirits, or corporeal undead. You may come up with a way to skin Witches and Warlocks as some sort of "Techno-Mage," and if so, that's great. Just remember to keep it rooted in technology rather than mysticism. That's essential. 

Psychics, on the other hand, are a gray area. A lot of sci-fi has psychic powers, so if you choose to include psychics in your game, go for it. 

Characters like Psychic Gunslingers, Mystic Martial Artists, and Divine Warriors may or may not be re-skinned to function just fine in your game. It's up to you, but these three classes, to my mind, can be very easily reshaped to work in a cyberpunk game by having their abilities become technological in nature, using cybernetic implants, bioware, and nanotechnology (or just psychic, in the case of the gunslinger). 

Supernatural Attacks

Supernatural Attacks, likewise, become superfluous in such a game. You could, theoretically, re-skin them as the ability to make armor piercing attacks that can penetrate the special armor some enemies like combat robots might have, but in the end, it's probaby best just to ignore the Supernatural Attacks class ability across the board. It shouldn't affect game balance that much (if at all).  

That's about it! All you need to run a tech noir or cyberpunk game. You can model attack robots, special forces soldiers, even enemy adventurers using a reskin or modification of the many monsters already in NSVSW. Just create a story, create a background, and have at it!

Don't forget to check out the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars core rulebook and the Night Companion sourcebook, which are essential to your game. Grab your copy today!


  1. You forgot about Shadowrun, where the Supernatural and Cyberpunk coexist. It would be possible to keep all of the supernatural elements and still have a cyberpunk game if you went in that direction. What if Attack Programs are bound spirits and such. Some Cybernetics are powered by magic, etc. Just a thought.

    1. Trust me, I didn't forget about anything. It would, however, be disingenuous of me to start pimping a competitor's product on my own blog. If you want to take that direction, yup, it's 100% possible to do it.

    2. You'll notice, in fact, that I said, "IN GENERAL, magic simply doesn't exist." That's not an absolute statement. SR is an exception to the rule.


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