INTEREST CHECK Cyberpunk by the numbers?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Durandal, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Introduction
    So, I'm pretty new here and not sure about how Iwaku feels about roleplaying games with mechanics. Like pen and paper style RPGs, numerically quantifying your character's capabilities and using those statistics to determine degrees of success in endeavors.

    Setting Background
    I'd like to run a cyberpunk campaign in a dystopian near-future some twenty or so years from now, with national governments largely rendered irrelevant, corporations having surged in to fill the power vacuum, issuing their own digital currencies, claiming their own territories and providing their own corporate policies and security forces to manage law and order within their areas of influence.

    Terrible environmental and manmade disasters have changed the shape of the world, with a biological terrorist attack having unleashed a crippling manufactured disease that turns people into crazed unreasonable cannibals, and a powerful earthquake having rendered Japan unlivable, turning much of Asia and the west coast of the US into a radiation-saturated wasteland filled with dangerous mutated humans and animals.

    But in the meantime, technology has continued its eternal march and things are more advanced than ever. Computers have become so small and ubiquitous that everything is connected- everything is online at all times. People experience artificial realities as much as they do actual reality, and when they go out into the latter they do so in an augmented manner with digital overlays casting their experience of the world around them in a much more palatable manner. Cars drive themselves, food and many simple objects are constructed by 3D printers, and items carried out of a store are automatically purchased by having their price deducted from the customer's corporate credit account. Cybernetic replacement limbs are available for those with crippled limbs as well as giving the blind sight and the deaf hearing, plus a wide array of augmentations to improve a person's capabilities beyond the normal human standard.

    But that doesn't mean that life is grand. With the rise of corporations comes the increase in corruption, with people treated as commodities. In the greed race there is no room for mercy or ethics, and businesses compete not only through advertising and property battles but through subversive tactics as well, employing mercenaries and criminals to act as 'deniable assets' to carry out their illicit orders to further shadowy goals. That's where the players' characters come in, playing people on the fringe of civilization: either living dangerous double lives with one foot in the system and the other on the curb- or living off the grid entirely, scraping by in the shadows, in the cracks of modern society.

    So what do I mean when I say playing with numbers? Well, the easiest way to explain is to say 'think of Dungeons & Dragons' ... only, with a lot less rules. Basically, when you create your character you'll be able to give them points in nine key Attributes that represent their core capacities, three each in physical, social, and mental. You'll also be able to give them levels in skills that represent what they know and are able to do, as well as assign them perks or weaknesses and choose their gear or augmentations, with limits based on how expensive that gear is as well as the mental and psychological impacts of those modifications.

    That all sounds pretty complicated but I assure you I'll make it as simple and easily understood as possible, and during play it won't be obtrusive like DnD and other roleplaying mechanics can sometimes be. Most of it will just be used as a guideline for how effective your character's efforts are. For instance, if you write a post about popping the hood on your car and going to work trying to repair the engine, I'll look at your character sheet and find your Logic attribute and Mechanic skill as well as the tools and replacement parts your character has available and compare that to the difficulty of the project and then in my GM post I'll update you with the results, how much has been fixed, how much longer it'll take, and what new parts need to be procured, if relevant. There won't be a whole bunch of dice rolling that will slow down the game, it will all be back end stuff.

    So why do it? Well for one, it gives your character a role and abilities to make him unique from everyone else's. It also sets up a bit of randomness to make actions' end results unknown, introducing risk and uncertainty into the RP which is good for something in the cyberpunk genre! There is no guarantee for a good ending in cyberpunk... player characters don't get plot armor. And that's the third benefit of having mechanics- it serves as a hedge against godmoding, completely removing the temptation to autosucceed on difficult tasks, thus ruining plot points or stealing the thunder from a teammate who should actually be getting the limelight. I'm sure we've all been in or could imagine such a situation...

    If anyone thinks this would be fun and would like to hear more, please speak up! Like I said, I'm not sure if this kind of roleplaying is popular here so I figured I'd start off with an interest check. If anyone has any questions, please do post them here and I'd be happy to answer them. Thanks!
  2. Dollars to doornails says you've played some shadowrun in your day.

