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> Alternate worlds (lengthy), Some ideas for a future world of mine
Birdy
post Jan 22 2004, 09:18 PM
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Some alternative world ideas

I am currently gathering ideas for a new near future/scifi background (using GURPS as a system and not liking Transhuman Space) so not all of the stuff might be useful for Shadowrun. This are disjunct and sometime mutually exclusive ideas. Still, here comes.

Warning, I am not known as a fan of the USA so US citizens might find some ideas offensive!




Concept - Gutmenschen
=====

Inspiration: "Fallen Angels", Real Life, Some TNE sequels, Demolition Man, Escape in the 23rd century (Michael York flic)

Oh beautiful, peaceful, cultured continental Europe. You with your healthy fields and green forrests. Blessed with a peaceful population. separated from the struggle by mountains and seas. The core european nations (1990s EU minus Brits, Spanish, Italy plus Austria, Switzerland) are a paradise to those not living in her borders. The environment is still healthy, transport problems are solved and everybody is living a happy, productive life. At least everybody that belongs to the system. For some strange reasons, some people choose not to belong to the system. Even stranger since everybody can get "in".

Maybe those outside had a closer look on the system and did not like what they saw. For Utopia comes with a price. Transportation works because there is almost none. Fright trains/ships and a few passenger trains with very restricted entry (Need to travel must be shown) Limited choice in consumer goods and foodstuff (But at least it's natural) Constant brainwashing (Travelling bad - VR good, personal Freedom bad - Laws good) and a strictly controlled society are only the top of the iceberg. Oh, you won't see a heavily armed goon squad beating up some poor guy here. No need for that. After all, they start your training to become a "model citizen" before you are born. First your parents have to proof that the have the "mental stability" and "social integration" to raise a child (On the other hand, you can have parents of the same gender) and then the population figures in your region (no relocation, citizen) must allow another human. After that you really get three years with your parents (1.5 with each, in shifts).

Oh, and the local social integration consultant(SIC) that helps to raise you. Than it's pre-school and basic school until age 16. Mostly you will be under the care of well trained experts. Regular consulting sessions determine your integration into culture and map out your interests and capabilities. You are taught the values of a supportive society where every one works to his best capabilities. And those are determined by the friendly SICs. So better don't cross them (not that you'll think of it). Those who are not assimilated will be transferred to special schools for intensive education and integration, a programm that includes a close supervision of the parent (and, if they show certain undesired tendencies, correctional methods for them too). No case is given up for where there's live, there's hope (Well, actually those cases deemed impossible to integrate are euthanised (we don't like such harsh words as killed here)

At age 16 you are either assigned to the workforce or, if you have the right behavior and aptitude, you go through additional training. Most end up as teachers, social consultants, doctors , artists or other "soft skills". A few poor souls have to suffer for the survival of the whole and become engineers that tend the advanced machines that do a lot of the works. A few lucky souls rise into the highest ranks of society and become assistants, guides or even councilpersons (No sexual discrimination please, be political correct!) making sure that the society is protected from harm and laws are passed to protect the ordinary citizen from danger.

Imagine a world where the language has been sanitized by political correctness, where the greenies dictate industrial politics and where everything remotely dangerous is prohibited. imagine a constant barrage of observation by psychologists and "social scientists" looking for any aberrant behavior. A society that controls your life to make you a "happy, productive member". Please ignore the detection implant, it's only for your good in case of an accident.

Holidays and long range travel are a think of the past, you'll do the trip with VR / SimSense. Walking through the forrest isn't either, you might disturb the animals or step on something rare. Don't imagine choosing your job - the evaluation does it for you.

They also choose your partner by the way. By means of "inner values" and "social conformity". Not that it matters. Since sex-drive is a lead cause for aggression, chemicals neutralize it and everybody is sterilized (not neutered but they work on it) at birth (Children is what cloning's for)

The snake in the paradise is the ruling elite, the SIC's, guardians and councilpersons. What goes on behind their palace walls (They need the quit to do their hard work thats why they, unlike you, can look the doors and have non-transparent walls/no cameras in their rooms) ranges from extreme ascetism (There are always believers) to Imperial Roman debauchery.

