From the beginnings of Cyberpunk there have been references to a Night City that's the assumed base of the campaign, somewhere on the west coast of America. Well, here it is in all its block-by-block glory, ready for your 'punks to make it their home, their turf, their stamping ground. The Introduction lays out what this book is about: taking a dark future city apart block by block and function by function, so that whatever it is you need is to hand. It's designed with use in mind and is player-friendly, indeed they suggest that you hand the book to a player when his character checks a dataterm for the information he requires!
The first section, Welcome to your Dataterm explains just what one is, how much it costs and how to use it (and by extension, how to use this book in like manner, a neat conceit). We then move on to Fax of File, that provides some background about the city. Founded in 1994 (oddly, the year I bought my copy!) it's a planned urban community that's controlled by the corporations - they have the city council stitched up although the Mayor is elected by popular vote. Located in Northern California, like any travel guide we can find out how to get there via air, land or sea; and get an overview of the weather and what makes for sensible clothing (ballistic armour is optional, they say... I wouldn't go there without it!). There's a rundown of traffic regulations... which includes a note that holders of a disabled badge are permitted to use weapons to remove an unauthorised vehicle from a designated disabled parking space. Public transport, vehicle rentals, hospitals, police and other services are also covered.
Next comes a series of maps to help you get oriented, including quite detailed ones of locations the newcomer is likely to visit (airport, docks and mass transit hub). Bus routes and times, all the stuff you need to know about getting around town, then a series of maps showing locations of different places you might need to go: educational establishments, leisure activities, hotels, and the all important clubs and other nightlife. It really gives the flavour of a guidebook (along the Rough Planet lines).
Then comes an article So What's America Like in 2020?, which gives a good in-character overview. You might want to have all your players read this to understand the environment in which their characters live. A second article, Vision & Fire, covers the history of Night City, then there's one on The People of Night City, another fascinating read. Don't get too cosy, we move on to Threat Level, Threat Codes and Security, as laid out by the Night City Police Department, and then The Gangs of Night City. The city is amply provided with gangs, it appears.
The rest of the book is a detailed zone by zone gazetteer of the city. Loads of information on each zone including a map, notable locations and people, encounters, and contacts. As well as the urban zones, the sprawling suburbs and outright combat zones are covered. There's advice for the Referee in creating and running a combat zone, should the party end up going there. They probably will!
Overall, a fantasic resource to provide a base of operations for your 'punks, a place where you can run adventures and generally be cyberpunk...
Return to Night City page.
Reviewed: 22 February 2019