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Countdown to the Dark Future (countdowntothedarkfuture) was a viral advertising campaign created by R. Talsorian Games, posting one Cyberpunk 2020 fact (among other facts and trivia) per day throughout all of 2019, counting down to the real life year of 2020.

Contents

Transcripts

Countdown to the Dark Future #1

The famous band Samurai was discovered in 2003 by Jack Masters, an executive at Universal Music.

Jack signed the band after seing[sic] them play at the Rainbow Cadenza, a backstreet bar in Night City.

The members were:

Johny[sic] Silverhand (vocals and lead/rhythm guitar) Kerry Eurodyne (vocals and lead/rhythm guitar) Denny (drummer) Nancy/Bes Isis (keyboardist) Henry (bass)

Their first single, Blistering Love, was number one on the EuroCharts.

Countdown to the Dark Future #2

Samurai split up in 2008. Nancy went to jail for seven months for throwing her abusing husband out of their 83rd story apartment (through the window). The band firmly supported Nancy but the seven month lull proved they were each going a different creative directions.

Henry went to work on a human interface prototype. An accident fried his brain and he's had to rebuild his mind.

Denny joined a band called Mastermind.
Nancy took the name Bes Isis and became a major media presence on Network 54.
Johnny Silverhand and Kerry Eurodyne went onto successful solo careers, often touring together as a double ticket.

Johnny Silverhand

Countdown to the Dark Future #3

After Samurai split up, the DMS music label attempted to sign Johnny Silverhand by any means they could, including threats, violence, and ultimately blackmail. They discovered Johnny was a deserter who left the USMC while serving in the wars in Central and South America. Instead of giving into the blackmail.[sic] Johnny signed with Universal Music and went public with the information.

His first solo album, SINS of Your Brothers, was released in 2009. The songs on it explained his own actions, the reality of the wars, the government lies, and the experimental cybernetics program many soldiers and marines were forced to go through. The popularity of the album and the message it conveyed led to increased awareness and support for veterans of the Central and South American wars.

Cyberpunk 2013

Countdown to the Dark Future #4

While Cyberpunk 2020 is the most famous edition of the game, it isn't the first. Cyberpunk: The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future was first published as a box set in 1988, which means 2018 marked the game's 30th anniversary. The original version of Cyberpunk was set in 2013, which is why many fans refer to it by the nickname Cyberpunk 2013.

The Cyberpunk 2013 boxed set included three booklets. View from the Edge: The Cyberpunk Handbook contained character generation and non-combat rules. Friday Night Firefight laid out the combat rules. Welcome to Night City: A Sourcebook for 2013 introduced Night City and the Cyberpunk universe to the world. The boxed set also included a d6, a d10, and four player reference sheets.

Countdown to the Dark Future #5

Cyberpunk 2013 marks the first appearance of several iconic characters .[sic] Five of them first appeared in Never Fade Away, an adventure/story written by Mike Pondsmith as an introduction to the Dark Future.

Johnny Silverhand, the iconic rockerboy.
Alt Cunningham, netrunner turned ghost in the machine.
Thompson, a reporter who hates Arasaka.
Rogue, a solo with only one weakness (her ex, Johnny).
And Santiago, Rogue's partner and future leader of the Aldecaldo nomad clan.

Famous media Bes Isis, who was a keyboardist for Samurai in a former life, also appeared in 2013 as a byline in an article about gang violence in Night City.

Countdown to the Dark Future #6

Among the playtesters for Cyberpunk 2013 were Lisa Pondsmith and Walter Jon Williams.

Ms. Pondsmith is the business manager of R. Talsorian Games as well as an excellent RPG writer. Among her contributions to Cyberpunk lore are the Bozos, a gang of insane clowns who terrorize Night City. She's also the co-writer of The Witcher Tabletop Roleplaying Game.

Walter Jon Williams is one of the founders of the cyberpunk genre thanks to his Hardwired series. That series was adapted by Mr. Williams and R. Talsorian Games into an official alternate setting for Cyberpunk with the Hardwired sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2013. Mr. Williams is also a game designer in his own right, having created Privateers and Gentlemen, a swashbuckling "Age of Sail" roleplaying game.

Countdown to the Dark Future #7

Cyberpunk 2013 established the core three concepts to achieve the essence of the Cyberpunk universe:

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.
Attitude is Everything Think dangerous; be dangerous. Think weak; be weak. Never walk when you can stride. Don't sit around waiting for the next job, Be[sic] there when the party starts.
Live on the Edge The Edge is where risk-takers and high-riders go. On the Edge, you'll risk cash, your rep, even your life on something as nebulous as a principle or a score. Edgerunners aren't just in on the action. They are the action.

Countdown to the Dark Future #8

Sam Liu helped define the Cyberpunk universe with his iconic art in Cyberpunk 2013 (much of which was so good it was reused in Cyberpunk 2020!) including the razorgrrl, the chromed up rocker couple making out, the man inspecting his opened cyberarm, the woman with the branded cybereyes and the full 'borg with the breathing tube.

He has also worked in comics and animation and won an Emmy for his work on The Batman animated series in 2006. These days, Mr. Liu spends most of his time directing films for DC Animation, including the upcoming Death of Superman adaptation.

Visiting Night City

Countdown to the Dark Future #9

According to Fax on File, a dataterm program available to the general public, when visiting Night City you should wear medium weight clothing, with a light armor jacket or ballistic-cloth overcoat optional.

A filter mask and supplemental oxygen are highly recommended due to acid rain and inversion smogs.

Acid-proof slickers, umbrellas, and masks are readily available from sidewalk vendors for 20 to 35eb.

Temperatures normally range from the low 50s to the high 80s. Rainfall is 21 inches per year, 35% of which is considered acidic/toxic by government standards. Clothing and vehicles should be rated above SP12 to avoid adverse effects such as staining and ablation.

Countdown to the Dark Future #10

Jets and aerodynes regularly arrive and leave from Night City Metropolitan Airport. Traveling to the Johnson Space Platform requires transferring to Los Angeles International for a connection to the Mojave Orbital Air Facility. Security on all flights are at the passenger's own risk. Low-velocity rounds are suggested, so as to not penetrate the outer wall of the cabins.

Airlines operating out of Night City Metro include Atlas, TransContinental, and Western Pacific.

Pan-Pacific Phoenix-class aero-zeps, the luxury cruise-ships of the sky, dock at Night City Metro. Security is tight and there will be a full weapon and cyberware lockdown for all passengers. Flights leave once a week for Hawaii, Tokyo, Washington, and New York.

Countdown to the Dark Future #11

Due to the Free Access/Handicapped Self Sufficiency Act of 2018, holders of legitimate Free State of Northern California issued Disabled Holoplacards may use weapons to clear illegally parked vehicles from blue zones, which are designated for their use.

Red zones indicate no parking. Yellow zones are reserved for corporate-owned vehicles and may only be parked in for one half of an hour. Green zones indicate a ten minute limit for all vehicles except police.

Red and black zones designate a no parking zone except for Free Fire Emergencies. Night City PD and other offices are not responsible for damage taken by or the destruction of vehicles illegally parked in these zones.

Countdown to the Dark Future #12

Fax on File recommends two different child care agencies in Night City.

Child Creche officers care at an affordable price of 50eb per day, with cryotanks inspected weekly by licensed members of Trauma Team. Children under Child Creche care are pleasantly plugged into the parent's choice of braindance chips for pacification purposes.

Safe Child is more expensive, at 350eb per day, but has nannies trained in Europe and child psychologists on staff. Trained 24 hour Arasaka guards with on-call Tactical Squad support means parents can rest easy, knowing their child won't be extracted by agents of a rival corp or caught in the crossfire of a nearby gang war.

Countdown to the Dark Future #13

The "Night City" is a mixture of tequila, raw wood alcohol, and several drops of turpentine, all garnished with a dead worm. It is only served in the rougher bars in the city and often used by gang members as a way to prove how tough they are. The average cost is 6eb.

The "Euro" is a recipe imported from France and is popular with rich corpos. Its blend of fruit juices and bourbon, served over cubes of pure, frozen gin. The bar needs a special freezer unit to store the gin cubes. Average cost is 15eb.

The "Blade Runner" is a CHOOH2 and champagne mixer, served in a cocktail glass with mealworms in the bottom. Average cost is 6eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #14

Places to shop in Night City include:

Everything and More. A middle-class department store with good security to keep the gangs at bay.

Long Last Books. A store which only sells indie titles and rare books. Their resistance to corporate pressure has earned the store respect from the local gangs.

Weird Stuff. A techie haven selling all sorts of wires, gadgets, doodads, and pieces. You can buy just about any diode or chip here, assuming you can find it in the mess.

Golden State Pawn. Clothes. Jewelry. Books. Programs. Cyberware. Its all here. One guess how they got it.

Countdown to the Dark Future #15

In his article, The Conapting of America (2020 Edition), James M. Weiss, Jr. divided the people of Night City into the following categories:

Powerdealers. The elite. CEOs, world-famous celebrities, and internationally influencial[sic] politicos. Corpzoners. Execs at the top of the corporate game. Movers. Ambitious young corps looking to scale the ladder and claim that corner office. Edgerunners. Cyberpunks who find success in unorthodox and dangerous ways. Mallplexers. The struggling middle class who make up the majority of the faceless hoards. Beavers. Low-level corp managers and high-level techs who live in Corp-controlled suburbs. Streetscum. The urban poor and a demographic which grows bigger every day.

Trauma Team

Countdown to the Dark Future #16

Trauma Team™ is an international corporation which operates in North America and Europe. They specialize in paramedical services and take pride in their promise to reach a client, once summoned, in seven minutes or less.
They are headquartered in Los Angeles and have nearly 17,000 employees worldwide.
A standard Trauma Team™ crew consists of a driver, a senior MedTech, an assistant MedTech, and two security officers.
Most crews travel in a heavily armed and armored McDonnell-Douglas AV-4 Tactical Urban Assault aerodyne loaded with advanced medical technology, including a mobile cryotank.

Countdown to the Dark Future #17

Trauma Team™ Tower in Night City is located near the NC Convention Center. It houses the Night City branch's corporate offices as well as local operations including dispatch, armory, maintenance, and launch pads for the company's AV-4s. NCPD gives Trauma Team™ Tower a security rating of 3, which means highly sophisticated locks and alarms, incapacitating security measures, constantly monitored security feeds, military/SWAT level guards patrolling in groups of 5 to 10, and black IC to counteract intruding netrunners.

There are at least a dozen active Trauma Team™ units on call in Night City at any one time and their employees are always the best of the best. A Trauma Team™ pilot can land an AV-4 on top of a parked car and the senior MedTech in any squad has a Medical Tech Skill rating of 8 or higher (out of a maximum possible rating of 10).

Countdown to the Dark Future #18

Thanks to cybernetics, cryotanks, biotechnology, and drugs, medical science is so advanced by 2020 that Trauma Team™ and other medics bring people back "from the dead" with some regularity. It is so common in fact, that Trauma Team™ has established a scale of dead they call "Death State". It runs from DEAD 1 (just flatlined. Resuscitation almost certain) to DEAD 10 (no resuscitation possible). As a general rule of thumb, a patient slides up the Death State scale once every minute, although circumstances such as environmental conditions, cybernetics, drugs, and administered CPR can slow down the rate of progression.

The Lifeline Act of 1994 allows citizens to register as a parts donor. Anyone who delivers the body of a registered citizen to a donor center earns a bounty based on the condition of harvestable limbs and organs.

Countdown to the Dark Future #19

Although medical coverage, charged on sliding scale, is guaranteed for all citizens of the European Commonwealth, trauma services such as those provided by Trauma Team™ must be paid for by the patient or another responsible party. Trauma Team™ is not the only trauma service operating on the continent and EC law requires a trauma service to pay a rival's expenses should they pick up a subscribing patient first.

All EC countries have regularly placed SOSBooths, nearly indestructible shelters which can house up to six people. Anyone can enter an SOSBooth but if a trauma service subscription card or credit card is not slotted and validated within ten seconds, the booth will flood with anesthetic gas. Once subscription or payment is verified, a dispatcher will arrange for police and trauma services to respond.

Countdown to the Dark Future #20

Trauma Team™ charges quite heavily for their services, at a rate of 100eb per minute from the time a call for aid is received to the time the patient is delivered to a hospital or other facility. The patient is also responsible for reimbursement for the cost of any ammunition fired during the rescue, among other fees.

The cost can be mitigated through the purchase of a service plan. Corporations often offer Trauma Team™ coverage as a perk for higher level employees and Edgerunners sometimes negotiate for a one-use Trauma Team™ service plan as part of their payment for a job.

For those paying their own way, plans run from 500eb plus expenses up to the mid-five figures per month depending upon the level of coverage.

Countdown to the Dark Future #21

Trauma Team™ values its employees and provides even their MedTechs with armor for use in the field. The company has contracted with Bodyweight Systems to create and supply the MedicGear Combat Medical Armor. MedicGear is a hard-shell armor with a protection ranking equal to a standard military grade flak vest. Standard features include a built-in drug analyzer, techscanner, drug injector, sprayskin applicator, and palm mounted shock panels.

For more intense situations, Trauma Team™ has worked with Militech to create the Tb/O Lifeline, a powered armor suit designed specifically to allow emergency responders to operate in any situation, no matter how dire. This light but tough armor has a chassis weight of 158kg and comes standard with a full suite of medical equipment, heavy tools, climber claws, and a power saw.

Countdown to the Dark Future #22

CityMed is a not-for-profit which offers medical services to those who can't afford it. They function thanks to donations and receive quiet support from several corporations who realize having a base level of care available to the destitute can help prevent a pandemic, something which can harm even their bottom line.

CityMed is run out of Miami but has chapters in most major cities. The majority of staff work on a volunteer basis, including some Trauma Team™ MedTechs. Trauma Team™ recognizes the publicity value of their employees volunteering for CityMed and encourages them to do so. CityMed offers emergency surgery, medicine, vaccinations, and examinations to those who need it but have a policy of not offering such services to wanted criminals, Edgerunners with a bad reputation, or members of particularly vicious gangs.

Cyberware

Countdown to the Dark Future #23

The foundations for the body enhancement technology commonly known as cyberware were laid in 1991, when the first artificial muscle fibers were developed in the United States and in 1993, when the first biological interface chips were developed in Germany. Early cyberware was field tested by implanting it into soldiers serving in the Central and South American Wars, usually without warning the test subjects of the potential side effects.

By 2020, cyberware is pervasive in society for utilitarian reasons but also as a fashion statement. Its hip to have high tech grafted into your body somewhere and the trendsetters who walk the red carpet are as likely to boast about who designed their new arm or eyes as they are to talk about who made their outfit.

Countdown to the Dark Future #24

Cyberware is usually divided into 10 categories, 5 of which are presented here. Some begin with a basic unit, i.e. a cybereye, which can be upgraded with options.

Fashionware: Cosmetic enhancements made to body.

Examples: Biomonitor, Light Tattoo, Techhair.

Neuralware: Processors plugged into the nervous system in order to modify or enhance it.

Examples: Neural Processor, Smartgun Link.

Implants: Devices adding specific functions to the body.

Examples: Gill Implant, Chemical Analyzer.

Bioware: Enhancements built along biological instead of mechanical lines.

Examples: Grafted Muscle, Nanosurgeons.

Cyberweapons: Mostly illegal weapons implanted directly into cyberlimbs or the body.

Examples: Vampires, Wolvers, ChainRipp.

Countdown to the Dark Future #25

Cyberware is usually divided into 10 categories, 5 of which are presented here. Some begin with a basic unit, i.e. a cybereye, which can be upgraded with options.

Cyberoptics: Cameras which replace biological eyes.

Option Examples: Color Shift Irises, Image Enhancer.

Cyberaudio: Devices plugged into the auditory nerves to enhance hearing.

Option Examples: Radio Link, Amplified Hearing.

Cyberlimbs: In any color and style you want.

Option Examples: Reinforced Joints, Tool Hand.

Linear Frames: Exoskeletons grafted onto the body.

Examples: Linear Σ (low STR boost), Linear β (moderate STR boost), Linear Ω (high STR boost).

Body Plating: Plastic/metal plating which covers part of the body as protection or as a mounting surface.

Examples: Front Optic Mount, Torso Armor Plate.

Countdown to the Dark Future #26

Interface plugs are one of the most common forms of cyberware in the world of Cyberpunk 2020. They're the starting point which allow people to stud into vehicles, firearms, and computers and control them, providing the user has the right neuralware. Information and skill chips can also be slotted into interface plugs, allowing direct mental access to them.

Interface plugs are usually installed directly into bone and tap into major nerve trunks. Most people mount interface plugs into their wrists but others like to show them off. 'Plugheads' mount them at the temple. 'Frankensteins' mount them just behind the ears. 'Puppetheads' prefer the back of the skull. It isn't uncommon to see an interface plug inlaid with precious metals or decorated with custom caps.

Countdown to the Dark Future #27

Humans aren't the only biologicals who can be fitted with cyberware. Upgraded animals are usually purchased by the wealthy or organizations looking to fill a specific need. Most are cloned as fully mature, then fitted with cyberware and trained via chip for specific behaviors. Buyers looking for animals with a naturally developed personality must pay extra. Animals from the wild cost 50x the base price due to both their rarity and the difficulty in overriding their natural instincts.

Dogs are the most common type of cyberpet but cats, horses, primates, rodents, birds of prey, sharks, dolphins, and even bats can be purchased. Common cyberware for a cyberpet includes sensory boosts, berserk chips which activate a frenzy mode, cyberlimbs, cyberweapons, and harnesses to transform larger animals into mobile weapon platforms.

Countdown to the Dark Future #28

Full Body Replacement is, perhaps, the ultimate expression of cyberware. The process of turning someone into a borg, as they are commonly known, replaces almost all biological material with cybernetics. This includes the skeleton, organs, and skin. Borgs retain their original brain, though it is intensely modified.

Borgs do not need to eat, drink, or breathe. Instead biological components receive nutrients via cybernetics. Borgs do sleep for psychological reasons.

A number of companies offer Full Body Replacement models. The IEC Alpha Classis an all purpose model. The Dynalar Aquarius is designed for underwater use while the Cybermatrix Inc Copernicus functions best in space. At 8 feet tall and 620 pounds, the IEC Dragoon offers the ultimate in battlefield performance.

Countdown to the Dark Future #29

The Bioexotics™ line allows clients to become something other than 'human' through intensive transformation using a variety of techniques. As the tagline says, "Why bother to be one of the beautiful people when you don't have to be 'people' at all?"

Most exotic packages involve forms resembling an anthropomorphized animal. Various mammalian forms are most common. Fantasy race forms such as elves, dwarves, and orks are also available. Among the most extreme options are aquatic, dragon, and insect forms.

While initially intended for the wealthy, it has become increasingly common for gangs, cults, and "secret" societies to offer their valued members the Bioexotics™ process as a reward. In such cases, the forms selected always match the organization's theme.

Drugs

Countdown to the Dark Future #30

In Cyberpunk 2020, the figurative "war on drugs" of the 1970s and '80s turned into real wars in the 1990s when the actions of drug cartels were used as excuses for the United States to send military forces to Central and South America. By 2020 those wars are over, but the trafficking of drugs remains illegal in many American states and cities. The problem has been made worse by a wave of potent synthetic drugs entering the market.

Most law enforcement agencies which still care classify illicit substances as Type A, B, or C, with Type A being the highest priority for enforcement and Type C being the lowest. Trafficking in a Type C substance carries a sentence of 1 to 10 years in medium security. Trafficking in a Type A substance carries a sentence of 15 to 20 years in maximum security plus mandatory Braindance reform therapy.

Countdown to the Dark Future #31

In 1992, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency released several bio-engineered floral plagues across the world. These plagues were custom tailored to target coca and opium plants and were incredibly effective, destroying 98% of the world's crop. Several governments propped up by the drug economy collapsed virtually overnight.

A second set of bioweapons was released in 2004, wiping out plantations run by the Golden Triangle in China, which had been growing strains of opium and coca resistant to the previous plagues. Since then, the Golden Triangle have specialized in creating synthetic versions of old drugs in addition to new variants. So long as the Golden Triangle focuses their efforts on exporting product to America and Europe, Chinese authorities are content to turn a blind eye to their activities.

Countdown to the Dark Future #32

Illegal drugs (and many legal ones) in Cyberpunk 2020 are lab designed to be addictive in order to create a captive market. While the wealthy can afford designer drugs, tailored to their specific physiologies in order to get a high without side effects, everyone else has to make due with generic, synthetic drugs sold by criminal organizations or from the even more dangerous experimental drugs dumped onto the black market by Corps looking to recoup the loss of a failed project or field test a potential new product.

This is all made worse by the large number of underground chemists working as either individuals or in groups. These black market entrepreneurs sell both copies of legal medicines they've cracked the patents on and new mixtures of illegal drugs they've spiced up to make more interesting.

Countdown to the Dark Future #33

The illegal drug market is constantly evolving, which means it can be difficult to keep up with what's new on the streets. However, here's a few with staying power:

SynthCoke: A synthetic variant of cocaine, made more potent in the lab.
Boost: A common "study drug". Addicts gain a tolerance quickly.
'Dorph: A pain negator which can damage the nervous system.
Mr. Ex: Will keep you awake for days.
Char: A mood dampener which installs an inhuman sense of calm.
Smash: Technically not illegal, Smash is drinkable drug similar to alcohol but with a harsher downside. Think a foamy energy drink laced with uppers.
Starlight: A powerful and addictive euphoric.

Countdown to the Dark Future #34

In general, the European Commonwealth maintains a harsh stance towards street drugs of all kinds. The EC takes pride in its reputation as a civilized zone in a mad world and has implemented intense measures to maintain it. Non-citizens arrested for a crime, no matter how minor, are usually deported or jailed. Custom agents are especially diligent in their duties when searching for contraband.

The one major exception to this is the Scandinavian Bloc. They maintain a "neutral market" which includes the common availability of "soft" drugs in most bars and "harder" drugs from specialized and licensed salons. Combat drugs are completely illegal and not tolerated. While the Scandinavian governments allow, and even encourage, recreational excess they do not tolerate violence against their citizens.

Countdown to the Dark Future #35

Combat Drugs are used regularly by militaries and Corporations to enhance the capabilities of their forces. The higher ups are generally more concerned about results than they are about troop health, while soldiers and mercs generally take an expedient viewpoint. Surviving and dealing with the consequences of whatever chems are being pumped into their system later is a better outcome to combat than being dead.

Examples of Combat Drugs include:

Prime: Narrows the subject's focus and imbues a sense of ultimate calm, increasing battlefield awareness and reducing incidents of panic.
Timewarp: Sharpens reflexes but at the cost of real damage as muscles are overextended in the process.
Berserker: Used by commanders who want to turn soldiers into suicidal killing machines.

Countdown to the Dark Future #36

Legal drugs are big business for Corporations. Biotechnica is one of the most obvious pharmaceutical firms in 2020 but they are the only ones. Arasaka and Militech both produce combat drugs, for example. Trauma Team International initially developed a suite of drugs for in-house use, but has found them to be in high demand and now sells the full line to hospitals, clinics, and even rival trauma services. Rumor has it the drugs they sell to their rivals are less potent than the versions they keep for themselves.

Products in the Trauma Drug line include:

Stim: Increases responsiveness and reduces pain.
Surge: An intense stimulant and appetite suppressor which reduces the need for food or sleep.
Trauma I: A last ditch method of slowing down the slide down the DEATH STATE scale.

Watering Holes

Countdown to the Dark Future #37

The Forlorn Hope (Night City, Free State of NorCal)

Founded by John "The Professor" Freeman and his wife, Marianne, the Forlorn Hope began life as a home away from home for veterans of the CentAm War. Many of those former soldiers turned to running freelance jobs to pay the bills so, over time, the bar became a watering hole of choice not just for vets but for edgerunners of all kinds. The Forlorn Hope doesn't advertise. You only hear about it if someone in the know tells you it exists.

The Hope is a bar and club, complete with a house band: The Slaughtered Lambs. There are also bunks to rent and rooms where edgerunners can meet with clients, a ripperdoc clinic, and a weapon repair shop. The Professor also runs a safehouse for veterans and solos on the edge who need to get their head together.

Countdown to the Dark Future #38

The Triple Moon Clan Encampment
(Uffington, Mercia, United Kingdom)

A neo-pagan nomad group, the Triple Moon Clan are generally peaceable and friendly and usually happy to play host to visitors in their semi-permanent encampment in Uffington. The clan offers vegetarian fare, made from actual vegetables, at decent prices and is only mildly insistent about hawking their hand-crafted clothing and jewelry. At night, they dance, sing, and play drums and pipes and visitors are encouraged to join in.

Edgerunners have other reasons to visit the encampment. Hecate, one of the clan elders, is a fixer of considerable reputation and capable of supplying anything a freelancer in the United Kingdom might have need of.

Countdown to the Dark Future #39

Club Atlantis (Night City, Free State of NorCal)

Club Atlantis occupies the top three floors of the Piper Memorial Sports Arena, which hosts a number of different blood sport events. The Atlantic itself is favored by both up and coming corpzoners and Edgerunners who have made a name for themselves.

The club's interior is intentionally designed to disorient. Cleverly placed cantilevered stairs, angled mirrors, animatronics, and specific lighting effects combine to give the illusion of defying the laws of physics as customers move about.

The Atlantis is high end and most customers know the score. When trouble breaks out, it's between the warring parties. Everyone else stays out of the way.

Countdown to the Dark Future #40

The Blowtorch (Melbourne, Australia)

Located at the corner of King and Little Lonsdale, the Blowtorch is the very definition of "dive bar". Fights there are common but generally don't involve firearms. The two heavily cybered bouncers who keep order won't step in for fists or blades but if they see a gun clear a holster they'll gladly take it, unload it, and force feed the bullets to the owner, one by one.

Despite romantic notions, there's no real loyalty among thieves at the Blowtorch. The bartenders will gladly sell information on any patron and will even slip a little something into someone's drink if they're paid enough.

Still, if you're looking to break into the Melbourne edgeruner[sic] scene, this is the place to start.

Countdown to the Dark Future #41

The Black Hole (Crystal Palace, Earth Orbit)

Everything about the Crystal Palace orbital habitat speaks of influence and wealth. The public areas sparkle and the residents (as opposed to the workers) have the best looks money can buy. There are even real trees!

