14:31 APRIL 7 2030

JUNE 21 2030



Led by Makita Genetics, this industry has taken off like no other, and an entirely new way of looking at life has been invented by the Japanese. Immortality has been discovered, through the perpetual cloning of one's own body and the transfer of ones own living memories into the new, virile body. It is quite legal to purchase a Clone Insurance Policy of ¥20,000 per month. It involves visiting the genetics company and providing a tissue sample for cloning when the customer dies. He also provides a memory recording, costing ¥500,000 which is kept in a Superconducting Memory Unit (SMU). These are bulky machines kept in subzero basements that always self-erase whenever they play someone's memories into their clone body.

When a customer dies, the company picks up his body (or head at the very least) and takes a last recording of the corpses memories for implanting into the clone that is now force-grown. Growing a clone takes one week, requires a valid death certificate (to prevent cloning someone still alive - a gross criminal act) and costs the patient ¥10,000,000. The new clone is the original person in Japanese law.

A force-grown clone that does not have a memory transfered into it is illegal! The clone has no memories at all, no emotions, and is psychologically unstable. It creates its own emotional reactions that can be very dangerous. Memory-less clones are called Replicants. Some genetic engineers have used recombinent DNA techniques (similar to retrogenics, but carried out at the foetal stage) to creat "superclones". These replicants have undergone terrible misuse, as assassins, workers and even prostitutes.


Still silicon-based and using RAM smartcards as a storage medium. The Network is accessed via modem as today, and can reach almost anywhere. There are computer systems, bulletin boards and databases. Most telephone boxes have simple terminals to allow access to public databases and bulletin boards (and a hard copy afterwards). The Network is accessed via the consensual hallucination of what is termed cyberspace, a 3D virtual world of data and information storage used by the globe's business world. Software is often burned onto silicon boards and jacked into the deck. These software cases resemble heavy-duty plastic cassettes covered with warning decals and logos.


There are three basic types of robot; the Cyborg-101 (or "Terminator"), Cyborg-120 and the Drone.

Drones are multi-tasking (2 x technical skills) robots of human size but shorter and squatter. Costs ¥1,000,000. Missiles will destroy them, smallarms will halt on a 5 or 6. Most MPVs are able to carry a drone in special drone adaptations. Many have been designed with some piece of technology in mind: an Autoarm, a Thermal Imager for rescue work, a Smartgun for security work etc.

These are found on some Terminators, building mechanisms, drones, machines and dropships. Telescoping out to 8 metres these mechanical arms end in a strong grappling hand. They can strike as if skilled (most commonly as 7- attacking much like a gun) and they inflict 2 Stuns (they can score critical hits), but they can also try to hold, choke or disarm an opponent.

Cyborgs are now in use in Japan and elsewhere (see Transdyne Cybersystems). Two of the most popular models are described below. They are fully aware thinking androids capable of independant thought.

TDS Model 101 - Cyborg
Model 101 cyborgs have 120 hit points. When they suffer damage, reduce this total by the damage rolled (2d for bullpups, 6d for rockets etc) rather than roll on the Damage Level Table. At 40 points alot of the human skin covering is torn and missing - they look more like men-machines.

Skills : All Firearms skills, Bujutsu, Iaijutsu, Offensive and Defensive Martial Arts at +2, Strength +4, Demolitions, Heavy Weapons, Take Aim, Stunt Drive, and Hover Car.

Cybernetics : Equivalent to Retrogenics and include Superarms, Superlegs, Mimicry, Cat's-Eyes, Ambidextrous, and Parabolic Hearing. The Model 101 does have a biological outer skin that makes it appear human, but no personality programming and the fair size of the model mean the disguise is easy to spot. Roll Body Language or Technology to spot the cyborg. Nicknamed "Terminators".

TDS Model 120 - Cyborg
Model 120 cyborgs have 20 hit points. When they suffer damage, reduce this total by the damage rolled (2d for bullpups, 6d for rockets etc) rather than roll on the Damage Level Table. At 5 points alot of the human skin covering is torn and missing.

Skills : Strength, Technology, Cyberspace, Demolitions, Stunt Driving, Hover Car, Meditech, Com-Tech, Counter-Security.

Cybernetics : Equivalent to Retrogenics and include Ambidextrous and Eidetic Memory. The Model 120 is designed to work with and get along with humans. It has extensive AI personality programming. It is very difficult to tell a Model 120 from a human if the 120 is "undercover". Virtually all 120s are wired for non-violence and group loyalty. Roll Body Language -2 or Technology -2 to spot the cyborg.


Fax machine that receives selected news items for a household's preference. DIY newspaper/magazine. Can also be found in copy shops and Post Offices. Most popular Japanese Data Page is 'Asahi Shimbun'.

A descendant of Teletext and TV, hypertext is cabled or satellite-linked to each house, and is a massive information library with a free form layout. A hypertext console can fax off a hardcopy and accept prewritten smartcards that can be read as a video-book on TV. The media "underground" uses word processors and laser printers to self-publish (called samizdat). E-Mail equivalent is called samizdata, published on bulletin boards. There are also pirate TV stations in Japan. TV is DIY, thousands of options are available and changing all the time, you select what you want to see, soap operas (with emphasis on your favourite character or plotline), documentaries, exposees, news, lifestyle, whatever. All the time with pull down menus, support text, notes and datafiles that expand the subject as you see fit. It is the first level of cyberspace.

