Sunday, December 29, 2013

OSR Entry 2013-01: Cyberpunk / Cyberpunk 2020

[ This post is a contribution to the Obscure Simulations Roundup, a community blog hop dedicated to forgotten / under-appreciated RPGs. ]

I don't remember if I'd already read the Burning Chrome anthology by William Gibson when I picked up my copy of Cyberpunk. Not Cyberpunk 2020, but the first R. Talsorian RPG set in that milieu -- set in the year 2013 (which, itself, is now winding down in our reality) -- the somewhat presumptuously titled Cyberpunk.

Several years later, I also picked up the 1st edition Shadowrun -- which tended to gather more adherents -- but Cyberpunk was my cyberpunk setting of choice. The one I sought out first, and without it, settled for my second fave: the cyberpunk + fantasy RPG.

I suppose that I was really after that grungy, gritty feel, and so many of the genre inspirations led to me to the more tech-heevy scenarios. I picked up almost every book of the run that I could, money and availability willing. I learned a lot about guns and modern technology, devoured the techno-thriller genre, and began focusing on the cyberpunk genre anime & manga like Appleseed and Bubblegum Crisis in my vidwatching schedules.

My Cyberpunk games were full of chipped Solos, Dorph-crazed gangs, Trauma Teams, and the echoes of films like Blade Runner and Robocop in my mind while I encouraged my players to lie and kill their way to success.

It was a game for my youth, an outlet for a young man seeking to rebel but unsure about what he was rebelling against, and how powerful 'they' really were.

These days, I long for the kind of world where a Rockerboy and his music really can topple megacorporations; but I also wish that there would be an equally powerful salve for the economic disaster that would follow.

Perhaps it's time for a review and retooling of the RPG genre in light of the Internet-savvy youth, social media, economic crises, and revelations of ultra-powerful cabals around the world...

Here's an old post that I did on the game:

As part of the RPG history project mentioned on RPG.net, I began scanning in the covers of some of my RPG collection, beginning with my Cyberpunk 2020 books. Let me share them with you: 
Cyberpunk 2020 was the main rulebook. It was an upgraded system and updated setting, essentially requiring the players of the original game -- Cyberpunk -- to buy the latest and greatest version of the game. Oddly enough, this did dovetail into the proposed cyberpunk ethos of style over substance and jumping headfirst into the latest developments ready to ride out any difficulties that might come up. 
To be fair, it was a sight better than the Cyberpunk boxed set's rulebooks (certainly dated by today's standards), and the modifications to the system did speed up combat. Building a character was often a pain, though, because in addition to buying gear, you also had the option to buy cybernetics -- taking care not to use up your humanity and go cyberpsycho of course. 
In addition to the core rulebook, R.Talsorian came out with new equipment and cybernetics in the form of the Chromebooks -- gear books with pictures for each of the items listed. Not satisfied with this revolutionary bit of sourcebook detail, they also came up with a rationale for it: these are the catalogs of the latest gear that people would order in game (ignoring all the game stats, of course). 


Updates

Now that this has been posted, in the grand tradition of cross-pollination of blog postings, I noticed the post from Hereticworks on Fringeworthy (another fave orphaned RPG of mine) mentioning the Tri-Tac podcast, and found a neat three-part podcast sequence (195 to 197) on Cyberpunk!

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