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Unknown Armies or World of Darkness for cyberpunk?


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I *love* Unknown Armies' mechanics--they're visceral, fast, and easy to understand. However, running a cthulhupunk game without enormous handwaviness would require a large time investment. I haven't found any player-generated stuff that pins it down mechanically.

On the other hand, the World of Darkness line has plenty of kewl powerz easily convertible to cyberpunk, namely Promethean, Vampire, and a little of Hunter. The cyberpunk supplement should prove at least a little useful, and I enjoy the added crunch in chargen compared to UA. Powers would probably be bought with merit points initially, XP later. Heck, I could just use Promethean without torment, disquiet or the blatantly supernatural powers, and replace Pyros with Battery/Adrenaline Injections. On the other hand I like the system a bit less, for reasons like gun nibble, huge dice pools for competent PCs, less intuitive mechanics than UA, etc.

So my question is: what system would be best suited for a game in which guns are somewhat dangerous, yet my players have chances to feel like badasses? Where the players need to be a little smart but still beat the tar out of your average cop (or 2 or 3). I want them to revel in their characters' power over normies, hopefully enough they don't notice or mind their PCs' creeping egotism and alienation from society. Also very importantly, this game will also feature some ingredients of Cthulhupunk: I want the flexibility to run Masks of Nyarlathotep in a sci-fi background. I don't worry about a lack of mystery: famine, nuclear fallout and ecological disasters have given over vast swaths of land to the wild and the impenetrable, maddening darkness. I want the characters to initially feel comfortable enough with their mortal badassery to feel jolted when the cackling abyss exposes humanity to its insignificance.

No matter what, I'll use UA's madness meters. They're just too awesome.

I've included some of the setting and story background to flesh out what I'm going after, for those inclined to read further.

Inspirations: Blade Runner, Deus Ex, GATTACA, Eclipse Phase, Lovecraft, Promethean: the Awakened.

Setting: in the distant future, nanotechnology is both awe-inspiring and terrifying, and both genetic engineering and cybernetics are rampant. Think pre-fall Eclipse Phase before singularities or resleeving. Interplanetary exploration is finally feasible, but most people are stuck on Earth with massive systemic inequality. Genetic engineering has reinforced the gap between the haves and have-nots, while government is perpetually held hostage to corporate interests.

Player backgrounds: the PCs, in former lives, were elite industrial espionage operators who faced terminal illnesses breaking the body but not the brain (leukemia, heart disease, etc). Alternative Technologies Inc., a biomedical research megacorp, offered the PCs enormous financial security for their families in exchange for months of highly intense, rigorous neuroscience testing. The PCs agreed, enduring complex neuroimaging techniques and nanobot injections relaying enormous volumes of neural activity data, accompanied with countless sensory and cognitive exams and physical exercises. The PCs sacrificed this much for their families, and in due time their ailments overcame them.

Now: the PCs awake with their last memories of dying in a hospital with their loved ones. Lost in a sea of new sensations and fuzzy memories, they're informed by a team of researchers they've been given a second chance! New bodies: a half-century has passed, and technology has finally enabled scientists to successfully perform brain transplants. Better, faster, stronger--superior bodies at the pinnacle of genetic engineering technology, further augmented by cutting edge cybernetics. They must first endure months of rigorous training, their brains remapping sensation and motor activity to their proper place. Of course, the megacorp seeks a return on its investment...so the players are "offered" their old jobs back, with perks.

The Truth: technology has advanced further than that...the players are not technically human. The PCs are pioneering subjects of what's effectively copy-pasting the brain onto a digital medium. Nanotechnology, stem cell vats and bio-engineering have formed an uncanny union: thoroughly mechanical cells are intermeshed with their natural counterparts in a dizzying dance of technology.

The players will slowly realize that their poor memories and early clumsiness are partly due to the transplant's shortcomings: they are the first successful subjects of their kind, and the process isn't perfect. But worst of all, they are corporate property--the law lags far behind the pace of technology, and at any rate business owns the government (this is cyberpunk, after all). And the megacorp has insured its investments with tracking devices and self-destruct devices. So naturally some of the plot will revolve around them freeing themselves from their masters.

Furthermore, the players aren't alone. AIs that pass the Turing Test find themselves in similar predicaments, and I'll likely have the players do some 'blade running' missions shortly after they begin to realize their true natures.
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I like your setting :)

I can't really answer the question about system - I like both. I feel that UA is a bit darker and grittier though, so if you want a more gritty game I'd go with that one.

Have you considered using the Eclipse Phase system (you mention the setting, so I assume you have the game) ? A lot of the things you want are statted out already in EP.
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