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(Spinoff) What is cyberpunk and what is a cyberpunk RPG?

Dave999

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I'm starting to come to the conclusion that inasmuch as cyberpunk appeals to me at all for gaming purposes (not really a terribly huge fan of dystopias in my escapism, to be honest), I'm far more interested in the "cyber" part than in the "punk" one. That's because the latter doesn't actually seem to stand out much; I can play "Rage against the establishment!" in pretty much any setting, all the way back to "your PCs are teenage cavemen rebelling against the tyrannical chief of your tribe" if need be. So making the setting itself memorable takes something more, and in a cyberpunk context that's both the tech and the actual workings of society and the world at large beyond just the generic "the System (tm) is corrupt and eeevul, go fight it -- be a good antiauthoritarian like we tell you to" narrative.
I disagree on my end because of a caveat.

1. The cyber part shows all the amazing ways tech can be used.

2. The punk is why there's actual adventures to have. Because if the tech isn't being abused and society isn't dysfunctional then it's not a very adventure-friendly place.

Like Star Trek on Earth.
 

The Wyzard

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Cyberpunk, to me, is examplified by a quote from the extremely Cyberpunk comic Transmetropolitan and its extremely Cyberpunk character Spider Jerusalem.
Zero Society would be a good name for something.
 

Bira

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Case is the hacker protagonist of Neuromancer.

A person I remember most as a man who decided he wanted to log on the internet more than have sex with his super-hot cyborg girlfriend.
Case starts out as a shitty person, yeah. He's this hacker who got caught by one of the companies he targetted, and exposed to a neurotoxin that ruined his ability to jack into a cyberdeck. As we meet him on Neuromancer he's been a junkie hustler in Chiba City for about a year, and the people who know him give him a few months at most to live. He's either going to die because of some overdose or another, or some of the people he ripped off will catch up to him.

He's rescued from this fate by Molly Millions and Armitage, who are respectively the root inspiration for street samurai and Mr. Johnsons. They cure him of his neurological damage and addictions, give him a nifty cyberdeck (once again, the root inspiration for cyberdecks everywhere) and have him go on a long and convoluted series of runs alongside Molly that culminate in a raid on an orbital villa owned by a incalculably wealthy and twisted family. The end goal here is to remove the locks from that family's pet super-AIs, allowing them to merge into something greater, but that's something our two protagonists (Case and Molly) only figure out at the very end.

Case does have a character arc here, and he ends up a less shitty person than he was at the start, even though he ends up alone and not noticeably happier than he was in Chiba. It's Molly who dumps him because she's not ready to give up life on the edge yet. IIRC Case himself retires after Neuromancer, and his name next appears two books later in an offhand mention that he settled down, got married and had 4+ kids.

(Molly goes on to become the sort of legendary badass most GMs never let their PCs be, and cuts through the problems in the final book of the trilogy like a hot cyberclaw through butter).
 

FoolishOwl

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The dystopia is "This is the future Neoliberals want", the world has successfully become the dream of Reagan and Thatcher.
I've been meaning to bring this up. Neoliberal ideology, in that period, was presented as rejuvenation and optimism: "It's morning in America!". The punk aesthetic is a deliberate counterpoint to the pristine world of the suits; the crude honesty and do-it-yourself contrasted with elegant facades and smiles that hide manipulation and theft. (The suits usually turn out to be minor variations on Gordon Gekko.)

Come to think of it, more than other genres of literature I know, cyberpunk tended to put a lot of emphasis on how people dressed, as social signifiers; someone looking out of place because they were dressed for a different social milieu comes up a lot.
 

LatinaBunny

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I'm starting to come to the conclusion that inasmuch as cyberpunk appeals to me at all for gaming purposes (not really a terribly huge fan of dystopias in my escapism, to be honest), I'm far more interested in the "cyber" part than in the "punk" one. That's because the latter doesn't actually seem to stand out much; I can play "Rage against the establishment!" in pretty much any setting, all the way back to "your PCs are teenage cavemen rebelling against the tyrannical chief of your tribe" if need be. So making the setting itself memorable takes something more, and in a cyberpunk context that's both the tech and the actual workings of society and the world at large beyond just the generic "the System (tm) is corrupt and eeevul, go fight it -- be a good antiauthoritarian like we tell you to" narrative.
I wonder for those of us who like the tech and cyber stuff but not the punk and/or the dystopian stuff, if there is a name of a genre for us? Would it be Futuristic? Maybe just plain scifi label, perhaps?

