Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads
September 8, 2016 6:34 AM   Subscribe

ND: After Cyberpunk 2020, Talsorian released Cyberpunk v3.0, and it doesn’t seem like it was as well received.

Pondsmith: Well, that is one of those where you have to learn to listen to yourself and not necessarily listen to external forces. There was a really big push, after we did 2020 and new types of cyberpunk came along, that we should do a version that was a lot more transhuman. 2030X was an attempt to get more transhuman styles and I also wanted to look at how cyberculture and online culture changed the nature of cyberpunk. So all of that was set out to do a transhumanist cyberpunk. What we discovered was that people don’t want a transhuman cyberpunk. They want cyberpunk. Part of it is that transhumanism, structurally, is counter to cyberpunk in that it essentially postulates a positive world view that things are moving towards, as opposed to things having totally gone to hell in a hand basket and probably won’t get better.

And then later:

ND: So back to cyberpunk, there is this very common assertion that we are living in the cyberpunk now, as people say. How do you feel about that?

Pondsmith: Like I wish I’d been wrong. My son always says, “Dad, think happy thoughts.” We are living in a very cyberpunk position. And part of it is that we don’t know how to utilize the technology we have, and the street does find its uses for things. Sometimes, they’re not very good uses. Never has corporate power been as extended and universal as it is now. I remember I was looking at an article a couple of days ago on how much information Facebook is able to gather or extrapolate about you from your Facebook page. It was two pages worth in small type. It’s terrifying how much they know about you. We have a lot of renegade government stuff, we have a lot of renegade corporate stuff, we have a plethora of violent capabilities, and we have a lot of technology that can go either way. We have a lot of people wearing black leather and mirrorshades, so we’re getting there.

Guys, we're totally heading towards the wrong future.
posted by Artw at 6:58 AM on September 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I wanted the Shadowrun future with dragon bankers and street wizards.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:03 AM on September 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

I also love that his whole entry into Cyberpunk is basically Hardwored and knowing Walter Jon Williams, and then he hangs out with George Alec Wffingerca bit, and the usual Gibsons and Sterlings are sort of a secondary concern he came to later.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I wanted the Shadowrun future with dragon bankers and street wizards.

I could never get anyone to play that game with me despite the game's inclusion of sexy hacker elves with rock 'n' roll hair, WHO DOES NOT WANT THAT
posted by middleclasstool at 7:20 AM on September 8, 2016 [11 favorites]

Funny, I thought the main complaint people had about Cyberpunk 2030X was the artwork (Seriously? Barbie dolls?) and abandoning the previous setting in order to create a bunch of "Cities of Hats" (If you are a member of X group, you use X technology")

But mainly the artwork.
posted by happyroach at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nice interview!
posted by grobstein at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2016

Yeah. I bought it for the artwork too. Because it's so bad. It's bad not because of the dolls themselves but because of a lack of any detail or anything. Plus the photos looked ridiculous. And low quality. So many dolls, it feels like I'm reading a 7th Guest novelization.
posted by I-baLL at 7:29 AM on September 8, 2016

Whatever you do, don't google up random character generators. That's a deep hole to fall in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2016

I was always a bit standoffish about Shadowrun because it felt like taking a relatively unexplored genre and then smothering it in a bunch of D&D trappings when we already had D&D for that. Sexy hacker elves with rock 'n' roll hair are a good counterargument though.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also I have to admit that while loving the setting my actual play experience of 2020 was mostly character creation and bleeding out - something that seems to take up an outsized portion of the combat rules as well.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I could never get anyone to play that game with me despite the game's inclusion of sexy hacker elves with rock 'n' roll hair, WHO DOES NOT WANT THAT

People who think Elfquest is a bit... creepy.
posted by Leon at 8:01 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I read, but never got to play CyberGeneration. (Transhumanist virus infects and modifies kids under the age of 16, giving them cyberpunk abilities built into their bodies.) It reads kind of like a setting for a Cory Doctorow novel, but actually good. It was also appealing to me as a teen, as it all the characters are kids, trying to stage a revolution and actually making a difference. As an adult, the idea terrifies me.

I had figured that R. Talsorian had crashed and burned with the rest of them when the market tanked, I'm really glad to read that it didn't.
posted by Hactar at 8:08 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Huh. I was just thinking about Cyberpunk the other day, and how close we’ve gotten to the “setting” in terms of years and societal feel, and kinda-sorta with the technology.