The most famous of all video presenters is a lovely, delicious, sexy, charming, sweet young lady called Lisa Lao. She is the young and bright presenter of various NHK shows, especially youth, fashion and gossip. A veritable super model with a 'girl next door' image. In her early days, however, she was involved in simstim porn (surely rumour, not fact!!)


Medtech in 2030 is very advanced. When a patient requires a new liver, arm, eye, lung etc, it is force-grown in a lab using a test cell sample from the victim, or more commonly for the average worker - taken from one of many organ banks. This is done within a week and is subsumed within the emergency surgery in the Damage and Wounding section. Advanced retrogenic treatments are also available (see later on this chapter). Cosmetic surgery (face change) is available, costing ¥50,000 that enhance a person's appearance. Further operations can totally disguise a character's identity. Designer drugs are also detailed on further on this chapter. Full-body reconstruction is also possible. A totally wrecked body with an intact brain can be reconstructed and rebuilt. The brain must first be salvageable (see Dead in the combat rules). The full reconstruction takes several months and involves buying new organs, and growing fresh skin. He may end up looking totally different. Cost: ¥1,000,000.

The best place for any medical treatment is Chiba City. In Chiba the surgeons and geneticists of Haruna, Makita, and a score of other smaller companies can work miracles.

Various medical drugs are being manufactured in 2030 Tokyo. Some have game use - others are useful only as black-market commodities, stolen or fenced by hustlers and dealers. These drugs often originate from the Chiba clinics. Use the list of 'trade' drugs below to give your black-market deals Gibsonesque realism. The drugs that follow fetch just as high a price in 2030 as heroin does today. Assume three quality or rarity grades, 1, 2 & 3, with prices of ¥2000, ¥8000 and ¥20,000 respectively. Each dose is carried within vacuum sealed phials packed into foam-filled boxes mounting 6 phials each.

There are more useful drugs available for the street samurai. The person administering the drug must roll his Meditech+3 skill or less for successful use of the drug. Failure means a problem, commonly the drug wears off way too quickly, is a weaker form and does not work properly, or, if there is a side effect, will trigger it.

Prevents intoxication via alcohol, useful on missions where social drinking must take place. After such a night, most people will be at -3 on all actions. Aspedine ensures an agent stays fully alert. Cost ¥3,000.

This is a universal anti-toxin, that is effective against most poisons and nerve agents. On a 2d roll of 4- it may even work against a more obscure poison. Works within one minute, arresting the poison's effects. Recovery then begins as normal. Cost ¥20,000.

High energy drug allowing an 8-hour sleep period to be missed without the usual -3 penalty. A potential side effect (see Designer Drugs) is a deep depression (-1 all actions and no chance of risky action) for 1D3 hours following that time. On an 8- this can act as a counter to the slowing down effect of D-Gas. ¥5,000.

Polypheronol-Z is a hallucinogenic drug that drowns the patient in pretty colours, emotional warmth and psychedelic trips. Used by psychosurgeons to unravel a patient's deep-rooted problems. The drug has recently been used by zaibatsu snatch squads as a truth serum. A single dose will result in one hour of "truth" (often garbled with an awful lot of crap) as the patient talks in his post-hypnotic, auto-suggestive state of mind. This is followed by 1-6 hours of unconsciousness.

One effective method of gaming the use of this drug is to not tell the player what as been injected, and keep him separate from the other players. As he hallucinates, feed him a completely fabricated version of events, allow him to run around, try and escape, and more importantly, interact with his interrogators. Everything said really occurs, all the rest is hallucinated. Usually the player will give away lots of clues during his 'virtual freedom'. When it wears off he will realize he is still strapped to a chair full of Polyphenerol-Z. A dose of PPZ costs ¥10,000.


Synapse scientists and psychopharmocologists of the zaibatsu have marketed many forms of designer drugs, some only available by prescription but used by street samurai and criminals for their own uses. When a character takes a drug, roll 2d for a side-effect on 10 or more. See the individual drug descriptions for more information.

Chemical warfare toxin causing 2d damage if a Strength roll is made, and causing death if failed. Time it takes varies with delivery method, but an aerosol delivery typically works in 1-3 rounds. ¥40,000.

Endorphin (Synthetic Endorphin Analog)
This pain inhibitor cancels any penalties suffered from wounds as well as shrugging of unconsciousness for 1 hour. It can be taken as a precaution. The "dorph's" side effect is a one hour nervous attack instead of the drug's effects. This gives the PC a -1 on all physical actions. If a second roll of 7 - is failed, the nervous attack occurs daily (avoidable only if endorphin is taken at the start of that day). Cost ¥3,000.

ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitor)
This vasodilator drug is can be taken as a tablet and opens up the blood vessels giving a sudden rush of physical energy and a rapid high. The effect lasts for half an hour, giving the PC +1 on any physical action or social task. Side effect is a bout of nausea, dizziness (-2 all actions) lasting for an hour that takes effect instead of the high. If a second roll of 10- is failed he blacks-out and suffers 1d damage. ¥2,000

Smart Drug (Betaseratonin)
This gives the user +1 on his technical or highly mental skills for 1-3 hours. The side effect is "neuron misfire", the character is in a trance, and must make a second roll of 7 - on 2d or suffer a similar event on a daily basis (avoidable only if betaseratonin is taken at the start of that day). Cost ¥4,000.

Social Drug (Pheromone-X)
This is a mood relaxant that gives +1 to all social Skills (for 1-3 hours) involving personal interaction. The side effect is dulled senses and tiredness (-3 on all hearing and vision rolls). He must make a second roll of 7 - on 2d or suffer a similar event on a daily basis (avoidable only if social drug is taken at the start of that day). ¥1,000.

Speed (Dexamphetamine)
Or just 'dex', this amphetamine, a central nervous stimulant, provides a tremendous boost. Taken as a small pink octagonal tablet. Gain +2 to carry out any act or task that does not require calm, careful concentration. This may include athletic moves, combat or kicking down a door for example. It lasts half an hour. No concentration allowed. Side effect is 'high' that lasts only 5 minutes followed by a bout of nervous exhaustion, all actions at -2 for a couple of hours. He must make a second roll of 7 - on 2d or suffer a similar event on a daily basis (avoidable only if social drug is taken at the start of that day). ¥5,000

Speedball (Demerol)
This mix of cocaine and meperidine is a central nervous drug that is used as a violent combat drug. It gives the agent +2 on any hand-to-hand combat and physical actions, and cancels out all penalties from wounds sustained as well potential unconsciousness. The user is a cold-blooded killer with no chance of success in his social skills. The side effect of speedball is catatonic fear, during which the character cowers in fear. The drug (or side effect) lasts one hour. A second roll of 7- prevents a character from having daily attacks (avoidable only if speedball is taken at the start of that day). Cost ¥8,000.

A tranquilizer inducing paralysis. Victim rolls Strength or is paralysed in 1 round for 2d mins. A successful roll means slowness and clumsiness (-2 on actions) for 2d mins. ¥2,000.

Yag (Hyperdexamine)
This improves Strength by +4 for half an hour. Side effects are a violent rage in which the character vents his rage on a person, thing, friend etc, as the drug wears off. Roll a saving throw of 7- as well, or suffer a violent rage daily unless a fix of yag is taken early that day. Cost ¥2,000.


In a world where information is guarded as well as possessions, zaibatsu factories, labs and offices have become fortresses. Samurai will find themselves breaking into no end of secure buildings, and these brief guidelines should be of help to the referee in such circumstances. Security measures are rated as either:


No Security

No doormen, no cameras, no checks. Freedom and anonymity. Typically: a street market or park.


Low Security

A camera takes pictures at frequent intervals (every 10 seconds). No doorman, no checks. Typically: a cafe, bar or typical restaurant, or shop.


High Security

Cameras are installed at the entrance and other sensitive areas, and doormen check visitors for guns and knives using detectors. Alarmed windows, lifts often have cameras. Typical: A trendy nightclub, upmarket restaurant, expensive hotel, corporate office block.


Maximum Security

Full video surveillance, doormen use a walk-through X-Ray machine to check for concealed weapons. All visitors must check in and out (usually wearing a broadcasting ID badge) or if a club or bar, for example, must gain membership with a credit check. Shatterproof windows, lifts have cameras and some floors may require ID checks. Typical: airport terminal, any zaibatsu HQ or sensitive zaibatsu complex.


Cmeras cannot be watched 24 hours a day, and are therefore hooked up to a video recorder. A character may be able to get away with being visible to a guard scanning several moniters. For a permanent system malfunction (such as disabling the camera) or blatant video evidence (such as a dead guard lying in a corridor) roll 9- every 5 minutes for it to be detected. For fleeting system malfunction or video evidence (such as shooting someone in front of a camera, but pulling the body out of the way) roll 6- once only, to spot. Players can roll Counter-Security+2 to spot a particular camera before their agents are seen by it.

Avoiding Foot Patrols
Make a Stealth roll to move around the inside of a compound or to climb a fence unseen. The first column on the table below is used if the character is attempting a random penetration, the second is if he is using a watch or rota to time the foot patrols. The time-factor is how long-apart the patrols are. Crossing floodlit area at night means that the character will probably be visible to cameras or foot patrols

Level of Security


Stealth Modifier


Stealth Modifier


1 Low Security

30 minutes



2 High Security

10 minutes



3 Maximum Security

2 minutes




A single building will often have different security classifications for different areas within it. Give a building a single security rating and use the following lock types at the stated locations within, the modifier for using Counter-Security skill to break in is given at the side of each location type. Mechanical locks can be cracked with improvised tools at -2. Others always require dedicated cardlock decryptors kits. Each attempt requires 5 minutes, gets more and more difficult (-1 each time) and a critical failure indicates that an alarm is activated. Three failures in a row either jams the door lock mechanism or destroys the lock.