Technology is at the same time advanced (robots etc) and considered bad (un-ecological etc) But good psychologists get the message across. Edutainment is slewed towards "Back to (VR) nature" and "We have to work hard so other nations will join us and then we can get real nature for all)


One of the game ideas is to have a more "human" culture outside, to show the characters that there are alternatives. This works best with the players starting loyal and then drifting away. You might replace the upper council with an AI but than it gets to close to Matrix. Add some Enforcer Robots with an Austrian Accent. Or some that look like Linda Hammilton ;-)



Concept - American Jackboots
======

Inspiration: GURPS/Cyberworld, Pournelles CoDo, Real Life, Starship Troopers (movie!)

Somewhere in the not too distant future, America is a dictatorship in all but name. They still follow the rules of "only 8 years per figurehead err president" but the elections are basically rigged using a combination of a massive internal espionage agency (Most politicians are not! clean), blackmail, suppression of voter groups and, if necessary, falsified proof of crime. Laws passed in the initial, feverent stages of the "War against terror" came back to bite Joe Average when they gave the "state" permission to dismantle the civil rights. Today they have none left. Written mail has been forbidden and all electronic mail runs through a censor/checking AI/SKN in your local office. Public places are under constant observation by cameras, some mounted on posts, some on small flying robots. Larger observation airships cruise over the city, dispatching smaller drones to check for details. The TriVid is cable-only and feeds you carefully designed propaganda and subliminal messages. Bloodsports is legal and quite popular.

If you are unemployed or have a "working poor" class job your life is both better and worth than in the 20th century. You are restricted in where you life and where you can go (No leaving the welfare zone without purpose and even then in controlled bus/tram) but on the other hand you get free TriVid entertainment and free/cheap booth/drugs as well as (very) basic soyfood. Okay, so sometimes they round up groups of person as "unvoluntery workers" for the work in some government "volunteer force" or even ship them off to "African resettlement areas" (africa mostly died out when the fund where cut in the 2010s) never to be seen again. And occasionally there's a small riot and "Officer Friendly" will beat you up (if you're lucky).

If you are earning solid money, you have a better living, protected by friendly police officers and with a more subtle observation technology. On the other hand "spot the informer" is a common office game (even your child can be one) and for fear of loosing your status you'll work 12-14 hours a day. But you can work that long since the state offers round the clock treatment for your child from school through the youth groups (All volunteer but if your child don't attend, you might be a traitor...) Sometimes outspoken colleagues disappear to come back with an "adjusted attitude" and some small scars on the head.

Police and National Guard have long since been mashed together. They are controlled by the "Ministry of the Interior" and work hand in hand with the National Security Agency, the merger of FBI, NSA and Secret Service. Internal Security officers wear a light armored dark uniform, combat boots and mirror-visored helmets. Heavy automatic sidearms are standard and squad cars carry additional assault rifles and heavier armor. If things heat up riot-wagons, basically low-powered, heavily armored "Thunderbirds" and combat robots (Think ED-209) can be called forward. Meanwhile the gentlemen in the leather coats observe the populace and spot for troublemakers and rebels. And there are quite a few. The popular ones get "changed", the invisible ones (like the characters) disappear. Forget stuff like no-interstate jurisdiction - the states are no more than shells. Forget "Plain visibility", "Miranda" and "Search warrants" (Actually they exist - pre signed blanks!) Imagin a GESTAPO cross bred with high-powered data processing (SKN/Low Level AI) and implanted ID-chips for everybody.


