The part of Cyberpunk 2020 that I remember

edited March 2010 in Story Games
There have been a few threads where Cyberpunk 2020 has come up in conversation.

The part I remember is the insurance you could buy. The highest-end insurance meant that an armored hover-bulance would find you and get you the fuck outta dodge and to the ER for where the finest trauma surgeons awaited.

Shit, I wanted a game about the ambulance teams, fuck everything else. Shit, I still want that game. Maybe with lego-made hover-bulances and city-scapes, med evac-ing asshole rock-stars who are O.D.ing in the middle of a domestic and/or corporate CEO's who are being targeted for a high end assassination when they punch their insurance card.

What do you remember?

(Did I do this thread before, I am getting a strong sense of deja-vu, ah well, fuckit)
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Comments

  • edited March 2010
    When we were playing Shadowrun we often talked about wanting to play a team of hardboiled Docwagon paramedics who operate in dangerous neighbourhoods and in extrem situations.
    But we never done it. I don't know why.
  • Wasn't that DocWagon from Shadowrun? Didn't they list that game as a suggestion in one of the core rulebooks? Playing a DocWagon team I mean.
  • Posted By: FigureFourWasn't that DocWagon from Shadowrun? Didn't they list that game as a suggestion in one of the core rulebooks? Playing a DocWagon team I mean.
    I've never read a Shadowrun book, just looked at the purty pictures when I was a wee lad.
  • The thing that I remember from the original Cyberpunk book is that you can have cybernetic arms, completely robotic and electronic marvels of modern technology...

    ...and you can also buy a personal computer that's SO COMPACT that it fits inside a large suitcase.

    There is a fax machine attached.

    There was also an analog phone cradle (think the Wargames 300 Baud modem for the ATARI Home Computer) that you could use to hack public phone terminals.

    The future from the 80s was awesome-larious.

    -Andy
  • DocWagon was a health insurance you could take in Shadowrun. Depending on your insurance they could send a armored ambulance to fetch your runner. I think they could even use guns to get to your body.
  • edited March 2010
    Posted By: Cedric PDocWagon was a health insurance you could take in Shadowrun. Depending on your insurance they could send a armored ambulance to fetch your runner. I think they could even use guns to get to your body.
    I freely admit that my memory is pretty damned spotty but I believe my memory of this comes from Cyberpunk 2020. I will look it over when I next have a chance.
  • Yeah, DocWagon™ and its three tiers of insurance come from Shadowrun, but now that I'm thinking about it there may have been something at least vaguely similar in Solo of Fortune or one of those supplements for Cyberpunk.
  • Cyberpunk: REO Meatwagon
    Shadowrun: Doc Wagon

    Essentially the same services in both game settings.
  • Posted By: Christopher KubasikCyberpunk: REO Meatwagon
    Ahahahaha! I never got the joke when I played Cyberpunk 2020 back in high school, but I get it now.
  • I think Cyberpunk also had Trauma Team International as a rival company to REO Meatwagon.

    One of the setting bits I remember from Cyberpunk was the seedy coffin hotels, I think one of the chromebooks had a layout map and info on them. I remember thinking about them as great locations for meeting contacts, hiding caches, running into potential problems, they were just oozing with plot hooks. But the thing I liked most about them was they really drove home the transient, desperate, living life on the edge feel that Cyberpunk often had for flavor text, but very rarely had during actual play.
  • Sovok is a game about ambulance teams in cyberpunk Moscow, but it's in French.
  • Posted By: mcellisOne of the setting bits I remember from Cyberpunk was the seedy coffin hotels, I think one of the chromebooks had a layout map and info on them.
    This is right out of Neuromancer! Complete awesome.

    Man this thread makes me miss Cyberpunk. I remember playing a badass solo, she had the cheetah chrome legs in place of her own, which put her high on the cyberpsychosis scale (the more chrome you had, the less humanity you had). But it was a pretty big help scaling corporate buildings, or outrunning tanks.