No Security Building


Tough Mechanical Lock (C-Security)


Simple Mechanical Lock (C-Security+2)


Tough Mechanical or Card Lock (C-Security)

Low Security Building


Card Lock (C-Security-2)


Card Lock (C-Security)


Card Lock (C-Security-2)

High Security Building


Voice/Retina lock (C-Security - 4)


Card Lock (C-Security)


Voice/Retina Lock (C-Security - 4)

Maximum Security Building


Voice/Retina lock (C-Security - 2)


Card Lock (C-Security)


Voice/Retina Lock (C-Security - 2)



"Simulated Stimuli", the recording of bodily sensations (touch, sight, hearing, taste) by wiring up a person with a Simstim Rig jacked into their neurological system. This transmits to a Simstim Editor, the operator edits the transmission via a trode set to create a simstim show. This is broadcast (popular channel is 'Tunnel Vision') or sold for home use (on a Simstim Deck) as entertainment. Zero-G gymnastics, war zones, subaqua, flying a plane, sex, whatever, can be recorded from the participants viewpoint and played back by you at home. Now you are doing these dangerous, expensive or exotic things; at least it feels like you... The two greatest names to come out of Shibuya and hit the Japanese (and thus global) audiences are:

Professional simstim star aged 30. An athlete and fitness expert with a huge audience, she is one of the most popular simstim stars on the globe. Clean-cut, open and refereshingly honest.

While many women are attracted to the healthy and sensual exploits of Katsura, most men prefer the rugged and exciting advetures of Makarov, Russo-Japanese superstar. His explosive and ultra-violent simstim and video is popular world-wide. He is aged 43, big, well muscled, with piercing amber Zeiss-Nikkon eyes. In reality Makarov was actually a Russian commando who switched sides during the Karafuto Conflict of 2010.


Japan uses the Tanegashima Space Centre as a rocket launch facility. This is an island south of Honshu: centre of NASDA's (National Space Development Agency of Japan) operations. NASDA also uses orbital catapults on Tanegashima and the Philippines and works closely with the zaibatsu, giving them launch opportunities and a service much like a bridge or airport. The largest space zaibatsu is Koji-Akita; and it has the Tashiro Test Facility in Akiro Prefecture, 500km north of Tokyo. NASDA operates the Nippon Orbital Habitat which is serviced by Mitsubishi H-23 Rockets carrying small space shuttles. Yokohama spaceport has a 6km runway jutting into the bay that serves supersonic planes and space shuttles, as well as spaceplanes.

Many car drivers opt to transfer to the Subway at the city's bustling outskirts. The rich can afford to buy jump jets. These hovercars use ducted turbo fans to land ontop of buildings. Apartment blocks, shopping centres, office blocks and supermarkets are installing hoverpads more frequently. Most are 4 or 5 seater "hovercars", but larger utility hover wagons (H-Wagons or dropships) are also used by the police, military and by corporations. First used by Japanese troops in Korea in 2025. The last 5 years have seen a boom in personal hovercar use.


Retrogenics are the appliance of science: for a purpose. Dynamic genetic modifications on human beings had been possible in the Nineteen Nineties, but with the introduction of retrogenic adaptation treatment, such modifications turned men into supermen. Of course the zaibatsu that created retrogenics began using these guinea-pig supermen for their own ends. Inter-corporate war in 2030 Tokyo had a new twist.


In 2021 a new form of life was created by Makita Genetics. Similar to a standard virus, the DNA Symbiot as it was called, was purpose-built to enter the DNA of human cells and make subtle changes to the coding. When this had been achieved the DNAS die off. From there the human cells carry-on replicating, but according to the new DNA gene pattern (whatever the DNAS was "programmed" to do). All DNAS also instruct the human cells to reproduce quickly until the adaptation is complete, much like a controlled cancer. It takes one week for a symbiot to do its job; meanwhile the patient is kept sedated. Makita and other genetic zaibatsu now advertise these retro-genics for anyone who can afford them. This is usually other zaibatsu, however. The latest zaibatsu security agents almost always have retrogenic adaptations. If they don't, they won't stand much chance against those who do. Since the player-characters are zaibatsu agents too, they'll need to choose a few retrogenics for themselves. Note that the treatments are almost impossible to reverse, but that new adaptations can be gained later on in a samurai's career. If characters want to purchase retrogenics outside of the corporate rank system, allow retrogenics to be purchased on the open market. A 5-point adaptation costs ¥500,000, a 10-point adaptation costs ¥1,000,000, a 15-point adaptation costs ¥2,000,000 and a 20-point adaptation costs ¥5,000,000.


(10) Self explanatory, an agent will not get the -3 penalty for using the off-hand.

(5) Includes gill-lung adaptations as well as fatty-layer under the skin for depth, and underwater membrane over the eyes.

Animal Empathy
(5) The PC can charm creatures (such as guard-dogs and ravenous mutated test creatures) automatically.

(10) Night vision provided some light is available.

