DRUG LAB 101 – Ocelots Drug Generation Rule for Cyberpunk 2020


for Cyberpunk 2020 by Gary Astleford, published with permission


For lack of a better excuse, this file is a result of wanting a more detailed drug system that covers more possibilities. It’s based off of the information supplied in the CP2020 rulebook, the “Hardwired,” “When Gravity Fails,” and “Protect and Serve” supplements, and the Interface magazines (specifically Issue 3 of Volume 1). If drugs aren’t an important part of your campaign, you may want to stick with the normal rules found in the core rulebook. However, a good deal of Cyberpunk literature (Gibson, Williams, and Effinger’s stuff especially) involves the main characters and their struggles with drugs.
When creating a drug, you must ask some questions :

  1. ) What does the drug do? What benefits does the drug grant the user? Why would anyone want to take such a drug?
  2. ) What sorts of negative side effects are there? Do these effects occur after taking the drug, or when it wears off?
  3. ) How strong is the drug? Is it powerful or mild? How easy is it to overdose on this drug?
  4. ) How long do the effects last?
  5. ) Is the drug illegal, or can you buy it at any drug or liquor store?
  6. ) What form does the drug come in? Do you swallow it, snort it, or shoot it?

With these optional rules, you can create new and interesting chemicals to cripple your characters with. The basic formula from the standard rules still applies. You choose the Drug Effect(s) you want, and add the costs together. Next, you choose any Side Effects that want your drug to have. Side effects reduce the base difficulty number. After side effects, you choose the drug’s Strength, which adds from between 1 and 5 to the base difficulty, and then you choose its duration, which multiplies the base difficulty by 1, 2, or 3 times (the longer the drug lasts, the harder it is to produce).
Once all the numbers have been assimilated, you have the drug’s base difficulty. A base difficulty can never be a negative amount, and at the very least must equal 1. If, by chance, you end up with a negative number, drop the negative and use it as if it were positive (drugs that really mess you up aren’t all that easy to make, either). The base difficulty multiplied
by the drug’s legality modifier will give you the drug’s base cost in Eurodollars. The last step you take is to choose what form the drug comes in. The drug’s form will affect its final street cost.
In the Beginning, man created drugs. And for a while, they were good.
That is, until they wore off…


People take drugs for any number of reasons. The most common among these is to “escape.” The drug makes you feel good, and for a while you forget your problems. It’s a form of relaxation, like a chemical massage. The reasons cyberpunks take drugs are similar, but there’s also more to it than that. Some people take drugs to give them that extra something, that special “edge” that makes them just that much better. While much of this can be psychological, some of it can be attributed to a drug’s effect on the person’s physiology.
Below are listed certain drug effects, what happens if you OD (see OVERDOSE) while taking one, and what they mean to the discerning pharmaceutical gourmet. Base difficulties are listed in parentheses. Note that a drug effect can only be bought ONCE.

ANTIBIOTIC (Difficulty 10)

These drugs prevent infection, or stop an existing one. While I could fill an entire file on microbiology, and the effects of antibiotics on germs, this would do very little for game play. Assume that an antibiotic, when employed against an infection that is susceptible to it, will cause the infection to cease spreading and the user to become well more quickly, where the strength of the drug is the multiplier. For example, someone with strep throat who takes a +2 STR antibiotic will get well twice as fast, and so on.
OD: Overdosing on antibiotics will cause severe nausea and diarrhea for 1d6 days.

ANTICOAGULANT (Difficulty 10)

The opposite of coagulants. Anticoagulants prevent blood from clotting. While usable as a quick antidote from a coagulant overdose, such drugs can also be employed to allow an affected user to bleed to death. Assume that someone who has used anticoagulants and is subsequently wounded for four or more points of damage will lose an additional point per turn until he dies from blood loss or the bleeding is stopped.
OD: Extreme hemophilia will result in the case of anticoagulant overdose. Even the smallest cuts (1 point of damage or more) will bleed heavily, and the user will suffer 1 point of damage per turn until he exsanguinates or the wound is stanched.

ANTIDOTE (Difficulty 15)

Antidotes add their strength to saves made against poisons, toxins, etc. Normally, these drugs are tailored to reduce the effects of one specific substance, or negate them altogether.
OD: Most antidotes are almost poisons in their own right, and anyone overdosing on them will suffer the effects of minor poisoning. Treat this poisoning as the drug’s STR in D6 poison damage. For example, overdosing on a +3 STR antidote would cause 3D6 damage to the user.

APHRODISIACS (Difficulty 10)

These drugs increase a person’s sex drive and libido. The user will be physically uncomfortable unless involved in a sexual situation, and in the case of some stronger drugs, this may not even help unless the user is continually stimulated. While under the influence, the user has a negative modifier to seduction checks equal to the drug strength.
OD: The character’s sexual urges cannot be satisfied, and his state of arousal will not diminish for up to several days or weeks.


This increases an attribute by the drug’s strength rating for the drug’s duration. Almost any attribute can be increased. Such attributes include Reflex, Intelligence, Body, Movement Allowance, Empathy, Cool, and Tech.
OD: If an overdose occurs, roll 1d10. On a roll of 1-5, you have lost a point from the attribute in question, permanently.

COAGULANT (Difficulty 10)

These drugs cause blood to clot, and prevent blood loss. In games where blood loss is a genuine concern, assume that a patient’s blood loss is reduced by as many points as the drug has in STR. In other cases where blood loss does not apply, the drug STR may be added to a First Aid or Medtech roll when stabilizing a patient.
OD: An overdose of coagulants can cause blood to clot inside a healthy body, unavoidably causing death. Make a death save as if you were at Mortal 2, with a -4 modifier. Failure indicates death.

CONTRACEPTIVE (Difficulty 10)

These drugs prevent pregnancy. They have a base effectiveness of 80%, plus 5% for every point of drug strength.
OD: An overdose of contraceptive drugs can cause sterility. Roll 1d10. On a roll of 1, the user is sterile and cannot sire children.

