Cy_Borg TTRPG would be the cyberpunk apocalypse we really deserve

Mörk Borg, the award-winning rules-light role-playing recreation, is getting a high-concept spinoff. Titled Cy_Borg, the 160-page guide is written by Christian Sahlén, with artwork by franchise illustrator Johan Nohr, and in partnership with the Stockholm Kartell. Described by Free League Publishing as a “deck-hacking, brick-throwing upheaval of a recreation,” will probably be crowdfunded on Kickstarter starting Nov. 13.

Polygon sat down with the creatives behind it for an unique behind-the-scenes peek at what guarantees to be one of many greatest tabletop releases of 2022.

To know Cy_Borg, you first have to get your head round Mörk Borg and the way it’s completely different from different tabletop role-playing video games (TTRPGs) like Dungeons & Dragons. Designed by Pelle Nilsson, the 80-page hardcover guide is a part of the Previous Faculty Renaissance, also called OSR. It’s a motion amongst TTRPG creators to streamline the role-play expertise, paring it all the way down to its most elementary components. Flipping via the guide, you discover plenty of randomized tables used for telling tales on the fly. There are fewer stats, and smaller stat blocks. Periods are nasty, brutish, and quick.

A two-page unfold from Mörk Borg.
Picture: Johan Nohr/Free League Publishing

Nilsson tells Polygon that the aim of OSR isn’t to fetishize the work of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and the opposite luminaries who helped create TTRPGs. As a substitute, the aim is to make these sorts of video games extra approachable.

“I believe [the fifth edition of D&D] made it simpler,” Nilsson stated, “and that was the impression that I bought once I learn it first. But it surely’s nonetheless very advanced as you climb the degrees. I believe by stage 10 or one thing it turns into an excessive amount of for me, at the very least, to maintain monitor of every little thing.”

“I did run a number of Pathfinder and [third edition D&D],” added Sahlén, “and simply the period of time I needed to spend studying monsters stat blocks. As soon as the characters bought as much as stage 12, or one thing, it simply took me hours.”

The top outcome, the pair defined, is that Mörk Borg is a recreation about rulings, not guidelines.

“Not every little thing needs to be written down within the guide,” Sahlén continued. “Simply determine it out as you go alongside. You’ve gotten the fundamental core idea: That is the way you hit somebody with a sword, and that is the way you keep away from falling right into a dying entice of some type. However every little thing else […] simply make it up. Roll one thing that feels proper, proper now.”

That’s to not say that Mörk Borg is lacking context or readability. However what it lacks in fluff it makes up for with gorgeous artwork and graphic design. Each nook of the slim, 80-page handbook is full of visible spectacle, with therapies that vary from Sixteenth-century wooden carvings to pen-and-ink demons that appear like Devil’s personal Rorschach take a look at.

However the tone of the sport can also be what makes it distinctive. It’s not a post-apocalyptic recreation. As a substitute, the apocalypse is occurring throughout you. Your characters, pulled from the dregs of society, are assured to satisfy a violent finish.

“Your character isn’t having a contented life,” Sahlén stated, “and so they’re not the massive heroes, as a result of when the marketing campaign ends, the world ends, and also you burn the guide. And that’s it.” Gamers shouldn’t anticipate apotheosis, but when they’re fortunate they’ll get some chuckles and just a little catharsis out of the ordeal.

Cy_Borg was impressed by Mörk Borg, but in addition by Sahlén’s personal day job working in IT and threat compliance. Each day he grapples with the front-line realities of dwelling in a late-capitalist digital dystopia. His imaginative and prescient is for a recreation that extra precisely displays the doomsday eventualities of the place we’re heading as a society than, say, Cybepunk 2077 did.

Cy_Borg began out as one half pun and two components shitpost. It resolved itself out of Sahlén’s need to run a Cyberpunk 2020-style recreation, to have fun the discharge of R. Talsorian Video games’ seminal TTRPG with a contemporary, rules-light system as an alternative of its personal revamped re-creation, Cyberpunk Red. However Sahlén couldn’t discover a system that was gentle sufficient to satisfy his wants, so he rolled his personal. One factor led to a different, and now he and Nohr are off to the races.

If D&D historically begins in a tavern, then Nohr says Mörk Borg is extra prone to begin within the gutter with characters hung-over and bloodied from the debauchery of the evening earlier than. Cy_Borg, alternatively, may begin in a seedy dive bar. One factor is for certain: Your characters will start the sport amid utter monetary smash.

“Perhaps [they’ve stumbled into] a bizarre, darknet discussion board,” Nohr stated, “and a mysterious avatar comes with a knowledge bundle for them. The characters will all begin with large debt that they must clear. You’ve gotten this heavy economical burden on you that you must do away with, and so you’ve gotten an actual incentive to go on the market and attempt to do one thing.”

“That signifies that you even have individuals that will ask you for favors,” Sahlén stated, “since you already owe them some huge cash. So, we’re gonna increase the curiosity right here in the event you don’t do a favor for us. Or do that and we write off a part of the debt.”

What occurs subsequent is basically as much as the sport grasp and the gamers on the desk. The Cy_Borg handbook, akin to it’s, will embody many extra tables than Mörk Borg did. The artwork may even be simply as lavish and unusual, however hewing extra to glitched inventory and digital graphics.

“I believe the punk half is extraordinarily very important on this recreation, and essential,” Nohr stated. “This recreation is about rise up and upheaval, breaking the techniques which are. […] There’s a fury within the artwork fashion, I believe, and within the writing as properly. […] You may inform within the textual content that the narrator on this recreation actually hates this place, and that’s essential.”

You may signal as much as comply with the Cy_Borg marketing campaign right this moment on Kickstarter.

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