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This guide is intended for those players whose knowledge of the cyberpunk genre in general or life in Withmore specifically does not allow them to enjoy the full experience of Sindome in a themely manner.
Cyberpunk is different things for different people, of that, there can be no doubt. However, there are certain thematic elements that in general, when combined to one degree or another, produce something that is called Cyberpunk.
Now, let's apply these elements to Withmore City and state some generalities.
Near future time frame:
Present day in Withmore city is exactly 85 years into the future.
Two distinct socio-economic classes and a stark contrast between them:
There are more than 65 million people in Withmore City, and less than a third of them are employed. There is no welfare system, no free public education, no government entitled free medical care, no unemployment benefits, no safety net at all if you're not employed.
If you work for a corporation, you live on gold, green or if you are very wealthy, blue. You don't carry hard currency, (chyen), because it's filthy dirty unless you have to. You have pleasant surroundings, good things to eat and drink, a clean comfortable place to live, and the protection of the Judges who deal with the few crimes that occur in the corporate areas. Going down to red is something you do when you're looking for excitement, or need to make some sort of illicit deal. Either way, you update your clone before you go, always. You either see the people of red as something to be despised, or pitied.
If you're like most people and don't work for a corporation, life is much more grim. You're one of almost 40 million people who are crammed into an area that's too small for ten million. Every day is a struggle just to stay alive. Working at the menial jobs pay just enough to make sure you don't sleep on the streets and can buy a drink or two to try and down your sorrows now and again. The food you eat is lousy, the water is dirty. Garbage, debris, homeless people and corpses are seen all over the streets and alleys that you walk. Crime is very high and everyone you know has been a victim of a violent crime at one point or another. TERRA, the private agency charged with keeping the peace is overworked, ineffective and corrupt, happily looking the other way for some chyen. It's dog-eat-dog. The corporations don't care much about you, and it shows. The corporate controlled weather is rarely good, often raining in some corpie's vain attempt to wash the streets clean; the SIC network has frequent brownouts, but only on red. Advertising is all over the place, video walls, blimps, holo and TV-ads, all pushing products you would love to have, but can't even dream of affording. There's a television in nearly every room that can't be turned off, constantly bombarding you with advertising and news that rarely matters to you, and when it does, it's always bad news. You see how people live topside, and it makes you sick, because you know that all you need is just a little help and you, and your family if you have one, could be living a much better life. Is it any wonder you're looking for some less than legal means to make some chyen? Maybe you can even make it at one of those corporations expense ...
A high level of technology:
Technology is advanced, and stylish, and everywhere. It's in the dataterm or quickterm that replaced paper newspapers and snail mail years ago, it's in the SIC chip that's in your head and allows you to communicate by thought to anyone else in Withmore, it's in the retinal and palm scanners that open the locks, and the weapons detectors scattered around the city and in a million other ways you never even thought about. And it's stylish. It is cool and hip and edgy to have the latest cyberware grafted onto your body somewhere, and if it's functional, all the better.
The actions of the anti-hero:
It doesn't matter who you are, or how much money or power you have, you're often put into lousy positions that compel you to act in a way you don't want to. Maybe you're a high level corporate executive who is being pressured to demolish an apartment building on red to make way for a new factory, and you know that will throw two or three thousand people out on the street with no warning. Or maybe you live on red, and people are looking to you to organize a rally protesting the latest service reductions to the people of red from some corporation or another. The point is, no matter how apathetic you are, sooner or later something is going to happen that you just can't tolerate. You don't want to do anything about it, but you feel that you have to.
Now, there are some elements that are common to the -people- in a cyberpunk world.
Attitude - Most people have one about something.
Style - Style is the way most people show their strong sense of individuality. Flashy, trashy, trendy, high fashion, low fashion, whatever. You want a look and a style that's all your own. Part of that style is making sure you're seen in all the right places, and not seen in all the right back rooms. You're out there hustling, not sitting in your cube or coffin. You don't wait for things to start, you go start them.
Cynicism and pessimism - They run rampant, especially on Red, and make up the base for a dark, almost morbid sense of humor that exists to diffuse the daily tension of such a grim life. In the early 00s, we called it gallows humor.
Wanting more - You always want more than you have. Whatever you have, is never enough. There is always something missing. Maybe it's the latest threads, or implants, or weapons. Maybe it's just to be left alone. Whatever it is, it's something you want. Now you just have to figure out how to get it.
It should be noted that the more money you have, the greater your ability to influence the above elements. People with money can have a serious attitude about whatever they want, and they can pay to deal with the fall out, they can portray any style they want, they can be as cynical and pessimistic as they want, and often their cynical pessimistic view helps them to make more money, and they -always- want more.
And finally, here are a few concepts that you need to embrace in order to properly be called a cyberpunk.
Roll all these things together and what do you have?
You have a world that is a dynamic, violent, cut-throat, dangerous place where the only things that change faster than the weather are the alliances that are formed and broken and re-formed over and over. A world filled with people who would kill you as easily as they look at you. It's a place where good and evil don't exist in the traditional sense and there are more shades of gray than you ever thought possible. It's a place often filled with choices between bad and worse where simply waking up in the morning is often the best thing that happens to you. It's a place where you need to have a cause, and then push it to the limit, and then push it past the limit, and keep pushing it. And if something positive happens as a result, great, but at least you can look yourself in the mirror with a (relatively) clear conscience.
You want to know how to get ahead of the pack? It's simple. Money and power make the cyberpunk world go 'round. Do you need money to have power? No. If you have money, do you have power? Possibly. It's having the attitude to use whatever money you can to do the things you need to achieve power.
Ok, now get out there and make something happen!