Introducing Project 2023b, Cyberpunk-Fantasy Powered by the Apocalypse
PbtA where a fantasy world has "evolved" into its corporate, dystopian, post-capitalist cyberpunk era, and cyberspace is a digital plane that is breaking through and destroying the physical world.
A while back, I posted an update that showed a quick preview of my next project called Permanent Midnight. Over the next bit, I somehow managed to completely shift the project into being called 2023b since I really wasn’t a fan of that name.
Plus, it’s now much lighter in tone and more PbtA than Forged in the Dark or CY_BORG. So the other title didn’t work. Anyway…
Let me introduce you all to Project 2023b:
A fantasy world gone cyberpunk
Project 2023b is the working title of me cyberpunk-fantasy TTRPG. It uses the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) system with some features from Forged in the Dark.
2023b is a game about building a team of characters in a dying fantasy world and telling their story. The world is being slowly eaten away by the encroachment of The Bitlands, a purely digital plane, that is breaching into and destroying the physical world.
The world of 2023b may seem similar to fantasy worlds you're familiar with from other RPGs. You will find kingdoms and monarchies, conclaves of arcane spellcasters, dragon lairs, and reanimated horrors from beyond the grave.
Where it differs is that it's set in the far-flung future of one of those worlds. Small merchant guilds, wizard schools, and temples to the gods have become megaguild conglomerates. They control the world, and everyone knows it—including the governments.
This new world is connected by not only ley lines but also wireless signals. Artificers and Alchemists have just added silicon, lasers, and nanotech to their gunpowder and nightshade.
2023b is cyberpunk-fantasy turned on its head. If you were making a World of Warcraft and Blade Runner cocktail with a twist of Altered Carbon and The Matrix, you'd be most of the way there. If you're familiar with Shadowrun, then flip it upside down.
The fantasy world of this game has "evolved" into its corporate, dystopian, post-capitalist cyberpunk era, rather than an urban world being invaded by fantasy elements.
Not Your Typical Cyberpunk
One of the things that I’ve found really important while I work on this project is that the world not be grimdark. Cyberpunk is gritty and dark and hard. And so is 2023b.
But it also has a sense of humor.
I think that’s important in finding something that’s fun for me to play consistently. I love the tone that World of Warcraft has, balancing between serious topics and fantasy stories, but also incredibly silly and fun interactions with the world.
That’s my goal for 2023b. I think that’s every creator’s goal—to create something they want to play or read or listen to…whatever.
That’s what this is, that’s what I want: cyberpunk that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s definitely the -punk aspect in it, and it is definitely based around the dark side of tech and society just like you’d expect.
But there are moves like Hack & Slash for melee (thanks Dungeon World!) and the default ranged attack move is Pew Pew Pew.
And while this is still in the very early stages, I thought I’d show you my favorite thing about 2023b so far: the enemy, Bear with a Fire Sword
Bear with a Fire Sword
forest, mountains, large, natural, aggro af
There’s not a lot to say about this one. About once every month or two, someone will come back from a Job with a story and a photo or video of a really big bear that managed to get its paws on a really big sword. And every single time, the sword is on fire.
We can assume the weapon and/or the bear is enchanted for two reasons: 1, the blades are on fire 2, they’re being used by bears who, as far as we know, don’t walk fully upright or have a solid grasp on battle tactics and sword fighting techniques
We’re told they’re wildly aggressive, and the videos adventurers have taken indicate the bears are really, really good with the swords.
Now, you know as much as we do. It doesn’t make any sense, but it is what it is.
Big Bear Blaze
The flame around the bear's sword uncontrollably spouts cinders, igniting anything flammable in the area.
The bear appears to take an uncharacteristic moment to steady itself and then makes a series of precision cuts and slices at its opponent.
It’s Still a Bear, Though
Sometimes, the sword just won’t cut it. The bear resorts to a ferocious gnashing of claws and teeth to maul its opponent.
If there were any doubt in your mind about what kind of game this was going to be…that’s the best indication I can give you.
Thanks for coming along for the ride, and I’ll keep you updated as the project moves forward!
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