DEPRESSANT (Difficulty 5)

Depressants slow you down. They reduce tension, stress, and help you relax. The down side is that they also reduce your Reflex score by an amount equal to the drug’s strength. While you may wonder why someone might want to take a drug like this, remember that alcohol is a depressant, and it’s the most popular drug around.
OD: Taking too many depressants will cause the character to make a stun/shock at -2 or slip into a deep sleep/coma for 1d10 hours.


The user of these sorts of drugs starts to notice the most intricate of details. While this adds the drug’s strength to his Awareness score for the duration, the user may be overcome by his increased sensory powers. Loud noises, bright lights, intense tastes, and strong odors have twice the normal effect on him.
OD: Anyone suffering the effects of overdosing on Enhanced Perception drugs will be completely overwhelmed by his senses, and cannot perform any actions. There is a 25% chance that he will suffer from terrible hallucinations.

EUPHORIC (Difficulty 5)

These drugs make you feel really, REALLY good. They give a “rush” that lasts for as long as the drug’s duration.
OD: Overdosing on a euphoric generally makes you very sick, including nausea, cold sweats, and either sleeplessness or sleepiness.

HALLUCINOGEN (Difficulty 10)

Wow, man, look at the butterflies. These drugs make the user see things that aren’t there. While under the influence, or “tripping,” the user is prone to see anything his frying imagination can cook up. Such hallucinations depend on the mood of the subject (as well as the GM!), but aren’t usually terrible unless the drug itself is bad.
OD: If overdosed on, assume that the hallucinogenic “trip” goes completely bad. In the case of extremely traumatic hallucinations, mental illness may result (ie, phobias, etc.).

HYPNOTIC (Difficulty 15)

Hypnotic drugs, in high doses, are used to produce sleep during surgery. In low doses, they make many users speak and talk less guardedly about things they might otherwise have trouble speaking about. Due to this side-effect, hypnotics are routinely used as “truth serums” by corporate, military, and government agencies. In game terms, hypnotic drugs reduce the user’s COOL by their strength, while at the same time granting a bonus equal to the drug’s strength to anyone using Interrogation, Human Perception, or Interview on the subject.
OD: Hypnotics, if taken in large doses, cause a deep anesthesia for 1d10 hours.


These drugs include most stimulants. While under the influence of these types of drugs, the user has increased energy and stamina. This is reflected by adding the drug’s strength to his Endurance skill checks. However, someone under the influence of such a drug may have trouble sleeping.
OD: In the case of an OD, the user must make a stun/shock save at -2. In the case of a failure, he suffers from a heart attack, and must then make a death save as if at Mortal 0 or die.


These drugs speed up the body’s natural healing process by .5 points per point of drug strength per day. Available only by prescription.
OD: If healing drugs are taken to the point of overdose, assume that the user enters a severe state of shock as the body attempts to heal nonexistent wounds and injuries, and must make a death save at Mortal 0 or die.

PAIN NEGATION (Difficulty 10)

Pain killers, plain and simple. These drugs allow the user to ignore wound penalties by one level per strength point the drug has. For example, someone who is seriously wounded and takes a +1 STR pain killer acts as if he is only lightly wounded, and so forth.
OD: The user must make a successful unmodified stun/shock save or slip into a coma for 1d10 hours.

SOPORIFIC (Difficulty 5)

Soporifics put you to sleep. Otherwise known as sleeping pills or tranquilizers. A user who wishes to resist the effects of these drugs must roll a body check using the strength of the drug as a negative modifier. Failure indicates immediate unconsciousness for the duration of the drug. Success means that the user gets a negative modifier equal to the drug’s STR to ALL actions until the drug wears off.
OD: We all know what happens when you take too many sleeping pills. You go to sleep and never wake up. Assume that without proper treatment, someone who has ODed on soporifics will die (no death save is given) or enter a deep coma which will last for 1d10 days.

STUN REDUCERS ( Difficulty 10)

Like pain killers, but these are usually taken before one is actually wounded. They allow the user to gain a bonus to his stun/shock and death saves, +1 for each point of drug strength. People under the influence of powerful stun-reducing drugs have been known to walk through a shower of high caliber bullets as if pebbles were being rained upon them. Of course, most of them died later on.
OD: In the case of most stun reducing drugs, an overdose will cause the user to become extremely hostile and enter a psychotic rage akin to the side effect (see SIDE EFFECTS).


Drug Features are beneficial modifications that can be worked into drugs. They add a significant amount of difficulty, but the benefits they grant are sometimes worth it. Difficulty Cost Modifiers are listed in parentheses. Note that a drug feature can only be taken once per drug.


Only usable for addictive drugs. Withdrawal symptoms are half as bad as they would normally be. A drug with the “Severe Withdrawal Symptoms” side effect cannot contain this feature.

LONGER DURATION (Cost Modifier +10)

When the drug is taken, roll the duration and then double the result.

TIMED DURATION (Cost Modifier +10)

Drug duration lasts as long as is specified in the description, but no longer than the maximum duration. For instance, a drug with a medium duration can last anywhere from ten to sixty minutes, but no longer. Drugs with this side effect usually require exact dosages based on the weight of the subject. Note that giving a subject too much of a drug with this feature will produce an immediate overdose, while giving a subject too little will have no effect at all.


Side effects are the bad things that drugs do to you. They come in two varieties – UNTIMED and TIMED.
Untimed side effects are the big, bad ones. They happen as soon as the drug is imbibed, and cause permanent damage to the user of the drug. Each Untimed effect can only be used in a drug’s creation once.
There are two types of Timed side effects: IMMEDIATE and DELAYED. Immediate side effects manifest as soon as the drug takes effect, while Delayed side effects occur after the drug wears off (ie, “hangover”). When choosing a Timed side effect for a drug, you must specify if the effect you are adding to your cocktail is either Immediate or Delayed. Note that the same side effect can be taken twice, one for an Immediate effect and one for a Delayed one. Immediate effects last until the drug wears off. Delayed effects kick in as soon as the drug wears off, and last as long as the drug’s previously rolled duration.
Timed side effects can be bought as “possible side effects” at 1/2 cost, dropping fractions. A possible side effect only occurs on a 1D10 roll of 1-5. For instance, if “Kidney/Liver Failure” is bought as a possible side effect, it will grant only a -4 cost modifier (instead of -8), and its effects will only be felt 50% of the time.
The list of side effects follows. Difficulty Cost Modifiers are listed in parentheses. Note that stat reductions are cumulative.