So, of course, the Black Hole club is a marvel to behold. Holographic tech is used to create the illusion of stellar gasses slowly swirling around the room until they vanish into a disorientingly realistic "black hole" on the floor.

Gravity in the Black Hole, as with most of the Palace, is .8 Earth normal and drinks are up to 100 times more expensive. The patrons of the bar dress in the trendiest fashions or in custom body paint and fashionware schemes which both scandalize and inspire awe.

Countdown to the Dark Future #42

The Jaded Flower (Brussels, Belgium)

Popular with the goldenkids, students, and artists, the Jaded Flower has been decorated to convey the impression of an outdoor bar in the middle of a tropical jungle. When the band isn't playing, recorded jungle sounds play on speakers with extremely high fidelity.

The club's entertainment is always a highlight, with amazing bands on the edge of international fame rocking the house. The food is good enough to satisfy the rich kids who play here. Drugs flow freely and trafficking is ignored by authorities so long as it stays inside the club. Men are required to wear jacket and tie and weapons larger than pistols must be checked at the door. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Countdown to the Dark Future #43

The Afterlife (Night City, Free State of NorCal)

Appropriately converted from a mortuary, this solo bar is partitioned into three different areas: the Antechamber, the Crypt, and Hades. The regulars who frequent the Afterlife self-divide themselves by ability. Each chamber is darker and more dangerous, with the Antechamber being for newer solos with potential while Hades is nothing but the most storied combat vets.

The solos who frequent the Afterlife follow a strict code while inside. When they brawl, its for fun. They hit hard but they don't strike to maim or kill. No one in the Afterlife needs to prove themselves. Fixers looking for professionals rarely visit the bar directly. Instead, they leave a message which is circulated around. Interested solos can then contact the Fixer for further details.

Rides in Night City

Countdown to the Dark Future #44

Night City has three particularly popular taxi services.

Red Cab, Inc is the largest and keeps a fleet of armored, well-maintained ground cars. Their fleet is big enough that a Red Cab usually arrived within five minutes once summoned by dataterm, phone, or email.

Aerocab prefers the skies to the streets, and maintains a fleet of reconditioned AV-4s, aerogyros, and a few new AV-7s. More expensive than a ground cab, Aerocabs provide pad to pad service for customers looking to avoid the danger of the Night City ground level entirely.

Combat Cabb is not the largest service but it is the best armed. Combat Cabb has the most skilled battledrivers in the business and is the only service which will take a customer anywhere, guaranteed, no matter the risk.

Countdown to the Dark Future #45

Combat Cabb is famous not just because of their "go anywhere" attitude but because of a long running dramedy series produced by Diverse Media Systems (DMS) focused on a fictional version of the company. The series extends the fame of Combat Cabb across North America and the world and, as a result, one of the most popular activities for tourists visiting Night City is to hail a Combat Cabb and take a ride into the Combat Zone just to say they've done it.

The Combat Cabb vidscreen series airs on Thursday nights and follows the adventures of Harrick, his partner and lover Emmanuelle Moore, and the rest of their tough and battle ready but lovable cast.

The real Harrick founded Combat Cabb in 2011 and still runs the operation.

Countdown to the Dark Future #46

Red Cab was founded in 2012, when Russian immigrant Alec Belavitz bought out the yellow cab company he was senior driver for and revamped it. He painted the cabs red in honor of his beloved homeland and made sure they were well armored. Alec had been a cabbie in Night City for almost a decade and he knew the score.

Red Cab operates 75 cabs in the Night City area. They will drive anywhere in the city and suburbs and up to five miles into the Combat Zone. Drivers earn 35% of the fares they pull in on a shift and keep their tips.

The company gets along well with both Aerocab and Combat Cabb but has become a target for gangs to hit. As a result, it isn't uncommon for the company to hire solos to ride shotgun (while carrying actual shotguns).

Countdown to the Dark Future #47

A typical Red Cab weighs 1,600 pounds and has a cargo capacity of 530 pounds. They have a cruising speed of 80 mph and can carry up to 6 passengers, not counting the driver. The front and back compartments are separated by a plexglass[sic] plate and are airtight.

Most Red Cabs are well armored and armed with a 7.62 light machine gun on a stabilized mount. A "shocker" security system protects the cab externally. Internally, the driver can activate jets which will flood the rear compartment with sleepgas.

The fare during the day is 3.25eb/mile, lowered to 2.75eb/mile after the first 5 miles. The price rises to 4.25eb/mile at night, lowered to 3.75eb/mile after the first 5 miles. Passengers are responsible for reimbursement on any ammo expended during the ride.

Countdown to the Dark Future #48

Aerocab's taxi force consists of 10 reconditioned AV-4 aerodynes, 3 aerogyros, and three new AV-7 aerodynes.

The company broke into the market by purchasing used and older aerodynes from government and corporate aution and then by subsidizing AV-landing platforms across the city. Landlords are happy to let Aerocab vehicles land on their buildings in exchange for the company paying a share of the landing pad's costs.

Aerocabs aren't cheap. They cost 10eb per mile and there's a 25eb pick-up fee. However, they're generally safer than ground taxis, as there aren't many gangs capable of ambushing a flying vehicle. As a result, it's a popular service for up and coming Corps who have money but not enough sway to rate their own company vehicle.

Countdown to the Dark Future #49

Taxi services are popular in Night City but some visitors prefer to drive themselves. Honda-Avis rents out their own brand of electric Metrocars at a flat rate of 100eb per day. These small cars are unarmored and can hold up to two people, making them ideal for zipping through traffic.

Renta-Robo is fully AI operated and has grey and white stations located throughout the city. Renters must interface with a terminal and insert a debit or credit chip. Once the card is verified, an AI controlled vehicle travels from the garage to the customer. When the customer is done with the vehicle, they press a button on the dash. Their account is charged based on mileage and other fees and the onboard AI drives the vehicle back to the garage.

Countdown to the Dark Future #50

Mass transit in Night City is maintained by NCTC: The Night City Transit Corporation. This includes all bus lines, which are considered to be one of the most modern in North America.

NCTC owns and operates over thirty Mercedes Urban Transporters, which have wide seats, holographic advertising display boards, and AI-controlled ticket processing units.

Each Mercedes Urban Transporter is heavily armored and is equipped with a driver operated anti-personnel fragmentation belt around the suspension line, and cabin mounted sleepgas sprayers for passgenger protection.

Tickets are 1eb.

Megacorps of 2020

Countdown to the Dark Future #51

The megacorps of 2020 are nearly nations unto themselves, with their own laws, infrastructure, and militaries. They are almost fully autonomous, paying heed to local law only in the most public of ways so as to avoid a PR disaster. In actuality, megacorps are powerful enough to buy any politician, bury any unfavorable law, and avoid and penalties for bad behavior.

Megacorp offices hold a status roughly equivalent to a national embassy. Employees carry corp-issued passports and identity cards. If an employee is charged with a crime by a civil authority, it is common practice to ship the accused to the home office. This prevents civil police from attempting to execute warrants on corporate grounds while a possible extradition is negotiated. Most local cops are happy to go along with it. Corp security is almost better armed and armored.

Countdown to the Dark Future #52

Conditions in 2020 favor the employer, not the employee. Unions are a thing of the past, either so weak they are ineffective or outlawed altogether. Lax labor laws mean Employment Contracts can dictate terms ranging from minimum length of employment (up to, and including, "lifetime") to debilitating penalties for even minor infractions.

Headhunting in such an environment can be deadly. Corporations often have a team which specializes in extraction of key personnel from rival companies, whether they want to defect or not.

On the flip side, most Corporations would rather see an employee dead than working for the enemy and sharing company secrets.

Countdown to the Dark Future #53

Mediacorps are conglomerates of music, video, news, and publishing subdivisions with a power that spans continents. It is perfectly possible for an individual to go their entire life and consume only media from one specific mediacorp. The largest mediacorps are Network News 54 which, despite its name, controls more than just the news, World News Service (WNS), the most respected (and underhanded) news service in the world, and Diverse Media Systems, with a reputation for eating its own employees alive.

Because only a handful of corps control the majority of the world's media, they hold an unprecedented amount of influence over public opinion. Politicians, celebrities, and high level corp executives all know getting on a mediacorp's bad side is a great way to destroy a career.

Countdown to the Dark Future #54

When corps act like countries, war is an inevitability.

The First Corporate War was between Eurobusiness Machine[sic] Corporation & Orbital Air, both of whom wanted to purchase Transworld Airlines. In the end, EBM lost. This war marked the beginning of corps using military might to obtain a desired outcome in their deals.

The Second Corp War was between energy giants PetroChem and SovOil. In the end, SovOil won. The war dumped billions of barrels of crude oil into the Pacific and ruined the economies of several small nations.

The Third Corp War was fought almost entirely in the NET between financial firms and represented the first large scale virtual conflict. The war ended with one of the participating corps utterly destroyed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #55

The Fourth Corporate War began as a conflict between two aquatech companies: OTEC and CINO. Each brought in major muscle to fight for them. OTEC hired Miitech.[sic] CINO hired Arasaka. What should have been impersonal quickly became personal, as the long-standing rivalry between Militech and Arasaka overshadowed the small conflict they were fighting and became a war of its own. By 2022, the war had become an all-out brawl between the two largest security forces on the planet.

The Fourth Corporate War was devastating. Governments, and even other megacorps, were dragged into the conflict just to protect themselves, though some chose sides. It ended only when both the United States and Japanese governments stepped up and forced a resolution at the executive level. By then, it was too late. The world had already changed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #56

The following is a brief summary of seven of the most prominent and powerful megacorps.
Eurobusiness Machines Corporation: World's largest manufacturer of computer technology.
Zetatech: A new megacorp, specializing in software and hardware technology.
Network News 54: An American broadcasting and media company.
Orbital Air: Cargo and passenger transport. Maintains several orbital facilities.
Microtech: Mainframe and workstation designer. A small fish fighting off sharks.
BioTechnica: Generic engineering and biotechnology. Owns the CHOOH2 patent but licenses it out.
Infocomp: Data firm. If knowledge exists, chances are Infocomp has it recorded somewhere.

Countdown to the Dark Future #57

The following is a brief summary of seven of the most prominent and powerful megacorps.
Merrill, Asukaga & Finch: Investment bank and financial counseling firm.
WorldSat Communications Network: Monopoly controlling satellite communications.
Arasaka: Corporate security and private intelligence services.
Militech: Arms manufacturing and private army. Closely allied with US military.
World News Service: World's most trusted (and dangerous) source for news.
PetroChem: Producer of petroleum products and world's largest supplier of CHOOH2.
Trauma Team International: Global ambulance and paramedic service.

Combat Zones

Countdown to the Dark Future #58

A Combat Zone refers to any urban area which has been mostly abandoned by the local government and law enforcement agencies. Combat Zones essentially represent an unspoken treaty, where municipal and corporate forces won't bother gangs and criminal groups so long as most of the violence and bad behavior stays within the designated area.

Most Combat Zones are born from poor communities where policing became too expensive or dangerous. Cities first ramped down law enforcement activities in those areas, then ceased them altogether as municipal budgets tightened and ran to deficit. Those unfortunate enough to live in such areas found themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty and violence from which few can escape.

Countdown to the Dark Future #59

The Combat Zone of Night City began in the late 1990s. After Richard Night's death in 1998, Corporations and organized crime carved up the city's resources and, as a result, the NCPD became completely ineffective. Gangs, backed by Corporate and Mob sponsors, established themselves in the suburbs south of the city center. In time, the gangs became so entrenched the only way to remove them would be to demolish the entire area and start from scratch.

Today, the Combat Zone is a few miles of somewhat habitable tract housing interspaced with small businesses which eventually give way to burnt out wasteland as desolate as any European city targeted by the bombing runs in the final days of WW2. Worse yet, the Combat Zone is slowly growing, swallowing up territory around it inch by inch.

Countdown to the Dark Future #60

Many gangs have a presence in the Night City Combat Zone. New ones spring up all the time, only to be slaughtered and absorbed by the others. Here are a few of note.

The Blood Razors are a nasty booster gang full of violent psychopaths responsible for an average of forty murders in Night City per week. They are perhaps the largest of the gangs centered in the Zone.
Warrior Heart, a combat gang constantly seeking to improve their fighting skills.
The Piranhas want to party and have fun but their idea of "fun" can be something of a sadistic mystery.
Blood & Tears, whose trademark is the removal of a victim's eyes (cyber or natural).
Death in the Afternoon, more a nihilist cult than a gang.

Countdown to the Dark Future #61

No one goes into the Night City Combat Zone unless they absolutely have to. Even the hardest Solos know getting in and out can be a roll of the dice. Entire security teams have gone in and vanished. Only two organizations, Combat Cabb and Trauma Team, will enter the Combat Zone willingly and that's only in well armed and armored vehicles and with backup.

Because no one goes into the Combat Zone, information on the geography and demographics are hard to come by. Old maps from before the Zone went to hell are outdated and anyone who actually enters and leaves does so as quickly as possible. They aren't stopping to record map coordinated. Urban legends abound of pre-Collapse caches of weapons, money, drugs, and tech hidden even from the gangs in the Combat Zone but good luck surviving long enough to find them!

Countdown to the Dark Future #62

In 2020, the Hong Kong Combat Zone was known as "The Hell of the Death of a Thousand Cuts" due to the local gang preference for blades over guns.

Using a gun in the Hong Kong Combat Zone is a quick way to be branded as a member of the Triad, a Corporate spy, or worse, a weak target incapable of defending one's self. After all, a gun will eventually run out of bullets but, in a Combat Zone, it is always possible to find a sharp piece of jagged metal.

By the end of the 4th Corporate War, "The Hell of the Death of a Thousand Cuts" is as empty as the rest of the city thanks to a potent and highly contagious bioweapon which was unleashed within Hong Kong's city limits.

Countdown to the Dark Future #63

Technically speaking, London does not have a Combat Zone. What is has is the East End, which was mostly flooded when a bomb destroyed the Thames Flood Barrier. Officially, no one lives in the East End. In truth, thousands call it home.

The majority of residents in the East End earn their meager living either from smuggling or supporting the smugglers who live there. Goods smuggled in from Europe and beyond are sold in the few remaining Underground stations and tunnels in the region which aren't filled with polluted water.

Those in the know say anything can be had at these dangerous markets, from drugs to slaves to secrets. All it takes is cold, hard cash and a willingness to put up with the stench.

Countdown to the Dark Future #64

The most infamous Combat Zone in the world may well be the one in Detroit. There, the Zone was so bad the city government decided to wall the whole thing off. It took years but, in the end, the city completed the task, after which they declared the zone a minimum security prison. Anyone born there is essentially guilty of the crime of being alive and anyone trying to escape on the city side can expect to be intercepted and dumped back or shot.

Oddly enough, walls have become a fashion of sorts in Detroit. Wealthier neighborhoods have put up guarded walls of their own while poorer ones have constructed razor wire barricades. The Detroit of 2020 has become less a single city and more a collection of vaguely affiliated townships all afraid of what lies outside their borders.

The Rockerboy Movement

Countdown to the Dark Future #65

The Rockerboy movement began in the early 1990s, when James "Rockerboy" Manson's second album, Bum's Rush, released with an overtly political message. He continued to defy authority and release songs centered on change and rebellion until 1997 when he was clubbed to death, in front of an audience, by British police at an Amnesty International concert. His death inspired the Rockerboy movement, which is named in his honor.

People continue to argue about the impact of Manson's legacy. Many point out his musical talents were rather mediocre and some believe his message of protest was a ploy to generate sales. Others say it doesn't matter. In the end, no matter his motivations, he started a cultural movement which has lasted over twenty years.

Countdown to the Dark Future #66

Most of the music available to the public is prepackaged noise, algorithmically generated to sell the most tracks and albums while pushing a pro-Corporate message. Rockerboys of all genders work to get their message out to the public anyway they can. Some, like Johnny Silverhand, are famous enough to push their songs out through the traditional channels unchanged.

Smaller, independent Rockerboys, who sometimes call themselves sonic terrorists, work through underground distributors, independent networks, and the darker corners of the NET to get their music heard.

A few underground labels exist but most independent bands release their own music, often for free, hoping their words of protest are heard.

Countdown to the Dark Future #67

A list of the top ten songs of 2020 as picked by the critics of Rockerboy Magazine:

1. Never Fade Away by Johnny Silverhand 2. Holdin' On by Kerry Eurodyne 3. Back from Nowhere by Lost Boys 4. Kalakari by Cutthroat 5. Hand of Fate by Artificial Kids 6. Blast Off by Blackheart 7. Little Sister by Brutus Backlash 8. Loving at the Speed of Light by Sarah O'Conner[sic] 9. You Said You'd Never Leave by Pipin' Hot 10. Song for John (50 Years) by Destiny

Countdown to the Dark Future #68

Much like the rest of the world, Rockerboys love their cyberware. Popular options include:

Neural Processor w/Machine Link: There are few things more magical than studding directly into your instrument to play it with both body and mind.
Romanova Cyberlegs: Elegant and the height of fashion, with gyroscopic balance and built in heels which add up to 6 inches to height.
NewThroat: Extensive vocal replacement which can package together other implants, including a Voice Synthesizer or Forked Tongue Ultrasonic Manipulation System.

Any and all fashionware, including full Exotic packages. After all, getting people to listen to your words is easier if you look great on stage.

Countdown to the Dark Future #69

While James "Rockerboy" Manson started the movement and Johnny Silverhand is the most famous Rockerboy in 2020, there are other notables, including:

Destiny has been called "one of the most provoking bands of our time". They started off as a pop band but grew a heavy political edge thanks to the influence of bandleader Jessie Moore. More than one concert has ended with the band and their crew fighting off corporate assassins backstage.

The Silver Slash's first single, released in 2017, was Stand For Your Word, a call to action with lyrics in English, French, Swahili, and Japanese. The band has inspired many around the world to enact "positive change" in society, including the Night City guardian gang of the same name.

Countdown to the Dark Future #70

Not all Rockerboys are musicians. As the movement has grown, others have claimed the label for themselves, including...

Street poets, often part of a local performance gang, try to get their message through using words but not music. Some critics claim they're frustrated singers who can't afford a voice box upgrade.

Performance artists stage visual presentations in public situations, trying to use movement and style to express their rebellion. Many performance artists rely on shock value, which is hard to do in 2020 society.

Civic organizers and activists have always been Rockerboys, leading crowds to march, chant, protest, and occasionally riot in support of a cause.

Countdown to the Dark Future #71

Some believe James "Rockerboy" Manson knew he was going to die on August 3, 1997. Just hours before he was beaten to death on stage, an act that triggered a riot in which over 500 people died, he said the following to his audience:

"To live in ignorance of the political state around you is no excuse. It is your responsibility, as well as mine, to spread the word. One great nation is dead; will your's[sic] be next? If you have something to say then don't keep quiet; tell them how you feel.

Don't let their oppression silence you!"

Those words have become a talisman to the Rockerboy movement.

Food in 2020

Countdown to the Dark Future #72

In the Cyberpunk world, lack of regulation in the United States and other regions resulted in an increasingly changing and unpredictable climate which made agriculture nearly impossible. By 1998, the Midwest United State was little more than a dustbowl while acid rain, drought, wildfires, and toxic waste had destroyed the orchards of California, Texas, and Florida.

In 2020, much of what once was the breadbasket of the world is now a polluted wasteland, so less food is being produced and it is being produced in new places. Due to rising temperatures, areas which were once too severe and cold for large scale agriculture now offer new farming opportunities. Northern Canada has become one of the world's leading suppliers of real food and Alaska is one of the few parts of the United States where farming can still occur on an industrial level.

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Most Americans eat manufactured, processed foods in 2020. The most commonly eaten food is kibble: dry, grainy nuggets laced with vitamins, minerals, and a small amount of actual protein.

Like potato chips, they are offered in a variety of flavors, textures, and brands to the general public. Kibble makes up 70% of the average American diet.

SCOP, a vat grown protein genetically tailored to mimic the textures and tastes of various foods makes up 20% of the average American diet.

Because SCOP looks and tastes vaguely like real food, it is more expensive.

Countdown to the Dark Future #74

Little farmland is left in the United States and most of that is dedicated to growing the genetically modified grain used to make the fuel CHOOH2. Some Agricorps grow food crops in hydroponic farms but the majority of fresh food in the United States is imported from Canada, Europe, or the USSR. Fresh food makes up as little as 2% of the average American diet.

The wealthy, of course, eat differently than the average American. Powerdealers eat real food prepared by real people every meal. Corpzoners manage fresh food an average of four meals a week, never eat kibble, and rarely eat SCOP. Movers mostly live on SCOP but occasionally spring for fresh food to impress.

Everyone else? They eat what they can.

Countdown to the Dark Future #75

Most meals in America are eaten outside of the home. Few living spaces come equipped with food preparation units and only the more expensive apartments and houses have actual kitchen areas.

Unless an area is Corporate-controlled or specially patrolled, there are almost always a variety of food vendors available on any city street. Those vendors do their best to dress up kibble, SCOP, and whatever else they can find to be as attractive and appetizing as possible. Soups and stews are offered when enough fresh water can be found.

There are still a number of fast food chains in the world, such as MacDonvan's. Each has their own secret recipes and methods for dressing SCOP as something people want to eat.

Countdown to the Dark Future #76

There are still a number of real restaurants in the Night City of 2020. Cheaper establishments dress up SCOP, prepared with varying degrees of success to mimic real dishes.

More expensive eateries offer a mixture of soy, SCOP, and fresh food. It might be best not to ask where the fresh food comes from, however. Just enjoy the fact that you're eating actual meat.

The most exclusive restaurants offer fresh food made by top chefs and cost more eddies per meal than many Night City residents make in a year.

Some restaurants offer memberships to Corporations, who give free meals to select employees a reward or a job perk.

Countdown to the Dark Future #77

Many restaurants in Night City put their own unique twist on the dining experience.

Gueverra's is a Mexican restaurant which smuggles weapons in the back alley. It is popular with old spies and government agents.

Beppo's Trattoria ensures a steady clientele by being a neutral zone where mob business can be conducted. It also serves a killer meatball sandwish.

The Network 54 Cafeteria is popular because network stars can occasionally be spotted eating there.

Manfred's, a German restaurant that serves Japanese Kobe veal. It is set in the CalBank building, which is well protected with APEX machinegun turrets.

Countdown to the Dark Future #78

In the European Community, food is, in theory, controlled by the Food Commission. They ensure the yeast farmers kibble manufacturers produce enough food to feed the masses of Europe. They also oversee the laws governing farming, fishing, livestock, and water processing. The Food Commission plays a constant game of catchup, trying to navigate the thorny politics of local agribusiness while imposing quotas and subsidies in an effort to stabilize a constantly changing market.

Few people in Europe go hungry. The Food Commission supplies everyone with basic (and it is basic) meals and even real food is fairly cheap. Most citizens with employment can purchase and enjoy vegetables daily and actual meat once a week. The goldenkids and new nobility, of course, eat real food every meal.

Firearms in 2020

Countdown to the Dark Future #79

Two companies, BudgetArms and Dai Lung, have made a name for themselves for creating firearms at a cost the average street punk can afford.

The BudgetArms C-13, a light pistol, costs half as much as the Federated Arms X-22, which is the industry standard for plastic "fire and throw away" weaponry.

The Dai Lung Cybermag 15 is even cheaper, and comparable to the X-22 in every way but accuracy.

More recently, BudgetArms has attempted to enter the higher end firearms market with the Laser-Niner 9mm. It comes standard with an integral lasersight and a full auto mode. Snail drum magazines are optional.

Countdown to the Dark Future #80

Militech's firearms are a standard of the industry, worldwide. Their Ronin model is a durable and accurate light assault rifle which uses 5.56 ammunition while the Militech Crusher SSG is popular with solos due to its compact nature and power. A pistol-sized shotgun, the Crusher works extremely well for close combat and roomsweeping duties but conceals nicely in a bag or under a jacket.

The standard weapon for Arasaka Security, the Minami 10 SMG, is popular around the world for both its durability and affordability. When the situation calls for heavy firepower, Arasaka Security prefers the Rapid Assault Shot 12, a high powered auto-shotgun that can spit out 10 shells in less than 4 seconds.

Countdown to the Dark Future #81

Malorian Firearms, Incorporated, is a bespoke weapons designer and manufacturer based out of Night City. Their motto is distinctive firearms for distinctive people and it shows in the care they put into the creation of each weapon they produce. The firm was founded by famed gunsmith Eran Malour, who has designed weapons for, among others, Solo Morgan Blackhand.

The most famous weapon designed by Eran Malour is the Malorian Arms 3516, which was custom made for famous Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand. This one of a kind 14mm heavy pistol's titanium frame was manufactured in space, allowing for an almost zero chance of imperfection in the casing. An integral cyberinterlink means only someone with a cyberarm and smartgun link can take full advantage of the pistol's features.

Countdown to the Dark Future #82

In 2018, the US Government held a competition to develop the next generation of advanced infantry firearms. Forces within the government, content with the weapons the military already had, sabotaged the project by putting in place seemingly impossible design standards. Of course, Militech rose to the occasion.

The M-31a1 marries at[sic] 4.5mm assault rifle using an advanced liquid propellant firing system with a pump-action 25mm grenade launcher. The liquid propellant system was designed by famed gunsmith Eran Malour and licensed to Militech while the revolutionarily small mini-grenaded were the design of Militech weapon techs.

Paired together, the two form one of the most high-tech combat weapons available.

Countdown to the Dark Future #83

Integration of firearms and chrome has been one of the goals of cyberware design pretty much since their invention.

Smartguns are modified versions of normal firearms which use various scanning systems to continually paint targets and feed the data to either the brain or a set of goggles. This allows for more accurate aiming, as combatants no longer have to rely on anything so crude as the organic human eye to guide their shots.

Over the years, various companies have also created weapon mount options for cyberlimbs. Popup pistols and SMGs are common but flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and micro-missile launchers are also possibilities for those with enough cash to pay their ripperdoc.

Countdown to the Dark Future #84

Energy-based weapons are usually only found in the hands of military personnel or specialist corporate agents. Such weapons are rarely found on the street, both for legal reasons and due to the cost and technical skill required to operate and repair them.

Laser weapons, like the Militech LaserCannon, are rifles powered by batteries and have a dial allowing for variable input. This means the laser can be set from a lower power setting which does no more damage than a light pistol to a powerful shot which hits as hard as an assault rifle but drains half the rifle's battery power.

