Cyberpunk!

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CP2020 cover art Inspired by Triple Ace Games’ cyberpunk rules I would love to write a Cyberpunk setting of my own, but alas I can’t decide what kind of setting I would prefer.

First off, there’s classic cyberpunk like the world presented in William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer or in the Cyberpunk 2020 game. I could also add in some Japanese influences. Anime like Ghost in a Shell, Appleseed and perhaps even Bubblegum Crisis come to mind.

There’s also always the possibility to go the Shadowrun route and add some supernatural influences as well. If you want to give it a more grim and gritty feel some lovecraftian influences might work.

The only things I am sure about is that my campaign should focus on a single urban metroplex and that I want to use Savage Worlds rules. Aside from that everything else is pretty much open for debate. I want to focus on one big city because it’s much easier to design an interesting city than to create a whole world. And especially Cyberpunk campaigns usually are set into a city or the sprawl surrounding it. If needed I can always work out the details on other places when the need arises.

When I start working on this setting, I will post my thoughts right here on the blog. So if you have some ideas on what you would incorporate into the design let me know. Good ideas are always appreciated.

14 thoughts on “Cyberpunk!”

  1. Hi there,

    interesting article.

    on our website gmsupport.com are we currently working on a simmillar project.

    We have deciced to approach it from the storys side since one gets lost when beginning with too much rules and regulations.

    As mentioned in the article, one likes many colors of the cyberpunk verses and it is really hard to decide what to use and whatnot.

    concentrating on one location ( megaplex, call it what you want ) is very good, since creating historical, political, ideological, and regilious backgrounds is enough work. having the world narrowed down do Seattle….uhm..sorry … a specific city helps a lot and makes it easier to play later.

    In our system we outruled magic and meta-humans. they go nicely in Shadowrun but we did not want to be "just another clone" ( our darkage-fantasy shadowrun-mod swordrunners is still in production ). Cyberware was deleted too and all "body-improvements" are restricted to biological enhancements which are available in forms of courses of treatment with enzymes and animals ( im not explaining how animals work, you will have to read as son as its out of the oven… 🙂 ). The rest is done by a high level of technological enhancements, political and social criticism and a big handful of dark humor…;)

    I can not tell you which setting to use. Only to choose wisely since this will be the base of any later given possibilities you will have.

    good luck !!!!

  2. Well, it's a bit of a conundrum isn't it 😉

    I suggest going classic mundane CP2020 route, it's the simplest way I think thus less time consuming. Shadowrun is pretty well supported and I think it holds its own niche rather well, but the original Talrosian setting got rather unkind treatment (abysmal 3rd edition anyone?). Also you'll be giving some homage to the authors of the genre who despised Shadowrun (allegedly). The question is how retro you're prepared to go i.e keep it close to the original wired stylistic o go full blown (true to life) augmented reality, wireless malarkey (meh!). Have fun.

  3. I think I will stick to classic cyberpunk, perhaps with some nods to modern technology. Augmented reality and wireless connection to the cyberspace should be part of the setting. I am still unsure if I should allow psychic abilities. The cyberpunk is usually about integrating man and machine not about mind over matter. But that's just a minor detail.

  4. Oh, by the way, I think an overview article about German RPGs like Space Gothic, Frostzone, Heredium etc. would be very interesting. I mean, sure, there's Google Translate, but that doesn't always work properly 🙂

  5. @Elias: Hmm, that could be an interesting post or series of posts, but alas I don't have that much experience with German RPGs. I have played Space Gothic back when I was still in school and a few other German games, but we mostly played American or British games. But I could do some research. 🙂

  6. I admit that I still love the Cyberpunk genre and its evolutions. My tastes run towards seeing a mix of fast and dirty hardtech/cyberware alongside with more subtle but more expensive softech/biotech enhancements.

    GURPS Transhuman Space has an interesting, if at times too detailed, look at the possible future.
    .-= Sean Holland´s last blog ..Tuesday Magic Item – Scorpion Tail Whip =-.

  7. From what I gather, they just released a new edition of Space Gothic. What do you remember about the old one?

    Why do you think German RPGs don't appeal to you? Also, do you buy games like Cyberpunk 2020 or Call of Cthulhu (licensed translations) only in English? That would be a shame, because the German editions of these two seem to have much nicer art, for instance. I know I'd buy those, if I understood German.