Eidetic Memory
(5) Photographic memory. A visual memory.

Enhanced Respiration System
(10) The user has a greatly improved respiritory system that can filter out the effects of harmful toxins and gases. In addition it can retain oxygen for up to 20 minutes for an inactive character, or 10 minutes for an active one. Popular with firefighters, divers and assault teams.

(5) Double-jointed, gives +3 to climb rolls and the ability to climb into very, very tiny spaces.

High Pain Threshold
(10) The PC is virtually invulnerable to pain. Ignore penalties from Wounds. However, extreme actions while suffering from an unnoticed wound will cause a further 1d damage.

(5) Superb balance and co-ordination. No rolls are required for walking along narrow ropes, ledges, etc. Running does, however. Reduce distance from a fall by 3m.

Insect Eye
(10) Independantly focussed eyes, able to look in two different directions! A PC can fire at two targets simultaneously (best used with Ambidextrous).

(5) Telescopic sight just by concentrating. The character can spot a human-sized figure up to 5km away!

Metabolic Accelerator
(15) Genetic-level metabolic accelerator. A radical rewire of the central nervous system, jacking up the user's physical reflexes to an almost inhuman level. Popular with hitmen who need that split second advantage. For 10 minutes, allows the user to act twice in every round. Note that machinery (cars, guns etc) will not act at double speed. Cannot be reused within one hour. If Wounded the acceleration will automatically shut down.

Metabolic Decelerator
(5) Can reduce a character's metabolism to the minimum required for life. The character appears dead, and he will have a very distorted vision of what is going on, all in high speed. Will take twice as long to die from Wounds, will breath half as much air, etc. Willpower roll every minute to come out of this. Minimum deceleration time 1 minute.

(5) Microscopic vision, for checking fibres, marks or clues.

(10) If the PC spends a minute listening he can mimic a voice, but only repeat what he heard. If he spends an hour listening to the voice and rolls 9- he can imitate the voice in general conversation. If he fails, he must spend a day practising.

Muscle Matrix
(15) Toughened tissue fibres around the body, strengthened bones and joints. Gives +4 on Strength rolls.

Parabolic Hearing
(5) Can zoom in on sounds within 10m if the character concentrates, and hear things just out of the range of normal hearing, +2 on hearing Awareness rolls.

Pheromone Sense
(5) Acts as a person detector out to 5m. Can also be used to identify people within 5m if the character concentrates.

Poison Fangs
(10) Retractable snake-like fangs used to bite (inflicting 2 Stuns if the neck is bitten - a feat impossible during combat). Also can be filled with poison! A typical nerve poison does 2d damage if a Strength+2 roll is made, and kills if it is not.

Poison Immunity
(5) Immunity from most toxins entering the bloodstream; but not acids!

(15) An enhanced cell-regeneration system that allows an injured character to recover 6 Stuns after ten minutes, instead of an hour. It also allows a Wounded character to stave off a second Wound for two hours, not one.

Retractable Claws
(10) These claws are in the human fist and can be available for use in an instant. They act as a melee weapon (1d damage) and require Nekode skill for effective use. They can score criticals.

Second Skin
(10) The PC is immune to fire and napalm attacks by virtue of a second isothermic outer skin. Within minutes this skin sheds, leaving the PC stunned. A new second skin will regrow after a night's sleep.

Subdermal Body Armour
(20) Toughened skin layerings and subcutaneous tissue enhancements turn skin into ballistic armour! For game purposes treat as a kevlar vest.

Subdermal Pouch
(5) A secret subskin carry pouch for small items.

(10) Very strong, tough arms with strengthened muscle and bone. Allows fantastic feats of arm strength, bending and breaking, gripping and crushing. A Superarms punch is translated as a +1 bonus to hit on Power Strikes (and adds +3 to distance thrown back). But useless for lifting etc. without Muscle Matrix to back it up.

(10) Allows running at double speed for 5 minutes, and jumps of double distance (6m up, 8m across with a running jump). Any kick inflicted with Superlegs is translated as a +1 bonus to hit on Power Strikes (and adds +3 to distance thrown back).

(20) Major adaptation involving facial and body muscles, air sacs and folicle implants. The PC can alter his body (requires 1 minute and a mirror) to change his appearance in order to carry out a disguise to perfection. A minute is needed to copy someone, an hour or more to fool their aquaintances. Height, build, facial features, hair colour and length are all variable! Can only be kept up for 1d hours.

Vat Grown Eyes
(5) Actually vat grown eyes that are perfectly cloned designs of vivid bright colours, with the tiny logo of the lens design (often Zeiss-Nikkon) visible in the iris as a badge of quality. Users of Zeiss-Nikkons gain a +2 bonus on all sight Awareness rolls. They also look totally cool.

Waking Sleep
(5) The PC never has to sleep, but instead meditates for 10 minutes, nullifying the - 2 penalty for missing an 8-hour sleep period.