People who are addicted to the drug gain a tolerance to its effects. While still hooked on the drug, they gain no benefit from it unless they double or triple their dosage. Even when the dosage is upped, users only gain benefits equal to those normally indicated for a second (or third) dose (which is to say, half), but they are still at risk of overdose.

CARCINOGENIC (Cost Modifier -10)

The drug causes cancer in laboratory tests, and the Surgeon General recommends that you stick a loaded gun in your mouth as opposed to taking the substance. Every time you use the substance, roll 1D100 (or have your GM do it for you, secretly). On a roll of 01-03, you’ve got a little bitty tumor growing somewhere in your body. Of course, tumors continue to spread and grow, don’t they…


This particularly deadly side effect indicates that the drug puts massive strain on the user’s heart, risking a severe heart attack. Roll 1D10. On a result of 1-3, cardiac arrest results. Roll another 1D10, and then make a death save as if you were at the resulting Mortal level. For example, if the second 1D10 roll results in a 6, the user makes a death save as if at Mortal 6. Failure indicates death.

COMA (Cost Modifier -10)

By using this drug, characters risk falling into a deep coma. When the drug is taken, roll 1D10. On a result of 1-3, the character becomes comatose for 1D10 days per strength point of the drug. Unless properly cared for, death will most likely result from starvation and dehydration.

DEATH (Cost Modifier -15)

The drug that this side effect is attached to is no better than poison. Each time you use it, you must make a Death Save as if you were at Mortal 2. Failure indicates your heart stops and you die. Pretty simple, eh?

GENETIC DAMAGE (Cost Modifier -6)

Drugs with this side effect screw with a person’s genes. In practical terms, this can result in severe birth defects among the user’s progeny. Make a note every time the drug is taken. If the user ever manages to sire a child, roll 1D10. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of times the drug has been taken by the user in his lifetime, there may be some sort of defect/mutation in his child. To determine the defect, use the “Offspring Mutation Table” on page 22 of “Deep Space,” treating all rolls of “Favorable” as “Harmless.”

NERVE DEGENERATION (Cost Modifier -15)

This side effect is reserved for those really nasty drugs that only idiots and guinea pigs imbibe of. Every time you use this drug, your Reflex stat is reduced by 2. If it ever reaches 1, you’ve contracted a serious case of Parkinson’s Disease, and all you can do is drool. At least you can use those neat handicapped parking spaces now. If it goes to 0 or below, roll up a new character, chombotta, and remember to say no to drugs.

NIGHTMARES (Cost Modifier -6)

This drug causes terrible nightmares in users. The first time a user of such a drug sleeps after a dose, he must roll under his COOL -4. Failure indicates that he wakes up screaming after 1D6 hours of restless slumber, and will be unable to sleep again for hours afterwards. Nightmares caused by the side effect cannot be recalled by the user, and reflect on his most primal fears. Addicts of such drugs often use them in conjunction with stimulants since they know that monsters are waiting for them behind their closed eyelids…


The drug causes the user to lose a sense (touch, smell, hearing, taste, or sight) permanently. Roll 1D10. On a roll of 1-3, the affected sense is gone, forever. This is due to nerve damage, so senses enhanced with cybernetics (ie, optics, hearing modules, tactile boosts, etc.) are affected as well. It is possible to regain the sense with expensive nanosurgery involving nerve reconstruction.

PHYSIOLOGICALLY ADDICTIVE (Cost Modifier -5/-10/-15)

These drugs are physiologically addictive. A drug with this side effect causes the user to physically require the drug in order to function. Like “Psychologically Addictive”, this side effect has three costs which reflect on how addictive the chemical in question is. -5 is Slightly Addictive, -10 is Mildly Addictive, and -15 reflects that the drug is Highly Addictive.


This side-effect covers the possible loss of an attribute from a variety of factors which could result from drug ingestion. Attributes that can be damaged this way include Intelligence and Tech (brain damage), Reflex and Movement Allowance (nerve degeneration), Body (immunodeficiency and muscle atrophy), and Empathy and Cool (psychological damage). Every time you take the drug in question, roll 1d10. On a roll of 1-3, you’ve lost a point from one of these attributes permanently.


This side effect reflects the psychological effect the drug has on its user. A user who is psychologically addicted to a substance is convinced he needs the drug, and feels he can’t perform without it. This side effect has three costs, reflecting on how ddictive the substance in question is. -4 is Slightly Addictive, -8 is Mildly Addictive, and -12 reflects that the drug is Highly Addictive.


Only usable for addictive drugs. Withdrawal symptoms are twice as bad as they would normally be. A drug with the “Lessened Withdrawal Symptoms” feature cannot contain this side effect.

STERILITY (Cost Modifier -8)

Using this drug can cause the junkie to become unable to sire children by damaging his sexual glands directly. In severe cases, sexual function is completely impaired, and impotence will result. Roll 1d10 each time the drug is used. On a roll of 1-3, the user’s sexual fertility is destroyed.


ACNE (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug causes the user’s face to break out due to excess oil production or stress. Normally, this could start out as a small problem, but frequent use of the drug can cause a more serious acne problem to develop (negative modifiers to ATT, as well as the increased chance of infection).


A character experiencing such behavior will act to satisfy his own needs with little regard for the feelings of others, is irritable and easily provoked. He will not back down from a fight, and may even attempt to initiate one. He will have no respect for authority, and any suggestion that he is incapable of anything will be seen as a challenge. Gee, sounds like your typical Cyberpunk character…

BAD BREATH (Cost Modifier -2)

This side effect indicates that halitosis develops. The character’s breath will be incredibly rank, granting him a -3 modifier to all social rolls involving direct, face-to-face contact. No amount of brushing or listerine will help.

