Neon Black - Cyberpunk Forged in the Dark

Hey! Thanks for the kind words!

You can get Neon Black on
You can also get a free download code by subscribing to my work on Patreon at the $10 level. When you do that you’ll also get free download codes for my smaller RPGs like Spooky Action at a Distance and World Maker.

But if a money is an issue for you and you’d like to lead your friends in pretending to steal and redistribute wealth shoot me an email ( and I’ll send you a free download code, no questions asked.

Neon Black is now version 4.2. I’ve updated the rule book, playbooks, and faction sheet. Mostly minor changes like rewording special abilities and filling in missing text.

Here’s a link to the devlog post for those interested.


What about anarchist for a crew type.

I like it. Currently I think the Punks mostly cover that in Neon Black, they get bonuses for targeting corporations, being at war with them, and finding alternate methods of income. I might lean more heavily into that area with their crew assets, but I think if folks wanted to play a group of anarchists the Punks would be a great place to start.

Hey folks!

I just wanted to note I see that people are still trying to access the older version of the game linked in the original post. I can’t edit that post to point to the proper space to access Neon Black. That version in the original post is no longer available, and all updates and releases of Neon Black are available on its page:


Version 5.0, the Capitalism Sucks update, is now live on Neon Black’s page.

Engage in Capitalism to buy corporate products, Reach Out to your friends to get favours, and Reset when you’re off the clock instead of indulging in vices.

The complete change log can be found here.

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Apologizes, maybe not the most correct place to ask this but did you run Neon Black last year at SHUX? I ask as I’ve been looking out for a Forged in the Dark Cyberpunk game and then remembered I played one at SHUX and this looks very familiar.

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I did! I’ll also be running it this year at SHUX as well.

That’s good I found the right one then, i’ll go have a look at your ichio site in a bit. I’d love to have a game of it again this year but we can’t make SHUX this year.

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The latest version of Neon Black will be at SHUX 2019 in Vancouver this October!

If you’re going to be there drop on by and say hello, or sign up to participate in a 2 hour-ish one shot!

Sign up is live on the SHUX forums.

Update 5.1 is live on Neon Black’s page!

This update changes some small things, and adds two new downtime mechanics. Credit Burn, where players suffer harm when they hoard too much money, and Burn Credit, a downtime activity that allows character to give money to other factions of Prime City.

Check out the full change list here.

Also a little while ago I added Community Copies to Neon Black and forgot to mention it here. If money is an issue for you for any reason and you want a copy of Neon Black, you can now get one for free.

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I have been following along with your announcements on this game. I have been working through a few obstacles on my hack, Five Aces. It is mostly to see how these matters play out at the table. My question to you is how you have handled the playtesting aspect of this design? Do you have the advantage of a home group that will play with your designs and give feedback? Or do you look to demonstrations at conventions and game stores? Personally, I have been fortunate to call on a small group of people who play my game and give feedback. However, this has led me to a lack in amounts of people while get solid feedback from my players.

I would love to read your thoughts on this and share more of my design methods. Talk to you later.

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Hey! Thanks for following along.

I test my games with a group who meets weekly, and by running the game at local conventions. When I test the games I pay attention to rules that confuse players, and rules or parts of the game’s text that don’t evoke the theme of the game, and then I try to fix that in the next version of the game. I also look for characters, places, or bits of lore that the players come up with that I like and incorporate that into the game, with their permission.

I wouldn’t worry too much about having a lot of players to test your game, just as long as you are playing it between versions and not just designing by yourself. Like John Harper says, play and iterate.


Excellent. That’s a very good reply on the elements to collect from playtesting. I have used similar points to help work through the feedback. I ask a few questions that find if a rule works, if a theme is explored, or if the players understand how the PCs work inside the game.

I have mined the groups that I have played with for the ideas that they want to explore. In this, the version that I have pulled together so far has been the ideas and creative energy of those playtesters. This has brought me to the point of ready to share it with the community.

So, I appreciate this community has provided by allowing designers to discuss the details for games that can be fun for everyone. If you ever want to discuss further on the details, let me know. Thanks.

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There has been another update to Neon Black!

Version 5.2 adds a new playbook, the Operator, who addresses challenges with technical skill and mayhem. They are a getaway driver and hardware designer all rolled into one.

There’s also been some changes to heat/wanted levels and how entanglements are generated, as well as additional faction clocks and an increase in payout for jobs.

See the full devlog here.

The next update will be arriving shortly and will include another new playbook and more minor changes to the rules.

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Yet another update! Version 5.3 includes the Star playbook, a charismatic artist who overcomes challenges with their art. This update also includes new factions and a few minor mechanical changes.

See the full devlog here.

Version 6.0 - HAUNTing

This version includes Neon Black’s first special character playbook, Human Amalgamate United into Neuro-Telepresences, or HAUNTs. There’s also new factions, several updates for the Technology chapter, and slightly different rules for recovery.

See the full list of updates and changes here.

I’m really happy with the core rules now so I suspect we won’t see many large changes there in the immediate future. I’m starting a new campaign soon using the playbooks that haven’t seen as much testing, so there may be some balance changes coming up.

As for what I have planned for the next version I want to add a chapter on player principles & practices and a timeline of events. Also going to need more cool cyberpunk drugs, hardware, and software.


Hi Michael,

I’m curious how the 9 actions vs 12 has worked out for you, both in play and from a PC power level and advancement perspective. Less actions means higher scores in those actions and faster gain since you have less less actions to distribute advances to.

Hello again!

I haven’t noticed a substantial difference from other FitD games that maintain 12 actions. I think the need for cyber ware for a 4th Action or Attribute dot helps there.

Also with so much focus on money to advance in tier and acquire playbook items, players tend to invest more in special abilities to give themselves an edge.

However this might shift in the late game, where I haven’t done as much testing.

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Update! Get your update here!

The latest version of Neon Black (v6.1) is now live on itch.

This one contains a lot of changes to downtime actions, for example:

  • Recovery: I think I have finally landed on some rules for recovering harm that I like. I wanted recovery to be faster than it is in Blades, but I also wanted a system that let harm linger so folks could get XP for struggling with it or to highlight a particularly memorable encounter. Now, you assemble a pool as is typical, either a PC’s Tinker action rating or the crew’s tier and remove harm based on the results (1-3: Remove all level 1 harm, 4/5: Move all harm down 1 level, 6: Move all harm down 2 levels, CRIT: Remove all harm). This fixes the biggest issue I have with recovery in other version of Blades, where even if you roll well that isn’t a guarantee that you recover any harm. This is also reflective in the tech level of Neon Black, high tech is available so when you get good treatment or pay for the good drugs you should be rewarded.
  • Crafting: I’ve made crafting a bit easier in this version. You still use your crew’s tier as a base but now the rolls break down thusly (1-3: tier, 4/5: tier+1, 6: tier+2, CRIT: tier+3). This helps to reinforce one of the central themes in the game: capitalism sucks, find alternatives. Crafting is hard to do without a significant investment of money at the start of the game, so raising the possible quality of what you can get will hopefully make this downtime action feel less like a credit drain.

I have also eliminated stash from the game. All funds are just cred now. Instead of rows of stash giving you new playbook items or advancing the crew’s tier, you get those whenever you gill a new row of 10 cred. Stash never really felt right in Neon Black. If almost every transaction is digital, there’s little fictional or mechanical difference between money you have on you right now, and money you have in the bank. I think this will help players get new playbook items faster, as well as increase in tier faster, and force the question of when the character’s want to end this life of freelancing.