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Author Topic: MC Cyberpunk Discussion  (Read 3073 times)
Krensky
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2010, 03:40:41 PM »

Which pretty much ignores Bruce Bethke, Walter John Williams, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Fredrick Pohl, Roger Zelazny, Thomas Pynchon, Katsuhiro Otomo. Masamune Shirow and others.

Cyberpunk 2013/2020's greatest strength comes from Pondsmith's understanding of the genre. This is also why Cybergeneration drifted away from the core premise of CP2020. It's also part of why it morphs into Starblade Battalion in it's own future. Now, Pondsmith's appreciation and knowledge of the genre is also CP203X's biggest weakness as he tries to cram to many post-punk genres and styles into a single game.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2010, 03:47:53 PM by Krensky » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2010, 02:32:23 PM »

Quote
Bruce Bethke, Walter John Williams, Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Fredrick Pohl, Roger Zelazny, Thomas Pynchon, Katsuhiro Otomo. Masamune Shirow and others

You lost me at the second you put Ellison and Pynchon (seriously? Gravity's Rainbow?) in there, man. They are about as far from the Cyberpunk presented in any iteration of the R. Talsorian game as you can get.

Did you go to the wikipedia article on cyberpunk and just pick names at random?

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Morgenstern
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2010, 03:13:17 PM »

Having a different opinion and being dismisive of those of thers is the divide betwen being welcome in a community or not. Care to rephrase?
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2010, 05:58:01 PM »

The Matrix is not Cyberpunk and never was in my mind. The Matrix is a Mage game that takes place mostly in a Horizon Realm.

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Krensky
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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2010, 09:15:20 PM »

You lost me at the second you put Ellison and Pynchon (seriously? Gravity's Rainbow?) in there, man. They are about as far from the Cyberpunk presented in any iteration of the R. Talsorian game as you can get.

Did you go to the wikipedia article on cyberpunk and just pick names at random?

I find Pynchon barely readable, primarily because I find almost all self consciously 'post modern' literature to be part of Sturgeon's famed ninety percent. I do however agree with, despite it's overly wordy and obtuse nature, Stonehill's thesis about Gravity's Rainbow dealing with many of the same themes and elements of later cyberpunk stories.

Similarly, look at "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" and "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" along with his crime stories for Ellison's influence on cyberpunk. His short story Soldier, although a straight forward time travel piece, also inspired the Terminator, which works as a cyberpunk story. He also spent a heck of a lot of time writing in dystopian worlds.

As for the Matrix, I always saw it more as a weird mashup of Christian and Buddhist allegory as told using elements of cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, and transhumanist science fiction.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 10:13:23 PM by Krensky » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2010, 10:48:38 PM »

The Matrix is not Cyberpunk and never was in my mind. The Matrix is a Mage game that takes place mostly in a Horizon Realm.

If I recall correct, a scenario of everyone being in a VR, with Mages able to hack it to do phenominal feats is one of the alternate setting bits in the back of one of the Mage: The Awakening books.
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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2010, 01:38:49 PM »

I just need a toolset, I can deliver the vision. Wink

(thanks for the split) Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2010, 04:47:31 PM »

Apologies to Krensky for being a dick in my response upthread. I guess I was in a bad mood, and after I posted it I decided to take some time off from the interweb. Sorry about that.

So, on review, I guess my issue with using Cyberpunk 2020 as an example of what to do with cyberpunk is that I found it too focused on the props and too all-inclusive. I think Shadowrun went the same route - possibly even further, given that it was also fantasy. Since those two games became sort of the standard for the genre (and many people's introduction to it), I think it skewed audience expectations toward games that featured tons of equipment, cartoonish violence, and generally what feels like a caricature of High Tech Low Life rather than something tied to the stuff that interested me in it in the first place.

Science Fiction games and modern games tend to lavish a lot of love on gear lists, really. Its maybe a kind of escapism or empowerment that doesn't seem as "unrealistic" as mutant DNA or magic? That is to say, you can play a fairly "normal" person who just happens to have some amazing gizmos and fetishy weapons to let them do great/terrible things. I can get into that up to a point, but in my experience Cyberpunk PCs tend to have crazy priorities when it comes to that stuff. I distinctly recall my runner teams getting something like a quarter of a million dollars in pay from their assorted Johnsons - then turning around and dropping ALL the cash on wolverine claws, super-duper reflexes, and loopy custom model firearms. When you consider that these characters were depicted as living in awful, oppressive metroplexes and doing a job that was thankless and incredibly hazardous, it always made me wonder why they didn't just take that same money and, y'know, retire to a private island. Obviously, OOCly the players wanted to keep playing but with Kewler Stuff, but it never made much sense from a character-based mercenary or criminal mindset.

