Tales of the Red: Street Stories [Cyberpunk Red]

Tales of the Red: Street Stories

Nine Missions for Cyberpunk Red

Authors: Fran Stewart, Jay Parker, Melissa Wong, Mike Pondsmith, Monica Valentinelli, Trace Wilson, Aron Tarbuck, Cody Pondsmith, J Gray, and James Hutt
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games
Page Count: 198
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $20
Print – $40

Night City is the center of the Cyberpunk world. It is where Edgerunners get their start and sometimes their end. The streets are filled with stories to tell. Tales of heroics and injustice. Tales of the Red presents nine missions for Edgerunners to play through to earn some much-needed euro bucks to upgrade their lifestyle because style is everything in Night City. The Edgerunners will be tasked with various missions suited to their expertise. All missions are standalone except for the last two, which can run in sequence.

Note: R. Talsorian Games provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. Please visit our Product Review Request page if you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review.

Tales of the Red contains nine exciting missions that follow the Beat Chart system outlined in the Cyberpunk Red Core book. It is a system where stories are divided into manageable chunks to maintain dramatic tension while allowing the storyline to progress naturally. Each mission follows the system, starting with the mission’s background and setting the mood with flavor text to read out loud to the players. This is followed by a summary, setting, opposition, and the Edgerunners’ hook into the mission. The rest of the mission is categorized into types: Development (Dev), Cliffhangers (Cliff), Climaxes, and Resolutions. It is important for Gamemasters to read each mission carefully because the flow of beats is not always linear, and there are multiple paths the Edgerunners can branch off into.

Along with the nine missions, support material like oppositional forces unique to the mission is in its own section at the rear of the book. The same is true for the background of characters the Edgerunners are likely to encounter and the locations they may visit. It is a deviation from most roleplaying publications, which include such information within the bones of the scenario. From a simple read, I am unable to determine if having it separately helps or hinders gameplay. What it does offer is a quick reference for people and locations within Night City to use for other missions in the future.

A Night at the Opera: Darkness and Desire in Night City

Seven women have gone missing in Night City’s University District over the past couple of weeks. Its latest victim is the daughter of an Executive Engineer at Rocklin Augmentics, who has contracted the Edgerunners to locate her daughter and return her in whatever condition she may be in. The Edgerunners don’t have much information to go on, only a strong suspicion that the Philharmonic Vampyres, a prankers gang dressed in tuxedoes, capes, and vampire teeth, is somehow involved. The Edgerunner’s first step is to attend one of the Philharmonic Vampyres parties and begin their investigation. Luckily the gang is hosting a party the very next night, “Come to a Night at the Opera with the Philharmonic Vampyres,” and tickets are still available.

In this adventure, Edgerunners learn about the Philharmonic Vampyres gang and the reason for the missing women. Along the way, they may, just may, help the right individual and gain a favor to use at a later date. At best, they stand to make a heft pile of euro bucks and elevate their reputation among fixers. “A Night at the Opera is a straightforward recovery mission that needs careful planning and a good pistol at your side.

Agents Desire: The Case of the Missing Girlfriend

Kodai Khan, an executive at Ziggurat, was having a lovely dinner at La Lune Bleue, an upscale restaurant in the Upper Marina district of Night City, with his fiancée. During the meal, Kodai excused himself to use the restroom. Upon returning, he discovers his fiancée gone, abducted, most-likey to squeeze him for company secrets. He is desperate to have her back and hires the Edgerunners to help secure her safe return. With little, very little to go on, Edgerunners will need good investigative and interpersonal skills to help bring Kodai’s fiancee home. Expect twists and turns as the investigation unfolds in a unique cyberpunk way.

A Bucket Full of Popcorn-Flavored Kibble: Lights, Camera, Drama!

When two genre-busting Addiswood film directors come to Night City to film their next project, they wish to hire local talent to capture the city’s essence. Flush with cash and looking to hire locals, Night City residents have an opportunity to engorge their bank accounts. That is, if they are hired as part of the cast or crew. There are big euro bucks to be had in the movie industry. When the Edgerunners are given a chance as extras on a genuine Addiswood film, they jump at it.

While on set, the Edgerunners will discover that there is more money to be made than standing around as an extra. Several departments are experiencing logistical issues and don’t have the personnel to handle them. Each crew member in need is willing to pay the Edgerunners extra credits above their acting pay to solve their problems. Edgerunners will bounce from task to task, like fulfilling side-quests in a video game to bring their bank accounts into the black. Along the way, they will have plenty of opportunities to rub elbows with the elite and possibly pick up a favor here and there.

Drummer and the Whale: Treasure Beneath the Sea

A series of ULF Signals is broadcasting from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Its purpose is unknown. Drummer, a data worker for EON Data Consultants, looks for patterns like the ULF signals as a hobby and has come across this mystery signal that he can’t let go unsolved. He hires the Edgerunners, not their usual type of client, to do some grunt work for him. Drummer and his partner, Fife, have determined that the source of the signal is linked to a sunken cargo container off the coast of Night City that, at undetermined locations and at semi-random intervals, deposits containers on the beaches of Night City. Drummer needs the Edgerunners to locate the latest cargo container and provide him with any markings or symbols on the container that will aid him in figuring out this mystery. Drummer and his partner are obsessed with learning the mystery that could date back before the Red.

Edgerunners better hope their cyberware is watertight and rust-proof. The team will spend a lot of time by the seashore and possibly under the waves in their quest to earn a few bucks. The team stands to make a lot of money, but with a high payout comes high risk. Sometimes it is better to leave things as they are than to unlock the unknown.

