Black is the New Chrome – Black Chrome [Cyberpunk Red]

Black Chrome

Author: James Hutt, Jay Parker, Turbo, J Gray, Anne Morrison, Chris Spivey, Fran Stewart, and Linda Evans
Publisher:  R. Talsorian Games
Page Count: 168
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $20
Print – $40

My introduction to Cyberpunk was with Cyberpunk 2020 in the early 1990s. The core book fascinated me, but the Chrome Book, the first with its catalog of technological gadgets, solidified my interest in the game. Page after page of items to purchase excited me. It felt like the months leading up to Christmas, with me marking everything I wanted in The Sears Christmas Wish Book. The first and other Chrome Books that followed always held a special place for me.

That boyhood excitement is back. Black Chrome is Cyberpunk Red’s return to the Chrome Books—redesigned for today’s modern audience. Instead of each page mimicking a department store catalog, it features a modern digital look of the e-marketplace.

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.

Inside Black Chrome, you will find over 170 items to enhance your cyberpunk experience, featuring new apps, cyberware, fashionable apparel, protective armor, linear frames, general goods, vehicles, and weapons. You’ll learn about Night Markets and the fixers who operate them, the economy of 2045, and new lore about the Megacorps and Neocorps.

Black Chrome is to be used as an internet marketplace called CBK, pronounced “Cee Book.” Edgerunners can download the CBK app onto their Agents, a portal communications device to access regional digital markets. To use it, Edgerunners must be in a Night Market. Night Markets are exclusive mobile, open market-style bazaars run by fixers. These markets don’t stay in one place for too long, and all have exclusive access. In a Night Market, an Edgerunner can search for items, purchase them, and then get directions to the proper market stall to pick them up.

The app is driven by fixers, who set up a listing for the item they wish to sell. They start by adding a name,  photo, description, price, and finally, their location. Once finished, they make it live through their Agent. A fixer’s virtual marketplace is visible to anyone in range with the CBK app running as long as the Agent runs the app. Most item listings feature a photo, but some don’t. The picture can be the item being sold or a promotional image; the item may vary in color, features, and condition. If there is one, the item’s name will accompany the manufacturing corps’ name and logo. A description of the article comes next. This can be a sales pitch or copy ripped from a press release, advertisement, review, or description off the back of the item’s packaging. Like the photo, the sales pitch might stray slightly from the actual item. Just beneath the image is a “Buy Now” button for those who have to have it right away. They can purchase it and pick it up later at the proper booth listed below the button. The only items that do not have a booth location are apps. Those, of course, are digital purchases without a physical presence. The last element of each listing is for the players and their Gamemaster. This section holds all the game mechanics related to the item.

In gaming terms, a Gamemaster can pass the Black Chrome book to their players and allow them to peruse the wares as if they are scrolling through their CBK. Or better yet, if the Gamemaster has the PDF, they could share that with the players and give them a modern experience. Gamemaster can limit the items available or allow all to be had. All the things in Black Chrome have been designed to not overpower the setting.

Black Chrome provides six fully detailed Night Markets to use. Each of the six markets has full-color maps, its fixer operator fully statted, background information on the kind of items they sell, where it’s held, best ways to get an invite, and what to expect if things get out of hand. The six markets are very different, and specific roles have better chances of access. But it mostly comes down to luck and who you know or who you do a favor for.


The first section of the CBK covers apps. There are only five, but each one is great. It begins with a gladiatorial game app that allows Edgerunners to play head-to-head with another via their Agent. The winner gets to gloat while the loser’s Agents get fried beyond repair or the Edgerunner’s brain if using an Internal Agent Cyberware. There’s an app that finds weak spots in places of cover. A crime database app where you can add or look to see who is wanted. A city guide app that covers it all. But the best app is the Trauma Team MedScan app for those Edgerunners who can’t afford a Trauma Team subscription. Users simply take a picture of their wound, and a medical tech will video chat and instruct them on providing care for themselves.

The following section covers 20 general cyberware items and a separate area for cyberfingers. The cyberware section lacks illustrations which disappointed me. You don’t need a visual to understand their purpose, but a visual strengthens their appeal. There are many upgrades to toughen one’s exterior or enhance it. Upgrades to your hearing, vision, knowledge, and appendages, including my favorite, pop-up weapons. The Modular Finger Cyberhand is needed for the Cyberfinger upgrades following this section and is a must. There are sixteen finger attachments to choose from. Some serve as tools like wire cutters, lock-picks, laser pointers, or a mini canister of spray paint. Other cyberfingers act as weapons like firing a dart or a single-shot pistol. With so many great choices, limiting yourself to just one hand will be hard.

Fashion and armor make up the next section in the CBK. Style is everything in Cyberpunk, and the CBK provides 16 trendy outerwear and protective gear for today’s Edgerunner. Each apparel item is showcased and worn by an Edgerunner in a series of police line-up illustrations. The illustration items don’t align with their listing order due to layout constraints. To alleviate any confusion, each illustrated item is numbered and corresponds with its listing. Most of the items in this section are fashionable armor. At least one is entirely just for fashion, Masetto Holo-Wear. With Masetto Holo-Wear, you never have to worry about doing laundry again. Simply place the ankle, neck, waist, and wrist units on and choose your outfit from your Agent for a holographic ensemble. Underclothing is suggested. You don’t want to be caught naked after an EMP pulse renders your Holo-Wear useless.

