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> Cyberpunk Vs Post Cyberpunk, and where does shadowrun fit in all this
TheWanderingJewe...
post Mar 21 2010, 06:15 PM
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Wikipedia offers this rough explanation of the Cyberpunk Genre: “Cyberpunk is a science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is derived from cybernetics and punk and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983, although the style was popularized well before its publication by editor Gardner Dozois. It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.”

While once true, the term “high-tech low-life's” doesn't really encapsulate how the genre has evolved over the years. While it was largely true that the first Cyberpunk heroes were “Marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body” such as in the anime Bubblegum Crisis. Early Cyberpunk tended to be heavily influenced by film noir movies. The modern Classic Blade Runner was the Apogee of this line of writing

Cyberpunk has since then evolved into to seeing how technology (particularly cybernetics) affects society at large. Examples of this later evolution (Post-Cyberpunk) are available in the Ghost In The Shell Series of films and OVA's as well as the modern classic films Appleseed & Vexille, Or Books Like Snowcrash and The Transmetropolitan series where in while society has changed, the characters are largely humanly recognizable instead of film noir archtypes, though surrounded by exceptionally advanced technology and possibly having biological or cybernetic modifications. Later Cyberpunk also seems to have a noticeable lack of post-modernist nihilism though in it, which tends to put it at odds with it's parentage.

This tends to put in in the PostCyberpunk field, which includes:

1.Postcyberpunk tends to deal with characters who are more involved with society, and act to defend an existing social order or create a better society.
2.Protagonists of postcyberpunk are more often young urban professionals with more social status.
3.In cyberpunk, the alienating effect of new technology is emphasized, whereas in postcyberpunk, "technology is society".
4.Includes a sense of humor, as opposed to the frequently hardboiled nature of cyberpunk.

Be that as it may there are certain traits in both strains of Cyberpunk thought which are consistent as far as the Post/Cyberpunk hero is concerned

Rebellion against unjust authority: In Cyberpunk, the hero (typically low ranging street person or functionary) this can range from the classical cyberpunk antagonist, The MegaCorporation. Others include The Man (police, politicals, etc) to rival gangers, policlubs, terrorists, et all. This tends to be because of a rather nihilist bent to the character, even though they might say to themselves it's for the classical reasons. Film noir was big on this, and so was it's postmodernist child, Cyberpunk.

PostCyberpunk tends to incorporate the above elements, but with a rather mode optimistic outlook instead of the tilling-at-windmills feel of Cyberpunk.

Style Over Substance: Rather big in the Cyberpunk mindset , it didn't matter how well you did, it's how well you looked while you were doing it. Do things with a bit of Panache and flair, which is more important than doing things right. Which ended up with a lot of dead Cyberpunk heroes and left the smarter breed to flourish and evolve into the PostCyberpunk set which could be described as: Substance over Style, but if you can swing it, Style & Substance. Or put more simply: Think Smart, Live Long, Dry Gulch the Bastards Later.

The Street Finds it's uses for Technology: This translated usually into computers used for hacking into anything or cybernetics (usually low end questionable stuff) being implanted (voluntarily) into the Cyberpunk hero to give then edge against the antagonist (with questionable side effects). Given this was usually written by people who had little clue how the hardware worked, so used it as an allegory for the alienation they were trying to convey. PostCyberpunk tends to take a more realistic approach to high tech various forms of implants, namely it's just hardware/tools, subject to all the quirks that any form of hardware may be prone too, but nothing like the alienation of the previous era, with a notable exception of full body cyborgs having problems adjusting to society, being what they are.

Society Sucks: from the Wiki: “a closer look at [cyberpunk authors] reveals that they nearly always portray future societies in which governments have become wimpy and pathetic …Popular science fiction tales by Gibson, Williams, Cadigan and others do depict Orwellian accumulations of power in the next century, but nearly always clutched in the secretive hands of a wealthy or corporate elite.” this is where both genres tend to crossover, with Cyberpunk being far more extreme in showing how society needs to burndown and start over (Shadowrun having run this trope for each edition upgrade, with PostCyberpunk being more moderate with only a few choice sections needing to be removed (usually the ones no one wants around or one that's going to be a problem for the players).


