Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Posthegemony: Chapter Three

For those of you who are interested in such things, this is the third chapter of my upcoming dystopian roleplaying game Posthegemony: Terra Nomenklatura.


Person Of Interest [noun]: a phrase used by law enforcement when announcing the name of someone involved in a criminal investigation who has not been arrested or formally accused of a crime.

It should have bothered everyone more than it did when the Mormon’s left. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints had done rather well during the S-A.C, all things considered. No one had set off dirty bombs, sprayed neurotoxins out of crop dusters, or poured typhoid-7 into the water supplies of Salt Lake City or Provo. The inhabitants of Utah, Idaho, and eastern Nevada, with their tradition of heavily armed, single-minded patriotism, had fought off famine-maddened cannibal armies from California and Arizona on one hand, and jihad-crazed, apocalyptic hordes moving south from the Great Lakes on the other. They'd hung on without help from any outside force for decades. Thus, it was really no great surprise when they adamantly refused the various carrots offered by the Posthegemony as it slowly expanded its reach into western North America.

And then came the Pashtun Example. The stick. THE fucking stick.

Kooky extra books of the bible or not, the Mormons could see the writing on the wall. So with little preamble and even less explanation, they silently floated out of the atmosphere in their enormous, crude Arcs, and vanished to places unknown. “Good riddance!” said many who really should have known better. Two years later the king of Swaziland bought the rusty remains of the South African navy, stripped them, sealed them, outfitted them with AntiG, packed the last 30,000 Swazi in the world into them, and left. The Berber peoples of North Africa followed using enormous sections of oil pipelines that had been lined with lead. The world's few remaining Persians ambled aboard the shells of massive oil tankers and, with much weeping and rending of hair, said a final prayer toward Mecca, and then drifted away off the world.

But it wasn't until a group of radical underground lesbians from San Francisco figured out that they could sever a Scraper from its foundations, seal its windows, and depart for parts unknown that the Posthegemony began to get worried. It meant that almost anybody could leave. But by then the Interesting People were in full flight. Libertarians and Trotskyists. Santeria priests and Orthodox Old Believers. People who spoke Esperanto. People who spoke Welsh. Somehow – and no one to this day is really sure how – every remaining person on Earth with Down syndrome gathered together in Miami, where they departed out world in a massive Scraper shaped like a beach ball. Trekkies… and the less said about them, the better. Gun nuts. Pacifists. People who thought that Ayn Rand was a prophet and that the events described in Atlas Shrugged had come to pass. People who thought that Margaret Atwood was a prophet and that the events described in The Handmaid's Tale had come to pass. People who thought (with what could reasonably be considered far more justification) that Harry Harrison was a prophet and that the events described in Make Room! Make Room! had come to pass.

All the Interesting People were leaving the world of their birth. Until the Posthegemony started shooting them down, that is. Now nobody leaves, nobody talks about it, and nobody has heard anything from the Interesting People who did in a long, long time.

Character Wants Room

“Character wants room; must not be crowded on by persons, nor be judged from glimpses got in the press of affairs, or on few occasions. It needs perspective, as a great building.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In many ways characters in Posthegemony are very much like standard Star Hero characters. They pay for most of their equipment to be Fabed with yuan instead of character points, and are subject to Normal Characteristic Maxima. Their Abilities are mostly Skills and Perks, with maybe a couple of Talents or Powers based on radical improvements in biotechnology or the sort of unusual abilities that manifest in any culture.

In other ways… not so much. Posthegemony characters are a bit fucked up. They have problems. Lots of problems. To reflect this all PCs are built on 150 Total Points, with 75 points of Matching Complications, but with 25 Maximum Points per Complication. So, somewhere between a Competent Normal and Standard Hero, but with considerably more issues than Flash Gordon or Luke Skywalker.

Dysfunctional Character Concepts

“Just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character.” – Pulp Fiction

All PCs in the Posthegemony setting are by definition dysfunctional: if they were happy with their lives, they wouldn’t be PCs. But since they aren’t happy living in utopia, they are by definition dysfunctional. Ask anyone whose anyone. The root of that dysfunction is the key to the entire concept behind the character. Think of it as the axis around which everything about that character revolves. It is the core of who they are at heart.

And who they are at heart will have tremendous influence on how their spaceship gets built.

So before beginning the mechanical construction of your character, it’s a good idea to think about whom that character is, precisely. What are her motivations? Why is she so dissatisfied with her life in the Posthegemony? Is she extroverted or introverted? Does she long to raise her own food? Is she an animal lover? Is she filled with existential angst like a caged rat? Or is she serene or aesthetic, a secret Buddhist monk? Is she capable of violence? Or stealing?

Posthegemony Names

“And so with all things: names were vital and important.” – Algernon H. Blackwood

The Chinese are a highly adaptable people. As they slowly spread their hegemony across the globe, the founders of the Posthegemony generally changed the order of their names and added local names to them, as well. For example, in North America it is still common to name children Bubba, Tequila, Nadine, Brittany, Moisha, Jack Daniel, or any other traditional name that sounds good. But Bubba Wei and Nadine Mang will always have two middle initials, for Bubba Gong Hu Wei and Nadine Shu Tun Mang.

However, in some cases the reverse is true: a person may simply have a Chinese “first” name and a local last name, though the actual concepts behind Chinese first, last, and middle names are quite complicated. Traditionally, Chinese people have a clan name followed by a personal name, concluded by a “generational” name indicating their age group, and thus position of importance in a family. Which name is used by whom with or without honorifics indicates social standing, marital status, and the like.

However, over time this system has broken down for the paloi classes: only nomenklatura still employ it. The lower classes use the simpler system. Thus it is not atypical to find producer-consumers with names such as Li Gonzales, Wu Johnston, and Wong Murkowski.

Character Complications

“Characters have weaknesses as well as strengths: both are necessary to create an interesting, well-rounded individual.” – Steven S. Long

Well, not so much you. Oh, you’re interesting all right. You want to leave utopia for Christ’s sake: comfort, wealth, longevity, excellent medical care, vacuous nightlife, guilt-free sex, and unlimited access to porn. This by definition also means that you’re unbalanced. Characters in Posthegemony are in many ways defined by their Complications, rather than their more positive attributes. The most important of these is a new Complication called Interesting Person, which combines aspects of Hunted, Social Complication, and Negative Reputation. Psychological Complications are very common, as are Social Complications and Dependence, while Physical Complications and Distinctive Features are extremely uncommon, as they are quickly corrected by Posthegemony science and society, respectively.


Producer-consumers of all classes love, love, love their drugs, particularly designer pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and inspired mixtures of the two. In fact, the Posthegemony has largely chosen not to regulate or limit the distribution of recreational drugs (though they are taxed) so as to better facilitate their flow into society (opiate of the masses and all that). Mild hallucinogens, dissociatives, stimulants, sedatives, and cannabinoids are all common, available through vending machines, corner stores, and at preschools, and come in two standard forms: poppers (pills) and tabs (which dissolve in juice or alcohol). While 99% of alcohol is synthetic stuff (fermented bacteria, basically), it’s carefully flavored to resemble anything and everything. Popular varieties include whiskey liqueurs, vodka and caffeine combinations, various sorts of cocktails, hallucinogen and guarana-spiked smart drinks, and variations on the highball.

Typically addiction is mild: Dependence (must consume some fucked up substance or the other once a day or suffer Weakness) (Very Common, Addiction): 0 Character Points. But more severe versions of Dependence are common enough, especially for those intelligent enough to see Posthegemony society for what it really is.
Of course, it’s possible that your PC, with his freakish and unhealthy desire to escape utopia, doesn’t have a nice, healthy Dependence, in which case he can take Social Complication: Discouraged Behavior (Lack Of Bad Habits; Frequently, Minor) [10 Points].


Literally another way of saying Person Of Interest, the character is basically a criminal that Sentience hasn’t gotten around to instructing its RoboCops to arrest yet and haul away for ReEducation.

But it will. Eventually.

All PCs in Posthegemony have the Complication Interesting Person. All receive 25 points for this Complication, even though it starts out being somewhat less of a pain-in-the-ass then it eventually becomes. The threat of Interesting Person is simple: there is a roll and, if the player fails it, his character is hauled away for ReEducation, effectively ending their participation in the game (though this depends somewhat on the GM’s style). If the player succeeds, Sentience has not yet decided to scrub his or her brain free of its troubling personality so that it can plant a nice, colorful tulip there.


All hoi-paloi PCs start out with an Interesting Person role of 8 or less at the beginning of the game. Post-paloi and nomenklatura begin with a score of 9 and 10, respectively. Each time they acquire or complete a Core Component of their spacecraft (see page XXX), each character makes a roll to see if Sentience has decided to arrest them or not. If they succeed, it automatically goes up by one. (If they fail, the nice police androids with happy faces come to take them away to a pleasant, fleshtone-colored room filled with equipment… but I digress.) Furthermore, if they fail any sort of role that might attract the attention of Sentience, it goes up by one again, making them “better” at being an Interesting Person.

Example: It’s a slow day at Edward Chu’s shop and he doesn’t feel like schtupping his shop girl. So he decides to do some Web research on asteroid mining using his Com. He has to be extremely careful about this, as reading any “straight” information about this topic is Discouraged (though it’s still available, of course). Edward has Web 12-. He decides to make a supporting roll using his Mining 14-. Furthermore, Edward has used his Perk post-paloi to purchase some pretty descent security software that gives him a +1 bonus to his roll. Finally, he doesn’t even look directly at information about asteroid mining, choosing instead to read sections from Ben Bova’s classic Asteroid Wars books. The GM chooses to give him an additional bonus of +2 for being cagey.

Unfortunately, Edward starts by failing his supporting role. He follows that up by rolling a miserable-ass 17, failing his role. Edward Chu’s Interesting Person roll was 10. It is now 11.

Edward Chu is in trouble.


Let’s put this simply: you’re not quite right in the head. If you were, you would be happy pretending that your shoebox-sized condominium really was what it appeared to be (say, the inside of the Vatican or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum House), taking designer drugs, surfing the Web, pretending to work, and generally acting like a 60-year-old teenager. That’s what normal people do.

But no: you have to be difficult. Different. (Same thing, really). Which is why you, producer-consumer, have some serious problems.

After Interesting Person, your character still has 50 points of matching Complications to rack up, and Psych Comps are a good way to do it. The average 21st Century urban American had a lot of Psych Comps, mostly based on the fundamental unnaturalness of city living. Posthegemony society is even more grotesquely, unhealthily urban than its distant (or possibly recent) ancestor, and is thus even more mentally disturbed…if such a thing is even possible.