The following section covers general goods and gear. This section includes entertainment, lifestyle, security, and survival items. Entertainment items include musical equipment for Rockeboys, like a Laser Light Electric Guitar and KillStrom Sonic Boom Amp. The lifestyle section caries articles mainly for the Executive, a drink dispenser to keep the party going, an executive garment bag, and a portable printer. The security section has several nifty items. The most impressive is the KTech Doberman 500, a four-legged combat drone guard dog. The survival gear best suits Nomads or others who live off the grid. There is a one-press-button shelter that withstands extreme climates and a multi-food processor that alters any organic material into something edible. But the most impressive item in the survival section is the WorldSat Aerial Sphere, a weather balloon-size personal satellite.

Linear Frames follow the general goods and gear section. Linear Frames are exoskeletons for Edgerunners, with some concealed under clothing, as shown by their illustrations—a split view covered and uncovered. There are four Linear Frames to choose from. Only one is not concealable. All are very expensive but well worth the price for enhanced physical abilities and concealed items. The most impressive of the frames is the Vermilion Linear Frame which comes in two options. It can be purchased as an external frame or internal, underneath one’s skin for the ultimate concealment.

The following two sections are sure to get the most attention from Edgerunners. They are vehicles and weapons sections. The vehicle section is divided into air and land vehicles. There are six air and twenty-one land vehicles to view, each with a dedicated illustration. The first three air vehicles are helicopters, a one-person personal copter, a military-style one, and a gyrocopter that folds into a suitcase. The other three air vehicles are more like flying cars. Retaining the look of a land vehicle except for the Zetatech Herakles, which looks more like futuristic troop transport. For land vehicles, there are several types to choose from. There are motorcycles, compact cars, muscle cars, vans, trucks, a bus, a hoverboard, and cargo transport. The Akira-inspired bike featured in the original Chrome Book didn’t return, but in its place is a Tron-inspired all-enclosed two-wheeler that is just as cool looking.

All the vehicles are impressive and will entice your Edgerunner to accept dangerous missions with large payouts to get one. Of all the vehicles in this section, the ones that stood out to me are the Tron-inspired motorcycle, Highway Master Artemis, as mentioned earlier, and the hoverboard. The hoverboard is the most affordable of the group and would be a great personal transportation device. The Highway Master Artemis gets high marks from me based on its looks alone. The Paladin 500 and the Quadra Thunder-X will impress those into muscle cars. Both look like futuristic classic muscle cars. Motorcycle enthusiasts will be impressed with CBK’s selection. There are six impressive motorcycles to choose from.

Weapons, weapons, weapons—they left the best for last. The weapon section is divided into four categories, explosive, melee, thrown, and ranged. Eight ear-drum-damaging items go boom in the explosive section, from hand-held grenades to high-tech explosive micro-chip that plug into Chipware Sockets. All are going to leave their mark and a giant hole. The melee section starts off with several impressive bladed choices before getting into exotics. One of my favorites is Faisal’s Magna Knuckles, a modified knuckle duster with an electrical kick that can disable cyberware. Others might be more impressed with the Wolverine look of the SlamDance Tasmanskiy Klô with its heavily modified Battleglove that pops out three long razer sharp blades like the comic book character. There is also a smaller size version, the SlamDance FangFist which pops out a single shorter blade. For thrown weapons, there are three to choose from. The first is a modern take on the boomerang that uses a guidance system to find its target. The other two are an updated version of a tomahawk and throwing stars. The ranged section or the firearm section has the most to choose from. There are eleven pistols, fourteen rifles, and several other specialty weapons like a machine gun, rocket launcher, and crossbow at the Edgerunner’s disposal. Each item has its own detailed illustration. It makes for some nice futuristic gun porn.

Final Thought

Wow, what an incredible supplement. But let’s be honest. I was in love with this supplement before I even opened it. The return of Chrome Books was enough to get me going. Passed my biased opinion. Is this a good supplement for you?

Gamemasters looking to entice their players with exciting gadgets that further personalize their players’ characters will get a lot out of this supplement. The six ready-to-use Night Market with full-color maps ties cleanly into ongoing games and allows the acquiring from the CBK, believable. It also allows roleplay opportunities to gain access to new equipment and entices players’ characters to take on risky missions with high rewards. I believe my initial impression was correct. Black Chrome is a superb supplement and a marvelous return of the Chome Books.

Check out our other Cyberpunk reviews:

Cyberpunk Red: Easy Mode – An Introduction to the Dark Future
All that Glitters is Chrome — Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit
Chippin’ In to Cyberpunk Red
Tales of the Red: Street Stories [Cyberpunk Red]
Interface Red: Volume One [Cyberpunk Red]
Taking to the Streets – Streetfighting [Cyberpunk 2020]
Three Cyber Supplements for Cyberpunk Red RPG

~ Stephen Pennisi

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