Caldera is Saberpunk

Saberpunk is a term I invented in 2003 or 20041. I use it to refer to a genre of high fantasy based on cyberpunk ideas. It’s like a D&D world instead of the future, with superguilds instead of megacorps, mirrorrunning instead of netrunning, and swords and sabers instead of pistols and SMGs. Like cyberpunk, saberpunk is always set in a city (though a fantastical one).

I use the idea of saberpunk to guide my creative process when I’m inventing the city of Caldera. Cyberpunk tropes are borrowed liberally and twisted and transformed into ideas useful to a fantasy setting. Take, for example, The Plane of Reflection. This was borne from the cyberpunk idea of a massive virtual world and hacking (sometimes netrunning). In Caldera, some PCs are mirror hackers; they can take an avatar into the mirror world and poke around the world’s other mirrors.

1 Several other people appear to have invented this term, or a similar one, independently. Russell Em/Imprint from RPGnet owns the saberpunk.net domain, which he uses for a Wushu RPG game. Nathan Long owns the sabrepunk.com domain and describes “sabrepunk” as a pulp-inspired, streetwise version of the Sword & Sorcery subgenre of fiction. I might have seen a post by Joshua Roby (jroby@westmont.edu) in 1997 and forgotten about it. Google turns this up from the GURPSnet-L mailing list. In any case, I don’t remember any getting the idea from any outside influence, but I probably saw Josh’s post and forgot about it for six years. The strangest thing is, though I didn’t know Josh back then, I know him now and he’s even been giving me critique on this setting!

Caldera is Saberpunk

Saberpunk AdamDray