I played both Cyberpunk 2013 and Cyberpunk 2020. Both versions had problems - the netrunner characters almost necessitated having a second GM, to deal with what they were doing while the other characters were doing their things. The various special abilities of the characters never seemed to mesh well into cohesive play. The combat rules often left characters dead or bleeding out in even simple fights - which was part of the point, this was a dark game - but always seemed to mean somebody was sidelined while creating a new character. The setting was interesting, but it felt hard to come up with compelling stories or moments that engaged the group as a whole; focus seemed to shift from character to character.

Part of that might have been my development as a GM; Cyberpunk was my first step outside running AD&D (I had played Twilight: 2000 by then, but as a player not the GM. And T:2000 had a hook that basically forced the group into a cohesive unit from the outset). Cyberpunk was a looser setup, and one that more encouraged the players to be creators and initiators of things that it took me a while to get comfortable with; there always seemed to be the story I was running and then the four or five side stories that were generated by the players and those didn’t necessarily engage every member of the group. I loved the setting, and so did a lot of my group; but it never seemed that we could really get a game going past a handful of sessions before it would sort of peter out and then we’d try again, but usually with a brand new campaign idea.

It did produce one of my all time favourite players-spiking-the-gm-plan moments, though – one of the guys in the group decided he wanted to try running the game and came up with a setting and a campaign that basically had us all working for the mob. Which wasn’t a bad idea. But his second mission for us was to transport some highly valuable cargo (which was like, some data chips or whatever) across the city in a provided vehicle or two, and he had obviously planned out a running battle through the city like the Road Warrior (or maybe even The Dark Knight, though we were long before that film). And I asked him how big the cargo was, and how many miles we had to go, and then calculated the rate that an air taxi would charge us (Cyberpunk 2020 had air taxis, one of the pulls from Blade Runner) and convinced the group that if we all chipped in $X to hire an air taxi, we would still all be ahead by $Y once we got payment. And our new GM looked at me with a wtf expression, and I said “Dude, this is what players do to your plans.”
posted by nubs at 8:13 AM on September 8, 2016 [13 favorites]

That's when the surface to air missile rules should get a work-out.
posted by Artw at 8:18 AM on September 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

That's where I would've gone, but you need some miles under your belt as the GM before you can roll with those moments and call an audible on the play.
posted by nubs at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was always a bit standoffish about Shadowrun because it felt like taking a relatively unexplored genre and then smothering it in a bunch of D&D trappings when we already had D&D for that.

No relationship. No permission. Nothing. Nary a word exchanged, ever.

Except that the admixture of cyberspace and, spare me, *elves*, has always been more than I could bear to think about.

I've just been ignoring it for years, and hope to continue to.
- Wm. Gibson, 2003
posted by griphus at 8:33 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also some of my favorite tabletop moments happened in one long, extremely slapsticky C2020 campaign:

-My character, possessing a barely-useful nanotech-powered liquid-metal arm rolled the equivalent of a shitload of 20s on a skill check which, IIRC, meant that arm turned into some crazy OP shit that almost broke the campaign.

-My character, also in the possession of a needler with knockout darts, wandered into a hospital to extract an asset. Having no idea how to do this, he just kept sneezing and, under the cover of the sneezing noise, surreptitiously firing knockout needles at random staff who started passing out and caused a panic making the extraction a lot easier.

-After our party stole a "universal replicator" from some Zaibatsu, we went into the arms business, and the last 40 mins of every session was us totaling up how extremely rich we were.

-A friend's character -- an ecoterrorist with a motorcycle -- rode his bike off a ramp on a roof into the open door of a helicopter, lost his balance when it landed inside, fell off, grabbed onto something on the outside and dangled. Meanwhile, the bike swept all the Bad Guys (and itself) out the opposite door.

