As a writer for the upcoming Interface Zero 2.0. I find I'm thinking more about Cyberpunk now than I ever have. Which is cool, because I still remember my first encounter with Shadowrun, that Larry Elmore cover blew me away. Magic and high technology, I was smitten right away, I couldn't wait for our world to get to this point, now I'm kind of afraid that it will. So Today's trope will be Cyberpunk. I ran a fun little playtest scenario called "The said it would be easy". Nothing in a cyberpunk setting is easy...It's dark, it's gritty, and altogether depressing. Interface Zero comes at Cyberpunk from the more transhumanist viewpoint. Simulacrums, Androids, Dubbing to the Deep, Full conversion Cyborgs, Hyper-Reality, and more.
Some of the Art for Interface Zero 2.0...All artwork is copyright GunMetal Games.
|AShowrun cover by Larry Elmore, I do not own this artwork, and make no claims to said artwork.|
So The trope from TVTropes.org says...(as always, check out TVTropes.org for the full list of references for the tropes, and how those tropes can help your game.) Although after looking it over it is missing some key titles. For one under Music, it doesn't list the Cyberpunk album by Billy Idol, which I have always liked...I'm one of the few.
"Transhumanism is about how technology will eventually help us overcome the problems that have, up until now, been endemic to human nature. Cyberpunk is about how technology won't."— Stephenls of RPG.Net, on the relation between transhumanism and cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a Speculative Fiction genre centered around the transformative effects of advanced science, information technology, computers and networks ("cyber") coupled with a breakdown or radical change in the social order ("punk"). A genre that is dark and cynical in tone, it borrows elements from Film Noir, hard-boiled Detective Fiction and postmodern deconstruction to describe the Dystopian side of an electronic society.
The plot will more than likely take place Twenty Minutes into the Future in some City Noir, Industrial Ghetto or Crapsack World that tends to be marked by crime, cultural nihilism and bad weather, where cutting-edge technology only ends up being used by everyone for the sake of selfish profit and pleasure ("the street finds its own uses for things").
Heroes are often computer hackers or rebels, antiheroes almost to a man. These characters — "criminals, outcasts, visionaries, dissenters and misfits" — call to mind the private eye of detective fiction. This emphasis on the misfits and the malcontents is the "punk" component of cyberpunk. On the other hand, major villains are almost inevitably Police States or multinational conglomerates led by powerful businessmen with a number of gun-toting Mooks and corrupt politicians (or even an entire nation) at their beck and call.
If the work dates from The Eighties, there's a good chance that there will be a theme of East Asian economic dominance, with the evil corporations being sinister zaibatsu (possibly masterminded behind the scenes by yakuza) and Asian-sounding brand-names liberally scattered around. Many anime have at least a hint, perhaps due to the fact that Japan is closer to actually being cyberpunk, and many animators are interested or critical about Japanese consumerism. Examples from the Turn of the Millennium and beyond are likely to swap Japan out for China.
Expect the scientific philosophy of transhumanism to be a feature, what with Artificial Limbs and cable jacks in the skull that allow access to artificial realities. Artificial intelligences and artificial humans (sometimes corrupted) are everywhere, while Everything Is Online. This leads to a theme of "loss of distinction between real and artificial" on which philosophical and existential conflicts about transhumanism can arise, such as questions on the nature of identity and "What Measure Is a Non-Human?."
The genre's vision of a troubled future is often called the antithesis of the generally utopian visions of the future popular in the 1940s and 1950s, but keep in mind that it is not a term that should be applied to every Speculative Fiction dystopia or Bad Future ever in the history of the genre, and does not need to always have an anvilicious Science Is Bad message to it.
See Cyberpunk Tropes and SoYouWantTo.Write A Cyberpunk Story for Cyberpunk's characteristic tropes and what sets it apart from other dystopias. The story may fall on the Romanticism end of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment scale.
Not to be confused with the roleplaying game Cyberpunk
As a movement, it was the successor in some sense to the New Wave Science Fiction movement of the sixties and seventies. Related to Post Cyber Punk and Cyber Goth. Of course, several works fit on a continuum between the two tropes. See also Cyberspace, Dungeon Punk, Punk Punk. Compare also with Steam Punk, which shares some similarities with cyberpunk. See also Neo Africa.