In any case, the following Psych Comps are perfectly reasonable for any PC, as they afflict many or most city dwellers: agoraphobia, general neurosis, narcissism, paranoia, impotent rage, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Botanophobia (fear of plants), Zoophobia (fear of animals), Teratophobia (fear of deformity), Anthropophobia (fear of people), and megalomania. Just picture the kinds of behavior exhibited by the typical patrons of a Berkeley coffee house and go from there.

Of course, it’s possible that your PC, with her freakish and unhealthy desire to abandon utopia, doesn’t have any of the standard urban Psych Comps, in which case she can take Social Complication: Lack Of Common Urban Psychosis (Frequently, Minor) [10 Points].

Because sanity is not a logical response to living in an urban utopia.


Well, it is all rather complicated, isn’t it? Society, I mean. And you don’t fit into it very well, do you? You can’t even do that after all it’s done for you.

As has been noted before, Posthegemony society works through a series of Encouragements and Discouragements: behaviors that are encouraged or discouraged (see Postculture). There are also a large number of Skills that are Encouraged and many that are Discouraged; it can be an extremely tricky business keeping the fact one knows one of them a secret. However, having a Discouraged behavior or Skill does not by definition make one an Interesting Person. (Though it does in your case. Freak.) A LOT of producer-consumers do, and Sentience would have turn nearly the entire world into a vegetable garden to get rid of them all. So it’s settled on making the lives of those with unhealthy enthusiasms difficult, without generally going to the trouble of ReEducating them.

Of course, in some cases it’s no trouble at all.

Having an unsavory habit, undesirable Skill, or some combination thereof that does not lead in and off itself to a nice, healthy brain scrubbing is can be purchased as Social Complication: Discouraged Behavior (Frequently, Minor) [10 Points].


“The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.” – Albert Einstein

As in any science fiction setting, HERO System Powers are mostly used to simulate or explain technology in Posthegemony. Things like RoboCops, Personal Sentience, Coms, and AntiG vehicles are all explained using Powers. However, unlike many SciFi universes, the ability of PCs to technologically modify themselves is quite limited. Furthermore, technological development in areas not covered by the four-legged table (Nanotechnology, Fabricators, Sentience, and Antigravity) remains at S-A.C. levels. Thus there are no laser weapons, uplifted chimpanzees, teleporters, or any cool shit like that.

All producer-consumers posses (and pay Character Points for) the following: Posthegemony Nano technology Treatments: Life Support (Immunity To All Terrestrial Diseases, Life Support) (7 Active Points) Always On (+1/2); Total cost: 10 points

Additionally all producer-consumers own either a Com or Personal Sentience (depending on their station in life) and a standard Faber, for which they pay no points, as these are considered starting equipment.


“I don’t care about money or fame or anything like that, but it would be a perk.” – Lucas Grabeel

As been noted many times before in this book to the point of obnoxiousness, Posthegemony society is spit up into three classes, with the hoi-paloi as the baseline 80% of the population. While the hoi-paloi don’t inherently have any Perks (though their players can certainly buy some), there are intrinsic advantages to being both post-paloi and nomenklatura.

Of course, the drawback of not being hoi-paloi is that you are much more… Interesting.

Hoi-Paloi: You are a peasant prince of the Posthegemony. Sure you make less. Sure you don’t know anything about anything (not that it keeps you from commenting on everything). Sure your life is a blurry, running cavalcade of drugs, adultery, and drunken sepak takraw matches on the Web. Sure you’re an ignorant schmuck. BUT the whole thing is run for you, really. Keeping you happy is what it’s all about… and, as a bonus, Sentience doesn’t watch you as closely at the others, either.

So party on producer-consumers! There’s no love like self-love!

Post-Paloi: You are the trusted shepherds of society, the ones who keep things running. You work hard. You perform the boring but necessary tasks. You do what needs doing: day after day, year after year. It’s only reasonable that you should have a few luxuries. It’s only reasonable there would be people you could call on in emergencies. And it’s only reasonable you would be owed a few favors as well.

Post-Paloi Package Deal
Cost Perk

5 Contact: Nomenklatura Sponsor 11- (Useful Skills and Resources, Access to Major Institutions, Contacts of Own, Good Relationship)
3 Favors (various)
2 Fringe Benefit: Post-Paloi
3 Money: Well Off

Total Cost: 13

Nomenklatura: You are the aristocrats of the perfect society: wealthy, urbane, mature, conservative, and restrained. You are by profession a keeper of secrets, a broker of favors, and a master of souls. You have unprecedented access to Sentience; and it has unprecedented access to you.

Nomenklatura Package Deal
Cost Perk

5 Computer Link (Sentience)
24 Contact: Other Nomenklatura 13- (Very Useful Skills and Resources, Access to Major Institutions, Contacts of Own, Organization Contact)
10 Favors (various)
10 Fringe Benefit: Nomenklatura
7 Money: Wealthy

Total Cost: 56


“Happiness comes when we test our skills towards some meaningful purpose.” – John Stossel

Despite all of their longevity, trading of favors, and vacuous affluence, Posthegemony characters are mostly Skill-based. Naturally most of these Abilities are relatively useless. Typical examples include KS: Local Bars, KS: Clubbing, PS: Gourmand, and Charm. Fortunately, all producer-consumers have at least a couple of useful Knowledge Skills and at least one Professional Skill topping their mountain of frivolous enthusiasms. If they didn’t nothing would get done. Unfortunately, Sentience and its nomenklatura counterparts (Or is it Masters? Servants? Agents? Dupes?) generally prefer frivolity, especially in the hoi-paloi. Too much useful information in any single individual is… well, Interesting.

So logically certain Skills are actively Discouraged, others are actively Encouraged, and a third nobody seems to give a fuck about. This handy chart will help you tell which is which:

Computer Programming
High Society
System Operation

Animal Handler
Autofire Skills
Combat Driving
Combat Piloting
Combat Skill Levels
Defense Maneuver
Fast Draw
Martial Arts
Rapid Attack
Slight Of Hand
Two-Weapon Fighting
Weapon Familiarity

Forensic Medicine
Lip Reading
Penalty Skill Levels
Security Systems
Skill Levels

So to summarize for you hoi-paloi: Skills that involve fighting, being sneaky, working with animals, or being able to survive more than 100 meters from a coffee shop are BAD, while skills involving operating a computer, working with others, and being a desirable party guest are GOOD. Knowledge Skills, Professional Skills, Science Skills, and Transport Familiarity can be good, bad, or “meh,” depending on the specific Skill involved. For example PS: Rocket Scientist will most definitely raise some virtual eyebrows and be Discouraged, while SS: Nanotechnology would be actively Encouraged.



Val Char Cost Roll Notes
10 STR 0 11- Lift 100 kg; 2d6 HTH damage [1]
15 DEX 10 12-
16 CON 6 12-
18 INT 8 13- PER Roll 13-
12 EGO 2 11-
15 PRE 5 12- PRE Attack: 3d6

5 OCV 10
5 DCV 10
3 OMCV 0
3 DMCV 0
3 SPD 10 Phases: 4, 8, 12

5 PD 3 Total: 5 PD (0 rPD)
5 ED 3 Total: 5 ED (0 rED)
5 REC 1
35 END 3
10 BODY 0
30 STUN 5 Total Characteristics Cost: 76

Movement: Running: 14m
Swimming: 6m

Cost Powers
10 Posthegemony Nanotechnology Treatments: Life Support (Immunity To All Terrestrial Diseases, Life Support) (7 Active Points) Always On (+1/2)

5 Contact: Arthur Gong-Hu Wei 11- (Useful Skills and Resources, Access to Major Institutions, Contacts of Own, Good Relationship)

9 Striking Appearance +3/+3d6

3 Acting 15-
3 Charm 15-
3 Concealment 13-
3 Conversation 15-
5 Cramming
3 KS: Edible Plants 13-
3 KS: Buddhism 13-
3 KS: Local Bars 13-
3 KS: Clubbing 13-
3 CuK: New Reno 13-
3 Persuasion: 15-
3 PS: Forklift Operator 13-
3 SS: Agronomy 13-
3 Streetwise 15-
3 Systems Operation (Robotic Systems) 13-
3 Systems Operation (Life Support Systems) 13-

Total Powers & Skills Cost: 74
Total Cost: 150

150 Matching Complications (75)
5 Dependence (Alcoholic, must get drunk every evening or suffer –3 to Skill Rolls) (Very Common, Addiction)
0 Dependence (must consume sedatives once a day or suffer Weakness) (Very Common, Addiction)
25 Interesting Person 8-
15 Psychological Complication: Paranoia (Uncommon, Total)
10 Psychological Complication: Social Anxiety Disorder (Common, Moderate)
10 Social Complication: Discouraged Behaviors (Agrarian; Frequently, Minor)
10 Social Complication: Discouraged Behavior (Buddhism; Frequently, Minor)

Total Complications Points: 50

Description: As has been noted before (see page XXX), Sally Wong is one messed up producer-consumer. She drinks, takes pills, and is extremely uncomfortable in social situations. To make things worse, the combination of drinking, pill popping, and having multiple Discouraged behaviors has made her increasingly paranoid. Still, as a member of Arthur Gong-Hu Wei’s secret cell of Interesting Persons, she’s worked hard to maximize the Skills derived from here cosmetically enhanced beauty, and has toiled diligently to become the groups expert on life support systems.

Edward Chu
Val Char Cost Roll Notes
13 STR 3 11- Lift 150 kg; 21/2d6 HTH damage [1]
13 DEX 6 12-
16 CON 6 12-
15 INT 5 12- PER Roll 12-
12 EGO 2 11-
10 PRE 0 12- PRE Attack: 2d6

5 OCV 10
5 DCV 10
3 OMCV 0
3 DMCV 0
3 SPD 10 Phases: 4, 8, 12

5 PD 3 Total: 5 PD (0 rPD)
5 ED 3 Total: 5 ED (0 rED)
5 REC 1
35 END 1
14 BODY 4
34 STUN 7 Total Characteristics Cost: 71

Movement: Running: 14m
Swimming: 6m

Cost Powers
10 Posthegemony Nanotechnology Treatments: Life Support (Immunity To All Terrestrial Diseases, Life Support) (7 Active Points) Always On (+1/2)

5 Contact: Aruthur Gong-Hu Wei 11- (Useful Skills and Resources, Access to Major Institutions, Contacts of Own, Good Relationship)
3 Favors (various)
2 Fringe Benefit: Post-Paloi
3 Money: Well Off

3 Hard Bargainer (resists Trading, +3)

3 Acting 12-
3 Bribery 12-
3 Bureaucratics 12-
3 Concealment 12-
5 Cramming
3 KS: Ancient Coins 12-
5 KS: Fashion 13-
3 KS: Mining & Mining Equipment 12-
3 KS: Precious Metals 12-
3 CuK: New Reno 12-
3 Persuasion 12-
3 PS: Tailor 12-
5 SS: Metallurgy 13-
5 SS: Mining 13-
3 Systems Operation (Mining Equipment) 12-

Total Powers & Skills Cost: 79
Total Cost: 150

150 Matching Complications (75)
20 Dependent NPC: Children (Incompetent, Infrequently, Group DNPC)
25 Interesting Person 9-
15 Psychological Complication: Paranoia (Uncommon, Total)
10 Social Complication: Discouraged Behaviors (Mining; Frequently, Minor)
5 Social Complication: Discouraged Behavior (Ancient Coins; infrequently, Minor)

Total Complications Points: 50

Description: Edward Chu is a desperate man (see page XXX). Though technically affluent and successful, his dissatisfaction with life in the Posthegemony is reaching a fevered pitch. He wants to escape – and he wants to take his children Amy and Wu with him. Furthermore, as a post-paloi Edward Chu is in more danger of discovery than Sally Wong, as the scrutiny of his behavior is far greater.

