I've had a recent epiphany about the whole cyberpunk genre...while I'm still struggling to crystalize it in words, the gist is that the whole theme is predicated on an illusion, a sham, a mish-mash lie...much as D&D has helped foist a variety of trite "fantasyisms" off on the world community through inspiring artists and writers (and movie makers and TV shows) with a variety of game tropes masquerading as real mythology and folklore. That may sound harsh, and I don't really mean it to be as such (personally, I long ago accepted D&D as "it's own thing" and commercially produced art for its overall quality apart from its basis or source material...). But as I said, I haven't quite crystalized what I wanted to say about the matter, so let's leave it.
What I DO want to say is this: elf chicks are hotter with guns.
As I work on my own new game (a knock-off of the "Original Adult Fantasy RPG" set in the dark future and filled with a face-full of chrome), I can't help but come to the conclusion that THIS is what made Shadowrun and its imitators so successful. In the end, it's not about rebelling against a corrupt society or "fighting the man;" hell, the characters are working for THE MAN for Chrissakes! There's nothing "punk" about that...and even less about getting "screwed over" by your employer (something that is a common occurrence in SR adventures). That's called getting punked, not being punk!
No, the real draw of the game...after careful analysis, let me assure you...is being able to play hot characters with guns. Leather-clad adventurers with explosives and fully automatic weapons. It's like the best of two great fetishes...The Matrix mixed with fantasy magic. Hell, elf dudes (of which I've known to play a few in the past) are hotter with guns. Talk about your serious bad-boy image!
Is such a game "Old School?" Well, while I normally wouldn't presume (really!) I'll say this: The way I'M writing it is, yeah. Why?
- It tests player skill, not character's capabilities.
- It requires rulings (especially with the new "skill system") more often than rules research.
- It has abstract combat of the oldest style rules...plus automatic weapons.
- It's heroic without being superheroic...player characters still die. Fortunately, character creation is fairly simple.
It also has (a bit to my chagrin) a certain level of "resource management" inherent to it...specifically counting bullets (which we remember as often as one ever remembers to count arrows) and counting hit points. Counting credits (money) is also important...but at least I don't make folks keep track of the battery life in their gear.
It's a cool, fun game...and I hope to have the writing finished soon (the next week or so depending on time). If you're new to the OSR blog-o-sphere (and just finding this through a "hot elf chick" search) and your interest is piqued by the idea of fantasy gaming with guns PLUS sword, you might want to check back here in a couple weeks to check my progress.