I went through a pretty heavy Shadowrun phase a few years back that roughly coincided with the creation of this cyberpunk-inspired Savage Worlds setting (and a couple of other side ventures that I’m sure I’ll get into later). This is probably in my personal Top 3 favorite things I’ve worked on — even now I enjoy flipping through it. For me its an ideal combination of flavor and mechanics, even if the whole “cyberpunk” premise is a bit tired.
One thing I especially enjoy is the background material. When you are writing near-future dystopia it’s fun to play around with the balance between plausibility and the fantastic. You want to make it seem like your theoretical future *could* come to pass, if certain events fell out in a certain order. When I re-read the setting now in the context of today’s news headlines, you could argue that we’re already starting to live through the beginnings of a legitimate dystopia, as envisioned by science-fiction decades ago. It doesn’t require too far of a mental stretch to envisage things like the actual collapse of superpower nations. I hope my vision of dystopia remains an entertaining fiction, but as the adage goes: truth can be stranger. We may not be living out the future we wanted, but we are living out the one we deserve. Let’s hope there’s a utopia out there somewhere on the other side.
Mechanically, I think my attempt to create a “Cyberspace” environment that actually encourages full-party participation is pretty decent. In my opinion this was always one of the major shortcomings of games in this genre: the hacker runs off to go do “computer stuff” while the rest of the party dukes it out in meat space. Things like this end up splitting the table and bogging down the pace of the game, so I wanted to have it set up in a way where everyone can participate via VR, even if they don’t necessarily have great technical skills. Now the party can make a group decision to tackle things in meat space or virtual space, depending on the requirements of the situation.
When I came up with the name Ghost Protocol I thought it was just a perfect encapsulation of the setting I was creating: all covert and technical sounding. And then this happened…
Yeah. Now everyone is going to think I was inspired by a Tom Cruise movie (though in fairness, a Savage Worlds setting inspired by Top Gun would be pretty hilarious).
Anyhow, for your free and unsurveilled use, here is Ghost Protocol, The Unaffiliated with any Particular Tom Cruise Movie Role-Playing Game.