2395 AD; three hundred years after the coming of the rifts humanity has learned to deal with living in a dimensional vortex swirling with magic, demons, and aliens. The world doesn’t look the same as it did in times past, but humanity has survived and is slowly reclaiming the wilderness from the safety of their walled cities.
As a Cyberpunk, you grab technology by the throat and hang on. You’ve got interface plugs in your wrists, weapons in your arms, lasers in your eyes. biochip programs in your brain. You become the car you drive, the gun you shoot. With cyborged fingers you pick computer locks; with enhanced senses, you see into the Future.
Cyber-Rifts is an alternate Rifts setting where humanity never dropped into the stone age and at least some semblance of society survived. Humanity gathered into the great cities protected by numbers surrendering the low population areas to wandering demons and monsters until they were better able to deal with the alien threats. Then the great metropolises began to expand back out reclaiming farmland and mines. Much is still wilderness with small nomadic communities struggling outside the embrace of the mega-cities. The mega-cities have vast populations that in theory have access to the best of education and technology, although those things aren’t as true for the hordes of poor and destitute and even less true for the aliens living as second class citizens.
The United States survived the coming of the rifts thanks largely to the advanced weapon systems like the legendary Glitter-Boy and SAMAS power armor. The performance of the weapons were so impressive that hundreds of years later they are still employed as front line units, although variants exist of both.
Within the cities carrying heavy weapons is frowned upon, but in the wilds individual ownership of military weapons, armor, and vehicles is quite common. Random rifts, demons, dragons, and evil cultists are a constant fear for many residents, but the chances of getting killed in an accident or gang violence is a more realistic threat for most. With city populations in the millions the mega-cities are inundated with crime and many of those in law enforcement are apathetic or corrupt to the point that justice must be purchased by those who can afford it.
Technology is everywhere in the mega-cities even in the deep parts of the slums where regular power outages occur nearly everyone has a cell phone and accessing the internet is never a concern. This access generally extends about five to ten miles outside the cities and then communication is only possible with long range radios or satellite uplinks.
Magic and Psionics are also common, but only practiced by a small portion of the population (about 10%) and many of those work for the corporations or keep their abilities hidden to avoid getting blamed for demons and other unnatural events in their areas.
Political power groups like the Temperance Movement are common and some are very powerful and influential. The Coalition for Humanity operates openly in Chicago where their current head is also the metroplex governor (Karl Prosek, commonly referred to as Emperor Prosek because he and his political party are almost unquestioned within Chicago politics). Alamos 2000 is a similar human supremacist group operating in Seattle, but lacks the anti-magic bias of the Coalition.
The world of Cyberpunk is a violent, dangerous place, filled with people who’d love to rip your arm off and eat it. The traditional concepts of good and evil are replaced by the values of expedience-you do what you have to do to survive. If you can do some good along the way, great.
But don’t count on it.
Cyberpunk characters are survivors in a tough, grim world, faced with life and death choices. How they make these choices will have a lot to do with whether they end up as vicious animals roaming a ruined world, or retain something of their basic humanity. Cyberpunk characters are the heroes of a bad situation, working to make it better (or at least survivable) whenever they can. Whether it takes committing crimes, defying authority or even outright revolution, the quintessential Cyberpunk character is a rebel with a cause. As a Cyberpunk roleplayer, it’s up to you to find that cause and go to the wall with it.
This is the essence of Cyberpunk playing your character with the proper disaffected, cynical-yet-idealistic style. Whether you’re a biker with leathered skin and metal claws, ora debutante in satin sporting the latest in designer cyberoptics, you’re going to need a certain panache – certain flair, in portraying yourself. To achieve the essence of the 2300’s, you need to master three concepts:
1) Style over Substance: It doesn’t matter how well you do something, as long as you look good doing it. If you’re going to blow it, make sure you look like you planned it that way. Normally, clothes and looks don’t matter in an adventure-in this world, having a leather armor jacket and mirrorshades is a serious consideration.
2) Attitude is Everything: It’s truth. Think dangerous; be dangerous. Think weak; be weak. Remember, everyone in the 2300’s is carrying lots of lethal hardware and high-tech enhancements. They won’t be impressed by your new H&K smartgun unless you swagger into the club looking like you know how to use it-and are just itching for an excuse.
Never walk into a room when you can stride in. Never look at someone unless you can make it your best “killer” look. Use your best “I’m bad and you aren’t.” smile. Don’t sit around the flat or cube waiting for the next job. Get on out and hit the clubs and hangouts. Make sure you’re where the party starts.
3) Live on the Edge: The Edge is that nebulous zone where risk takers and highriders go. On the Edge, you’ll risk your cash, your rep, even your life on something as vague as a principle or a big score. As a cyberpunk, you want to be the action, start the rebellion, light the fire. Join great causes and fight for big issues. Never drive slow when you can drive fast. Throw yourself up against danger and take it head on. Never play it too safe. Stay committed to the Edge.
Obviously those who want to live past their first couple encounters on the street need to know when those killer attitudes will back fire and get them killed by something bigger and nastier than they are, but the idea is to live like you’re Dirty Harry if you want to be treated like Dirty Harry.