“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
Neuromancer, William Gibson.
The future. Dark. Dirty. Dangerous. You’re loners, punks and criminals, marginalised by society through birth, choice or violence. Parasites, living symbiotic existences in the shadows cast by the arcologies, feeding from the scraps dangled by the megacorporations and then scurrying back to the shadows to avoid their dismissive, destructive gaze. Those vast multinational corporations — “Zaibatsus”, some call them — squat over everything, pulling the strings, controlling the flow of money, information, goods, and people. Governments scamper around their feet, begging for scraps. Hydrophilic lubricious polymers and automated cleaners keep their arcologies shining amidst the grey-brown urban sprawl which surrounds them. Corporate financial muscle pushes people around the city like blood. The megacorporations. Humanity’s most successful artificial organism.
Technology keeps changing, shifting, mutating — it’s adapt or die. There’s a sticky film of information smeared over everything, a networked datasphere in service to the megacorps. Buy this. Obey that. Buy more.
See, the corps aren’t satisfied with having it all. They want more, and the only way they can get it is by eating their own. For the megacorporations, espionage, theft, kidnapping and murder are just file folders in the system architecture of success. For you though, they’re rungs on the slippery ladder out of the caustic industrial air the rest of us breathe. Play your cards right and you’ll be set: reputation, money, credibility. Everything you want. Freedom. But one false step and they’ll take away everything. The corps don’t need you. They need people like you. Screw up and you’ll be replaced by the next mouthy punk with too much raw talent and bloody ambition and not enough smarts. Tread carefully. There’s plenty more like you out there in The Sprawl.
The Sprawl is a game of mission-based action in a gritty neon-and-chrome Cyberpunk future. You are the extended assets of vast multinational corporations, operating in the criminal underground, and performing the tasks that those multinationals can’t do — or can’t be seen to do. You are deniable, professional and — ultimately — disposable.
Want to hear what a brief matrix operation sounds like? Listen to the Act Under Fire segment of Hamish’s interview with Rich Rogers on +1 Forward. It starts around 00:12:24 and runs until the end of the show (about 12 minutes).
This game contains adult themes and adult language.
You can find the playbooks and move sheets under Downloads.
The Sprawl top’s Austin Walker’s games of the year list for 2016.