Edward Chu takes his role as a member of Arthur Gong-Hu Wei’s secret cell of Interesting Persons very seriously. As the cell’s resident mining and metallurgy expert, he’s been studying diligently in an attempt to improve his abilities, in the expectation that the group will need to mine asteroids for raw materials if they are to survive in the vastness of space.

Val Char Cost Roll Notes
13 STR 3 12- Lift 150 kg; 21/2d6 HTH damage [1]
13 DEX 6 12-
14 CON 4 12-
15 INT 5 13- PER Roll 12-
12 EGO 2 11-
15 PRE 5 12- PRE Attack: 3d6

4 OCV 5
4 DCV 5
3 OMCV 0
3 DMCV 0
3 SPD 10 Phases: 4, 8, 12

5 PD 3 Total: 5 PD (0 rPD)
5 ED 3 Total: 5 ED (0 rED)
5 REC 1
35 END 3
12 BODY 2
30 STUN 5 Total Characteristics Cost: 62

Movement: Running: 14m
Swimming: 6m

Cost Powers
10 Posthegemony Nanotechnology Treatments: Life Support (Immunity To All Terrestrial Diseases, Life Support) (7 Active Points) Always On (+1/2)

5 Computer Link (Sentience)
24 Contact: Other Nomenklatura 13- (Very Useful Skills and Resources, Access to Major Institutions, Contacts of Own, Organization Contact)
10 Favors (various)
10 Fringe Benefit: Nomenklatura
7 Money: Wealthy

3 High Society 12-
3 KS: T’ai Chi Chih 12-
3 CuK: New Reno 12-
3 Persuasion 12-
3 PS: Engineer 12-
3 SS: AntiGravity Devices 12-
3 Systems Operation (AntiG) 12-
1 TF: AntiG Vehicles 12-

Total Powers & Skills Cost: 88
Total Cost: 150

150 Matching Complications (75)
25 Interesting Person 10-
15 Psychological Complication: Dissatisfied (Uncommon, Total)
10 Social Complication: Lack Of Common Urban Psychosis (Frequently, Minor)
10 Psychological Complication: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Common, Moderate)
15 Psychological Complication: Totally Honorable (Uncommon, Total)

Total Complications Points: 50

Description: As has been noted before (page XXX), Arthur Gong-Hu Wei is above reproach. He is wealthy, powerful, and influential in the right circles. His is nomenklatura… extremely well connected nomenklatura. He is not even an Interesting Person, so far as he is aware. He is not on any list. He exhibits no outward signs of rebellion whatsoever.

And he hates the fuck out of the Posthegemony.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


For those of you who are interested in such things, here are the first two chapters of my upcoming roleplaying game book Posthegemony: Terra Nomenklatura. It's being written as part of Project WyrmStar: Blackwyrm Books And Games planned launch of multiple Star Hero settings to coincide with the release of the Star Hero genre book by Hero Games at GenCon 2011.

“History is not, as Karl Marx described it, a class struggle, but rather a struggle to produce class.” -Jon Beasley-Murray, On Posthegemony


The future is a paradise. Just not for you.

You are an Interesting Person: a social misfit, unable to adapt to the serene, post-postmodern perfection that is the Posthegemony. Obviously there is something very wrong with you, because the Earth is a utopia. Terra Nomenklatura, a Garden of Eden whose gates are guarded by kindly bureaucrats wielding fiery swords of paperwork, indifference, and free porn. Nobody has to work, computers run everything, and there is plenty of food and entertainment for all.

You hate it. But do you have what it takes to escape it?

Posthegemony: Terra Nomencklatura is a “unique” setting for Star Hero. It contains many of the familiar conventions of a science fiction roleplaying game. There are spaceships, androids, artificial intelligences, and other futuristic miracles. However, the focus of the game isn’t on technology, exploring strange new worlds, or combating alien menaces. Rather, Posthegemony addresses deeper questions of urbanization, individuality, and the false promises of social utopianism. Its protagonists are misfits completely unable to fit into the happy, advanced, and well-adjusted society they’ve been born into. They long to escape its suffocating confines by building a spaceship and fleeing the planet. To accomplish this they will have to find one another, overcome any personal differences they may have, and finally assemble their escape vehicle section by section. Finally, the PCs must successfully get past the Posthegemony’s defenses to escape the Earth for an uncertain future as settlers in a mysterious solar system.

Posthegemony isn’t a normal part of the Star Hero line. As the author or coauthor of several products in that line (Scourges Of The Galaxy, Worlds Of Empire), I can speak with some authority on this. Line developer and friend Steve S. Long is careful to craft or contract products that have the widest potential genre applications and the greatest possible ease of use. This is only right, proper, and what fans of the HERO System have come to expect. However, it’s not what you will find in this book. If most Hero Games books are automobiles taking the players wherever they wish to go using whatever route they wishes to take, Posthegemony is a railroad: it takes a single route to a single destination. And it goes there for very specific purposes.

The Origins of Utopia

One lovely spring evening in San Francisco, Hero Games president Darren Watts and I were taking a leisurely stroll before our Thursday night playtest game (Galactic Champions, if I remember correctly.) As we talked of many things - of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings – the subject of Utopia came up, as it always does when walking along with Darren or Sir Thomas More. “Utopia,” proposed Darren as he sipped philosophically upon his bumper of Colt 45, “is when you can sit in an infinitely comfortable La-Z-Boy and press buttons on its arm that bring anything you want to you, rather than you having to go to it. This allows you to use your time as you choose, which is the essence of freedom.”

“Nonsense.” I retorted, tasting my Cisco (19.5% ABV) contemplatively. “Utopia is when you live as far as possible from others, have as much individual freedom of action as possible, and can produce everything for yourself. Only when you can be completely free of others can you be completely free.”
And thus was an idea born.

As you can probably guess, Darren’s is the more universal of utopian concepts, while mine is firmly in the minority. This book is an exploration of what happens to a society when his ideal wins totally out over mine. Life is easy in the Posthegemony. Entertainment is free and unimaginably varied, food is gratis or incredibly inexpensive, housing provided, healthcare incredibly advanced, and free time plentiful. As long as one is cooperative, none-too-inquisitive, and colors in between the lines, there is even a fair amount of personal freedom.

This game is about not being able to color within those lines.


“People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.“ - James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

While the history of the world before the climactic, nearly apocalyptic event known as The S-A.C is well documented, many of the events that took place during and after it are so not well recorded. Important dates in particular seem to have gone missing from the massive, publicly accessible PostWiki that nearly every producer-consumer and Sentience in the Posthegemony rely upon for most of their information. Thus it is unclear when the current social order was founded, who founded it, and exactly how old it might be. The Posthegemony’s calendar is measured as beginning with its founding - and the current year is Post-631 - but it is just as easy to believe that it could be much older or much younger, and that this date is a complete fabrication. What is certain is that no one alive remembers a time when anything was significantly different from how it is now.

The S-A.C

“All the ancient histories, as one of our wits say, are just fables that have been agreed upon.” - Voltaire, Jeannot et Colin

Everybody who lived through it agreed on one thing: the 21st Century sucked ass. All of the butchery, genocide, and horror of the 20th Century had simply been an amateur warm up, a garage band practice session for the wretchedness to come. No previous dystopian vision or apocalyptic prediction did it justice. It was just that bad. It was so bad, in fact, that forever after and by all it was simply referred to as the S-A.C: the Suck-Ass Century.

At the beginning of the S-A.C., all sorts of fools had predicted that the end of time – Armageddon, Ragnarok, Judgment Day, the end of the Mayan fifth world, or some ecological nightmare Day After Tomorrow – would occur on December 21st, 2012. The Earth would burn or freeze or Elvis would return on wings of sequin or some shit. They made silly movies about it, wrote endlessly craptacular books about it, and churned out a seemingly limitless supply of essays, opinion pieces, and blog postings on the topic until it became, as all such things much, a cottage industry unto itself.

No such luck. December 22nd, 2012 came right on schedule. Then other stuff happened.

The crapiness of the S-A.C. was enough to clog every metaphorical toilet that ever existed in every parallel dimension and in every time period that ever was or ever could be. It had a horrible inevitability to it that was only obvious in hindsight. Building social tensions led to violence in America’s cities, which quickly spread to Canada and Mexico. All three nations quickly fell apart in violent spasms of fratricidal conflict. In the ensuing power vacuum, Venezuela aggressively struck out in every direction in their never-ending quest to re-found Gran Colombia, plunging Latin America into decades of bloody war. Iran nuked Israel, who promptly returned the favor with interest, rendering much of the world's supply of oil radioactive and useless. Australia dried up, caught on fire, and starved, while India and Pakistan finally answered the West's lingering suspicion about whether or not their nuclear weapons actually worked. (They did.) On a now forgotten excuse, the Russians moved to reoccupy their Near Abroad. Of course by then most Eastern Europeans considered themselves to be Western Europeans, which did them about as much good as it sounds like it would. The Chinese invaded the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Siberia, and eastern India in a desperate bid to control enough of the Earth’s dwindling resources to survive.

It was pure, naked Nazi aggression. Which is why it was so odd that the Chinese ended up saving everything.