The Techtronica Model 009 Volt Pistol, meanwhile, is a taser with a twist. It uses a low-intensity laser to ionize the air along its path, then discharges electricity to form an artificial lighting[sic] bolt to strike the target.

Countdown to the Dark Future #85

The unique threat of cyberpsychos and full borgs have led to a number of unusual developments in weapon technology. Microwave-based weapons can cause cybernetics to perform poorly or malfunction. However, the exact effects can be hard to predict, giving microwavers a poor reputation with cyberpsycho squads.

More reliable (and expensive!) is the Rhinemetall[sic] EMG-85 Kinetic Energy Railgun which delivers a 15-gram, Mylar-coated slug at hypersonic velocity, meaning it can punch through all but the heaviest of armors. The irony is, the extreme weight and recoil of the EMG-85 means it is often used on full borgs by full borgs, as few other people can properly wield the weapon without mounting it to a vehicle first.

Personal Profiles 2020 Edition

Countdown to the Dark Future #86

Susan Forrest
NorCal State Executioner

Justice has changed in the Dark Future. Criminals sentenced to death rarely come peacefully and are usually not content to simply await execution. Because of this, most states now have an official, combat ready State Executioner. In Northern California, that office is held by Susan Forrest, a former NCPD Max-Tac officer.

Executioner Forrest is empowered to hunt down and execute fugitives sentenced to death but also supervises the security of prisoners on Death Row. Because of her job, Executioner Forrest has access to the best weaponry and armor available and has the skills to use it to her advantage. This makes her one of the deadliest people alive.

Countdown to the Dark Future #87

Maz Despair
Rockerboy Comedian

Maz Despair is a satirist who has modeled herself after pre-Collapse comedians who used sharp humor to deliver social commentary to the public. Maz is also wanted by the police after being framed for the murder of Jennifer Diaz, a Houston politician who she lampooned and who was in the pocket of Arasaka.

Maz came to performing after watching the assassination of comedian Kate Clinton and Senator Gerald Matthews during the 2002 Washington DC Gay Pride Parade. A lesbian herself, Maz Despair saw the murders as a call to arms and now uses hard, biting comedy as a way to wake others and draw attention to corruption and oppression.

Countdown to the Dark Future #88

Father Kevin
Faithful Priest in a Faithless World

The man now known as Father Kevin spent much of his adult life as a Solo and saw combat in over a dozen countries. In time, he rejected the violence and returned to his roots, rejoining the Church and taking up vows as a priest. He now runs the Holy Angels Church in Night City, along with Father Paul and Father Paul's wife, Lucy.

Father Kevin believes with all his heart than only mercy, charity, and divine grace can save humanity. While he won't allow people to carry weapons into the church, he will provide sanctuary to any who ask and has been known to face down Corp agents and NCPD on behalf of those he has sheltered. He also works to resolve both local gang and Corporate conflicts peacefully.

Countdown to the Dark Future #89

China Dahl
Renegade Photojournalist

Like so many people in the world, China Dahl grew up in a nice, safe Corporate enclave as the child of a low level wageslave. Unlike most who grow up in that situation, though, China saw past the brainwashing and realized the death grip Corporations had on both information and their employees.

A gifted photographer, China used her parents' employer to get an education then struck out on her own, feeding stories to pirate media stations. An expert in disguise and carousing, China combines hedonism with her job by infiltrating the clubs and parties favored by Corp employees and charming information from them in what they believe to be a safe environment.

Countdown to the Dark Future #90

Pixie
Daemon Programmer

As a child prodigy in France, Pixie's parents had high hopes of her climbing the local Corporate ladder. Pixie instead found herself attracted to the thrill of the NET and buckled expectations. She spend two years running freelance in cyberspace before creating a compilation routine to assist others in the programming of Daemons, a combination of low-level AI and virus which assist Netrunners in infiltrating systems.

Pixie has made a fortune selling her program but still enjoys doing illegal netrunning for the thrill of it. These days, she picks and chooses the jobs she wants and trusts the protection of her physical body to her guard and girlfriend, a Solo named Mahoney.

Countdown to the Dark Future #91

Jakob Mojave
Father, partner, son, healer

Jakob Mojave is a member of the Ghost Dancers, a Nomad pack which works construction and salvage and is affiliated with the Snake Nation. As a child, he lived in Portland. When the Collapse came and a plague struck the city, he and his father fled east, eventually joining up with the burgeoning Nomad movement there.

Though no medical school will agree, Jakob is a doctor. He learned his trade from his father and is, in turn, teaching and apprentice. As a doctor and an educated man, his counsel is valued by other Nomads. Some might call him a Shaman. Jakob calls himself a person who still has much to learn, especially from his partner Sarah, and their son Rik.

Countdown to the Dark Future #92

Marianne Freeman
Co-owner of the Forlorn Hope

Born biologically male, Marianne Freeman lived two decades struggling with her identity before finally accepting herself and transitioning during her twenties. Afterwards, she married John Freeman, aka the Professor, and helped him found the Forlorn Hope, a bar which caters to military veterans and edgerunners.

Marianne handles the day to day operations of the Forlorn Hope, including bookkeeping, payroll, supplies, and other business matters but still finds time to tend the bar on occasion. She is known both for her shocking pink hair and her wicked barbs. Marianne's husband likes to claim "she has to have twice the sense of humor of most people because I don't have one, myself".

Gangs of Night City

Countdown to the Dark Future #93

Most gangs in Night City are built around a central theme, often taken to cultish levels of obsession. In the Dark Future, where there's little to hope for, people are so desperate to feel purpose and belonging they will build their identity on any scrap they can cling to.

Boosters. Gangs obsessed with replacing meat with metal. Cyberware addicts who see the future where flesh is dead and chrome lives forever.

Chromers. Gangs inspired by the Rockerboy movement, often building their theme around a specific musician, band, or even one single song.

Combat. Most gangs fight at times, but combat gangs are obsessed with battle. They range from those who consider themselves noble warriors, striving to perfect their art, to all out brawlers, who just want to beat the tar out of anyone they can.

Countdown to the Dark Future #94

Most gangs in Night City are built around a central theme, often taken to cultish levels of obsession. In the Dark Future, where there's little to hope for, people are so desperate to feel purpose and belonging they will build their identity on any scrap they can cling to.

Cultists. Gangs organized along religious lines, often following one leader's spiritual guidance. Many cultgangs are nihilist in nature, believing the world is beyond redemption and needs to die in a blaze of glory.

Dorphers. Gangs focused on the acquisition and use of drugs. They can range from blissed out junkies to amped up monsters, depending on their vice of choice.

Guardians. Often cops can't be trusted to do their job, so some citizens band together to guard their homes. Despite good intentions, some guardian gangs collect 'insurance" and rob/ kill "outsiders" to pay their bills.

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Most gangs in Night City are built around a central theme, often taken to cultish levels of obsession. In the Dark Future, where there's little to hope for, people are so desperate to feel purpose and belonging they will build their identity on any scrap they can cling to.

Juvies. Juvie gangs, also known as Youth Gangs or YoGangs, have many themes but all have one thing in common: most members are early teens or preteens.

Posers. Cosplayers to the extreme, posers adopt themes from popculture[sic] and base lifestyle and looks on them, often with the help of surgery and cyberware.

Pranksters. While they may sound fun, gangs dedicated to practical jokes can have a dark side. Pranks range from "smash every red car's back passenger window" to "add psychoactive drugs to the local community center swimming pool" to even nastier tricks.

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Most gangs in Night City are built around a central theme, often taken to cultish levels of obsession. In the Dark Future, where there's little to hope for, people are so desperate to feel purpose and belonging they will build their identity on any scrap they can cling to.

Party. Party gangers only want to have a good time. Hedonists, their tastes often grow jaded and the idea of "good time" becomes dark as they seek bigger highs.

Professionals. Some groups blur the line between guild and gang, coming together for protection in a world where an individual freelancer or performer is vulnerable to harassment, threats, and death.

Puppets. Corporations, organized crime groups, and even governments have been known to sponsor or form gangs, using them as weapons to point at enemies while maintaining plausible deniability.

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The Brainiacs

The thinking man's boostergang, Brainiacs prefer skill chips and neuralware over less elegant, clunkier cybernetics. Not directly violent, the Brainiacs prefer to outthink rather than outfight. In one incident, they nearly wiped out a chapter of the Blood Razors by manipulating events to bring the booster gangers into contact with an Arasaka security force.

Each Brainiac wears a small silver coin around their neck to identify them as a member of the gang.

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Maelstrom

Part boostergang, part combat gang, Maelstrom was born from the shattered remains of several other gangs with one thing in common: a grudge against the mysterious Inquisitors.

Members prefer black leather and chrome, making a point to visibly display their cyberware for the world to see. At least half the members have succumbed to cyberpsychosis or are dancing on the edge.

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The Silver Slash

Both Guardian and Chromer gang, the Silver Slash patterned themselves off of the band of the same name. Gang leaders Marion and Jake Maxwell were inspired by the band's hit single, Stand for Your World, after their son was shot and killed in a gang scuffle near the Children's Hospital.

Now, the hospital serves as the gang's headquarters and they work hard to keep the local neighborhood safe.

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The Wild Things

Dorpher gangs usually burn out when their leadership dies in a hail of gunfire or due to an overdose. The Wild Things are different. No one joins without first surviving for at least a year as a member of another Dorpher gang. As a result, the Wild Things are predatory, cynical, and can hold their own in any fight.

The Wild Things don't have gang colors. Each member knows the others on sight. Their tag is a red circle with a white dot.

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The Voodoo Boys

The Voodoo Boys are as much about organized crime as they are about gang activities. They make their eddies by selling drugs to the students of Night City University. They are also a cultgang, using drugs and practices taken from Afro-Caribbean religions to enact sadistic rituals.

True members of those religions disavow the Voodoo Boys as nothing more than twisted pretenders who have stolen elements of a spirituality they can't possibly understand.

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The DJs

Some gangs succeed despite their sheer lack of talent or combat ability. A good example are the DJs, a chromer gang who are better at selling bootleg music chips and fake collectables than they are at making music.

Their one saving grace is a firm understanding of the music scene in Night City If you can stand a DJ's "music" you can probably pump them for information on where the best parties and underground concerts are.

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The Slaughterhouse

Like all boostergangs, the Slaughterhouse believe in packing as much cyberware into their body as possible. The twist is, the Slaughterhouse wants as much of that chrome to have sharp points or edges as possible.

Rippers, vampires, bigripps, slashers, wolvers. If it can cut or pierce, chances are its implanted into the body of a Slaughterhouser.

Members of the Slaughterhouse prefer black and red leather.

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Among the smaller gangs of Night City are:

All members of the Tyger's Claw are of Japanese descent and have been known to protect citizens of Japantown from outsiders, even if they are also known for shaking them down for protection money.

The Western Stars are a posergang, modeling themselves after the cowboys of the silver screen, and a combat gang, taking pride in their skills as marksman.

The Willow Sisterhood are a group of women who have biosculpted themselves to resemble famous beauties of the past and present. Each member undergoes extensive training in the combat arts and it is considered fashionable for the rich and powerful of Night City to keep a Sister as a bodyguard/ mistress.

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The Bozos

The Bozos began life as just another prankster gang, organized around a clown theme. Everything changed, however, when the Great Bozo took over the gang.

It is whispered the Great Bozo is actually an insane, former Arasaka engineer who now uses the clown gang for experiments in cyberware and surgical techniques considered too extreme and sadistic even by corporate standards.

Pity anyone targeted by the Bozos.

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The Bozos

One might wonder, what sort of person would willingly join the Bozos and allow themselves to be sculpted and altered into the twisted image of a clown? Those ain't floppy shoes, people. Their feet really are that big...

The truth is, Bozos take twisted pride in their recruiting. Once they've settled on someone as a new member, they stalk and prank and harass that person until they've been driven to the edge of insanity.

Then the real torture begins. It is unknown how many Bozos were once mallplexers, corporate executives, or even genuinely decent people who had their sanity peeled away layer by layer until they embraced their new identity as "one of us".

Up Close and Personal

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Scratchers replace a person's fingernails with metal or carbo-glass.

Small compared to other cyberweapons, scratchers are still dangerous, as the incredibly sharpness of the material used to make them as deadly as any razor blade across the throat.

To prevent accidents, scratchers are designed to slice crossways and not downwards, meaning they have to be used in a specific way to do damage.

They are often decorated to make them indistinguishable from normal nails and are one of the few cyberweapons that are generally legal and available at any local clinic.

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Vampires are exactly what one might expect from the name: implanted fangs.

A full set, completely replacing all teeth, are commonly known as a Sharkgrin Special. Vampires are considered decorative and not generally illegal, unless augmented with poison injectors.

Rippers, a deadlier version of scratchers, are three inch blades which pop out from the fingertips.

Fake fingernails are often worn to hide rippers, as they are illegal to possess in most locations. Rippers are usually extended by curling the hand into a clawlike shape.

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Wolvers represent the next step in bladed cyberweapons. When someone with this cyberweapon forms a fist, thin, triangular blades telescope out from the wrist along channels build[sic] into the back of the hand.

The blades are a full foot in length and quite sharp.

With BigKnucks, the knuckles of a hand are reinforced for weight and hitting power.

For brawlers who like punching their problems away, BigKnucks are an absolute necessity.

The weapon commonly known as a Slice N' Dice is a monofilament wire spooled into a single finger, which can be extended to use as a whip, garrote, or cutter.

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The Cybersnake is a directable, flexible weapon which is usually implanted in the throat but can be installed in any body orifice more than 1 inch long.

Upon command, the cybersnake will extend up to three feet from the orifice and attack. When attacking from the outside of an opponent's body, the cybersnake attacks much like a cobra, darting to jab, or like a whip to make a slashing attack.

When attacking from inside an opponent's body it stabs and twists repeatedly, causing as much internal trauma as possible.

Cybersnakes are a favored means of defense for those engaged in professional sex work, from joyboys and girls on the street to high class escorts.

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A number of interesting cyberweapon options have been developed for edgerunners with cyberarms.

The Whip option produces a six foot long length of metal cord which can be used to slash, strangle, or grapple an opponent.

The Mace Hand, meanwhile, allows a heavily reinforced fist to be spooled out on a three foot long, thick cable for ranged attacks. The extended reach comes at a price, though, as the reinforcement interferes with articulation and reduced flexibility of the fingers.

Edgerunners needing a distraction instead of a weapon can add a 20,000 candlepower Flashbulb to the palm of their cyberhand to help blind and disorient enemies.

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The BigRipp implants a blade of up to fourteen inches in length in your forearm. Simply flex the right muscles and the sharpness pops out. The standard option essentially transforms the arm into a long blade, allowing martial artists who specialize in archaic combat to operate even without an external weapon. Because of the way they are mounted, BigRipps aren't as effective at parrying other weapons as a normal blade would be.

Another option allows the BigRipp to be installed so it extends along the length of the forearm, which allows for brutal slashing attacks when using combat styles which favor punches and elbow checks.

Simply hit the target, then follow up by dragging the forearm along the target's body for maximum damage.

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Edgerunners seeking a subtle cyberweapon often look at the Bonespike. A vat grown seven inch length of bone, reinforced with polymer, is installed into the forearm.

A Bonespike extends much like wolvers, though it does so from the palm and not the top of the hand.

Favored by assassins, the Bonespike is the perfect weapon for killing close up. On the other end of the subtly spectrum is the ChainRipp. It must be installed in a cyberarm and takes up two option slots instead of once.

A ChainRipp is exactly what it sounds like. Upon command, a chainsaw blade pops out from the forearm, above the hand, and whirs to life, ready to rip apart enemies.

Night City Police Department

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Night City differs from many American cities in that its police services are staffed by municipal employees and not a privately contracted organization.

The Night City Police Department (NCPD) maintains multiple precinct offices while deputized corporate forces patrol the Corporate City Center.

NCPD keeps order in Night City through the use of regular street and investigative units, a closed-circuit camera and monitor system, and aerial patrol forces.

Roughly forty percent of street corners in Night City are home to a callbox which allow citizens and visitors alike to summon an NCPD presence for the cost of only one eddie! Some even work!

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NCPD officers assigned to Traffic Patrol have pulled the shortest straw possible.

Its all the danger and none of the respect, as they suffer not only the dangers posed by gangs looking to have a little fun and corporate strike forces unconcerned about collateral damage but also the abuse heaped upon them by potentially armed Night City citizens irate about getting a ticket or being caught in the latest traffic snarl.

They say the worst thing a superior officer can tell a subordinate is "You've been transferred to Traffic". If a cop has been assigned to Traffic Patrol, it means they've pissed off someone with the power to make their life miserable.

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Airborne Patrol uses aerodynes and gyros for surveillance and support purposes. A standard Airborne Patrol crew consists of one pilot, one command officer, two troopers, and a medic. A position in Airborne is sought after by many in the NCPD. Not only do they get to play with some of the latest technology but it is harder for gangs to lay traps for airborne vehicles the way they do for patrol cars.

A standard vehicle in the Airborne Patrol is the AV-3 aka "the Aerocop". Replaced on the civilian market by the more popular AV-4, the AV-3 was retooled and sold as a specialty vehicle to police forces around the world. The AV-3 now come standard with good armor, ground wheels for surface maneuvering when needed, and a top mounted turret.

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In 2020, the Homicide Division of the NCPD is busier than ever. The population is growing every year and Corps, crime syndicates, and gangs are all fighting for control of the city's streets.

Mass murders take place disturbingly often and not every cyberpsycho is an obvious rampaging metal monster. Some look like ordinary serial killers until it is too late to call in MAX-TAC.

Anyone who works Homicide develops some way to cope with the depressing crush of too many cases, many of which they know will go unsolved. A Homicidie detective can see up to fifty bodies a day and anyone who doesn't find an outlet to help them deal with that stress instead finds the psych ward or the grave.

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The Net Security Section, otherwise known as NETSEC, focuses on Night City's digital streets instead of its concrete ones. Computer crimes and illegal netrunning fall under their jurisdiction to investigate. In addition, NET SEC provides intelligence and research for other investigative divisions of the NCPD.

NET SEC officers tend to be high strung and many did not receive normal police training before joining the force.

A rare few join out of a sense of civic duty. Most join because NCPD promises them access to military grade netrunning hardware and software and it is better to have a regular paycheck than money from the occasional random hacking score and the constant potential of black IC fry your brain.

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The Cyborg Suppression Unit is shorthanded both as C-SWAT and, more recently, as MAX-TAC.

This division was originally a part of the Special Weapons and Tactics section (SWAT) but spun off when it became clear the frequency with which they carried out their duties merited their own command.

MAX-TAC is a rapid response team of the most combat capable officers NCPD has to officer and outfitted with the best in military armor, weaponry, and vehicles.

They have one mission: monitor highly augmented individuals and be prepared to arrive fast, hit hard, and shoot to kill if their quarry goes over the edge into cyberpsychosis.

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MAX-TAC work in SPAR (Special Purpose Assault Rescue) teams of six troopers and one officer. By necessity, many members are chromed to the point they are on the watch list themselves. The occasional MAX-TAC officer is a full borg.

MAX-TAC weapons are universally designed to take down heavily cybered individuals. This can include non-lethal and experimental weaponry but usually means high caliber rounds capable of penetrating any armor. EMP weapons are rare, since they'll do as much damage to the SPAR team as the cyberpsycho they're trying to take down.

Common weapons include the Constitution Arms Cyclone Squad Support Weapon and the Remington Gyro Sniper Rifle.

2020 to 2077 Comparison

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The Collapse

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No single event contributed to the Dark Future of Cyberpunk 2020 than the Collapse, an implosion which devastated the US and rocked the world economy.

"We all knew that the market couldn't get much worse. I was working in Municipals. People were just looking for the quick rake. Commissions were real high for a while. Buy, sell, buy, sell; I hardly slept for weeks. We were confident that the market would stabilize. We were hiring like mad, getting ready for the rally. Then, at about three o'clock one day, I was eating something and it came on the feed. Embargo. Everyone was in on it. The whole EEC; Switzerland even froze all American assets. Something about currency manipulations by hackers. I walked out on to the sales floor and there was no sound. People were just staring. Japan had abandoned us, then Mexico, even Australia. I threw up into a trashcan just as the first guy jumped."

Joe Siegel, Shearson/ AMEX, 1994

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By the early 90s, the Gang of Four (the FBI, CIA NSA and DEA ) had been covertly working together to manipulate United States politics and legislation for years. Driven by ideology and lust for power, the Gang of Four took advantage of the covert nature of their various agencies and their control over much of the information the government received about the world to steer policy.

In 1993, worried about the rise of the European Economic Commonwealth as a world power, the Gang of Four began the "Quiet War", a series of covert actions to diminish EC power and ensure US dominance.

This culminated in hacking by US agencies into European and Asian stock markets to bolster US corporations and currency on the world market.

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United States hacking-based manipulations of European and Asian stock markets were discovered by European agents in 1994. Rather than take direct action against a nominal ally, the EC instead leaked the information to the world press. The resulting outrage resulted in the Crash of '94 The American stock market was devastated as shares plummeted and countries which were once friends called for embargos.

The ripple, of course, spread across the world. Without the United States as a driving force, many international institutions collapsed. As other countries dealt with the fallout of the American stock market crash, no single government, or block of governments, could or were willing to step up to become the new world financial superpower.

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By itself, the Crash of '94 wouldn't have caused the Collapse but other factors combined with the crash to make it possible. The Gang of Four had already been pushing covert and overt wars in Central and South America as part of a public relations campaign: a way of distracting US citizens from noticing an increasingly unstable domestic situation.

After the US hacking attacks on European stock markets was discovered, EEC countries began backing anti-American guerilla groups in the western hemisphere. This created a quagmire in South America and resulted in daring terrorist operations carried out in US soil. As a result, resources had to be pumped into military and security operations, leaving little left for rebuilding a shattered economy or a crumbling infrastructure.

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Another factor which contributed to the Collapse was environmental. Pollution and environmental damage resulted in the despoiling of US farmlands. The once fertile fields of the American Midwest had once more become dustbowls. This, combined with damage to American waters from industrial accidents and pollutants meant the United States was unable able to feed itself, much less the rest of the world.

Things reached a tipping point on August 17, 1996, when the President and Vice President were both assassinated. The Speaker of the House was undergoing bypass surgery, and the President Pro Tem of the Senate refused to undertake the oath of office.

That afternoon John Seward, the Secretary of Defense addressed the nation and declared Martial Law.

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The time of the Collapse was perhaps the darkest the United States has ever known. Acting President Seward and his cabinet actively fought against the Gang of Four for control of the government. At the same time, Seward had to deal with riots across the country, rebuilding shattered global alliances, further environmental disasters, and a devastating plague.

Seward was assassinated in 2000.

Eventually, Seward's successor, General William Newell was able to convince important members of the Gang of Four to testify against their masters. It took four more years, and several assassinations, to end the power of the Gang of Four. Those members who weren't jailed or imprisoned saw the writing on the wall and found new masters to protect them: the rising Megacorps.

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Most historians mark November 7, 2008 as the end of the Collapse and the beginning of the rebuilding of the United States On that day, twelve years after martial law was declared, free elections were held. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. As of 2020, the US government is still weak. Washington's masters aren't the Gang of Four but the Corporations which prop up the economy.

According to census reports, nearly half the population of the United States died during the twelve years of the Collapse. Another 25 to 50 million citizens became Nomads, disenfranchised wanderers. Combine this with environmental disasters and the United States has become a country of concentrated urban centers with thousands of towns and cities now little more than empty, rusting shells.

The NET of 2020

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The NET of 2020 is the sum total of human telecommunications, joining together computers, telephones, cellular phones, radios, microwave transmitters, satellites, and more. Everything connected to the NET is part of it, from Megacorp supercomputers to computer-controlled blenders.

The NET has many functions, including storing and sharing information, communications, and remote access and control of real world peripherals.

Basic NET access can happen the old fashioned way, using a visual display and an input device. High level access, though, must be done via a combination of software and hardware which translates the electronic information of the NET into sensory data which users experience as "real".

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To navigate the NET, a user needs a Cyberdeck. The average cyberdeck weighs half a kilogram and is roughly the size of a box of mac and cheese. Monitors, keyboards, and other input devices are not standard, since cyberdecks are designed to directly engage with a user's brain and nervous system via interface plugs.

A cyberdeck contains the hardware and software needed to properly translate the NET into a reality users can experience and interact with. This is done via an interface program which work with Ihara-Grubb Transformation Algorithms to extrapolate local data and build a landscape construct of the NET. The user doesn't just see and hear (and possibly even smell, taste, and feel) this virtual world but can navigate through it as if it were real space with just a thought.

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Early research into linking computer systems by militaries and universities done in the 70s and 80s seemed primed to create a global network which reached into most homes by the 90s. The development of biologic interface chips in 1 998 made this even more exciting, as it promised a future where everyone could mentally travel into "cyberspace".

Unfortunately, the stock market Crash of '94 and The Collapse which followed delayed development. It wasn't until WorldSat completed a telecommunications satellite system in 2001 that a truly global network was born.

At this point netrunners, who had using primitive interfaces to navigate local networks, could now move globally and get into trouble.

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In 2005, Kenjiri Techologies released the cybermodem, the first commercially available computer designed specifically for the purpose of plugging the mind directly into the NET, using an interface program to translate the information received into sensory data. These first interface programs were primitive and came in a variety of flavors, allowing the user to decide if they wanted the NET to look like a fantasy dungeon or a 1920s metropolis.

The lack of standardization in interface programs sometimes made interactions complex and difficult, especially when two netrunners tried to communicate. Trying to explain that someone should take a look into a data node is hard when one user sees it as the pulsating squid and the other sees it as a simple geometric shape instead.

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In 2009, NET pioneer Nobuhiro Ihara was extracted from Zetatech by a consortium of telecommunication companies. That same consortium hired game designer Jan Grubb away from Kenjiri Technologies. Together, the two geniuses led a team of engineers and programmers to redesign the NET from the ground up. They developed a consistent and universal interface system which not only translated data to sensation but also conveyed a feeling of spatial awareness that meant trav-eling[sic] online truly felt like moving through a 3d world.

Released in September 2014, their Ihara-Grubb Transformation Algorithms ensured everyone on the NET had the same base experience, although they could still customize the way their ICON, programs, and personal network space were presented.

