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Hard Wired Island

Hard Wired Island



Humanity has spread to space. GRAND CROSS is a space station orbiting Earth, a high-tech city, and a gateway to the stars. But in this distant future, it's in crisis...

HARD WIRED ISLAND is a retrofuture cyberpunk TTRPG, inspired by 90s anime. This 400-page PDF includes:

  • An easy-to-learn system where social actions and problem-solving skills are at least as important as hacking and getting into fights.
  • A shorter player reference document for quick rule access.
  • An alternate 2020 setting in an O'Neill cylinder near Earth.
  • Descriptions of the many areas of Grand Cross, from the busy downtown Voyager Ward to the high-tech parkland of Mariposa to the Agriculture Ring that feeds the station.
  • Seven Occupations, including the Fixer, the Hacker, and the Influencer, along with a plethora of character options.
  • Over 100 detailed NPC descriptions, from corporate heavyweights to android crime lords to just regular citizens of an Earth-orbit city.
  • A flexible mission prep system that allows characters to adapt their plans on the fly without wasting their earlier efforts.
  • A wealth system that tracks the financial burdens placed on you by the capitalist system you live in.
  • A cybernetics system that doesn't dehumanize you for installing augments.
  • A lot of great art from a lot of great artists.
(For a preview of the game, see the Hard Wired Island Kickstarter Preview.)

View from the space station interior


When we say HARD WIRED ISLAND is cyberpunk, here's what that means to us.

  • Capitalism? No thanks. Good cyberpunk is anti-capitalist. It's about how technology without ethics can make social inequality worse. The wealthy use it to cement their power and perpetuate the status quo, while marginalized communities are kept that way. The PCs want to use it to break the current system. They work against their enemies, not for them.
  • Cyberpunk should be relevant. It is a study of where our society could go in the coming years. The issues faced by people in a cyberpunk setting should have some relevance to issues faced by the audience, even if they're not the same. Retro future, present problems.
  • Cybernetics are not inherently good or bad. Like most tech, what matters is how it's used. In Hard Wired Island, the problem is that cybernetics often serves the needs of capital rather than people; Any alienating or dysphoric effects come from being reshaped into some corporation's property. There is no mechanic that suggests wearing a prosthetic makes you less human, or prone to mental illness; instead, the tradeoff of augments is adding to your financial burdens.
  • Cyberpunk is not just an aesthetic. Cyberpunk shouldn't just be about the neon-lit adventures of a group of trenchcoat futurists as they amass wealth and power through violence. Hard Wired Island is about a group of marginalized people using technology to try to change the status quo.
  • Many perspectives. Good cyberpunk examines how technology and power intersect in many different communities. As an orbital space station, the city of Grand Cross can and should include perspectives from all over the world. The setting includes cyborgs and androids, but they're not stand-ins for minorities; they have their own identities and issues, which can change depending on how they intersect with other things.
Cyborg sample PC


HARD WIRED ISLAND's system uses six-sided dice.

  • The system includes rules and unique actions for Social situations, Stealth, Hacking, and Conflict.
  • Each character has one or more Occupations, which define how your character solves problems: the Fixer, the Hacker, the Influencer, the Operator, the Soldier, the Street Fighter, and the Thief. Each has its own unique abilities.
  • Instead of wealth, characters track their Burden, which represents how comfortably they can live on Grand Cross. Between missions, characters can suffer an Economic Shock that affects how well they can perform; higher Burdens risk more frequent Shocks.
  • Before missions, characters create a pool of points called Prep which can be spent later on items, flashbacks, and other bonuses. This flexible system allows characters to adapt and change their plans on the fly without wasting their earlier efforts.
  • Characters can install cybernetic Augments to improve themselves, at the cost of increasing their Burden. (Cosmetic and medical Augments are free, so if you just want to have cat ears or a cyber-arm without any bonuses, go for it!) You can even replace your body with a full-body prosthetic.
  • Further rules allow characters to grow and call on a Community of side characters during play, or make a little extra side-cash with a Gig Work App.
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Reviews (7)
Discussions (22)
Customer avatar
Adam L June 09, 2021 6:00 pm UTC
Could you explain what changed in the update today? I don't see an update log anywhere, so I'm curious.
Customer avatar
Paul M June 10, 2021 3:15 am UTC
Not much compared to the last one! Simple opponents can now Boost their attack rolls if they roll a critical, if the GM wants to make them especially tough. The rest is just general fixes. -Hopefully- this'll be the last one.
Customer avatar
Colin C June 03, 2021 9:58 pm UTC
So much for all the naysayers and their, "It's too expensive/it won't sell, etc." rubbish. It has sold well over 1000 copies in PDF since it went up according to Ettin on Discord (which is a big number for such a small press indie item), is still in the Top 10 on DTRPG, and both of those facts are after it had also already successfully Kickstarted too. And no, those 1000+ copies are not including the Kickstarter backer PDFs, they're actually extra copies sold since. The success is well deserved and while it's not going to make anyone rich, creators definitely deserve to be fairly recompensed.
Customer avatar
Toni K May 16, 2021 10:27 pm UTC
Looks awesome, I would love to have the book as a hardcover
Customer avatar
Joshua C May 12, 2021 7:25 am UTC
Here's an interesting overview/review:
Customer avatar
Federico S May 12, 2021 3:03 am UTC
Hello guys! First of all i love the art!