BLOODSHOT EYES (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug induces red, puffy, bloodshot eyes. Vision is not impaired.

COLD SWEATS (Cost Modifier -2)

This side effect causes the character to sweat for no apparent reason. No amount of anti-perspirant will do, since every pore on his body is working a double shift. Sweaty characters suffer no real modifications, though they may grow dehydrated or get the chills in cold or air-conditioned environments (-1 to all checks involving Reflex). Their palms will be slippery, and they will stink. Incredibly sweaty characters may also incur negative modifiers to social rolls.

CONSTIPATION (Cost Modifier -2)

Constipation prevents a character from performing normal bowel movements for the duration of the side effect. No matter how bad the character feels he has to go, no amount of straining, grunting, or groaning will help. The character will feel as if he is carrying a lead weight in his colon, and will receive a -1 modifier to all actions involving physical exertion, including Initiative rolls.

COWARDICE (Cost Modifier -6)

The character will exhibit his most timid side, and will be more likely to run from trouble. Any time the character tries to accomplish a task which may cause him physical harm, he must make a Save against Cool at -2 in order to show some guts and stick around. If he fails, he must run or hide, whichever is more convenient.

DANDRUFF/ECZEMA (Cost Modifier -2)

The user’s skin cracks and peels away. This side effect could be confined to the user’s scalp, a specific part of the body, or the body as a whole. Complications include reduced Attractiveness. In addition, the user tends to leave little bits of himself behind at crime scenes, and police will have no problem isolating his DNA.

DEHYDRATION (Cost Modifier -2)

The subject cannot retain water at all, and will suffer from symptoms such as cotton mouth and dry eyes. This side effect is usually accompanied by either nausea, diarrhea, diuretic, cold sweats, or a combination of the four.

DELUSIONS (Cost Modifier -5)

Anyone suffering from delusions is under the impression that something that is highly unlikely is actually happening. Such delusions can be as minor as believing that Saburo Arasaka is controlled by aliens, or as serious as believing that you actually ARE Saburo Arasaka.

DEPRESSION (Cost Modifier -4)

The character becomes depressed, and doesn’t feel like doing anything. Anything he attempts to do will suffer a -2 modifier, because he just doesn’t really care. Severe cases of depression can cause feelings of hopelessness, and characters who are normally unstable may feel like dropping the final curtain by committing suicide.

DIARRHEA (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug causes sudden, painful, and explosive diarrhea. The unlucky soul will be unable to control his bowels for more than a few moments at a time.


Anyone experiencing the effect of difficult respiration is suffering from either shortness of breath, asthma-like symptoms, a tightening of the diaphragm muscles, or a combination of the three. On a roll of 1 on 1D10 indicates the subject cannot, in fact, breathe at all, and will suffocate unless proper medical attention has been administered. Running is out of the question, as is most other high- and low-impact exercise.

DIURETIC (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug increases the amount of urine produced and secreted by the body. The user affected by this will exhibit excessive urination, at least once per hour of the effect’s duration, if not more.

DIZZINESS (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug causes severe dizziness. The character suffering this effect will have trouble walking in a straight line or, for that matter, standing. This results in the user’s Reflex and MA being halved for the duration of the side effect. In addition, he looks damn weird as he lurches around, bumping into objects and people.

EASILY BRUISED (Cost Modifier -2)

Even small bumps and thumps leave large bruises on the user. These bruises tend to be painful and noticeable, but don’t affect the user otherwise.


The drug causes the user’s salivary glands to work double time. Unless he continues to swallow his saliva as it is produced, it will dribble down his chin and onto his body in an incredibly disgusting fashion. This side effect can also be used to emulate the “mad dog” effect of foaming at the mouth.

FLATULENCE (Cost Modifier -2)

The user gets terrible abdominal gas, and must vent uncontrollably for the duration. While being mildly painful, the real disadvantage to this side effect comes with the stench it causes, as well as the potential embarrassment. Then again, there are people who enjoy this sort of thing, so who am I to judge?

HAIR LOSS (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug causes hair loss in both men and women. Eighty or ninety percent of the user’s head hair falls out effortlessly in large clumps. Most users of the drug are left with a mangy-looking scalp and small patches of unhealthy-looking hair here and there, modifying the character’s ATT by -2 or more.

HALLUCINATIONS (Cost Modifier -5)

This side effect causes unlooked-for hallucinations. Such hallucinations can be traumatic or harmless, depending on the situation. Any Hallucinogenic drug with this side effect causes a “bad trip” 95% of the time.

HEADACHES (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug causes blinding headaches. The character cannot focus on anything for long periods of time, and has trouble seeing. Loud noises and bright lights will make this side effect worse.


The drug causes an excess production of stomach acids. While this is uncomfortable and rarely serious, it can result in ulcers in the stomach and esophagus.

HIVES (Cost Modifier -4)

The character develops itchy and painful hives all over his body. Not only does he suffer from the “Itchy” side-effect, but the have-related rash covering his body is obvious and unattractive, as well as being incredibly uncomfortable.


While the user might desire to have sex, he or she is physically incapable for the duration of the side effect.


The drug makes little pains feel much, much bigger. Big pains will incapacitate the character as he writhes around in agony. While this effect lasts, the character makes all stun/shock saves at -2, and gains a -4 to resist torture.

INSOMNIA (Cost Modifier -4)

The character cannot sleep, no matter how tired he is. Characters suffering from lack of sleep tend to be cranky and unable to concentrate. Subtract -1 from all actions until the character gets at least six hours of sleep.

INTERNAL BLEEDING (Cost Modifier -4)

For some reason, the drug causes the user’s guts to hemorrhage and bleed. For every two hours of side effect duration (or every fraction thereof), the user takes one box of damage. Blood may show up in the users stools, urine, and/or vomit.