    That and the Mr. Stud attachment. All night every night and she'll never know.
  • Posted By: GB SteveSovok is a game about ambulance teams in cyberpunk Moscow, but it's in French.
    Needs to be in English. Or a movie with Jean Reno!
  • edited March 2010
    Posted By: anansigirl All night every night and she'll never know.
    I can't believe you remember the tech descriptor word for word. Someone at FASA deserves a raise.

    Now that y'all have mentioned them, I remember premium medical service and sleep coffins too. But my games never delved into the setting color, we mostly just did infiltration/extraction/destruction missions. Accordingly, I remember smartguns, skinweave, monowire, and the chip you could plug into your head to remold your facial contours. It was intended for switching identities, but I used it to make a horned, mask-like demon face.

    The other game feature I remember was the rolled histories. They covered spans of years and came with general descriptions like "Hot dates & fast affairs."
  • edited March 2010
    We played a high-risk med-evac team in Blue Planet (it was one of the starter ideas in the book, as I recall). It was so fun. We had a pilot, door-gunner, riot-shield soldier guy, and trauma surgeon. Everyone had kickass basic medic skills.

    That game had crazy-detailed first aid rules that were pretty fun (one of the authors, a childhood friend of mine, was an actual ER doc).

    I should make a Lady Blackbird style game for this concept. It rocks for easy startup and quick play.
  • Judd is remembering Trauma Team from Cyberpunk.

    Note that none of the basic character classes were "EMT". People would just play the bodyguards for the teams. Sigh. Someone should write a more science fictiony science fiction RPG.

    See, how I'd play it is:

    Cyberpunk is all 80s "greed is good" capitalism, right? You don't just have Trauma Team, Int'l. You have lots of local franchises, internally competing. The higher the premiums your clients pay, the more bones you're thrown. You rescue people according to their credit rating, if you want to make it big, kid. Some shit goes down and you get mulitple calls? Every Trauma Team guy (and every local ripper with an ambulance sidecar) is jamming to the scene, trying to get the highest value clients.

    It's those local ripper's I'd want to play.

    Sorry, no, I don't take Trauma Team insurance. I can put the bullets back in, if you want, and dump you back on the street. I'm sure they'll be happy to come back and charge you for two calls in one evening. Oh, I take competitor's coupons.

  • Yeah, you could play a medtech. It was a variation on the Techie class, but they had their own special power and skill list.
  • Judd,

    Rock.

    I never actually played it, but I totally wanted to play that Trauma Team game. We got about half way there, with a Cyberpunk team who collected organs and who were going to go work for Trauma Team. Instead they all got killed. Oops.

    (And now Repo Men is coming out and I'm all like "I wonder if every Cyberpunk player ever has already done this story?")
    Posted By: David BergI can't believe you remember the tech descriptor word for word. Someone at FASA deserves a raise.
    R. Tal. That was, for sure, a Cyberpunk write up. Shadowrun was always too PG-13 for that, where some of the Cyberpunk books actually (if trepedatiously) approached sex and sexuality in a body-modded world.

    I had one player make up a Cyberpunk rocker character who was a body-modded pleasure unit... but we never actually played it because we had no idea how to run the game that the character belonged in back when we were 16.
  • Posted By: John HarperI should make a Lady Blackbird style game for this concept. It rocks for easy startup and quick play.
    Yes, please. I will play this with you at GPNW!
  • I remember reading the book and thinking "gee, humanity = sanity. Time for Cthulhupunk!" And I ran it - in a campaign frame based on "The Dunwich Horror" with the body horror flavor elements cranked to 11 - and it was some of the best gaming I ever did. The players still come to me and retell the stories we made. A++ would play again.
  • Posted By: Caesar_XPosted By: John HarperI should make a Lady Blackbird style game for this concept. It rocks for easy startup and quick play.
    Yes, please. I will play this with you at GPNW!

    Um... Hell yes.

    I ran a Cyberpunk 2020 campaign for 2 1/2 years in college. Towards the end of the second year the corporate of the group was making noises about an ambulance team start-up to compete with Trauma Team International in 2020 Portland. A couple of the other players were excited about the prospect and were going to make suitable techies. I think he got shot in the head by an Arasaka operative before the project ever got off the ground. Not sure I have that right.

