Reviews – Chromebooks for Cyberpunk

20 October, 2013

Guessing the future, especially the near future is never easy and often filled with missteps, and the entire Cyberpunk line suffered from bad guesses about the future but still there is an occasional moment of genius hidden among the wreckage of the past’s view of the future.

Chrome Compilation of Chrome Books 1 and 2, originally published in 1991 and 1992 respectively, wear their era of origin heavily.  Chrome Book 1 is especially heavy with nostalgia and unintentional irony with faxes, wired modems and 80s fashion figuring heavily, the weapons and vehicles being a mix of (then) cutting edge modern and attempts at extrapolation.  However, some of the cyberware (including the decentralized heart, one of my favorites) and chipware are still solid conceptually and the services section is full of interesting ideas.  Chrome Book 2 is better at not being locked into its era of being made, well except for the computers.  There are useful things to adapt for any cyberpunk setting including full conversion cyborgs, exotic body-shaping and crazy weapons.  Most of the contents of these books are just good fodder for products and things for a near future setting, the rules are a bit more iffy.

Chrome Compilation (2) of Chrome Books 3 and 4, first published in 1994 and 1996 respectively are more successful in being still felling like things from the potential futures also, no weapons in these books just gear and reference.  Book 3 succeeds in being more forward looking even the computers are not so wince inducing, but the sections on full conversion ‘borgs and powered armor both require other books for full rules (Chrome Book 2 and Maximum Metal respectively).  But the general tech items, cyberware, cyberpets (enhanced animals), robots and WADs (Working Assistant Droids built off the powered armor rules), are all very evocative and useful.  Book 4 is good on cyberware but really shines on biotech, the vehicles are interesting though more illustrations would have been welcome.  The fashion section is a little dated but still so much fun to read and has some useful note on clothes and the character.  These are the best of the Chrome Book line, benefitting for the experience acquired on the first two and full of valuable inspiration for any cyberpunk styled game.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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