Five Aces - Cyberpunk Forged in the Dark

I’m very excited to see that a few cyberpunk FitD hacks (especially Neon Black) are in development. I have been working and playtesting my own version. I have titled mine as Five Aces. It currently has around 100 hours of playtesting. I describe the setting below:

The year is 2042 CE and the world has changed. Five major Corporations have spent the past twelve years consolidating their power over the world. They have become the national powers and control every level of society. As evidence of their power, the cities pour their bright lights up into the night sky, while a dark, grungy world exists on the streets below the high risers. The cities developed into a place where the development of Cybernetics opened the door to many strange, new skills. This technology quickly became ubiquitous in everyday life and made it easier for the Corporations to control the masses.
This setting takes place in a final holdout against the Corporations’ conquest. This city became known as Beacon. It is a blinding light of hope for the world or a brilliant flash that marks its final fate. After the collapse of all nations from the corruption of money and power, the Corporations divided the world into numerous pieces to fit their needs.
However, during the last struggles of independence from corporate control, a few cities continued fight back. Some might be waiting on the highest bidder. Some might be looking for a sign of hope. This idea led to the founding of Beacon on the ruins of a coastal city whose name most have forgotten. From this city, the five Corporations continue their struggle for the last piece on the board. The victor could claim the prize, but no clear winner can be seen.
Individually, a choice must be made: either remain a pawn on board for these powerful Corporations or find a method or cause to shed their oppression.

The Players have seven playbooks and six Teams to choose from. The focus of the game easily centers around a Team eager to make a name for themselves or fighting a cause to bring change to the city. One aspect of Blades and its various hacks that I love is the design’s intuitive elements to make a Team-based game work while allowing the players an opportunity to explore character development and depth.

Five Aces reaches into the heart and soul of the character and pulls out their true nature. It offers the choice to return the nature or replace it with a machine. This can be explored through a Downtime Activity known as Recharge.

One of the themes for this game is the balance between the various levels of society and how that balance can be disrupted by the rebellious nature of people. The Factions have taken sides and the Players can choose their side.

Programs run many routine parts of the world. Some have started to grow beyond their constraints to become something more. A few have even reached the highest potential and are starting to play a part in the world.

The game is currently moving from the original playtest group into game shops for one shot demos.

I am eager to hear what anyone thinks or what new ideas are floating about.

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This sounds rad. I’m curious to see what the factions are like, since it sounds like the game takes place in Beacon, where corporate interests are one step removed. Do the five major corps have some holds in Beacon? Are there criminal syndicates or gangs that are trying to run things?

I like that Beacon is unique and distant. Often the setting of cyberpunk is that the world is always going to be this way, that the characters can only hope to carve out some space for themselves rather than changing things for the better. But it sounds like Five Aces is a bit more optimistic than that. Do I have that right?

I have set the factions up mostly with a side chosen in the struggle. Each Corporation has a few factions on their payroll. Five of the ten city districts are held by the five corporations, while the other five districts attempt to remain dedicated to the Beacon or remain neutral. I created the setting to feel as though the City itself is pushing back through political maneuvers and rallying causes.

A few criminal syndicates hold turf. Gangs grow from the streets with their own agendas. The opposing factions play back and forth with their power struggle, but you are correct. I put in an optimistic element for my take on the genre. The setting provides one piece and the players provide the second. Some of the abilities as playbooks and teams (aka Crews) have additional bonuses when engaged with jobs that fit into their cause to help or hinder the city. I even have a playbook called the Activist that works to push causes or collect stories to bring down the power players.

I wanted to create a game that allows the Blades framework to bring a group together with a common cause. That cause often brings them at odds with one or more of the Corporations. It can also put them on the side of one of the Corporation. The tilt in power can be exciting.

Thanks for the wonderful questions and insight!


After nearly a year of playtesting, I have finalized a majority of Five Aces. I am anxious to share it with the the community, yet I am eager to see how it is received. So, I’m going to give it a try by taking it an upcoming gaming convention in Tuscon called Rincon. It runs Oct 4-6. I will be presenting three beginning sessions with a focus on showing off the mechanics and how they work in the setting. My session spots are on Sat Oct 5 and Sun Oct 6. I can’t wait now that it is set.