    Anyway, dynamite idea.
  • Gack. R. Talsorian Games gets no love, and now I cost them some. Thanks for the catch, Brand.
  • Page one of EVAC is done. It might be a thing. We'll see.
  • There are a few things I loved about Cyberpunk 2020.

    1. The Lifepath Generator. I never played Traveller, so I don;t know how it compares to the liufepath system n that game, but I've modded the C2020 lifepath system to plenty of other systems and settings over the years. It was (and still is) a great way to add story hooks into characters that are otherwise fairly one dimensional, and it provides some funs twists into characters where the player is willing to let things fall into the hands of fate.

    2. Cyberpsychosis. A great precursor to the "humanity" system found in so many other games. This is the kind of thing that I found a missing factor in later games like RIFTS; full conversion cybernetics, drugs that pushed a body to superhuman levels, genetic exploitation, magical sacrifice to demonic/supernatural beings....none of which had psychological effects on the character except in a few notable character class exceptions (ie. The "crazy"). Cyberpunk actually made you think about the psychology.

    3. A damage system that wasn't really a hit point system. Everyone basically had the same number of hit points, in the same way that everyone's body is basically made up of the same stuff. Differences in damage resilience came through damage reduction armour and innate endurance/ability to withstand the effects of the incoming damage. It's not really that revolutionary now, but I'd never seen anything like it when I first read the book.

    I also thought it was better than Shadowrun because it didn't rely on non-human characters or magic to get it's style across, everything was scientifically plausible for the future (or at least we thought it was at the time).
  • Since we're branching out from Cyberpunk 2020 to Shadowrun, people always forget that Rifts -- being a fellow child of the 80s -- was built on a cyberpunk-inspired foundation, at least in the corebook, before heading off into crazyland. The original default setting premise is basically that you're gutterscum living somewhere in the Nazi-tastic Coalition States massive megacities (the capital is Chi-Town), hanging out among the back-alley chop-shops. There was a core Cyberdoc class where you could work as a cybernetic surgeon, and we played those all the time in my childhood, but there were very few guidelines about how you were actually supposed to chop people up and give them metal arms in-game.

    Or, like, how your Cyberdoc, Glitterboy, Mutant Dog, and Baby Dragon were supposed to be in the same game.
  • J-slice,

    Oh yea, Cyberpunk-Shadowrun-Rifts have always formed a continuum in my head.

    Like, Cyberpunk is what happens when you're young and excitable and just read a bunch of Gibson and listened to too much rock and are hanging out with your friends going "Yea, the future is so FUCKED UP that we gotta wear shades!"

    Shadowrun is what happens when you've just read too much Gibson and Terry Brooks and are a little high and are sitting around with your friends listening to Metalica and being like "Dude, can you imagine the race riots if there were actual orcs! Oh shit, and what about an elf using a mini-gun built into his cyberarm to fight a dragon!"

    Rifts is what happens when you've watched too much bad 80s anime, dropped a crystal of LSD and are now climbing the walls screaming "THE GLITTERBOYS ARE BOOMING! DRAGONS! I SEE DRAGONS FIGHTING DEADBOYS!"
  • Brand, that's fucking hilarious.

    Michael,
    Posted By: vulpinoidCyberpsychosis. A great precursor to the "humanity" system found in so many other games. This is the kind of thing that I found a missing factor in later games like RIFTS; full conversion cybernetics, drugs that pushed a body to superhuman levels, genetic exploitation, magical sacrifice to demonic/supernatural beings....none of which had psychological effects on the character except in a few notable character class exceptions (ie. The "crazy"). Cyberpunk actually made you think about the psychology.
    It did make me think about the psychology. And my thinking was that all kinds of people /in the real world/ get pacemakers, chimp hearts, prosthetic arms, cybernetic legs, and now cochlear implants and far stranger things, and they're not going insane. For me, the question of how much of the human body can we replace with technology before the human goes insane is answered: probably all of it. Well, probably all the non-mind parts. I'm pretty sure there are things you can replace in the brain and hormonal systems that will make you crazy.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayFor me, the question of how much of the human body can we replace with technology before the human goes insane is answered: probably all of it. Well, probably all the non-mind parts. I'm pretty sure there are things you can replace in the brain and hormonal systems that will make you crazy.
    So you think if your brain was transplanted into, say, a genetically and cybernetically modified octopus you'd be cool with that?