Concept - Scattered America
======

Inspiration: Hardwired, Carwars, lucifers Hammer, postman, Europe/Germany until 1871, War in 2020

They say for a good Cyberpunk to work, you'll need to destroy the USA. I don't know if that is true but if I am told to do it, I'll do as ordered ;-)


Some ideas for the destruction are:

A splintering into various smaller states with:

Conservative-Christian
White racists
Black racists
Native American racists
Technocrats
Big industry
Greenies
Mormons
Francophones
Indios
Spanish "Nobility"

as the ruling parties/mobs

Between those various splinter states the open roads are the home of vagabond gangs and traders as well as free-roaming "neotribes" Smuggling in the scattered USA (That might well include Mexico and Canada) is big business since every nation has it's own tariffs and taxes. Some "nations" might be feudalisms so escaped slaves wish to escape etc.

Now what killed the USA (and keeps it scattered)

Meteor hit
War - The finally kicked someone too big against the shin, i.e China
Massive plaques (also reduces population nicely) followed by industrial breakdowns and riots
War against the orbitals


Element - Space and Sea
=======

Inspiration: GURPS/Transhuman Space, SeaQuest, 2300AD, The moon is a harsh mistress, Outland, Voice of the Whirlwind

So humanity finally made it to the planets and to the floor of the seas. But that does not mean that they got rid of the nations, the corps or greed. On the contrary the situation just offered more ways for the big money to overwork the peasants and mistreat the proletarians. And as always the political pigs just lined their pockets and looked the other way. They even jumped the bandwagon, sending wagonloads of unwanted out to the planets as forced colonists or indenture labor.

A trip "up the well" cost about the same as first class passage on a modern day luxury liner so there is quite a bit of traffic at least up to the orbital colonies. Down on the seafloor you have whole cities dug into the ocean floor or erected upon it. There is a lot of traffic and a lot of manual, low paying labor. The poor life squalid and oppressed, the rich enjoy luxuries beyond most peoples imagination

Technology is the background here, the characters should normally never own a spaceship (or a veeeeeeeeery old and rundown one) It shows what "could be done", that an Utopia would be possible. But technology gets corrupted to serve the few and to keep the many under control.

Multiple orbital and undersea habitats make for a wide variety in cultures.


Element - Alien invasion
=======

Inspiration: V, Posleen-Cycle,"The life" (That Roddy Piper SciFi), Dark Conspiracy

They are here! The Aliens came to earth and have basically taken over. Humanity lifes under the Alien thumb and most humans still don't know, taking the Visitors for friendly people from outer space. A minority sees the conspiration between the political pigs and the greedy swines in the corporate towers and stands up against it.

Element - Differences
=======

Inspiration: Soylent Green, Earth Middle Ages, Hardwired

The difference between SciFi and Cyberpunk is a rather small one. You can have a Cyberpunk situation in the middle of a galaxywide civilization(Kenneth Bulmers "Rider Hook") just as easily as in Night City. The important elements are in my opinion a massive gap between the haves and the have nots. A gap that the players (always have-nots) must realise and interact with. The can have quite simple targets (Keep the job/Do the job[Heston in Soylent], Get to life well[Hardwired]) or they can be out for vengeance and revolution. It is important that they occasionally glimpse the high life, see what the haves can do and are allowed to do only to be dropped back into misery. The "man" is in power (be it state or corp) and his faceless goonsquads (Got to love the SA here - best template for a modern goonsquad you'll ever get) and "arian overlords" (The SS/Gestapo officer is simply the! classic cultivated yet ruthless enemy) and his extensive high-tech spy network (Think STASI with computers and add the british style video observation)

Michael
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Velocity
post Jan 22 2004, 09:27 PM
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Please take this as the constructive criticism it is intended to be and not as a flame:

Unless you take steps to correct the abominable formatting and spelling in this post, I seriously doubt whether anyone will bother reading it. I'd suggest closing the thread immediately, doing a major edit on this beast and re-posting it.
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Birdy
post Jan 22 2004, 09:46 PM
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QUOTE (Velocity)
Please take this as the constructive criticism it is intended to be and not as a flame:

Unless you take steps to correct the abominable formatting and spelling in this post, I seriously doubt whether anyone will bother reading it. I'd suggest closing the thread immediately, doing a major edit on this beast and re-posting it.

Thanks, I posted but did not look :-( Well, that's MS-Notepad for you.

Michael
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