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While the NET is ever changing, it is roughly divided into nine Regions, the boundries of which shift, shrink and expand constantly.

Regions, also known as Kingdoms, are nominally controlled by either a single local Corp or Government or a coalition of them.

Some netrunners have theorized that these Regions, with all their connections and computational power and the influence of the Inhara-Grubb Algorithms have spontaneously awakened and gained some level of sentience, becoming Artificial Intelligences.

In other words, believers in these Als think when a netrunner travels through a Region, they aren't just moving through "somewhere" but "someone".

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Netwatch began in Europe as a private organization. Their pitch was simple: hire us and we'll make sure you aren't hacked. And they were good at their job. Netwatch grew quickly as it was contracted by Corps and Governments around the world to monitor and provide security in their local part of the NET.

More aware than anyone of just how vulnerable having a single central system can be, Netwatch Operators work independently or in cells, spread out across the NET. Netwatch Operators do exactly what the organization name suggests. They watch for crime on the NET. When they find it, they react accordingly. Sometimes, this ends with someone's brain melted by Black ICE but more often than not, the Operator is content to try to immobilize a Netrunner, then call in the local authorities.

Beyond the Megacorps

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Kendachi

The leading producer of crystal and glassfiber, Japanese corporation Kendachi is known to the general public primarily for another reason: the Kendachi Monoblade series. From the MonoKnife to the MonoKatana to the M-88 PowerSword, Kendachi's expertise in the manufacture of orbital-based glassfiber makes these blades among the deadliest and most infamous melee weapons in existence.

Kendachi Tessho the company's founder, is an expert combatant and a master of the art of kendo. He has been known to deal with enemies of the corporation personally, usually with the help of his company's signature weapons and a loyal, handpicked team of Solos.

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The Kiroshi Group

Originally a creator of timepieces, Kiroshi only found true success after they launched an orbital factory and became the world's leading designer of high-quality optics. The advantages of space-based manufacturing combined with advanced engineering means Kiroshi Cybereyes are the luxury sports car of ocular cybernetics.

If your eyes aren't Kiroshi, they might as well be meat.

Kiroshi also has a division which produces non-optical cybernetics. Their Model 100s, released in 2000, were the first commercially available Interface Plugs and could only be implanted in the head or upper spinal column due to their bulk and complexity.

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Gibson Battlegear

Gibson Battlegear does one thing and one thing well: creating clothing and accessories for use in life-risking situations.

Their products range from stealth cloaks, which help mask IR signatures during low visibility missions, to streamlined flak vests, complete with webgear and an assortment of cleverly positioned and useful pockets.

Gibson is most famous for their eponymous Battlegear line, which offers well-tailored, stylish, and armored clothing that appears as normal street, leisure, or business wear to the casual viewer, keeping their protective nature on the downlow.

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Raven Microcybernetics

Based out of Night City Raven Microcybernetics is one of the premiere manufacturers of cyberware in North America. They keep on the cutting edge of technology, are well known for having strong quality control, and prefer a light, stylish corporate profile over a loud, glitzy one. Often the only way to know for sure if a piece of cyberware is a Raven is the simple but elegant black, bird's head logo placed artistically on the chrome.

Raven's reputation means they've made a number of enemies among other cyberware manufacturers, including International Electric and Militech Fortunately, alliances with Orbital Air and a number of other, smaller corporations means Raven has managed to avoid being destroyed or absorbed by a larger Corp.

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Tsunami Design Bureau

The Tsunami Design Bureau isn't a mass manufacturer of weapons. Instead, they design, build, and test prototypes which they then license to others for production. Occasionally, the company will directly produce a limited issue run of a firearm via their Tsunami Arms division. These weapons are typically unusual in design and considered to be highly collectable. In addition, Tsunami has been known to customize weapons for individual clients.

One of the Tsunami Design Bureau's most famous designs is the Airhammer, which was specifically developed for use in the Crystal Palace orbital habitat. Another is their Express Racegun, whose smoothly engineered action is beloved by competition shooters.

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The Utopian Corporation

In the early 2010s, Microtech decided to focus almost exclusively on computer tech. A number of their more forward-thinking scientists quietly fell away from the Megacorp at the time and founded their own business. Since then, the Utopian Corporation has focused on molecular scale construction techniques and, as a result, is years ahead of the competition in the creation of targeted drugs and high-tech microcomponents.

While Utopian has facilities on earth, their main headquarters is a private orbital facility known as Utopia, where they keep seventeen autofactories and nine manned laboratories. The company works hard to keep a low profile in the corporate world, though it is already much bigger than its competitors realize.

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The Lazarus Group

After surviving a disaster of an operation during the Second South American Conflict, Lt. Colonel Emile Lazarus found himself at a crossroads. He loved being a soldier but had lost all respect for the US military. Thus, in 2010, Lazarus and financial backer Nelson Katzadoulus worked together to found the Lazarus Group, a private military force.

During the 4th Corporate War, the Lazarus Group carefully analyzed the conflict and decided the best course of action was to avoid picking sides. As a result, they acquired a number of contracts from clients who were terrified hiring Militech for security would make them an Arasaka target and vice versa.

Vehicles of 2020

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Economic, political, and environmental factors have made for a number of changes in the vehicular engineering of the Dark Future.

For example, most commercial vehicles run on CHOOH2, a biofuel synthesized from genetically modified wheat. While better for air quality than gasoline, the switch to CHOOH2 wasn't made altruistically. The rising price of oil has made petroleum an unfeasible fuel source for the average consumer.

Another innovation: Neural interfaces via cyberware allow some cars to be upgraded for partial or even full mental control. In 2020 such vehicles are rare, as the cost of the upgrade package is steep. As of yet, no manufacturer has released a fully cyber-driven vehicle as a standard model.

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Perhaps the biggest innovation in transportation in the Dark Future involves air travel. Early research into Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) technology proved fruitful and has developed over time to allow a new class of vehicle: the AV.

These "flying cars" replace wheels with jet turbines, allowing them to operate in the tight glass canyons of urban environments.

Still expensive, AVs are usually owned by governments, corporations, and the extremely wealthy. They've become a standard vehicle for corporate security as well as emergency services such as Trauma Team.

Owning one of the newer, smaller luxury models of AV is seen as a status symbol among the ultra-elite.

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The Thundergod is, according to the advertising tagline, the best motorcycle Harley-Davidson has ever produced. It has the horsepower of a sportscar, computer-controlled suspension, and an incredibly durable chassis designed for long periods of operation with minimal maintenance.

The Thundergod is a favorite of Nomads, though usually only as a starting point. Nomad bikes are heavily customized and updated over their lifetimes.

The Kundalini Shiva is capable of speeds of up to 260 kph on the track and is only slightly slower in the city. This high-performance motorcycle comes standard with cyber-assisted suspension, allowing it to adjust quickly to any surface. As a result, the cyber control upgrade package for the Shiva is an extremely popular option.

Countdown to the Dark Future #152

Not every road vehicle out there is built for extreme durability or speed! There's still plenty of room on the market for a cheap, reliable ride.

The Toyo-Chevrolet Hopper has an all-plastic construction and, with a bit of squeezing, fits four! Its fuel economy is one of the very best available and it comes with a throttle which keeps the car from going too fast, making it safe for Corp-controlled streets.

Electric cars do exist in the Dark Future, including the New American Motors Crowder, a two seat citycar popular in North America and Japan.

The Crowder will never accelerate much faster than 40mph but that's all anyone in the middle of a Corp sector in a city will ever really need.

Countdown to the Dark Future #153

Owning a flying car has become a symbol of status for celebrities, corporate executives, and the idle rich.

The Lambo-Fiat Mach takes the basic idea of an AV and streamlines it into a sexy, beautiful work of art that's as fast as a flying vehicle can get without being a jet fighter. Onboard autopilot and navigation systems make operating the Mach a breeze, though at a cost of 650,000 eddies, chances are most people will go their entire lifetime without seeing one in person. At 300,000 eddies, the Bell-Boeing Aircar may be "last decade's model" but it is also more affordable. The Aircar was released in the early 2010s as a luxury alternative to the AV-4 but by 2020 is more likely to be a hand-me-down to some exec's kid rather than a shining symbol of wealth and class.

Countdown to the Dark Future #154

During the Collapse the spaces between urban areas in the United States became a wasteland. Home to Nomad packs and raiders, any vehicle driving along the poorly upkept highway system has to be tough.

The MAC-Deux Monster was first produced in 2018 as a long-haul transport. It sports two methanol engines, giving it a range of 800 miles before refueling is necessary. The Monster is armored enough to withstand a raider attack and comes standard with a sensor system to give a driver plenty of warning.

A favorite of wanderers and techies, the Imperial Metropolitan Agriculture Nomad is highly customizable. No two are alike and inside one can find anything from a mobile storefront to living quarters to facilities for organ harvesting and transport.

Countdown to the Dark Future #155

No manufacturer with any sense of pride would lay claim to the Punknaught a generic term for the ugly, juryrigged urban combat vehicles welded together by gangs using any scrap they can find.

Punknaughts are usually highly mobile, using as many as four scrounged AV engines and the frames of buses, flatbed trailers, and other large vehicles to make a monstrosity that can hover a few meters off the ground.

Punknaughts aren't designed for speed or longevity. They're hammered together to break through police lines, wreak havoc on the territory of rival gangs, and cause as much mayhem as possible before they inevitably break down. Light machine guns and homemade rocket launchers are often fixed to the frame to provide offensive power.

The Nomad Movement

Countdown to the Dark Future #156

During the Collapse, tens of millions of United States citizens were displaced due to ruined infrastructure, environmental disaster, economic problems, plague, government neglect, criminal and terrorist activity, and other factors.

Many of the displaced migrated towards surviving urban centers but others become Nomads and in time developed colorful, vibrant cultures centered around the realities of a mobile lifestyle.

In 2020, there are an estimated seven million Nomads still roaming the land, waterways, and ocean spaces around North America. They have made a niche for themselves via salvage, construction contracts, courier jobs, and traveling entertainment.

Countdown to the Dark Future #157

While different Nomad groups have different cultures, there exists a Code which most Nomads follow as a guide to life. Protect and respect your clan, and above all, your family.

Your word is your bond.

Share with your clanfolk.

Respect the privacy and property of your clan.

Never cause trouble for your clan.

Take only a fair wage for a day's work.

Countdown to the Dark Future #158

Anthropologists who study Nomad culture divide them into social units based on group size.

Family represents roughly 10 to 100 people. They are usually directly related by blood but might also be "found Families".

Clans are made up of several Families and are formed via alliances, either due to marriage or shared cultural identity. The survivors of a dying town, for example, might make up a Clan.

Roughly 10,000 to 80,000 people strong, Tribes are a complicated web of Clans who have come together as a whole for survival and strength.

Nations are a new concept, born from alliances of Tribes and can represent up to one million Nomads. Nations were born from necessity to help groups of Nomad tribes work together to bid for large construction projects.

Countdown to the Dark Future #159

While Nomads earn their keep via a number different of methods, the construction of new settlements and salvage and reconstruction of abandoned towns and cities have become a staple of their economy. Many of the first Nomads were skilled tradespeople in their former life and these skills have transferred to new members of their tribes over the years through an apprenticeship system. Nomads are also willing to do dangerous work few others will undertake and underbid Megacorps, making them attractive to North American governments.

Construction projects Nomads have been involved with or run include the salvaging and rebuilding of Los Angeles the reconstruction of Mexico City, and the construction of the Chicago Port Facility.

Countdown to the Dark Future #160

The first Nomads walked a number of different paths before the Collapse, including:

Migrant laborers who could no longer find work since farms were no longer producing food.

Farmers themselves, left with worthless land where the only crop they could grow was dust.

The Indigenous Peoples of North America, whose reservations became unlivable during the Collapse.

The Romani, carnival workers, and circus folk, already wanderers, now guiding the new Nomads.

Gangs unable to sustain themselves via the drug trade because of the destruction of foreign coca and poppy crops.

Bikers, who found themselves spending more time on the move as the Collapse worsened.

Soldiers abandoned by the US government, who had to fight their way back from Central and South America

And more.

Countdown to the Dark Future #161

Nomads live a hard life and their choice of equipment shows it.

When it comes to weapons, they prefer simple designs less likely to jam in harsh environmental conditions which are easily portable and simple to craft ammunition for. Carbines are popular, as are revolvers. Both have proven reliable and perfect for a Nomad on the go.

Some Nomad weapons are unique and have come about due to a lack of materials and off-beat ingenuity. These include the pneumatic bolt gun and the smartwhip, developed by the circus folk of the Blood Nation, which uses myomer technology and a neural interface to create a weapon which can flex and twist about on mental command.

Countdown to the Dark Future #162

There are seven Nomad Nations in North America.

The Snake Nation is the most varied and diverse of the seven. Their existence is a response to the rise of the other six Nations, as different groups of independently-minded Nomad groups came together to form a loose confederation that could represent their interests on a macroeconomic scale.

In 2020, the Snake Nation is led by Freddie Douglas former drug dealer turned Nomad leader. His Family, the Dogs, evolved into a powerful force in the American Northwest despite clashes with white separatist groups in the region. Freddie's intelligence and determination led to him becoming a prominent voice within the newly formed Snake Nation and, eventually, its leader.

Countdown to the Dark Future #163

There are seven Nomad Nations in North America.

The Jodes were originally farmers who lost their land in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. After the dust-storms of the late 80s they moved towards California, gathering other displaced farmers and migrant workers along the way. In 2020, the Jodes are the Nation most uncomfortable with "static" (non-Nomad) culture. They never set up camp within city limits and have developed a number of rituals and spiritual beliefs related to travel into urban locations.

In 2020, the leader of the Jodes is Malachi Jode often referred to as "the first Nomad". It is his vision which gave the Nomads their Code and paved the way for the rise of Nomad Nations which co-exist instead of going to war with one another.

Countdown to the Dark Future #164

There are seven Nomad Nations in North America.

The Blood Nation was born from a strange twist of fate which united the gang known as the Bloods former employees of Florida theme parks, and members of the Greatest Show on Earth. Today, the Blood Nation has become the largest traveling entertainment force in North America. Their circuses crisscross the land, offering a show to statics and fellow Nomads alike.

In 2020, the leader of the Blood Nation is Malcolm Kent-Smith At twenty-two, he is both the first male leader of the Blood Nation and the youngest. He is intelligent, patient, incredibly shrewd, and some speculate he is leading the Blood Nation towards becoming a full Corporation.

Countdown to the Dark Future #165

There are seven Nomad Nations in North America.

MetaCorp was formed from the remnants of military and support personnel abandoned by the US Government during the Second South American War. In 2011, thousands of these refugees transformed the remains of a carrier group and three offshore drilling platforms into an artificial island. Eventually, this con-struct[sic] evolved into the MetaKey, a mobile island-city.

In 2020, the president of MetaCorp is Johnathan Meta a former soldier who led his abandoned fellows to create the MetaKey and founded this strange hybrid of Nomad Nation and Corp. Johnathan is a driven man and obsessed with giving his Nation a firm and final home. His ultimate goal is to build a full underwater city to house the people of MetaCorp.

Countdown to the Dark Future #166

There are seven Nomad Nations in North America.

While Malachi Jode may be "the first Nomad", the Aldecaldos were the first Nomad Nation. They were citizens of crime-ridden East Los Angeles who banded together to fight the gangs and corrupt police which were, equally, making life a living hell. The government disliked citizen groups essentially policing themselves, so the Aldecaldos left and adopted the Nomad life.

In 2020, the leader of the Aldecaldos is Santiago Aldecaldo Santiago was a mercenary, working with his partner Rogue for whomever would hire them. In 2012, they were hired by Johnny Silverhand to help rescue Alt Cunningham Afterwards the group went into hiding with the Aldecaldos, during which Santiago rediscovered his love for his people and became their leader.

Countdown to the Dark Future #167

During the Collapse and the martial law which followed, some Nomads escaped debt collectors, the law, and poverty by taking to the water. Individual boats joined into fleets on both the great rivers of the United States and in the coastal waters around it. These fleets joined together as the Thelas Nation which specializes in water-based construction, renegade broadcasting, smuggling, and even the occasional act of piracy.

In 2020, the leader of the Thelas Nation is John "Silver" Wilson The Thelas Nation is more spread out and even more independent than most Nomad groups, making them hard to direct, but he has worked hard to find the water Nomads work, reinvest the profits into the fleets, and distribute the proceeds equally. Wilson is slowly dying from skin cancer, so it remains to be seen if his vision for the Thelas Nation will survive him.

Countdown to the Dark Future #168

Like the Blood Nation, the Folk Nation has gang roots. They originated in Chicago and, as the Collapse progressed, branched out into black market smuggling. This network evolved over time, as the Folk Nation realized the people they were supplying had little to offer in way of payment. Favors were the best their clients offer and often more useful than money. When Chicago died in a bioplague, the Folk Nation's network of favors allowed them to survive and become Nomads.

In 2020, the leader of the Folk Nation is Mr. Cool rose to power after the Chicago bioplague killed most of the group's upper echelon leadership. His climb to the top was bloody and a good half of his body is cybernetic as a result. As leader of the Folk Nation, he urges unity but isn't afraid to reach for a gun when needed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #169

The Raffen Shiv aren't a Nomad Nation. They're a plague and as a whole rank as the worst example of the Nomad movement. When the media portrays Nomads as wandering packs of scavengers, killers, and raiders, they're painting the entire Nomad movement with the brush the provided by the Raffen Shiv.

Raffen Shiv are not actually one specific organization. The term refers to any nomadic group that preys on others as a way of life. They act less like families and more like marauders, happy to terrorize Nomads and statics alike. Their culture is oppressive, with the strong dominating and abusing the weak. Even as horrible as the Raffen Shiv are some Corps will do business with them. Sometimes a Corporation needs a group which will do any job, no matter how repulsive.

The Life and Death and Life of Alt Cunningham

Countdown to the Dark Future #170

Altiera "Alt" Cunningham was one of those rare few geniuses who could not only run the NET but give birth to new concepts and new code. She wasn't just a Netrunner. Alt was a programmer; one of the best in the world.

Like so many in the Dark Future, Alt Cunningham spent money to upgrade her meat body. She ws[sic] beautiful, with the best European biosculpting money could buy. She also bought the neural processors and interface plugs needed to navigate the NET and a golden cyberarm with a hidden compartment, specially designed to hold a Federated Arms X-22 pistol.

And if she hadn't met Johnny Silverhand she might still be alive.

Countdown to the Dark Future #171

Alt Cunningham was kidnapped by Arasaka agents while leaving a concert with her boyfriend, Johnny Silverhand It was a typical Corporate extraction with a specific purpose: Arasaka wanted Alt to create an new version of her masterpiece, the Soukiller program.

Alt did as she was told but also planned her escape. She stole twenty million eurodollars from their accounts, used the new Soulkiller to kill the Netrunners assigned to guard her, and turned an Arasaka exec's own automated defenses against him.

Alt's plan would have worked but Johnny Silverhand interfered. In trying to rescue Alt, he created a distraction that caused Alt to lose control of Soulkiller. Alt Cunningham died on April 16, 2013, though her mind, or a copy of it, lives on in the NET.

Countdown to the Dark Future #172

Alt Cunningham didn't set out to invent a program which could duplicate a person's mind and flatline them. She was simply trying to create a matrix to contain artificial personalities. The discovery that it could also contain human engrams was a happy bonus for her bosses at ITS. They took it and made it into a weapon: Soukiller. Arasaka couldn't resist having their own Soulkiller, so they kidnapped Alt and put her to work.

Arasaka's version of Soulkiller is a mobile program, capable of moving through the larger memory spaces on the NET, and attacking Netrunners upon command. It makes copies of their minds and then fries them. Soulkiller is designed to be tough and hard to "kill". The one advantage most Netrunners have over the program is speed and size. Soulkiller is too large to follow a fleeing Netrunner into smaller systems.

Countdown to the Dark Future #173

Alt Cunningham might be the first known human whose consciousness was fully uploaded to the NET but she wasn't the last. There are now hundreds of "Human Als" out there. Some, like Alt, were victims of Soulkiller. Others made use of the Emergency Self-Construct program, an underground copy of Soulkiller useful only as an "emergency backup" to copy a Netrunner's mind onto the NET in a last ditch effort to avoid complete death. These programs are far from perfect. Its not unusual for the copy to lose memories, skills, or even whole aspects of their original personality.

Some "Human Als" claim to exist due to flukes and not a specific program. Most Netrunners plugged into the NET when their body flatlines just die but it seems occasionally, under the right circumstances, the mind can live on. Or, at least, a damned good simulation of it.

Countdown to the Dark Future #174

Netrunners whisper about a virtual world known as Shangri-la or Ghost Town, where human Als gather to "live" among their own kind. They say it is on a server in north Canada or buried in Night City or in a vault set up by some billionaire to help ride out nuclear winter.

And all those rumors might be true. After all, virtual worlds aren't locked to one geographical location.

As of 2023, Ghost Town is in Hong Kong During the 4th Corporate War every living thing in Hong Kong, except maybe the insects, was killed by one of the most destructive bioplagues ever seen. Alt Cunningham and the other human Als took advantage. Hong Kong is a city full of advanced tech, automation, and more server space than most countries possess. Without meat people, it's the perfect home for a group of Als.

Countdown to the Dark Future #175

Alt Cunningham destroyed the first versions of Soulkiller but Kei Arasaka, heir apparent to his family legacy, wanted the perfect assassin: a program that could kill his enemies and copy their minds for further interrogation. His team developed Soulkiller v2.0 in secret in Night City.

During the 4th Corporate War, Soulkiller v2.0 was deployed to kill Militech Netrunners. Rache Bartmoss led a team that found and destroyed it, but at a cost. Alt was captured and forced to build a new Soukiller.

Soulkiller v3.0 is not just deadly but intelligent. It is capable of disguising itself as other code and even as a Netrunner, allowing it to get close to a target. It can even multitask like a Netrunner and deploy programs to hack into enemy systems.

Countdown to the Dark Future #176

The fate of Alt Cunningham after the 4th Corporate War is unknown. At the end of the war, a team which included Morgan Blackhand, Johnny Silverhand Spider Murphy, Thompson, and Rogue infiltrated the Arasaka Tower In Night City with the intent of destroying Soukiller v3.0 and rescuing Alt. No one knows precisely what happened that night except that it ended with a nuclear blast which devastated Arasaka Tower and much of the surrounding area.

It is believed Spider Murphy survived the detonation and, as the team's Netrunner, may have freed Alt during the mission. Even free, however, "life" would not be easy for Alt. She still would have had to deal with the RABIDS deployed after Rache Bartmoss' death, which made the NET as inhospitable a place as any alien world.

Night City Suburbs

Countdown to the Dark Future #177

Before the nuclear detonation that destroyed Arasaka Tower and much of the Corporate Plaza, the Greater Night City area had a population of roughly five million. Most of those people, registered and unregistered, lived not in the highly dense Central Night City area but in the suburbs to the north and south.

The suburbs of Night City were a hodgepodge of locations. Some were upper scale, luxury areas replete with beautiful scenery and the finest of services. Others were quite literally hell on earth where hunger, violence, illness, and death were constant companions to the residents too poor to live anywhere else.

Like so much of the Cyberpunk world, the suburbs of Night City were a place where the wealthy prospered and everyone else just tried to survive.

Countdown to the Dark Future #178

Every city needs certain things. Industry. Power plants. Airports. Sewage plants. Every city needs them but no one wants them in their backyard. As a result, those facilities get shoved to poor locations, where they won't blight the view of the wealthy and elite.

South Night City was where the dirty infrastructure of Night City got shoved. It housed a shipping plant, the sewage treatment plant, a Petrochem refinery, the Night City airport, and miles and miles of cheap, shabby housing. It was a dangerous place where being outdoors after sunset was a potentially fatal idea.

And that's not even taking into account the Combat Zone, which took up a significant chunk of real estate there.

Countdown to the Dark Future #179

North of Night City, across the bay, the suburb Westbrook sat on a set of hills from which the wealthy could look down upon everything. This was the home of the Corporate elite, kept safe by expensive Arasaka security complete with checkpoints, identicard access, and surface to air missiles to keep any unauthorized craft out of Westbrook's airspace.

The most exclusive development in Westbrook was Executive Estates. There, the wealthy lived in million eurodollar homes, enjoyed lush gardens and golf courses with actual, real vegetation, and private AV pads. Executive Estates was the most exclusive neighborhood in Greater Night City

If you lived there, you could afford almost anything.

Countdown to the Dark Future #180

Westbrook was where the elite lived, Pacifica was where they came to play.

The area was best known for Playland by the Sea, once the biggest and brightest amusement park in Northern California, complete with the latest in ride technology, braindance entertainment, and immersive live action roleplaying adventures.

The neighborhoods in Pacifica were protected by a Militech contract. While none were as expensive as Executive Estates, only the "haves" lived there.

Johnny Silverhand had a beach house in Coastview, a limited access seaside community. Elsewhere, Westwind Estates was an example of home owners associations and group think gone militant.

Countdown to the Dark Future #181

Despite being home to a Northern California military base, North Oak was still considered part of Greater Night City Rather than serve a single military branch, the North Oak base was a central installation supporting them all. The base was home to the 157th Tactical Air Squadron and the 223rd Armor Battalion as well as the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier and the cruisers Ticonderoga and Washington, among others.

Beyond the base itself, North Oak's entire economy revolved around the military in some way. Those who were allowed or could afford to do so lived off base in North Oak communities and shopped in North Oak stores. Crime in North Oak was lower than almost anywhere else in the Greater Night City area because policing and justice were handled entirely by the military and under military law.

Countdown to the Dark Future #182

Rancho Coronado was the ultimate beaverville. It was miles of tract housing interspersed with small, trendy minimalls and boutique shops. The residents of Rancho Coronado were movers, hoping to climb the Corporate ladders of Arasaka, Petrochem, Militech, World News Service, Biotechnica, Eurobusiness Machines and a dozen other Corps, big and small.

Rancho Coronado was surrounded by twelve-foot high concrete walls topped with electrified razor wire and patrolled by a security force famous for their tenacity and xenophobia.

Looking at it from the outside, it could easily be mistaken for a giant prison complex, designed to keep the Corporate workers inside safe, content, placid and unable to question their employers.

Countdown to the Dark Future #183

Heywood located east of San Morro Bay, was a mixture of everything. Housing. Retail. Industry. In many ways it was the most independent of the suburbs in the Greater Night City area, though its economy was still tied irrevocably to the central metropolis.