    Hopefully, these questions will help you write a post about it 🙂

  8. Really? The new edition of Space Gothis is already out? I will have to check that out.

    I usually prefer English versions of the RPGs I buy, mostly because I can't stand most of the translations and I am not willing to wait longer to get the game I want with the added risk that the German publisher loses the license before they've released all books I wanted. And most of the interesting games will never get translated.

    BUT I got Call of Cthulhu in the German translation because it was hardcover and much better looking than the US version.

  9. I recommend checking out Halo 3: ODST. Not what one necessarily thinks of when considering cyberpunk, but the city of New Mombasa has a wonderful blend of noir and cyberpunk. The future/sci-fi feel combined with the darkness, flickering neon, and gritty combat is prime for cyberpunk inspiration.
    .-= Will´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Thoughts: Why I Love My Family =-.

  10. Depends on feel, if you're going for classic (anything by Gibson), hardcore dystopian (Kadrey's Metrophage) or more contemporary (Stephenson's Snow Crash).

    I'll also argue for travel to different cities, start small but allow exotica and build outwards by using immigrant gangs and wealthy patrons.

    Each decision is a design choice – don't be shy to use technological and fashion developments to change feel and mood, it's perfectly in keeping with the genre.
    .-= satyre´s last blog ..recap: recession-proof gaming and useful tools =-.

  11. One of the great unfulfilled dreams of my gamemastering career has been to run a consistent cyberpunk game, and to run it MY WAY…whatever way that is.

    I have a hard time reconciling this nebulous notion of my take on the genre with an actual game setting with rules and PC motivations. I envision a melange of Burning Chrome, "Miami Vice", The Warriors, Streets Of Fire, early MTV, TRON and about a dozen other influences that I just can't fit together or even justify. It's weird. And let's not get into what system I would use…

    I have a solid notion of some things, but not all. 15 years and it's all still diffuse, neon-bright jigsaw pieces tumbling in the dryer of my mind.

    Frustrating.

  12. One of the great unfulfilled dreams of my gamemastering career has been to run a consistent cyberpunk game, and to run it MY WAY…whatever way that is.

    I have a hard time reconciling this nebulous notion of my take on the genre with an actual game setting with rules and PC motivations. I envision a melange of Burning Chrome, \”Miami Vice\”, The Warriors, Streets Of Fire, early MTV, TRON and about a dozen other influences that I just can\’t fit together or even justify. It\’s weird. And let\’s not get into what system I would use…

    I have a solid notion of some things, but not all. 15 years and it\’s all still diffuse, neon-bright jigsaw pieces tumbling in the dryer of my mind.

    Frustrating.

  13. I'm partial for classic eighties Gibsonian c-punk, but I must say I don't know of a single instance where such a setting was done successfully in RPGs. I liked CP2020 a lot in my teens, but found the world so confusing that immersion suffered. (I mean, what exactly happened that turned the world into a warzone?) I tried to do better myself on several occasions, with varying (unpublished) levels of success.
    GURPS Cyberpunk put it very nicely when they said that cyberpunk is defined by struggle. After much soul-searching, I concluded that the definitive struggle is the one between morality and power. By definition, no-one in a c-punk world is supposed to have any morals, but corporate "suits" have abandoned theirs entirely, while street samurai get into trouble in their individual quests for power precisely because there are certain lines even they won't cross. (And get all nasty when the inevitable betrayal happens.) The middle class is the lowest of the low because they've traded both morals and power for (a sense of) security.
    IMHO, a great CP setting should set the stage for this struggle: the moral decay, the despair, the denial; and give players and GMs alike tools for posing and answering those questions: how far are you willing to go, and for what?
    (As an aside, a system like in Mayfair's Underground RPG – which I've never read – that actually has mechanics for allowing characters to improve the world might be a good idea. CP2020 seemed to assume that characters like Medias or Rockerboys were politically motivated, while presenting a world where such motivations were little more than delusions.)
    On the off-chance that you don't know them yet, I'd like to refer to Paul Elliott's humblingly excellent Zaibatsu (http://www.angelfire.com/games3/errantknight/zaibatsu/), as well as (not just) to promote my countryman, Kalle Marjola's Syndicate (http://rpr.kapsi.fi/syndicate/), which has lots of chilling atmosphere (if you can make sense of the atrocious English).

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