IRRATIONAL FEAR (Cost Modifier -10)

Anyone suffering this side effect will develop a sudden intense fear of a random object, thing, or circumstance, determined by the Game Master. The character will stop at nothing to put as much distance between himself and the object/situation he fears. If escape is impossible, he will fight like a cornered animal.

ITCHY (Cost Modifier -3)

The character suffers from a terrible itchy sensation all over his body. No amount of scratching or hydrocortisone will stop the irritation. Due to trouble concentrating, the character is at -1 to all activities. Habitual users of drugs that cause itching are usually walking scabs.


Taking this drug will cause a user’s kidneys and liver to work overtime while filtering his blood stream of the nasty substance. This can cause these organs to fail. Roll 1d10. On a roll of 1, the user’s kidneys and/or liver have stopped functioning. Unless proper medical attention is sought, the character will die within twenty-four hours due to poisons running unchecked through his bloodstream.


The character cannot concentrate on any one thing for more than a couple minutes. His mind is restlessly wandering, and he is easily distracted. For the duration, he suffers a -3 to all actions.

LIGHT SENSITIVITY (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug dilates the pupils and induces red, bloodshot eyes. The character is at a loss in any situation involving a bright light (-2 to all actions in daylight) unless wearing sunglasses or equipped with flare compensation. Characters with cybereyes are still affected by bright lights, since this side effect focuses on the optic nerve rather than the eye itself.

LOSS OF APPETITE (Cost Modifier -2)

The character will not eat, and will not feel hungry. People hooked on drugs with this side effect tend to be thin and emaciated. Characters who don’t eat will starve within a couple weeks if not given treatment. This is reflected in the loss of one BODY point every three or four days. When the character’s BODY reaches 0, he will die. If normal food consumption is resumed, the character will recover one BODY point a day until he reaches his original score.

LOSS OF INHIBITION (Cost Modifier -4)

Anyone suffering from Loss of Inhibition will do things that they normally would be adverse to doing. For instance, someone who wouldn’t normally consider raping a helpless teenage girl might think it’s a good idea at the time and throw inhibitions to the wind. Much of this side effect must be role-played. If game mechanics enter into it, however, the player must roll under his character’s COOL score on a 1D10 in order to consider his actions and stop. Modify the character’s COOL score by the drug’s STR, using the number as a negative (instead of positive) modifier.

MEMORY LOSS (Cost Modifier -4)

The user will have no memory of what has happened while under the effects of the drug. If he tries really hard (Very Difficult Intelligence check), he can remember vague events, but no specifics (ie, names, phone numbers, conversations, etc).

NAUSEA (Cost Modifier -4)

The character must make a stun/shock save at -2 or throw up. The nausea is painful and will extend into dry heaves. For the duration the character may not safely eat or drink anything. If he attempts to eat anything, a new stun/shock save at -2 is in order. Failure indicates more vomiting.

NUMBNESS (Cost Modifier -4/-6)

At a -4 cost modifier, this drug causes the user’s extremities to become numb and void of feeling. Fine manipulation is impossible, and walking is impossible unless the character is given support. At -6, the lack of feeling extends to the whole body. Since the user is experiencing no pain, the GM should secretly keep track of his wounds.

PARALYSIS (Cost Modifier -6)

Characters suffering from paralysis cannot move, speak, and they may have trouble breathing. Paralysis can take many forms, from complete muscle relaxation to a painful tightening of the entire muscular system. While paralyzed, the user is completely helpless and can perform no actions.

PARANOIA (Cost Modifier -5)

While this side effect lasts, the user is convinced that everyone and everything is out to get him. While most of this will have to be role-played, a few Cool rolls at appropriate times may be called for.

PSYCHOTIC RAGE (Cost Modifier -10)

A result of some of the worst combat drugs. The user goes berserk, attacking the nearest friend or enemy, he doesn’t really care which. If a Difficult Resist Torture/Drugs roll is made, the user may specifically ignore a friend or ally and focus his attention on a target of his choice.

REDUCED ATTRIBUTE (Cost Modifier -5)

This drug reduces an attribute by an amount equal to the drug strength for an amount of time equal to the duration. Attributes that can be reduced include Reflex, Intelligence, Body, Movement Allowance, Empathy, Cool, and Tech. If a physical attribute (Reflex, Body, MA) is reduced below zero, make a Death Save or die. If a mental attribute (Intelligence, Tech) is reduced below zero, the user slips into a deep coma for the duration. In the case of Empathy being lowered below zero, assume that user is sociopathic and is liable to do anything. A Cool score below zero indicates total nervous breakdown.

REDUCED AWARENESS (Cost Modifier -6)

The user of a drug with this effect is oblivious to the world around him. While Sense Reduction only affects one of the senses, Reduced Awareness affects them ALL. All skill rolls which rely on any of the user’s senses suffer a -4 modifier, and all Awareness rolls are made at -6.

RINGING IN EARS (Cost Modifier -2)

Due to severe tinnitus, the user has trouble hearing soft to medium volume sounds. As such, he suffers -2 to all noise-related awareness rolls.

RUNNY NOSE (Cost Modifier -2)

Users suffering from a runny nose are constantly sniffling and blowing their noses. This doesn’t really help, though. Roll 1d10. On a roll of 1 or 2, the character develops a bloody nose. While having no real game effect, he will be dripping blood everywhere. It will take between three and five minutes of constant pressure to stop the nose from bleeding, but the
character still has a serious case of the sniffles.

SENSE REDUCTION (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug reduces the user’s sense of touch, smell, hearing, taste, or sight for the duration of the side effect. All rolls made which rely on the sense in question receive a -4 modifier. For example, someone suffering from Sense Reduction: Sight would be at a -4 to shooting his weapon due to blurred vision or near-blindness. All awareness rolls made with the appropriate sense are also at -4.

