This resource started with me kind of feeling bummed out that I was having a lot of fun with Cyberpunk Red while one of my favourite professional DM/Youtuber, Matt Colville was publishing content with very interesting systems and mechanics that I couldn’t use. While I found the ideas that MCDM (the company Colville co-founded) were releasing interesting, they were using the Open Game License to create content specifically for games like Dungeons and Dragons. I was playing a lot of Cyberpunk Red, I found myself at a loss on how I could actually use them. I bought the books, after all, I need to justify the money I spent!
The solution, of course, was doing a lot of work. I decided, perhaps as a way to procrastinate on other things in my life, to attempt to make Strongholds & Followers work within my game.
While I was originally worried about infringing on two licenses at once, it quickly became clear that Cyberpunk Red’s systems and setting clashed in very dramatic ways with the assumptions of MCDM's design for a Dungeons and Dragons-like game.
Warfare, for one, needed to be thrown out, as I found the base assumptions of the system unworkable in a near-future setting. Cyberpunk Red is also a very “generic” system in comparison with 5e. Characters in Red don't have a deck of cool actions, spells or abilities: they are people with slightly different skills. Every Role in Cyberpunk Red has only one, admittedly broad, unique ability. CPRed also has a more "simulationist" and "realistic" approach, which makes gamey unique actions tough to include. All of these contrasting elements made creating unique benefits to owning a Stronghold very different. A few headaches later, I have something to show for it.
I am proud to present Safehouses and Sidekicks, a conversion/homebrew adaptation of MCDM’s Stronghold & Followers for the rules of R. Talsorian Games’ Cyberpunk Red system.
While it probably is not perfect, this resource attempt to convert the spirit and the ideas of strongholds into Cyberpunk Red and, in doing so, brings mechanics for another completely different type of play.
Organize hits from your own seedy bar in Watson. Manufacture guns, drugs from your workshop in the combat zone. Get your own office to have people launder money, write articles or repair your equipment. Become rich and successful by being the owner of your very own nightclub in downtown Night City. Safehouses are locations that you own and that contains specialized equipment that you can use and people that work for you.
While I will (obviously) be testing this on my own, I am also calling for your help! If you use these new rules, be sure to tell me how you used them, what you liked and what you didn’t like. My goal is to keep improving this (relatively) untested design until I'm confident enough to release a standalone PDF to all of you, once I am confident that the balance is right and I can make a v1.0.
For now, the rules will only be hosted on this website.
If you enjoy what I made here, I encourage you to pay me a coffee. While I don't expect money for making this, the encouragement can go a long way.
Hope you have fun, choombas.
First, you will need to choose the type of safehouse you want to own. Then, you choose if you want to buy a pre-existing property in which to house your safehouse or if you want to have a standalone safehouse erected. This will cost you a lot of money and time.
Go to the Acquiring Safehouses section to learn more about this.
Once you have a safehouse, you gain benefits based on the type of safehouse it is, whether it is a workshop (where you can build items), an office (where people work for you), an establishment (where you gain revenue and reputation) or a hangout (where edgerunners can be recruited for jobs and information can be gathered).
Go to the Safehouse Types section to learn more about this.
Your safehouse also grants you additional benefits based on your role, such as benefits while you are in your safehouse’s sphere of influence, a new ability while you are inside of your safehouse and a new Role Ability.
Go to the Safehouses by Roles section to learn more about this.
Your safehouses will need to be run by other people while you are away: these people are followers: important NPCs which can either join you in battle or provide unique benefits on the homefront.
Go to the Followers section to learn more about this.
Safehouses unbalance the game. A Fixer with an upgraded hangout and money to spare can probably organize the murder of the President of France without stepping foot outside of his bar. An enterprising Tech with a fully upgraded workshop can arm whole gangs every other month.
That’s the point.
Having a safehouse, to quote a now famous video game, allows your players to enter the big leagues. With a safehouse, your players will gain the power to become political players, popular stars, crack investigators and arms dealers. They will probably be able to get the money they need to stop worrying about putting food on the table. In my opinion, however, this is an opportunity, rather than a flaw.
Safehouses gives your players the power to raise above the typical mission structure of edgerunners. As the Referee, you have all the tools you need to keep challenging the PCs. The game will start being about politics and gaining access to the rich and powerful. Safehouses allow your player to feel like the top fixer in town, ordering hits on their enemies while suddenly having to worry about enemies which are much, much more powerful.
Of course, you also have the power to not include safehouses in your game. Safehouses are, for one, a completely optional homebrew rule. They are also expensive enough that you basically have complete control of when and how your players can get access to a safehouse. If you and your players are interested in getting involved in this level of play, give them a pile of money and let them discover the harsh reality of the big leagues.
Lieutenants is the term MCDM uses to designate these NPCs which have become friends with the players throughout their adventure. These are NPCs which are loyal to the PCs. When the players get a safehouse, you should make those NPCs become lieutenants that will then act as the second-in-command of the player in their safehouse. It is the person your players should talk to when they want news of what is happening on the home front.
Sidekicks, meanwhile, are a type of simplified NPC that your player can choose to bring into combat. These simplified NPCs have simplified character sheets and unique flavorful abilities which makes them much more manageable for your players or yourself to run in combat and in general play.
Specialists are, like sidekicks, a type of simplified NPC that have skills which are outside of the normal edgerunner skills. They have simplified character sheets with unique flavorful abilities which makes the much more manageable for your players or yourself to run in general play.
This resource uses basically the dame definition as MCDM for the Extended Rest. An Extended Rest requires you take a week of rest (7 days) at your safehouse, touching base with your sidekicks and employees and making sure everything runs smoothly.
An Extended Rest is the perfect opportunity to have your players discuss with the NPCs they employ and allows you to improve verisimilitude.
A work week is a period of 7 days in which a character works at least 40-50 hours on something. Some safehouse abilities take a work week. While a character isn’t available often when they are doing something that takes a work week, they can still do some small actions and take part in small encounters. However, if the character does something which takes too long, such as taking on an edgerunning job, the action that takes a work week fails.