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Tesseract, Social Cyberpunk

This has been a really cool week, as various stuff I’ve worked on has been released and published. Next up on that is something that I’m really proud of: the Tesseract, WY setting in Robin Laws’ Hillfolk.

It was interesting to write for the Drama System, as what was important was ethos and not mechanics.

Before I talk about Tesseract, let me say that there are a lot of reasons to get this book. Robin’s take on Iron Age drama? That’s the core. the CIA station in Moscow during the Cold War? Kenneth Hite will take care of you. Eddy Webb got to unleash his love of wrestling and mixed it with Breaking Bad. And Blood on the Snow is filled with more series pitches, larp rules from Emily Care Boss, and more.

Hell, these are practically inspiration books for Primetime Adventures.

My series pitch, Tesseract, WY, comes from a deep-seated yearning for cyberpunk. The opening line…

“I’m moving back to Los Angeles. It’s too goddamn expensive in Wyoming.”

In a bright future where humanity can teleport to other planets, the common people in the slums of Tesseract, Wyoming struggle in hope for a better life.

…came to me while driving through Wyoming, on my way to move to Seattle, maybe an hour west of Laramie, WY. It amused me, since it’s the middle of nowhere. The week before, I had played a playtest of Piece of Work, a cyberpunk game being worked on by the folks at Transneptune. These two ideas played in my mind for the rest of the two-day drive, so when Robin asked me for a series pitch, that’s what I gave him.

On G+, a fan called it “sharp as hand razors social cyberpunk,” which is super-flattering. And it made me think that, well, that’s how I see cyberpunk, not as a genre about shine chrome, but about what it means to get, have, and strive for that shiny chrome. (Honestly, a game that’s just about near-future gear porn doesn’t feel like cyberpunk if it lacks the societal elements.)

A couple years back, I wrote a setting for Technoir, Kilimanjaro Ring City. A couple months after I turned my draft into Robin, I realized that these two cities are in the same world. Maybe not concurrent on the timeline, but still.

I want to do more social cyberpunk. I have a weird notion of doing a Mortal Coil setting, to show how it works for cyberpunk, one that exists in this same world.

So, if you want to see how I do social cyberpunk, check out Hillfolk!

– Ryan

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