That being said, let's take a look at some of the more common archetypes:

The Killer: They go by the name Solo, Samurai, Mercenary, Security Specialist, etc. They might worked for a Corporation, government, or as a independent contractor, but the bottom line is that they are trained to kill. They might go about it in a callous manner, or they might regret killing. But they are masters of various forms of violence however certain personalities tend to predominate the Cyberpunk frame of mind vs Post Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk: the archetype of the Nihilistic Killer, hopped on drugs or booze of some form, possibly chromed up, living on the edge waiting for that one bullet to take them out (run into the ground in Hollywood in far too many films), not caring what will happen to them or those around them, and generally wanting to be released from the pain of existence. Most sane people would avoid a twit like this in a heartbeat, but film-noir environments seem to be littered with them.
Example: Deckard from Blade Runner

The Professional: Killing is just a job to them. They don't see the opposition as necessarily human, but just as another target. They study the target, it's habits, it's environs, select their weapons with care, set up the hit, preform the job, cover their tracks, then go home and worry about the next job, or simply to sit back and listen to music or whatever people normally do. They tend to be not as common in Cyberpunk settings, with all the other killer types looking at them as a person to look up too, emulate, fear, or try to take down.
Example: Bato or Motoko from Ghost In The Shell

The Wannabe/Mook: You've seen this type before. A gang-banger with a big gun, may or may not be hopped on something, and will wave the gun around to show who's boss. The wannabe usually has enough sense to backdown when faced with much bigger and nastier people. Mooks are the throwaways you tend to see in stories that the hero guns down for being stupid.
Example: Any drugged up gun wielding idiot from most hollywood or hong kong action films (not to mention real life).

Post Cyberpunk: As above with a few notable differences:
The Professional: This by in large is the most common style of Killer you will see in the post cyberpunk setting. Nihilists tend to draw all sorts of bad attention to themselves and usually the heroes are involved in removing said damaged individual from larger society in lethal (or non-lethal) ways. Mooks tend to fill the same function as above.


Medias: The Media of the Cyberpunk/Post-Cyberpunk era would be a recognizable mutation of Gumshoe Reporters, Freelancers, Bloggers/Vloggers, and Mainstream Media. No one trusts News organizations anymore per se. Too many times getting caught pushing shoddy stories for one reason or another (and savaging each other in the data-stream) has done in that concept pretty much permanently....
That being said, people will look at an organization and see how many credible media types they have under their banner, rather than the banner itself. This generates revenue with multimedia access memberships and the equivalent of Paypal donations for media personalities and reporters of their choice. The most successful 'Media-Corps' have learned to just act as a cross between a Internet company (data eats LOTS of bandwidth) and a contracting agency for reporters, providing backing to those who seem to be successful (usually in pay or research staff) but otherwise keeping hands off and letting the reporter go after what story they want.

Cyberpunk:
Freelancers: The freelancer is the most common media type that one would see in the Cyberpunk setting, working the local scene to get his/her three hots and a cot, or following up on a potential break through story to get noticed by the Datastream, increase hits and maybe get a contract. Will push things to the edge to get a good story. Typically addicted to caffeine and smokes. Had probably pissed off at least half-dozen collections of people depending on his beat by intention or omission. But willing to play the game and play it hard to get at what's real. People demand the truth. No, not The Truth (people are immediately suspicious of anything shouted from the rooftops anymore). 'Just The Facts' is a watchword. And whatever it takes to get the story out, as long as it's accurate, they'll do it.

Tabs: Short for Tabloid Reporter (Yes, they still exist and will continue to exist), this reporter works for one of the TabStream clearinghouses on the Grid. They come in the flavor of Reporter (some of the TabStreams figured out that having real reporters on the Site lended Cred), Stalkerazzi (Paparazzi with cybercams, oh joy), Creative Writers (Elvis Is Risen with General Hideki Tojo in Yokohama!! Film at Eleven!!), & Dirtbags (think every bad stereotype of a video reporter and you'll find this guy).

