Cyberpunk how I love thee...
In 1982 I saw the movie Bladerunner. Soon after I saw the animated film, Rock and Rule. Something clicked. it wasn't the stories necessarily, nor was it the characters, I couldn't figure out what it was, but some kind of seed was buried deep in me, a seed of love and obsession. It was around this time I also saw The Road Warrior, that same seed grew...
A few years passed, Robocop was released, in 1986 I got into anime and manga, when the only place you could find it was conventions, getting 16th generations pirates without subtitles or dubs. Manga was also just hitting American shores thanks to Viz, Eclipse, and Darkhorse comics. Akira, Appleseed, Bubblegum Crisis, Xenon the Heavy Metal Warrior, AD Police.... the seed was growing and growing but I didn't have a tangible name for it, i knew how to recognize that love, but it didn't have a name, and it didn't have a focus.
Then in 1990 I went to visit one of my friends who was attending the Kansas City Art Institute. They were playing a role-playing game. I had been briefly exposed to Dungeons and Dragons, but it had left an overall bad taste in my mouth, and I had avoided rpg's for years because of it. But these guys asked me to sit in, and play this new game, Cyberpunk.
You may not believe in hyperbole, or in pseudo-religious moments..... but then and there, reading through that rulebook, playing that game for the first time... everything clicked into place, the room got brighter, then darker, till nothing was illuminated but the character sheet and the rulebook. My head was swimming, I literally heard a seraphic choir (though that was probably the cd that was playing at the time)...
It all fell into place, I had a name for my love, a focus, a way to be a part of this, genre, this setting, this feeling, that I had been in love with for so very long. I quickly tracked down every book I could, I devoured the literature, Gibson, Dick, Stephenson, Williams, Effinger...
Inside the core setting, it was possible to play with inspiration from all the sources I loved most. Grim back alley detective stories, high power cop/military games, power brokers in chrome towers, Hackers riding the digital underground for kicks and profit... and outside the cities, you had abandoned rural America, left to rot and neglect... a post apocalypse setting without the apocalypse. Nomad warriors and wasteland riders... I had it all, all in one giant sandbox. And nothing in my life has been the same since.
It wasn't just the setting either. It was the rules. I hated Dungeons and Dragons, I hated Palladiums rules even more (one game of Robotech was enough for me to realize MDC was stupid). I hated how constricting they were, with no way to fix them. I couldn't play someone like Conan in DnD, no matter what class I chose, because I could only choose one.
Cyberpunk, the rules were simpler. They had a few problems, but it took me much longer to notice them, and they were all things I could fix. The rules were closer to modeling reality, but fantastic enough to not be boring. Again..... a lifelong love affair was ironclad.
Over the years, my love has never diminished, it has only grown stronger. This game, once so popular that it crowded shelves, competing with TSR, Steve Jackson, and Palladium, so popular that sites dedicated to it number close to 500. Many people who professed their love of this game, turned their back on it when it stopped being new and shiney. But I never did, I never will.
As I told Mike Pondsmith (owner of R. Talsorian Games, creator of Cyberpunk) in a recent letter:
"Datafortress 2020 is my love letter to this game, and to everyone who ever played it, everyone who ever dreamed chrome, neon and the acrid smell of cordite."
Gaming effects each of us in it's own way, but for most of us, there is that one game, that one feeling we get when we pick up the dice, sit behind the GM screen, or crack open that rule book, that drives us. Like a drug, we are looking for that perfect fix. Some people never find it, they jump from game to game, others lost it and can't seem to find it again. Me, I found it. The perfect game for me. Whatever your game is, I hope you find it too.
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