Simultaneously talking on the cellphone and jacked into the NHK Tokyo News in cyberspace, Bosatsu turned to face the office window and the midnight Tokyo starscape laid out below him. "Damn!" he screamed, savagely punching the Ginza-style pine table. "Why can't I rely on anyone to do a simple job?" His team had called in. One agent had accidentally blown up part of the oil terminal they were investigating and was dead, blasted into a million, zillion pieces. Another agent had been picked up by the Tokyo Tacticals and the third had survived a nightime swim across the Sumida river after ditching all his equipment. Mission failed.


All Japanese citizens have an I.D. card that records birthdate, place, name and parents plus a photo and thumbprint. It is used to gain a finance card, passport, driving licence, job, etc. Zaibatsu also issue their own I.D. cards. There are retro-forged IDs (basically a modified stolen or adapted ID) and full IDs (made with a 'Goto' computer routine that is complemented by data records to verify any checks made on it).

To forge a full I.D., alot of work is done in cyberspace to create a fictional history. The forger must have both Cyberspace and Forgery skills. Allocate an icebreaker for the task, and cut the main deck (see Cyberspace section for more information) once each week for 4 weeks. If the icebreaker equals or exceeds at least one of these then the ID works. However, each one failed in addition increases the chance of the ID being flawed in some way. Buying a fictional I.D. costs ´500,000. This new I.D. will be detected on an 12+ each time it is used, reduce this number by each draw from the main deck that overcame the icebreaker.

A stolen I.D. card can be retroforged very cheaply because the "history" is already there. But the risks are greater, roll 10+ on 2d for there to be a flaw. The cost of a retroforge is ¥5,000, and requires that the forger make a Forgery+2 roll, it takes just a couple of hours.

To arrange any kind of I.D.via the underworld, roll Yakuza to contact a forger; pay up-front and wait. Unless you know the outfit, roll 6+ or lose all your money to a scam! The high-tech software jockies creating these I.D.s are specialist cyberspace jockeys and for a fee they can also carry out a "go-to", basically a complete life-history check of a target individual or company. Cost is ¥20,000 and time till completion is 1 day.


Cyberspace is a vast consensual hallucination, the virtual product of 200 million computer systems switched on and talking to each other. The network, or matrix, has a non-space existence in the minds of those users who access it. They 'see' the connections, the walls, the data, the sat-com uplinks. Every computer network is plugged into the matrix, and the dermal 'trodes used to access this vast virtual reality are able to give the user a 3D inner space view of this neon universe. A semi-transparent 3D chessboard seems to extend out into infinity. Computer systems are represented by stepped pyramids of burning data, coloured scarlet and green, there are cubes, pyramids, virtual skyscrapers.

Anyone and everyone uses cyberspace, plugging in to do their accounts, play games, check public records, shop and pay bills. All you need is a cyberspace deck. Nearly all 2030 computers are cyberspace capable, from laptop portables to desktop business machines. All machines have a number of 'spaces' for dedicated software cassettes. For many users these include databases, expanded RAM, expensive accounting add-ons, corporate spreadsheet packages etc. For the criminal sub-culture, the military and intelligence agencies, however, these slots can be used to access a special breed of illegal custom-written programs called 'icebreakers'. These are designed to subvert the cyberspace matrix, to cut through other people's computer systems, cause chaos and havoc and steal data and information. They are illegal.


Amstrad C-22

2 Spaces


Toshiba Paraline 3030

3 Spaces


Hosaka Goldstar-4

4 Spaces


Hitachi Netspace-5

5 Spaces


Ono-Sendai Cyberspace-6

6 Spaces




A cyberdeck generally has space for 2 or more icebreakers. These are represented in the game by playing cards of a set value according to their power (and the price paid for them). The player keeps a hold of these. To hack into a system, the character slots his software cassettes into the cyberdeck, attaches the 'trodes to his temples and switches ON. He is floating, along with a million others over the neon city scape that is the Tokyo-Chiba sector of the Matrix. Diving down into the starkly light canyons of raw data, a point of glowing light, he moves toward one of the big systems, glowing a rich neon green. It is the Mitsubishi Bank of Tokyo and the hacker wants to find out how much a client has in his account. The cowboy decides to attempt a penetration of the ICE. His three Icebreakers are two grade 5s and a grade 7.

There are two types or grades of cyberspace user: the amateur (no skill, just a deck), and the professional (has 'Cyberspace' skill).


Grade One Icebreaker


Grade Two Icebreaker


Grade Three Icebreaker


Grade Four Icebreaker


Grade Five Icebreaker


Grade Six Icebreaker


Grade Seven Icebreaker


Grade Eight Icebreaker


Grade Nine Icebreaker


Grade Ten Icebreaker




Most computer systems require the attacking player to correctly guess the suit of the next card off the deck (each major computer system has a special 10-card deck - a 'system deck'). This allows entry (illegal of course). Further tries are possible, with varying chances of detection based on the skill of the hacker in question.

