I have, for quite a while, had a fascination with the Cyberpunk genre. It started when my father told me to read Neuromancer and Snow Crash while I was in high school. He said something to the effect of, “This is good shit. You should read it.” Man, was he right. To this day Snow Crash remains one of my favorite books, and it is firmly on a short list of ones that I’ve read more than twice.
So, it was no surprise that I gravitated towards Shadowrun when I was starting to get serious about gaming in college. I picked up the core book, a couple supplements, and then ran a campaign which lasted a total of three sessions. We never played it again, though I kept the books for posterity.
I’m not sure what re-piqued my interest in the game, but it happened very recently, and I cracked the books again for the first time in a decade. Boy, that was a terrible ruleset. I could go on and on about it, but, fortunately, someone has already taken the trouble. However, suffice it to say that Shadowrun plays just like EABA, but without the clever bits. Actually, the two are curiously similar, leading me to believe that Greg Porter played a fair amount of the game before coming up with his own.
What Shadowrun lacks in gameplay, it makes up for in pure cyberpunk goodness. A future world with advanced computer and some magic thrown in to boot? Yes please! So, how do we choke down such an awful system in order to get to the yummy fictional dessert? Well, we don’t have to.
OSRIC/2050 is an OSRIC supplement that Legendary Pants is developing which merges the system of OSRIC with the cyberpunk genre. With my advanced research skills (I Googled it), I can only find one attempt to do something even remotely like this, Neuro City, which is lacking in a few ways, but is severely lacking in one very important aspect: OSRIC-iness. That will segue nicely into our three-part mission for OSRIC/2050:
- Keep it OSRIC. We want OSRIC/2050 to play exactly like OSRIC with the bare minimum of additions and mechanic changes. Why? Two reasons: it’s easier, and it’s familiar. Why should we rewrite a bunch of mechanics and come up with a whole new system? OSRIC is there and free to use, so that’s easy. Plus, everyone with whom I play already knows that system, so there’s zero learning curve. It’s a pretty simple system in the first place, so OSRIC/2050 will be too.
- Keep it balanced. With the addition of guns, computers, and cars, it would be easy for the setting to outstrip the ruleset. We want the game to feel like OSRIC, so we want the game to be balanced like OSRIC. This is a system which has survived over 40 years of the highest scrutiny, so emulating it is ideal for OSRIC/2050.
- Keep it fun. Right now, our group is having a pretty good time with OSRIC, so we’ll leverage that same merriment as we bring the setting into the future. Political discourse aside, cyberpunk is a genre full of fun rides and thrilling adventures, so OSRIC/2050 should be no different.
We are developing OSRIC/2050 under the Open Games License, which means we can’t just copy the fun story sections of Shadowrun and call it a day. Firstly, that would be crazy illegal. Secondly, and more importantly, because that’s not what this is. OSRIC/2050 is not a setting, it’s a set of rules. Sure, there are some inevitable story elements in the class descriptions and the monster dossiers. However, this is to be a skeletal framework of rules upon which a talented GM will build his world, just like OSRIC.
So, what will be different? Well, let me list the planned features:
- 2 new classes, one of which will be the Hacker
- Some updated class information for the existing classes
- A system for hacking and digital warfare
- Drones and the related awesomeness
- Body augmentation via technology
- Expanded gear list updated for 2050
- Some written sections, including a “How to GM a Cyberpunk Campaign” and “Network Architecture 101”
- A tasteful introduction
- A satisfying afterword
- Some art?
Will all of this happen? I sure hope so. Thankfully, by keeping it as OSRIC as possible, OSRIC/2050 almost writes itself. We’re working hard, but we do have full time jobs, so there’s only so quickly we can go.
For the next few weeks, I will probably be writing posts focused on the development of OSRIC/2050. In fact, next week, I’ll be introducing the Hacker class, and provide some details.
Stay tuned for awesome, and welcome to OSRIC/2050.