On the Walmart Peeper Toucher and the arrival of Cyberpunk


I watched a video where a Walmart peeper toucher was chased through the store and shot with an electric gun. The body-cam showed the officer take the Walmart peeper toucher to the police station jail cell inside the Walmart.

Inside the municipal police station cell located inside Walmart ("save money, live better"), the subject refused to identify himself. He was forcibly restrained and has his face scanned, after which he was identified and charged.

I watched this body-cam footage last Tuesday.

Cyberpunk isn't about the future any more.

So how the hell do you write a cyberpunk game in the age of cyberpunk?

Cyberpunk in the age of Cyberpunk

First, I looked at the history of using 1d6 in board games, tabletop games, and wargames. I looked at the ones that worked, and took lessons from the problems of the ones that didn't. 

I then developed a simple, scalable, core mechanic that creates lots of interesting choices in play. I'll be sure to talk about that, the math, the design, and more in the coming days. But you can't make a good game if you don't have a solid foundation.

Next, I wanted to make a game I wanted to play. Chrome & Sorcery games have (and continue to have) a very traditional "Narrative Driven" Mid-90's Storytelling style. Adventures contain characters watching key players perform important actions while they follow a relatively linear and strict plot. The setting and presentation allow gamemasters to run games that tell 'stories' by funneling characters through missions.

Now, it's not that I don't like narratives. It's that I like them to be emergent, not dictated. I want to find out the story when running a game, and let dice tell stories. 

So very explicitly, Sinless is a different 'style' of game with a familiar form.

I like base builders and tactical combat, and must have spent about, I dunno 4,000 hours playing chaos wars on my Powerbook 420c. Taking over a city, building up a base, and carving out sections of a map as a tactical role-playing game works for me. 

So we developed and expanded this gameplay loop. 

Sinless is a very focused game.

The core rules contain only the information (and world-building) you need to complete and repeat this loop in the year 2090. 

You are sitting down to play a game with your friends, I wanted there to be an explicit game there.

But mr. game designer, you just made a beep-boop computer board game.

Yeah, I was here for 4e, man. I've been working and thinking about this stuff for almost 40 years now. 

The game explicitly provide players agency to affect situations while their (mechanical) resources are under threat. This is really engaging for my playtest group. It creates emergent characters, drama, motivations. 

In acquiring operations, they cannot help but be aware that if they are delivering guns somewhere, someone is going to use those guns. They are always being placed in situations where they have to decide to do something, even if that something is delivering the guns and getting paid. 

There's a whole section of the gameplay loop devoted to the consequences of the choices they make during operations. These consequences and their direct impact mean that their choices are meaningful. To the players. It affects their characters irrevocably going forward. 

I didn't leave people running games out of the loop. It has blown my mind after trying to run these things for twenty years, there isn't ever a simple and clear way to calculate mission payouts. That isn't a problem I'm going to hand someone who wants to run Sinless. The game provides all the tools GMs need to resolve situations that come up during the course of play. (Because I needed those tools, dig?)

People who run Chrome & Sorcery games want to make interesting choices about how to set up the game; not feel adrift, like they have to design a whole 'mission payout economy'.

And because players are running a brand, and engaging in liberating people from oppression while trying not to become oppressors themselves, there's a use for all that money. After all, there's a whole section of the game devoted to upgrading, attacking, subverting, building, and destroying resources in a city. 

And of course those resources tie into how powerful the brand is which ties into how powerful the characters are, which ties into how effective they can be.

In practice it has proven quite compelling.

How is this game Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk isn't retrofuturism and chrome and pink and purple neon. Those are the trappings because Cyberpunk as a genera was created in the 80's. Sinless, the word, as in the idea of people without a system identification number, is pure William Gibson. The city on the cover of the Sinless RPG is tuned to the color of a dead channel. Dead channels don't even exist anymore. I literally grew up- it doesn't matter.

Cyberpunk is about fucking late stage capitalism. It took the trends of the world, wall street, America, technologic advancement and posited, what's the worst it could get?

And, you know, corporations took that personally.

So like all cyberpunk it's about the intersection of technology and humanity and how that changes us. The same technology used to enslave us will be the same power that can set us free. And like all good science-fiction the world of Sinless mirrors the issues of our current world through a hypothetical future.

All in the context of an engaging gameplay loop.

If you'd like to know more, there's a 190 page preview on DTRPG.

Hack & Slash 

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