-My character accidentally sequence broke the campaign when he guessed a password ("do you have any opium for sale?") that gave the party the next clue as to their assignment. Props to the DM for rolling with it, no pun intended (lol pun extremely intended.)
posted by griphus at 8:43 AM on September 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you want your magical otherworlds and your cyberpunk mixed my rec would be Jeff Noon's Vurt and its sequels - it's also loaded with stuff which would make for a good RPG setting so it's suprising it hasn't at least become a GURPs setting. But obscure in the US I guess. Also no elves.
posted by Artw at 8:45 AM on September 8, 2016

In college I ran a campaign where the players were all part of an underground news broadcast doing guerrilla journalism. And this was long before I fell in love with Spider Jerusalem.

The People's Revolutionary Rock & Truth Hour was their show. Gave a nice hook as to why a netrunner, rockerboy, gun-monkey, techie, etc would all have a reason to work together.

So one night they fuck up badly and their current safe house is exposed, corporate goons in black cars roll up, start shooting… and the GM fumbles the rail gun shot with a 1. Critical failure. The table goes silent.

Then somebody says "And somewhere far across town, a little old lady disappears in a fine, red mist."

Good times.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:48 AM on September 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I read, but never got to play CyberGeneration. (Transhumanist virus infects and modifies kids under the age of 16, giving them cyberpunk abilities built into their bodies.) It reads kind of like a setting for a Cory Doctorow novel, but actually good.

Cybergeneration was basically Cyberpunk New Mutants, and was pretty much the best damn version of Cyberpunk Pondsmith ever created. It had transhuman AIs, teen drama, evil corporate conspiracies, and a CP2020 signature character teturning as a gruff Wolverinesque mentor figure.

No seriously, it was the best Cyberpunk meets Transhumanism setting ever, and if Pondsmith had gone with that instead of what he did for Cyberpunk 3rd, he would probably have a lot more goodwill in the g hobby these days.
posted by happyroach at 9:01 AM on September 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

One of the best moments was in one of the campaigns run by a friend of mine. One of the players was running a corporate exec, and was high up in one of the major corps, and that was how we basically got our missions and such; we were kind of the corporation's "black ops" team that ran around quashing problems or stealing shit from other corporations and he was sort of the handler.

I was playing a netrunner, and being true to my character roots I was working with the team but also using my position to infiltrate and access secrets from the corporation I was working for, either selling them to the highest bidder or leaking them to the media. So we had about three missions in a row that were a direct result of my character hacking into the corp's system and then our team getting activated to deal with the fallout of whatever information I had let out into the world. At the end of the third mission, though, the corporate character was able to piece together enough evidence to make it clear that I was the one behind it all; he was in his office and the team was out doing some final clean-up work. And we all had some fancy comms gear that basically meant we had radios in our ears and could always be in touch.

So he comes on the line and gives some final instructions on what we are to do and then: "And gentlemen...kill Mr. Quasar." And my characters head became fine mist a moment later, because at least two of the solos were so completely loyal they would never stop to question an order. But it was good times while it lasted and everyone was wildly amused at what had happened.
posted by nubs at 9:09 AM on September 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

Going to the interview:

ND: Right, so the rules never overcome the story that’s trying to be told.
Pondsmith: The rules should implement and help you build the story so that it feels maximally like a story. I think that’s one reason we’ve been successful with Cyberpunk.

ND: I think that’s one of the biggest problems with a lot of modern games, like the newest version of Dungeons and Dragons, is that it’s more concerned with the rules and the combat than it is with trying to tell a good story.

I think there's truth in that; I also think there's some other factors that need to be considered. Each game system is a storytelling engine and can be used to tell all kinds of stories, but the mechanics of that engine will drive each story differently and I think each engine has "preferences". D&D has its roots in war-gaming; it has always had a very crunchy feel for combat and I think that is a direct result of that heritage. D&D also has roots in high fantasy and good triumphing over evil, and so there is an expectation that as a storytelling engine it will provide for character triumph over evil, likely through some kind of fighting or combat. I'm currently playing in both a Vampire: TM campaign, and the rules there are very different; there is far more emphasis on player-driven and player-created experiences and a rules framework that is very flexible and suited towards that; but Vampire is also a storytelling engine designed for tragedy and I keep reminding myself that my character's plans are not likely to have a happy outcome and that success will come with some type of price. Which is not to say that either system couldn't be used to tell different stories - D&D could (and has) been used to tell tragedies; and Vampire could be used to tell a story of good triumphing over evil with lots of magnificent combat. But a Vampire version of a high fantasy story is going to run and feel very differently because you have a different engine (my god, now I want to write that campaign). As another example, the Pathfinder campaign I'm in has trappings of high fantasy, but is giving the characters some hard choices and some reasons to examine whether or not the world as presented to them is really as it appears and leaving us with a quandry on how to deal with the situations that have arisen where there isn't a clear-cut good vs. evil approach, and I admire the GM for giving us something that has both some wonderful combats and some wonderful role-playing opportunities and decisions.

