08 August, 2012

Cyberpunk NOW

R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 was a watershed game for me.
At a comic book convention in 1991, I picked up a bootleg of Akira and Appleseed. This quickly lead to Cyberpunk SWAT gaming – powered by the only modern rules we had – Palladium. We’d been playing Palladium for a while in a Macross game (Robotech with all the Macek inspired crap stripped back out) and I grabbed Ninja’s & Superspies to use as a basis. Well, as anyone who’s ever played a Palladium game can tell you – the rules suck.  It embodies the worst of power gaming and is inconsistent.  Following an adventure where I’d emptied a 30rd mag from my M16 into a terrorist’s chest at close range, and a 30mm grenade… leaving the man wounded but still in the fight – we decided to look elsewhere.
Relating the adventure to some fellow (sadder and older) geeks, we were turned on to Cyberpunk 2020. I ordered a copy immediately.  It was the only thing I played for about 5 years and then it shared time with Star Trek gaming.
Eventually I fell out of Cyberpunk gaming… the late 90′s made a dystopian future seem improbable. Crime was down, economy was good.
Suffice it to say that the last decade has done much to validate the Cyberpunk premise.
And I have returned to Cyberpunk.  Last month we began a Cyberpunk game, two characters were generated using Interlock, but with an influx of players we switched to Savage Worlds in order to get down to playing.  The game is pretty much ad hoc and I’m still figuring out what exactly to do with it.  Do I stick with Savage Worlds, or do I Interlock up the new players and run Cyberpunk rules.  Very different play styles, CP is extremely deadly and a bit crunchy. Savage Worlds is rules light and cinematic.  Do I update the setting, the timeline? Cyberpunk play was set between 2013-2020. The way I see it I have three choices:

1. Play the Cyberpunk Setting as written – RetroDark Future
2. Advance the timeline adapt the tech (no faxes) to reflect modern cyberpunk a’la the new Total Recall, Red Faction, and Deus Ex.
3. Play modern cyberpunk, the Dark Future is now (or tomorrow) basically a darker version of today with emergent cybernetics (the Robocop option).

Of these three I’m drawn to the second two. I have lots of modern vehicles and minis, and many older cyberpunk minis (Copplestones, EM4 et cetera) lend themselves more to the Robocop style of cyberpunk than the universe of Infinity.  This does mean a bit of a drawdown in tech – basic cybernetics – full borgs very , very, very rare. Netrunning becomes more like hacking, the game ends up being Millennium’s End with cybertech like that in I Robot.  If I want to preserve those two aspects of the tech I need to advance the timeline and end up with a more sci-fi type universe  (Lockout, Total Recall, and Infinity).
If I go the Robocop option I can keep Saburo Arasaka… hmmm… I think that’s the ticket.

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