Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Day 20 RPG I'll still play in Twenty years time – Cyberpunk 2020

Way back in time, one of the first games I picked up for the scifi genre was cyberpunk 2013, got it from one of my friends in a green plastic bag that held all the bits together and still have that green bag, together with all the bits in it to this day.  In the early nineties, I found that they’d produced a follow up to the game, and so began my lifelong relationship with Cyberpunk 2020.

In the 2013 game, they’d got basic cybernetics, basic weapons, and the setting of Night City, which was enough to let players run around for a while without ever getting too far from the local chop shop. The popularity of 2013 was such that when the second edition came out, R Talsorian had recognised that people wanted more than night city, they wanted the british colonies, they wanted the pacific rim, and more importantly, they wanted all the gear and cyberware that those places had as well.

The understanding of Cyberpunk was that it wasn’t a bad thing to have cyberware, indeed, in many quarters it was a perfectly good thing.  So you lost a little of your humanity every time you puts some new metal in your body...

So What?

Very much in the view of the eighties in that what you possessed and what you could do were the victories of the game, he who died with all the toys still died, but he was happy because he had all the toys.


Maybe, this wasn’t a world where you were trying to make the difference, leave that for Shadowrun, this was a world where you were trying to make the next paycheck, where you recognised that if you ate kibble for a month, you might save enough to keep your gun in Ammunition or your cyberware properly maintained.  The big scores were those that came once in a very long while, most of it was straight out data theft, lifting people for corporations, and trying to keep the scales balanced in your favour.  While the overall impression of the game was one of rebellion against the man, of standing up to corporations and making victories where you could, where the individual nature of freedom and what a person could do were valued, there was no misunderstanding that the corporations in cyberpunk were dangerous, they didn’t pause before wiping you out, there wasn’t a situation where you could take on Saburo Arasaka without making the necessary arrangements (and they’d take you a lifetime to just build the contacts that would be willing to try him), you’d be dealing with the lackey of a lackey of a lackey and have to work your way all the way up to the top.

There was potential for you to start at the top of the game if that’s what you wanted to do, Talsorian recognised that not everyone wanted to play at the street level, and they left enough at all the different levels that would let people play, there were a good number of sourcebooks, ranging from the Chromebooks

To the location guides
No Kaiju present, but more metal than all the Jaegers in the Shatterdome
And of course the campaigns...

And oh my, the campaigns, these weren’t things that were your average small runs, these were corporate wards, things that would change the face of the world forever, things that put the characters face first into a world they absolutely weren’t ready for. 

The crying shame of that was that the players weren’t ready for it either, the last campaign of the 2020 universe was the Shockwave/Stormfront campaign, a campaign that ended with the death of several of the major players and a restructuring of the world that would lead to the 203X world, something that no longer had the cybernetics of the original, no longer had the style and the substance that had made the original so vibrant and vivid.  It wasn’t the same world, the things that made cyberpunk so interesting were not the things that were present in 203X, just as the world moves on and those that did so well in the old world didn’t cope so very well with the new world, so those that had played 2020 and loved it, didn’t find the interest in the world of 203X.

And with that in mind, I know that there’s new worlds out there, I know that there’s new tech and new things that I haven’t yet seen, but I don’t care, my heart is still in 2020, and even though we’ve passed the time of the first edition, and I don’t see nanotech that lets us lift quarter ton pallets by hand or legs that let us run faster than the cars we drive, every gamer needs a Camelot of the heart, both for the fantasy and the scifi games that we play.  CP2020 is the game that I most enjoyed when I was younger (in the scifi genre anyway), and for me, it’s the game that I return to every time when I want to remember what was fun about those times.

And in six years, when it’s 2020, I’ll still be playing it...

And in sixteen years, when it’s 203X (because I’ll be too old to count then, so it’ll be accurate), I’ll still be playing it, and when games mean this much to you, then there’s got to be something special about them...

And like the game, it'll never fade away...