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> Explaining the genre/setting to younglings
sunnyside
post Jan 19 2012, 10:24 PM
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I'm thinking of pitching Shadowrun to some teens into anime who have done some forum RPing but nothing pen and paperish. But I had some concerns they wouldn't "get" it. So I started writing something up about the genre with a reference to an anime. However part of it kind of got to be a history lesson, and it occurs to me that I wasn't actually around for the 80s and barely for the early 90s.

So I thought I'd run it by you guys to see if:

-You agree with my assessment in general
-If you think I've got the history right
-If you think this is a good way to introduce the genre/setting and if there is something better

----------------------------------------------------------------------

First, lets explain the genre "postcyberpunk" and how I think we got here.

So at the root is "punk" this is was a subculture that cropped up in the 1970s mostly born out of music but also with liturature, art, fashion, zines, and all that.

Punk, like many subcultures, was a whole bunch of variations lumped together under a term, but essentially I think of punks ashippies that got pissed off. Their philosophy, like the hippies before them and the beatnicks/bohemians before the hippies, centered around themes like anti-authoritarianism, free thought, rebellion, anti-consumerism, anti-globalisation, anti-war, animal rights, anti-homophibia, non-conformity, environmentalism, feminism, and contained plenty of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.

However where hippies were very group oriented and sought to change the world through their love. Punk has an individualist bent and supports direct action like vandalizing something. Where hippies might protest by having a love in or planting flowers all over the place, punks might spraypaint graffiti all over and their protests could get violent. This aggression is reflected in their culture.


Cyberpunk


Cyberpunk is less associated with music and more with liturature in the form of books and magazines. It occured in the 80s as personal computers were just coming into existance and punks as well as punk influcenced novelists were intrigued by the possibilities of the dawning information age, even if they might be doing their writing on a typewriter.

In many ways they were spot on. Predicting things like punk kids hacking computers for cash or to change their grades, hacktivism, and social anarchist/voluteer based cybercomunities. And I wouldn't write out the themes of deliberate modification of the body with things like artificial eyes and limbs or direct neural connections to the internet.

The backdrop for the genre is generally a dystopia full of incredible and rapid techological growth and a vast information network, but plenty of poverty, corporate domination, and social mores that leave the protagonists marginalized, alienated, and probably labeled as criminals.

About this time table top role playing games were bursting onto the scene, and cyberpunk was incorporated into a number of them sometimes in the name, like Cyberpunk 2020.

Cyberpunk 2020 was the sort of game where your character could be a rock star, reporter, or hacker and a megacorp might be trying to quash your protest songs, silence the truth, or destroy some art. It also tried to dip your character into the subculture through a "lifepath" system where rolls of the dice determined your characters race, fashions, and a bunch of relationships with family, lovers, corporations, and gangs.


Postcyberpunk:

It wasn't very long before cyberpunk suffered something of an identity crisis. I think the root of this is that it was a literary movement, existing in magazines, books, short stories, and role playing games. So while it came out of the ethos of the music driven subculture, it was now thrust into the domain of people who read for fun, or on the computer front the sort that learn for fun. This was a dramatic demographic shift. These were the sorts of people that musicians would snub, hippies wouldn't give any free love to, and reading and learning have a way of leading to a future with more career success than social success.

I've sometimes seen postcyberpunk works described as having a less dystopian setting compared to cyberpunk, but I think that's entirely wrong. The poverty, megacorps, strong governments, corruption, criminality, every aspect of the cyberpunk dystopias that I can think of is still there in the typical postcyberpunk work.

No. The difference is that in postcyberpunk work the characters belong. The dystopian aspects are seen in a different light because the characters are thriving.

In anime and manga the most frequently cited example of postcyberpunk is the Ghost in the Shell franchise. It's a dark world full of poverty, refugees, corporate, and government conspiracies. But the main characters ARE the government conspiracy. The Major isn't some homeless wretch with second grade cybernetics uncovering conspiracies out of a terminal in a coffin motel like you'd see in a cyberpunk work, but is on the government's payroll, has access to top flight cybernetics, software, and equipment, and lives in what must be an insanely expensive penthouse suite.

While section 9 will go up against corporations and the government in persuit of the best interests of their country, in the TV series and manga frequently they're kicking the butts of people who would have been the protagonists of a cyberpunk work.