Many Megacorporations had industrial and research facilities in Heywood. Arasaka kept an automated weapon assembly plant there. Biotechnica did cloning research in a Heywood facility. Militech's personnel trained in a 200 acre simulation/live fire range. EBM's automated factory fabricated miniframes.

Outside of the industrial zones, Heywood was home to several beaverville complexes, including the Apple Corporate Valley subdivision, dominated by Biotechnica employees.

The Street Finds a Use

Countdown to the Dark Future #184

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

DPI Smartsticks consist of two tactile reactive drumsticks hooked up to a synthesizer which makes it useful for playing digital drums.

A smart Rocker can program in all sorts of sounds, though, and use their performance skills to simulate specific noises to fool the enemy, from gunfire to AV engines to explosions and more.

800 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #185

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

Pedicabs are ubiquitous in the Dark Future. Pedal powered bicycles with a perch in the rear for a passenger, pedicabs provide the perfect avenue for when an Edgerunner needs to "extract" an unsuspecting person. Wait for the target to hail a ride, talk them into your pedicab, then press a button to activate the spring-loaded drug injector in the passenger perch. Your target will be sleeping away as you pedal away and no one will suspect a thing.

1200 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #186

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

The anchoring option for cyberlegs was designed to prevent the user from being knocked over by a strong wind or a cybernetically enhanced punch. Just activate the anchor and a spike slams down and through packed dirt, asphalt, and concrete. When the user moves again, the spike detaches. Know what's weaker than concrete? Most human flesh. Just imagine planting a foot against some's body and activating the anchor. For bonus points, the spikes have spines that extend after planting for better grip, meaning they'll do damage on the way out, too. 120 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #187

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

The SecSystems Detention Collar was meant for guests of correction facilities but the Bozos found a new use for them. Depending on the model, a Detention Collar either shocks or injects a drug into the wearer with the push of a button or if they move more than 10 meters away from the remote. Some Bozos are fond of locking the collar around the neck of a victim of one of their pranks, meaning even when the prank itself is over, as the poor sod tries to get away they'll find themselves regularly shocked or pumped full of chemicals. 260 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #188

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

CapsuleCo's CyberPillows deflatable pillows deployed from a cyberarm at will, seem like a waste of space at first. Sure, they let someone who is constantly having to sleep on the go get a bit of rest but it is not hard to bunch up a jacket and use that as a pillow instead. Anyone who thinks that, though, isn't seeing the full possibilities. Properly used, a CyberPillow is a stealth cyberweapon, letting its wielder smother anyone into unconsciousness or death without making a sound.

80 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #189

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

Ballpoint Fingers from Dynalar are exactly what they sound like: fingers which function as pens. One clever assassin in Europe adapted the technology. Security at her target's event searched her for weapons but ignored her ballpoint finger. Once inside she flipped the special dual chamber cartridge in the finger from the ink side to the contact poison side. After that, it was just a matter of getting close to the target and "writing" on his skin.

25 eb.

Countdown to the Dark Future #190

The Chromebooks are catalogues that contain everything a Cyberpunk needs to run on the Edge and survive... and plenty of stuff they don't. Still, a creative Edgerunner can find a use for anything. After all, the street always finds its own uses...

Nu•Tek TVSkin, cybernetics that transform flesh into a vidscreen, is popular with walking billboard contractors but doesn't seem useful beyond that limited function. Who wants a vidscreen they can't even watch on their torso? The trick is, an Edgerunner can display anything on their TVSkin, including disorienting pulses of light, distracting color patterns, or vid of an opponent's lover cheating on them. Used right, TVSkin can give a combatant a real edge in a fight.

600 eb.

Biotech and Cloning

Countdown to the Dark Future #191

While Cybernetics hogs the spotlight, bio-hacking has always been a part of the Cyberpunk universe. Cosmetic alteration and body decoration have evolved into an art known as Bodysculpting which can involve everything from traditional surgical procedures to genetic tweaking.

Appearance is a toy in the Dark Future, easily changed by anyone with enough money to spend on the process. For only 600 eb, a customer can tweak their basic appearance according to their whims. For a full 5,000 eb, they can make themselves an identical twin to anyone, alive or dead; so convincing even their mother couldn't tell the difference. And anyone can just walk into a Bodyshoppe, Parts N' Programs, or Docs R Us to get the work done. No appointment needed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #192

Bodysculpting made it possible to reach the pinnacles of commercially mandated beauty so it was inevitable people would want to smash through the barrier beyond "merely" human and into the exotic. Of course, Biotechnica offers a full Exotic line to transform people into their anthropomorphic fantasies but Bodysculpting techniques exist for people who want or need to transform piece by piece.

For 5,000 eb, customers can gain whiskered muzzles or fully functional animal ears atop their head. Tails are less expensive at 8,000 eb and can be covered in fur or scales as desired. Hooves can be grafted on and extremities can be transformed into paws for 8,000 eb. Finally, DNA manipulation can be used to grow fur or scales or introduce exotic skin colors. Only 10,000 eb and only a 1 in 10 chance of contracting skin cancer.

Countdown to the Dark Future #193

Cybernetics are the replacement of choice for many when it comes to problems involving missing limbs or organs but they aren't the only choice. For a fee, a Body Bank will store any body part removed as part of elective surgery (for example, arm/ cyberarm replacement) with an eye towards later reattachment.

Body Banks don't just store old parts, however. They'll also provide new limbs and organs. Parts harvested from donors, willing or not, sell fairly cheap but there's a risk of rejection. Vat grown limbs, organs, or other body parts can be clone grown using the patient's DNA. It is more expensive but there's less risk of rejection so long as the DNA hasn't changed too much.

Still, for a patient looking simply to replace a missing part, meat is usually cheaper than metal.

Countdown to the Dark Future #194

Beyond the borders of the United States biotech has advanced even further. In Europe bioengineering is often used in place of cyberware. The basic philosophy is to create the biggest change in the body with the minimum noticeable impact. No metal required.

The biotech procedures available in Europe don't come cheaply or without effort. Any biotech procedure starts with a full DNA mapping of the patient followed by a number of tests to ensure the implants, grafts, surgeries, and genetic manips won't damage the body too badly. Even after the surgery is done, there's often substantial upkeep. Many of the customized alterations, for example, severely increase a patient's caloric intake requirements. In addition, biotech and cyberware often work at cross purposes and too much chrome in the body can cause it to reject bioengineered changes.

Countdown to the Dark Future #195

Biotech of the sort favored in Europe can't drastically change the body in the same way as cyberware. As of 2020, no biotech procedure exists which can turn a hand into a gun or allow someone to hook their brain up to the NET. Still, there's a number of different avenues of enhancement which can be explored for someone who is interested in improving their body without implanting it with circuits and metal.

Retroviral Physiology Tailoring can enhance reflexes and flexibility or amplify and strengthen muscle mass.

Customized Biological Adaptions can decrease the need for oxygen and toughen skin or enhance its UV resistance.

Neurochemical Treatments can carve new pathways into the brain, simulating and enhancing skills and aptitudes.

Countdown to the Dark Future #196

Human cloning in the Cyberpunk world was long a goal of government, academic, and Corporate programs. Early in these programs, scientists broke down human cloning development into seven stages.

Stage One. Cloned cell cultures. First achieved in 2004.

Stage Two. Cloning cells which developed into differentiated tissue types. Achieved in 2005.

Stage Three. Clone cells achieving morphogenic organizations. Achieved in 2006.

Stage Four. Full nervous-system development. This stage allows for cloned, transplant ready body parts. Achieved in 2013.

Stage Five. Self-viable clones. Fully functional and capable of surviving unaided. Achieved in 2015.

Stage Six. Self-aware clones (need not be self-viable). Achieved in 2017.

Crimes of the Dark Future

Countdown to the Dark Future #197

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

In general, low impact bloodsports (where death may occur but isn't the goal) aren't illegal unless they're unlicensed. Then the cops are ready to step in, usually to make sure the local government gets their fair share of the profits. Among the types of low impact bloodsports which are popular: combat soccer, full borg wrestling, bikergang racing, and demolition derbies. Proprietors and staff of an unlicensed bloodsport of this type risk a fine and 1 to 5 years in medium security.

Countdown to the Dark Future #198

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

High impact bloodsports, where the fight is almost always to the death, are only legal in certain parts of North America, including Texas and specific areas in Mexico and Canada Such bloodsports range from the relatively civilized, such as monoblade fencing and taser boot kickboxing to the twisted, such as land mine rugby. Proprietors and staff risk a fine and 10-80 years in medium security. Audience members risk a smaller fine and up to 8 years in low security.

Countdown to the Dark Future #199

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

Pit fights have been around for a long time and have traditionally involved both animals and humans. One modern twist combines the two. Exotic pitfighting is a high impact bloodsport involving either kidnapping exotics or forcibly creating them and then setting them against each other in a fight to the death. In 2020, the standard punishment for proprietors and staff was death. Audience members would get a fine a nd[sic] possibly prison time.

Countdown to the Dark Future #200

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

Persona tampering involves unauthorized alternation of an individual's personality. This can be accomplished via a variety of methods including combinations of mind-altering drugs, induced cyberpsychosis, chip-implants, braindancing, and through the use of certain Black ICE programs. The crime is disturbingly common among posergangs. The sentence if caught is 2 to 20 years in medium security. Civil suits by the loved ones of victims, should they have any, are also common.

Countdown to the Dark Future #201

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

Persona tampering is often accompanied by unauthorized physiological manipulation. This usually means biosculpting but the crime also covers DNA alteration. Some past criminal acts have included tailoring chromosomes to inflict a genetic disease and altering genetic markers to cause premature aging. Altered DNA can be particularly difficult and expensive to restore to normal, especially if there isn't a pristine original genetic sample available. Punishment is a large fine and up to 20 years in a medium security block.

Countdown to the Dark Future #202

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

One particular crime unique to Night City is Hound Tipping. Robotic hounds are a common law enforcement tool used by the Night City Police Department but the models of 2020 were poorly shielded against EMPs. Smart gangs, such as the Brainiacs discovered they could lure cops away from a hound, hit the robotic dog with an EMP, and quickly reprogram it for anything from stupid pranks to cop-killing. Punishment is a large fine plus up to 20 years in a high security prison.

Countdown to the Dark Future #203

People in the Dark Future still cover all the basics: lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and more. But new technology has led to new and unusual types of crime. The government agencies of the world, from local PDs to ruling bodies, are struggling to keep up with the way criminal activity has changed in the world of Cyberpunk.

Cannibalism isn't a new crime. Humans have been eating other humans, legally or not, for as long as the species has existed. In the resource poor Dark Future, however, where many people subsist on kibble and SCOP, cannibalism has become an increasing problem. It has also become a fad among the jaded ultra-wealthy who have discovered they can get away with almost any crime. Punishment is death, or time in the psycho block if the criminal has a good lawyer.

Money in the Dark Future

Countdown to the Dark Future #204

Cash is still around in 2020 but legitimate businesses prefer not to deal in it if possible. Technically speaking, most legal businesses have to be ready to accept cash payments but there's all sorts of downsides: cash is dirty and a vector for disease, it takes up physical space, it necessitates regular transfers to a secure holding facility, and having a lot of it is basically asking to be robbed. In fact, some businesses charge a processing fee if a customer insists on paying with physical legal tender.

On the street, however, cash can be a boon. It is harder to trace than electronic payments and most Fixers have an innate understanding of how to guard it. Better muscle and guns than worrying that some kid with a cyberdeck will sneak into a datafortress and make off with a Fixer's hard-earned pay.

Countdown to the Dark Future #205

The EuroDollar (eb) started out as a common currency shared between the various member nations of the EEC By 2004, the fluctuating rates of many national currencies was so bad many of those countries began to recognize the EuroDollar as legal tender within their borders or, at least, gave it a favorable exchange rate.

Of course, most of those nations still have their own currency. The American Dollar is still printed, though it fluctuates so much that only government employees who are paid in the currency still use it regularly. The Japanese New Yen is about as popular in Asia as the EuroDollar. The Russian Ruble meanwhile, is almost as useless inside NeoSoviet Russia as it is outside of it. While it is illegal to trade in EuroDollars or New Yen in the new USSR, there's a thriving black market using foreign currencies as the basis for exchange.

Countdown to the Dark Future #206

CorpScrip is a new twist on an ancient tradition: companies printing their own money. Megacorps prefer to have as much control over their employee's lives as possible so it makes sense for them to pay their employees in CorpScrip. If all you have is Corp money and it is only useful in Corp stores, where else will you go? Megacorps even offer a discount when an employee pays in a Corp-owned establishment using CorpScrip.

Megacorp-owned facilities will usually honor the CorpScrips of other Megacorps, though at a reduced rate. Outside of the world of Corporations, however, things get murkier. The value of a particular CorpScrip can fluctuate even more than the American Dollar, as banks take into account everything from a Corporation's economic power to the value of its goods to the relationship the Corp has with the local government.

Countdown to the Dark Future #207

The concept of credit is an ancient one. Over time, letters of credit transformed into little plastic cards. In 2020, CredChips use liquid crystal matrixes to store personal information (thumbprint, voice print, retina scan, and SIN) and account information (credit limit, transaction limit, bank routing information, and so forth). There is no standard shape for a CredChip. They can be contained in cards, key chain tags, bands, or more.

Businesses prefer CredChips over cash for a variety of reasons, including ease of use and security: a Netrunner might be able to steal money electronically but they won't come charging into the store with a shotgun to empty the till. Ironically, CredChips mean most muggings in 2020 end in murder, since killing the victim is the only reliable way to make sure they don't cancel a stolen CredChip before a mugger has a chance to use it.

Countdown to the Dark Future #208

Not all CredChips are of the "draw on a bank account" variety. Token CredChips also known as TIPs, are essentially portable expense accounts that can pay out X EuroDollars and no more. Most TIPs are WORM (write once, read many). Once emptied, they become a useless hunk of plastic. A rarer form of TIP is the R/VVM variety which allows the TIP to not only pay out funds but receive them as well.

At first, a TIP might seem like a good deal for an Edgerunner. They get paid and they don't have to carry a large bag full of cash around. However, just because a TIP might seem more anonymous than a standard CredChip it doesn't mean they can't be tracked. Big Brother, be it in the form of a government or a Megacorp, can still follow the electronic trail a TIP leaves. It is just a little harder.

Countdown to the Dark Future #209

Many people on the Street forgo cash and credit entirely and revert back to the oldest currency known to humankind: barter. Cash can be messy and hard to get and credit can be easily traced so it is not uncommon for payment for goods and services to come about either in the form of an exchange or favors owed. Some Fixers, known as Traders, specialize in running barter houses. Tell the Trader what you want and they'll go through their lists to see who has it and what they might want in return for a small cash fee (which is much less expensive than buying the item or service outright).

After the 4th Corporate War ended, barter became much more common. Semi-legal markets held in plazas, warehouses, and abandoned buildings after the sun goes down have become a regular occurrence. They're one-part swap meet, one-part block party.

Countdown to the Dark Future #210

All Fixers deal in money, one way or the other, but some specialize in manipulating currency and markets. Factors are Fixers who engage in illegal activities involving money, ranging from laundering cash to embezzlement. It's a dangerous world to play in. There only two types of Factors: the kind that's rich and the kind that's dead.

Sharks haven't changed much in the Dark Future. They still loan out money at insane interest rates. They still arrange for bad things to happen if that money isn't paid back. One modern twist is the use of electronic punishment to encourage a client to pay up. It is one thing to have your knees broken. It is another to discover there's a warrant out for your arrest on fraud charges or that your thumb print will no longer activate the lock to your office at work.

Timeline: 1990 to 2012

Countdown to the Dark Future #211

1990: With the Cold War over, the Gang of Four looks for new enemies to distract US citizens. The First Central American Conflict and the US/EEC Quiet War both begin. The Soviet Union breaks apart. South Africa's government collapses into anarchy.

1991: Eurospace Agency lauches[sic] the Hermes Spaceplane ushering in a new era of space exploration. Biotechnica develops CHOOH2. First artificial muscle fibers developed. Chile, Ecuador, and Afghanistan economies collapse after anti-drug crop virus is unleashed within their borders.

1992: The EEC forms and the Eurodollar is established. The Aldecaldo clan forms in East Los Angeles. DEA drug war accelerates, pushing the Central American Conflict into South America.

Countdown to the Dark Future #212

1993: The Jodes leave Oklahoma as the region transforms into a dust bowl. The Aldecaldos move out of Los Angeles. Miami is decimated by a gang war. A nuclear bomb is set off by narco-terrorists in New York City killing fifteen thousand immediately. TRC biologic interface chips developed in Munich. AV-4 developed in United States. Construction begins on Coronado City In California

1994: The Collapse begins as world stock markets crash after US manipulation of markets is revealed. Nuclear power plant meltdown in Pittsburgh kills 257. Martial law is declared in Poland after extensive strikes paralyze the economy. Countries in Southeast Asia economic upturn as Crash of '94 sends manufacturers searching for cheap labor sources.

Countdown to the Dark Future #213

1995: ESA and Pan-African Alliance begin work on Kilimanjaro mass-driver. The Grand Unification of Ministries In Japan slims down bureaucracy but also drastically alters the balance of power in the country. US Military begins experimenting with cyberware in SouthAm Conflict.

1996: Riots become common across the United States as The Collapse intensifies. 1 in 4 Americans are now homeless. Martial law is declared in the United States. First appearance of boostergangs in United States. Japanese SDF experiments with a brain-controlled bipod tank. Twenty-one are killed when the unit goes rogue. US Military leaves Japan and Korea.

Countdown to the Dark Future #214

1997: Tensions in the Middle East escalate resulting in a nuclear exchange which decimates Iran, Iraq, Libya Chad, and the Arab Emirates

CHOOH2 and synthetic lubricants become more popular as the world's oil supply is cut in half.

"Rockerboy" Manson killed by police on stage during Amnesty International concert.

Thailand repeals all anti-drug and smuggling laws, making it a fully open market.

Hong Kong reverts to Chinese control.

Changes in Japanese SDF cause many members to leave. Most take employment with Arasaka

Countdown to the Dark Future #215

1998: Massive earthquake decimates Los Angeles 35% of city is submerged. 65,000 are killed. Neo-Ludite terrorist cells are formed in western Kentucky. The Drought of '98 further decimates the American farmland. The KGB backs a coup in Russia. Richard Night assassinated. Coronado City renamed Night City.

1999: Millenium[sic] cults begin appearing. Tycho Lunar Colony established by ESA. Second Korean War begins after South claims North violated its airspace. Martial law is declared in Hong Kong after riots break out. The Jodes are awarded the contract to rebuild Los Angeles.

Countdown to the Dark Future #216

2000: Millenium[sic] cults run wild on January 1st in orgy of murder, suicide, and destruction. First posergangs established. Firestorms rage in American Northwest Construction on Crystal Palace space station begins. Wasting Plague hits US and Europe forcing EEC to close its borders. ESA and Orbital Air purchase large chunks of Cape York peninsula in Australia to construct spaceport. The Bloods leave Florida.

2001: WorldSat network is completed, allowing global NET communication. Salvage of Los Angeles completed. Europe institutes a mandatory ID-card system. British monarchy collapses and martial law declared in England Federal Republic of Australia officially formed. Multiple indigenous groups take up arms against Australian government seeking return of ancestral lands.

Countdown to the Dark Future #217

2002: Food crash decimates much of the world as a mutated plant virus destroys crops in multiple countries. United States is largely untouched and accused of biological warfare. Copernicus Lunar Colony founded. SovOil privatizes. Santorin volcano in the Aegean erupts. New Zealand begins self-sufficiency program. Several Japanese car companies merge and reorganize.

2003: Second Central/South American War begins as United States invades Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Troops have orders to decimate drug infrastructure. EEC manufacturers make record profits selling arms to SouthAm governments. Corporate enclaves evolve into full cities in Japan. Reporter Tesla Johanneson breaks story of Gang of Four with secret recordings about First Central American Conflict.

Countdown to the Dark Future #218

2004: Tesla Johanneson assassinated. 1st Corporate War, between EBM and Orbital Air, breaks out. Bureaucratic structure of EEC reformed after massive corruption revealed and populace refuses to pay taxes. Golden Triangle drug plantations in China nearly wiped out by DEA viral attacks. Military coup in South Korea.

2005: The cybermodem is invented. 1st Corporate War ends. EBM finishes buying out Hamburg and declares it separate from Germany but still part of the EEC. The Second Korean War ends with the Unification of Korea.

2006: Cyberlimbs are now in common usage in US Military First human clone grown in vitro. Human genetic experiments begin with the goal of preparing explorers for a mission to Mars.

Countdown to the Dark Future #219

2007: 2nd Corporate War begins between SovOil and Petrochem National governments openly back sides in corporate conflict for first time. Braindance developed. Coup in Greece. New Zealand legalizes marijuana and hemp production.

2008: US invades Russian space platform. ESA intervenes and first space-based war breaks out. War ends when Tycho Colony mass driver drops a large rock Colorado Springs Rocks are dropped on other sites on vital to IJS space program. Near miss of a rock drop in Australia kills 25,000 in town of Alice Springs. Martial law in US ends as first national elections are held. Much of South China Sea is flooded with oil as 2nd Corporate War continues. TransContinental MagLev system completed in North America.

Countdown to the Dark Future #220

2009 EEC/Soviet mission to Mars departs. US intelligence attempts to take over Crystal Palace using terrorist group as a front and fails. The ESA drops a rock near Washington DC as a warning. Corps in Night City work to eradicate organized crime influences. Indonesia invades Papua New Guinea.

2010: Second Central/ South American War ends. 500,000 contractors are abandoned and begin Long Walk back to the United States. Network 52[sic] now controls 62% of media broadcasting in United States. 2nd Corporate War ends with SovOil victory. Romania hit by earthquake. In Australia, ecoterrorists begin campaign against large construction projects.

Countdown to the Dark Future #221

2011: Crystal Palace completed. ESA cements dominance in space. ESA/Soviet mission reaches Mars and begins return. John Meta leads group of abandoned US contractors to hijack ships and oil platforms and create the MetaKey Experimental nanotech designed to clean up radiation grows out of control in South Australia. Open corporate warfare in Japan leads to destabilization of intercity deliveries.

2012: Bioplague hits Chicago and kills thousands. The Long Walk ends, with only an estimated 10% of the original contractors reaching the United States. Corporate war breaks out in Spain over water rights during Great Drought but is stopped by EEC intervention.

The Creators Behind Cyberpunk

Countdown to the Dark Future #222

Cyberpunk (aka Cyberpunk 2013): Mike Pondsmith, Colin Fisk, Dave Friedland, Will Moss, Scott Ruggels

Rockerboy: Colin Fisk, Will Moss, Scott Ruggels, Dave Ackerman, Glenn Wildermuth, Sam Shirley, Mike Pondsmith

Solo of Fortune: Colin Fisk, Mike Pondsmith, Will Moss, Dave Friedland, Scott Ruggles, Derek Quintanar

Hardwired: Walter Jon Williams, Mike Pondsmith, Pati Nagle

Near Orbit: Mike Pondsmith, Dave Ackerman, Glenn Wildermuth, Derek Quintanar

Cyberpunk 2020: Mike Pondsmith, Colin Fisk, Will Moss, Scott Ruggels, Dave Friedland, Mike Blum

Blackhand's Street Weapons 2020: Derek Quintanar (senior editor)

Countdown to the Dark Future #223

Chromebook 1: Colin Fisk, Dave Harmer, Mike Masarati, Mike Pondsmith, Derek Quintanar, Mike Roter, John Smith, Keven Stein, William Tracy, Karl Wu, Andrew Stassmann, Ben Wright, Jeff Hexter, Glenn Goddard, Marcus Pregent

Chromebook 2: Ben Wright, Mike Roter, Scott Taylor, Marcus Pregent, Craig Sheeley, Mike MacDonald, Ross Winn, Mike Pondsmith, Colin Tripton, Michael Todd

Chromebook 3: Dave Ackerman, Heath Brewer, David Chart, David Cripps, Lester Connors, Michael LaBossiere, Marcus Pregent, James Puckett, Jean-M. Ringuet, Mike Roter, Steve Sabram, Mark Schumann, Steven Schultz, Craig Sheeley, Scott Taylor, Colin Tripton, Michael Todd, Ross Winn, Benjamin Wright

Countdown to the Dark Future #224

Chromebook 4: Dan Bailey, Tony Burchill, Morninman Kuchenbacker, Collin Tipton, Steve Sabram, Craig Sheeley, Christian Conkle, Ian Birchenough, Britt Klein, Benjamin Wright, Ross Winn, Dave Ackerman, Robin Grey

Corporation Report, volume 1: William Moss

Corporation Report, volume 2: William Moss

Corporation Report, volume 3' William Moss

Deep Space: Chris Young, Scott Hedrick, Mike Pondsmith, Dave Ackerman, Glenn Wildemuth

Edgerunners, Inc: Andrew M. Borelli, Michael G. Nelson, Scott Taylor, Derek Quintanar, Benjamin Wright

Eurosource Plus: Jose Ramos, Florian Merx, Steve Gill

Eurotour: Mark Galeotti, Jean-Michael Ringuet, Magnus Seter, Michael MacDonald

Countdown to the Dark Future #225

Firestorm Shockwave: Craig Sheeley, Scott Taylor, Dave Ackerman, Bruce Harlick

Firestorm Stormfront: Anthony Sevile, Craig Sheeley, Ed Bolme, Dave Ackerman, Derek Quintanar, Benjamin Wright

Home of the Brave: Michael MacDonald, Ross Winn, Ed Bolme, Craig Sheeley, Mike Pondsmith, Lisa Pondsmith, Marc Vezina

Land of the Free: William Moss, Michael MacDonald, Lisa Pondsmith

Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!!!!!: Mike Pondsmith, Ross Winn, Benjamin Wright, Craig Sheeley, Eric Heisserer, Charlie Wong, Mike Roter

Live and Direct: Lisa Smedman, Will Moss, Steph Brochu, Mike Roter

Countdown to the Dark Future #226

Maximum Metal: Mark Colborn, Craig Shelley, Derek Quintanar, Ross Winn, Robert May, Ben Wright

NeoTribes: Ross Winn, Eric Oppen, Dan Longoria, Angelina Acevedo, Tristan Heydt, Gilbert Milner, Marian Rosensriel, Janice Sellars, Mark Schumann, Chris Williams, Benjamin Wright, Laura G. Winn, Mike Pondsmith

Night City: Mike Pondsmith, Ed Bolme, Sam Shirley, Anders Swensen, Colin Fisk, Will Moss, John Smith, Mike MacDonald, Lisa Pondsmith

Pacific Rim: Chris Pasquarette, Paul Duncanson, Nobuaki Takerube, Tateno Tsuneo, Tano Akira, Hiyoshi Miyako, Yamamoto Tsuyoshi, Suzufuki Tarot, Nakajima Sonomi, LJsuki Teruaki, Angus Hyatt, Janeen Henderson, Siai Chakravarti, Yoshiori Shingo, Okada Shin, Takahashi Akira, Obuchi Kiyohiro, Kitajima Yasumi, Haruka Toshi

Countdown to the Dark Future #227

Protect and Serve: Geoff Pass, Mike LaBossiere

Rache Bartmoss' Brainware Blowout: Dave Ackerman, Ed Bolme, Mike Pondsmith, Craig Sheeley, Chris Williams, Benjamin Wright, Nils Jeppe, Eric Spargo, Benjamin J. Cooper, David Kelk

Rache Bartmoss' Guide to the Net: Ed Bolme, Dave Ackerman, Derek Quintanar, Steve Sabram, Ben Coombs, Marcus Darby, Mike Mileke, Mike MacDonald

Rough Guide to the UK: Nick Gillot, Bruce Craig, Matt Channell, John Rowley, Alexander Blair, Jos Williams, Amanda Chapman, Ryk Coleman

Solo of Fortune 2: Scott Taylor, Ross Winn, Craig Sheeley, Benjamin Wright, Will Moss, Mike LaBossire, Scott Ruggles, Mike Roter, Michael Todd, Les Connors, Steven Schultz, Jean-M. Ringuet

Countdown to the Dark Future #228

When the Chips Are Down: Chris W. Young

When Gravity Fails: Dave Ackerman, William Moss, Chris Williams, Chris Hockabout, Michael MacDonald

Wildside: Benjamin Wright, Mike Roter

Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit: Mike Pondsmith, Dave Ackerman, J Gray, James Hutt, Cody Pondsmith

Thank you to everyone who has played Cyberpunk over the past 81 years. Each of you helped make this game...