ICE Check Table



Cyberspace Skilled

First Attempt

ICE on 'black' result

No check for ICE

Second Attempt

ICE on any 'black' result

ICE on 'spade' result

Subsequent Attempts

ICE on any 'black' result

ICE on any 'black' result


For a cowboy with the Cyberspace skill [professional], for example, the first attempt is possible at no penalty. On the second try the referee cuts the main deck - a 'spade' card will trigger the system's defences (ICE). On subsequent attempts cut the main deck each time, a 'black' card triggers the defences. The numerical value of this defence or ICE is represented by that card drawn from the main deck. To counter it the player must select one of his Icebreakers at a level equal to or greater than the threat. This cancels the ICE and keeps his presence hidden. If he fails to have a card of enough value, or runs out of cards (each is temporarily discarded after use) then the ICE has tagged him - most will crash his deck, cut him out of the Matrix for a few hours and force a new system deck to be dealt. Any used (and therefore temporarily discarded) Icebreakers suffer damage - reduce their value by 1 points permanently.

Subsystems within a system are sometimes easier to penetrate. The player need only correctly pick the colour of the next card in the system deck. Other systems, the big zaibatsu, military and financial systems especially, including the Mitsubishi Bank, have subsystems just as difficult to crack as the main exterior ICE. Each attempt can be assumed to take 10 minutes.

Our cowboy tries to penetrate the Mitsubishi ICE. He guesses spades. And is right! Straight into the green pyramid of data, hunting for the hot cherry red data cores of account registers. He guesses diamonds. It's hearts. He gets one more free try and tries diamonds again. Its spades. He tries a third time, this time with the chance of being tagged by ICE. He guesses hearts. It's clubs - damn! His fourth try is even more risky. He tries spades - its clubs! He failed and a 'black' (a 9) result when the main deck is cut means he's being tagged by hostile ICE zooming up from the dark depths of the data cores - shit! The highest card we have in our cyberdeck is a '7', so we crash, cutting out of the Matrix, and the Mitsubishi deck is re-rolled so its just as hard to penetrate next time.


What can you do inside a system? Input data, copy data, write to computer screens, read secret information etc. Think of what such a system might have on its computers and what kind of things an authorized person might reasonably be expected to be able to do in it. The cowboy can do those things. Nothing earth-shattering, however, just those routines only a qualified user should be doing. These are the normal everyday things that a computer system can do, and that a hacker can emulate. But using his icebreakers, he can also perform amazing feats of data subversion. All icebreakers can attempt the following routines, but their success will depend purely on their grade. All of these routines can only be attempted by qualified (Cyberspace skilled) professionals.

Bug Hunter
Set to sweep optic lines, computer and satellite channels for File Taps. When used by a cowboy it's grade is increased by 2 and is compared to that of the File Taps. If it exceeds that of the File Tap then it locates and cuts out that software.

Data Heist
Data heist fools a company into believing the user has credit and sets up a monetary transfer of some kind. A very tricky maneouvre. You could pretend to pay for airline tickets, order software via the matrix, or dump money from one person's credit into your account. Taking money from banks is most difficult since several layers of the bank's ICE (the exterior system, customer details and transfers) must be cut, each as difficult as the last. The grade of icebreaker is set by the player, and the referee cuts the main deck to determine success. The icebreaker must equal or beat the cut card. Success means he has gotten away with up to ¥50,000. More money can be stolen, but more cards must be cut and overcome:

Target Value

Cards To Beat


Two Cards


Three Cards


Four Cards


Five Cards


Six Cards

 Check every attempt for ICE - which is represented by a 'spade'.

Data Trail
Used to keep tabs on someone by following their electronic trail. Purchases or other transactions, phone calls, flights, video surveillance, security procedures etc are all amalgamated. Cut a card from the main deck at the end of every day to check on discovery. If discovered a data trail requires at least 24-hours before it can be reacquired.

File Tap
This is left within a computer system, on an optic line or satellite channel - it is a passive listening device that reports in short bursts to a predetermined node. Discovered only by use of a bug hunter. To avoid discovery the main deck is cut and the File Tap must equal or beat the card drawn. Do this every day.

Using a seek and return strategy, Goto compiles a well-researched file on a particular person or organization (a 'precis'). If it's kicking around the matrx, Goto should find it. All common information is compiled, but the referee must determine the existance of 'secrets' or less commonly known facts or pieces of data. There may be one, two or three such pieces. Cut the main deck each time and let the Goto try and equal or overcome their value.

Logic Bomb
This can be left behind within a system to be activated after a certain time has elapsed or upon recognition of some name or in-system signal. It causes computer chaos in a small area of the system or subsystem. Cut the main deck and check that the Logic Bomb can equal or overcome the card drawn, or it is detected.

New Identity
See I.D. Cards, previously.

Remote Control
This allows a cowboy to control nearby utilities. He must first jack into the matrix and activate a Remote Control, the software conducts a high-speed 3D wire-frame scan and locates all remotely controlled utilities within 50m, anything from elevators, lights, automatic doors, video screens, fountains etc. Once the Remote Control has been selected cut the main deck and check that it can equal or overcome the card drawn. Try once per turn, this is to override the local computer system and emulate its command signals. Once done the cowboy can operate utilities on that system a number of times equal to the icebreaker's grade. After that cut the main deck each time - a spade indicates hostile ICE kicking the cowboy off the sytem for 24-hours.

