Cyberpunk refers to any of three editions of a single tabletop roleplaying game, the first of which was published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. The game, as the title might indicate, is based heavily upon the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, to the point where Gibson is often referred to as "Saint Willie" in the various sourcebooks.Set in 2013/2020, the players are mercenaries, criminals, and vagabonds in the cyberpunk street culture of the period. American society has broken down, the government is ineffectual, and anything resembling a good life must be obtained by doing dirty work for one of the numerous corporations that quietly control the world. It's become trendy to heavily modify one's body with any number of cybernetic augmentations, whether it's designer eyes, replacement limbs, or combat-ready military gear, but stacking up too much "cyberware" causes a person to enter "cyber-psychosis" and go full-tilt insane.As the games are a very deliberate, self-aware attempt to capture the feel of the then-burgeoning cyberpunk genre, it can be comfortably assumed that any trope from that particular genre that isn't mentioned, for whatever reason, will fit neatly here.Supplements to the game allow you to play in specific author's 'verses, such as George Alec Effinger's Budayeen.Has a video game adaptation created by The Witcher developer, CD Projekt RED, known as Cyberpunk 2077.
Artificial Limbs: All over the place and often used to replace lost limbs, though cloned (or possibly stolen) limbs may also be used. The prosthetics are also presented somewhat more realistically than usual, with the guide correctly noting that a pair of cyber-arms would not give you Super Strength, as just because your arms are strong, doesn't mean your spine is.
The City Narrows: "Combat Zones," run-down, crime-ridden districts that exist in every major urban sprawl, where gangs hold sway and the cops only enter in force (if at all). Overlaps with Gateless Ghetto in some cities, where the areas are walled off and the inhabitants are left to their own devices.
Corporate Warfare: A war between two of the biggest companies in the world is a major background event.
Crapsack World: A cyberpunk hallmark. Life is cheap, corporations run everything, and violence is a fact of everyday life.
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Each item you install comes with a cost to your humanity. It's not hard to skirt that restriction, and some degree of augmentation is absolutely necessary to compete, but too much of it and you go rogue. This is typically guaranteed to end in a showdown with heavily armed, very paranoid cops (several of whom may be on the edge of aug-induced craziness themselves).
Cyberspace: Being heavily influenced by William Gibson's writings, this is how computer hacking works in-game.
Divided States of America: Alaska, Texas, Utah, Nevada and California (which further divided itself into North and South) have seceded and become free states. Additionally, Wyoming is a Socialist republic that pays token service to the Federal government, and Idaho was briefly taken over by neo-Nazis, who have since been deposed.
Drugs Are Bad: Though the option for characters to use drugs is there (wouldn't be cyberpunk if it wasn't), doing so is strongly discouraged (as in the writers directly tell players that it's a very good way to kill their characters). To be fair, the game was released during the height of the Moral Guardians crusade against roleplaying games, when the idea that Dungeons & Dragons led to witchcraft and Satanism was actually taken seriously.
Dueling Games: With Shadowrun, primarilynote A number of other cyberpunk-themed tabletop games existed at the hight of the rivalry, but almost none remain in print., the main difference between the two being Shadowrun's inclusion of fantasy elements (dragons, elves, magic, etc.). Purists stuck with the former, but the latter was more consistently popular thanks to cross-genre audience appeal. The release of Cyberpunk's much maligned 3rd Edition, combined with financial troubles at R. Talsorian, caused the game to disappear from shelves for several years, allowing Shadowrun to dominate the market, but with the announcement of the Cyberpunk 2077 video game adaptation and the upcoming release of new setting updates to go along with it (which disregard the 3rd Edition completely), Cyberpunk appears poised to make a comeback.
Expy: The game's main setting, Night City, is fairly obviously based on San Francisco. The Night City sourcebook even spotlights Expies of other Bay Area cities, such as South San Francisco, Pacifica and Oakland.
Future Food Is Artificial: the setting features the Kibble that's described to have the same aspect, smell, and flavor of the dog food from which it takes its name.
The Great Politics Mess-Up: Instead of dissolving like it did in reality, the Soviet Union actually manages to successfully reform itself (though the second edition rewrote the timeline to account for Germany's reunification), but its global influence is greatly diminished.The US suffers economic collapse, several major terrorist attacks, and the secession of a number of states, and ends up becoming a Third World country in all but name. The European Union and Japan are the world's new major superpowers, while China's economic growth was stalled by a nasty civil war between Maoist hardliners and the pseudo-capitalist reformers currently clinging to power by their fingertips.
Japan Takes Over the World: Played with, surprisingly enough. Many of the megacorporations are wholly or partially owned by the Japanese, but the European Union has become the dominant superpower, with euros in use as the new global currency.
Kill 'em All: The original Cyberpunk guidebook treats the fact that life in the setting is cheap as a feature. If a character becomes too powerful or angers too many major factions, then the GM is encouraged to simply kill them and let the player start over.
Mega Corp.: Plenty; This IS Cyberpunk after all. One of (if not the) largest has to be Arasaka, who unfortunately is also quite evil. Others Mega Corp.'s include Militech, the International Electric Corporation, the Lazarus Group, Petrochem and SovOil.
Min-Maxing: A common fan criticism is that the game's "Character Role" class system (which gives certain starting skill sets and unique abilities to characters of a certain class) leads to balance issues, the most frequent being that Solos (aka: mercenaries) are the only viable character types for combat situations (thanks to their special ability which gives bonuses to their spot checks and initiative rolls), and that consequently most Solo builds end up looking very similar (high Reflex attributes & combat skills + low social skills + reflex boosting augmentations). As a result, a number of fan-made rule modifications exist that remove the Character Roles entirely and allow players to build characters from scratch, similar to Cyberpunk's chief rival, Shadowrun.
Organ Theft: There are rules for selling organs to organ banks and there is mention of an organ lottery. Officially, you need a deceased donor card to donate organs and get a reward, but this can be faked rather easily.
Super Reflexes: Combat in the setting is set up to be won by whoever gets to go first in a turn, due to its overwhelming lethality. As such, a number of augmentations exist to improve a character's initiative roll and you would have to be crazy not to take them.