“History is philosophy teaching by examples.”
- Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Along with reducing the world's population by 60 or 70 percent – a fact that would have pleased some, had it not come with a price tag that included radioactivity, plague, widespread pollution, and a vast reduction in the number and quality of coffee shops and microbreweries – The S-A.C. managed to also produce a fair number of the miracles that graying science fiction fans at the close of the 20th were so bitter about not getting. Some bright young fellow finally managed to make nanotechology practical. The clumsy and expensive stereolithographers and 3D printers of the early S-A.C. gave way to true Fabers capable of turning any garage into an automated factory. After teasing the world for almost 50 years with sexy promises, MIT researchers reached the Zero Point, producing true artificial intelligence. This was quickly cooped into the blossoming Japanese erotic robot industry.

All of these things were very nice. Indeed, each one of them helped to produce its own cascade of technological innovation that, when taken together, helped to propel mankind out of the S-A.C. Of course, none of them turned out to be as important, either in the short or long term, as anti-gravity technology, popularly known as AntiG. It was the Russians (It just had to be the Russians, didn’t it?) with their cultural predilection for abstract theoretical physics and hard drinking that twisted the cap off of that particular bottle of Smirnoff. It made spaceflight cheap; so cheap, in fact, that anyone with basic engineering skills could build a crude spaceship using a laptop, a couple of surplus 20,000 liter tanker trailers, and a thousand pounds of lead-infused paint.

Which seemed really, really cool; but then really, really sucked. Because that was when all of the Interesting People left. But nobody important thinks about these things anymore, so do they really matter?

They do to you. You are one of the lat Interesting People, and you are trapped here among the aloof nomencklatura, petty post-paloi, and childish hoi-paloi. And unless you and those like you can escape, you will almost certainly be crushed by the sheer weight of their boring mediocrity.


“The social and the individual cannot be separated.” - Robert Keith Sawyer, Social Emergence: Societies As Complex Systems

Posthegmony society is by design complex, ambiguous, and wholly urbane. The collective experiences of city living are its ideal, isolation and silence its nightmare. Unlike most previous civilizations, there is no open romanticizing of the “simple life” or rustic and pastoral settings in its art. In fact, there is no rural population at all: nor any living memory of one ever existing. Rather, its societal life revolves around the sophisticated consumption of media, art, music, ephemerally shifting fashion, and sports, all within the context of huge cities constructed of towering, abstract buildings. While its three social classes have distinct ideals they strive for, all producer-consumers in the Posthegemony have much in common. The ideal Postman is a sarcastic, opinionated, apolitical, and socially conscious man-about-town, while the ideal Postwoman is flirtatious, stylish eternally young party girl.


“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” - Karl Marx

The Posthegemony isn't a dictatorship. It’s hard to say what the Posthegemony is, exactly, which made it all the more pernicious to those few who pay attention to such things. There are elections, though they’re obviously spectacle with less actual real world effect than a closely contested sepak takraw match. There are corporations that make various nice things from Slurpees to speedboats. (But all of them are at least partially owned by family members of the Posthegemony's vast nomenklatura: the sons, nephews, or brother-in-laws of someone important to its administration.) There are pretty stars and starlets from Hollywood, Bollywood, and Paris who champion the politically popular causes of the day. They come and go like peddles on a dying flower.

It of this is very polite and acceptable in its treacle-like sameness. There is no dictator, king, president, or chairman: no one for the masses (such as they are in an ultra post-post-modern individualist society) to focus their collective hatreds on. Nor does its innumerable bureaucracies publicly have heads, even symbolic ones. Which is of course by design. Those attempting to penetrate the depths of one of the Posthegemony's many departments, even upon a steed of perfectly filled-out paperwork, find themselves ascending a spiraling, bureaucratic Ouroboros that invariably led them back to the tired functionary they’d initially spoken with.

It is deliberately, scientifically infuriating, and thus not worth the limited time and energy of any reasonably sane person to deal with. Which is why most people chose to get a cappuccino or buy a new pair of trousers or have sex instead. Nor in an era of nanotechology, surplus population, and cheap cloning could it effectively be shot at, blown up, or burned down. By all means young wacko: go at a Posthegemony building with all the Timothy McVeigh cum Osama Bin Laden righteous fury you like. In a week it will just grow back, complete with the bored, empty-eyed staff you so gleefully murdered the week before. Terrorism has thus become as boring and pointless as everything else on Earth. (Which, while effectively defeating it, seems somehow to be at best a Pyrrhic victory to many, as the Posthegemony has robbed men even of the ability to be violent, antisocial assholes.)


And the wind shall say "Here were decent godless people;
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls."

~T.S. Eliot

Like most overly urbane societies throughout history, Posthegemony culture is equal parts consumption, indifference, hypocrisy, and bureaucracy. It doesn’t even require a true police state to achieve its goals. Rather, like its 20th century Chinese progenitor, it operates on the assumption that a public conflict produces a public loss of face for all concerned. Power struggles, while no less common than at any other point in man's sordid history, are kept private and out of the view of the palloi classes, who in turn did their best to emulate their betters on these matters. Thus, a certain sense of calm permeates much of society, from the most powerful apparatchiks to the lowliest sewer workers. In an overly affluent postmodern world Guanxi, whether to one’s family, peers, superiors, or inferiors, is the true coin of the realm, and everyone strives to be as affluent in it as their station allowed.

At its crudest and most basic, the Posthegemony maintains control over world society through Encouragement and Discouragement. Encouragement comes in the form of promotions, perks, “attaboys,” and tax breaks for right-thinking citizens. Deviancy is punished in the opposite manner: those exhibiting poor behavior could expect to be passed over for promotion, be socially ostracized, pay extra taxes, and the like. In this manner vegetarianism, frugality, heterosexuality, physical fitness, and atheism are Encouraged, while overt religiosity, drug use, homosexuality, and excessive or improper political enthusiasms are Discouraged. This was all carefully presided over by the Posthegemony's enormous cadre of memegineers, who work hand in glove with the entertainment and news industries to produce the desired social effects.

Ironically but perhaps unsurprisingly, the Posthegemony also strives to be culturally homogenous by touting the virtues of urbane Multiculturalism. The majority of its population speaks Spanglanese: a mixture of English and Spanish with a thousand or so Cantonese nouns thrown in for flavor. The better sorts of people – well, nomenklatura: wealthy businesspeople, web stars, college professors, and the like – are expected to be fluent in Mandarin, as are Sentience. Eurasian is the ideal ethnically; though the Posthegemony has never bothes to be overtly racist when subtle racism is ever so much more tasteful and effective.

Its people like their cuisine Californian, their music retro, and their art abstract. Romantic-action-comedies with a minimum of actual violence accounted for 80-percent of its Vid industry and are the Posthegemony's preferred entertainment for the polloi; though very little of the previous centuries’ film, music, web content, literature, or television are actually censored. Indeed, immediate access to entertainment was one of its social cornerstones. There were enormous and obsessive WebHead communities built around tortureporn, French new wave, westerns, space operas, and the innumerable like. They operated with minimal interference, as such enthusiasms suite the Posthegemony just fine. After all, obsessive WebHeads have very little interest in effecting the real world where the nomenklatura conduct their business.


“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” – Mia Hamm, American Soccer Player

There is only one Encouraged team sport in the Posthegemony. Sometimes known as “kick volleyball,” sepak takraw originated in the region once known as Malaysia. It’s a spectacular three-a-side game in which a ball is propelled over a high net using any part of the body other than the hands; generally the foot, knee, shoulder, and head. Points are scored by getting the ball to the hit the ground on the opposition’s court. Games are often breathtaking combinations of soccer and gymnastics, and extremely exciting to watch.

Sepak Takraw is the only team sport of the Posthegemony. It is wildly popular and widely played. Accepted individual sports activities include air skiing, jogging, working out in a gym, and T’ai Chi Chih: a series of 19 movements that form a meditative form of exercise to which practitioners attribute physical and spiritual health benefits. Most other forms of exercise – especially ones that involve martial arts of any sort – are Discouraged, though they are rumored to be practiced secretly in underground clubs.

Of course, nice people don’t listen to such rumors.


“The nice thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it’s their fault.” – Henry Kissinger

Those who run the Posthegemony (whoever or whatever they might be) are well aware of the power of celebrity. There are in fact many celebrities in the Posthegemony: musicians, sepak takraw players, artists, and actors, to name but a few. Most of these are quite minor and temporary; they vanish without a trace as soon as they become household names.

However, a select few celebrities enjoy the fame, fortune, and individual Web searches necessary to make them eligible for The Hundred: the one hundred most famous and glamorous people in the world. The general population of the Posthegemony follows their doings so extensively that they’re essentially a pantheon of fame: adored, worshiped, and envied. The Hundred constantly visit the most exotic and romantic locations, engage in the most outrageous and dangerous liaisons, and attend all the best parties. Their clothes determine the fashions of the moment, their opinions are always de rigueur, and their slang constantly (though temporarily) warps the fabric of Spanglanese

Countless young women dream of becoming one of The Hundred. In reality, very few of the Posthegemony’s beautiful people are able to stay members of this ultra-exclusive club for very long: their Apotheosis is extremely temporary, and occasionally even fatal. Those who determine such things see to that.


“An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.” – Albert A. Knopf, publisher

Like all things in the Posthegemony, its Economy is both simple and complex, opaque and transparent. Only its leadership (whoever or whatever they might be) fully understand its complex parameters… or perhaps not. It may also be that its smooth flow is somehow organic; a natural expression of a system organized many years ago. Or the entire system may only be a few decades old… though such talk is Discouraged.

The basic unit of exchange in the Posthegemony is the yuan. This is further divided into the jiao and the fen (1 yuan = 10 jiao = 100 fen). It is a purely electronic currency, exchanged via Coms or Sentience linked to the government’s financial center in Macao. This center handles millions of transactions each day ranging from a few fen to millions of yuan, and maintains constantly updated redundant links to secure memory banks located in Paris, New London, and Trinidad.

It is unknown whether any sort of commodity, such as gold or silver, backs the yuan. Most likely it isn’t backed by anything; the faith the vast majority of Posthegemony citizens have in their unseen currency is so absolute that pegging it is probably unnecessary. But such questions are seldom asked in any case.

Every citizen of the Posthegemony has a randomly generated ten-digit password that identifies them, both to the authorities and the central banking system. These numbers are in turn linked to him via voice recognition, allowing money to be transferred vocally via Com or Sentience. For example, Edward Chu would like to buy an ice cream cone from Happy Deserts No. 7 in New Reno. So he simply says, “Com, please transfer three jiao to Happy Deserts number seven in New Reno.” The Com contacts central banking, verifies the amount, removes relevant taxes (see below), makes the transfer, and then replies “done” or “complete” – all in about three seconds via satellite.

All very secure and private too. Or so they say.


