• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Cyberpunk, shadowrun... How do you deal with current tech being better than future-tech?

Doctor-Boom

mad scientist
Validated User
In one of the shadowrun novel, they had a character find a gun from the late 90s and treat it as an artifact as it was better than anything made in their time.
Now, not only guns, but a lot of electronics are more advanced than what these game describes in the future.
So, how do you deal with it?
1. Decide that tech was never invented? Kinda kill suspension of disbelief...
2. Treat it as artifact and come up with an explanation why they are no longuer made?
3.update the equipment list of the future, so that it include modern version of these items. But then you risk having unintended effects, has these items allows pc to do things that weren't expected in the settings.

Any ways you have handled it?
 

AndrewGPaul

New member
If I were to run a Cyberpunk campaign nowadays, I think I'd treat it not as a futuristic setting, but as a retro-future; it's not set in 2020, it's set in what we thought 2020 would be like in 1986. :)

Alternatively, I'd simply assume that things in the future are better, and adjust things to suit. Easy enough with guns, especially if you keep it vague, and there's still plenty of technology in cyberpunk settings that is better - cybernetic implants, hovercars, etc. It's IT that's the hard one; you'd basically need to come up with a way to get round the ubiquity of wireless communication. IIRC Cyberpunk 2020 and a few iterations of Shadowrun assume you need find somewhere physical to plug in, for example - nowadays you'd use a wi-fi hotspot or your phone's 4G signal.
 

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I tend to take either #1 or #3.

#1: I play it like it's a historical period piece… only in this case, it's a period piece based on what, in that historical time, they thought the future could be like. Off the top of my head, I've long resolved that if I ever run Twilight 2000, it'll actually be Twilight 1992, with WWIII breaking out in the late 1980s – thereby absolving me of any need to worry about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Golden Age sci-fi game? I'll start the timeline in the late 1930s, same as the source material; anyone asks, "But what about cell phones?", I just say, "It's another timeline, and different physics! They don't exist, or at least not yet." And so on. That's assuming I even need a timeline; just saying, "It's the future as depicted in 60s Star Trek. Let's roll with it." may be enough. Get the players on board with the fun of playing things retro, and we'll all check ourselves as we go.

#3: Develop an inspired-by setting with updated kit. Like many GMs, I'm an inveterate rule-and-setting tweaker… and I usually warn players that I'm not big on printed canon. What's in the game at the table is the game. So I don't mind that some aspects in the background might be different from written. And again, if I get players on board at the beginning, we can check ourselves as a team.
 

Mr. Meister

Grade 3 de Bifrons
When we played Shadowrun, I explained to my players why the Matrix was accessible only via a wire and jack, and why there was no Wi-Fi equivalent until 4th ed (?) : the world is fucked up.

There has been a Virus and a Crash that destroyed data and hardware in some cases, an epidemic that swiped the planet, wars, corporate wars...

Researchs done on Wireless Matrix before all the aforementionned has either been destroyed or forgotten, and the people working on it happened to have died or disappeared.

Sure, sometimes, a small corp comes with a new take on WM, but the contracts for maintaining the wires and servers and what have you for the Wired Matrix are so high, these small corps either are bought and silenced, or simply annihilated.

And why do the AAA not try to switch to wireless ? Internal conflicts.

........

With some thought, it can apply to any and all techs from the past (blueprints lost, prototype stolen...).
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Shadowrun had the first Crash, which destroyed *staggering* levels of information and computer technology, and people were only just crawling out of that hole when Crash 2.0 struck.

In THEORY, everything's more solidified and stable now, so the world of 2080 is catching up to the world of 2020, but there's still some lag and some *major* trust issues that have to be overcome.
 

Nate_MI

Formerly 'Raveled'
Validated User
There are also a few cyberpunk games, like Hack the Planet, that take place in the aftermath of... well not exactly a total societal collapse, enough of a shake-up and a generalized disaster that any tech you don't want can be excised under the umbrella of "it was too hard to maintain/rebuild after it did fall."

For general questions like "why isn't everything in cyberpunk wireless," the answer is "security." Yes, the local Stuffer Shack has a wireless network and yes you can hack it to obtain infinite slushies and fried tofu (and shockingly enough, the effort and expense of maintaining those backdoors are the exact same as if you have a regular job and bought it legitimately). But if you're running against Renraku or S-K or Area Macrotech, any data worth the risk is in hardened, air-gapped servers. You can't hack into a corporate mainframe from the toilet.
 

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
You know all those nice, standard platforms, open information channels, public databases, etc. that are around? That's all corporate proprietary stuff now, and while the overall tech level might be higher no individual corporation's individual walled playground is - and while you can push the bounds of that with a soldering iron, some clamps, some wire, some fiber optic cable, etc. your kitbashing is not going to equal a 2019 factory.

This gets even worse with hardware. Gone are the glory days of the 14mm wrench, or even the slightly less glory days of the 15mm wrench and also the 9/16 in wrench because they aren't quite interchangeable. Oh no, now you have the Apollo Industries 17, which is subtly different than the Cicada 17, repeated for every basic tool. The core basic parts are pretty similar, but when everyone has slightly different sizes, slightly different screwheads, slightly different stock capacitors, and nigh identical attitudes towards end users repairing their own stuff instead of paying them to do it ("fuck you, pay me", shamelessly appropriated from workers) it's not a great situation for technological development.

Then there's wireless, which is an even bigger mess. If the future corporation did one thing right, it's that they're definitely competing with each other instead of engaging in blatant cartel behavior. It's a lot cheaper to jam a wireless network than set one up, and the idea of a shared wireless network on a universal standard is either a ridiculous pipe dream or an inevitability once the rest of the corporations are forced to switch over to your standard. Plus, quantum computing was a very bad thing for data security, so now it's largely a matter of physical access. It's much easier to have a computer network with easily switched off paired relays (one write, one read, switched individually) than maintain good security wirelessly. You wouldn't want your massive pile of covertly taken surveillance data accessed by anyone else, after all.

Granted, when complex technology meets disinterested humans security still falls through the cracks a bit, but at least that takes a skilled hacker of some sort, often with physical access somehow. There's also still radio, though signal clarity is about what you'd expect given unregulated CB communication and malicious signal jamming.
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
Shadowrun had the first Crash, which destroyed *staggering* levels of information and computer technology, and people were only just crawling out of that hole when Crash 2.0 struck.

In THEORY, everything's more solidified and stable now, so the world of 2080 is catching up to the world of 2020, but there's still some lag and some *major* trust issues that have to be overcome.
It must have, because the programming tools seem inferior to stuff from the 90s.
 

Critias

Social Justice Galliard
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Ignore it, focus on the game. Being consistent in-setting is more important than folding in real-life stuff.
 

Zixx

Registered User
Validated User
It must have, because the programming tools seem inferior to stuff from the 90s.
That is a filthy lie! They have HoloLISP in Shadowrun. HOLOLISP!

(Or they had in 2e)

((I do want to know what HoloLISP was supposed to look like.))
 
Top Bottom