Post Cyberpunk: Pretty much like the above, but with more access to ways to snoop on unsuspecting targets....er 'subjects'. The ethics are probably not much changed other than you have to fight in a even more decentralized Media environment. And the Net is Forever in storing what you do. Pick your stories wisely. Do your research. Death of Credibility is a keystroke away. Spider Jerusulem from Transmetropoltian IS the arch-type of the Post Cyberpunk Media

The Fixer: We all know the Fixer. The Person who Finds Stuff You Want, be it drugs, information, weapons, it all boils down to Getting Access to what's wanted. For a Price.

Cyberpunk: many techno-thrillers have these guys, usually as the main bad guy for the Hero to take, down, usually by rolling through his assorted colorful mooks like a starving wolf through a pork sandwich. Usually kitted out in bling (or at least very well dressed), and thinking they own the world. Usually not given credit for having a brain, which is a pity, because in order to build a criminal empire, you usually have to have some common sense, and the ability to think on your feet when the heat comes down. Usually creating a new drug, controlling drugs, sniffing drugs, testing drugs, and going into high finance or technology for 'legit money'. Usually end up dead from Traitorous Lt or some hackneyed explanation.

Post Cyberpunk: more often than not these will be Data-Brokers of some type as dealing drugs is for the Lower Wad Street Scum types don'cha know? Typically they will have several decker types on the payroll to look up what they need and can pull up ALL of your embarressing information in short order, have a decent psych profile of you, and have made contingency plans to deal with you if you chose not to play along. They typically try the soft hand first if they think it will work...but do not cross them. They can make your lives hell if they so chose.

Police: The Thin Blue Line does not need to be elaborated much upon, as it is the subject of many crime movie stories and oodles of ideas.

Corporates: The Bane of Most Cyberpunk players, the Corporations are the monolithic faceless personification of 'The Man' in Cyberpunk stories and the major antagonist in most stories. Brutal, unethical, and willing to do anything to gain wealth and power.

In Post-Cyberpunk settings, most corporations aren't quite as vicious (typically, thought Cyberpunk V3 makes them even more Vicious, if somewhat limited in scope), but they will go quite far to obtain what they want, but will try to keep it out of the spotlight (bad press and all that). People don't like thuggish companies on general principle, so the Corps have to be more circumspect.
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 06:38 PM
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I usually look at it as bladerunner vs Minority report. the corporations are the baddies in cyberpunk and in postcyberpunk its govt+weaker corps.
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Bull
post Mar 21 2010, 06:55 PM
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QUOTE (TheWanderingJewels @ Mar 21 2010, 02:15 PM) *
Corporates: The Bane of Most Cyberpunk players, the Corporations are the monolithic faceless personification of 'The Man' in Cyberpunk stories and the major antagonist in most stories. Brutal, unethical, and willing to do anything to gain wealth and power.

In Post-Cyberpunk settings, most corporations aren't quite as vicious (typically, thought Cyberpunk V3 makes them even more Vicious, if somewhat limited in scope), but they will go quite far to obtain what they want, but will try to keep it out of the spotlight (bad press and all that). People don't like thuggish companies on general principle, so the Corps have to be more circumspect.


To add to this, in Cyberpunk, they're also not scary. To the average person, at least. In Cyberpunk, humanity as a whole tends to be sheep. They do what they're told by the corporations, because everything they have comes from the corps. THe Corps have all the jobs, all the money, all the businesses, and all the media. That last is the key. He who controls the media (New, Advertising, and Entertainment) shapes humanity.

The heroes are those that know THe Truth. They've seen beyond the lies. Sometimes they want to make things better as a whole. Sometimes they just want more than what the corps are willing to spoon feed them. And sometimes they're willing to work the system to get ahead, knowing the mechanism driving it. And sometimes they're just crazy psychopaths that like action and carnage.