“Death and taxes may be inevitable, but they shouldn't be related.” - J.C. Watts, U.S. congressman

The Posthegemony uses a simple combination fair/flat tax system to generate revenue and maintain social control: 1% for individuals, 5% for corporations. This percentage is removed from every transaction by central banking in Macao. For example, central banking removed 1% of Edward Chu’s payment before Happy Deserts No.7 received payment. However, when Happy Deserts No. 7 purchases twenty pounds of ice cream from their supplier (Ling Ho Delicious Confections Corporation), 5% of the transaction is removed before Ling Ho Corp receives payment. However, when Ling Ho Corp’s account Sentience transfers weekly salary to forklift operator Sally Wong (2384665199), only 1% is removed, as this doesn’t represent a corporation-to-corporation transaction.

While there are a lot of legitimate criticisms of this system (constant double taxation comes to mind), it has the advantage of being simple, unobtrusive, and so second nature to the Posthegemony’s citizens and corporations that it goes largely unnoticed – though not unnoted. The sheer predictability and stability of the system is of great benefit to businesses, allowing advanced planning on a vast scale.


“Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all.” – Victor Klemperer, LTI-Lingue Tertii Imperii: Notizbuch eines Philologen

Each of the three social classes of the Posthegemony has its own Weltanschauung: it’s own way of viewing reality and its place in it. In fact, their views have been deliberately shaped by memegineers for so long that they’ve essentially become carefully fabricated subcultures in their own right. Or, to put it another way, the nomencklatura, post-paloi, and hoi-paloi exist in perpendicular worlds that constantly intersect one another while remaining separate. In all cases great emphasis is placed on conformity, but subtlety and often under the guise of individuality and non-conformity.

Posthegemony social classes tend to be hereditary, though there is room for upward social mobility for extraordinary individuals. However, excessive ambition is Discouraged in the paloi classes (especially the hoi-paloi), while being Encouraged in the nomencklatura for purely machiavellian reasons.

The hoi-paloi (“The Many”) are by far the largest social class, accounting for roughly 80% of the Posthegemony’s population. They are its working class, performing most non-managerial functions and technically having very little political power. But in many ways the Posthegemony is structured around the needs of the hoi-paloi. Keeping them distracted, entertained, and generally busy is the obsession of the nomencklatura and the business of the post-paloi, both of whom dwell in perpetual subconscious terror of social uprising. But, really, they have little to worry about: the vast majority of the hoi-paloi are content with their lot, and disinclined to listen to eccentric losers who aren’t.

The typical hoi-paloi favors bright, baggy clothing and wildly colored hairstyles. They wear medallion-like Coms around their necks and running shoes that blink upon their feet. Women tend to wear a lot of makeup, and men earrings made of precious metal. Hoi-paloi are typically outgoing, mildly sarcastic, and possess a marked sense of entitlement. They are not known for their intelligence, though this is in most cases simple prejudice by the other classes. The hoi-paloi are generally disinterested in the politics of their culture; which is understandable, as it is very difficult to determine what those politics are, precisely. Instead, most hoi-paloi concern themselves instead with the “politics” of Sepak Takraw and The Hundred (see XXX). Those who do not are considered odd, to say the least.

Hoi-Paloi: A Day In The Life
Sally Wong wakes up at 8:00 AM in her four-meter-by-four-meter condominium. She sleeps on a small futon in a loft above her bathroom and kitchen areas. Her bathroom is a single-person shower/toilet combination, and her kitchen contains a sink, single burner, and small refrigerator. Though her home has no windows, this morning she has her walls set to provide her with a view identical to that of Laura Ingalls’ the from the ancient television series Little House On The Prairie, complete with bird sounds and smells of manure. It is extremely realistic.

After fixing herself breakfast (vitamin supplemented pseudo rice pudding and pseudo tea), Sally has her maker create the blue jumpsuit with a large, yellow happyface on the back that is her work uniform, puts it on, and then places her Com around her neck. She leaves for work around 8:45, taking an elevator three times larger than her own condiminium and already packed with some four dozen other people 87 floors down to the base of the Scraper in which she lives. Green and roughly tubular, it is known by its inhabitants at The Zucchini.

None of them has ever seen an actual zucchini.

Sally walks 15 minuets to her job in New Reno, arriving roughly around 9:00 AM at the Ling Ho Delicious Confections Corporation, at which point her Com automatically lets the corporation’s Sentience know that she is at work. Though technically a forklift operator, she is really more of a forklift supervisor: the large yellow robots are mostly run by Sentience, and Sally’s job is to make certain that they don’t to anything dangerous, like grab a load too large for themselves or run over an employee.

Lunch comes at 12:00 PM. It is one hour and supplied by the company (pseudo sushi and decaffeinated soda). She resumes work at 1:00 PM and continues on until 4:00 PM, at which point her shift ends. Sally walks home, throws her uniform back into her Faber for reprocessing, and switches her room to resemble a traditional Japanese tea garden. She makes herself dinner (pseudo meatloaf) and then goes out to meet some of her friends at the Fashionable Casino, Nightclub, and Tavern No.3 on the fourth floor of The Zucchini. She dances, drinks wine, and by 8:00 PM is quite drunk.

Sally Wong leaves with a man from the 103rd Floor at around 10:00 PM, has a passionate but unfulfilling sexual encounter with him in the middle of what appears to be a Roman orgy from the time of Caligula, and returns to her own apartment on the 87th floor at around 12:00 PM.

At this point she does something rather curious. She removes her Com, and then orders her Faber to produce an emergency blanket: the flimsy, metal-colored kind that one might keep in the emergency kit of a car or floater. Placing it over the top of her sink and weighing it down a bar of soap and a large dish, she slowly opens the single cabinet door that leads to a storage space beneath. Light shines briefly from below, but only briefly: Sally slips behind it in such a manner that only her lower legs and feet are visible.

Sentience cannot see her.

Below her sink is a tiny garden containing lovingly tended cherry tomatoes, leeks, parsley, basil, oregano, and a few other herbs arranged in a horseshoe shape. A miniature Buddha sits in the middle of them, staring serenely outward. A grow light is screwed to the wall above the entire scene like a pretend sun. The entire thing is watered by a craftily engineered drip feed system that feeds imperceptibly off of a water pipe that leads into her condominium.

Sally eats a tiny bite of fresh, tart parsley. The natural flavor explodes in her mouth, more meaningful than orgasm. She says a silent prayer before carefully exiting her hidden shrine, and then stuffs the emergency blanket back into her Faber. Sally is alone. She is frightened. She is almost certainly an Interesting Person, and she knows it. So after taking sedatives, she cries for a little while, but is asleep by 12:30 PM.

Sally Wong is 65 years old but looks and feels 20. She is single, childless, typical, desperate, and has been living a double existence for three decades.

The post-paloi are the “middle class” of Posthegemony society: its small businessmen and middle managers. They account for roughly 19% of the population, and along with Sentience run most of the day-to-day business of the Posthegemony. More conservative than their hoi-paloi counterparts, post-paloi generally settle for having tinted hair and loosely cut clothes, generally in light but natural colors. (Pretend “eyeglasses” are also popular, as they are thought to make one look more intelligent.) They are more economically privileged as well, with access to travel, small electric cars, larger condominiums, and wider range of Faber schematics.

The post-paloi are considered fussy, nervous, arrogant, and controlling by the hoi-paloi, but are generally viewed favorably by the nomenklatura, who seem them as a sort of “overseer” class for the society: superior inferiors, so to speak. They in turn are deferential to the nomenklatura but condescending to the hoi-paloi, much as one might be to a surly teenager.

Post-Paloi: A Day In The Life
Edward Chu is startled awake by suddenly by 21st Century Scandinavian Death Metal at 7:00 AM. His wife Yoko finds this sort of thing terribly amusing (actually, she finds his discomfort generally amusing), and often programs their condominium’s Sentience to awake her family with something shocking. Within 15 minutes Edward, Yoko, and their children Amy and Wu have showered, dressed, and are eating, apparently at an outdoor cafe in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (this is a favorite breakfast hologram of Yoko’s). Being a married couple with two children has given the Chu family the right to larger living quarters: their condominium is eight by eight meters, with a tiny, shelf-like second loft for the children to sleep in.

After breakfast the children leave for Indoctrination, while Yoko settles in for a day of fully immersed and pill supplemented Web entertainment. Edward takes an elevator 20 stories down to the third floor of his Scraper, where he runs a boutique clothing store that sells by-the-hour fashions: meaning, specifically, whatever is fashionable on a given hour. He turns on the holographic manikins in the display window out front. Attractive, young, and ethnically Chinese, they change clothing from hour to hour (and sometimes minuet to minuet), based on Sentience provided aggregate data of what is being worn in Paris, Tokyo, Milan, and Peking at any given moment. He warms up the store’s specialized Fabers, prints out clothing fashionable for a post-paloi male that morning, and gets dressed.

His “shop girl” Kim arrives at 8:50 AM, immediately gets undressed, and sexually services Edward in the storeroom. This satisfies neither, but it has become a ritual in their lives. It is also socially expected of them. By 9:00 AM Kim is dressed in whatever is fashionable for female hoi-paloi that day. They open, and customers trickle in and out. These are mostly lonely women who, though they appear to be in their teens or twenties, are actually middle-aged and long for the human contact that comes from physically shopping, or nomenklatura too busy to bother reading up on the day’s fashions at home. Almost every customer buys something after being measured via optics by Sentience.

Closed for lunch at 1:00 PM. Blowjob etc etc, then another change of clothing for both of them. Orange jumpsuits are “in” that afternoon. Open by 1:30 PM. Afternoon crowd. Shop girl Kim leaves at 4:00 PM, but Edward stays until 6:00 PM: very late by hoi-paloi standards, but normal for a post-paloi. Locks door, turns of holographic manikins. Things become very quiet. Early dinner of ni-miso soup.

And then…

Edward quietly places his Com on his desk face down. He climbs under his desk and rolls over on his back. Glued to the bottom of the center drawer are three ancient coins: a South African Krugerrand, a United States silver dollar, and a British copper penny. He places his hands behind his head and contemplates them silently, a meditative expression on his face. Seconds stretch into minuets.

Edward has a secret. Edward wants to mine precious metals. He wants to tear open the earth, reach deep into its heart to extract their gleaming substance, and turn them into money. Real money. Useful money. Physical money: not fake, virtual money like the yuan. Money that is free of government control.

He’s read all about it, but not to much at one time.

This makes him a dangerous man, an Interesting Person, and he knows it. Which is why he has never spoken of his desires to anyone. Yet it burns inside of him, silent and painful, a terrible, unfilled longing. And thus, despite the sex, his successful business, and his family, he is unbearably, tragically lonely.

Edward Chu must escape.