I do feel like D&D 5th is far more open and explicit about the fact that the people playing it should feel free to modify/change/disregard the rules in favour of the story they want to tell/create. But, looking back at my gaming career now, I'm thinking that many of the "failed" campaigns or things that didn't work when I was a young gamer were a result of not being aware enough of the storytelling engine in use and how it influences things and that you can open up the hood and tinker with it whenever you want, even on the fly. Ars Magica is another system I love but we never seemed to get a campaign working in; my GM in Vampire pointed out to me in conversation the other day that it maybe needs a more episodic way of thinking and approach, which in turn made me review the fact that I wasn't approaching the storytelling engine in that way when I tried it 15+ years ago. So, yeah.

I have to go do my real job now, not talk about RPGs as much as I want to. Roll to save versus email!
posted by nubs at 9:40 AM on September 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

Each game system is a storytelling engine and can be used to tell all kinds of stories, but the mechanics of that engine will drive each story differently and I think each engine has "preferences".

I ran games for a couple decades, and this was my feeling as well: task resolution systems in games inform the cinematic reality of that universe, which steers stories in given directions. Some games emphasize combat: D&D really didn't even have task resolution systems for noncombat encounters for ages, which meant all situations there were at the discretion of the DM instead of known quantities, which meant I only bothered if I trusted the DM.

My girlfriend actually still plays White Wolf based MU*s, and so a long standing discussion we've had is how White Wolf is trapped in that era in many ways: a lot of page space is devoted to combat improvements for characters, though the game clearly wants to be more heavily narrativist. (I'd run WoD under FATE, if I still ran games.)

Games also have scales that they work best at.

TSR's Marvel game was one of my favorite examples: it was clearly intended to run stuff at the level of X-Men/Avengers, so normal humans (like Aunt May) could, by virtue of the floors in attributes, run a four minute mile or survive a direct hit by a rocket launcher if given immediate first aid because the system didn't actually take into account less than that.

In Nomine was similarly gonzo, but inverted: normal humans were unplayably incompetent because the game engine assumed everyone would have angelic/demonic attribute levels for base skill checks.

I only ever played Cyberpunk 2020 a few times, (more familiar with Shadowrun 2E/3E), but I was struck by similar issues there: they wanted something like Essence to ensure game balance in cyberware upgrades, so they had cyberpsychosis... but the cyberpsychosis thing *only* turned people into killing machines instead of having a broader range of possible effects, which always felt forced and unrealistic to me. (I wish - and I would never normally say this - that Robocop 2 had maybe informed that idea. The parade of failed Robocops besides Murphy was a great example of how I'd expect that to go: a rainbow of crazy, not just the one flavor.)

Anyway, fascinating link. Thanks!
posted by mordax at 10:01 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Years ago I ran a CP2020 game where, sick of the cyberpsychosis rules, I wrote my own . It required me to do some math, but had different levels of troubles, from a weird glitch to a cybersystem failure to neural damage to full cuberpsychosis.

One of my players got a device to link their gun to their cybereyes, along with eye improvements. I did the math, made the roll, and noted that one of those systems would have a major malfunction and, after thinking, figured the eyes would get it.

The next firefight, that character pulls their gun, activates their link and...

"Suddenly your entire field of vision turns sky blue and letters appear: SMRTGUN.EXE has caused a general protection fault in CYBEREYE.DLL."

They all started laughing, then realized I was not kidding, and then had to deal with the fact that the guy with the best gun skills was suddenly completely blind...

Good times.
posted by mephron at 10:51 AM on September 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

"Suddenly your entire field of vision turns sky blue and letters appear: SMRTGUN.EXE has caused a general protection fault in CYBEREYE.DLL."

Ahahaha, awesome!

*awards you one shiny Internet*

Reminds me of a joke I used to have about why cyberware would never be popular in real life: I always used to say that someone would end up having insufficient RAM to move their legs.

