With a successful Kickstarter already assured, Gun Metal Games is set to release a second edition of cyberpunk RPG Interface Zero. Built for the Savage Worlds Deluxe system, Interface Zero 2.0 updates and streamlines the rules, adds more gear, and moves the game’s timeline forward two years.
With ten days still to go, the Interface Zero Kickstarter has already achieved their $10K goal and exceeded it by a factor of five. You’ll find plenty of add-ons and stretch goals if you’re interested in jumping on. One of the stretch goals already reached is a novel by Robot Viking friend Lou Agresta. He’s calling it “splatfic,” a novel with stats for the gear and other elements of the novel included, so you can use them in your Interface Zero campaign.
Interface Zero line developer David Viars answered a bunch of our questions about the game’s update and expansion.
Robot Viking: What sets Interface Zero apart from other cyberpunk systems and settings?
David Viars: Interface Zero is a modern cyberpunk setting informed by the politics and technology of today. I’m a huge fan of the classic cyberpunk settings out there, from Cyberpunk 2020 to Shadowrun, games which hold a very dear place in my heart, but their settings are very informed by the times they were created in. Interface Zero is informed by contemporary issues, culture, and technology. Today, China is on the rise, Brazil is on the rise, and India is on the rise, IZ reflects this in the rise of these nations as super powers. America is increasingly more divided, IZ reflects this in the balkanization of North America and the 2nd american civil war. Most importantly, the “shtick” if you will that really makes IZ different, is the Tendril Access Processor, or TAP as its known in the setting.
The TAP is an implant 95% of the world’s population possesses, a simple injection given when we’re young, it’s getting your own personal computer directly in your brain. The TAP lets you see and access Augmented Reality or “Hyper-Reality” as we call it in Interface Zero. It’s like getting an additional sense, one that allows you to hear, smell, see, touch the Hyper reality all around you, and even to “Ghost”, that is leave your physical body behind to access a completely virtual environment.
It’s a world where everyone is constantly hooked in to the mediaweb or internet of the setting we call “The Deep.” People can turn their TAPs off if they want, but many feel naked or as if one of their senses has been removed when they do so. The TAP has changed society a great deal in how things are done, but just like every good cyberpunk setting out there, the problems of society are still present. Rampant poverty, exploitation, drug addiction, class warfare, government and corporate espionage. Despite the new toys we create, society still has its problems. Compound that with Simulacrum and Android Slave labor, people losing their sanity to too many enhancements, and computer viruses which can bypass the firewalls of your TAP and turn you into a psychotic killer.
I like to say IZ is a very “kitchen sink” cyberpunk setting while being contemporary. There’s a lot going on, and many different stories you can tell within the context of the setting. You can do Blade Runner with western simulacrum, you can do Appleseed with eastern simulacrum, we have psychics being hunted by governments and corporations that want to exploit them, we have secret A.I. focused on becoming a singularity and enslaving the human race. We have transhumanistic aspects with Human 2.0 and hybrids.
System wise, many other cyberpunk games out there often suffer from an over complexity of rules. I love the genre and setting aspects myself, and would often memorize the complex rules to make sure I was running the best games, but often times I’d know many players and other GM’s who would completely skip over things because the rules were to complex or bogged the game down for them. Most notably this tends to happen with “Hacking” and “Drone Control/Rigging” in other games. To often it would be the Hacker is either playing their own mini-game while everyone else waits, or the rules are just so complex they’re glossed over by the GM and players.
Thanks to the Savage Worlds rule system, we’re able to fit in depth and crunch to our rules, while also making sure they don’t slow the game down. Players will want to have a good Hacker with them in the scenarios they play in our game. The Hacking rules are easy to grasp but offer players a wealth of resources to tap into during a campaign.
RV: Which new features of the 2nd edition are you most excited about?
DV: Overall I’m very excited about the new rules that I’ve been creating for the 2nd edition. IZ 1.0 was revolutionary for doing things nobody thought Savage Worlds was capable of. 2.0 is learning from the difficulties those new rules created, revising them to make them even better.
In particular the backers of our Kickstarter have loved the new cyberware rules. The “enhancement” rules as we call them, allow for a wide variety of options from things such as “Wireless Reflexes”, “cyberspurs”, “cybereyes” and all those classics, to new things such as the “infiltration” ware, “Fight or Flight” systems, and “Environmental adaption” enhancements. The new rules also support interesting flaws — more than just penalizing players it will also give them interesting roleplay opportunities. Your character might develop “Pinocchio Syndrome” and engage in dangerous behavior as they try to re-affirm their humanity. You could end up with black outs, as your character acts on subconscious impulses while in a fugue state.
I’m also excited about how the races have been built and the edges and hindrances created to support them. Hybrids have more options than 1st edition, while also being less confusing. We have a set of five templates which represent several different animal types: a “Tough” Hybrid type, a “Savage” Hybrid Type, an “Aquatic” Hybrid type. From there we have a few edges and hindrances for those really into Hybrids to add some more customization to their template. Did your template not come with natural weapons and you really want them to make your package just right? Take the Hybrid-only edge “natural weapons” which enhances the base package you started with! The look of Hybrids was also more defined, at base Hybrids are more subtle (think Wolverine or Sabertooth in presentation) But for those who want to be full blown Anthropmorphic Mutants, there’s a Hindrance available which does just that, but increases the costs of your enhancements by a small amount. There’s the “Skin Job” edge for people who want to go more Terminator or Cylon for their Android characters, “Increased Genetic Potential” for the Human 2.0 who really wants to show their superiority. Overall the races have better defining aspects to them and more options.
RV: Youâ€™re advancing the gameâ€™s timeline two years. How is the geopolitical backdrop of the game changing?
DV: The big change coming is the collapse of the European Union. What was once an idyllic socialized group which took care of the needs of the majority of its citizens, has now fallen apart into states of war, poverty, and uncertainty after the European banks are crashed by the Charon Virus turned A.I.Â We have cities which were not really talked about or touched upon taking center stage in the new edition. New York has been reclaimed from parts of the sea and is now a hotbed of contested territory between Atlantica and the North American Coalition. We have details on Canada and what’s been going on North of the U.S. border which wasn’t really talked about in the 1st edition either. All around the world of the setting things are heating up thanks to shadowy beings behind the scenes manipulating things. Which isn’t even getting into what’s going on in the solar system yet either!
RV: With this Kickstarter already looking pretty successful, what are your plans for the future of Interface Zero?
DV: We plan to support Interface Zero with a wide range of supplements, many of which have been informed by this Kickstarter! The Solar System is something which really deserves it’s own big sourcebook, which we’re looking into doing. We have Japan being worked on to cover one of the most popular areas in the gaming world. The Malmart catalog is going to add more gear, enhancements, vehicles and other things to the setting, and of course down the road we have more ideas and books we want to do. Eventually we’d like to do an optional “Magic/Horror” book for those who want to throw in some magic with their sci-fi!