The violence didn't bother me as much, as I like action movies as much as the next guy on these forums. I just wished it hadn't become so perfunctory and acceptable as a modus operandi when these so-damn-slick solos and netrunners were meant to be doing fairly subtle work on behalf of companies. Its kinda of a rule that Carefully Made Plans in spy/heist/cyberpunk campaigns WILL fall apart at the first opportunity and devolve into a firefight; that's backed up by some examples in the genre, really, but I think it encourages metagame thinking that puts firepower way above brainpower and leads to absurd uses of force a lot of the time.

The caricature was probably inevitable. Even in their earliest incarnations, CP 2020 and Shadowrun featured pretty broad and shallow takes on their settings and the characters in them. CP 2020's Roles were neat from a team/niche standpoint, but they were pretty rigid and based on surface flash rather than any internal logic. Even if you and your players dug deep and invested them with lots of personality and backstory, the kitchen sink setting encouraged style over substance every time. That's consistent with the stated intentions of the game (at least Pondsmith's), but I think it ultimately did more damage than good. Its hard to take the day-to-day existence of a Cop very seriously, for example, when criminal gangs are armed like government special forces and themed in ways that would look kinda goofy in an issue of Judge Dredd.

I have played and enjoyed games in the over-the-top realm of tabletop cyberpunk games. They were fun if wacky. I just think that it might be worth stepping back, reconsidering their origins and what those things were about before accepting what we got in those earlier attempts.   
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2010, 06:02:10 PM »

Based on your comments, I'm guessing you and your other GMs ignored the GM's section. Which was sadly typical. Wealth and firepower are easy to curtail, proper use of the humanity system in CP2020 reduces a lot of issue too. Also, there's a reason the game had maser and EMP  weapons. Sadly it wasn't as clearly explained as it needed to be. Listen Up You Primative Screwheads! Is by far the best book for the game.

As for first principles and themes.

Dystopian
Hope
Humanitiy Altering Technology
Ambigous Definitions of Humanity
Near Future
Oppresive Corporate Oligarcies
Hope
Ambigous Morality
Techno-fudalism
Enviromental Failure
Government Failure
Hope

Maybe missed some, but I think I hit the high points.
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« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2010, 09:57:36 AM »

Who said that 'transhumanism is about how technology will overcome all humanity's problems. Cyberpunk is how it doesn't'?

I'm pretty sure I saw it here, so I apologise in advance for a) not remembering b) probably mangling the quote, too... Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2010, 10:19:15 AM »

Stephenis on RPGNet if I remember correctly. Love that quote.
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Krensky
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« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2010, 10:37:21 AM »

On the other hand, a lot of transhuman literature is very cyberpunk done far in the future. Eclipse Phase, Richar Morgan, and Peter Hamilton are examples.
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We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. - Werner von Braun
Right now you have no idea how lucky you are that I am not a sociopath. - A sign seen above my desk.
There's no upside in screwing with things you can't explain. - Captain Roy Montgomery
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« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2010, 11:42:27 AM »

On the other hand, a lot of transhuman literature is very cyberpunk done far in the future. Eclipse Phase, Richar Morgan, and Peter Hamilton are examples.

So transhuman is post-cyberpunk?  Makes sense.  And speaking of Peter Hamilton and Eclipse Phase, the very first thing I thought about while reading through EP was Hamilton's Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained.

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« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2010, 12:45:51 PM »

"Transhumanism is stories about how technology will allow us to overcome the problems that have, up until now, been endemic to the human condition. Cyberpunk is stories about how technology won't."

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« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2010, 06:13:24 PM »

Yeah, that's a good definition for cyberpunk and its main themes. I seem to recall Pondsmith had something in CyberGeneration about how he felt the trajectory of CP 2020 had gone screwy due to unintentional "bad" play  like I bitched about upthread. It was, as I recall, his way of trying to get back to those themes and strip away all the gloss and chrome. I say this as a biased fan of CyberGen, so I may be misremembering; its been a long time since I had either books.

Cyberpunk peaking in the 80's is tied up with postmodernism, I guess, what with its suspicion of solutions to social ills and clear cut morality in general. There's also a fairly strong crime fiction vibe; I think the fact that I was into Hammett and Chandler before I ever read Neuromancer helped me groove on it (and other hardboily c-punk stuff) as much as I did. When it ventured into Bubblegum Crisis territory, though, I think it kinda lost me. A rock band from the Dark Future should NEVER sound like Debbie Gibson.
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