When I was a teenager, I used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. I see tabletop role-playing games as the natural precursor to today’s massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
I played them all, well not all of them. By far Dungeons & Dragons is my favorite, and the one that possibly I think has stayed the most current all these years later. I played D&D, Champions the Men in Black RPG, Dream Park, there was a DC Comics RPG I tried and a Star Trek one, Mekton (where I had a great scorpion-shaped monster robot that I flew around), I played RuneQuest, Star Wars (the West End version) I tried Chill, Teenagers from Outer Space, Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2020. I never tried Call of Cthulhu though. I wish I had. Maybe in the future.
The one I want to call attention to now though, as much as I’d like to start up a D&D game (and that’s coming anyway) is Cyberpunk 2020. I made a promise years ago in the nineties that I would do my best in the actual year 2020 to get as many of the old gamers together as I could for a reunion game. That certain year is nearly upon us, and I’ve been reviewing the old material.
Nearly the only way to look at this is to project my mind back to 1994 or so, and look at what the future might look like from that point of view. There were a lot of films around that time, notably Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It’s set in Los Angeles of 2019, where everything is tall buildings, there are flying cars, and lots of acid rain and toxic environments, where many people were now living off-world, and the people on Earth in the film were all those left behind. Everything is dark, it seems to be night time all the time.
Cyberpunk takes place in a similar environment of Night City. Cops ride flying cars, there is lots of body gear, weapons wired directly into your brain, cybernetic arms with hidden chainsaws in them, and the corporations are in charge, not the governments. (Hmm…) The corporates are both the lead villains and the lead benefactors that might fund the heroes.
There are lots of players backstabbing and ambushing each other.
Thing is today, we’re on the cusp, and 2020 is just about here, and cities are nothing like this (okay, I’ve seen some places overseas in vids that are close to some elements in these fictional cities, and there have been great advances in science, but I don’t know anyone with a laser pistol hidden in their cybernetic finger, or even so much as a Swiss Army Knife or a scalpel. I was hoping to fly my car to this reunion meeting, but obviously, that’s not possible, and since that time, I’ve lost my big toe and no doctor said to me, even before my body succumbed to GBS, what about a cybernetic toe?
So, when I look around, in the years before all these adventures I ran week after week should happen, I see no evidence of all these technological advances other than extremely experimental cool stuff that might have helped a tiny handful of people.
Much like Back to the Future 2, Pepsi’s aren’t $50 either, and we have long past that date as well.
So, at a reunion game, assuming we are using the same rules for the characters should I say we’re in 2040? Maybe in 2076? Do I ignore it entirely and act as if it is the futuristic 2020 world of the RPG as it is? Do I keep the original corporations the game introduces, or make some new ones? These are things I’m tackling as I develop this.
There’s the real possibility that once together (maybe by video conference call? That would be ‘cyber’) that it’ll just be a bunch of hanging out, the story left behind, and that’s great too.
I wonder if the same number of hits will still be to the left leg? I seem to remember that happening quite a lot.
Now that not much (except cell phones and the internet) is different, players attempting Cyberpunk 2020 in the year 2020 would have to project their minds back to the early 90s so they could then look forward to 2020 with a mindset that would allow for flying police cars, cybernetic limbs that could conceal a chainsaw, while the only hackers on the internet have to carry their cyber modem with them so they can ‘jack in’ and fight a computer-animated guard dog too, gain access to the files they need to steal for Arasaka.