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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    So my group recently elected me(more like forcibly volunteered) to be the next GM. It seems like a good chance the game will be a Cyberpunk themed game(toss up between Cyberpunk and Zombie).

    While my cyberpunk outline is more of a shopping list of different technology I want in the setting. I know I want the story to revolve around digital immortality(ie. Download my brain into computer), and what people would do to get it.

    If anyone has any experience writing Cyberpunk campaigns any help would be appreciated.


    I feel like these are the questions I need to answer, but I have writer's block.
    • Who is the villain?
    • Who are the players?
    • What is the villain's main objective? Immortality
    • How will the villain complete the objective?
    • Why do the players want to stop the Villain?
    • How do the players stop the villain?


    UPDATE:
    I am looking to do my campaign as a semi-open world campaign where the players are mercenaries looking for jobs. I want to make the world feel alive with the changes that they make and avoid railroading. While I will be doing a minor bit of it, such as connecting stories and missions to a larger story arch, I was hoping to get ideas on what types of missions might be in a Cyberpunk game. Right now I've got:
    • Smuggling illegal substances
    • Protecting a Scientist who wants to switch employers.
    • Bounty hunting gang members and criminals.
    • Performing a bank heist
    • Coming into possession of Company secrets.
    • Assisting a Reporter on covering a story.(Think Max Headroom)

    I want them to get a hang of system while at the same time accomplishing tasks that affect the world in some way. But I have little idea what to do to get the idea that their actions have consequences.

    Again any help would be nice.

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by DontEatRawHagis; 2012-11-16 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Removing Zombies.
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    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Quote Originally Posted by DontEatRawHagis View Post
    I feel like these are the questions I need to answer, but I have writer's block.
    • Who is the villain?
    • Who are the players?
    • What is the villain's main objective? Immortality
    • How will the villain complete the objective?
    • Why do the players want to stop the Villain?
    • How do the players stop the villain?
    Well, the first piece of advice is... who says you need a villain? The adversity the players are out to conquer could well be simply the situation itself. Post- or mid- apocalyptic survival stories are especially suitable for this kind of campaign.


    My second piece of advice is you think very carefully about your technology level: If everyone has personal robot bodyguards, there's highly distributed free energy everywhere, and nanofabrication lets you make food and water out of the air with nothing but electricity (which is distributed wirelessly everywhere around the globe) then Zombies as a threat no longer really makes sense. Even the existence of viruses at all stops making much sense if nanotechnology has come far enough.

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    Excession's Avatar

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Could the zombie plague be something that is infectious through a brain-computer interface? That seems suitable cyberpunk. Perhaps something like:

    Society is closing in on technological singularity, nearly post-scarcity, when someone tries to upload their brain into a computer and it goes horribly wrong. Instead of giving themselves immortality they infect nearly everyone else with a magic/memetic/biotech virus that turns them into zombies.

    A society reliant on high technology to survive suddenly has nobody to run that technology, and is full of brain-fried but somehow undying zombies. The fall becomes worse, because there aren't huge amounts of workable tech and useful items just lying around; nothing works without the 'net. The players have to work their way through fallen cities and damaged computer systems, infested by both brain-eating zombies and mind-eating computer viruses.

    Goals could be:
    • Stay alive, short term and longer.
    • Rescue, or avoid, other survivors.
    • Work out what happened. If the fall was fast enough they might not even know.
    • Fix one or more parts of the problem. Maybe they can even cure the zombies.
    Last edited by Excession; 2012-11-10 at 06:39 AM.

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    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    I agree on the villain thing, really. Cyberpunk has the -punk part for a reason. To make it Cyberpunk, as opposed to other Science Fiction, the world should be a dark, depressing hellhole for all but a small handful. That, by itself, provides plenty of material. Espionage and hostile takeover between companies, scientists getting just a bit too ruthless in their attempts to improve things, gangs clashing with private security forces, essentially powerless governments clashing over resources.

    So, the classic antagonist in a cyberpunk story is either a ganglord or a corporate executive of some kind, who is behaving like a richer, more well-accepted and better educated ganglord. The first wants money and power, the second has it and wants more of it.

    Your villains motivation is immortality. Sure, that works with the genre. The problem, I think, is why the players should oppose him. The goal itself is not worth stopping.

    So the methods have to be. Your villain needs an especially abhorrent method for gaining immortality. Is he harvesting stem cells from street children? Is he trying to upload his consciousness to the net, so he can overwrite the minds of others via their cybernetics and take over their bodies? Is he kidnapping scientists? Starting a war for political gain? Can there only be a limited number of uploads, and so two dozen potential immortals are starting to kill each other off to be the one?

    You have to think of something like that, I think.
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    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Quote Originally Posted by DontEatRawHagis View Post
    Who is the villain?
    Well, Eldan already named the two obvious choices: Gang boss or corp exec. I'd rule out the gang boss, "immortality" is quite a lofty goal for someone like this, he will first worry about a bigger turf and money. If you go underworld, think big: A Mafia don or Yakuza boss is closer to the size you'd want. I would still stick with the exec and use the mob or gang as pawns, though. They make for easier enemies in the beginning than corporate security.
    Who are the players?
    Journalists that stumble upon the story and employees of the evil corporation might work fine if you want to start low power. If you want to go higher, freelancers/mercenaries hired for some dirty job that's part of the evil masterplan, where they stumble upon details of the operation (say, extracting a scientist, stealing research data, harvesting organs, whatever you like).
    What is the villain's main objective? Immortality
    I agree with Eldan here: That's not per se evil. Why not let him have it. He'll get bored after the first couple of hundred years, anyway.
    How will the villain complete the objective?
    Why do the players want to stop the Villain?
    Unless the guy himself is worse than Hitler, Charles Manson and Ghengis Khan taken together (and in a position to cause lots of trouble), his means must be pretty disgusting. Cruel experiments on kidnapped people, killing random people to harvest parts of their body, abducting and torturing random scientists because he believes they know something about it. Something like that. Anything less will not motivate anyone in a Cyberpunk world to do anything about it. If your premise is even more cynical, just introduce someone with a grudge against him and lots of money to spend on freelance assets. Once the players get payed, they don't need a reason anymore.
    How do the players stop the villain?
    Depends on who the players are. I'd let them figure out and roll along. The first couple of sessions will be information gathering and sabotage to win time, anyway. And by then you'll see what your players are likely to do. This goes for all games, but doubly so for Cyberpunk: Never expect your players to do something specific. Let them come up with the ideas and only provide the world.

