With the recent resurgence of Cyberpunk things coming in the form of Movies (Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner 2), Video Games (Technomancer, Cyberpunk 2077), and Retrowave Music (see Scandroid), I wanted to do an overview/review if you will of the new module for UltraModern5 by Dias Ex Machina called Neurospasta. If you have not heard of UltraModern5, this is a ruleset for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Also available for 4th Edition and Pathfinder) that expands the rules to include playing in Modern or Futuristic campaigns. See my Blog Article explaining more on the base ruleset HERE. Then come back to check out the expansion Module for Cyberpunk!
What is up with the goofy name that sounds like Mind Spaghetti? It is actually a Greek word for “Drawn by Strings” or aka a “Puppet”. This fits in with the Dystopian Future setting of most Cyberpunk adventures. Puppets are referred to in regards to the people being oppressed by corporations (or government) or also by cyborgs or robots being controlled or also oppressed.
What does Neurospasta add? To see the Author of the module go through it, you can watch the YouTube Video presented here. Or you can skip down and read on for the bits listed below:
Neurospasta Rule Variants (in conjunction with UltraModern 5, which again is necessary)
New Races: Races in NeuroSpasta represent the general phenotypes available to a transhuman future. They do not represent distinct ethnicities, which are better represented non-mechanically or by the life-path rules presented in Ultramodern5.
These new races are:
- Nugenic: These are genetically altered humans that have had their code tinkered in utero by their parents. Nugenics are still very much human, but many, including
themselves, believe them to be of superior stock.
- Prosthetic: They are individuals who, through accident or choice, have lost most of all of their organic bodies save their brain. The flesh is replaced by advanced cybernetics, in this case a total body prosthesis. This is the path one must pick if they plan on heavy cyberization later.
- True-born: The vast majority of the planet are still home-grown organic human beings born in the traditional way and not tinkered with by science. Someone rolled the dice and what emerged has all the normal virtues and flaws of anyone else born in the previous few million years of human evolution.
- Virtuant: The rarest of individuals, virtuants have no organic components at all, and are entirely digital personalities. Their minds reside on remote servers, and they interact with the physical realm through prosthetic bodies or robots.
One New Class: The Freediver –“You are a soldier of the new age, a disciple of data. You refuse to associate yourself with the tired cliché of hacker cowboys and the prophetic but technologically improbable visions of 80’s cyberpunk writers. There are no jacks. There is no “virtual realm” of cyberspace. You are only aware of a different layer of reality that cannot by articulated by sight or sound. That is the true internet. A space without space, where time and distance are the same. You are a master of a kingdom larger than any nation, yet could fit onto a needle’s point. Although many outsiders still persist in calling you a hacker, you prefer something more graceful and elegant. You are simply an apostle of chaos. Nothing is fixed, no rule unbreakable. You can alter perception, memory, and even someone’s personality. You are a simple freediver. You may not be an anarchist, but you do endorse the freedom of information and consider yourself a vigilante for the flow of knowledge. The more control they enforce, the more encouraged you feel to prove how futile such control is.”
New Equipment: Armor and weapons abound in NeuroSpasta. Cybernetics and new gear offer additional enhancements although most cybernetics are only available to those with full body prosthesis. There are also an assortment of Mechanized units or Robots to use.
New Updated Skills and Proficiences:
- Intelligence (Computer Use) – Computer Use specifically covers more advanced concepts like hardware modification, upgrade, and maintenance. This can be used for Investigation Checks (by way of searching the internet, web, matrix etc). It can also be used when create viruses or programs (which are like spells in a cyberpunk setting). You can also use this skill when “Diving” into an opponent or target system to try and implant a piece of information, alter a file, or simply download a document. Computer Use can also be employed to take over a system if the target is a server.
- Intelligence (Engineering) – This is the broad skill dealing with all applications of
technology, allowing you to craft (reverse engineer), modify (disabling), and repair devices. These include electronics, general machines, exo-armor, modern armor, modern weapons, prosthetics, and vehicles.
For starts, I love Cyberpunk things and have tried to play things in the form of Cyberpunk with a Tabletop RPG, mainly Shadowrun. I know most might hate to hear this, and I’m sorry, but I am not a fan of Shadowrun’s rules , nor am I a fan of rolling a ton of D6’s (blasphemy I know, but hear me out!). Don’t get me wrong, the Shadowrun theme is great, but I could just as easily now convert a Dungeon’s and Dragons game into that same theme, roll only a D20 for simplicity, and be able to pull Races or Monsters from D&D if needed to give it that same feel. I like this as I (being a Game Master) could easily convince my players to play their beloved D&D but using a fresh theme without having to teach an entirely new ruleset.
As for my thoughts on the rules and the Neurospasta module itself. I really like the way that everything is laid out for you. The new races, class, NPC’s, cybernetics, weapons, and equipment, totally FEEL cyberpunk with the rules. I will say that for the provided “Setting”, even though it is very detailed and seems cool, I would more likely just do my own thing in creating a dystopian future or running it just like a “Shadowrun-esque” themed campaign (see I do like Shadowrun afterall guys! lol) I would love to see this step out of the niche group that it seems to have following it because I really think people would have a lot of fun getting their D&D groups into these settings. So what are the Pro’s and Con’s?
- Creating Characters is as simple as it is in D&D.
- More expansive Backgrounds for your characters
- Easy to find and interpret rules for “Free Diving or Hacking”
- Rolling D20’s in a Cyberpunk Game
- An Extensive Pre-Built Setting to fully immerse your players into
- It is very affordable (UM5 has a FREE OGL ruleset, and this module is only $12.99 PDF and printer friendly)
- It’s not Shadowrun (for you die hards)
- It is not available in Print on Demand (YET, that is coming soon)
- Black and White artwork (some artwork may not be up to standard for many)
Where can I find it?
You can buy Neurospasta at the following links: It is available for D&D 4th Edition, 5th Edition, and also for Pathfinder. Remember you NEED to at least have the UltraModern5 full rules ($12.99 pdf) or the FREE UltraModern5 OGL to use it. For this blog I am only posting the 5th Edition links. To find it for other editions, simply go to the Dias Ex Machina page.