The nomenklatura are the upper class or ruling class of the Posthegemony: its head bureaucrats, corporate executives, and military leaders. Presumably the nomenklatura also comprise its political rulers as well, though this is uncertain: no nomencklatura has ever admitted to being them or even meeting with them. They account for roughly 1% of the population, are mostly male, and along with Sentience make the most important decisions in the Posthegemony. They dress conservatively in dark tones, shave their heads or die their hair gray, and are the most economically privileged off all producer-consumers in the Posthegemony, with access to travel, Floaters, the largest condominiums, and nearly the full range of Faber schematics.

The nomenklatura are considered distant and unemotional by the hoi-paloi and post-paloi, mostly because they are. In their defense, as the guardians of both what is known and what is not known, they have to be.

Nomenklatura: A Day In The Life
Arthur Gong-Hu Wei wakes to the sound of Orff’s Carmina Burana: the digitally remastered 1974 classic Michael Thomas Cleveland Orchestra version. As the lights in his condominium slowly come on, he lies in the center of La Scala: it’s tiers of box seats towering up and around him like a canyon of polished wood and red velvet. But empty, devoid of life. He sleeps alone amidst the desolate spoils of luxury.

For a time he stays there, among the imaginary remnants of the culture of a dead world. The opera house is long gone. For that matter Milan is long gone, along with half of Lombardy. Old, luxurious Lake Como is now just the northernmost part of the Sea of Lombardy. Oh, he supposed it was still down there somewhere: a massive, ornate wreck or wood and marble at the bottom of a freshwater ocean.

He could say that this made him melancholy without exaggerating. But, in truth, everything makes Gong-Hu melancholy. It is his natural state.

At 5:30 every morning he rises without being awoken by Sentience to perform T’ai Chi Chih. Assuming the post, he moves slowly through the 19 movements, starting with Rocking Motion and ending with the Cosmic Consciousness Pose. When he’s done he feels… well, not really better. But centered. Ready to accept another pointless day in a long, long procession of pointless days.

“Sentence, cancel La Scala.”

The condominium instantly reverts to its true, un-enhanced form: a gray, minimalist rectangle approximately 20 meters long and five meters wide. It is strictly stock, without any ornamentation whatsoever. There’s a toilet, a shower, a tiny kitchen area, and a basic Faber. He sleeps in the middle on a futon.

Gong-Hu eats breakfast at 6:30 AM: steamed buns stuffed with pork, soymilk, and tea. All artificial, of course. He orders a business suit from his Faber. Navy blue, cut to today’s nomenklatura fashion. Bland. Very gakuran, like an ancient Japanese high school uniform. After getting dressed he solemnly removes his Sentience from its wall sconce, places it around his neck, and leaves for work. Taking the elevator down to the basement, he climbs into his Floater, and glides silently through the nearly empty morning streets, his Sentience careful to dodge any stragglers coming home from a night of partying.

Gon-Hu arrives at work at 7:00 AM. The Pu-Tien Corporation: manufacturer of high-quality antigravity engines for use in airships. Hypothetically owned by CEO Arthur Gong-Hu Wei, brother of one General Wei, procurer for the Producer-Consumer Army Air Force and major stockholder in the Cloud Kingdom Happiness Lines Corporation, which has a monopoly on airship routs between North America and Asia. The majority of Pu-Tien stock is held by various friends of General Wei, as is standard with nearly all Posthegemony corporations. Still, as long as the factory keeps producing functioning AntiG engines at a reasonable rate, Gon-Hu can at least pretend that he holds the reigns. As long as he was willing to lie to everyone including himself, that is.

Ms. Armcandy arrives at 7:30 AM and takes her place at Gon-Hu’s side. She’s tall, naturally blond, Asiatic, athletic, and buxom: as close to the Posthegemony ideal as possible. Officially she is his secretary. Unofficially, she is his mistress. In reality… she is his secretary. They have a light second breakfast, and then begin working their way through virtual “paperwork.” Post-paloi managers arrive at 8:00, hoi-paloi workers at 9:00. At 11:00 AM Gon-Hu and Ms. Armcandy take their daily tour of the Pu-Tien factory, check production figures, talk with managers, and generally look concerned.

The factory closes at 4:00 PM. Managers leave at 5:00, Ms. Armycandy at 5:30 – mostly to keep up the appearance of an affair. Gon-Hu stays behind, working in the factory’s Sentience controlled Faber/engineering shop. “Tinkering on a prototype,” he tells his brother. “Keeps me honest.” Gon-Hu isn’t lying, either: he is working on a new, very large, very powerful AntiG engine. Soon he will order a “test bed” Airship from Cloud Kingdom Happiness Lines to mount it on… after making some serious modifications to the ship, of course. One can’t be too careful. Safety First!

Soon. Very soon.

Gon-Hu returns to his featureless home in his Floater well after the sun goes down. He eats a late, light supper of highly nutritious pseudo-this and nigh-that, then practices T’ai Chi Chih once again. Afterward he meditates, outwardly at peace with all things. But inwardly… inwardly Gon-Hu is preparing. Inwardly, he is a tiger in the jungle of utopia.

Arthur Gong-Hu Wei is above reproach. He is wealthy, powerful, and influential in the right circles. His is nomenklatura… extremely well connected nomenklatura. He is not an Interesting Person. He is not on any list. He exhibits no outward signs of rebellion whatsoever.

And he and his friends are going to leave this stinking mudball of a planet and never return.


“Technology: the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.” - Max Frisch

The Posthegemony referred to itself as “InfoSocialist:” a post-Marxist philosophy which redefines freedom as the nationalization of all intellectual property, thus allowing it to be “freely” distributed by the state (mostly in the form of Faber schematics and Vids). But it isn't truly InfoSocialist. It isn't truly socialist, either. It isn't truly anything. At best it could be thought of as ideologically neutral. This conundrum springs from the old days of post-communist China, a nation that had been hypothetically socialist while actually being vibrantly capitalist. Or, to quote the ever-practical Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, “It does not matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it hunts mice.” In any case, philosophical purity didn't seem to be a concern of those who run the Posthegemony, whoever or whatever they might be.

Just as the old United States' Republican Party had been at least hypothetically a three-legged stool of social conservatism, fiscal responsibility, and hawkish foreign policy, the Posthegemony can be thought of as a four-legged table; an image that its nominal masters, whoever and whatever they are, presumably approve of. A table suggests food, stability, family, and craft. To its critics, however, it suggests a dull, flat, featureless surface held up by artificial contrivance. But such thoughts were generally Discouraged, have never been widely disseminated, and are seldom discussed at cocktail parties.

Whatever it suggests, the metaphor is a reasonably apt one. The Four Legs – the legs of technology and control – are jealously protected by the Posthegemony using passwords, molecular tagging, encoding, GPS tracking, and other means. Quixotically, at the same time they were also generously distributed, though with carefully guarded safeguards. The Posthegemony also reserves the right to withdraw its generosity; indeed, it often does. But so long as its rules are followed - and the vast majority of people follow them the vast majority of the time – it is content in its urbane, socially superior humanitarian scientific beneficence.

A quick fucking side note: Star Hero defines the technological level of a society by its Available Technological Resource Index, or ATRI. But the Posthegemony’s scientific achievements can’t be easily located on the standard ATRI scale. It’s four signature technologies – nanotechnology, antigravity, fabrication, and Sentience – would seem to make it a fantastic ATRI 11. But it lacks faster-than-light travel, fusion power, or antimatter. In fact, those who rule the Posthegemony (whoever or whatever they might be) are unabashedly disinterested in new technologies, or even in further refining existing ones. Which is why Science! as a profession is Discouraged.


“A healthy organism lives and acts, only a sick one thinks.” – Sexmission, 1984

The first and, to many, the most important Leg is nanotechnology. This term actually referred to two entirely distinct and separate disciplines. The first is the creation of, or perhaps more accurately the restructuring of, specially tailored virus capable of modifying cells on a genetic level. These miraculous nanoviruses have eliminated cancer. Indeed, they'd eliminated many diseases and conditions: multiple sclerosis, autism, AIDS, InstaAIDS, and nearly all of the other horrible biological plagues that were deliberately unleashed upon mankind during the wars and conflicts of the S-A.C. Pregnant mothers are routinely interjected with a cross-spectrum of nanoviruses that make their way to the unborn child through the bloodstream, corrected any genetic abnormalities, prevent premature birth, and then carry on doing theirs jobs in the child's system throughout his or her life, preventing everything from pneumonia to tooth decay, the common cold, cancer, swine flue-4, and most of the other ugly things that still float about the atmosphere, looking for victims.

To say that curing disease, deformity, and genetic disorders is a powerful PR tool was like saying that atomic weapons make pretty, colorful explosions. It was the ultimate PR tool. It’s Viagra, ginseng, jogging, facelifts, HGH, and steroids all wrapped up into one with none of the side effects (that anyone knows of, at least). Even better, nanoviruses can be used to prevent, and even reverse, aging. The Posthegemony's scientists aren't even sure how long a person can live with the proper, regularly administered treatments. As far as anyone knows the average age is 60 going on 20, with plenty of people over 80 that look like they'd just graduated from high school, or college at the very latest. And may of the nomenklatura are rumored to older than that… though such rumors should be strongly discouraged by socially conscious producer-consumers.

Besides potentially being an even better PR tool than curing disease, eternal adolescence also has the desirable secondary effect of ossifying power within the Posthegemony. People who achieve positions of power – even petty ones – can look forward to holding onto them for a long, long time. Those beneath them can expect to wait equally as long to attain them. Of course, they now have the time to do so… and, the Posthegemony being the Posthegemony, what it gives it can also take away.

Those few repeat criminals that exist (including Interesting People) typically have their longevity treatments and disease immunities suspended, causing them to age normally and die quickly. (This is quite a Discouragement.) With their ability to selectively reprogram human genetic codes at a molecular level, Nanoviruses also make tremendously effective, if slightly indiscriminate, weapons. For example, the Posthegemony permanently solved the problem of the perpetually rebelling, irritatingly uncooperative Pashtun peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan by repeatedly firing missiles filled with custom tailored nanoviruses into their territory. This caused several very disagreeable things to happen to anyone that carried any of the various Pashtun genetic codes, including sterility, total baldness, and chronic inconstancy. Defiant to the end, but beardless and restricted to a distance no greater than a short walk to their outhouses, their various tribes died out within a single generation – though, after all of the mischief they had caused before, during, and even after the S-A.C., weren't particularly missed by anyone.

