Metalhead

メタルヘッド “Metalhead” (1990) is the first Japanese cyberpunk game, delivering what you need to run a game in the world of Gibson’s novels, including cybernetics and a virtual reality populated by monsters. As a bonus it adds some elements of post-apocalyptic fiction, such as the vehicles of “Mad Max” and the mutants of “Gamma World”.

The nine ability scores are generated by 3d6 rolls: STR, REF (reflex), DEX, INT, EDU (education), PER (perception), SYM (sympathy), WIL (will), and LUC (luck). For comparison the English language game “Cyberpunk” (1988) has nine scores generated by a single 9d10 roll and allocated at player discretion.

Some actions are resolved via ability rolls, which are 2d6 + ability score. The GM sets the difficulty somewhere between 10 (easy) and 25 (extremely difficult). The player can spend a point of luck to reduce the difficulty. A point of luck is regenerated if a player rolls double sixes on an ability roll.

The classes are “landblaster” (a mechanic and driver able to plug in to vehicles), “netrunner” (a computer hacker), “bouncer” (a soldier), “hustler” (a treasure hunter), and “broker” (a negotiations expert). There are 48 skills which are percentiles like in say “Call of Cthulhu”. Each skill has 1 or 2 relevant abilities scores which give the character a bonus on skill rolls if high. The GM can double or halve the value the player must roll under if the task is easy or difficult.

For combat, characters have HP (hit points) and SUV (survival), the latter functioning a bit like armor class. To attack one makes a percentile roll and consults a table. Possible results include LW (light wound), MW (medium wound), HW (heavy wound), MO (fatal wound), and K (kill). The 2nd column indicates the hit location, e.g. 脚部 “leg”, 腕部 “arm”, etc.

One of the favorites in my collection!

Box contents:
• Player’s Manual, 80 pp.
• Masters’s Manual, 44 pp.
• “Scenario 1: Double Trap”, 24 pp.
• Chartbook, 16 pp.
• Character Sheets
• Hobby Japan Game Catalog
• Survey Card
• Dice: 2d10, 2d6

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