SEXUAL AROUSAL (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug turns the user on, yet to a lesser degree than most aphrodisiacs. Anyone attempting to seduce the user gains a +1 bonus. In addition, all outward signs of arousal are visible and quite obvious. If the drug with this side effect is an aphrodisiac, roll 1d10. On a result of 1 or 2, a permanent state of arousal occurs, and doesn’t go away…EVER. Is that a truncheon in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

SLEEPY (Cost Modifier -4)

The drug makes the user sleepy. A character who is overcome with sleepiness must make a successful stun/shock save or fall into a deep, dreamless sleep. Soporifics with this side effect induce a deep, coma-like state that can last for 1d10 days.

STRANGE SKIN PALLOR (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug tints the user’s skin a strange color. This can indicate that the drug makes its user’s skin pale, or that his lips turn blue, but it can also indicate a more severe chromatic variation to his epidermis. Like, say, your whole body is blue. Like a smurf.


The user becomes depressed or agitated, convinced that life is meaningless and that it might as well end as soon as possible. While possessed of suicidal tendencies, a character must roll under his COOL score -2. If the roll is failed, he must take immediate suicidal action. The method he uses is whichever is most convenient, be it putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the
trigger, or jumping off his fifth floor balcony into the moving traffic below. Needless to say, users of such drugs eventually do society a favor.


The user’s bodily waste, be it urine or feces or both, turns a strange color. This effect lasts twice as long as the drug duration.

THE MUNCHIES (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug with this side effect causes the user to grow really irrationally hungry. The character will eat any edible substance, and will believe that it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted.

TREMORS (Cost Modifier -2)

The user experiences violent tremors in his face and hands. The palsied fellow has his Reflex reduced by 2.

WATER RETENTION (Cost Modifier -2)

Due to nonfunctional kidneys or other less traumatic problems, the user of a drug with this sideeffect will retain water for the side effect’s duration. He will not be able to urinate, and will become bloated for the duration.

WEIGHT GAIN (Cost Modifier -2)

The drug causes the user’s body to store excess energy in the form of fat. Users of drugs with this side effect tend to be quite large and overweight, while addicts suffer from obesity. Every time a drug with this effect is used, the user gains 1D6 pounds. Due to the extra weight he is carrying, an overweight character suffers a -1 to MA for every twenty-five pounds he weighs past his “ideal weight.” In addition to the physical effects, in the superficial atmosphere of Cyberpunk 2020, where everyone is fashion-model perfect, overweight people might suffer a social stigma worse than their 20th century counterparts.


Not all drugs are created equal. Some are less potent than others, while some are dangerously strong. Hence, you have Drug Strength.
The strength of a drug determines how powerful its effects are, how much can be taken before an overdose occurs, and how easy (or hard) they are to get hooked on if they are addictive. Drug strength can be any number between 1 and 5. The higher the number, the stronger the drug and the greater its effects.
Add the number chosen for the drug’s strength rating to the base difficulty.


Some drugs are addictive. Someone who is addicted to a drug is physically or mentally dependent on it. Without their drug, they cannot operate at full capacity. When a drug is used, an addiction save may be called for. This depends entirely on how addictive the drug is (see the entries for PSYCHOLOGICAL and PHYSIOLOGICAL ADDICTION side effects).
How often an addiction save is called for depends on how addictive the drug is. Slightly Addictive drugs require an addiction save every 1D6+4 times they are used, Mildly Addictive drugs every 1D3+2 times they are used, and Highly Addictive drugs require a roll each and every time they are used.
I recommend that the GM roll this number and make a note of it secretly. That way, players will only have a general idea how many times they can take a drug safely before they’re forced to roll for addiction. If such a roll is called for, the user must roll above the drug’s Addiction Number on 1D10. The addiction number of a drug is equal to it’s strength times 1.75 rounding fractions to the nearest whole number.
Addiction numbers are listed below :

1 2
2 4
3 5
4 7
5 9


Once a drug has worn off (see DRUG DURATION, below), an addict will need to get another dose. However, he won’t necessarily need one right away. The chart below details the time a user can go before he is incapacitated by his need for the drug. When the user’s most recent dose has worn off, roll the requisite number of dice under TIME TO NEXT DOSE to determine how long it will be before his cravings for the drug return.
If at that time he doesn’t get a fix, roll the number of dice under TIME TO WITHDRAWAL to determine when, exactly, withdrawal symptoms will appear. It is recommended that the GM roll these values and keep them secret.

+1 1D6 Hours 5D6 Hours
+2 2D6 Hours 4D6 Hours
+3 3D6 Hours 3D6 Hours
+4 4D6 Hours 2D6 Hours
+5 5D6 Hours 1D6 Hours

Anyone attempting to kick a psychological addiction must stop taking the drug altogether. Withdrawal symptoms include -2 to all actions until withdrawal is complete (about a week or so). A strong psychological craving for the drug will remain, and a character who was once hooked may need to make a Cool roll (Resist Torture/Drugs applies) to resist the temptation if offered the drug again.
Physiological addiction is much stronger and harder to break. Kicking such an addiction takes about two weeks of treatment. All of the character’s physical and mental attributes are reduced by half to reflect on the severe mental and physical anguish of the process. As with psychological addiction, the character will still crave the drug, and the same Cool roll applies if he comes into temptation’s way.


Users may take multiple doses of a drug, but the drug’s effects will not be doubled. In fact, for each subsequent dose after the first, halve all beneficial effects the drug grants, rounding fractions down. All negative side effects are not halved, however, making this a risky proposition. For example, a drug that causes death as a side effect taken twice will cause two subsequent death saves to be made. While it may seem safe to take less powerful (and dangerous) drugs like they were M&M’s, there is still the topic of Overdose.


When someone takes multiple doses of a drug, he increases his risk of becoming sick by introducing too much of the chemical into his body. If the total strength of combined drug doses is ever greater than 10 plus the character’s BTM score (assume the BTM is a positive number), the character has a chance to become terribly ill from overdosing. The effects of an overdose vary greatly, depending on the drugs taken. Check the individual Drug Effects entries to find out exactly what happens to the user of the drug. If a drug has more than one effect (ie, a drug that acts as both a Euphoric and a Stun Reducer), apply both sets of OD results.