Haven’t Got a Stitch to Wear: A Suit Worth Dying For

Night city is in chaos. Corporate elites don’t have a thing to wear to their galas, formal affairs, and charity events. Their customtailored suits and dresses have failed to deliver on time, and there seems to be no eta of when they will arrive. It has caused the ire of many high-profile clients of Torrell and Chiang, Night City’s premiers tailor shop. Business for Torrell and Chiang has increased over the last few months leading to labor issues. They don’t have enough skilled workers in-house to complete the work, so they have been farming out simple tasks like minor alterations to other firms. The problem is that none of the work has returned, and clients are impatiently waiting. There is something going on with their delivery service. None of their parcels are making it to their destinations. Torrell and Chiang hire the Edgerunners to personally retrieve their goods from the delivery service. A Torrell and Chiang custom-tailored suit costs a fortune, and the team will be transporting a bunch of them, making them a highly valued target for thieves. Fashion is everything in Night City. It is even worth dying for.

Reaping the Reaper: The Call is Coming From Inside Your Head!

A deadly rogue AI is on the loose, killing netrunners unlucky enough to cross its path. The AI is increasing in strength with each new victim. The mother of one of its victims hires the Edgerunners to find and destroy the program so it can harm no one else. The mission begins at the famed Forlorn Hope, where they are tasked with retrieving a device and delivering it to the client’s operative. Then they are to support the client’s operative for the second part of their mission. 

In this mission, the Edgerunners will be accompanied by two NPCs that can act as the Gamemaster’s crutch. When players begin stray or miss key elements of the story, the NPCs are to put them back on track or aid them in getting past obstacles the Edgerunners fail to do. It requires a careful balancing act to aid the players while not overshadowing them.

Staying Vigilant: Three Crews Dead, Will Yours Be Next?

Place your bets. Place your bets. Which Edgerunner team will turn up dead next? Night City has a killer on the loose, and it is after Edgerunner teams. Three teams have been decimated so far, and everyone is wondering who is next. There is even a betting pool at Afterlife, the famed Solo hangout. The Edgerunners are hired by famed Media Trace Santiago, a well-known journalist looking for help to uncover the deadly story. Whoever or whatever is taking down these teams is highly skilled. The first two teams were a bunch of newbies, but the third had an impressive track record. Most of the teams were killed with bladed weapons and were only able to fire off a few rounds before they were killed. An eyewitness to the first murder saw a single chromed-out figure fleeing, leading to rumors the murderer was a cyberpsycho. Can the Edgerunners find the killer before the killer finds them?

Bathed in Red: A Night of Fun or Night of Terror?

The Edgerunners enjoy their night off by visiting Delirium, a virtuality club in Little Europe. Delirium is a three-story alternative lifestyle entertainment club that uses virtuality goggles known as Dee Vees that alters the patron’s viewing environment to one of five virtual worlds: Horrorpunk, Dark Cabaret, Synthpunk, Skatepunk, or Deathpunk. While wearing their Dee Vees, their view of the world is augmented based on the virtual world chosen. The first enviro of the night is free, but switching to another costs money. Patrons wearing their Dee Vees can clearly see others participating, but those who are not using their goggles appear as formless blobs, the club’s way of pressuring customers to use them.

As the night progresses, a murder on the second-floor causes panic in the club. The club’s bouncers quickly take control of the crowd until the police arrive. When they arrive, the police have their own plans. The Edgerunners become suspect number one and finds themselves on the run. The adventure has the Edgerunners needing to clear their name with the help of the lost children of Night City and other allies. A fair amount of profanity is used in dialogue boxes and scenes of violence against young children. These elements make this my least favorite adventure of the series. The story is compelling, but I would clean up the vulgarity and get creative with the foul language if I were to run this adventure. I’d also remove the violence against children for something less offensive. The end of the adventure is left open for Edgerunners to continue into the next adventure, “One Red Night: The Final Curtain Falls,” if they choose to.

One Red Night: The Final Curtain Falls

“One Red Night: The Final Curtain Falls” is a continuation of “Bathed in Red: A Night of Fun or Night of Terror?” The two missions are tied together by a criminal element only known as Red Knight. The Edgerunners crossed paths with Red Knight in the previous mission but were never able to stop them. In this mission, the Edgerunners can take revenge for all the horrible and nasty things they encountered in the last mission.

Final Thought

Tales of the Red is Cyberpunk Red’s first published mission book for the series. It presents nine missions, all set in Night City. Each is short enough to complete in a single session or more if your group likes to take things slow. The book includes most of the information needed to run each mission. Some NPC stats and Night City locations are not provided and are expected to be pulled from the core book; page numbers are given. The missions are well organized and use the Beat Chart system.

There is quite a bit of profanity throughout, which I could do without. I don’t need my NPCs to swear to be intimidating, and I’m disappointed the authors felt the need to put in such vulgarity, even if Night City residents use it in their vernacular. I also wasn’t fond of the use of violence against young children used in the second to last mission. Roleplaying is a social game where the players and the Gamemaster become part of the story. Being part of or enabling problematic roleplaying like the above shouldn’t be a thing, fantasy or not. With a little creativity, the offensiveness can be altered while maintaining the mission’s intentions without resorting to immoral actions.

Despite my dislikes mentioned above, I feel Tales of the Red is a great book of missions set in Night City. It adds several new locations and personalities to pull into other missions. Many of the missions begin in famous locations like the Forlorn Hope and Afterlife. The missions have a nice mix of investigation and combat to please everyone. Certain missions favor certain character roles, and some provide great insight into using those roles in homemade missions. The missions as a whole paint a great picture of the Edgerunner life. I highly recommend picking up Tales of the Red. The missions are exciting and action-packed.

~Stephen Pennisi

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