Beginning the Game
In the far future humanity has perfected artificial fabrication technology.
We are able to terraform planets, repopulate worlds with Earth wildlife, and produce any necessity with a fabricator.
Our planet was one terraform project of many...until our rush to gain wealth from our new world led to the accidental creation of a disease that killed more than a quarter of our population.
The Interstellar Union placed our planet under quarantine; our fabricators, astrotech, and interstellar travel was disabled with a kill-switch. The Overseers dictated regulations on every aspect of our lives. They co-opted the Feed to supervise our compliance, an unblinking surveillance system that watches and catalogs every moment of every life.
For generations the Planetborn have negotiated for an end to the quarantine. For generations we were told to follow instructions and regulations, and then faced reinterpretation whenever we filed proof of our compliance.
As for us? We are the seventh generation since the quarantine began. We know that following the regulations will never change anything. So now we need to find a new way to freedom. We need to resist.
Detailing the Dystopia
This actual play aims to fall in the middle between fantasy and dystopian themes: play will focus on realistic consequences and unintended fallout, while leaving space for hope. The characters are flawed, but also able to push past expected limits.
No one wants a repeat of the mistake that killed so many. To prevent it, the Overseers called for a strict credentialing system. To hold any legal job, you need to pass the exams. And if you want a job with any kind of responsibility or impact, you need a credentialed sponsor to secure your chance to event sit for the test. Don't have credentials? No one wants to hear from you. It's a meritocracy after all—everyone is taking the same tests for the same positions—so if you fail, that means you can't be competent. Couldn't find a sponsor? Maybe you need to make better friends. Spend time with the right kind of people.
Perhaps the only thing more dangerous than someone without credentials is a magician. The Source—the sentient, omnipresent being that connected all life on the planet before the terraforming—opposes the wasteful destruction brought by the Overseers. The Source started a series of supernatural phenomenon in protest; called the Outbreak, it convinced the Overseers the planet itself is infected with a disease. This belief is strengthened anytime a magician loses control of their magic, as the Source reaches out and reverses the terraforming process. No one trusts a magician. After all, their mistakes open the door for the Source; their mistakes could poison an entire district.
No one has forgotten that the original seven multinational corporations—the multicorps—created the epidemic. They were given a chance to colonize the planet, and they failed. Contractual obligations prevented the Overseers from disbanding the multicorps completely, but nothing stops them from disregarding their views as reckless and uneducated. Planetborn—all who descended from the original 7 multicorps—are marginalized in the colonies. Only those who adopted false identities as Offworlders, or sold out their original multicorps to join the Peacekeepers, have enlightened views. Every other heritage of Planetborn is irrelevant.
Painting the World of People
Each multicorps had control of the terraforming process for their colony. As a result, seven different ecosystem exist across the colonies. The starting colony for the players was terraformed into a landscape resembling the red sandstone canyon of Utah, USA. Canyons and arches are dotted with evergreens; cold rivers flow in between. Patches of unsettled, shifting moraines make exploration outside the settled areas treacherous.
The urban zones oppose the landscape. Buildings are rigid skyscrapers, blocky warehouses, and manicured landscapes. Roads cut through cliffs rather than conform to them. As you moved into the rural areas, people learned to build with the land, favoring homes dug into the dirt, or built into cliff faces.
Fashion follows a similar pattern. Those in the capital adopt excessive fabric in metallic tones, pleats, rigid layers, and structure. Artificial fabric is threaded with metals and glass for drama. Clothes are designed for drama, not the environment. In the less terraformed spaces, people wear fashion made from the fibers of the succulents and layered to adapt to the extreme hots and colds that define the area. Fabric is either neutral or dyed with the colors of the land: red of the earth and blue of the sky.
Capital Fashion (Yohji Yamamoto)
Before the Outbreak
Life existed before the terraforming process. The planet served as the home for the Source, an omnipresent, intangible being connected to every aspect of planet life. It also served as the nexus for a cluster of dimensions with beings of their own. When terraforming began, it reshaped the planet's form, but did not destroy this original essence.
The multicorps discovered the Source's presence early; it spoke to them, teaching them how to best survive. Eventually, it introduced them to the life forms of the other dimensions. The Planetborn named them Kith, because they looked like humans, except slightly different. Every Kith is humanoid, but with two distinct differences from humans. Some have leaves instead of hair and bark-like skin; others are palm sized with pointed ears; still others always appear as the elderly but with silver hair and some animal feature like slitted cat eyes. Some Kith are collaborative; others feed of human fear, and do everything they can to generate more of it. As time passed, the Planetborn learned that when they die, they cross over to a Kith dimension. Known as Afterlights, they continue in their new world, occassionally going back to visit the living.
After the Outbreak
The Source is driven by a specific agenda: it wants to challenge materialism and waste. Those who live off the land are accepted; those who remake the land into acts of vanity and excess, often through the exploitation of other humans, are disrespectful. The Source strikes back by undoing parts of the terraforming process. Sometimes it acts dramatically, causing slabs of rock to shoot up in the middle of a road. Other times, it acts subtly, turning the air toxic. Still other times it warps the terraformed earth animals, making them appear like the otherdimensional Kith: dogs with leaves instead of fur; cows engulfed in flames; common crows grown to enormous sizes. Once the Source has unraveled a space, it cannot be undone. If the humans try to demolish a Source rock, it will regrow over night. If they filter the air, the toxicity will only intensify. Once the Source creates something, it persists.
Knowledge about the Kith and Afterlights of the dead faded. In some cases, Planetborn hid their knowledge. In other cases, the Overseers erased it as superstition when Planetborn where sent to government residential schools during the re-education policies. Even so, some people continue to receive visits from the dead in their dreams. To mention these dreams is taboo, and anyone who attends to their dreams is seen as low class. If an Offworlder were ever to receive such a visit, they would never speak of it, for fear of being seen as silly.
Refining the Role of Machines
Prior to the quarantine, the Planetborn used fabricators to generate whatever they needed. After the kill-switch destroyed their astrotech, fabrication, and AI, one of the multicorps shared its network technology with everyone. The Feed records events, allows for near-instant communication, and maintains a digital archive of any information that enters it. The Overseers co-opted the Feed and turned it into an always-on surveillance system that records everything and forgets nothing. At birth, everyone has a Feedlink installed into their brain. It allows them to interact with the Feed as an augmented reality, commands cued to their very nervous system. The tech—and the surgery—is expensive. Which is why every Feedlink is sponsored by one of the most powerful factions on the planet. Each sponsor controls the advertisements that appear, and modify the aesthetics of the AR interface to support their brand.
Other than the Feed, a filter mask is the most ubiquitous piece of tech. Every person owns one—if not many—and carries it at all times. With the Source disrupting terraformed areas, the air can become deadly at any moment.
The Overseers retain the most elite technology for themselves: immortality. When the Interstellar Union assigned Overseers to this planet, they knew the quarantine meant they would likely never leave. So they chose the people they wanted gone. The Overseers knew as much. They conspired to bring preservation tech with them. As a result, the Overseers of this generation are the same as the original Overseers. And perhaps this is part of what drove them to take the colonies away from the multicorps: they knew they would need significant land to house their immortal children.
Preservation tech can sustain life but not restore it. If someone dies, it cannot bring them back. This truth drives the Overseers to near paranoia levels when it comes to securing their own safety.