For early access to essays like this, as well as exclusive podcasts, fiction, and poetry, support me on Patreon
When you look at a setting like Night City in Cyberpunk Red, the first big question is this: How does anything get done in this kind of urban hellscape? From the corporations screwing over everyone, Solos and Netrunners looking to make a quick buck, and the Lawmen working side deals just to keep above dirt for another day, it’s a marvel that anything would get accomplished in the Dark Future of this game setting. And that’s where Fixers come in. For the right price, and a few favors to be named later, a Fixer can get what you want and what you need.
Where as the Exec Role functions in the upper echelons of society, Fixers are the street-level movers and shakers, which is apparent from their Role Ability Operator. From a game mechanics standpoint, Operator is built in a similar fashion to the Media’s Role Ability Credibility. For each Rank in Operator, a Fixer character has access to Contacts (who they know), Reach (the price category of goods and services they always have access to), Haggle (the unique ability Fixers have to make a deal for goods/services), and Grease (how well a Fixer can blend in to different cultures and subcultures on the Streets).
Since starting characters begin with four Ranks in their Role Ability, a starting Fixer has access to gang leaders, Execs, and well-known people within a given neighborhood (Contacts). They can get access to Expensive items without too much difficulty (Reach). When they buy five or more of the same item, they get one extra of that same item for free (Haggle). And they get along well enough with at least one other culture in the city that they gain a new Language with four ranks in it (Grease). The last one is significant because a starting character chooses their Cultural Background and gains four ranks in a language from that background at character creation (giving a starting two languages and cultures that they know well right from the start).
As Fixers increase their Rank in Operator, they can organize Night Markets and even Midnight Markets. In the Time of the Red (the current setting for Cyberpunk Red), it’s a time of scarcity due to the activities of the Fourth Corporate War. In this devastated landscape, getting access to high-end merchandise (electronics, weapons, cyberware, etc.) is difficult. Night Markets allow players and non-player characters a place to pick up these more expensive and hard-to-find items. Midnight Markets are the insiders-only markets, run by the crime lords and corporate executives of the Time of the Red. It’s in the Midnight Markets that the real merchandise is moved and traded, the rare items that people can and will literally kill for.
One other aspect of Fixers is their Haggle ability, which is unique to them. The economy of Cyberpunk Red is static, unlike some of the other role-playing games I’ve played in. When you see a price tag for a given item, that’s the fixed price for that item. In other systems, like Dungeons and Dragons for example, a player character could attempt to persuade the shopkeeper to cut them a discount. In Cyberpunk Red, the shopkeeper is just as likely to refuse you service for trying that and then shoot you if you persist. Fixers are able to cut deals that give them access to items for lower prices or higher quantity.
From a gameplay standpoint, Fixers can serve as the central figure in a group of players (much in the same way an Exec can). Going off the Streetrat Template for character creation, Fixers start off with higher ranks in Skills such as Conversation, Persuasion, Bribery, Forgery, Streetwise, and Trading. This isn’t to say that a Fixer can’t hold their own in a fight (this is Cyberpunk Red, after all) but their main function within a party is to be the talker and negotiator for the group. When the group is looking for work, the Fixer is the one who is the one fielding the requests from potential clients and negotiating the pay for each person in the crew. When it comes time to buy new equipment, the Fixer is the one who knows the right people to get access to a Night Market where the items can be found. And when it’s time to cover up a crime or a mistake, the Fixer is the one who knows which palms to grease to make the problem go away.
For a Gamemaster, having a Fixer in the party could be seen as a recipe for disaster in much the same way having a Media in the party can do the same thing. This would be a short-sighted mistake, however. With their deep connections to the Streets and various cultures, Fixers can get the crew of players into areas that would normally be closed off to them. The Fixer in the crew would also be a boon for the Gamemaster to use as the genesis of any given story arc by virtue of the Fixer being the one person a client would reach out to when a job needs to get done. And when the crew absconds with the loot from their labors, the Fixer is the one who can help the party make some extra eurobucks on the side with their ill-gotten gains.
In other words, if there’s a Fixer in the party, the sky’s the limit for what can be done, making them one of the more interesting options for player characters in Cyberpunk Red.