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Campaign Setting Design: The Fifth Matrix Trun
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Thread: Campaign Setting Design: The Fifth Matrix Trun

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    Campaign Setting Design: The Fifth Matrix Trun

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    I'm looking for some input on the one setting that could actually make a sci-fi believer out of me.

    Influences are as follows:

    The Fifth Element: stylized, slightly crazy, yet realistic-enough sci-fi.
    Shadowrun: gritty, run-down future-world with a cyber-world and people who can manipulate it - deckers.
    The Matrix: there are two types of people: those who have been freed, and those who haven't. I'm not looking for the flying-sentinels junk, more of the "Matrix can be manipulated by awakened people" stuff.
    Tron: users communicate with their programs from terminals. And in the cyber-world, some very cool games, wars, and uniforms get worn.

    Any recommendations on ways to bring these works together? What should be implemented, and what should be dropped? Don't worry about copyrights - this isn't being published. Can it be done without orcs, Mangalores, and Jeff Bridges?
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    what is the percentage of the populace spending time in the real as opposed to the virt? what economy drives and supports life in the virt as opposed before life in the real? after all, life in the virt has to sustain minimal life functions in the real too. or is it so far converted as to have life support virt setups?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    what is the percentage of the populace spending time in the real as opposed to the virt? what economy drives and supports life in the virt as opposed before life in the real? after all, life in the virt has to sustain minimal life functions in the real too. or is it so far converted as to have life support virt setups?
    % populace in VR = 100%.
    VR is the new TV. Now, since Programs can do things way more efficiently than the average meat popsicle, there's no need to have people pilot things in VR. Which means that when people jack in, it's only for entertainment or communication (or sinister things). Now, most people probably have a day job, where they can be dumb(er than programs) and still contribute to the economy, but most people will also jack in at some point during the day to escape the horror of real life.

    Sustaining life functions: that's pretty easy. If you need to go deep into VR, it wouldn't be too hard to get a life-support system to tend your body while you're away. But who can afford that? Well, it's in the government's (Skynet's?) best interest to keep you in VR as long as possible while you're not working, so maybe every living quarters is equipped with a Life Station just like plumbing and electricity. Or maybe CostCo has "cubicles" (coffins) that you can plug into, while waiting for the check-out line to die down?
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    well, the answers to these and similar questions, once settled, are what will determine your play style and rules-o-game. it sounds like you are going for a 100% virt society. If it is in the best interest of the powers that be to keep everyone in the virt, then LS will likely be a major component of any virt systems. Also, how extensive is this? are there fees? are the poor excluded? are virt systems practically free so that the system can used jacked-in people's unused brain processing facilities to add to the system's processing power? who isn't in virt? why? are there other societies out in the world? are they on virt? why or why not? who are the enemies? what are the goals of the PTB (powers that be)? How can players get into/out of virt? how can they avoid being tracked/monitored when everyone is in virt, with food and waste processing throughput and biometrics being monitored?

    just a few more questions.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    well, the answers to these and similar questions, once settled, are what will determine your play style and rules-o-game. it sounds like you are going for a 100% virt society. If it is in the best interest of the powers that be to keep everyone in the virt, then LS will likely be a major component of any virt systems.
    I'm thinking that life support won't be available to the poor - who cares if some proles die while jacked in? Maybe it's like alcohol: it takes money to get, and can quickly lead to ruin.

    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    Also, how extensive is this? are there fees? are the poor excluded? are virt systems practically free so that the system can used jacked-in people's unused brain processing facilities to add to the system's processing power?
    That last has lots of plot potential. I think it's, unfortunately, beyond the setting-building scope.

    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    who isn't in virt? why? are there other societies out in the world? are they on virt? why or why not?
    Lots of poor folk aren't in virt. But they'd like to be. Maybe they have viewscreens that let them watch it, even if they can't jack in. Other societies...probably not. I suspect that the main differences between future peoples will be economic status instead of culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    who are the enemies? what are the goals of the PTB (powers that be)? How can players get into/out of virt? how can they avoid being tracked/monitored when everyone is in virt, with food and waste processing throughput and biometrics being monitored?
    Enemies: there are three main forces in the world: OCP, Zorg Inc, and CostCo. They use two or three governments as puppets. But like modern society, there's huge potential for smaller factions as well. The PTB goals: global totalitarian government, which is to say, achieving organization immortality.

    PCs get into virt by jacking in, or possibly by running programs hacker-style. Jacking in is the much cooler option, but it leaves your body defenseless. Not understanding the tracking/monitored question, but PCs would likely have an Operator, like Tank from the Matrix.