A simple task that assigns an icebreaker to enter a file, rewriting it and altering all relevant data invisibly. It can do this very quickly, in minutes rather than the hours it would take the cowboy to do it manually. Cut the main deck and compare it to the Rewrite. If the Rewrite equals or exceeds it, the task is easy, taking seconds or just a few minutes. If not it finds it difficult and takes at least a hour to carry out. Check for ICE if this is the case - a 'spade' result will tag the cowboy.

Left behind after a successful raid, the trapdoor allows instant access back in to a system or subsystem. Cut the main deck and check that the Trap Door can equal or overcome the card drawn, or it is detected. Do this for every level (or subsystem) into the computer system that the Trapdoor has been placed.

A few days later our hacker wants to try and gain membership of a hot nightclub in Tokyo. We deal 10 cards for the club's ICE. We glide into the small octagon of glowing yellow data that is the club and guess at diamonds. It's hearts. Our second guess diamonds again, is correct! We're in. There's not much here, just accounts, maintenance and membership. The orange tower of data that is the membership files is easy to access. We guess at clubs, Its diamonds. We guess clubs again. Yes! On our free attempt we're in. We decide to use our grade 7 as a Rewrite and set it working to create a membership number and details, with instructions to have a card waiting for us at the club's main desk. We cut the main deck to see if it finds this easy (instant) or hard (perhaps an hour or two's work). We get a King (alot higher than our 7). The Icebreaker takes over an hour to create a membership. Our check for ICE is a diamond - no problem.


It is too difficult to properly police the Matrix. The best systems can do is locate your signal and cut you out, crashing your deck and frying your software. They also recode their ICE making it just as difficult to penetrate. Some systems use 'black ice'. Those that do are feared. On an ICE result the ICE tags your deck and overloads the feedback, paralyzing the cowboy and frying his brain. Every turn the main deck is cut, on a black he suffers a Wound. On a red he gets a chance to jack out, by comparing the value of the red card to the ICE. The red card must be at least two higher than the ICE to overcome it! In many cases (unless someone pulls the plug for him) this will kill a cowboy. Military systems, some cutting edge R&D facilities, the best Zurich banks, the Yakuza and Artificial Intelligences all use 'black ice'.

Since most decks use cellular modems, they are difficult to trace and since anyone can use a deck the ownership or register of a deck often means nothing. ICE, defence and deterrent is the thing. There are ways, however, that a cowboy can be caught: if he makes an illegal transfer to his account and does not cover his tracks well enough, the bank will sooner or later detect the crime and send the Tokyo City police around to kick down his door.


The entire concept of cyberspace is anathema to most roleplaying games, or that's how it seems. Most cyberspace computer rules are so complex that any hacking attempt takes ten minutes, a quarter of a hour, an hour ... And the rest of the players must somehow kill time while this goes on. I don't think these rules are that complex and with the use of playing cards reduce rolling dice, adding up bouses and stuff like that. The cyberspace matrix is an integral part of William Gibson's world, and in ZAIBATSU we want everyone to have a go. You don't even need Cyberspace skill to try to hack into a system, just a deck and guts.

Note that there is a map of the Tokyo sector of cyberspace. Allow every player to see this. All the big non-corporate systems are marked on there. Any player character can access the matrix and access such a system legitimately for basic information. Encourage this. Let the players see cyberspace as a legitimate tool. There are no dice rolls or cutting of the deck to use the matrix this way. The referee needs to decide if a particular piece of information is free or secure. Free means it is on a public free access welcome area or advertising zone on that company's system. You need to know what kind of satellite coverage NHK has? Just jack straight in and access the NHK Freesystem, because that data is in their advertising blurb. Think: public or private. If it's private then the user will need to start hacking. That gets serious. The real professionals are those with Cyberspace skill who own an Icebreaker program - absolutely essential for real cyberspace crime.

Remember that cyberspace is used by almost everyone, everyday. To check TV listings, to check one's account or transfer funds, to order a new sofa or send one's car back to the garage for repairs. Imagine if people were housebound and the mail didn't exist: cyberspace. To get them deeper into this virtual world of neon blocks and grids of pure light over black abyssal drops into nothingness, always have a scenario require clues to be found here in the internet. And put cyberdecks everywhere: remember almost every computer is matrix capable, office computers, laptops, ATMs, Post Office machines, Public Library Terminals, etc. Keep cyberspace trips brief and snappy, each move requires 10 minutes so it will be the hacker who is waiting for those 'real-world' players to catch up.

Other Ways of Playing

If the idea of using playing cards does not excite you, then use a far simpler but less atmospheric version. Any cowboy wanting to make a run up against a system rolls his Cyberspace skill to get into the network with the following modifiers:

Minor Business/Low Security Network


Major Business/High Security Network


Military/Banking/Black ICE Network



Use of Icebreakers to carry out routines is conducted the same way, just roll Cyberspace skill with a penalty depending on the target system. Rather than have the Icebreakers add their value as a modifier, simply use the value as a number of 'charges' or chances to use it, before computer technology overtakes it and renders it obsolescent.