    The game's system might not really reflect the complexity of the issue, but people certainly do invest a lot of their self identity in their body.
  • edited March 2010
    Brand, if that's your idea for a mini-convention, I'm there, man.

    As for cyberpsych, I think there's a big difference between "my arm's busted, guess I have to replace it" and "my arm's fine, but I want to replace it with a weapon-filled cyber-gadget so I can fuck shit up". You might wind up regretting the latter, or at least what it says about you.
  • We played the hell out of Cyberpunk 2020 back in the pre college days. Along side D&D, Pendragon, Top Secret SI, and various homebrews it probably got more play time then anything else.

    We'd do mini-campaigns that would wind up being 6-12 sessions around a theme.

    We did the Trauma Team game where they were basically the EMT equivalent of a Gypsy Cab. They'd hack into the rescue calles from TTI and REO meatwagon and then try to beat them to the scene. Each session was basically an armed extraction of "ok, how do we get this guy out of this crazy jam, a) before he dies, b) before they die, c) before the real EMT's show up and start shooting.

    We also did a Max Headroom takeoff where they'd fly around as an investigative news team. The sessions looked really similar to our EMT game with just a different MacGuffin

    We did a Rockerboy one too where everyone played two characters, Band member and Roadies, with the Nomad Driver and the Solo Body guard and the like. That one didn't last very long, I think we only had 2 sessions of actual play but we'd spent a ton of time on "play before you play" talking about the characters and the cool stuff we were GOING to do with them.
  • what I remember (and always liked) about Cyberpunk is the injustice

    the world was unfair, and made you do fucked up things to survive or reach your goals
  • Posted By: Christopher KubasikCyberpunk: REO Meatwagon
    Shadowrun: Doc Wagon

    Essentially the same services in both game settings.
    And their over-the-top cousin from SLA Industries, LAD (Life After Death). If an ambulance in Cyberpunk 2020 or Shadowrun meant a flying van coming to pick you up, LAD was a jet that flew through the city at mach 2, snatched your body and hopefully delivered you to a med team in time for reanimation to still be possible.

    Nothing says Cyberpunk 2020 to me like Shower-in-a-Can, from the first Chromebook, I believe. 3eb, spray it on, wipe it off, and you were clean. Sure, it's not that science fiction-y, but that, and a duffell bag, defined the noplace-safe-enough-to-call-home feel of CP2020.
  • Posted By: FigureFourPosted By: Adam DrayFor me, the question of how much of the human body can we replace with technology before the human goes insane is answered: probably all of it. Well, probably all the non-mind parts. I'm pretty sure there are things you can replace in the brain and hormonal systems that will make you crazy.
    So you think if your brain was transplanted into, say, a genetically and cybernetically modified octopus you'd be cool with that?

    The game's system might not really reflect the complexity of the issue, but people certainly do invest a lot of their self identity in their body.



    It's already possible to add extra limbs to creatures and over time they learn to use them. Learning how to use an octopus body would probably take a long time but hell, people who are in their regular bodies get crazy from time to time. The concept of cyberpsychosis is really cool but not founded in reality.
  • I'm not suggesting that something about modifying the body is inherently damaging to the mind, but I don't think it's that big a stretch to say that radical alteration of someone's physical form could have dramatic effects on their sense of identity depending on the person and the alterations.

    So yeah, I still think it's a valid idea. But like ANY psychological phenomenon, probably impossible (or unreasonable) to model well in a simple game.

    That monkey video is AWESOME though.
  • I understand better what this thread is about so I wanted to comment on more than just the Trauma Team thing.

    Having run it for so long I have too many things I remember about Cyberpunk to relate just one or two specific things that I remember fondly. But having thought about it some more I'll get a little more meta.