MOvies such as the Matrix toe the line a little bit, but leans more toward classic CP rather than Post, and it's a good example of this. The "Computer" was basically the Corps. People were happy because they didn't know the truth. And sometimes, even knowing the truth, they wanted to go back in the box anyways.

Bull
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 08:11 PM
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also cyberpunk seems to assume big powerful entities(govt corps the matrix) are evil. postcyberpunk seems to assume its just a few bad apples and that as a whole big entities are the only way and the best way.
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hobgoblin
post Mar 21 2010, 08:25 PM
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not sure if evil is the right word, uncaring beyond getting goals ticked of the sheet may be different way of seeing it.

that is, they do not really go out to kick babies, but if said babies happens to be in the way of their goal, so be it.

usually this comes from the people giving the orders are so distanced for the actual performance of the orders that they cant really grasp whats going on.
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 08:46 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Mar 21 2010, 08:25 PM) *
not sure if evil is the right word, uncaring beyond getting goals ticked of the sheet may be different way of seeing it.

that is, they do not really go out to kick babies, but if said babies happens to be in the way of their goal, so be it.


that would still be evil, just not sadistic.
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hobgoblin
post Mar 21 2010, 08:52 PM
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i guess we have differing opinions on evil then.
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 09:00 PM
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you think kicking babies isnt evil as long as its not the goal?
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Glyph
post Mar 21 2010, 09:10 PM
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I wouldn't categorize all cyberpunk as nihilistic film noir. That's more early Gibson (maybe later Gibson, too, but I stopped reading after the first trilogy). I think what has been categorized as cyberpunk was an evolution of science fiction, where technology escaped from the ivory towers and seeped down to the streets. That element is still present in post-cyberpunk, and is here to stay. The real change of post-cyberpunk is that it has moved away from the 80's paranoia, when the internet was this new, kind of scary thing, and when we were convinced that Japanese corporations were going to all but take over the U.S.

I don't think the whole romanticized criminal thing is going away - that has been part of popular culture forever, from Pancho Villa, Bonnie and Clyde, you name it. And both cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk do something that Shadowrun often neglects - they deal with people involved in cataclysmic change of the social order. Shadowrun too often seems to fall into the mindset that the PCs will always be nothing but pawns in the great game. I think post-cyberpunk, despite tending to be a bit less gritty, is actually more morally grey, despite often having clear protagonists. Rather than "good" antiheroes and "evil" corporations, post-cyberpunk will often be more questioning of the anarchist. Sure, some things about the future are frightening, or bad, but is the cure worse than the disease?

As far as Shadowrun is concerned, post-cyberpunk still has plenty of familiar themes - indeed, the game has been evolving with the science fiction genre. Augmentations are more acceptable, and have less nasty side effects, augmented reality is more ubituous, and runners tend to be pros more than punks. There is still plenty of social upheaval going on, there are still rich elites and lots of people at the bottom of the heap, and there is continual covert warfare going on between various factions. Slightly resurgent governments only add one more layer of intrigue to the mix.

Sometimes I do get nostalgic for that old "wild west" feel the game had. But - and I think this has always been one of Shadowrun's greatest strengths - the game can still accomodate a wide variety of play styles, from outlaw punks, to ordinary people who fall between the cracks and see terrible truths, to cold hard pros, to idealistic heroes.
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 09:16 PM
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and like cyberpunk and postcyberpunk its brought to you by a bunch of big corporations to make a tidy profit! (I assume whoever is printing the books is a decent size company)
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Daylen
post Mar 21 2010, 09:22 PM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Mar 21 2010, 09:10 PM) *
Sometimes I do get nostalgic for that old "wild west" feel the game had.


my favorite scifi is space westerns. ex Outland
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Fatum
post Mar 22 2010, 01:07 AM
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Minding how whether the fourth edition is post-cyberpunk is a major flamewar starting topic, I sense bad vibes in this forum topic.
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Daylen
post Mar 22 2010, 01:09 AM
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QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 22 2010, 01:07 AM) *
Minding how whether the fourth edition is post-cyberpunk is a major flamewar starting topic, I sense bad vibes in this forum topic.


