This book takes a look at Earth in 2300 AD - after all, however far explorers roam the galaxy, there's still something special about the place everyone came from! It's made up of three main sections. Firstly, there's a more detailed look at Earth itself than was possible in the core rulebooks. Next comes a section on 'cybertech' - surgical, chemical and mechanical augmentations - for those who'd like that aspect introduced to the game, and finally there's an adventure which makes the most of both.
The first chapter is The 24th-Century World. This looks primarily at the 'Western World', on the grounds that the majority of role-players are most familiar with the present-day west, rather than any lack of significance of other parts of the world. It provides an overview of the sort of place Earth has become, and is followed by a chapter OQC which is Orbital Quarantine Command. Just as today many nations wish to control what is brought into them, it was realised as soon as space exploration began that anything brought back to Earth from space could prove hazardous if not devastating to the biosphere (older gamers may recall that the Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined when they returned home from the Moon!). OQC is a collaborative effort between all spacefaring nations with its headquarters at the orbital end of the Beanstalk and a lot of roving spaceships to intercept every vessel approaching Earth.
This leads naturally into the next chapter, Gateway, which is all about the settlement at the orbital end of the Beanstalk, but takes the time to explain the operations of the Beanstalk itself as well. Gateway is a very cosmopolitan settlement, and it has duty-free status, and it is a destination in its own right as well as a transit point for those arriving at or departing from Earth. There are quite a lot of plans here of Gateway and the Beanstalk to help you get the picture.
This is followed by a series of chapters looking at the history and present-day state and geography of a range of nations, starting with America followed by Texas (now indenpendent), Mexico, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. There's a lot of information here, well worth a read if you want to know what Earth has become. Players should at least read up on where their characters hail from. Everything in this part of the book is 'player-friendly' - it's the sort of stuff you get in history, geography and current affairs class in school.
We then move on to the second section, with a chapter called Cyberpunk: An Introduction, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. The use of augmentation technology appears tied in to the rise of megacorporations that rival nation-states in size and influence, and in some smaller corporations that have been swallowed up by organised crime, and it is these two groups which make the most use of it. This overview is followed by chapters on Bionics and Cyberspace (remember, this book was written before the World Wide Web took the internet out of academia and into popular use). These both provide plenty of options that may be utilised by the characters or indeed their enemies.
Finally, the adventure Worm in the Big Apple provides an adventure in which Provolutionist terrorists strike fear into New York City. Pregenerated characters are provided, but if you'd rather use your own make sure that they have the necessary skills to succeed. The adventure starts as everyone takes a bus from the airport into town and... well, they are thrown right into the middle of things. Maps are plentiful, and game mechanics are presented in sidebars adjacent to the text for which they'll be useful. It's quite short, but should provide for an evening of entertainment.
All good solid stuff, its use being determined by whether you intend your plots to bring the characters to Earth and if you want to include cyber-tech in your game. The background material about the Earth nations is interesting, and will be of use to any characters coming from there.
Return to Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook page.
Reviewed: 2 November 2015