I like the tech and magic stuff of Shadowrun, so that’s why I’m probably leaning towards science-fantasy. (I used to love Star Wars as well.)

I discovered a Gumshoe rpg called Mutant City Blues, which has a setting that I definitely like for the most part (minus the defect stuff for the powers). It’s like an official specialized mutant cop group solving mutant crimes and such. If I add cybertech that is usually found in cyberpunk to this particualr setting, would the genre be considered futuristic/scifi (alongside the mystery genre aspect, of course)?

It seems for cyberpunk, there has to be a dystopia aspect, which is not my thing, so it wouldn’t be cyberpunk. But I still love the cyber-tech stuff and aesthetics.

So, without the dystopian and punk parts, the alternative would be scifi or futuristic, is my best guess.
 

Cosmic Hobo

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I wonder for those of us who like the tech and cyber stuff but not the punk and/or the dystopian stuff, if there is a name of a genre for us? Would it be Futuristic? Maybe just plain scifi label, perhaps?

I like the tech and magic stuff of Shadowrun, so that’s why I’m probably leaning towards science-fantasy. (I used to love Star Wars as well.)

I discovered a Gumshoe rpg called Mutant City Blues, which has a setting that I definitely like for the most part (minus the defect stuff for the powers). It’s like an official specialized mutant cop group solving mutant crimes and such. If I add cybertech that is usually found in cyberpunk to this particualr setting, would the genre be considered futuristic/scifi (alongside the mystery genre aspect, of course)?

It seems for cyberpunk, there has to be a dystopia aspect, which is not my thing, so it wouldn’t be cyberpunk. But I still love the cyber-tech stuff and aesthetics.

So, without the dystopian and punk parts, the alternative would be scifi or futuristic, is my best guess.
There’s a nascent subgenre called solarpunk that’s about building an ecologically sustainable sci-fi utopia. Not as advanced tech as Star Trek, more like the early stages between here and there. Not so much with the cyber though.
 

Cosmic Hobo

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I've been meaning to bring this up. Neoliberal ideology, in that period, was presented as rejuvenation and optimism: "It's morning in America!". The punk aesthetic is a deliberate counterpoint to the pristine world of the suits; the crude honesty and do-it-yourself contrasted with elegant facades and smiles that hide manipulation and theft. (The suits usually turn out to be minor variations on Gordon Gekko.)

Come to think of it, more than other genres of literature I know, cyberpunk tended to put a lot of emphasis on how people dressed, as social signifiers; someone looking out of place because they were dressed for a different social milieu comes up a lot.
Cyberpunk is very class conscious. Even if it’s not always about class consciousness. It’s part of the punk mindset and certainly part of the cyber side. No money, no tech. High tech, low life.
 
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Dave999

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There’s a nascent subgenre called solarpunk that’s about building an ecologically sustainable sci-fi utopia. Not as advanced tech as Star Trek, more like the early stages between here and there. Not so much with the cyber though.
Steampunk and Solarpunk seem to miss the punk element of the phrase.
 

Bruce Redux

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I wonder for those of us who like the tech and cyber stuff but not the punk and/or the dystopian stuff, if there is a name of a genre for us? Would it be Futuristic? Maybe just plain scifi label, perhaps?
Critic (and author) Greg Feeley suggested the term "post-cyberpunk", for fiction that owes a debt to cyberpunk but isn't trying to be it. He pointed at Walter Jon Williams' novel of industrial-scale technomagic, Metropolitan, as an example.
 

Knaight

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Steampunk and Solarpunk seem to miss the punk element of the phrase.
Steampunk seems to vary - not least because it's often set in a colonial period, which hits the oppressive society and exploited underclass notes hard. Hell, it can even hit the dubious megacorporation notes; The British East India Company definitely qualifies as that based on real history alone.
 
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