Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Authored by: Curtis D. Carbonell

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the history of cyberpunk tabletop roleplaying games (TRPGs), a market that began with Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk: The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future and has continued with numerous later titles, all of which provide variations on cyberpunk’s common tropes and themes. Of key interest for this chapter, however, is how cyberpunk TRPGs developed from an initial focus on mechanical bodily enhancements or prosthetics toward a bio-infused ‘supertech.’ These forms of highly imaginative supertech work within the discourse of posthumanism as clear examples of the modern fantastic as science fiction, as evidenced in Shadowrun, an example of a cyberpunk game that blends tropes from high fantasy and hard science fiction. This chapter ultimately argues that the fantastic is therefore a fundamental part of cyberpunk TRPGs that simultaneously maintain expected core elements while also encouraging wild imaginings of a posthuman future.

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