sign of the times?
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TheWanderingJewe...
post Mar 22 2010, 02:45 AM
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Bad Vibes? Whatever for? I'm simply going for taxonomy at this point. I'm kinda thinking it's Cyberpunk with a Few post cyberpunk elements in it rolled in. Tho the Magic really throws a curve into it for classification
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Mar 22 2010, 02:52 AM
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QUOTE (Daylen @ Mar 21 2010, 02:22 PM) *
my favorite scifi is space westerns. ex Outland



Or Firefly/Serenity...

Keep the Faith
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Dr.Rockso
post Mar 22 2010, 03:24 AM
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Don't the Azzies have a special division dedicated to the intricacies of baby kicking?
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Fatum
post Mar 22 2010, 03:49 AM
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QUOTE (TheWanderingJewels @ Mar 22 2010, 05:45 AM) *
Bad Vibes? Whatever for? I'm simply going for taxonomy at this point.


For I've seen
QUOTE
SR4 is not Shadowrun, it's ruined the setting for me, get that post-cyberpunk drek away from me

pointless argument all too many times. Okay, I'll say no more of it, not to cause a flamewar just by mentioning it. Sorry.
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Manunancy
post Mar 22 2010, 07:01 AM
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QUOTE (Daylen @ Mar 21 2010, 10:16 PM) *
and like cyberpunk and postcyberpunk its brought to you by a bunch of big corporations to make a tidy profit! (I assume whoever is printing the books is a decent size company)


Not exactly - compared to your average harlequin book or the like, RPG books are small fry, niche markets. A big hit by RPG standarts will be numbred in a few tens of thousands. There's no real money to be had there (for a serious company, if it's not counted in millions, it's not real money)
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post Mar 22 2010, 10:06 AM
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QUOTE (Dr.Rockso @ Mar 21 2010, 08:24 PM) *
Don't the Azzies have a special division dedicated to the intricacies of baby kicking?


Yes, that would be the Aztechnology Family Friendly Daycare/Orphanarium Division. Sadly, they've been having trouble getting the same levels of funding they had during the "good old days" when Mr. Darke/Oscurowas still on the board of directors.
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Warlordtheft
post Mar 22 2010, 01:20 PM
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QUOTE (Daylen @ Mar 21 2010, 03:11 PM) *
also cyberpunk seems to assume big powerful entities(govt corps the matrix) are evil. postcyberpunk seems to assume its just a few bad apples and that as a whole big entities are the only way and the best way.



Which is how the Matrix movie series evolved. There were good AI's and bad ones.
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Blade
post Mar 22 2010, 03:06 PM
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Cyberpunk is a caricature of a possible future.
Post-cyberpunk is a realistic drawing of the same future.

Shadowrun can be both.
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Daylen
post Mar 22 2010, 09:24 PM
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QUOTE (Blade @ Mar 22 2010, 04:06 PM) *
Cyberpunk is a caricature of a possible future.
Post-cyberpunk is a realistic drawing of the same future.

Shadowrun can be both.


realistic? how is a somewhat spoiled utopia more realistic than a dystopia?
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Glyph
post Mar 23 2010, 02:11 AM
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I personally would not describe Snow Crash as a "realistic" depiction of the future.
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DV8
post Mar 23 2010, 11:08 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Mar 23 2010, 03:11 AM) *
I personally would not describe Snow Crash as a "realistic" depiction of the future.

And I personally wouldn't describe Snow Crash as Post-Cyberpunk.
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Bull
post Mar 23 2010, 12:37 PM
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QUOTE (DV8 @ Mar 23 2010, 07:08 AM) *
And I personally wouldn't describe Snow Crash as Post-Cyberpunk.


Indeed. Snow Crash is very much rooted in classic Cyberpunk, and is one novel that I will hand anyone in a heartbeat who wants to read classic Cyberpunk.

Bull
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