Wednesday 28 May 2014

Upgrade My Cyberpunk!

One of the problems with Cyberpunk 2020 is how quickly it has become filled with anachronisms. There are the obvious ones, like how internet/telephony technology have evolved. There are also the less obvious ones, like how our outlook has evolved regarding current technological revolution or how the Martial Arts world has changed.

In any case, it's a bit of a challenge creating a Cyberpunk setting without the anachronisms but that still remains interesting. So let's look at a few general approaches towards tackling this:


So the most obvious solution is to just patch-up the most anachronistic stuff. Modern cellphones/computers/internet exist, but the world is still ruled by the Zaibatsus, and humanity still finds themselves increasingly objectified by the technology that becomes an essential part of their lives/bodies. Classic cyberpunk with a few minor tweaks.


Here, you don't just lose the anachronisms, but you update all the technology/society for what the speculative near-future looks like.

Viracades project, a relatively new CP2020 blog, is building-up some really great material informed by the latest and greatest in Post-Cyberpunk Literature.  He's got a society where 3D Printing has reached maturity and  robotic drones are ubiquitous. He's got a Music Dealer trying to evade the DRM police. I really like his updated vision of the Cyberpunk setting and I'm sure there's a lot more good stuff to come...


This one's inspired by Gardner Dozois' short story "Recidivist". Wintermute succeeded in it's mission to merge with Neuromancer and the AI's have ascended to godlike status. They're like the pantheon of Greek myth: decadent, perverse, omnipotent, and thoroughly superior. Humanity is completely at the mercy of their whims and, in fact, it seems like the only reason we still exist is that we amuse them.

Here, the world is post-apocalyptic, the technology from the AIs is inscrutable in it's working, in fact it might as well be Magic. Ultimately, this setting feels more like a Fantasy set in the Post-Apocalypse than a Scifi game.


I imagine an alternate, subtler vision of the Recidivist Universe, where the AI's are more like Lovecraftian Old Ones. They're largely indifferent to Humanity(so not post-apocalypse), but vaguely malevolent. There are cults that worship them whose rituals risk the entire world as we know it. There are places where their influence is felt, where a sort of gateway forms between our Dimension and others the AI's find more interesting. Basically Cyberpunk but with a pall of Lovecraftian Horror spread wide over the Sprawl of Corporations and Runners and Hackers and bizarre Techno-Punks.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you are aware of it, but GURPS actually had a supplement for it's Cyperpunk line called CthulhuPunk. There should be some ideas ripe for stealing, I think.

    Other than that I never had a problem with how Cybepunk envisioned our future. I just assumed technology is able to accomplish almost anything (and one might ask if Cyberpunk really is about the technology or more about the individual lost in technology ...). We live in that future now, more or less, and most people aren't aware of it. Or just don't care. Why should it be any different in the future?

    If I were to DM another campaign in Cyberpunk, I'd use Transmetropolitan as the main reference, though.

    But maybe I, too, would mix it with some demon-summoning ai's for a good show ...