On a more serious note: if I were doing something like that, I'd love to steal the sanity system out of Unknown Armies, which was the best I have ever encountered. They had several different tracks for various kinds of trauma, including one for involvement with violence, one for prolonged isolation and so on. Each track progressed in two directions: one way made you hardened to trauma, (allowing you to ignore any act of less than that value, so if having a gun pulled on you was a Violence 1 check and you had Hardened 2, you didn't need to roll). The other left you more vulnerable, so that if you flubbed a check, your freak out was much worse.

The trick was that you could progress in both directions simultaneously: hardened and weak against a given stimuli, so that it would take more to push you over the edge, but if you melted down, it was even worse than for a normal person.

I'd love to see players adding one more cyber upgrade, wondering if losing their remaining lung would be the thing that finally flipped them over the edge, or if it would just make it easier to go full brain-in-a-jar.
posted by mordax at 12:14 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ahh - Cyberpunk 2013 =- my first real love after D&D/AD&D ... And boy what fun... Heh, remember doing a Matrix-genre VR rabbit-hole reveal at a con session (~1988/1989), I was running that completely blew everyone's minds... Oh, the brutal combat system - I think the only one even more brutal and "realistic" was Living Steel and the one that was based on (Phoenix Command)... Table about your damage look-up tables...
posted by jkaczor at 12:24 PM on September 8, 2016

My experience from GM cyberpunk type games is that there wasn't any need for explicit rules for cyberpsychosis; the player acquired it all by themselves as their characters became gradually removed from the bulk of humanity by an increasing number of implants and enhancements.
posted by Harald74 at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2016

I haven't played any tabletop RPGs games since about '95 (and CP2020 was one of my favorites). I see a few references to an industry collapse but I'm curious about what caused it. Are there any summaries or is there a widely acknowledged explanation for what happened? I'm guessing some combination of aging customer base, difficult business models, and the ascendancy of home video game consoles, but I'm curious to know more.
posted by camcgee at 12:44 PM on September 8, 2016

IIRC the weird thing about upgrades in 2020 was they cost you points of empathy, so the more empathy you started with the more you could get, which was great for min-maxers but kind of counterintuitive.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I sure do love people. Please aw my arms and legs off so I can become a rampaging kill machine!"
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on September 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Are there any summaries or is there a widely acknowledged explanation for what happened?

Pondsmith made a passing reference to an explanation: "It also gave the industry a chance to recover after it took a collapsed because of the card market."

Magic: the Gathering begat a GINORMOUS number of collectible-card games (including Netrunner, discussed in Pondsmith's interview.) We're talking 1 in 3 of all new games one year. RPG publishers like Chaosium and Atlas Games sank lots of their resources into new CCGs; new game retail stores opened buoyed by this boom. And when the novelty wore off, the boom went bust; distributors and retailers went out of business; publishers were starved for cash having invested big in stock that now wasn't moving.

I can't readily find a good overview -- wikipedia's CCG craze of 1994-1995 comes closest, but doesn't get into its impact on the industry at large. There's discussion of it in these RPG history columns (that eventually evolved into Designers and Dragons.)

Wizards of the Coast
posted by Zed at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ah yes the CCGs, that makes sense. I remember the appearance and rise but never got really into them -- I was very into D&D and so am probably among a very small number of people who never played Magic but have played Spellfire, the TSR entry into the CCG arena.
posted by camcgee at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2016

re: Talsorian in general: gods, I loved Mekton Z so much. It was a really well put-together system for the time. It's not what I'd do now, but I got a lot of games out of it, and even more character building. Spent a lot of time with those books!

I'm going to recuse myself from the "telling a good story versus having rules" argument because my head will literally explode, and I'm tired of going through System Matters arguments that were well-developed 16(?!) years ago.

The transhumanism angle is interesting. Shadowrun has been trying to update itself in its more recent editions, taking into account where technology looks to be heading by 2010s standards, versus FASA's adherence to the Sprawl trilogy for too many years. I still really love the little-c cyberpunk stuff, but it's definitely time for a refresh as to what that means, if anything. Maybe that gets subsumed into posthumanism-punk. Is that a thing? There used to be -punk everything. It's probably a thing.