    Whatever the rules of Cyberpunk either contributed to or worked against in he genre it attempted to emulate, it both fed my natural inclinations and prepared me for the kind of gaming I most often preferred, both then and now.

    The text/attitude of Cyberpunk 2020 absolutely helped create the kinds of games that worked well for its players.

    I don't mind as a player strong, nigh insurmountable opposition as long as my character concept is allowed to prevail. In Cyberpunk 2020 you most often faced implacable power. The game was rigged against you. Your patron was just as likely to fuck you over as pay you off.

    But through it all you were fucking cool. Whether you were a mirror-shaded Rockerboy, a connected Fixer or a cybered up half-human Solo.

    Maybe things went pear-shaped and maybe you got headshot on the verge of some kind of transitory material success. But you went down in slow-motion and with your nihilistic outlook snarling into the maw of the Man.

    So you didn't mind so much.

    And, realizing that, you may have figured out that, for yourself at least, character and story were at least as important as shiny power-ups and getting to the next level.

    That's what I remember about Cyberpunk 2020 and that's what I'm thankful for about it; it refined for me what I want most often wanted from this hobby.

    For the most part, it wasn't until later later than I found systems that also provided systemic help in supporting these preferences.
  • Wow, I don't remember the insurance part. That's kinda cool.

    The thing I remember best were the random character backstory tables. I thought there was something shockingly innovative about having a system to generate the precise number of ex-girlfriends your character had. I rolled up a bunch of solo characters and imagined how angsty these tough guys were deep down inside.

    I also remember the little essay/rant about why they used Eurobucks instead of Yen, like all the other cyberpunk material. Flashforward to the real-world 21st century, with the Euro outperforming the US dollar -- gadzooks!
  • Posted By: FigureFourPosted By: Adam DrayFor me, the question of how much of the human body can we replace with technology before the human goes insane is answered: probably all of it. Well, probably all the non-mind parts. I'm pretty sure there are things you can replace in the brain and hormonal systems that will make you crazy.
    So you think if your brain was transplanted into, say, a genetically and cybernetically modified octopus you'd be cool with that?

    The game's system might not really reflect the complexity of the issue, but people certainly do invest a lot of their self identity in their body.
    Posted By: FigureFourI'm not suggesting that something about modifying the body is inherently damaging to the mind, but I don't think it's that big a stretch to say that radical alteration of someone's physical form could have dramatic effects on their sense of identity depending on the person and the alterations.
    We're probably in agreement! =)

    I'm only saying that CP2020's idea of cyberpsychosis due to voluntarily making more and more cybernetic modifications to one's body is probably worth a second thought, cuz 20 more years of RL research is showing that people adapt mightily well to such things.

    If you chose to plop your body into that of an octopus, I don't know that you'd go psychotic or insane, assuming you didn't also get cut off from communicating with the rest of society. Would it change how you interact with the world, even how you think about the world? Yeah, probably. But so does a prosthetic leg, and those people are no less human, and they're certainly not psychotic.
  • OK,
    Well, I played the living hell out of CP2020.
    First things first, I loved the lifepath system. I did hack it, but only so that it would make you pick skills based on your history.
    I like the way Humanity worked. Personally, if you really wanted to try real hard to map it to reality, then for me. It represents the mindset you have to have before you get the cyberware installed, not after. I mean how messed up in the head do you have to be to want to replace a perfectly good working body part with hardware/software?
    I did like the Damage Track and DR combo. Also, I like the static target numbers, vs. the Roll Vs. system that 2013 had.
    The hacking system, was pretty good, but the fact that the hacker was isolated with no backup did not seem fun or cool to me.
    Yeah, the Trauma Team setting element is at least three kinds of awesome. I have played in a TT campaign and it was intense and fun.

    I still have all the books, I might run another campaign again soon...
    Dave M
  • Posted By: Adam DrayWe're probably in agreement! =)

    I'm only saying that CP2020's idea ofcyberpsychosisdue tovoluntarilymaking more and more cybernetic modifications to one's body is probably worth a second thought, cuz 20 more years of RL research is showing that people adapt mightily well to such things.

