Syndicate can be used as you see fit, it is not tied to
things explained later. It is your campaign and games, after all. If you do
not like something, change it. If you want crude realism, use it that way.
Syndicate is very flexible. If you want a detailed combat system, borrow
it from some other game. If you want another kind of world, take it from other
place. Things here are only to give you ideas, to get you started, to inspire
In Syndicate, action is everything. Act fast and think later. Do not
bog down with character sheets, dice rolls or equipment lists.
Welcome to the dark future of the mid-21st century. World politics are
strongly influenced by huge corporations struggling for power.
Human life in huge cities is cheap, fast and without future. Most of the Third World
countries are completely polluted and demolished in countless wars.
Syndicate is a roleplaying game for futuristic action/agent movies. If
you have never played roleplaying games before, this is one place to
start. Find an experienced game master (a person that runs RPGs)
and start playing. Details are not described here, find an
another RPG for that.
Basic Rules of Syndicate
Before you follow these steps, it might be a good idea to check out
the campaign details from your gamemaster. Some people do not like
characters who are more successful than the gamemaster's own miserable life.
- Action is everything. Do not bog it down with character
sheets, die rolls or equipment lists. Think too long, and
your character is wasted.
- No detailed system. Do not expect to get exact
information on success, combat or skill rolls. There is none.
Concentrate on playing and leave the details to the GM.
- Play your character. All skills, abilities and other
such things are so simplified that roleplaying is the only real way to
distinguish the characters from each other. And if your character
is a professional, so be it.
- Play it cinematic. Slide down the hills while firing.
Cover when fired at, and make short attacks before ducking
again. Take example from any good action film.
But remember, normal campaigns are not as cinematic as
some films. Realism is still there.
- Be careful. You can still be easily killed; cinematic
does not make you invulnerable. Do not be stupid and charge
a dozen armed men. Or try to survive a 20 meter drop.
- Play different characters. You do not have to be a
hitman or killer to survive in Syndicate. Wit and skills play
an important part, and trigger happy people just get more
The Corporate World
It is year 2039 and the world is a much meaner place to live in. Big
corporations rule the economic world and crush all those who oppose them.
Skill and knowledge are power, and those without either are worth less than
First came the wars in the Third World. Countless bombings with
biological and chemical weapons demolished most of the African, Asian
and South-American nations.
Then came the global depression, famine and collapse of the political system
in weaker countries. Various nature resources started to run out.
Recycling and reproducing were enforced and the real power moved to
those with power plants.
After the wars and the collapse of the totalitarianism, the corporations
expanded their power into Third World countries, making them more and more
dependent on corporate power and technology. Finally, in some countries,
a vote could be hired and thus the corporations could buy votes from the
For new resources and food, mass production was moved to the oceans.
Gigantic corporate food droids collect seaweed and other plants from
the sea, in order to produce cheap synthetic food and materials for everyday goods.
How to Start?
- Read the rules about characters, character creation and
check the equipment. Get the feel and idea and inspiration behind
- Create your character. Consult the GM where applicable.
Feel it, do not calculate it. Select your stuff according what is
suitable and feels good, not by numbers in the table. Do you want
a 100% professional always dressing in a suit, wearing and using
just the most professional equipment. Or a reckless computer and
electronics wiz going anywhere, anytime, following the latest
- Boost up your attitude - read novels and watch
movies. Your character is professional. Expert. Go for it.
Players of the old Syndicate version may ask, what is new. For a
start, system and characters are almost same as they were
earlier. The main difference is that all technology is tried to make
more realistic, by current visions of the near future.
In old times, Syndicate was like other cyberpunk games, with
cybernetic limbs and cyberspace hackers. Now, in last 5 years it has
evolved into realistic prognostication of near-future world of
corporate power. Many thanks especially to Ville Vuorela, who
gave the inspiration and boost to make this 5th edition - this
5th edition actually has many of his ideas and used with permission.
To get the idea and world behind Syndicate, some movies can be used
as inspiration. However, most films have some completely
out-of-balance unrealistic things, so do not expect to have
everything in them, just something:
- World/technology: Robocop, Running Man, Strange Days, Nemesis,
Ghost in the Shell, M:I 2, 6th Day
- Mood: Desperado, Terminator, Any John Woo Hong Kong
movie, Dobermann, Matrix
In Syndicate, my goal has been to create a very realistic near-future RPG. There
is some very advanced things like cybertechnology, but main aims are consistency
and a believable world. As part of this, all technology is based either to current
high-end things or predicted ones, and based on information from various
professionals and sources. Anyway, I have had no enough resources to double-check
all sources, and some things change as years go by. Thus, if you have any big flaws
in game system or world defination, please let me know.
Syndicate V: The
Corporate Future (c) Kalle Marjola 2001-2002. See generic