On the role playing front, Cyberpunk 2020 had a problem. At that was that the games creators, and often the individual game masters, envisioned players staging protest concerts and whatnot, they expected players to abuse drungs, even though they cost money and could degrade character performance, and to resist selling out to the corporations, even though they dangled extra starting money if you did.

But the reality was that most players made combat oriented characters, sold out immediately, and "wrecked" the adventures by being far more deadly than anticipated, and solving problems that were supposed to take a whole session in a very short time through violence, bribery, cutting deals with the bad guys, or just not giving a crap about some hippies or punks getting kicked out of their home and their music being banned or whatever the plot hook was supposed to be.

The led to one of the more interesting game supplements I know of "Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads" which is basically the creators of Cyberpunk 2020 raging against the people who are playing their game wrong, and the game masters letting their players get away with it.




So that brings us to Shadowrun. This RPG takes the typical cyberpunk setting and throws in some fantasy with elves and magic. So you get stuff like hacker elves with cyberarms.

Shadowrunners are the deniable assets of a dark but realistic feeling future. The megacorporations, organized crime syndicates, and governments all have their own soldiers. However the consequences of overtly using them would frequently be disasterous. As a result they need people that they can deny ever knowing to do their dirty work for them.

Shadowrunners are also known to do jobs for the downtrodden...if the downtrodden can scrape together the substantial funds required to get the players to take a job.

For shadowrunners love may not be free. But that's Ok. They can afford it.
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Draco18s
post Jan 19 2012, 10:29 PM
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Ask them if they've seen Ghost in the Shell, if not, tell them to watch it. If they have, you say "like that, but" and then add magic and dragons owning corporations. Also, you're the bad guys.

Done.

GitS is pretty much the defacto standard for cyberpunk in the anime world. If you want to reference Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, those will help too. Also, Howl's Moving Castle in some respects (spirit pact, anyone?), Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, in a way (you got your semi-magical stuff and your powerful spirit-like entities). Then there's Lupin the 3rd, for the crime.

Also, Metropolis, for the distopia.
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ggodo
post Jan 19 2012, 10:35 PM
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I came to to say what Draco said.
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Dr.Rockso
post Jan 19 2012, 10:40 PM
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Black Lagoon would be a good bet as well; many parallels between the main characters and a typical runner team.

On a non-anime front, you can have them watch Robocop,Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, etc.
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3278
post Jan 19 2012, 11:01 PM
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They probably do enough homework already. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif) Maybe don't tell them any of this, but just sit them down with beverages and a quiet table and some dice and just start at zero. Introduce the game as they play it, not as a history lesson. Let them form their own impressions.
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Stahlseele
post Jan 19 2012, 11:30 PM
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Have them watch Johnny Mnemonic. Terminator. Lord of the Rings. Now tell them to combine those.
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Yerameyahu
post Jan 19 2012, 11:35 PM
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Dig it, Stahlseele. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) Really, though, isn't there a pretty massive list of 'watch these movies' for SR? I know the WW guys have such lists in the front of their books. I recall one here on this forum.
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sunnyside
post Jan 19 2012, 11:43 PM
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Hmmmm maybe it is as simple as referencing various works, and they don't need to know how we got here and where the term comes from.

Actual cyberpunk is much harder. You can watch stuff and not "get" it, as demonstrated by at least one player in nearly every CP2020 group ever.

But maybe postcyberpunk is easy to "get," and the high fantasy stuff certainly is.



Although, just for my own curiosity, can anybody comment on the history there?
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UmaroVI
post Jan 19 2012, 11:46 PM
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It's a dark eighties future with magic and fantasy monsters.
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Yerameyahu
post Jan 20 2012, 12:05 AM
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I think, for children, that a deep up-front understanding of the themes, philosophies, economics, and geopolitics isn't a good goal, yeah.
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Method
post Jan 20 2012, 12:16 AM
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GitS is a good starting point if they are already into anime. You might also have them watch Renaissance which isn't exactly anime, but might bridge the gap in a way that they can relate to.
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Saint Hallow
post Jan 20 2012, 02:20 AM
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If they are anime fans... watch AD Police files. The old ones. Or read the manga. A very post cyberpunk, noir, psychological feel to those stories. Ghost in the Shell works, Blame! works, & everything else mentioned above also works.
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Udoshi
post Jan 20 2012, 02:32 AM
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QUOTE (sunnyside @ Jan 19 2012, 03:24 PM) *
I'm thinking of pitching Shadowrun to some teens into anime who have done some forum RPing but nothing pen and paperish.