Nanobacteria is an entirely separate, but equally important, technology. It has many uses, one of which is that it can turn human waste (or dirt, or rabbits, or political prisoners) into a nutritious if somewhat bland edible material. Known as Vfood – short for Vat Grown Food – it is spiced, molded, and artificially flavored to produce 99.99% of the Posthegemony's diet. Grown in enormous complexes outside of the limits of each Metro, it is jokingly referred to as Soilent Green by many of the hoi-palloi, after the nightmare version of their society depicted by Charlton Heston's classic film.

But not publicly. That sort of humor is strongly Discouraged.

The second use of nanobacteria is for construction. With the exception of glass, which still has to be manufactured, all of the Posthegemony's buildings are grown by nanobacteria. In fact, with the exception of a few, specially protected monuments such as the Taj Majal and the Saint Louis Arch, and a few special lodges and recreational facilities set aside for the exclusive use of the nomenklatura, every building on Earth is grown by nanobacteria. They can be programmed to produce any shape desired, within reason. In practice, this means that most Metros are comprised of thousands of enormous, abstractly shaped, and multicolored hundred-story buildings. They are on average just cyclopic and non-Euclidean enough to have given 20th Century horror author HP Lovecraft an immediate brain aneurysm were he actually able to see them (which some have hypothesized that, through some arcane and unknown means, he'd been able to).

The Posthegemony's memegineers long ago decided that giving each of these huge buildings, popularly known as Scrapers, its own distinctive color pattern and shape is good for the psychological health of producer-consumers. And they're right; most citizens took a great deal of pride in their Scraper, whether it was shaped like a pyramid, a cylinder, a stack of squares, a giant fish, or a shapely leg that ended in a lampshade rather than a woman. They are self-repairing, well insulated, and for a lucky few spacious, at least by the standards of the Posthegemony. Each Scraper is essentially a city unto itself, with its own stores, restaurants, theaters, bars, and nightclubs. There are Scraper sepak takraw leagues, in which the annual winners go on to form the next year's Metro team, the best of whom went on to form the following year's Geographic Regional team, and so on.

Posthegemony Immunization Treatment: Life Support (Immunity To All Terrestrial Diseases) (5 Active Points) Always On (+1/2); Total cost: 7 points

Description: All producer-consumers of the Posthegemony in good standing have this treatment, which is effective against all known viruses, harmful bacteria, and forms of cancer. It is typically administered before or at birth.

Posthegemony Longevity Treatment: Life Support (Longevity) (2 Active Points) Always On (+1/2); Total cost: 3 points

Description: All producer-consumers of the Posthegemony in good standing have this treatment, which extends youthfulness as well as lifespan (though no one is certain for how long, exactly). It is typically administered in young adulthood.

Anti-Nano Treatment: Dispel Nanotechnlogy, Variable Special Effects (any one Nanotechnology effect at a time; +1/2) Total cost: 54 points.

Description: This treatment is typically administered to Interesting People who have run afoul of Posthegemony law as punishment. When administered, it effectively strips immunization and longevity treatments from, making the victim vulnerable to aging - as well as the many S-A.C.-era tailored diseases that still lurk in the Earth’s atmosphere. It can also be used to reverse the harmful effects of a Nanovirus Missile (see below).

Nanovirus Missile:
Major Transform 3d6 (Various; heals back using Posthegemony nanotechnology), Explosion (+1/2), Improved Results Group (+1/4), Indirect (+1/2), Megascale (1m = 1 km; +1), Partial Transform (+1/4) (105 Active Points); OAF (-1), 1 Charge (-2); Total Cost: 25 points

Description: This weapon is typically fired in large groups from regional headquarters of the Producer-Consumer’s Army Air Force to punish local rebellion (on those rare instances when it happens). It’s effects very, but for rebellious Pashtun tribesmen in what was once known as Pakistan it included permanent sterility, inconstancy, and full-body hairlessness, while rebellious lesbian separatists in Seattle suffered heterosexuality, docility, and an allergic reaction to flannel.


“I am the all-singing, all-dancing crap of this world. I am the toxic waste by-product of God's creation.” – Fight Club

The second leg of the table is the Posthegemony's ubiquitous Faber, which evolved from the humble 3D Printers and Stereolithography machines of the early 21st Century. Makers use either preexisting schematics, available in almost infinite quantities from the Web, or specialized but extremely easy to learn public domain software to manufacture small functional objects or parts of objects. They do this by grafting together special liquid plastic and metal alloys at a molecular level. Thus, there’s no longer a reason for any producer-consumer to go to the store to get a wrench, a spatula, or a sex toy, so long as his or her Faber had had it's monthly top off of metaloplastic goo. Of course, many schematics are restricted, but became less restricted the higher up in the Posthegemony’s social hierarchy one is, or whether or not one is nomenklatura.

Of course, the introduction of Fabers has radically, inevitably, and permanently altered how society functions. On one hand, they’ve eliminating the countless millions of manufacturing and retail jobs required to sell the everyday bric-a-brac of 20th century life. On the other hand, Fabers have empowered countless numbers of artists and artisans capable of producing unique or limited production sculptures, toys, and even furniture. The market for singular and interesting items produced by Fabers, or the schematics to make them at home, was a vast and possibly immeasurable part of the Posthegemony's economy (though one can be certain there is a department somewhere in charge of measuring it). As is, of course, the black market economy of schematics for making guns, knives, bike parts, contraband surveillance equipment, RFID blocking screens, and any of a myriad other elicit items.

But no one really does that. Or so our betters say.

Household Faber: Severe Transform 4d6 (create objects out of metaloplastic; “heals” back by being fed back into Faber), Improved Results Group (complex objects; +1/4) (75 Active Points); No Range (-1/2), OAF (Bulky; -1 1/2), Requires Appropriate Schematic (-1/4). Total Cost: 23 points.

Description: The Faber is an advanced 3D printer capable of manufacturing objects from electronic schematics provided via the Web. It is as ordinary in producer-consumer households as a microwave oven was in 21st century homes, and elicits about as much thought from most people. A Faber is capable of producing common objects that range from spoons to electronic Coms from a material known as metaloplastic. It is also capable of producing unique objects like small sculptures if schematics are created for them. There are innumerable shareware programs available for such hobby creation on the Web, as such masturbatory pastimes are Encouraged by the Posthegemony.


“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.” – Alan Perlis, Epigrams on Programming

Artificial sentience, commonly just called Sentience, is the least glamorous leg of the Posthegemony technological table. It is also the most all-pervasive and, if some of the conspiracy minded are too be believed, the actual masters of day-to-day life. It is Sentience that had allowed the primitive, chaotic Web of the early 21st Century to become so incredibly fast, so well organized, so all pervasive, and so incredibly user friendly. It was Sentience that organizes and keeps smoothly functioning the many, many satellites that orbit the Earth. It is Sentience upon which Posthegemony technology utterly relies: it's smartpower grids, its flawless public transportation, its Scrapers and Metros. Sentience controls its impersonal, generally innocuous RoboCops. It runs sanitation, fire prevention, and food distribution. Portable Sentience, resembled nothing so much as enormous 1970's gold medallions worn around the neck, are the indispensable status symbol of any nomenklatura. Always conscious of their betters, the palloi classes wear their ubiquitous Coms – cell phone, camera, organizer, Web link, and non-sentient personal computer – in precisely the same manner.

Sentience monitors all aspects of life, from the positions of personal vehicles, to the contents of grocery stores, to emails and artwork for acceptable levels of sedition. The Posthegemony's memegineers had long ago determined that some sedition was good for society; if those prone to sedition were given the proper amount of rope, most would stay on a leash; only a few ever hung themselves. Certain types of sedition and certain types of rebellion – obnoxious music, unorthodox clothing, poorly understood slogans, and all the other trappings of palloi youth - were even healthy for a culture, so long as they remained constrained within certain well-understood limits.

And, of course, Sentience is in charge of an aspect of InfoSocialism so important and all pervasive that it was almost forgotten: the Web. The Web is everything to Posthegemony culture. It is everywhere. All of the important technologies of the 20th century – telecommunication, television, movies, music, the Internet, obnoxious talk radio – are all merged together as various different aspects of the Web. It was is never-ending font of entertainment in a culture deliberately constructed around the ideal of entertainment. As part of the inherent social contract of the Posthegemony, all entertainment is free. It cannot be charged for and has to be made available through the Web: all music, all visual arts, all fiction, all dramatic series, all “television” channels, MMORPGs, all movies of any length. In short, all of the content that would have been considered “talk” or news radio in the SAC. Furthermore, all copyright protections that existed before the Posthegemony are null-n-void per the tenants of InfoSocialism. It does an excellent job of making available to anyone at anytime through practically any device to anyone on Earth almost any entertainment-based media in any language that has survived (a surprisingly large percentage of them). In the Posthegemony, entertainment is as close to a civil right as it is possible to have.

Web content created during the Posthegemony is censored by Sentience for harsh or overly obvious anti-government sentiments; but, other than that, its creators are allowed to do as they pleased. As a result, Hollywood, Bollywood, Paris, and Hong Kong – famous for churning out crap during the “primitive capitalist” era of the S-A.C. and before – produce almost exactly the same amount and type of crap under InfoSocalism, only with more product placement and spin-off toys available in happy meals at McDonalds: a corporation truly too large to fail, even during an apocalypse. For while all Web content, and any content created by law has to be put up on the Web, is free, advertising is still perfectly legal, as are secondary products.

Because societies may come, and societies may go, but advertising and cheap, crappy plastic toys live on.

Cost Powers End
1 Calculation: Lightning Calculator (3 Active Points) OAF (-1)
10 Communication: High Range Radio Perception, Megascale (1,000 km per Active Point; +3/4) (21 Active Points) OAF (-1)
1 Web Link: Computer Link (3 Active Points), OAF (-1)
2 Memory: Eidetic Memory (5 Active Points) OAF (-1)
3 Holographic Projection: Sight and Hearing Group Images (10 Active Points); OAF (-1), Set Effect (only to project/receive entertaining but vacuous images; -1)

Description: A distant descendant of S-A.C.-era smart phones, the Com is the ubiquitous non-sentient personal computer of the palloi classes. It’s cell phone, camera, organizer, and Web access all in one shiny gold medallion package that would look perfectly at home nestled in Ron Jeremy’s manly chest hair.

SENTIENCE: It would require knowing what, exactly, Sentience is to define it using the HERO System. And nobody does - though it’s fucking everywhere at once. Is it a single intelligence that controls the Web or many? Is it a collective of all artificial intelligences, including Personal Sentience and RoboCops, which watches and puppeteers all things in Posthegemomy society? Are those beloved Personal Sentience devices really separate entities, or just facets of a whole? Is it mad with power… or simply mad with well-hidden schizophrenia? An alien conspiracy? Who’s watching behind all of those damn 30 mega pixel webcams, anyhow?