Drug effects don’t last forever. Eventually, the human body will filter out its blood supply, and normal functions will begin anew. The amount of time the drug lasts for determines the final base difficulty number. The difficulty number is used when a character attempts to create a drug from raw materials. Subsequently, it also helps determine the drug’s base cost per dose, since drugs that are difficult to create are usually much more expensive than drugs you can produce using Mr. Wizard’s Chemistry Kit.

Short – 1D10 Minutes x1
Medium – 1D6x10 Minutes x2
Long – 1D10 Hours x3

To get the final difficulty number for a drug, add together the cost of its effects, its side effects, its strength, and multiply that sum by the difficulty modifier of the drug’s duration. Voila! You’re almost done! Remember that no drug’s difficulty can be lower than 1, OR a negative value. If your final difficulty number is negative, drop the negative symbol and use the number as if it were a positive.


Not all drugs are illegal. At the same time, though, not all drugs are available at Save-On drugs, either. So we come to the question of legality. Decide for yourself if the drug you’re designing is something that the average vice squad would want to see on the street. Legality is important, because it helps determine the base cost of the drug in question.


Legal/Common drugs include anything you can buy in a liquor store, bar, or over the counter in a pharmacy. It’s common stuff that is easy to get, legal, but still governed by local and federal laws.


Anything available By Prescription Only includes substances that must be obtained through a doctor or pharmacist, prescribed for a specific ailment. If you’ve got a prescription, you can get the drug pretty easily, and for a much reduced cost. However, getting the stuff on the street may take a bit more doing, and cops don’t like to find you carrying around a bottle of pills with someone else’s name on it.


Illegal drugs are anything that the FDA hasn’t approved of. Dangerous non-medicinal chemicals are also ruled by these categories, as are combat drugs. The local cops and feds try to stop these sorts of drugs from being sold on the streets, usually without much success. Illegal drugs are broken up into three categories: Type A, Type B, and Type C. Type C substances are
illegal, but possession is usually a minor offense. Type B substances are usually more dangerous than Type C, and carry with them a stiffer punishment. Type A substances include the most dangerous and addictive drugs, and penalties for carrying them are large.


Experimental drugs are corporate, criminal, and military cocktails that end up on the streets as part of clandestine experiments. Most of the time, they are part of a single shipment, and don’t stay around too long unless they sell well. Drugs like this don’t remain in this category for long, and are usually classified as an Illegal-rated substance after a few weeks on the streets.


The base cost (in Euro) of a drug is determined by multiplying the final difficulty number by the legality multiplier supplied on the chart below. The resulting number is the base cost for obtaining the substance on the street. The drug’s final cost is determined by the form that it comes in.

Legal/Common x1 Euro Alcohol, Tobacco, Smash
By Prescription Only x5 Euro Valium, Xanax, Sleeping Pills
Type C Illegal x5 Euro Marijuana, Stim, Blue Glass, Rezzin
Type B Illegal x7.5 Euro Dorph, Synthcoke, Boost
Type A Illegal x10 Euro Black Lace, Taz
Experimental x25 Euro ?WHO KNOWS?


The drug’s form defines its physical characteristics and how the user will interface with it. Is it something you can smoke? Is it a pill? Do you use a syringe or an air hypo to inject it? The drug form also determines how much the final drug will cost, whether or not it can be “cut”, and how fast it takes effect.

Pill, Tablet 2D6x10 Minutes x 0.5 No
Gel Cap, Caplet 9+1D6 Minutes x 1 No
Paper Tab 1D10 Minutes x 1 No
Smoked, Inhaled 1D5 Turns x 1 Yes
Powdered, Snorted 1D2 Minutes x 1 Yes
Injected 1D5 Turns x 1.5 Yes
Liquid 1D10 Minutes x 1.5 Yes
Derm, Slap Patch 10+2D10 Seconds x 2 No
Contact 1D5 Turns x 2.5 No



This is your typical pill. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Pills are generally chalky and taste bad unless coated. They are the cheapest form of drug administration since they take a horribly long time to go into effect.


This includes drugs that are specially coated for ease of swallowing, and that are time-released for a quicker effect than tablets. Most people prefer this form to tablets.


A paper tab is a piece of paper that has been soaked in a concentrated liquid drug and then dried. The user places the tab onto his tongue and sucks on it until the drug takes effect. This form of drug has always been a popular way of administering hallucinogens like LSD.


These drugs come in a form that is easily burnt. The smoke or fumes produced are then inhaled directly through a device, usually a pipe. Sometimes, tobacco or cigarettes are soaked in a liquid drug and then dried and smoked.


Powdered drugs which are snorted make their way to the lungs, sinuses, and mucus membranes where they are absorbed by the body. This form of use is less offensive to some than smoking, but it also takes a little longer for the drug to take effect.


Most injected drugs are concentrated liquids designed for direct entry into the bloodstream. Some start out as powdered drugs, but are liquefied in a process known as “free basing.” Some people prefer this method of using, and will pay the extra cash to avoid the risks of free basing the product themselves.


Liquid drugs are usually swallowed like a drink. Some can be mixed with normal soft drinks or fruit juices to cut the taste, though some are designed to be quite tasty all by themselves. While it may take the drugs longer to take effect, this is by far one of the most comfortable methods of imbibing.


An adhesive sticker which is placed upon the skin, and the dose of the drug is then absorbed. Derms are convenient to use, easy to transport, and, if sealed in plastic, they have a good shelf life. However, the adhesive can irritate sensitive skin and cause an itchy rash.


Contact drugs are absorbed directly by the skin, almost instantly. They are usually hard to keep for long periods of time, as they are unstable and “go bad” quickly. However, they are the easiest and most comfortable way to administer drugs (or poisons) to yourself or an unsuspecting victim.


