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

LordofArcana

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Of course--what better way to show how pervasive and controlling the corporations are than to make all their stuff appealing. If these corporations are dominating everyday life, shouldn't it show? Shouldn't a game where capitalism has run amok feature a healthy dose of shopping for the latest and greatest name-brand toys?
This feels like an embrace of consumer culture that seems almost the opposite what I would naively think cyberpunk rpgs would have.

Shouldn't the real good stuff be the things made personally by the best hackers, prototypes that haven't been degraded for mass market, and random stuff that only a truly knowledgeable person would know to get?

For instance maybe the Hello Kitty Radio toy set is actually bizarrely suited for customization and can be turned into a full portable electronic warfare kit by anyone with basic instructions. Meanwhile the sharpshooter's gun has been carefully made from basically scratch and they keep modifying it until it is exactly what they need. And the laptop the cracker uses parts stolen from a corp's Research & Development department, they are too expensive for mass production (and the masses wouldn't even know how to take advantage of them if they got their hands on any of them) but the cracker knew the treasure they found as soon as they read the specs.

The most expensive and well known stuff should be over-marketed crap and being able to discern the real treasures would be a skill of its own.
 

Dagor

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This feels like an embrace of consumer culture that seems almost the opposite what I would naively think cyberpunk rpgs would have.

Shouldn't the real good stuff be the things made personally by the best hackers, prototypes that haven't been degraded for mass market, and random stuff that only a truly knowledgeable person would know to get?
It may be more on the romanticized side of the genre than on the "coldly realistic" one, but with the right system I could certainly see that work. "Trade in my deck for the latest shiny corp toy? Whatever for? Sure, Vickie here may not look like much, but I know her inside out -- heck, wrote half her code all by myself and I've never let another guy touch her when it was time for an upgrade. We've been together for six years, man, and she's never let me down yet..."
 

That Other Guy

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Cyberpunk in RPGs does tend to lean away from DIY ethos that punk tends to foster. Then again, part of that may just be that crafting systems in RPGs tend to be... serviceable, at absolute best.
 

Cannibal Smiliest

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Of course--what better way to show how pervasive and controlling the corporations are than to make all their stuff appealing. If these corporations are dominating everyday life, shouldn't it show? Shouldn't a game where capitalism has run amok feature a healthy dose of shopping for the latest and greatest name-brand toys?
A giant mandatory shopping spree with free money doesn’t strike me as the best way to criticize capitalism.
 

lucrien

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Shouldn't the real good stuff be the things made personally by the best hackers, prototypes that haven't been degraded for mass market, and random stuff that only a truly knowledgeable person would know to get?
Except if you're going to use any of this stuff to fight against the corps, and the corps are also fighting against each other... Well, then that means the corps are trying to build exactly the same things you want to use, and they have more time, money, and technical know-how to devote to the project. And in actuality, why would a corp develop all its tech in-house if it doesn't need to? Really, they're just going to buy all their security and espionage tech from other vendors, who, again, have dedicated far more resources to the problem than you can ever hope to on some back alley street. They may not be goods for the general public, but they're still made and sold by companies for a profit--stuff you can order from a catalog.

A giant mandatory shopping spree with free money doesn’t strike me as the best way to criticize capitalism.
I mean, Monopoly started as a capitalist critique too...

Though I'm not really sure where you're not seeing the critique--rampant capitalism has lead to a scenario where private armies wage small-scale wars and conduct sabotage operations against each other, with little to no repercussions, and people are making money off of it all the time. If you didn't have the near-mandatory participation in the capitalist structure, it's not nearly so sinister or pervasive.

You could have a scenario where capitalism fails to provide you the tools you need, and making everything yourself is the mechanically superior option, but I'm not sure that's cyberpunk anymore. In a cyberpunk setting, capitalism isn't "failing"--it's ascendant. If all your gear-obsession needs aren't being met by a company, then that's just an untapped market. Cyberpunk isn't supposed to be where capitalism falls apart, the horror should be that everything has gone right for capitalism.
 

Clockwork Cat

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In that vein, is 'compromised' protagonists/PCs a necessary part of the genre? Nice as it would be to be squeaky clean, you don't get things done without getting your hands dirty.
 

Wakshaani

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I, for one, would *love* to see more scratch-built and personalized gear ala "The Street will find a way".

Mind you, I *also* live for dropping name brands on, like, all the things.

I like it both ways!
 

Clockwork Cat

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Well, one way to encourage custom built and PC built gear might be to say that in order to drive demand for next gen tech, there's always something wrong with the existing model. It's not something that gets widely acknowledged but it's always true. Sure you can pick up a pretty deck for hacking but most of them burn out on simple jobs. By design. The same goes for guns, vehicles and (in Shadowrun) even magical goods. It's to make sure you come back and buy it again. Or the next iteration that 'fixes' the problem.
 

Lenin

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Late to the party and without anything smart to say, I offer this scan from Mondo 2000 magazine from the depths of history, 1992:


About which Bruce Sterling said (in 2012):
Bruce Sterling said:
Since 20 years have passed, contemporary people will fail to realize that this was a comical self-parody.
 
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