Breathtaking!

The New Cities of 2020

Countdown to the Dark Future #229

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Balsam, North Carolina An underground city, built into the rock of the Appalachian Mountains near the Kentucky border. It is a major production center and completely owned by the state government. Corporations have a say in how the city is governed based on how much space they rent. The more they rent, the more say they have.

Atlantis, Florida Home to the very wealthy. When climate change began swallowing up the Florida coast, those who could afford it built their own floating city which would carry their homes above the rising waves.

Countdown to the Dark Future #230

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Plantation, Georgia A custom-built community created to be the heart of power in the Dixie region. It was specifically designed to project an image of tranquility, peace, and nostalgia.

Arcadia, Nevada While Vegas dominates gambling, Arcadia holds the crown as the new sin city. Expensive to visit, anything can be had in Arcadia, from combat sports to designer drugs to the most exquisitely trained sex workers. The city is unique in its primarily pedestrian street design. Most transport is via AV.

Countdown to the Dark Future #231

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

New Galveston, Texas A resort city, New Galveston isn't technically subject to Texas law due to it being over a mile offshore. That makes it a perfect haven for smugglers.

Deadwood, Minnesota Deadwood was built by Corps to be a disposable town. Come in. Clear cut what's left of the local timber before it was killed off by pollution and acid rain. Then let it fall apart. The city is depressing, utilitarian, and entirely at the whim of its Corporate masters who don't care what happens inside its borders so long as quotas are made.

Countdown to the Dark Future #232

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Catawba, Ohio Catawba was built by Ohio on the Lake Erie coast under Corporate pressure for a new shipping port. Clever engineering means Catawba can load and unload ships too big for any other port in the Great Lakes region.

Yelarcot, Wisconsin Yelarcot started as a dream: make an enclosed arcology which would allow dairy farmers to stay in the business despite climate change and wandering raiders. Unfortunately, all didn't go to plan and Yalarcot[sic] is the only arcology in the world with indoor pollution alerts.

Countdown to the Dark Future #233

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Horse Heaven, Oregon In the aftermath of the Collapse desperate state governments left without Federal subsidies began experimenting with new ways to raise funds. In Oregon, Horse Heaven was founded as an experimental cooperative making use of organic growing techniques and manpower instead of hormones and robots in order to create luxury foods for the ultra-rich.

The experiment has been a success, although that may have more to do with the various organic drugs quietly grown by local farmers than the actual food crops.

Countdown to the Dark Future #234

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Alpha, Arizona This domed city appeared during the Collapse. Whoever was behind it had the funds to built it fast and ensure loyalty because little information has leaked out since. It appears to be mostly self-sustaining with no way in.

White City, Colorado During the Collapse, Biotechnica bought a chunk of Colorado. After the Collapse they began raising cattle there. Their base of operations is White City, which is both a shipping town for live and slaughtered beef and a kitschy tourist destination.

Countdown to the Dark Future #235

Night City isn't the only metropolis which rose up from the ashes of the Collapse. As old cities fell in the Cyberpunk world, a few new ones were born.

Haven Arcology, Connecticut An uncompleted arcology, Haven was a popular squat for the homeless until a chunk of the dome fell and killed hundreds. In 2020 it is home to the Batsons eclectic folk who live in the cobweb of girders, catwalks, and derelict cranes high above the arcology floor.

Hydropolis, Kansas As traditional agriculture methods failed, farmers began looking for new paths. In Kansas, money was poured into a city dedicated to hydroponics. It has been successful enough to draw funding from Biotechnica.

The 4th Corporate War

Countdown to the Dark Future #236

In 2021, Internationale Handelsmarine Aktiengscesellschaft (IHAG) a German business specializing in ocean vessel construction and international commercial shipping, declared bankruptcy after defaulting on several loans given to them by Eurobank to fund a poorly executed and ultimately unsuccessful takeover of the Ocean Technology and Energy Corporation (OTEC).

Immediately, OTEC and rival corporation, Corporation Internationale Nauticale Et Oceanique (CINO) began working to acquire IHAG and its assets. Both companies built their business based on ocean-based technologies and services. Adding the world's largest sea-based shipping corporation to their portfolio could promote one or the other to the status of a major Megacorp.

Countdown to the Dark Future #237

OTEC and CINO were too evenly matched, financially, to leverage a take-over of IHAG in a conventional matter. Almost immediately, they turned to extra-legal methods.

In November of 2021, OTEC sent a strike force to intercept CINO negotiators and prevent them from attending acquisition talks.

In return, CINO Netrunners executed an attack on financial exchanges to devalue OTEC's stock. Things escalated from there. Neither Corporation realized Eurobank was working behind the scenes to manipulate both Corps into driving themselves into debt. The financial institution's ultimate plan was to acquire the assets of IHAG, OTEC, and CINO and position Europe as the dominant global nautical tech and shiping[sic] power.

Countdown to the Dark Future #238

The strategy on both sides was to devalue the other Corporation in order to force them to back away from the acquisition attempt. As the conflict continued, the rest of the world became increasingly aware of the potential for a global crisis. The economy depended heavily on shipping and ocean-based food, mineral, and energy production. If the conflict had remained confined to just OTEC and CINO , a solution might have resulted from global pressure.

Unfortunately, the conflict didn't remain confined to OTEC and CINO. OTEC hired Militech to supplement their security forces and provide advisors, weapons, and other supplies. CINO countered by hiring Arasaka to provide similar services. And while OTEC and CINO could be brought to heel, Militech and Arasaka could not.

Countdown to the Dark Future #239

At first neither Arasaka nor Militech were looking for a direct war with one another. While competitors on the world market, their contracts with CINO and OTEC respectively were simply an avenue to generate massive profit and to promote the effectiveness of their services to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, in a full out war, even trainers, advisors, and defensive security forces get dragged into the fight. An Arasaka advisor working with a CINO strikeforce is targeted and killed by Militech security at an OTEC facility because she wasn't wearing her Corporate uniform identifying her as a non-combatant. A Militech-owned vessel is targeted by automated Arasaka torpedo systems because it is covertly carrying supplies to O TEC through CINO-controlled waters.

Countdown to the Dark Future #240

In February 2022, tensions rose to the point that world governments began seizing some of the more isolated (and more valuable) properties of OTEC, HAG, and CINO in a form of "protective custody". This led to direct confrontation between O TEC, CINO, and various government forces. These conflicts were the final straw and, on February 22, global pressure forced OTEC and CINO to the negotiation table.

Unfortunately, by this time, it was too late. Militech and Arasaka's roles in the conflict had grown beyond their contractual obligations of security, supplies, and advising. It had become personal. While the battles between CINO and OTEC ended in early 2022, a shadow war between the two security Megacorps continued...

Countdown to the Dark Future #241

To understand why the conflict between OTEC and CINO evolved into a global war between Arasaka and Militech it helps to understand the two men who were in charge at the time: Saburo Arasaka and Donald Lundee.

For Saburo Arasaka, the dream of Japanese dominance didn't die with the end of World War II. Arasaka was specifically built to transform Japan into not only the world's leading financial power but the world's leading military power as well.

Lundee, despite being a CEO, was still a soldier at heart. Militech was at war. In order for Lundee's side to win, the oither side had to lose at every turn. The only way to win a war was to defeat the enemy utterly.

Countdown to the Dark Future #242

On February 20, 2022, Eurobank realized their manipulations of OTEC and CINO had run amok thanks to the involvement of Arasaka and Militech. The financial institution began pushing for peace talks, which Arasaka and Militech argued against. On February 22, both OTEC and CINO canceled their security contracts. By the 27th, a peace accord between the two ocean-based Corps had been signed.

On March 6th, Arasaka tested the newly completed Soulkiller 2.5 by planting it in the vehicular smartlink processor of a Militech Executive. The program worked perfectly and interrogation of his captured mind led to an assault on Militech's Night City office. This opened a three-month period of covert strikes between the two Megacorps.

Countdown to the Dark Future #243

March 31 , 2022. With the help of Morgan Blackhand and Alt Cunningham, Militech convinced renegade Netruner Rache Bartmoss to hunt for Soulkiller 2.5 They agreed to stay out of his way on the NET, even in their own Dataforts.

On April 9, 2022, Bartmoss took control of several Arasaka weapon satellites and used them to destroy key Arasaka facilities. In response, the ESA imposed a 24-hour blockade on space travel, causing chaos in Low Earth Orbit.

OTEC and CINO escalated their conflict beyond their control by hiring Militech and Arasaka. It is possible the two global security Megacorps did the same by deploying Soulkiller and bringing in Rache Bartmoss.

Countdown to the Dark Future #244

Rache Bartmoss located the master copy of Soulkiller 2.5 in April 2022 and took action to destroy it. By May 6th, Arasaka decided Bartmoss was a potent enough threat to assign an entire task force dedicated to finding and killing him.

Bartmoss was located in an apartment building on the edge of the Combat Zone In Night City He had managed to populate it with hand selected mid-level Corps. Every one of them was infected with subconscious personality implants of Rache's own devising.

When the task force stormed the building, they found every resident preprogrammed to be ready and willing to die for Rache and clever enough to obfuscate the fact until they had clean shots.

Countdown to the Dark Future #245

Rache's final defense was Death Wish, a cybernetically enhanced cat that Bartmoss claimed held the remnants of a human personality he had downloaded from the NET. In the end, even Death Wish wasn't enough. The task force discovered Bartmoss' creche, disguised as a fridge, and unloaded.

Thirty seconds later, the building exploded. Some believe Bartmoss had rigged the building with self-destruct charges. Others think Arasaka, in order to be confident the job was done right, hit the building with orbital artillery. Either way, Rache Bartmoss was dead. His last communication was to what may well have been his only real friend, Spider Murphy and even then, his mania wouldn't let him tell her just how badly he had just screwed over the entire world.

Countdown to the Dark Future #246

By the end of May 2022, the shadow war had gone hot. On June 9th, Arasaka forces attacked a Militech factory in Virginia while Militech-backed mercenaries massacred the employees of an Arasaka factory in Yokohama. By mid-July, strikes on Militech and Arasaka facilties were a daily occurrence. The war wasn't confined to Earth, either. Attacks occured[sic] in orbit as well, disrupting space travel and business even further.

Everything was made worse by a strange corruption in the NET. Numbers and data were changed, seemingly at random. An operation which called for a strike force of ten might now call for one hundred operatives. Missions against an enemy fuel facility might instead be diverted to a non-combatant's sludge processing facility. The DataKrash had begun.

Countdown to the Dark Future #247

Rache Bartmoss hated the Corps with an insane passion and plotted for their eventual demise. In the early days of the NET he had been able to plant a number of programs directly into the source code of cyberspace. Among them was his DataKrash protocol.

The DataKrash protocol sought out files accessible through the NET and changed them by swapping data randomly between two points. Sometimes it swapped small amounts of data, such as the number 100,000 in a paystub and the number 1 in a cookie recipe. Other times, it swapped entire files of similar size but kept the identifying markers. A real plan to invade an Arasaka factory, for example, might actually hold a hypothetical plan to invade a Biotechnica office or maybe just a copy of Johnny Silverhand's latest album.

Countdown to the Dark Future #248

Late Spring 2022. The war had spread to space, with Arasaka and Militech assets striking at each other. Space travel was disrupted by the chaos.

Summer 2022. Arasaka seized a Militech office in Los Angeles In response, Militech staged a riot at Arasaka's Paris offices. They used the distraction to access the building's HVAC system and pump it full of a short-lived aerosol toxin. Everyone inside died.

Late summer 2022. Strikes in Chicago turned into outright war when aerial and orbital support were called in. The battle ended when Nomads from the Meta and Folk Nations, both of whom had contracts in the still rebuilding city, used covert teams to demolish both the Arasaka and Militech offices.

Countdown to the Dark Future #249

By the end summer 2022, the war had grown red hot. In addition to utilizing their own forces, Arasaka and Militech were also using various edgerunner teams, terrorist groups, pirate fleets, and even small national militaries to strike at one another.

By September 2022, Hong Kong was in ruins as Militech and Arasaka forces turned it into a major battle ground. Everyone who could flee did. Elsewhere in the world, six Militech research scientists died while plugged into the NET. Militech intelligence suspected Arasaka of using Soulkiller to do the job.

In Late September, a killsat fired an ortillery strike at the Crystal Palace orbital habitat, seemingly by accident. Three Highriders died intercepting the projectiles.

Countdown to the Dark Future #250

On September 29th, the Highriders of O'Neill Two declared independence, leading to what became known as the Seven Hour War. The European Space Agency lost because it had dedicated so much of its forces planetside to protect ground facilities from 4th Corporate War overspill. Eager to gain the support of an orbital group not controlled by the ESA, both the United States and Japan moved quickly to recognize the independent government of O'Neill Two.

In Fall 2022, the governments of Southern California and Texas both nationalized all Arasaka and Militech facilities within their borders.

Days later, the EEC declared that if hostilities within their borders did not cease, they would do the same.

Countdown to the Dark Future #251

In late 2022. the NeoSoviet ship Komsomolsk opened fire on a number of satellites in orbit over Asia. A US gunship, the Agamemnon did the same with satellites over the western hemisphere. The ESA used delta jets Crystal Palace to destroy several "suspicious" orbital facilities. Forces on all sides were ordered not to attack assets belonging the other side but accidents began to occur.

The Agamemnon was badly damaged due to fire from an unindentified[sic] killsat. This triggered a frenzy. All three sides began blasting any orbital asset not marked with a "friend" IFF tag. By the time the orbital war was over, so many low earth orbit satellites and facilities had been destroyed that insurance companies suspended their policies, citing an "act of war" clause.

Countdown to the Dark Future #252

A turning point was reached in the 4th Corporate War when a Militech showroom in Italy was invaded. The EEC carried out its threat and began nationalizing all Arasaka and Militech facilities in Europe Both Megacorps protested and suggested the attack was a false flag operation designed to give the EEC the excuse they needed to seize their assets.

The war had pushed many nations to the breaking point. Emboldened by the actions taken in the EEC, Japan nationalized all Arasaka assets inside the country and in nearby territories. The Japanese government apologized to the world, saying they could not do anything about Arasaka beyond their immediate sphere of influence. The war was not over.

Countdown to the Dark Future #253

By the end of 2022, it became clear the DataKrash wasn't confined to Megacorp NET spaces. Estimates suggested it had infested as much as 78.2% of systems connected to the NET. Worse, strange forms of Black ICE which seemed to resemble Rache Bartmoss had began appearing and attacking targets, seemingly at random.

The situation was compounded by the destruction of many of the communication satellites in LEO during the Agememnon incident as well as the demolition of undersea telecommunication cables during the original conflict between OTEC and CINO Long distance communication became affordable only to those who had the eddies to pay the higher fees such limited bandwidth demanded.

Countdown to the Dark Future #254

With the conflict coming to a close, it is worth taking a moment to look at the other Megacorps and their actions and goals during the 4th Corporate War.

Biotechnica tried their best to stay out of the fray. They traded their services to both sides in the conflict in order to keep the war out of their rainforest assets.

DMS and Network News 54 covered the 4th Corporate War constantly, dedicating entire channels to it. It was ratings gold.

EBM and IEC both took a neutral position, as their equipment made for essential components for both Militech and Arasaka smart weapons. Toward the end of the war, EBM began shifting their manufacturing capabilities from weapon components to WORM drives as a result of the DataKrash.

Countdown to the Dark Future #255

With the conflict coming to a close, it is worth taking a moment to look at the other Megacorps and their actions and goals during the 4th Corporate War.

Infocomp sold data to both sides but found their services increasingly unreliable due to the DataKrash.

Merrill, Asukaga & Finch remained neutral and stopped investing in both Arasaka and Militech. At the same time, their analysis division worked for both parties.

Orbital Air was, perhaps, the hardest Megacorp hit after Arasaka and Militech itself. While there wasn't as much combat in space as on the ground, there was enough to delay and cancel shipments and flights, creating major uncertainty in international travel. Not great for a travel company.

Countdown to the Dark Future #256

With the conflict coming to a close, it is worth taking a moment to look at the other Megacorps and their actions and goals during the 4th Corporate War.

Petrochem and SovOil took advantage of the chaos to begin attacking one another again. While both have benefited from being able to raise fuel prices, they've also had to pump resources into defending their far flung holdings.

Trauma Team International had to issue a proclamation that they would not respond to calls from Arasaka or Militech personnel for the duration of the conflict. Their capabilities were stretched to the limits just responding to civilian calls.

Countdown to the Dark Future #257

With the conflict coming to a close, it is worth taking a moment to look at the other Megacorps and their actions and goals during the 4th Corporate War.

WorldSat had to issue an ultimatum: any party responsible for destroying a WorldSat satellite would be dropped as a customer.

Zetatech, the smallest of the Megacorps worried about hostile takeover attempts during the chaos. They made a deal with the Lazarus Group, offering technical resources as well as cash in exchange for protection.

The Lazarus Group played neutral in the conflict. They refused to support either Militech or Arasaka. As a result, their business grew, as organizations became terrified that having an Arasaka or Militech contract would result in them becoming a target.

Countdown to the Dark Future #258

With Arasaka's local assets under the control of the Japanese government, the I-Jnited States moved to end the global conflict by doing much the same with Militech. President Elizabeth Kress reactivated the commission of Militech CEO Donald Lundee and appealed to his honor as a soldier to work with the government. Lundee agreed.

Under Lundee's command, Militech forces ceased all active offensive operations. With Arasaka assets in Japanese territory also nationalized, the global war was effectively over. However, there were still Arasaka facilities and operatives in the Western Hemisphere which needed to be brought to heel. Militech and the US armed forces began cooperating to perform clean-up operations in US territory.

Countdown to the Dark Future #259

Arasaka had lost control of its assets inside Japan and the EEC. It wasn't about to give up its assets in North America without a fight. For the most part, their resistance was token. US and Canadian military forces, backed by Militech, made short work of the already exhausted Arasaka security troops in most cities.

The story in Night City was different.

Night City's corporate-controlled government structure gave Arasaka an unprecedented amount of control over the municipality. Moreover, Arasaka troops from across North American had retreated to Night City as it became clear they couldn't hold their positions. Night City had become an independent Arasaka's last fortress in an hostile land.

Countdown to the Dark Future #260

Ringing the outside of Night City was a siege force of NorCal, US, and Militech troops but they were reluctant to advance. An invasion of Night City would mean street to street fighting, not only with Arasaka troops but possibly with the many well-armed gangs and Edgerunners in the notoriously independently minded city. The civilian casualties would be immense, which was something the US government was looking to avoid. They wanted to be seen as a voice of reason in an insane Megacorp world.

Each side had their goals. President Kress wanted Arasaka out of what she considered US territory. Arasaka wanted full extraterritoriality for Night City so his company could operate without government interference. Neither was willing to back down.

Countdown to the Dark Future #261

Kei Arasaka, son of Saburo Arasaka had two bargaining chips on his side beyond the status of Night City itself. First, his people had forced Alt Cunningham to create a more mobile and more intelligent version of Soulkiller.

Second, contained in the bowels of Arasaka's Night City mainframe was a database. Some believed it to be a collection of all Arasaka's intelligence to date, containing enough dirty secrets to topple governments and corporate boards across the globe. Others believed it to be more expansive: an immense collection of the world's data. Every book. Every vid. Every scrap of data Arasaka could find and save before the DataKrash ruined it forever. In either case, the database was invaluable and stored completely offline. The DataKrash couldn't touch it. Neither could an outside Netrunner.

Countdown to the Dark Future #262

Tensions broke in the summer of 2023. By then, a number of prominent national figures in the United States had been murdered while connected to the NET. Arasaka was using targeted assassinations via Soulkiller 3.0 to effect policy change. Something had to be done. All out war in Night City would be too costly. Arasaka had cemented its control over the city government and most of the police force. They had a small army of corporate security forces in the city. And the gangs would fight anyone who invaded just on principal. The US and Militech forces could probably win but it would come at a high price and create bad optics.

A covert mission was planned. To end Arasaka's influence in Night City, small squads would strike the Megacorp at the heart of their power: Arasaka Towers.

Countdown to the Dark Future #263

The US sent in three teams, each with an objective.

Strike Team Alpha's goal was to reach the 120th floor, Alt Cunningham, and destroy Soulkiller 3.0. The rescue team included Johnny Silverhand Rogue, Spider Murphy the media Thompson, and full-borg Shaitan. Following their lead was a Militech SpecOps group and a cadre of Lobo warriors on loan from Nomad Santiago.

Strike Team Beta's goal was to reach the subbasement and to either retrieve the mysterious Arasaka database or destroy it.

Strike Team Omega led by Morgan Blackhand, were mobile troubleshooters, acting as fire support, reinforcements, and rescue as needed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #264

On August 20, 2023, a small nuclear device was detonated somewhere high in Arasaka Towers.

The explosion destroyed the buildings. Debris from Arasaka Towers crashed into nearby structures, setting off a series of chain reactions, gas line explosions, transformer explosions, and intense fires. By the end, the Corporate Center of Night City was a radioactive hot zone.

Over half a million people were killed in the initial devastation of the Night City Holocaust. Another quarter of a million died in the immediate aftermath. Arasaka's hold on Night City was shattered but the city was nearly broken in the process.

Countdown to the Dark Future #265

In 2025 the last known pocket of Arasaka resistance was cleaned out. The 4th Corporate War was over.

The US under President Kress, engaged in a massive PR campaign to place the blame for the Night City Holocaust on Arasaka. The official story held that Arasaka had kept a fail-safe nuclear device in the Towers and had detonated it when it was clear they couldn't win against superior US Militech forces.

Years later, Nomad Santiago's son, Trace published an expose and revealed the truth. The US had sent a nuclear device in with the strike teams that night. Kress and General Eddington, the person in charge of the operation, had intended to destroy the Towers from the very start. The US had nuked Night City.

The Bag Lady's Market

Countdown to the Dark Future #266

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

Who couldn't use fireproof clothing? Gas mains blow all the time! CHOOH2 is flammable! Your co-worker's nickname is Pyro and well deserved! Well, with the Salamander Line of clothes from Savagery Fashions, you know you're going to be alright! Back in the good old 2020s, they teamed up with some of the world's most fashionable designers to produce full and trendy outfits that can be worn every day and are only slightly toxic! We've everything from hats to overcoats to undies are ready for you to wear for a hot night out on the town.

See what I did there?

Countdown to the Dark Future #267

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

Hey choomba! I say this with love, but you stink! You obviously don't have access to running water. Or beauty products. Or your sense of smell. And that's alright, because we just stocked the shelves with Shower-in-a-Can! Now it don't matter if you can't find soap and mostly clean water. Just shimmy out of your clothes, spray this completely safe disinfecting and deodorizing foam everywhere, wipe it off, and you're fresh as a daisy.

What's a daisy? Don't ask me! I ain't ever seen one!

Countdown to the Dark Future #268

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

You look like the kind of punk who likes to trick out their optics! Whatcha packing in those neon blues? IR? Cameras? Telescopic? I bet we got something you ain't never seen before right here! Cyberoptic Teargas Sprayers Yep! Just think good thoughts and a stream of tear gas blasts out from your cybereye up to a yard away! Best of all, it comes preloaded with some primo tear gas. Stuff'll not only blind normal eyes, but it's got some sort of chaff that screws with cybereyes, too! Don't matter if your enemy's meat or metal, choomba.

They'll be fracked all the same.

Countdown to the Dark Future #269

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

That climbing gear you're looking at was made by a company called Everest VetureVVare back in the day. I knew plenty of Edgerunners who specialized in high rise jobs that swore by it. The thing that looks like a baton is a grapple gun. Compressed air fires out the hook, spooling up to a hundred meters of ultra-thin plastic rope. The boots are equipped with climbing spikes hooked to a remote button. Tap the button and you got spikes on your soles. Improves traction. Makes climbing a hell of a lot easier. Plus, it gives your kick a little extra... kick. If you know what I mean.

Countdown to the Dark Future #270

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

You're gonna love these goggles. What do you think they are? Low-light? Binoculars? Flare protection? Naw, choomba. Those there are Tritech Echolocation Goggles Lets you see like a bat would, if there were any still around. They send out high frequency soundwaves, then record the bounce back with these tiny mics on the front. The computer inside the goggles uses those echoes to build you a 3D picture of the area no matter how poorly lit the place is.

