for Cyberpunk 2020®
by Mark Shute
Copyright 2000 by Mark Shute
Block Builder was born out of a nescessity that people who run CyberPunk know all too well. "Is there a doorway I can duck into?", "Is there an alley I can sneak out of?", "Is there a fire escape I can climb up?", "Is there a storm drain I can crawl down?". In Cyber Punk, perhaps more than most other games, being aware and making use of your environment can mean the difference between life and death... especially out on the street. In order to communicate the details of the environment to the players, the GM has to be able to visualize it himself.
I came up with the idea of Block Builder to help me visualize the street level environment- to quickly map out the buildings, the store fronts, the back alleys. Each four-city-block map is composed of randomly sized and positioned buildings that can represent sky scraper lobbies, retail stores, townhouses, nightclubs, parking lots... anything you'd find at street level in Night City. The resulting map is sized to print out on 8½ x 11 paper (printing on graph paper works very well to establish scale). Multiple maps can be printed and placed together to form entire neighborhoods or boroughs.
While the layout of buildings is hardly a "complete" map, it gives the GM a firm foundation to build on. Someday I might figure out how to radomly place manhole covers and fire escapes, or how to assign a number of stories to each building. Until then, a few strokes of the pencil fills in the missing details, and I'm ready to answer the barrage of questions that the players always have locked and loaded.