We’re skipping From the Screamsheets this week because of Mother’s Day but we wanted to share something this weekend! We’ve received a number of requests for information about our Countdown to the Dark Future, where we post one fact per day about the Cyberpunk universe on our various social media sites as well as in the gallery here on this site. To answer those questions, we’ve put together an FAQ which we’re sharing below:
Countdown to the Dark Future FAQ!
Q: What the heck is Countdown to the Dark Future?
A: Its a shameless tactic where we educate interested parties on the lore of the Cyberpunk universe in the form of a “fact a day” calendar for the year 2019. Each day we post a fact here, on our Facebook page, on Twitter, on Instagram, on our webpage, and on a variety of Discord channels.
Q: What does this have to do with Cyberpunk 2077?
A: Cyberpunk 2077 is based on a tabletop RPG called Cyberpunk 2020. Its like that game the kids in Stranger Things were playing only less magic and more chrome.
Q: I get that, but isn’t Cyberpunk 2077 just based on Cyberpunk 2020, making these posts irrelevant? I heard something in a video about timelines…
A: Absolutely not! Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk 2077 take place in the same universe and on the same timeline (57 years apart, in fact). That means lore from the tabletop RPG is historical background for the world V and Jackie inhabit. If you’re the sort of person who wandered around a certain wintery, dragon-shouting game picking up the lore books and reading them, Countdown to the Dark Future is perfect for you.
Q: Who are you, again?
A: Hi! I’m J Gray, media ambassador for R. Talsorian Games (RTG for short). The fancy title means “person who chats with other people on behalf of the company”. RTG is the company that publishes Cyberpunk 2020(among many other fine titles) and was founded by Mike Pondsmith (aka OH MY GOD HIS VOICE!!!), the creator of the game (among many other games). In other words, these posts are officially from the people who created the Cyberpunk universe and are all official lore (at least up until the in world year of 2022 or so).
Q: And who is Mike Pondsmith?
A: You know how you watched a video about Cyberpunk 2077 and, at one point there’s a guy whose deep, rumbling voice sounds like he should be narrating someone’s life? That’s Mike. Short bio: Mike Pondsmith founded R. Talsorian Games in the ’80s and created the first giant robot fighting RPG, the first anime RPG, the first cyberpunk RPG (that’s this one!), and one of the most famous “steampunk” RPGs of all time (among other games). He’s won awards and been inducted into the tabletop game Hall of Fame. At one point, Mike went to work for Bill Gates and spent years at Microsoft directing the creation of video games. He’s an amateur paleontologist, has a wife named Lisa (our business manager), a son named Cody (our general manager), and a daughter who is one hell of a talented artist. Things said about him on Twitter with the hashtag #mikepondsmithfacts are also true.
Q: Mike didn’t make all this by himself, did he?
A: He did not! Cyberpunk has had a number of writers, artists, and other creators who have contributed lore, information, game mechanics, and potentially incriminating DNA samples to the line. As with any long standing RPG line, Cyberpunk was a team effort but Mike has always been the guiding force.
Q: I’ve got all that but why do this as a calendar? Can’t you make a book?
A: We have! MANY books! There’s a whole slew of books released for Cyberpunk 2020 that gives deep world lore information in addition to gameplay rules. I won’t self-promote with links here but if you enter “r talsorian games” as a term in your search engine of choice you’ll find us pretty easily. We have a webstore. You can also order our products from your favorite local game retailer or via DriveThruRPG.
As for why one fact per day, each day, during 2019? Because at the end we reach 2020. The real 2020. And since our game is called Cyberpunk 2020 we thought that’d just be pretty darn neat.
Q: So, all the lore you’re sharing comes from the books you mentioned?
A: Most of it. Occasionally, Mike gives me a tidbit which hasn’t been published to add to a fact.
Q: How is Countdown to the Dark Future organized?
A: Each Wednesday we begin a new topic and continue for seven days until the next Tuesday. Occasionally, with some topics we will run them for two weeks instead of one.
Q: I’ve got a suggestion/request for a topic.
A: Wicked awesome! Please let me know what it is and I’ll see what I can do. No promises, but several topics we’ve covered were suggested by members of the Cyberpunk fan community .
Q: You call it a Countdown but the number goes UP every day…
A: Yep. That’s my fault. For some reason whenever I make a countdown that happens. No idea why.
Q: I found a mistake/typo in one of your facts.
A: You did! Sorry about that. Bugs happen from time to time. Please rest assured any errors of this kind you find are not, in fact, part of a secret ARG warning the elites of society about a world shattering doomsday virus. They’re just regular old errors.
Q: You said these facts are true up to the year 2022 or so. Why is that? What about beyond 2022? That’s a long ways before 2077!
A: The original Cyberpunk 2020 game line ended with an event known as the 4th Corporate War, during which two megacorps (Arasaka and Militech) nearly wrecked the world. That happened in the year 2022 on the Cyberpunk timeline. We are currently constraining our facts to take place before that time period, since the timeline past that point is still being created.
Q: Really? You’re just stopping at 2022? No facts beyond that?
A: No! In fact, we’re releasing a new edition of the tabletop RPG called Cyberpunk Red on August 1, 2019 (date subject to change if the book isn’t cooked enough and needs to go back in the oven at that point). Cyberpunk Red will take place after the 4th Corporate War and will help fill in some of the blanks between the 2020 era and the 2077 era, lore wise. Once Cyberpunk Red is out, these facts will most likely start including lore from there as well.
Q: But what about the green book? And the book full of kids with superpowers who fight an evil government in a dystopian future?
A: Like a lot of fictional universes, the Cyberpunk universe has branching timelines. Parallel universes. Have you seen Into the Spider-verse? Sort of like that. These are “what if?” moments where history can go multiple directions if something changes. You know, what if the colonists had lost the American War of Independence? What if the radioactive spider had bitten Gwen Stacy instead of Peter Parker. That sort of thing. In the Cyberpunk universe we explored two of these “what if” movements with tabletop RPGs. One was “what if we had pretty much the worst possible outcome of the 4th Corporate War?”. That’s Cyberpunk v3. The other is “what if this nanoplague which melts adults but forces kids through agonizing changes, giving them superpowers gets out into the world at large?”. That’s Cybergeneration. While both are great alternative universes, that’s all they are. They’re “what ifs” and not part of the main timeline, which runs from Cyberpunk 2020 through Cyberpunk Red to Cyberpunk 2077.
Q: I missed a day. Where can I find it?
A: All Countdown to the Dark Future posts are on the Cyberpuk 2077 subreddit and are marked with a CTTDF tag, making them easy to find. You can also visit our gallery here: https://rtalsoriangames.com/countdowntothedarkfuture/
Q: You didn’t answer my question!
A: Sorry! Feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to do so! Its part of why I’m here.