The future would not be the future without all kinds of technology, and the world of Edgerunner is no exception. Technology is everywhere. Technology is large, visible and prominent as in the orbital elevator that reaches out to the sky. Technology is small and ubiquitous as in the plaque-eating micro-machines in the nanotech toothpaste that you can buy from a vending machine. But whatever its scale or prominence, technology is always everywhere.
And how does that matter for our story? What difference does technology make for our characters? Technology basically gives you the power to do more. In a story about the dark future, this may mean the difference between life and a life worse than death.
But enough of the eulogy to technology already. You may be wondering how technology affects the game mechanisms in Edgerunner. Technology comes in a number of different forms:
Ubiquitous technology, all-prevalent in the urban life. Screens everywhere, polymer clothing, targeted advertisement with face recognition. Not represented mechanically because it is everywhere, and makes no difference. Just story flavor, unless you want to repurpose it for your own ends.
Personal technology. All the gadgets, devices, weapons, tools or instruments that characters would employ to give them an edge. These are represented as upgrades that apply to their user. They alter the basic use of skills in specific ways. This also covers all forms of human augmentation.
Complex technology. Not necessarily high tech, but any system or mechanism complex enough to have a life of its own. Most vehicles (from motorcycles to aircraft carriers), manufacturing systems or even whole buildings or or other structures are in this category. They are represented by a full suite of aspects, upgrades, skills and stress tracks.
Groundbreaking technology. Something so new and powerful that it may change the face of the world forever. This does not mean it is big, bad and mean. It may be subtle, it may even be good. Not a device, or even a prototype, but the science and knowledge itself. Stuff like eternal youth, instant manufacturing or almost-free energy. Represented as a progress.
And then there is the Internet. The parallel universe, the nervous system of the world, the demi-plane of data. The net is an integral part of everything in the dark future. Every imaginable object more complex than a shovel is somehow online and connected. All the communication technologies of the past have been swallowed by the Internet. Independent systems like telephone, television and radio have either become services on the Internet, or they have just become part of the invisible infrastructure that powers it. Any leftovers of this transformation are interesting only for collectors and archaeologists.
Game wise, the Internet is not the niche of a few things and characters (as it is in some other cyberpunk games out there). Almost everything that has mechanical representation in the game needs to account for being online (You will know better once that netrunner hacks your bionic legs to leave you lying helpless in the middle of a firefight).
People of the dark future depend a lot on a very long list of objects in order to survive. What’s funny is, most of these people are so inured to the technology around them that they begin to see the stuff as a part of nature. Yes, smartphones do grow on trees, and that is real meat from a chicken on your plate, as you can see from this picture on the packaging.
There is a lot of things a character in Edgerunner has on himself at any given time, and even attempting to list all of them, let alone give them stats or other distinctive properties would be a futile endeavor. So we take a simpler approach. We assume that every character has the stuff pertaining to the skills he has. If you have Survival 1, you probably have a basic Swiss army knife. If you have Survival 4, you have a more expensive monogrammed Swiss army knife with more contraptions, but both of them cut stuff and open bottles with similar efficiency. There is no need to detail them. Their presence and contribution have already been rolled into your Survival skill.
What we are interested in is the stuff that gives you a decisive edge when it matters. These are things that let you do things that you wouldn’t be able to do without them. Special purpose tools and gadgets, almost all weapons and armor, and some personal vehicles fall into this category. These things are represented as upgrades that function as an extension of a character’s own skills.