Second of all.Is there any chance that the book will be translate to other language,say..spanish?
Customer avatar
Gary A May 10, 2021 10:34 pm UTC
Any update on where/when we can buy this in hardcopy?
Customer avatar
Julian P May 06, 2021 1:48 pm UTC
Thanks for adding the fillable character sheet, those are nice to have for any game, I think. That said, I noticed a problem: The fields for the "Cool" and "Clever" skills are somehow linked, so that if you fill in one, the other automatically has the same value filled in. This doesn't make sense, since you are supposed to assign different values to all 4 skills at character creation (if I'm not mistaken). Both fields are named "Ability Skill_Row_1" (this is what BOTH fields display when I hover the mouse over them). Maybe this has something to do with it?
Customer avatar
John W May 09, 2021 7:00 am UTC
Can confirm that this is not specific to Julian
Customer avatar
Colin C May 10, 2021 8:09 am UTC
That's an error on my part creating the fields. Updating now.
Customer avatar
Jeff M May 06, 2021 8:14 am UTC
Hey guys, at first I thought Grand Cross was inspired by Gundam, after reading the inspirations and sources : yup it s definitely from Policenauts (''Like in my anime'' Otacon at Black Moses)
Customer avatar
Benji T May 02, 2021 1:12 pm UTC
Not a typo, but there are two entries for Neo Rio on page 393. I'm all for having more Neo Rio's, but pointing it out just in case it wasn't intentional
Customer avatar
Paul M May 09, 2021 8:15 am UTC
Got it, thanks for the heads up!
Customer avatar
Kyrinn S. E May 02, 2021 4:49 am UTC
What are the origins of your, 'What Cyberpunk Means to Us', bullet-points?
Customer avatar
KarlEmil N May 03, 2021 1:32 pm UTC
If anything, to finally retake the genre from the people who have completely misunderstood or corrupted it to make it a set dressing and not a message, the message of anti-capitalism.

Lots of respect, I wanna take a look at this.
Customer avatar
Jude S April 29, 2021 2:13 am UTC
Is there much in the way of spacefaring in this game? I saw in the comments you mentioned that Cowboy Bebop was an inspiration for this, so I wanted to know if you could do something along those lines.
Customer avatar
April 29, 2021 2:58 pm UTC
I'm wondering that too. I'd like to maybe homebrew an alt-setting with multiple (exploitive) L5 stations and movement between them.
Customer avatar
Freyja Katra E April 29, 2021 5:05 pm UTC
Hey there! The setting of the game assumes you will stay on one space station and that space travel Bebop style isn't there yet. The bebop inspiration was more about space as a cosmopolitan, international phenomenon of varied people in urban landscapes. There's nothing that says you can't change the setting, however.

Hope that helps!
Customer avatar
April 28, 2021 9:00 am UTC
Trying real hard to wait to be able to get print + pdf together...
Customer avatar
Greg S April 27, 2021 1:18 am UTC
Is this going to be available for Print On Demand? I like my RPG games in print.
Customer avatar
Kai T April 27, 2021 2:24 am UTC
Per another comment, "Not POD, but we're planning to do a proper print/distribution run of these sometime next month."
Customer avatar
Wayne R April 26, 2021 8:47 pm UTC
Thanks again for the quickstart! The game looks fantastic! My follow up question is do you have any plans to support virtual tabletops. I personally use FoundryVTT but am curious in general. Cheers!
Customer avatar
Paul M April 28, 2021 2:22 pm UTC
No plans yet (and I don't know what VTTs people use these days), but I made a Roll20 module for my last big project (Breakfast Cult) and it was a lot of fun. I'll think about it once I wrap up print/the KS/etc., but if it did happen it'd be a ways off, so no promises!
Customer avatar
sean K April 25, 2021 6:18 pm UTC
Ok this looks cool, I like the rolld6's aspect (its similar to a few other RPG's I've played) and the concept of it being based off of 90's anime is interesting Aspect to play around with and the 2 pieces of art I can see look stunning, but I was wondering how these aspects work together, at least from your view?

I've seen Cyberpunk Red and their thing is cool, but yours looks like a original take on the cyberpunk genera. I'm hoping that Hard Wired Island is a good book/system but I have seen some systems that have a original idea and everything but failed to make the gameplay fun/work to well, I do know I'm going to try the mechanics with a few friends but its not a lot to go on for setting so it would be more to judge how well the game play's VS's how well the ideas for the setting is done...
Customer avatar
Colin C April 25, 2021 8:16 am UTC
I'm intrigued by this game. How does it deal with movement and range in combat? Concrete, e.g. move X meters, that gun has a range of Y meters, etc. OR abstract, e.g. broad, loose range bands and narrative areas, simple movement of move one band/area per action?
Customer avatar
Paul M April 25, 2021 1:01 pm UTC
Conflict is on the abstract side! Areas are mostly defined by Arena Tags, which describe what the conditions are like (close quarters, bad footing, hazardous, etc.) and may apply a penalty to certain actions (e.g. in Close Quarters arenas, guns are disadvantaged against melee attacks). Beyond that combat is mostly about how you describe it.
Customer avatar
Colin C April 26, 2021 2:42 am UTC
Many thanks, that's all good to hear.
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on April 22, 2021.
Weird Age Games
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