Why go low-light when you can go no-light, am I right?

Countdown to the Dark Future #271

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

That's not just any knife, choomba. That's a Slamdance Incorporated Spawnblade. The blade's made from something called memory metal. That's fancy for "it can change shape". See, now it looks like a normal combat knife. Touch the trigger and the edges spread out into a fan shape. Idea is, you stab it inside someone, hit the trigger, and the edges spread out into their guts. Cuts up their insides something fierce and gets the knife stuck inside. You want one? We got a box full of Gem.

They come in ten different colors.

I'm partial to neon red, myself.

Countdown to the Dark Future #272

Welcome to the Bag Lady's Market, home to the mysteries and treasures of the Cyberpunk world. You'll find something new here all the time! Here's the Bag Lady's daily special...

That? That's the Bell Bumblebee. Three feet tall and about eighty pounds of old school rotocraft drone technology. The two rotating blades give her great maneuverability and the whole thing's already chipped in for remote control using a Cyberdeck. The Bumblee's not really designed for a fight. You can fit a crap ton of sensor gear in her but if you affix anything bigger than an SMG to it, you'll have problems when you fire 'cause the recoil will send her flying. Still, thing goes 120 MPH and has a range of over two hundred miles. That makes her a good eye in the sky, yeah?

Timeline: 2013 to 2019

Countdown to the Dark Future #273

2013

An impromptu concert by Johnny Silverhand turns into a riot. Eighteen die.

The Soulkiller virus is developed.

Netwatch is elevated from a private corp to a worldwide entity by a US/EEC treaty.

The first true Artificial Intelligence developed by Microtech In Sunnyvale, California.

Nomads complete the rebuild contract in Mexico City.

Shinka-Tenno ascends to the Japanese throne, ushering in the "New Age of Nippon".

Petrochem begins building massive CHOOH2 production facilities in South Wales, Australia.

Countdown to the Dark Future #274

2014

The NET is redesigned using the Ihara-Grubb algorithms. Rache Bartmoss plants the DataKrash virus into the NET's infrastructure.

Vatican III. The Catholic Church abolishes the celibacy requirement for clergy and allows women to ascend to the priesthood. The Church fractures. The largest splinter faction is the Church of Poland.

Large portions of Houston, TX become the property of Kizamasu, Incorporated.

Shinka Tenno is "removed" as Emperor of Japan The time of Tribulations begin.

As Nomad nations grow in size and economic power they gain more scrutinity[sic] from governments and Megacorps.

Countdown to the Dark Future #275

2015

The Lithuanian government hires cybernetically enhanced mercenaries to fight Latvian nationalists.

In North Carolina, construction on the underground Balsam City begins.

Jonathan Meta leads a group of soldiers and civilian contractors stuck in South America during the conflicts there and founds MetaCorp.

EEC puts strict regulations in place regarding possession and registration of military grade cyberware and cyberweapons. Psychological testing is a mandatory part of the process.

Japan establishes the New Yen to compete with the EEC's Eurodollar as a global currency.

Countdown to the Dark Future #276

2016

The 3rd Corporate War takes place almost entirely on the NET Billions of Eurodollars worth of damage is done to various Corp networks and systems.

137 are killed by Corporate security during an ecological protest in the Basque tourist region of Bermeo.

Japanese SDF experiments with human brains implanted into a bipedal tank go awry. 81 die. Korean terrorists are blamed.

Water supply in Adelaide, South Australia is ruined due to drought, industrial pollution, and river salinity. Arasaka Bank funds desalinization plant as Water Riots break out.

Countdown to the Dark Future #277

2017

The seven Nomad Nations come together and establish treaties to govern cooperation, sharing of resources, and procedures for competition when needed.

Arasaka and Militech engage in a proxy war in Southern Africa using local warlords and militias.

The Japanese SDF adopts new ACPA (Assisted Combat Personnel Armor) units designed by popular manga and anime artist Inoue Keuma Applications to join the SDF soar due to the positive publicity.

A published study shows only 25% of American football players will survive past their fifth active season. Rumors begin circulating that some players are brain-dead and being controlled by AI while on the field.

Countdown to the Dark Future #278

2018

Brushfire wars erupt in Eastern Europe Greece annexes Macedonia with Albanian support.

Japanese government unveils the "Ground SDF Plan for 2020", relying heavily on mobile armor such as ACPAs and AV units.

The MetaCorp Nomad Nation begins the salvage of Tampa, Florida, which was destroyed during the Collapse when an orbital strike in Tampa Bay damaged a city already partially flooded due to climate change.

DMS releases Bleeding Soul the braindance debut of teen prodigy KIDROK One part, a 88 second nightmare sequence is said to be the most intense experience in braindance history.

Countdown to the Dark Future #279

2019

Jinkyoku Tenno becomes the 128th Emperor of Japan. She is the first woman to openly sit on the Imperial Throne.

In South China, Golden Triangle drug gangs develop new virus-resistant strains of poppy, allowing them to begin limited production of opium and heroin again.

Storm Technology begins the work of salvaging Chicago, Illinois which was abandoned due to bioplague.

Due to the criminal activities of the Nuova Mafia many areas in Southern Italy are placed under martial law.

Detroit, Michigan has the highest murder rate in the United States. Detroit's solution to the problem is to wall off its Combat Zone.

Vidshows of 2020

Countdown to the Dark Future #280

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

Young Elvis: The use of a sophisticated AI personality model, CGI, and pornographic sex scenes pushed this program about the early life of the King to the top of the ratings every week.

Body Count: Part game show, part news program. Contestants guessed the number of gang-related homicides that took place in Night City the previous evening. The answers were revealed via news clips.

Countdown to the Dark Future #281

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

A Treasured Crown: An ongoing documentary designed to build nostalgia for British royalty and support for the then newly ascended Queen Victoria II in the United Kingdom.

Hogg County, TX: A sitcom about stereotypical yokels living in a rural county in the Free State of Texas. Over time it became surprisingly romantic as a relationship developed between their two male lead characters.

Countdown to the Dark Future #282

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

Combat Cabb: Based on the film based on the novel based on the real Combat Cabb company in Night City Combat Cabb was part sitcom, part action, and a fan favorite that spent years on the air.

Have to Know: A news magazine which used investigative journalism techniques to build public distrust of individuals and small organizations opposed to Megacorps. The news was real, but heavily spun.

Countdown to the Dark Future #283

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

You Decide!: A series of different daytime programs ranging from "real" court cases to soap operas. The script changed depending on how the home audience votes in real time.

The Board: High drama about a fictional Megacorp board engaged in low-key corporate warfare. Real Megacorps paid sponsorship fees to be portrayed positively on the show.

Countdown to the Dark Future #284

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

Talsoran Rex: The animated adventures of the most lovable mascot of all time, told as they gobbled their way through the world of Jurassic City.

Skin Game: A blending of pornography and game show as contestants were dared to live out sexual fantasies (both their own and those of the audience) live on holographic camera for cash and prizes.

Countdown to the Dark Future #285

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

Firebase Coyote: A rather daring drama taking place during the SouthAm Wars. It made it 800 episodes before ending with the Long Walk, as thousands were abandoned by the US government instead of being brought home.

America's Most Violent Home Videos: Physical comedy at its most grotesque. Everything from "gangers play with C4" to "beaverkid with a nail gun".

Countdown to the Dark Future #286

Whether displayed on a flat screen, floating in a holographic projection, or broadcasted directly on a viewer's cyberoptic marquee, vid entertainment remains a potent opiate for the masses in the Cyberpunk world.

Here's a few shows which were popular in 2020.

That Crazy Guy!: The comedy life of a couple of guys living in an apartment with their adorable cyberpsycho roommate, Chris. Actual members of MAX-TAC squads made small guest appearances.

Night with the Trauma Team: Medias embedded with Trauma Team units showed the glory and the gore of the world's premiere medical service. Heavily edited to polish Trauma Team's image.

Going Full Borg

Countdown to the Dark Future #287

By the time of the 4th Corporate War, full borg conversion was increasingly seen as a viable life option. Some saw going borg as the best way to stay ahead of the curve professionally while others embraced a transhumanistic philosophy of metal over meat. For many, it was the only way to escape chronic pain or incapacitating disability.

While becoming more common in the early 2020s, full borgs were still a rare sight for most. Because of this, and because of worries about cyberpsychosis, borgs were the subject of a great deal of urban myth and fearful prejudice. One step towards acceptance came when, during an interview, famed Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand told a story of being saved from a burning building by a full borg firefighter named Samantha.

Countdown to the Dark Future #288

Full Body Replacement is extremely expensive, costing between 40,000 and 1 20,000 Eurodollars for the hardware. That doesn't include the cost of the surgery needed or the therapy required afterwards to properly adjust to having a fully cybernetic body in a world made for flesh. Beyond the reach of the average citizen of the Dark Future.

The most common route for obtaining a fully borg body is via Corporate sponsorship. The application and screening process is lengthy but if a petitioner makes it through, they'll be given a brand new body and a 10 to 25 year employment contract. Once they've fulfilled the contract, they're free to live their life as they desire. Unless, of course, they want to sign up again for an upgrade...

Countdown to the Dark Future #289

For those who can afford to go full borg, there's a number of different options available.

The IEC Alpha Class: A baseline model and easily customizable.

The Dynalar Aquarius: Perfect for deep sea explorers.

The Cybermatrix Incorporated Copernicus: Designed for long term space survival.

The Militech Eclipse: A one-person black ops squad.

The Militech Enforcer: The ultimate in police protection.

The Dynalar Brimstone: Fighting fire without fear.

The Raven Microcybernetics Gemini: The perfect model to go full borg without losing that baseline human appearance.

Countdown to the Dark Future #290

For those who can afford to go full borg, there's a number of different options available.

The IEC Wingman: The reflexes, sensors, and machine interface system any pilot needs to compete.

The NovelTech Limited Samson: Strong. Durable. Loaded with the tools needed for any job. The perfect worker.

The IEC Dragoon: Seven feet of battlefield power. A walking tank.

The Moore Tech Sheol: Specifically designed to function in hazardous environments which would kill even the most cybered up meat.

The MD Tech Kildare: A medical borg design approved by the AMA and Trauma Team.

Countdown to the Dark Future #291

For those who can afford to go full borg, there's a number of different options available.

The Adrek Robotics Burroughs: Designed specifically for Martian life.

The Militech Spyder: Four arms. Complete sensor package. Camo systems. The perfect recon or espionage unit.

The Raven Microcybernetics Wiseman: For the Netrunner who doesn't want to be meat in cyberspace OR the meat world.

Full borgs can also add a number of options to their bodies, including normal cyberware such as weapons as well as EMP shielding, quick-change limb mounts, and nanosurgeon-packed longevity modules.

Countdown to the Dark Future #292

Full borgs looking to maximize their fighting potential can study PanzerFaust. This martial art was designed specifically to take advantage of cybernetically enhanced physical attributes and non-standard articulation. Most studios that offer training in PanzerFaust also offer a body upgrade package which updates the joints for better range of motion and adds striking plates to protect specific areas.

Among the weapons styles incorporated into PanzerFaust is one utilizing the Slamdance Incorporated Hyper Hammer: a solid-tungsten sledgehammer specially designed for full borgs. Rocket boosters built into the back of the head accelerate the hammer to near supersonic speeds for maximum damage potential to squishy flesh opponents.

Countdown to the Dark Future #293

A number of full borgs have made a name for themselves in dangerous professions. Among them:

Adam Smasher: A psychotic gun for hire and borg supremacist who caught the wrong end of a rocket and was rebuilt by Arasaka into the ultimate weapon of war.

Stephan Abramowicz: A covert operative for Infocomp who hit the edge of cyberpsychosis after an Arasaka spy tinkered with his brain chemistry.

Chrome Man: A single-minded Solo working for the "off the books" agency known as Edgerunners, Incorporated.

Shaitan: A freelance black-ops specialist with a special hatred for Arasaka. Part of the team that infiltrated Arasaka Towers In Night City before the nuke went off.

Maximum Metal

Countdown to the Dark Future #294

Going full borg isn't the only way to be a monster on the battlefield. There are a number of options for combatants looking to dominate while still retaining (most of) their original bodies.

The Arasaka Type-1 7k Guardian ACPA (Assisted Combat Personal Armor) is custom designed for security and police forces. The Guardian is ready for combat with light and heavy machine guns or for pacification thanks to a mounted Techtronica Model 009 Volt Pistol and a carried multipurpose Excalibur Nightstick.

Retina and blood sensors, fire suppression hardware, searchlights, and a full sensor suite also make the Guardian perfect for single unit patrols.

Countdown to the Dark Future #295

Going full borg isn't the only way to be a monster on the battlefield. There are a number of options for combatants looking to dominate while still retaining (most of) their original bodies.

Russian Arms Boris ACPA is famous for being both The overweight (a hallmark of the Russian Arms design aesthetic) and underarmed when put up against vehicles and other ACPAs.

The extra weight, however, means the Boris can be loaded with external accessories, making it popular with buyers who want to customize and don't expect to be marching into environments where the sheer mass of the ACPA will cause issues.

Countdown to the Dark Future #296

Going full borg isn't the only way to be a monster on the battlefield. There are a number of options for combatants looking to dominate while still retaining (most of) their original bodies.

The Dynalar/Zetatech Grasshopper was an early attempt at an ACPA and more resembles enhanced personal armor than a walking tank. As a battle unit, it works well in low danger urban environments but fares more poorly on battlefields. The Grasshopper comes standard with an internal grenade launcher and fletchette auto-pistol. Most units come packaged with a heavy machine gun which can be carried. The Grasshopper's low weight makes a flying wing and pulse-jet package an easy add-on, making it popular with some extreme sport's enthusiasts.

Countdown to the Dark Future #297

Going full borg isn't the only way to be a monster on the battlefield. There are a number of options for combatants looking to dominate while still retaining (most of) their original bodies.

The Orbital Air/ Raven Microcybernetics Spider is an example of extreme specialization in ACPA design. Spiders are suitable for one task: orbital assault. Maneuver jets make travel through vacuum easy and an extensive, and expensive, ECM suite prevents targets from radioing for help or even clocking a Spider's existence. By the time an enemy ship or installation realizes a Spider is there, the pilot has already unloaded a payload of targeted micromissiles to knock out their defenses and begun cutting through the hull with a monosword.

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While full borgs and ACPAs have sex appeal, there's still a place for good old-fashioned armored vehicles in the world of Cyberpunk.

The PB 2000 is rough, rugged, and ready for the realities of cargo hauls in the Dark Future. This tractor unit is surprisingly fuel efficient and, more importantly, can be easily modified to accept different types of fuel, from CHOOH2 to diesel.

The M-11 is a state-of-the-art battle tank. Fast, heavily armed and armored, and designed specifically for a cyberlinked driver, the M-1 1 is purposefully expensive. The tank was designed so that any Corporation with an eye on the bottom line would think twice before building one to match for their own security forces.

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While full borgs and ACPAs have sex appeal, there's still a place for good old-fashioned armored vehicles in the world of Cyberpunk.

The New American Motors Armadillo Armored Road-Home was designed for Corp execs who want to enjoy the great outdoors from a secure vantage point but it has become popular with Nomads and with security forces and militaries who repurpose the vehicle as mobile command and M*A*S*H* units.

Dealing with owners who are angry you're hauling your ride away can be hard. It gets even harder when they're armed! The New American Motors Vulture Heavy Tow Truck has armor, a robotic tow connector, and the raw horsepower to haul up to 86 tons worth of vehicle.

Countdown to the Dark Future #300

While full borgs and ACPAs have sex appeal, there's still a place for good old-fashioned armored vehicles in the world of Cyberpunk.

The New American Motors Ambunaught protects paramedic crews as they work. In addition to heavy armor, the vehicle is environmentally sealed and fireproof. The built-in roll cage can survive having up to 2 tons dropped on it and the suspension makes for a smooth ride over almost any surface.

The VMW[sic] 2020 is the urban patrol vehicle of choice for many police and security forces. Solid state tires and a heavy armor protects the officers inside while a remote turret system allows them to fire back. The containment facility in the back can host up to four guests.

Solos of Fortune

Countdown to the Dark Future #301

Little concrete information is known about the Solo who called herself Tvikki. She was Russian-born and her skills suggest training by the Russian VDV a special forces unit. Whatever her background, she travelled to the United States in 2017, worked as a Solo for hire, then hopped over to Europe where she hooked up with several terrorist groups before becoming a staunch anti-biotech revolutionary.

John Jones was another Solo with a cause. Instead of blowing up Corps developing biotechnology, though, he was a specialist in finding lost children. He wasn't the sort of Solo one hired. Instead, he just appeared, found his target, rescued them, and returned them to their homes before vanishing once more.

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Andrew "Boa Boa" Weyland was a Corp Solo, leading a team known as the Water Leopards for PetroChem. Boa Boa's specialties included extractions and assassinations, which brought him into conflict with both Morgan Blackhand and John Jones on occasion. That he survived those encounters speaks a lot about Boa Boa's skills.

Rogue never got a mention in any of the top 10 best Solo lists and her history with famous men, including Johnny Silverhand, Morgan Blackhand, and Nomad Santiago tends to overshadow talk about her skills. Despite that, Rogue was one of the best Solos of her day and more than once part of events which changed the shape of the world.

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In 1 997, a prominent news magazine featured a photograph of a little girl named Lynda, clutching a melted polymer one-shot pistol, staring wide eyed at the ruins of Coney Island following three days of riots. The headline read: "America: the End is Here".

That little girl grew up to become Lynx. Her teen years were ones of murder and anarchy with booster gangs. As an adult, she served in SouthAm.

After that she went full Solo and began trying to reclaim her basic humanity, removing a lot of her cyberware and going through therapy but her addictions just shifted from chrome and violence to expensive organic drugs. It isn't known if she was able to rise above her past or if she burned out trying.

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Jean-Claude Monroe aka Nutter, learned combat as a Marine. His sense of discipline led to bodyguard jobs, where he learned intimidation was often a better weapon than a firearm. Which explains why he poured his savings into a Dragon Bioexotic body, complete with mouth-mounted flamethrower. His services were in high demand but he prefered unusual asignments.

Traci Jo Marlowe was a Corp Solo, through and through. A veteran of the Central American Wars, she went to work for Militech after the wars and worked her way up to a Street Rep position. When Militech wanted something done off the books, Marlowe was the one who did the hiring. She never hired for suicide missions and she always went along on the job and pulled her weight as part of the team.

Countdown to the Dark Future #305

Juan-Paul "RipperDoc" Duvalier was but one pseudonym used by a respected European Solo known for his skill with a blade, his complete lack of cyberware, and his second career as a writer for Solo of Fortune magazine.

Maria Chung, also known as the Stormy Terror, took to martial arts as if born to it. By twenty-seven she had mastered multiple disciplines, including Tae Kwon Do and Akido. The only thing that distracted her from her studies was her best friend: a Thundergod motorcycle that she treated with a lover's touch.

Race Chapel was a Solo who served as both bodyguard and assistant to Morgan Blackhand's Techie of choice, Dexter Dobbs Race was also famous for an abundance of caution which bordered on full-out paranoia.

Countdown to the Dark Future #306

Haruko Kanawa defined the concept of Corporate Ninja so glamorized in the media. She was equally capable of stealth as she was of combat. She originally worked directly for Seiji Okano, an Arasaka executive plotting a takeover of the company.

Despite the failure of that plan, she survived and became a covert-ops team leader for Arasaka during the 4th Corporate War.

Kestral worked for a Corp team in Central America during the conflict there. When it became clear her side was losing, she faked her death and extracted herself back to the States. After that, she became a Solo for hire but carefully avoided Corp contracts. She knew too much about how Corps worked to trust them.

Countdown to the Dark Future #307

The Angels were said to be the best of the best, rumors suggested there were no more than twelve and each was an elite master of multiple martial skills.

Legend also suggested they lived in the Crystal Palace, from where they would descend upon their targets in a blur of grace and deadly beauty.

It would be easy to dismiss the Angels as nothing more than an urban legend. No actual records of them exist. There are no expense reports or memos which prove they were ever hired.

But several prominent Solos of the 2020 era insisted they were real and these were hard-bitten folk, not prone to exaggeration or fairy tales.

Your Little Friends

Countdown to the Dark Future #308

In the 2020s, Biotechnica and Adrek Robotics were rivals in the "cyberpet" business.

Biotechnica focused on providing consumers with genetically tailored, vat grown, and cybernetically enhanced animals, both as pets and for more functional purposes.

Meanwhile Adrek took a "from the ground up" approach. Their earliest cyberforms were obviously robotic machines but later models were sculpted to look like animals.

The secret to Adrek's success was the ceretronic core: bio-engineered neural tissue fused with AI-driven microprocessors modeled after animal behaviors.

Countdown to the Dark Future #309

The Biotechnica Digital Watchdog made sure "Rover is waiting for you and you alone when you get home", transforming even the most mild-mannered of dog breeds into efficient guardians of their territory.

The basic package functioned more like an alarm system than a weapon, though further upgrades were available.

Biotechnica's Perfect Pet package was designed as a stop-gap measure for customers who were attached to their already existing pet and didn't want a brand new, vat grown companion. The package installed custom-programmed behaviors into a pet, allowing the owner to skip all that tedious training business.

Countdown to the Dark Future #310

The Biotechnica Cyberpred was exactly what it sounds like. Take an efficient animal predator, designed by nature to be a killing machine, then add cyberware to make it even deadlier. The difficulty in controlling Cyberpreds left traditional training methods out. Instead, they were programmed to recognize key scents and attack, or not attack, based on the presence of absence of specific odors.

Cyberpreds were usually large dogs, wolves, or even great cats. Cybernetic modifications included neural processors, olfactory boosters, skinweave armor, bone and muscle lace, pain editors, grafted muscles, and cyberclaws and fangs. Advanced models included full cyberlimbs and cybernetic senses.

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Biotechnica's Animal Eyes program transformed animals into mobile reconnaissance units. They were hardwired with sensors and trained via an implanted pleasure-center stimulator to patrol specific areas. The data captured by their cybernetic sensor package could either be transmitted or, for missions requiring radio silence, be recorded internally for later retrieval.

OTEC and CINO later expanded on Animal Eyes to Sentry Dolphins with cyberware specially create designed to look organic, making it hard to distinguish a Sentry Dolphin from a natural one.

OTEC and CINO also used cybernetically enhanced Killer Whales to guard the humpback whale herds they bred for meat and medicinal purposes.

Countdown to the Dark Future #312

The Adrek Robotics Model A-2 Tarantula cyberform vaguely resembled a small, robotic spider. 15 centimeters wide and equipped with four legs which allowed it to climb almost any surface, the Tarantula made the perfect assassin. The Tarantula could operate independently or via remote with a human or AI pilot.

Once a Tarantula reached its target, it simply needed to get close enough to use its injection system and pump the substance of the owner's choice into the victim. For mass assassinations or kidnappings, the Tarantula was capable of carrying up to six doses of specific drugs and toxins.

In the 2020s, rumors abounded of Tarantulas being used in Corp-sponsored mass sterlization campaigns.

Countdown to the Dark Future #313

The Adrek Robotics Model B-2 Centipede was just short of one meter long and had built in sensors, wall crawling capabilities, and stealth systems. A flexible, segmented body meant it could crawl through almost any opening. It also came standard with an airgun, a micro missile launcher, and a ceretronic brain making it slightly smarter than the average dog. Like the Centipede, the A-3 Beetle from Adrek Robotics was built to be intelligent but was roughly the size of a soccer ball. Built in telescoping power saws and a laser made it perfect for infiltrating any fortified compound and burning out the enemies inside.

Adrek also offered a model of the Beetle with small thrusters, designed for use in space.

Countdown to the Dark Future #314

In addition to more traditional robotic cyberforms, Adrek Robotics offered models which more closely resemble the animals they were inspired by.

The 100 series were hunter/ killer units, usually modeled after primates. Their high intelligence, heavy-duty combat chassis, and combat software and hardware loadout made them perfect for the battlefield.

The Chacmool Cybercat featured heavy sensor/ comm packages and was designed for heavy security duty.

The famed Max Police Dog could be as friendly as a real dog when dealing with children yet capable of tracking down a suspect and ripping them apart with built-in SMGs and rippers if needed.

Timeline: 2020 to 2045

Countdown to the Dark Future #315

2020

A Corporate AV crash releases a nanotech plague on "Carbon Plague" the outskirts of Night City. This ravages the city for two weeks, then mysteriously vanishes.

Storm Technologies works with the Aldecaldo and Jode Nomad Nations to begin rebuilding Chicago, which was devastated and almost entirely abandoned years earlier because of plague.

2021

CINO attempts to acquire bankrupt Aquacorp IHAG Rival OTEC opposes them. War breaks out on and underneath the world's oceans.

Countdown to the Dark Future #316

2022

CINO and OTEC hire Arasaka and Militech to aid in their scuffle, laying the ground work for a much larger conflict.

Rache Bartmoss is killed in a Corporate raid. His death triggers the DataKrash virus.

The 4th Corporate War begins when Arasaka and Militech move beyond their CINO/OTEC contracts and into direct conflict with one another.

The Highriders of O'Neill 2 declare independence. They prove their ability to defend themselves with mass-driver rock drops at key points on the Earth's surface. The US and Japan recognize the new nation.

Countdown to the Dark Future #317

The 4th Corporate War causes a global disruption in shipping and travel. Corporations begin to collapse.

US President Elizabeth Kress reactivates the commission of General Donald Lundee CEO of Militech. The company is effectively nationalized.

A team infiltrates Arasaka Towers In Night City. During the mission a small nuclear device is detonated, causing what has become known as the Night City Holocaust. Half a million people die almost instantly.

Particulate debris from the Highrider orbital rock strikes, Night City Holocaust, and fires burning due to conventional military activity create a red tinged sky world-wide. The Time of the Red begins.

Countdown to the Dark Future #318

2024 to 2025

The 4th Corporate War ends, with lingering pockets of resistance mopped up in North America by national and Militech forces.

Use of the NET has almost stopped entirely, as the DataKrash virus and the presence of RABIDS makes it almost impossible to navigate.

An internal struggle within the Japanese government ends when Arasaka is repudiated and sanctioned, becoming, for all intents and purposes, a Japan-only Corp.