    But that aside, Welcome to Iwaku! You had me at Cyberpunk.

    While not per se your plot direction, I've been looking to kick off something similar:

    I was aiming more for the stylized noir than I was a narrative on corporate demons, deniable assets and the occasional milk run. That being said, I see no reason why both can't be incorporated.

    You has my ear, I'm all for this.
  3. I have indeed played Shadowrun! I love the game but while it drew my fantasy-minded friends in with the magic and metahumans, I found those elements distracting. If we were drawing in elements from other genres I'd rather include zombies and mutants, so I did! Or at least hope to, as outlined above.
    I saw this thread and believe me I did consider it in depth. But I eventually decided against saying something because... I'm just not as much a fan of the noir genre. I think... Granted I'm not exactly sure I have the right idea of noir. The word brings to mind for me images of hard-boiled detectives narrating things in their head (in a hard-boiled manner) while working for smoking hot dames who always end up betraying them and ugh I'm boring myself just summarizing this. Maybe I have the wrong idea but while I can certainly imagine how that could translate into a cyberpunk setting (and I definitely do enjoy the social and investigative aspect of cyberpunk rather than straight up action all the time)... I just don't feel like I'd enjoy noir cyberpunk.

    If I have the wrong idea though, please do set me straight!
  4. Well, that is for sure a brand of Noir, though I tend to take it at a more broad definition. Miriam Webster has the definition listed as such:

    "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings"

    Which in my opinion, fits damn well into cyberpunk. Especially when your villains are less so in the classic form and more so in the vague corporate monolith format. Personally what strikes me as the driving point of the genre is the heavy use of imagery, gritty symbolism and themes where corruption has made being a "Good guy" difficult if not straight out impossible.

    But yeah. Kinda craving a noir, buuuuuuuut I'd settle for straight cyberpunk.
  5. Um, I'm not really sure what you mean by "classic form" villains, because that's how I've always seen and played cyberpunk. It is, at its core, a story about people and how people interact with technology in a perilous world with finite resources. Villainy is a matter of perspective and business is never personal. Far more often the driving motivations are greed and ambition and survival, rather than doing it for the evulz. (Not including the overly augmented who've modified themselves out of empathy, though even those are driven by goals aside from the small minority rendered axe-crazy)

    So it sounds like our ideas of cyberpunk are more similar then I first thought. I guess I'm just prejudiced against the term 'noir.' Ah well.

    I'd like to see if anyone else would like to join in but then I'm not opposed to a private RP. When I get home from work I'll post a recruiting/OOC thread and we'll see if we can't get some more interest. =)
  6. The word villain in and of itself is a term that's left entirely on the perception of it's audience. Generally in a narrative, we as readers and writers associate villainy with a face so it can be used as a symbol. However the reality of things in the real world, heroes and villains are not so black and white.

    I'll give an example.

    A classic example of a narrative villain:

    Maleficent is an iconic antagonist for reasons I won't get into, but if you were try to peg a real world counterpart to fit a similar archetype... could you do it? It's not so easy. At this point perception generally goes to frame enemies based on nationality and the borders there in, declaring them evil. But if you run that line of thought, how much of the definition of evil is based on propaganda?

    True, while we do occasionally have a Hitler to place on a podium and throw rocks at, generally the villains of today are more abstract. Mundane even.

    : Example of a Modern day villain.

    So not to long back last year, Verizon was chalked up to breaking the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution in regards to illegal searches. Basically what they did was release hundreds of thousands of phone records to the federal government without warrant and without due process. This is illegal, and frankly it's unjust. However, despite this they weren't sued, they weren't punished and they continue to serve as the leading cellular company out there. And even in this, Verizon isn't some devil in a business suit. It's assumed that most cellular companies were participating in the process. They just got caught.

    But they're not a symbol you can put on a podium and throw rocks at like Malificent or Hitler. They're a little bit more abstract. In fighting Verizon, you're not per se fighting a villain, you're fighting the over arcing ideas of Greed in modern society.