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Setting Brightness and Neo-Tokyo

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Fedifensor

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« on: (12:00:06/02-26-19) »

There’s a conversation on a separate Internet forum about Brighter Shadowrun, and it brings up a few interesting points about the tone of Shadowrun, and how it has changed since 1989.  In particular, there’s a quote in post #101 that illustrates the change:

Quote from: Wakshaani
Yeah, Cybernoir is about surviving the system, Cyberpunk is about trying to tear it down (Well when the punk’s present, anyway.)

Small, but vital, difference.
Having played since the first rule book came out in 1989, I’ve seen the change in tone to be less cyberpunk and more cybernoir.  It used to be more of a mix between trying to survive and make a few nuyen, making small but positive changes with your actions, and sometimes even getting to adjust the status quo.  Adventures like Maria Mecurial and the Universal Brotherhood let you do some real good for your client and the community.  Yes, sometimes the people you were saving were deeply flawed, but for the most part they were good people.  There has been a shift in recent years, but some elements of that Hooder philosophy remain - the stuff with the Ork Underground in Seattle, or trying to improve the Containment Zone in Chicago.

Neo-Tokyo’s first season seems to be about surviving the system and getting paid.  Most of the season involves working for the Yakuza, which are, for the most part, horrible people.  Maybe not as bad as the corps...but in some ways they’re worse, since they are more personal.  A corp will steamroller people without knowing (or caring) who those people are.  The Yakuza function on a more local level, and know who they’re screwing over.  Maybe that’s why the last adventure of the season was the most satisfying for me, as it is a definite change from the first five adventures.

So, my question to the authors and staff - what tone are you shooting for with Neo-Tokyo?  Or, are you not shooting for one particular tone, but trying to give a variety?
« Last Edit: (10:11:14/02-27-19) by Fedifensor »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #1 on: (12:55:42/02-26-19) »
The Neo-Tokyo as presented in Corporate Enclaves is what the SRM campaign is built upon.

Fedifensor

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« Reply #2 on: (10:08:29/02-27-19) »
Tone and background material are two different things.  Regardless of the background, the content of the modules will end up determining the tone of the campaign.

Crimsondude

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« Reply #3 on: (11:16:16/02-27-19) »
That's the funny thing about Shadowrun fluff being presented in-character: the tone, perspectives, and frankly, even the facts are always going to be flexible because they are biased and limited.

Ajax

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« Reply #4 on: (12:22:43/02-27-19) »
In a home game, it’s possible for the GM working with his/her players, to adjust the tone of a campaign (even a prewritten one) from grim to noble, dark to bright, serious to comic. I’ve played comedic noblebright games of Call of Cthulhu, serious grimdark games of Bigs Eyes, Small Mouth, and everything in between. However, in an organized play environment, a GM doesn’t have this same degree of flexibility. The general tone of the campaign needs to hew closely to the same standard from table to table. Sure, specific modules can be tweaked and individual GM style will vary, but you’ve only got so much leeway.

I’d say that Shadowrun sort of defaults to mostly serious (but with satirical elements) Grimdark in most of the SR4 and SR5 materials. That’s the “cybernoir” style OP mentioned. But the older editions of SR1 and SR2 were a lot more Grimbright, since it felt like the ‘runners could make small-but-lasting positive changes in the setting. That was the more “cyberpunk” feel. SR3 strikes me, in hindsight, as a transitional phase betwee these two styles — the Renraku Arcology Shutdown being a key moment when things went from Grimbright to Grimdark.

In a Grimbright version of that plotline, you’d have basically the exact same story and the exact same sequence of events. But the aftermath would have been different. In the official canon, the post-shutdown arcology is now low-income housing. There's no funny plothole, because that means millions of people are stuck there without any hope of advancement, being given the cheapest possible food, water, and clothing, shown only corporate propaganda, with their only chances for money being the most menial of labor. And they can't leave. Ever. After all, this is supposed to be a self-sustaining facility, right? That’s some serious Grimdark right there!

A Grimbright ending would have seen it turned into low income housing, the millions of people being warehoused in it doing menial labor... But there kids are all getting top-notch education and have a real shot at good jobs when they’re an adult.

Older Shadowrun often had an ending like the “good end” of a Fallout video game: sure, it’s still a post-apocalyptic landscape, but because of some actions you took during the course of the game, things are looking up. Roll the credits over a field of green grass and a few freshly blooming wildflowers.

Modern Shadowrun often has an end long like a Neo-Noir film: everything ends up worse than when it started or (if the characters are very lucky) just goes back to status quo ante: “Forget it, Jake: It’s Chinatown.”

Neo-Tokyo’s not the darkest or the grimmest part the Sixth World, but it’s a lot more Grimdark than Seattle or Chicago.
Evil looms. Cowboy up. Kill it. Get paid.

Crimsondude

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« Reply #5 on: (23:35:11/02-27-19) »
In a home game, it’s possible for the GM working with his/her players, to adjust the tone of a campaign (even a prewritten one) from grim to noble, dark to bright, serious to comic.


DUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDDEEEEEEE. Yes. This. Rule #0: Have Fun. That applies to the entire table, and that means the whole table has to help build your specific world. We're just the guides, but it's your journey. Sometimes, the best thing I've taken from the canon RPG material has been incredibly vague - specifically, collaboratively writing a PbP campaign that produced a 130-page book out of an 1,800-word subchapter I REALLY hated out of a book I hated.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
« Last Edit: (23:38:20/02-27-19) by Crimsondude »

Ajax

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« Reply #6 on: (23:58:09/02-27-19) »
That’s the thing with “shared” or “living” campaigns, like Shadowrun Missions or Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers’ League, we have to make a trade off of some of our narrative freedom in order to facilitate the shared campaign.

Evil looms. Cowboy up. Kill it. Get paid.