I would play a CP2020 or Shadowrun game with any and all of you. You my people.
posted by curious nu at 2:36 PM on September 8, 2016

Other thoughts:

I don't see anyone wearing mirrorshades anywhere ever. I question Pondsmith's claim here.

We do, however, have a lot of DIY bodymod stuff, and limb replacement is coming along pretty well (and is often 3D printed; more Diamond Age than Sprawl, there). There are rudimentary neural interfaces coming online in animal testing. Dyed hair is not a rebellion but just a regular Tuesday. We all have networked super-computers in our pockets. Corporations are still evil monsters and some mercenaries just unleashed dogs on a Native American protest about an oil pipeline.

So.. you could probably just take a "modern"-system and run it today (or 20 minutes from now) and get a pretty good CP vibe.
posted by curious nu at 2:51 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Did anyone ever read the Hardwired supplement? Because the example of the old school (non-matrix) hacking run in that always struck me as (although similarly untenable as the normal version in that it pretty much required the undivided attention of a gm) pretty cool in the way it involved a bunch of social engineering.

This free game is a pretty neat social engineering sim. The Mr. Robot licensed iOS game also does this kind of thing.
posted by juv3nal at 2:59 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I had the hardwired supplement and I think the hacker rules in there were probably better than the netrunner rules of the base Cyberpunk; by the time I had my hands on it, though, our group had kinda gotten disillusioned with netrunners in general and we had decided that the best way to approach them was as a for-contract NPCs when needed.
posted by nubs at 3:08 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I only ran one Cyberpunk 2020 campaign, but I did make the decision before starting to offload all netrunning on to NPCs. I claimed it was because it would bore everyone who wasn't netrunning, but really because I was far too lazy to do the required prep work.
posted by ckape at 3:43 PM on September 8, 2016

Did anyone ever read the Hardwired supplement?

The main thing I remember from that supplement is that if the characters manage to get one of the characters in the book killed, they should be chased for the rest of their lives by hoards of mysterious fanatics screaming "You have ruined God's plan! "

Somebody was a little protective of his plot.
posted by happyroach at 4:34 PM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seems the metatopic got lost among the dice....
posted by Twang at 6:32 PM on September 8, 2016

"Cyberpunk 2077" by CD Projekt Red, the folks behind "The Witcher" series of games, is one of my most anticipated releases. CDPR is collaborating with Pondsmith and I'm looking forward to their franchise plans.

This NeoGAF post is basically a FPP on the topic.
posted by llin at 8:21 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I claimed it was because it would bore everyone who wasn't netrunning, but really because I was far too lazy to do the required prep work.

The difficulty I had with it wasn't the prep, it was that the netrunning system essentially split the party. Like, you would build up the session to the point where the team is going to do their insertion/extraction/infiltration/whatever and the netrunner character is basically off somewhere doing their thing in cyberspace while everyone else is in meat space. So, you put the whole group on standby while the netrunner does their thing and then the netrunner sits and twiddles their thumbs while the group does their thing. It was hard to really real-time switch between them (because IIRC the time scales that net things and meat things happened at were completely different - and the objectives and setup of things in cyberspace were often so wildly different from realworld), and attempts to try to force the group to have to drag the netrunner - who is jacked in and unable to do anything but be dead weight - alongside them weren't creating any fun either, because the netrunner is at double risk and the players who have to defend him while also trying to achieve their objective aren't happy about the extra risks either.

So yeah, it would've bored your group. But it also frustrated me because I felt the idea of netrunning was an important part of the setting and feel of Cyberpunk, but it just didn't work. In retrospect, I should've rewritten some of the rules to allow for better interaction between real-world and cyberspace happenings, and have the netrunner's progress in system hacking run in parallel to the group and tied things closer together. But while I was confident as a GM I wasn't confident in my ability to tinker with system rules to that extent yet.
posted by nubs at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2016

I mean the quick and dirty way of dealing with netrunning is to just handwave and say hacking from outside is just too much ice/too strong firewalls/all the important stuff is airgapped anyways and then make onsite hacking some sequence of basic skill checks (maybe one to overcome protection, one to find what you want, and one to avoid detection) with varying levels of success affecting the time it all takes. Meanwhile, the netrunner can run a remote or something when they're not actively hacking.
posted by juv3nal at 10:50 PM on September 9, 2016

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