    EDIT: I assume you've seen Johnny Mnemonic. If not, do it now. You could make that story work for you with only slight adaptations. Deus Ex (the first one) might also provide some "inspiration".
    Last edited by Autolykos; 2012-11-10 at 03:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    If I read the OP correctly, then it was either Zombie or Cyberpunk.

    So, yeah, it was mentioned above about the -punk suffix. I mean, I would probably go with a more "Scientists hopeful about mind's immortality."
    It would proably be a Matrix-esque world, where Humans are able to plug their minds into an extremely complex digital landscape(MMO)...etc. but now some scientists believe you can exist there without the need to leave to tend to your body.

    It means that while some of the powerful elite will be looking for it, and willing to sacrifice a lot of their power base to achieve this goal.

    PCs may be:
    Investigators into several 'mysterious' deaths that have occured around the city.
    Street toughs paid to steal pieces of tech from others.
    Humanists trying to prevent anyone from plugging into a computer.
    Transtechnologists trying to make the MMO available to everyone.
    Etc.

    Who is the villain? It depends on the goals of the PCs.
    Last edited by Lentrax; 2012-11-10 at 03:53 PM.


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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Quote Originally Posted by Lentrax View Post
    If I read the OP correctly, then it was either Zombie or Cyberpunk.
    You're right of course. That'll teach me for posting late at night. I still rather like the idea of both at once.
    Last edited by Excession; 2012-11-10 at 04:48 PM.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Quote Originally Posted by Lentrax View Post
    If I read the OP correctly, then it was either Zombie or Cyberpunk.
    Correct. I have the Zombie Campaign finished just in case the group goes that way, but Cyberpunk seems more likely and while I like the setting I am less adept at writing campaigns for such a setting.

    To those that came up with the Cyberpunk/Zombie setting, feel free to go at it, it sounds awesome.

    I'd like to thank everyone who posted I went through and figured out the following.
    • Who is the villain?
      Definitely will try and start them off with gangs instead of Corporations. Most likely Triad, Tong or Yakuza. I think maybe having them deal with the gangs smuggling illegal programs.
    • Who are the players?
      Still having a tough time, but freelancers/mercenaries is all I can think of. Though I don't know who would be there boss. I know in some cases it is good to have the players operate on their own, but I'm not sure if they are ready for the commitment since it already takes two hours to formulate a plan.
    • What is the villain's main objective? Immortality
      I'm sticking with this but adding in multiple factions vying for the same thing. A scene in Count Zero or Mona Lisa Overdrive had a scene where a mob boss had digital copies of his predecessors advise him. In the current setting, technology exists to have simplified Human AI's that act like glorified magic 8 balls, but complex ones are in the experimental stage and highly prized. This is a world where people believe their "soul" exists in the digital construct.
    • How will the villain complete the objective?
      Right now there is a scientist who destroyed all research this company has done in this field of study. And currently has the only copy.
    • Why do the players want to stop the Villain?
      As people have said before the goal is a bit "who cares?"/macguffin right now, but since the world will have technology that allows people to download different personalities I could see the immortal downloading himself into people. And that eventually getting the players to take up arms.


    I feel like I'm getting a better handle on what to do now. Any comments are appreciated. I'd like to still hammer out ideas on this.

    Edit:
    Oh and I did see Johnny Mnemonic, and read the short story. And every book in the Sprawl Trilogy. In fact William Gibson is my favorite author of the genre. The campaign is set to take place in the Sprawl.
    Last edited by DontEatRawHagis; 2012-11-11 at 01:10 AM.
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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    OH OH OH
    DIGITAL ZOMBIE VIRUS!!!!!!!!

    Think of it like this, the main villain is not motivated by his desire to be immoral. He’s motivated by his desire to make eliminate digital immortality. So he decides to create a computer virus that turns those who are already in the system into “zombies” that do his bidding. Sort of like a techo-necromancer (tecnomancer?).

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    "glorified magic 8-ball AIs" - in Shadowrun, I think these are called SKs, semi-autonomous know-bots. I always like that word, know-bot. Its function is to know things. that is what it does.

    moving on, who will the players be?
    You could have them be private security. hired to protect that one scientist, or crack down on smuggled programs.
    or they could be of completely different backgrounds, and be united by knowing each other, and having the common goal of stopping this villain.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheThan View Post
    OH OH OH
    DIGITAL ZOMBIE VIRUS!!!!!!!!

    Think of it like this, the main villain is not motivated by his desire to be immoral. He’s motivated by his desire to make eliminate digital immortality. So he decides to create a computer virus that turns those who are already in the system into “zombies” that do his bidding. Sort of like a techo-necromancer (tecnomancer?).
    A... Neuromancer, perhaps?

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Updated, to make a long story short. What missions would someone see in a cyberpunk setting? And how could I connect them to a story about CEO's fighting over digital immortality technology? And keep them engaged in the world?
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    Default Re: Need Help to Start, Cyberpunk themed

    Cyberpunk characters tend to be cynical. Make it either about money, or their personal safety.
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