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I'm looking for an RPG setting that is contemporary (near future)- mechanics/system is not a consideration.

I want to run a campaign in a world inspired by the ideas in "Pattern recognition" by William Gibson. There is a sentence that he utilizes that describes the idea I have in mind very well: "the future is now."

Another good point of reference would be the movie "Gravity".

As pointed by a comment the book called "Halting State" fits this idea too. I didn't read this book but its Wikipedia page has a sentence that say it all "It features speculative technologies, including Specs and virtual server networks over mobile phones."

All the scenarios I have read that have their worlds situated in the present era are either fantastical due to mystical reasons (vampires, occult, etc...), or they are too contemporary, i.e. not different from our actual world.

I would accept and welcome the use of technology in a setting as an excuse for fantastical elements.

An example of what I have in mind would be the world of Mage: The Ascension with only the technocrats, or Eclipse Phase situated before the fall but with a similar level of technology.

Another way to express what I have in mind is to imagine the world we could be living in five to fifteen years. With smart phones incredibly powerful, democracies put in check due to heavy protests, shared economy is a strong concept in the economy (the influence system in Eclipse Phase is perfect for this, for instance). Technologies like google glasses, electric cars, smart houses, quantum computing, space tourism and others became possible and wide spread.

Again, I am primarily concerned with the background- ideas of campaigns, ideas for the world, character creation. I just don't mind which system mechanics.

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. And once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! Do you have any extra information on what you're looking for? What you're asking at the moment is pretty vague. –  Tridus Mar 18 at 17:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

GURPS has plenty of contemporary and near future settings and sourcebooks.

If you want more advanced tech and its implications, something like Transhuman Space or (3rd edition GURPS) Cyberpunk (which is more dated now) could be appropriate. If you want something less advanced, but still with something on top of our modern day world, you could look at 3rd edition sourcebooks like GURPS Illuminati or Black Ops. Or maybe Special Ops, which is probably more mundane. And then there's Technomancer, where the atom bomb introduced magic into our world. GURPS has lots of this stuff that might be worth looking into.

Outside of GURPS, I can't think of any suitable books, unless you want to stick to pretty classic cyberpunk, like maybe R.Talsorian's Cyberpunk. Tone it down a bit, cut the stuff you don't like, and maybe that works.

That might also work with other settings, of course. If you want Mage: the Ascension without the actual mages, but with the technocracy, why not just do exactly that?

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The GURPS Transhuman Space line is set in 2100 and is a little more advanced that what you want, but it is a very well realized multi-book setting line. It has a comprehensive timeline so you could "back it up" in time and have some running room of where you know the future's going to go.

Actually, you know... OK, so you will probably have to get this from a Half Price Books or something (actually, it's pretty cheap third hand on Amazon), but the most awesome "near future" game ever is Ray Winninger's Underground. "It's 2021 and the Dream is Dead." It is super flavorful, they have a set of amendments to the U.S. Constitution that start to become corporately sponsored... Cannibalism becomes legal and Tastee Ghoul is the most popular new fast food chain... "Boosted" soldiers back from wars in the third world cause trouble... It's a little dated and is based on 1990s kind of dark future conceits but it's graphically pleasing and had a whole game line involved.

The problem with other "near future" (or heck even far future) settings is that if they were published more than 5 years ago, their thoughts on what the near future looks like are pretty outdated. Take Millenium's End, it's "near future" if you're in the 1980s. Or all the cyberpunk games that fit just about in the "people from the 1950s think that in the future we'll all have rockets!" quaintness bin - their 1980's-driven view of the future just isn't as credible any more (e.g. Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, SLA Industries).

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+1 for Underground! Great game! –  gomad Mar 22 at 1:10

FreeMarket explores transhuman themes. Characters are on a space station in a post-scarcity society—food, shelter, death, and money are no longer problems. There are no laws on the station, so there is no crime. Your character's wants and reputation are explored during play.

This quick YouTube clip highlights what the game offers.

Its mechanics are closely tied to its setting. You can't usefully divorce one from the other.

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A good and simple game system could be the Traveller system from Mongoose, you can add the Cybernetics suplement if you want something close to Cyberpunk 2020 or William Gibson's Sprawl setting in terms of cyberimplants and hacking (much more in-depth in the supplement than in the core Traveller book)

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