The Sprawl is a big place, full of all kinds of people, with a million different stories to tell. Mostly, though, they just get in your way. In Reality’s Edge, your crews must contend not only with the enemy, but with numerous folks either out looking to cause trouble or just trying to mind their own business.
In game terms, these people are called neutrals. Neutrals come in two flavors:
The first are Non-Player Characters (NPCs). These are characters represented with a miniature, just like the models in your crew. They have stats, equipment, and different motivations. For a complete list of such models, click here. All the models listed under Neutral Parties are this type of neutral. Neutrals are deployed depending on various scenario rules and they can have a big impact on the game. Some are nearly equal in power to members of your crew, so they need to be treated with caution.
In Reality’s Edge NPCs are controlled by the players on a rotating basis. This keeps things fair and interesting. Of course, players can’t just make NPCs do whatever they want. NPCs have their own motivations. For instance, NPCs that are aggressive must close with the enemy as quickly as possible and cannot engage with ranged weaponry until they are at least within 18” of their target, though this type of NPC usually prefers close combat. Conversely, cautious NPCs are not allowed to get within 12” of any other NPC or player controlled model and must move away from any that gets too close. Other motivations include psychos who just attack without thinking, guards who protect certain buildings and person, and griefers. The latter can do anything as long as it annoys someone. So while players are allowed to use NPCs to their own benefit, they must do so within the confines of motivation of the NPC. They must also realize that there opponents will attempt to do the same.
The second group of neutrals are bystanders. Bystanders are the grey masses of the Sprawl. These are your everyday workers, wage slaves, and other civilians just looking to make it home in one peace. Bystanders do not have stats at all, they are only there to get in the way. Bystanders can get in the way of ranged attacks, they can impede movement, and if they panic, they can cause some damage.
There are two types of bystanders: crowds and single bystanders. Single bystanders are based individually on a 25mm base or can simply be a token. They are the individuals milling about. Crowds are groups of bystanders, represented by a 4” template. Single bystanders are easy to avoid, but they have their uses. For instance, they can be taken hostage and used as a human shields. Crowds are even more useful. By passing a test, models can blend into them. This not only keeps them hidden from the enemy, but it is possible to jump from crowd to crowd. This represents operatives blending into the masses and appearing elsewhere.
Bystanders are, however, purely reactive. Whenever they sense trouble, they may panic. If gun play or a brawl happens too close to them, they may attempt to flee. This is represented by the Panic Test. Players roll a D10 for each bystander. On 2-10, the bystanders just run away D6 inches. On a 1, they are removed from the game if a single bystander and if a crowd, they break apart and are replaced with D3 single bystanders instead. On a 10, the bystander decides to play hero. If a single, they reveal a ranged weapon and shoot at the closest player model. If a crowd, they will attempt to trample the nearest player model. Sometimes even the lowest sales clerk has had enough.
NPCs and Bystanders represent the chaos of the overcrowded Sprawl. One of the most important cyberpunk tropes is the millions of downtrodden souls who make up the grey backdrop our heroes must stick out from. In game terms, they make the missions more fun and challenging and truly represent an unpredictable element in your crew’s missions.
Well, that it’s for now. Next blog, we will dig a bit deeper into hacking and computer applications. Stay tuned.
World’s End Publishing