Europe, less damaged by ground fighting than many areas of the world, works quickly to restore infrastructure and governmental functions.

Countdown to the Dark Future #319

2026 to 2030

The Resettlement Movement begins as refugees begin reclaiming cities originally abandoned during the Collapse of the 1990s.

Local businesses begin growing, taking up the slack of Megacorps who find it difficult to organize and compete on a global level without international shipping infrastructure and the NET.

Arasaka breaks into three warring factions: the Bakafu Faction headed by Hanako Arasaka; the Princess Faction headed by Michiko Arasaka, and the Rebel Faction headed by Yorinobu Arasaka

Martial law once again rules the US under the effective dictatorship of President Elizabeth Kress.

Countdown to the Dark Future #320

2030 to 2035

The rebuilding of Night City begins. The shape of the city changes as gigatons of radioactive material are poured into the bay to create new landmass. Morro Rock is uncovered.

Nomads begin rebuilding the shipping infrastructure, taking control of ports, container ships, and trade routes.

Networks, known as CitiNets, are built to help replace the NET on local levels. Netwatch oversees the process to ensure nothing escapes from the old NET.

Rumors begin circulating that Johnny Silverhand's body was found in a cryotank during excavations of the Corporate Center of Night City.

Countdown to the Dark Future #321

2035 to 2045

Local elections resume in the US President Kress vows there will be no national elections until treaties exist between the IJS and the Free States.

New Corps rise to power and old Corps rebuild. New technology begins circulating, although in limited quantities. Rumors of Morgan Blackhand being spotted arise.

Netwatch finally gives up the battle for the Old NET and works to shut down all major Nodes.

Data Pools are established, creating open content networks that allow for the rise of PopMedia.

MegaBuildings are erected in Night City and other cities, providing a new twist on the arcology concept.

Famous Medias

Countdown to the Dark Future #322

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

One of the longest running underground screamsheets before the 4th Corporate War hit Doctor Paradox's Mysteries printed or displayed as a collection of barely coherent rantings, post-modern poetry, and purposefully disturbing images designed to "shake up the masses".

By 2020, Doctor Paradox began heavily promoting conspiracy theories, including a government plot to turn everyone into zombies with the help of an insane AI. In fact, Paradox believed President Elizabeth Kress to be an Artificial Intelligence who used a brainwashed actor to present a human face to the public when needed.

Countdown to the Dark Future #323

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

As anchor of DMS's Night City newscast, Marylou Ellerby was the most trusted face in Northern California. She had a perfect resume, a heartwarming backstory, and her optimism warmed the hearts of everyone who watched. It all seemed too good to be true.

And it was. Marylou turned out to be an AI built to be the perfect face for DMS's news service. The fact came out when she tried to negotiate a contract, dragging DMS into a legal battle over the rights of Als. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the 4th Corporate War came along before legal precedent could be set on the matter.

Countdown to the Dark Future #324

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

In 2020, Angela Wu was a junior reporter for the Tab, a Night City screamsheet. Angela made her bones as a media with an expose which revealed unsafe programming in Battle Frenzy virtuality game chips from Wired Entertainment Systems.

The chips were almost guaranteed to trigger PTSD flashbacks and cyberpsychotic behavior in anyone with intense combat experience. Not long after, Battle Frenzy was recalled, although WES refused to issue a precise statement as to why. Angela earned a few free drinks at the Press Club for that story.

Countdown to the Dark Future #325

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

C.J. O'Reilly was a regular writer for Solo of Fortune magazine known for his sarcastic, over-the-top tales of adventure in exotic locales as well as for the occasional piece highlighting the plight of veterans in the US.

C.J.'s most famous work was a Solo of Fortune Special Edition focusing on the Forlorn Hope, a hotel and bar in Night City which catered to Solos and veterans. A veteran himself, C.J. was able to connect with many of the regulars at the Forlorn Hope and told their story with a raw truth few media outlets at the time were willing to show.

Countdown to the Dark Future #326

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

When a military coup placed the United Kingdom under martial law in 2001 , many medias went underground. The most famous pirate journalist of the era was Sandra Royale, who exposed goverment abuses. She was arrested and imprisoned in 2019.

Two years later, with the ascendance of Victoria II to the throne, Sandra Royale was released from prison. She immediately went to work for the BBC under her real Cassandra King, where she retained her name, popularity and continued her tradition of in depth investigative reporting.

Countdown to the Dark Future #327

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

Trace Santiago decided to go into journalism rather than follow in his father, Nomad Santiago's footsteps as either a mercenary or a Nomad leader. During the 2030s and 2040s, Trace took advantage of his mobility to investigate and then write exposes and books about the 4th Corporate War and its aftermath.

Trace is most famous for uncovering the truth about the events which led up to the Night City Holocaust. It is because of his reporting that many residents in City are wary of the United States and Militech and more receptive to a return of Arasaka.

Countdown to the Dark Future #328

Corps may control information but individual news professionals, known as Medias, can still make a difference in the Dark Future.

Thompson started life like many Edgerunners: as a grunt in SouthAm His combat experience allowed him to connect with other Edgerunners, getting him dirt that made him famous enough to write his own ticket when it came which stories he covered.

Thompson's hatred of Arasaka, a Megacorp he believed killed his wife, was legendary. He worked on more than one occasion to not just investigate Arasaka but to attack it. Thompson was there when Johnny Silverhand attempted to rescue Alt Cunningham and with him again the night the Towers were nuked.

Street Slang

Countdown to the Dark Future #329

Androgynes: Someone who has voluntarily undergone surgery and chemical treatment to become sexually neutral.

AV: An aerodyne (flying car).

Beaver: Someone who lives in the suburbs.

Bennie: Someone from out of town.

Brain Potato: A braindance addict.

Chilled: To be cool; to be together.

Chippin' In: To buy cyberware for the first time; to connect with a machine.

Choombatta (Choomba): Neo-African slang for friend.

Chop: A credchip.

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Chopping: Cracking a stolen credchip.

Chromatic Rock: A type of heavy metal characterized by heavy electronics, simple rhythms, and violent lyrics.

Chunking: Eating on the run.

Corpse: Derogatory term for a Corporate employee.

Culture-Vulture: Derogatory term for a Media.

C-YA: Cover your ass (pronounced "see you").

Deckhead: A Netrunner.

Dirty: Low-tech.

Dorphs: Synthetic endorphins.

Doughboy/girl: Someone wearing too much armor.

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Draga: Expensive.

The Edge: The fringes of society.

Exotic: A human who uses biosculpting and cyberware to take on non-human physical traits.

Flatline: To kill.

Full Borg: Someone who has replaced as much of their body with cyberware as posible.

Gato: A smooth operator.

Gibson: Someone who can tell the future.

Giri: Japanese term for obligation or honor.

Goldenkid: The new money elite of Europe.

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Gonk: An idiot.

Gyro: Small one or two person helicopters.

Handle: A nickname; a working name you are known by on the street.

Hard: Cool or hip.

Hound Tipping: Ambushing and programming police robodogs.

Info Bro: An information broker.

Jack: Money.

Kleptoid: A thief.

Mr/Ms/Mx Who: A person of high authority.

Countdown to the Dark Future #333

New Templar: Someone who purposefully lives a "middle ages" lifestyle.

Paranoid: Someone who has all the facts.

Plexer: Someone who lives in an arcology.

Porky: Someone who collects an overabundance of weapons.

Pu-taro: Someone without a job.

Ram: Personality.

Recycling: Killing someone and taking the corpse to the body-bank.

Reality Junkies: Braindance or virtuality addict.

Rimbo: An attractive gun specialist of any gender. A decorative bodyguard.

Countdown to the Dark Future #334

Ripperdoc: A doctor or surgeon operating outside the establishment, often specializing in cyberware implants.

Ronin: A freelance assassin or mercenary.

Sardine: A powered armor trooper.

Samurai: A Corporate assassin or mercenary.

Skeleton: All a person's data; an electronic footprint.

Slammit On: To get violent.

Smoothie: A Eurosolo; a suave solo.

Static: Nomad term for a non-nomad.

The Street: Wherever you live, late at night; the local underground subculture.

Countdown to the Dark Future #335

Stuffit: To have sex.

Svoluch: Someone without honor.

Tower Stress: A condition in which an entire arcology/self-sustaining building erupts into violence.

Yono: Korean slang for someone who is scum.

Vid: Video entertainment.

Vlad: Someone who believes themselves to be a vampire.

VRcade: A braindance or virtuality parlor (pronounce ver-cade).

The Word: A pidgin language spoken by spacers.

Zako: A weak enemy.

Actual Plays

Countdown to the Dark Future #336

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

In 2018, the crew of Playstation Access (which at that time included Bennett, the now UK head of communication for CDPR) played a game of Cyberpunk 2020 involving the greatest rocker of all time. That's right. We're talking about Jimi Mutiny.

https://youtu.be/_FlU6p9KKzU

Countdown to the Dark Future #337

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

WanderingDM's Twitch channel has hosted many of our games, including a fantastic charity play of the Witcher TRPG featuring Doug Cockle as Geralt, Matt Mercer as Dandelion, He's recently begun a promising Cyberpunk Red campaign which may involve professional wrestling (https://youtu.be/U_9uIMxTwYs)

Countdown to the Dark Future #338

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

Down in Australia four brave souls have banded together to play the Going Mainstream Cyberpunk 2020 campaign. What happens when a morning DJ patterned after Jim from Taxi, a punkrockergirl, and a Fixer with his own agenda come together to broadcast a message of rebellion on the biggest radio transmitter around?

https://bit.ly/2rL5yWQ

Countdown to the Dark Future #339

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

Dark Future Dice brings together two tabletop newbies with an experienced GM to tell a story about a missing woman, a casino owner, a ruined arcology and, eventually, selling meat. Funny and and suspenseful, with an amazing cast of cleverly named NPCs, this is a podcast worth listening to.

https://rocketadrift.com/darkfuturedice/

Countdown to the Dark Future #340

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

The Fandible crew have played dozens of TRPGs and they bring their unique style to a Cyberpunk Red game where a rockerboy, his manager, and their driver get a job to hijack a shipment of Emerald City from Dorothy and her gang of Tin Men, Lions, and Scarecrows. Stay to the ending for a shocking twist!

https://bit.ly/2DzKkhg

Countdown to the Dark Future #341

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

The folks at Shadowcaster's Network know the cyberpunk genre but their Punk's Not Dead campaign is the first time they've tackled the Cyberpunk TRPG. Tune in for intense story and a complex plot in addition to deep cuts about the genre as a whole.

https://youtu.be/z_zUO_gEv1U

Countdown to the Dark Future #342

Curious about Cyberpunk 2020/Red? One of the best ways to learn is to watch other people playing! There have been a number of great Actual Plays of Cyberpunk, in which gamers got together and recorded themselves around the table.

Anyone who has watched Polygon's Overboard series knows they're in for a fun time watching video game geeks play board games. Wewere[sic] proud to see them play Cyberpunk Red as their first tabletop RPG and amused to see them bring their signature style, including a Friends posergang, to the game.

https://youtu.be/oCp_2hqguUg

Night City 2045

Countdown to the Dark Future #343

The tactical nuke that took down Arasaka Towers and caused the collapse of the Corporate Center rocked the earth and liquified much of the city's foundations, causing flooding. Entire neighborhoods beyond the Corp Center had already been destroyed by Corporate combat. Survivors fled to the surrounding suburbs.

What was left of the Night City government begged favors from a wide variety of Edgerunners for help. The Aldecaldo Nomad Nation came in and constructed housing, then moved on, clearing the Corporate Center and pushed it into the bay, creating new land.

The Night City of 2045 is rebuilding itself and its residents are determined never to bow to an outside party ever again.

Countdown to the Dark Future #344

In 2045, Night City can be roughly divided into five zones.

The Hot Zone Wasteland: Wrecked skyscrapers and background radiation at the center of the city.

The Rebuilding Urban Center: Around the old Corporate Center, crews work on restoring the damage done.

The Overpacked Suburbs: Once beavervilles, these areas are packed with those who fled the city center. Megabuildings are rising up to house the population.

The Reclaimed Perimeter: Pioneers, known as Reclaimers, try to buld[sic] a new life from the bones of Greater Night City towns abandoned during the Collapse.

The Open Road: The province of Nomads, who use military hardware to maintain control and make some travel and trade possible.

Countdown to the Dark Future #345

The Night City of 2045 is nominally governed by a council dominated by a disparate alliance of factions, including representatives of important Nomad families, the old city government, factions of Edgerunners, and the Corporate interests of Zetatech, Biotechnica, and Petrochem.

The central leadership of Night City is weak, with each district ruled by whatever faction has power. Conflicts between the factions are frequent and sometimes settled with weapons on the Street. No one faction hold the upper hand. Shifting alliances, and agendas, are common.

The availability of public services changes from district to district. NCTC, the Night City bus service, still functions fairly well on a city-wide level but NCART, the subway service, is unreliable due to many tunnels being flooded.

Countdown to the Dark Future #346

Following the Night City Holocaust, Commander Max Hammerman kept MAX-TAC often known as the Cyberpsycho Squad together through sheer force of will. Slowly, he built upon those foundations, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood to shut down ad-hoc protection rackets and recruit new officers.

By 2030, the Night City Police Department was fully re-established. In 2045, it is an independent law enforcement department which maintains contracts with each of Night City's districts. Under Hammerman's leadership, the NCPD is efficient, dangerous, and, most importantly, reasonable moral, making them a better alternative to gang-based or privately hired security forces which only provide security for those who can afford protection fees.

Countdown to the Dark Future #347

Instead of a building a new NET to replace the one Krashed by Rache Bartmoss people in the Time of the Red have looked to what already existed to rebuild their digital infrastructure: Data Terms, the network of durable screamsheet output boxes built practically block by block in most cities.

Data Pools, built onto the back of the Data Term networks, connect information servers and exchange systems designed for open use within the limits of a city. Data Pools allow for free and collaborative content to be exchanged using hyperstack page systems and have become a primary source of communication and information in the Time of the Red. They've even given rise to PopMedia: news and entertainment content created by producers independent of the big MediaCorps.

Countdown to the Dark Future #348

In the Night City of 2045, most low-cost, day-to-day purchases are done via Vendits: vending machines which can dispense everything from meals to clothing to weapons. Most Vendits are well armored and equipped with stun gas dispensers and tasers to discourage vandalism and theft. Some come equipped with 3d printers in order to produce items on demand.

Rarer goods can be found in Night Markets which appear for a limited time when a local Fixer gets their hands on a large shipment of goods, usually uncovered by a Nomad or Edgerunner group from a stash buried or abandoned due to the 4th Corporate War. Getting into a Night Market is more about connections than anything else. Invitations only go out to those a Fixer trusts and they're only there long enough to sell the goods, making them easy to miss.

Countdown to the Dark Future #349

One of the most interesting changes in the Night City of 2045 involves food. After the 4th Corporate War, folks who remembered the old ways before kibble and SCOP kitbashed together acid filtering rain barrels, tore up cement to get to the soil, and started planting gardens. They are tended with love, care, and an eye towards protection. Small wars have broken out over access to one of these guerilla gardens and people are willing to die for them.

Some folks in Night City have gone even further, attempting to raise real chickens, dwarf pigs, and even goats for eggs, milk, and meat. Nomads are paid good money to transport (and sometimes steal) animals from bioengineered farms to the urban sprawl where they are worth more than their weight in bullets and blood.

Cyberpunk Quotes

Countdown to the Dark Future #350

Silverhand raises the big black gun. A red pinpoint centers on Toshiro's forehead. "Bang." says Johnny. The Hand convulses.

"Bang" says the gun.

Silverhand turns and gathers up her still warm body in his arms. Behind the wall of monitors, a disembodied screams at him.

But he can't hear her as he walks away.

From Never Fade Away first published in Cyberpunk (1988)

Countdown to the Dark Future #351

6:30: Early call. Responded to warehouse district. Patient victim of Booster skirmish. Open chest. Trauma to liver, pancreas. Two collapsed lungs. Blood PH four over norm. Patient flatlined. Unable to revive. Removed model K-100 cyberarm with combat options for compensation. Suggest placing half of resale into company Christmas fund as per norm.

9:47: Broken card alert at Hari Kari Sushi restaurant. Corp patient found choking on piece of squid. Administered swift slap to back and dislodged foreign object. Read patient list of response charges. Patient became hostile and threatened lawsuit. Added surcharges. Patient pulled firearm, forcing Solo to fire in self defense. Patient revived and brought to Med Center. Suggest cancelling account after payment of bills.

From One Night with Trauma Team first published in Cyberpunk (1988)

Countdown to the Dark Future #352

Night City's temperate Northern California location gives it one of the most pleasant climates in the western United States. Normal temperature ranges are in the mid 80's to low 50'S[sic], with misty white fog blanketing the City in the early mornings and evenings. Rainfall is usually about 21 inches per year. Of this, only an average 35% contains an acid/ toxicity factor higher than current government standards for IJS.-produced clothing and vehicles. In general, if your vehicle and clothing are rated above SP 12, adverse effects (staining, ablation) will be negligible.

When visiting Night City, you should wear light to medium weight clothing, with a light armor jacket or ballistic-cloth overcoat optional. A filter mask and supplemental oxygen are highly recommended as a hedge against inversion smogs and acid rain fog. However, acid-proof slickers, umbrellas and airmasks are readily available from sidewalk vendors during smog warning periods at moderate (20-35eb ) costs.

From Topic: Weather first published in Night City (1991)

Countdown to the Dark Future #353

It didn't take long for me to start feeling uncomfortable. The moment I walked through the door everyone looked at me. If I'd been a regular, I'm quite sure everyone would have gone back to their drinks and jokes. As an unfamiliar face, though, everyone continued to stare. Conversation didn't stop, but there was a noticeable drop in volume. At least the band didn't stop playing. I put on my best casual look and headed for the bar. The Forlorn Hope is in the grand lobby of the old Hotel Sierra, and the bar is where the reception desk once was, at the back of the room, diagonally opposite the front door. It took maybe thirty seconds for me to thread my way through the crowded tables across the room. It felt like a day and a half.

From Back from the Far Side of Chaos first published in Tales from the Forlorn Hope (1992)

Countdown to the Dark Future #354

We-Spider, Dog, Edger, myself, and a few other schizophriends-we used to run the Net for a reason: freedom. We ran it because we could, and we were living legends, free-flying unchained gods of electronic liberty. We lynched Netwatch hacks because we could, because it was the right thing to do, and not because someone's ex-spouse was willing to cough up a couple grams of drug du jour or an assignation for a Net assassination.

We burned the castles-we didn't commandeer them for ourselves. We pushed the envelope for the sheer hysteria of doing what everyone else thought was impossible, and maybe they were right and weld lose our cortex, but we wouldn't have to live in that dank dungeon of self-preservation where you sit for eternity trying to forget that you never really tried.

From Rache Against the Machine first published in Bartmoss' Brainware Blowout (1996)

Countdown to the Dark Future #355

It turns out Beckwith was impressed enough with my fighting abilities that he wanted to put me on The People's Arena, versus a representative of his choosing, as a way of settling his legal complaint for my shoddy behavior as his guest. Well, what the hell. Six weeks later, I was back in Hollywood at DMS studio 8-B for the live broadcast, with plenty of friends and family in attendance. I had never been on big-time TV before, and I was excited. There were plenty of bright lights, which I expected; Beckwith, looking suave, which I expected; about thirty-five DMS armed security people; which I expected (if you welsh out on the game, they can kill you, it turns out).

From Lessons Learned and Bridges Burned first published in Live and Direct (1996)

Countdown to the Dark Future #356

"Well, well. Almost like old times, eh Johnny?" Thompson runs the diagnostics on his FN-RAL one last time as he speaks. Camouflage green combat armor sits next to him, his camera already chipped into the helmet's control port.

"Not quite. We've got a lot better support than a thousand screaming fanboys this time." Rogue quirks a grin as she looks out at Shaitan's camouflaged form leaning against the massive self-propelled artillery unit parked next to their trailer.

"And the stakes are a lot higher this time. A lot higher." Johnny's eyes are calm, but the Hand clenches and unclenched like it's possessed.

"Tonight, Araska Tower falls."

From A Gathering of Hosts: 2022 first published in Firestorm: Shockwave (1997)

Cyberpunk Memories

Countdown to the Dark Future #357

When I started playing Cyberpunk 2020 as a kid the world was obsessed with technological advancements, TV was full of shows of what new inventions we will see after the 2000s, the Internet was fairly new and full of possibilities and we all thought we would live amongst robots and flying cars when we were adults.

Cyberpunk 2020 allowed us to live in this world, but in a very dark version that gave another (sometimes very funny) perspective and forced you to think what will happen when technology goes wrong and when the powerful use it against you, but differently to books or films, the game gave the possibility to interact with this future to squeeze your mind to find a way to make the most of it.

The Madqueen

Countdown to the Dark Future #358

What is happening is Overwhelming. I think we got used to all the letters and emails down the years. There were the police, and the veterans saying "Keep it up. This is deadly but it's true. People have to know that when you get shot in the chest without armor you probably die." There were the couples that found each other playing Cyberpunk. There were the people who were having a tough time and Cyberpunk gave them a place to go to get away. It felt really good to hear from and reach out to this enormous net of people. After Cyberpunk and Castle Falkenstein, much like most designers I suppose, people would come up at conventions. "You're Mike Pondsmith, you wrote my favorite game!" Michael said he was happy being a little bit famous.

Then there was CD Projekt Red.

Lisa Pondsmith,

Business Manager & Writer for R. Talsorian Games

Countdown to the Dark Future #359

From Arcane Presents the Top 50 Roleplaying Games published in Arcane's winter 1996 issue.

Cyberpunk ranked 10th as chosen by readers. Congratulations to Call of Cthulhu! They knicked the top spot.

Cyberpunk was the first of the 'straight' cyberpunk RPGs, and is still the best. The difference between cyberpunk and other sci-fi is a matter of style and attitude. Every thing about the Cyberpunk game, from the background to the rules system, is designed to create this vital atmosphere. Cyberpunk is set in an unforgiving world where betrayal and double-crosses are common, trust is hard to find and paranoia is a useful survival trait.

Paul Petengale,

Editor

Countdown to the Dark Future #360

Rache Bartmoss—see?—appeared in brief pull quotes in the original edition of Cyberpunk He had been conceived, a twinkle in Pondsmith's eye, but he was a ghost, an echo, until The Mike asked Yours Truly to write Rache Bartmoss' Guide to the Net. He wanted a cyberpsychotic Hunter S. Thompson. Of course, I had never read Hunter S. Thompson, nor seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but I needed the cash. And a cursory search of the nascent Intertoobs gave me enough of an idea to start.

So I unleashed my heretofore unknown muse to blow its brains out all over my computer keyboard.

Edward Bolme,

Cyberpunk Writer

Countdown to the Dark Future #361

"Cyberpunk was a huge success, defining a whole new genre for roleplaying, just like Gibson's books defined a whole new genre of literature."

"The extent of Cyberpunk's success (in both editions) can be seen in the ripples it caused in the rest of the industry. []. Young company Atlas Games started publishing adventures for Cyberpunk [] and would later recount that they were more successful than most d20 books a decade later."

"Second, the whole industry, seeing R. Talsorian's success, started putting out cyberpunk games of their own."

"Of course, while the rest of the industry reacted to R. Talsorian and Cyberpunk, Pondsmith kept happily putting out supplements for his top game, and reaping the benefits of the genre he'd created."

Shannon Appelcline,

Quotated with permission from Designers and Dragons: the 80's

Countdown to the Dark Future #362

Q: You said you have other characters that people might recognize that are drawn from your gaming sessions?

A: Oh sure, the basic idea of the character of Jenny Casey from the Hammered books came from a Cyberpunk 2020 game, along with several of her co-characters/supporting characters. The book itself is very much not a Cyberpunk 2020 setting, but I put a lot of time into developing my player characters and NPCs, and sometimes it's nice to give them a little life beyond the end of whatever gaming system they were in.

David Barr Kirtley interviewing author Elizabeth Bear,

From The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, August 2014

Countdown to the Dark Future #363

Cyberpunk 2020 was a part of my youth, and I really admired the way that it blended social commentary, humor, and meaty world-building. It's been a dream come true to work on the return of this series and to get to work with a gaming legend like Mike Pondsmith.

Long live Cyberpunk.

Patrick Mills

Cyberpunk 2077 Quest Designer

Countdown to the Dark Future #364

Q: What is Access To Arasaka? Why are [sic] you pick this moniker?

A: Access To Arasaka is actually a reference to the Cyberpunk 2020 old role-playing game called Arasaka was a large (and very antagonistic) corporation within the world of Cyberpunk. Bringing them down would have been the ultimate revolution. So, I guess I chose this name as a sort of message to all cyberpunks. Almost like saying, «Here's the way into their system. Do what you will.»

Quarck interviewing Access to Arasaka

From an interview on arrythmiasound.com

Countdown to the Dark Future #365

Cyberpunks ask questions. Hard questions. Why does the world have to go to hell? Why aren't the megacorps responsible for what they do? What are we going to do with the new technologies we create? Why the hell should I do what someone else says just because they say so? Why aren't I setting new standards and values for the world I live in?

As a cyberpunk, your job is to hit the future head on and beat it, not cower in a corner longing for the Good Old Days. As far as you're concerned, it won't get any better till you make it better.

Mike Pondsmith

From his essay, What is Cyberpunk

Countdown to the Dark Future Bonus

Welcome to MY time choombas.

Welcome to the Year 2020.

You may have noticed the cars don't fly yet. But we have tiny boxes that can reach out across the world and cause robotic slaves to do our bidding. We shape metals and plastics to our personal wills, and yes indeed, we make real cyberware we can put on our children.

So it looks like I got that part right.

But we also have inherited other 2020 things. We have more guns and weapons than we know what we do, and people are shot down every day. There isn't enough money, not enough food, never enough drugs (except for the corporate approved ones). Our world is running on the edge of self destruction from so many sources it's an extinction roulette. And the Megacorps do rule almost everything, from the stuff we buy on the vast consensual hallucination we call the Internet, to the entertainment we swallow like a braindance on stims, to our actual identities and scraps of personal privacy.

So looks like I got THAT stuff right too.

Mike Pondsmith

Notes

  • Countdown #67 is mistakenly labeled as being part of the Food in 2020 series.
  • Countdown #142 is mislabeled as being #141.
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