Cyberpunk Red is the new update to Cyberpunk 2020 after the 4th Corporate War. Currently, only the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit is available.
What are the main differences from the previous edition?
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Just wanted to state up front that the full edition won't be published till late this year/early next year. So far the only Cyberpunk Red release has been the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit which is has been described as a streamlined version of the upcoming Cyberpunk Red rules to teach the core system and be quick and easy to run. It has a short intro adventure and a few screamsheets for further adventures. It uses pre-gen characters where the only customization is choosing/rolling a stat array and rolling up a custom lifepath. That said there are a few high level changes to highlight.
The core resolution mechanic of Stat + Skill + 1d10 vs DC / opposed roll is still the core resolution mechanic for the system. Just about every complex, aggressive, or challenging/risky action a PC takes will involve a roll or multiple rolls, just like CP2020.
Roles will still have signature skills/abilities. For example the Netrunner pre-gen is specifically highlighted in the mechanics book (there is also a lore & adventure book) for the Interface skill and that skill being only available to netrunners.
Combat rolls, damage, and cover and suppression mechanics are similar to CP2020. Armor and wounds function similarly.
Lifepath as presented in the Jumpstart Kit does not include any statistical bonuses or other mechanical outcomes. It is purely for character background and story hooks to inform both the GM and the PC's roleplaying.
While the core aspects of the combat system are the same or very similar to Friday Night Firefight in CP2020, the streamlining has removed or limited choices. You aren't rolling a hit location every time, hits are body head. The only special fire modes for automatic weapons are Burst and suppression fire.
Netrunning requires either direct physical or Local area network access and netrunning overall is a much faster, simpler affair. Story lore in the world book explains the world events that disabled a truly global network reverting things to local, disjointed networks. Netrunners take actions in real time with the party and get a certain amount of net actions to take per turn based on their interface level. Networks are set up as tower structures and you move from one level to the next facing the hazards, programs, ice, and interface options on each level as you go.
Cyber-psychosis and empathy cost for cyberware does not feature in the Jumpstart Kit. As the tools given are limited for runninng a long campaign with character's upgrading themselves this seems to be simply to focus on running the game than it no longer being an issue in the world of Cyberpunk. I fully expect this to be a part of the full rulebook.
The core feel of the game is maintained between CP2020 and the Red Jumpstart Kit. Weapons put out a good amount of damage, death saves are hard, and the core idea of fighting smart seems to still be the best approach to win a fight. The world is unfair and everyone is still out to make a buck. The screamsheets and intro adventure all feature the type of plots and characters that are directly from the CP2020 corebook and supplements. Times have changed, but the nature of the Cyberpunk world remains the same.
UPDATE: From 10th november the new Cyberpunk RED core rulebook is available, so this question can be upgraded.
In a overall view Cyberpunk RED adresses most of the problems of inconsistency of the previous editions, looks more balanced, more polished and have a very clear netrunning rules, so its not so prone to be home-ruled to make sense in more ways.
The core functions remain almost the same, so use past books is perfectly possible with few tweaks, also is not difficult to change an old character to new version, surely it will be very overpowered, as the old rules didn't cut you in order to be a beast of Combat Sense 10, Martial arts 10, BODY 14 or 16 from fresh start.
Still checking it! But looks very very nice.