Design Journal 2

(If you want more information about this project, check here)

So, a lot of my thinking has been going toward the setting for this SF game I’m trying to design. I’ve got a skeleton of a system that I think will be workable. I have been given some information by the guy who wants to publish the game about the setting, but he’s also said that I’m free to flesh things out.

His idea is for a game set about 150 years in the future. There is a world government and FTL travel, but he doesn’t want it to be too high tech – nothing similar to Star Trek, for example. He’s also said ‘I like conspiracies’, so based on that I’ve decided to go with a conspiracy focus for the game overall. In thinking about it, I couldn’t come up with another popular SF game that is centered around conspiracies – except Paranoia, which is an entirely different kind of game from what I have in mind.

The default setting is going to be a situation where the PCs have all been disassociated from their own lives somehow. Something has happened to clue them in to the fact that Something Is Going On. Maybe they’ve been inexplicably fired or someone they know has been disappeared. Maybe they’ve been accused of a crime and have decided to flee the law.

Regardless, the story for a particular character starts when they realize they can’t go back to their old life, or that things are falling apart around them. As this happens, they learn more and more of what is really going on – or at least they think they do. Meanwhile, they have to learn to get along somehow on the fringes of society.

I imagine this fringe actually being really huge. I don’t see any reason why the future will be much more equitable than the present or the past, so Earth in this setting is something like a vast slum, pretty seroiusly polluted, with enclaves of wealthy people living in arcologies and in hermetically sealed communities. The truly wealthy have probably mostly moved to space.

I kind of see two general genres of games – games about conspiracies on Earth or games about conspiracies off-world, elsewhere in the solar system. The former will be something a little like Gattica or Blade Runner – people on the fringe in contrast to the System. The latter will be something like maybe Alien or 2001 – bad things happening in space and what you do about it in the most hostile environment possible. (The publisher keeps recommending Outland, which I have to watch as well.)

This also ties into my original idea that identity would be a huge problem for people living in this future. Its hard enough to figure out who you are now, but the rate of cultural change shows no signs of slowing.

Another issue, in my mind at least, is the place or role that religion will have, especially among the affluent who have access to high technology. In one of Sam Harris’ books he proposes that a mature science of mind would be the end of religion forever. What would this science of mind look like? Its interesting how the philosophy and even theology I’m reading ties into this project so nicely. I’m still really excited about it.

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