Stress Rules

In the harsh world of 2020, stress is a major problem and many people crack under the strain of every­day life. However, there is also a desensitization which acts as a counter-balance to lessen the impact of these increasingly stressful events. As the media floods us with images of horror and destruction, we become more accustomed to these events. The violent nature of life in 2020 serves to lessen the impact of some stressful events. Nevertheless, the world of Cyberpunk is still a very taxing place; one can never get used to being shot at.
This is not to say that people are any more stable than before or without emotion. Indeed, the constant strain of combat or living in an "urban battleground" can shake anyone's sanity. The standard Cyberpunk character deals with circumstances and events beyond the scope of typical contemporary ex­perience, and suffers a much higher risk of cracking. Therefore only the most stable of characters will last for long in the harsh world of Cyberpunk.

Stress Factor

The Stress Factor is a measure of the amount of stress a character is currently under. Stressful events will increase the character's Stress Factor, sometimes gradually, other times very quickly. This measures how well a character will react to those circumstances Cyberpunk characters find themselves in.
As the amount of pressure the character is under increases, the Stress Factor rises; when it gets too high, the character cracks. The worst case scenario is a person who cracks and goes over the edge. A character's COOL determines the amount of Stress Points the character can take before reaching new Stress Levels, as shown on the Stress Table. When a character exceeds the Stress Points for a level, they reach the next level and are subject to its full effects.

Example : a character with a COOL of 6 and 4 Stress Points (StP), would be Normal, but three more StP would make him Anxious, and he would now get a -1 penalty on all further COOL checks.
Note that these are not permanent modifiers, and change as the character's current Stress Level changes. Characters with a low COOL will not deal with stress well. Round down when dividing. These penalties will not take a stat below 2.

Stress Level

These are the effects of the different Stress Levels.


COOL /2Fresh+1 on all COOL checks
COOL x2Anxious-1 on all COOL checks; Insomnia
COOL x3Tense-2 on all COOL checks; -1 on all INT tasks; Insomnia (-2); Addiction checks at -2
COOL x4Stressed-3 on all COOL checks, -2 on all INT tasks; Insomnia (-4); Addiction checks at -4
COOL x5Cracked-5 on all COOL checks; -3 on all INT tasks; Insomnia (-6); Addiction checks at -6;Roll on Over the Edge Table

Over the Edge Table

Gaining Stress Points

There are two types of Stress Points : Straight and Fright. Straight Stress Points are taken immediately and automatically. Generally these are due to living conditions, life events, situational stresses, etc. They are randomized to reflect different people's reactions to different situations. Fright Stress Points are due to some temporary, disturbing event. Characters make Fright Checks to determine the amount, if any, StP are gained.

Straight Stress Points

There are many forms of Straight Stress Points. They are the daily hassles of life and events which can strain one's sanity. Here are some examples of Straight Stress circumstances and events with their Stress Point amounts. Note that these are merely guidelines and should be modified as desired to suit the situation. For example, a character who did not care much for their lover might only have half the Stress Points from the Events, whereas an executive whose life was the corporation might suffer double from being hunted by it.

Whenever Straight Stress applies, roll for the exact amount and add those points to the character's StP. When it is lost, subtract it. The GM should feel free to determine Straight Stress Points for other events using the following guidelines :

Living in suburb1
Living on the move1D6
Living downtown core1D6/3
Living in hostile environment (space, combat zone)2D6
Stressful Occupation1D6/2
Hazardous Occupation2D6
Very Hazardous Occupation3D6
Loved one injured/ill1D6/2
Fighting in relationship1D6/2
Relationship breaks up1D6
Loved one killed/dies2D6
Spouse dies3D6
Hunted by gang1D6/2
Hunted by corporation1D6
Hunted by the law2D6
Hunted by mega-corp/FBI/CIA3D6
Straight Stress Point Guidelines
Minor Nuisance1
Major Nuisance1D6/2
Unsettling *2D6
Very Disturbing3D6
Life Shattering4D6
* Note that all deaths of people close to the character are at least Unsettling.

Example : an ex-lover who is tracking a character down would be Annoying, unless they were armed and had made previous attempts on the character's life, in which case it would be Unsettling.

Fright Stress Points

Fright Stress points are due almost exclusively to particular unsettling circumstances that the character encounters. Being ambushed or fired upon, killing a person, being tortured, etc. These all require a COOL check to be made against the Fright Difficulty.

Characters used to combat (Solos, Nomads & Cops) get a +5 bonus on the combat-related checks. Similarly, those with related fields of interest get a +1 to +10 bonus in relation to their field (for example a disaster relief worker might get a +10 in reaction to a disaster hitting). Also, characters in a group of 3-19 people get a +1 bonus on all checks. If they are in a group of 20-100 people, a +2 bonus is given on all checks. Groups of over 100 people give a +4 bonus to all checks. One feels safer in a group.

Below are some sample Fright Difficulties. If the check's total equals or exceeds the Difficulty, the character can deal with the event. Otherwise, the character is frightened. Find the amount the check was failed by on the Fright table below to determine the effects.

Fright Difficulties

Under Single-Shot Fire10
Under Automatic fire15
Light Torture15
Getting Hit (wounded)15
Under Suppressive Fire20
Being Mortally Wounded20
Kill Someone at Distance20
Kill Someone Face-to-Face25
Heavy Torture30
Extreme Torture40
Discovering a corpse5
Witnessing torture/mutilation10
Discovering a mutilated corpse10
Being followed by someone10
Seeing a beast *15
Witness an unnatural event15
Minor Disaster15
Major Disaster20
Participate in unnatural event20
Seeing a beast kill someone *20
* A cyberpsycho with weird augmentations, a scary exotic or biowork, etc.

Fright Table

Example : a character with a COOL of 7 sees a cyberpsycho eating a person. This counts as seeing a beast kill someone, Diff 20. The player rolls a 5; since the character gets no bonuses, the total is 12. The check is failed by 8, and the character is surprised for 2 turns. He rolls 2D6 and gets 7, so he takes 7 Stress Points instantly. Having already had 8, he is now at 15 Stress Points. The character is now Tense.

Losing Stress Points

Stress points disappear 1D10 hours after the source of the stress is removed or after a night's sleep (min. 8 hours). If the source of the stress is ongoing, the only way to eliminate it is through therapy.


The knowledge of psychology is used whworld of Cyberpunk.en conducting therapy. The Difficulty is 20 for normal Stress Points. However, if the character has gone Over the Edge, then the difficulty listed after the applicable insanity must be made. In this case, the character's Stress Level must return to Fresh before therapy for the insanity can begin.
Every attempt for therapy requires one hour, which is the maximum amount of therapy in a 3 day period, and it cures 1D6/2 points (round up). This can cost up to 1000 eb or as low as 100 eb from trained professionals, or from a character with Psychology skill. However one cannot treat himself.


The New Age movement did one good thing for Cyberpunks, and that was to introduce meditation. Many police officers use meditation to counter the effects of extremely stressful lives. It is one way to stay sane, so many modern combat veterans learn meditation to deal with their stressful lives.

Meditation is one way for characters to help themselves. At a Difficulty of 20, the character can remove 1 ongoing Stress Point after one hour of meditation. This can only be done once per 24 hours. It is one way to stay sane, so many modern combat veterans learn meditation to deal with their stressful lives.