Who the fuck knows. It’s definitely watching, though. Sentience is like God without the sense of humor and the frogs falling from the sky.

In game terms, think of Sentience as being more of a list of things that happens when PCs screw-the-pooch than an easily rendered series of numbers and pithy catchphrases like “KS” and “Eidetic Memory.” For example:

-When a PC fails his Computer Programming Roll, Sentience notices him.
-When a PC blows his Systems Operation Roll, Sentience notices him.
-When a PC fucks up his Stealth Roll, Sentience notices him.
-When a PC screws up his Concealment Roll trying to hide something from Sentience, Sentience definitely notices. And is pissed about it too.

Having Sentience notice you is Bad with a capital B. In fact, the only reason that the PCs haven’t already been taken away for Reeducation already is that Sentience is busy right now and hasn’t made time for their sorry asses. Yet.

Val Char Cost Roll Notes
15 INT 5 12- PER Roll: 12-
10 DEX 0 11-

3 OCV 0
3 DCV 0
3 OMCV 0
3 DMCV 0
2 SPD 0 Phases: 6,12

Cost Skill
Basic Abilities
3 Clock: Absolute Time Sense
7 Web Link: Computer Link (10 Active Points), OAF (-1)
3 Instant-On Feature: Lightsleep
5 Memory: Eidetic Memory
3 Math Processor: Lightning Calculator
3 Scanner: Speed Reading
20 Translator: Universal Translator 12-

Trite Skills
11 AK: The Posthegemony 20-
2 KS: Archived Recent Meaningless News 11-
5 KS: Current Meaningless News 14-
11 KS: The Hundred 20-
11 KS: Sports 20-
1 KS: Literature Database 8-
1 KS: Movies Database 8-
1 KS: Music Database 8-

Professional Skills
3 KS: Contact Information 12-
4 PS: Personal Assistant 13-
2 Systems Operation (Communications Systems) 12-

Cost Powers
21 Communication: High Range Radio Perception, Megascale (1,000 km per Active Point; +3/4)
8 Computer: Computer; OAF (-1)
3 Holographic Projection: Sight and Hearing Group Images (10 Active Points); OAF (-1), Set Effect (only to project/receive entertaining but vacuous images; -1)
5 Encoding/Decoding Transmission Function: Variable Power Pool (Encoding/Decoding Pool), 4 base + 2 control cost
5 Hacking Function: Variable Power Pool (Hacking Pool), 4 base + 2 control cost

1 Alert Owner Regarding Scheduled Appointments
1 Prioritize Incoming Calls According To User Preferences
1 Search Web For Information On A Topic
1 Send Communication To Central Banking In Macao On Spoken Cue
1 Send Emergency Call To Posthegemony Authorities If Specified Protocols Are Not Met

Total Cost: 182 points

Description: Also found nestled among Ron Jeremy’s manly chest hairs, this medallion-like personal sentience is the “badge of office” of members of the nomenklatura. A constant companion and personal aide, it assists its owners in nearly every aspect of his (or rarely her) daily life: keeping him abreast of current affairs, managing his finances, reminding him of appointments, purchasing marginally tasteful artwork off of PostBay, and the like.

Each individual Personal Sentience has (or seems to have) its own personality, temperament, and interests. Where and how they are made is unknown, possibly by the entire nomenklatura class itself. What is known is that the nomenklatura are so utterly dependent on their Personal Sentience that they can’t metaphorically blow their noses with the big gold medallions holding a virtual hankie for them.
Which might be a conspiracy, but is most likely simply laziness.


“We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.” – Wernher Von Braun

The Front Leg, the Main Leg, the Russian Leg (as they‘re called by those who take the time to make up racist names for such things) is AntiG. It’s the brainchild of two unemployed theoretical physicists and an alcoholic, self-taught engineer working in a rundown warehouse outside of Saint Petersburg. This was toward the end of the S-A.C. when, after a period of relative calm and prosperity, things in Russia had become as miserable as things in Russia traditionally are. Although the mathematics of the process were and are extraordinarily complicated, the theory is simple enough. Scientists – not to mention pseudo-scientists, kooks, and conmen – around the globe had investigated it for centuries. Basically, their “engine” was a novel variation of the gyroscope that moved in a figure-eight-shaped pathway (amusingly enough, the symbol of infinity) engraved into a hemisphere. The spinning of the entire mechanism, in conjunction with the resonance of the centrifugal force through two servomotors, produced anti-gravity propulsion towards the axis of symmetry of the hemisphere, lifting the entire mechanism into the air along with absolutely anything attached to it.

Or some shit like that. It takes a genius-level intellect to understand and Sentience-level amounts of computer processing power to do. It takes a lot of power period. But it works.

At first the process was little more than a curiosity. The first anti-gravity “car” was the size of a steam locomotive, and drifted slowly along a few feet above the ground, consuming diesel fuel at a rate that would have made a Sherman tank envious. But before too long the process was refined, then standardized, and finally miniaturized. It finally made the flying car, known as a Floater, into a reality: not to mention the extreme sport of air skiing, the foil-less hydrofoil, and, for a brief time, the mysterious floating utopian city of Heinlein.

At first the Posthegemony didn’t give a fuck about AntiG. It was a useful gimmick, as it turned out to be the key to creating frictionless surfaces, and was thus extraordinarily useful to industry. Later, when combined with Sentience, it allowed for the creation of the greatest mass transportation system known to human history. Its most common uses in the Posthegemony, however, are the enormous, train-like airtrams, which drift through the skies linking Metro with Metro, the Floaters of the nomenklatura, and airships, which in most ways had taken the place of pre-SAC cruise ships.

And, of course, it was AntiG that allowed the Interesting People to leave Earth.

Val Char Cost Notes
10 Size 50 25x12.5x12.5m; -10 KB; -9 DCV
85 STR 25
10 DEX 0 OCV: 3/DCV: 3
24 BODY 4
4 PD 3
4 ED 3
3 SPD 10 Phases: 4,8, 12
Total Characteristics Cost: 140

Cost Power END
8 AntiG: Flight 21m, x4 Noncombat, Restricted Path (-1), Limited Maneuverability (1)
-12 AntiG: Ground Movement –6m (0m total)
-1 AntiG: Swimming –2m (0m total)
10 Radar System: Radar, Increased Arc of Perception (360 Degrees) (20 Active Points); OIF Bulky (-1) 0
5 Communications: HRRP (Radio Group) (12 Active Points); OAF (-1), Affected As Sight And Hearing Group As Well As Radio Group (-1/2)

Total Abilities & Equipment Cost: 10
Total Cost (150/5): 30

Description: Though one of the few things that move rather quickly in the Posthegemony (roughly 258 kilometers per hour), the Airtram nevertheless cannot change course – much like the Posthegemony. Guided by Sentience, it moves on predetermined paths through the sky that are only altered when confronted with natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Shaped like a cylinder with rounded ends, the Airtram is roughly the size of an old American Boeing 707, and can hold either 200 passengers with about as much comfort as a typical subway car, or 90 metric tons of cargo.

The Airtram system is in many ways the glory of the Posthegemony. Maintained worldwide by a (apparently) government-supported monopoly, the Airtram system links Metro to Metro across the globe, rapidly, inexpensively, and constantly moving people and goods about in an effective, if not terribly glamorous, manner.

Val Char Cost Notes
4 Size 20 5x 2.5x2.5m; -4 KB
30 STR 0
15 DEX 15 OCV: 5/DCV: 5
14 BODY 0
6 PD 6
6 ED 6
3 SPD 5 Phases: 4, 8, 12
Total Characteristics Cost: 78

Abilities & Equipment

Cost Powers End
15 AntiG: Flight 10m, x4 Noncombat 0
-12 AntiG: Ground Movement –6m (0m total)
-1 AntiG: Swimming –2m (0m total)
10 Radar System: Radar, Increased Arc of Perception (360 Degrees) (20 Active Points); OIF Bulky (-1) 0
5 Communications: HRRP (Radio Group) (12 Active Points); OAF (-1), Affected As Sight And Hearing Group As Well As Radio Group

Total Abilities & Equipment Cost: 17
Total Cost (95/5): 19

Law Enforcement Options
Cost Options
+5 RoboCop Paddy Wagon: +1 Size
10 RoboCop Emergency Lights & Siren: Sight and Hearing Group Images; +4 to PER Rolls, 1” radius, Reduced Endurance (0 End; +1/2) OAF Bulky (-11/2), No Range (-1/2), Set Effect (flashing yellow smiley faces; -1)
5 RoboCop Public Address System: Hearing Group Images, +3 to PER Rolls, 1” radius, Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2), OAF Bulky (-11/2), No Range (-1/2), Set Effect (only amplifies what’s said into it; -1)

Description: Ovular, dark, and featureless, the floater is the endemic AntiG vehicle of the nomenklatura, RoboCops, and Posthegemony military forces. While the exterior of Floaters are uniform save for variations in size and coloration, the interiors range from Victorian bordello to This Is Sparta!, with most being somewhere in between.
Thus, Floaters are uniform (yet individualized), technologically advanced, slow moving, and run by Sentience – just like life in the Posthegemony.

Val Char Cost Notes
15 Size 110 64x32x32m; -15 KB
100 STR 15
10 DEX 0 OCV: 3/DCV: 3
32 BODY 7
10 PD 12
8 ED 9
2 SPD 0 Phases: 6, 12
Total Characteristics Cost: 93

Cost Power END
15 AntiG: Flight 10m, x4 Noncombat 0
-12 AntiG: Ground Movement –6m (0m total)
-1 AntiG: Swimming –2m (0m total)
10 Radar System: Radar, Increased Arc of Perception (360 Degrees) (20 Active Points); OIF Bulky (-1) 0
5 Communications: HRRP (Radio Group) (12 Active Points); OAF (-1), Affected As Sight And Hearing Group As Well As Radio Group

Total Abilities & Equipment Cost: 17
Total Cost (110/5): 22

Description: AntiG Airships are massive, cruise ship-sized structures that drift about the skies of the Posthegemony, moving inebriated vacationers from one Metro they don’t think much about to another, nearly identical Metro that they will be too drunk and high to pay much attention to. They look something like detached Scrapers, only with a lot more balconies, blinking lights, and the occasional reveler tumbling to her doom.

Airships are compartmentalized into three distinct levels. The first is for hoi palloi, and are decorated like 1970’s discos with a dash of pornographic Disneyland (for good taste). The second level looks like something from the Titanic: formal, beautiful, uptight, vaguely repressed, child-friendly, and very, very post palloi. The third is luxurious but sublime and somber, often decorated with valuable original artwork. This is for the nomenklatura, which are more accustomed to luxury and thus require less overt displays of it.