    If youchoseto plop your body into that of an octopus, I don't know that you'd go psychotic or insane, assuming you didn't also get cut off from communicating with the rest of society. Would it change how you interact with the world, even how you think about the world? Yeah, probably. But so does a prosthetic leg, and those people are no less human, and they're certainly not psychotic.
    You're right. We ARE in agreement then!
    Posted By: DInDenver
    I like the way Humanity worked. Personally, if you really wanted to try real hard to map it to reality, then for me. It represents the mindset you have to have before you get the cyberware installed, not after. I mean how messed up in the head do you have to be to want to replace a perfectly good working body part with hardware/software?
    Apparently I have cyberpsychosis then, because I would have a (high quality) datajack installed in my brain stem in a second. I would also seriously consider other invasive cyberware additions, especially if they would let me to a triple backflip onto a moving car (for example).
  • Posted By: DInDenverI mean how messed up in the head do you have to be to want to replace a perfectly good working body part with hardware/software?
    Isn't that the essence of most plastic surgery?

    And didn't plastic surgery in CP have humanity cost?
    Posted By: DInDenverFirst things first, I loved the lifepath system. I did hack it, but only so that it would make you pick skills based on your history.
    This is an idea I'd like to hear more about.
  • http://www.mvlan.net/~davidm/
    The other thing I remembered was giving the pcs 1 million eb, waiting tilthey spent it. Then having the Russian Mafia show up to get their money back... Good times...
    Dave M
  • Holy crap. Real Cyberpunk background material here.

    What do they do? No one knows. But they sure have a creepy-ass name.

  • I once started a new CP2020 game for a bunch of friends and my brother's friends. The high concept was that the PCs were all fairly important people who had been cryo-frozen a few decades ago. Like one dude was a scientist who had pioneered the technology for The Net.

    Someone or something had woken them up but the process had gone all wrong. First adventure, they realize that two factions are fighting over their sleepy selves, and they decide to kick some ass and go with neither party. They sneak off into the city and try to live on their own, but the culture shock is too much. We spend some time exploring SIN (secure identification numbers) and public-private key encryption schemes. Without a SIN, no one can have money, use mass transit, pass secure checkpoints, etc. They soon find the black market for organ donors and realize a dark potential. Whenever they kill someone (and the harsh world gives them all kinds of excuses to cap people who make a move on them), they take the bodies to illegal organ harvesters, who pay them insultingly low amounts of credit on debit cards. They take their debit cards to convenience stores, where they can buy and microwave food. After a couple cycles of this, they start measuring people in burritos. "Dude, don't shoot the head. He was worth 10 burritos. Now he's worth only 4." There was a subplot about starting a small electronics business, too.

    The game died after a couple sessions because I'd made a critical mistake of letting everyone make up a "farm" of multiple characters. Managing that many characters was too much. There wasn't enough continuity to keep people's interest. They seemed to have a blast when engaged with a single character, though.
  • Adam, that's a great way of teaching the setting too!

    This is a great thread for a great game. I will post my experiences with CP2020 soon. Actually it remains one of my go-to games.
  • I also like the militarized EMTs.

    Another great thing that no one has mentioned yet that I really liked (even if it wasn't a setting thing per se) was the little grid system used in the hacking subsystem. It was set up intentionally to look like a blank crossword puzzle so you could, surprise surprise, bust out an actual crossword puzzle and have an instant layout for whatever system was being hacked.

    Granted, I didn't like the actual hacking systems, at least that I remember, but the idea that you were a news paper's daily puzzle away from the night's hacking excursion was pretty slick.

    aaron
  • When you write the cyberpunk trauma doc game, name it First Do No Harm. And make sure to heavily arm the doctors.