    Does this still leave room for Fifth Element-style prosperity, or am I pointing hopelessly toward a 1984 scenario?
    Last edited by DMMike; 02-04-2014 at 09:25 PM.
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    it sounds like you are heading towards a heavily classed society where there are birth determined social and/or caste ranks, and very little upward mobility. think india and asia. if you are going to exclude the poor, there will probably be a whole lot of poor, and they are the ones doing all the actual grunt work of keeping society running. this would also give them access to the "guts" of society, and the potential for black markets, hacking in, sabotage, and so forth. i imagine that virt contests and tournaments are shown via tv, holo-stages, and so forth providing "bloodless" gladiatorial entertainment for the masses. There may even be a controller/keyboard interface whereby the poor could control an AV in the virt and compete against the virts in hopes of winning a higher place in society. something like wrestling and MMA competitions, only playstation style. Have an open virt olympics every so often where the poor can attempt to level up their AVs and break into the bottom most rung of the virt society. Very likely that guards for important facilities in RL will be drawn from these populaces - which may create caste levels even within the poor themselves.

    the RL magnates who control access to major resources may manage to maintain a knife's-edge independence, or may be subordinate to one or more of the various megorps, which give them a semi-protected status as each of the megorps are dependent upon the other megorps for specific kinds of resources, which would give you a cold-war era scenario of uneasy peace, spys, tensions, trade embargoes and blockade-runners, conflicting and shifting loyalties, always seeking for an advantage, and escalating weapons arsenals. They may even have a bastardized-secondclass-nobility status within the virt themselves, with the dangling possibility of real noble status... something to keep them from getting away and to keep luring them into deeper collusion.

    even inside the virt, you'll have trade negotiations and struggle for control over valuable IP, firewall-runners, and the like.

    next tier up in society would be the grunts, slaves, and servants of the virt society, the user-maintinence people. probably non-coders, but responsible for using various debugging and editing tools to maintain and update scenes in the virt for the rich, wealthy, and powerful (RWP or wraps). Also act as servitors and mobs for said RWP individuals and groups in the virt.

    next tier up might be the techno-crats, those who either are coders, are artists, or who are clever enough to hire talented coders and artists. they deal in IP as currency, and form the merchant class equivalent in the virt.

    next tier up would be the bureaucrat-minor nobility who deal with all the messy organizational issues, and meeting the goals and requirements of the veep-nobility. (veeps = VIP)

    the last tier would be the court of veeps-nobility around the seeohs-royalty (seeohs = CEOs) of each megorps.


    the players could have various backgrounds and even have possible ties to the veeps or seeohs as a background option/complication. this would give you your discordian-gritty-cyber-mostly-virt-future while also allowing segments of prosperity to exist both in and out of virt.


    just some random ideas, anything useful?
    Last edited by nijineko; 02-05-2014 at 12:00 PM.
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    I love the bloodless gladiatorial competitions. This will give the poor a chance to gamble (poor-tax) as well.

    Co-dependence of megorps is also nice - very Merica-China. Cold-war conflict - also nice. If you remember your 1984, constant war is what keeps the government taxing high and providing lots of "security." But there's no reason why all-out war can't downgrade to cold war once in a while.

    Multi-tiered society: has potential. I have to wonder if the Virt is able to offer a completely different status to someone. Can you be a prole in RL, and an arch-bureaucrat in the Virt? Or maybe the Virt has a parallel hierarchy?

    High-up ties has good story potential, especially if these ties are unknown. Like, "I chat with Forbes18273 once a week and then play a game of chess. What? That's STEVE Forbes!?!" What's the new game doing that...13th Age, right?
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    hmm, unless someone makes enough to afford a full-care virt rig (or can steal, bribe, borrow, hack, or blackmail their way into one), then they'd have to supplement it with RL income (be amusing if that was pronounced "role", as in waking life is the role you take on when you aren't your "real" self in the virt - such an emphasis by govs, megorps, and advertising would encourage people to treat the virt as more real than RL - ' the virt, the only place where you can be your real you', 'be all you can be, in the virt', etc., etc.).
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    Another way to do this is almost a Matrix meets Shadow World meets Call of Cthulu scenario.

    Joe and Jane average _KNOW_ that magic and monsters and stuff is bullcrap, impossible, AND just the stuff of stories. Those few (Neo and crew) that have been unplugged start out with the knowledge that it _IS_ real, but their access to power is limited due to unfamiliarity (they are 1st level). Monsters (and agents) try to track the party down, and stuff happens in the plugged-in world that just seems weird, sightings of were-wolves, yeti, and grays, and people allegedly doing strange things that are impossible.

    No need to be plugged back into the matrix to interact, and no mirrors to step through... and while the monsters may be real, no sanity rolls.

    It's just an idea.

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