Give them/have them watch some Ghost in the Shell, and tell them 'the world is like this, only with magic, elves, and hot orc babes. And you're probably an action movie criminal'

Then offer to run a game.

Sold.

The topic's come up amongst my group before. Ergo Proxy and Texhnolyze may also good cyberpunky anime shows to suggest they watch. Sadly, I'm not familiar with either of the shows, so I can only pass along the recommendation, not validate it. Anyone else know about em?
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Trigger
post Jan 20 2012, 02:40 AM
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QUOTE (Method @ Jan 19 2012, 07:16 PM) *
GitS is a good starting point if they are already into anime. You might also have them watch Renaissance which isn't exactly anime, but might bridge the gap in a way that they can relate to.

I was going to recommend this movie too. I love giving it to my players to help them understand some of the tone and feel of the setting.
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Wakshaani
post Jan 20 2012, 02:54 AM
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I go with Bubblegum Crisis and AD Police, rather than GitS, personally.

But, if they're teens?

Hrm.

Hrm hrm.

"Imagine that Microsoft rules the world."
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CanRay
post Jan 20 2012, 02:59 AM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Jan 19 2012, 10:54 PM) *
"Imagine that Microsoft rules the world."
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

...

*Thud*
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sunnyside
post Jan 20 2012, 04:32 AM
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QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Jan 19 2012, 07:05 PM) *
I think, for children, that a deep up-front understanding of the themes, philosophies, economics, and geopolitics isn't a good goal, yeah.


Well, they wouldn't want to be called "children" they're teens, which means they actually know it all, especially politics.

QUOTE (Udoshi @ Jan 19 2012, 09:32 PM) *
Ergo Proxy and Texhnolyze may also good cyberpunky anime shows to suggest they watch. Sadly, I'm not familiar with either of the shows, so I can only pass along the recommendation, not validate it. Anyone else know about em?


I watched Ergo Proxy (it's a series not a movie). It's good. But I'd say it slips out of the genre before too long, but you could debate that. Still good though.
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Eimi
post Jan 20 2012, 05:01 AM
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That guy in episode 1 of GitS:SAC? The one who hacked the geisha-bots, then fled on foot then fried his short-term memories so the police couldn't get any info or identify him?

Totally a shadowrunner.
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bibliophile20
post Jan 20 2012, 05:55 AM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Jan 19 2012, 09:54 PM) *
"Imagine that Microsoft rules the world."


Wait, does that mean that VITAS was actually woodpeckers? "If builders built buildings the way programmers built programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization."

Also, I think you broke CanRay. And I only managed to make his brain hurt. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Adarael
post Jan 20 2012, 06:11 AM
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Also, FastFax!

Just a smidgen of self-pimping there for me and the other contributors.
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Wakshaani
post Jan 20 2012, 06:13 AM
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Ooo. Sorry 'bout that, CanRay. I was going for punchy. Looks like I punched a wee bit too hard. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

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Stahlseele
post Jan 20 2012, 10:24 AM
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Well, in terms of Anime?
Armitage Poly Matrix. Both Parts.
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Blade
post Jan 20 2012, 10:35 AM
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QUOTE (Udoshi @ Jan 20 2012, 03:32 AM) *
Ergo Proxy and Texhnolyze may also good cyberpunky anime shows to suggest they watch. Sadly, I'm not familiar with either of the shows, so I can only pass along the recommendation, not validate it. Anyone else know about em?


The first episode of Ergo Proxy could qualify. The rest is a philosophical journey, requiring good philosophy notions to fully understand (but it's better in that department than GiTS and its pseudo-philosophical ramblings)
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CanRay
post Jan 20 2012, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Jan 20 2012, 02:13 AM) *
Ooo. Sorry 'bout that, CanRay. I was going for punchy. Looks like I punched a wee bit too hard. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
*Curls up in my corner, rocks back and forth, and cries*
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Paul
post Jan 20 2012, 03:41 PM
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All of this seems pretty over complicated. At the risk of sounding like a Parrot, i think 3278 hits the nail on the head. Sit down, play. Introduce elements in game. if they ask for more then start assigning movies, books or what not.
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