    I have an idea for a cyberpunk gang game, too. Working title: Cola Wars. You're on a tv show about street gangs. You play the gang members -- perhaps artificially thrown together by the producers, but maybe you're legit. There's an embedded camera crew with you. They probably get smoked a lot, but hey, life on the street is molten, muthafucka, so don't take the job if you can't hack it. The tv show follows your life as you try to survive. Only, you know, nothing's pure. The producers fuck with you. And there are corporate sponsorships. Coca-Cola sponsors your gang. You get big bonuses when you recycle the Pepsi-sponsored gangers. Your jackets and guns have Coke logos on them. The Real Thing, muthafucka. You're hyper aware of your ratings. When your ratings fall, the producers get the shakes, and shit comes down on you, or you lose your sponsorships. When your ratings soar, life is sly and you score ill bennies. You do everything you can to keep the ratings up. Hey, it's your turn to do something crazy.
  • I'm also contemplating a cyberpunk game where you play insurance "investigators" who go in to make sure there's no one to collect on a claim. Or something similarly horrible. I call it First Notice of Loss.

    Oh, and did you see? One of my awesome ideas made it to the big screen. I mean, I doubt they saw me talking about this years and years ago, but Repo Men (2010) is about dangerous dudes who find people who aren't paying their loans on their body organs and repossess them. My idea was essentially the same, but focused on cybergear as well as actual organs.
  • Actually one of my big CP2020 successes was a game where the PCs were all small time repo agents (not all men) who basically spent the whole game stealing cars and furniture for banks.
  • All right little Billy let's all gather around and listen to crazy ole uncle JDCorley talk about Cyberpunk 2020 and cyberpunk gaming in general.

    I am a huge cyberpunk fan. I feel like one of the biggest losses in American literature is that "The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel" now makes people say "what, the sky was blue?"

    A lot of the stuff in cyberpunk, as with any science fiction, looking back, made bad predictions. The rapid development of the cellphone and the AOL-ization of the Internet into something essentially harmless and neutered makes cyberpunk's anxieties seem outdated. We happily threw our privacy in the garbage for ten percent off on our supermarket discount cards. Japan didn't come over here and acid rain actually turned out to be something people cared enough about to work on. Cyberpunk's anxieties turned out to be partly groundless and partly trivially true. Nevertheless I still love it, for many reasons.

    First of all, I loved what I perceived as its roots in noir. Cyberpunk heroes were outsiders and losers. The system was rigged against them, the deck was stacked, the world was corrupt and innocence and goodness was rare at best and often illusory. I could draw a straight line from Raymond Chandler through to William Gibson. By the by, I was and am a huge Gibson fan.

    Because I'd grown up voraciously reading science fiction, the exact trappings of cyberpunk, or its exact borders, I knew it was futile to ever chase that kind of thing down. Besides, Gibson's short story collection Burning Chrome had so many different varieties of story that I was never as hung up on "oh this novel doesn't have some kind of Net in it, it can't be cyberpunk" as some people undoubtedly were. The cyberpunk "scene" passed me by. I knew it "only" as literature (as if that wasn't enough.)

    The first semi-cyberpunkish roleplaying thing I was aware of was Shadowrun. I have to say I never got it. If there was one thing that didn't seem to fit with the noir, corrupt world of cyberpunk it was elves-and-trolls-and-spellcasting fantasy. I just flat never had any interest in it. I liked the human detective archetype, who even eschewed cyberware and replaced it more or less with a fedora and a typewriter font narration balloon above his head. People I played Shadowrun with even got a little annoyed at me because of how little I would engage with most of the game elements. When it's all about spells and big guns, who wants some asshole to sit in the game saying "It was all because of the girl, wasn't it? You thought you had her under wraps but she wanted a slice of the cake." Bah, nobody.

    Anyway, so Cyberpunk 2020. I first really got involved in the 2020 edition, not in any earlier ones. The main thing that struck me about it as being interesting was the wide variety of roles and the equally wide variety of game situations the roles envisioned. That seemed to me to be a lot more interesting than being a shadowrunner and a shadowrunner only. The GM's advice even suggested things like Trauma Teams and bands and journalists as central elements to organize a campaign around. In fact, one of my first campaigns was about two shadowrunners who were also in a band. Keeping track of their girlfriends became a big part of the campaign.

    More soon, about the challenges of bringing what I loved about cyberpunk literature to the gaming table and why I never felt like I quite nailed the target.
  • I remember the part of FNFF where suppressive fire resulted in a saving throw, not a bunch of attack rolls. Something of an interesting paradigm shift.
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