Cy_Borg TTRPG will be the cyberpunk apocalypse we truly deserve

Mörk Borg, the acclaimed rules-light role-playing video game, is getting a high-concept spinoff. Entitled Cy_Borg, the 160-page book is composed by Christian Sahlén, with art by franchise illustrator Johan Nohr, and in collaboration with the Stockholm Kartell. Explained by Free League Publishing as a “deck-hacking, brick-throwing upheaval of a game,” it will be crowdfunded on Kickstarter start Nov. 13.

Polygon took a seat with the creatives behind it for a special behind-the-scenes peek at what assures to be among the greatest tabletop releases of 2022.

To comprehend Cy_Borg, you initially require to get your head around Mörk Borg and how it’s various from other tabletop role-playing video games (TTRPGs) like Dungeons & Dragons. Created by Pelle Nilsson, the 80-page hardbound book belongs to the Old-fashioned Renaissance, likewise referred to as OSR. It’s a motion amongst TTRPG developers to simplify the role-play experience, paring it down to its a lot of fundamental components. Browsing the book, you discover great deals of randomized tables utilized for informing stories on the fly. There are less statistics, and smaller sized stat blocks. Sessions are nasty, brutish, and brief.

The Western Kingdom, a bit of fluff bordered by hollow-eyed demons along the bottom of the page.

A two-page spread from Mörk Borg.
Image: Johan Nohr/Free League Publishing

Nilsson informs Polygon that the objective of OSR isn’t to fetishize the work of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and the other stars who assisted produce TTRPGs. Rather, the objective is to make these type of video games more friendly.

“I think [the fifth edition of D&D] made it simpler,” Nilsson stated, “and that was the impression that I got when I read it first. But it’s still very complex as you climb the levels. I think by level 10 or something it becomes too much for me, at least, to keep track of everything.”

“I did run a lot of Pathfinder and [third edition D&D],” included Sahlén, “and just the amount of time I had to spend learning monsters stat blocks. Once the characters got up to level 12, or something, it just took me hours.”

Completion outcome, the set described, is that Mörk Borg is a video game about judgments, not guidelines.

“Not everything has to be written down in the book,” Sahlén continued. “Just figure it out as you go along. You have the basic core concept: This is how you hit someone with a sword, and this is how you avoid falling into a death trap of some sort. But everything else […] just make it up. Roll something that feels right, right now.”

That’s not to state that Mörk Borg is missing out on context or clearness. However what it does not have in fluff it offsets with sensational art and graphic style. Every corner of the slim, 80-page handbook is stuffed with visual phenomenon, with treatments that vary from 16th-century wood carvings to pen-and-ink devils that appear like Satan’s own Rorschach test.

However the tone of the video game is likewise what makes it special. It’s not a post-apocalyptic video game. Rather, the armageddon is taking place all around you. Your characters, pulled from the dregs of society, are ensured to fulfill a violent end.

“Your character is not having a happy life,” Sahlén stated, “and they’re not the big heroes, because when the campaign ends, the world ends, and you burn the book. And that’s it.” Gamers shouldn’t anticipate apotheosis, however if they’re fortunate they’ll get some laughes and a little catharsis out of the experience.

Cy_Borg was influenced by Mörk Borg, however likewise by Sahlén’s own day job working in IT and run the risk of compliance. Every day he grapples with the front-line truths of residing in a late-capitalist digital dystopia. His vision is for a video game that more precisely shows the end ofthe world situations of where we’re heading as a society than, state, Cybepunk 2077 did.

Cy_Borg began as one part pun and 2 parts shitpost. It fixed itself out of Sahlén’s desire to run a Cyberpunk 2020-design video game, to commemorate the release of R. Talsorian Games’ critical TTRPG with a contemporary, rules-light system rather of its own revamped brand-new edition, Cyberpunk Red. However Sahlén couldn’t discover a system that was light sufficient to fulfill his requirements, so he rolled his own. Something caused another, and now he and Nohr are off to the races.

If D&D generally begins in a pub, then Nohr states Mörk Borg is most likely to begin in the rain gutter with characters hung-over and bloodied from the debauchery of the night prior to. Cy_Borg, on the other hand, may begin in a seedy dive bar. Something is particular: Your characters will start the video game in the middle of utter monetary mess up.

“Maybe [they’ve stumbled into] a weird, darknet forum,” Nohr stated, “and a mysterious avatar comes with a data package for them. The characters will all start with massive debt that they have to clear. You have this heavy economical burden on you that you have to get rid of, and so you have a real incentive to go out there and try to do something.”

“That means that you also have people that may ask you for favors,” Sahlén stated, “because you already owe them a lot of money. So, we’re gonna raise the interest here if you don’t do a favor for us. Or do this and we write off part of the debt.”

What occurs next is mostly as much as the video game master and the gamers at the table. The Cy_Borg handbook, such as it is, will consist of a lot more tables than Mörk Borg did. The art will likewise be simply as luxurious and unusual, however hewing more to glitched stock and digital graphics.

“I think the punk part is extremely vital in this game, and very important,” Nohr stated. “This game is about rebellion and upheaval, breaking the systems that are. […] There’s a fury in the art style, I think, and in the writing as well. […] You can tell in the text that the narrator in this game really hates this place, and that’s very important.”

You can register to follow the Cy_Borg project today on Kickstarter.


Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.