Drugs are “cut” for any number of reasons. Most powdered drugs are already cut with an inactive substance, since they would be far too powerful (and possibly deadly) if they weren’t toned down. Of course, most dealers don’t have your safety in mind when cutting their products. Unscrupulous dealers want to make their stock last a lot longer, so they cut it down and charge normal price.
It is up to the individual user to check the quality of the dope he buys. A drug that is cut loses strength equal to the percentage it is cut by, rounding down. For example, a strength 4 euphoric that has been cut 25% with baby laxative will have a relative strength of 3, as opposed to 4 (its potency is reduced by 25% of the original STR). If cut 50%, it will only have a STR of 2, and so on.


Multiply the base Euro cost of the drug by the drug form cost multiplier (above) to find the drug’s final cost per dose. This is an average price, based on the price of materials used and man-hours of work involved. Dealers will charge what the market will bear, however, and price increases during shortages and police crackdowns are all too common. On the up side, drugs which have a very low demand will cost significantly less. Final price is determined by the GM’s discretion.


Why a third version of my Drug Lab? Because I was bored.
More than that, though, it seems as if people really enjoy the article, so I thought I’d tidy up a little bit. The text has been reorganized and cleaned up. Some of the details have changed. The first and (never before released) second Drug Addendums have been phased into the main file, making it all-inclusive and whole. The system now has 17 drug effects, and over 60 side effects. I feel pretty confident that the file is complete. I can go on with my life until I come up with something else to add.
As an aside to CP2020 drug designers everywhere:
I’ve gotten queries in the past concerning the Drug Lab and its use in making what I would refer to as “poisons.” These “poisons” are drugs that are utilized for their negative side effects ONLY, in order to kill or incapacitate characters.
Let me stress that this system wasn’t originally written with this in mind. The negative side effects of a drug are meant to be unintentional (from a designer’s point of view), and to aid players and GMs in constructing chemicals that can be reasonably replicated by players in game time. In essence, by cutting a few corners, a drug designer can make a functional cocktail which might have a few bad side effects. Realistically speaking, he doesn’t necessarily “pick” a specific side effect. Outside of making random side effect charts (which I loathe doing), I can’t see any way to fix this sort of problem.
On the other hand, if someone wishes to actually DESIGN a drug with a specific side effect, a GM might consider adding the effect’s Cost Modifier to the drug difficulty, since the drug is being engineered to have a nasty edge. This is, of course, the GM’s option (and one that I recommend).
These rules are easy for unscrupulous players and GMs to abuse. They allow a great deal of complexity and choice when constructing drugs for use in games. It is my strong recommendation that players and GMs who wish to use these rules do so with caution, lest you create monsters.

Gary Astleford (ocelot@connectnet.com)
May, 1998


Antibiotic 10 Anticoagulant 10
Antidote 15 Aphrodisiac 10
Attribute Increase 20 Coagulant 10
Contraceptive 10 Depressant 5
Enhanced Perception 15 Euphoric 5
Hallucinogen 10 Hypnotic 15
Increased Endurance 10 Increased Healing Rate 15
Pain Negation 10 Soporific 5
Stun Reducer 10    
Lessened Withdrawal Symptoms +10 Longer Duration +10
Timed Duration +10    
Addiction Tolerance -4 Carcinogenic -10
Cardiac Arrest/Heart Attack -12 Coma -10
Death -15 Genetic Damage -6
Nerve Degeneration -15 Nightmares -6
Permanent Sense Loss -6 Physiologically Addictive -5/-10/-15
Possible Attribute Loss -8 Psychologically Addictive -4/-8/-12
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms -6 Sterility -8
Acne -2 Aggressive Behavior -6
Bad Breath -2 Bloodshot Eyes -2
Cold Sweats -2 Constipation -2
Cowardice -6 Dandruff/Eczema -2
Dehydration -2 Delusions -5
Depression -4 Diarrhea -4
Difficult Respiration -6 Diuretic -2
Dizziness -5 Easily Bruised -2
Excessive Salivation -2 Flatulence -2
Hair Loss -2 Hallucinations -5
Headaches -4 Heartburn/Acid Indigestion -2
Hives -4 Impotence/Frigidity -2
Internal Bleeding -4 Irrational Fear -10
Itchy -3 Kidney/Liver Failure -8
Lack of Concentration -5 Light Sensitivity -2
Loss of Appetite -2 Loss of Inhibition -4
Memory Loss -4 Nausea -4
Numbness -4/-6 Paralysis -6
Paranoia -5 Psychotic Rage -10
Reduced Attribute -5 Reduced Awareness -6
Ringing In Ears -2 Runny Nose -2
Sense Reduction -4 Sexual Arousal -4
Sleepy -4 Strange Skin Pallor -2
Suicidal Tendencies -5 Technicolor Excreta -2
The Munchies -2 Tremors -2
Water Retention -2 Weight Gain -2

Note : All timed side-effects can be bought as “Possible Side Effects” at half cost.

Strength +1 1 Short – 1D10 Minutes x1
Strength +2 2 Medium – 1D6x10 Minutes x2
Strength +3 3 Long – 1D10 Hours x3
Strength +4 4    
Strength +5 5    
Legal/Common x1 Euro
By Prescription Only x5 Euro
Type C Illegal x5 Euro
Type B Illegal x7.5 Euro
Type A Illegal x10 Euro
Experimental x25 Euro
Pill, Tablet 2D6x10 Minutes x 0.5 No
Gel Cap, Caplet 9+1D6 Minutes x 1 No
Paper Tab 1D10 Minutes x 1 No
Smoked, Inhaled 1D5 Turns x 1 Yes
Powdered, Snorted 1D2 Minutes x 1 Yes
Injected 1D5 Turns x 1.5 Yes
Liquid 1D10 Minutes x 1.5 Yes
Derm, Slap Patch 10+2D10 Seconds x 2 No
Contact 1D5 Turns x 2.5 No


Total Difficulty = Effects + Side Effects + Drug STR x Duration Multiplier
Base Cost = Total Difficulty x Legality Multiplier (see VARIABLE DRUG COSTS)
Final Cost = Base Cost x Cost Multiplier (see DRUG FORMS)

10 thoughts on “DRUG LAB 101 – Ocelots Drug Generation Rule for Cyberpunk 2020”

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