For those of you who are interested in roleplaying games, I present chapter four of my book Posthegemony: Terra Nomenklatura for your reading pleasure.
Then you will cry for me.
Copper beeches pour fire
On my warlike dreams.
Through dark underbrush
Through ditches and water.
Wild breakers beat
My heart incessantly;
The enemy within.
Oh let me leave this world!
But even from far away
I'd wander – a flickering light –
Around God's grave.
Now that you know where you are, what you are, and who you are, it’s time to talk about where you’re going: space. The Big Empty. The Final Frontier. Horror Vacui. You know: the huge, empty place where it’s really, really easy to avoid any annoying assholes you don’t like.
How are you going to get there? Now THAT’S an interesting question. How will you live and where will you go once you get there? Even more interesting.
This game is informed by the author’s interpretation of Ron Edwards’ theories of how roleplaying games work (The so-called GNS Theory: Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist. Which has sense been replaced by his far more complex, compelling, and difficult to understand Big Model Theory… but I digress.) Posthegemony is thus a deliberate attempt to reconcile a freeform method of playing which emphasizes collaborative storytelling (Narrativist) as the primary goal of the game with the more traditional structure typically used in Star Hero. [On the offhand chance that you give a fuck, this would be mostly Gamist-Simulationist: Gamist in the sense that the HERO games often boil down to beautiful ballets of mathematically choreographed violence which define the winners and losers, and Simulationist in the sense that Star Hero games typically take place in an immersive, highly-structured imaginary setting.]
And so on: blah blah “infinity symbol” blah.
Hopefully, in a game of Posthegemoy the players tell most of the story and make most of the decisions, with the GM/Antagonist acting as more of a “brake” that prevents them from always getting their own way, thus forcing dramatic situations and danger upon the PCs. He is also there to remind them that there is a “map” to be followed: the general outline of the story has already been written, but it’s their very important job to put muscle and flesh upon the skeleton they’ve been thoughtfully provided with.
After all, stories are like men: without all the interesting soft, living organic stuff, they just lie there dead.
Mission Flow Chart
MISSION LEAD PROTAGONIST? SKILL ROLL? HOPE POINT?
Meeting Up Yes Yes Yes
Decision/Destination No No No
Hull Yes Yes Yes
Life Support/Personnel Support Yes Yes Yes
AntiG Yes Yes Yes
Sensors/Communications Yes Yes Yes
Defense/Offense Yes Yes Yes
Ship’s Computer Yes Yes Yes
Medical System Yes Yes Yes
Assembly Yes Yes Yes
Provisioning Yes Yes Yes
Escape Yes Yes No
Afterward Yes No No
Posthegemony is played in periods of activity known as Missions. At a minimum these include Meeting Up, Decision/Destination, Spaceship Components [Hull, Life Support/Personnel Support, AntiG, Sensors/Communications, Defense/Offense, Ship’s Computer, and Medical System], Assembly, Provisioning, Escape, and Afterward. (Each Spaceship Component counts as a different Mission.) These Missions take place in a set sequence, except for Spaceship Components, which can be done in whatever order they like.
The PCs can also create their own Missions should they chose to. For example, the PCs could decide that their best bet for accomplishing their Escape Mission is to infiltrate and disable a nearby Producer-Consumer Army Spaceforce base, or that they need to abandon their current homes for security reasons and move the center of their operations somewhere completely different. In either case, the Antagonist should allow the PCs to create their own Missions, so long as they don’t interfere dramatically alter the course of the game.
Before a Mission begins one PC becomes the Lead Protagonist, describing what happens in the form of a story. The players may select a Lead Protagonist for each Mission in any manner they chose, though having Skills that suite the Mission is certainly a wise criterion. The GM takes the role of the Antagonist, forcing the Lead Protagonist to make Skill Rolls whenever she exceeds her Narrative Mandate: the right the Lead Protagonist to describe and determine the events that take place during a Mission. The Antagonist may decide that Narrative Mandate has been exceeded at any time. There must be at least one Skill Roll made by the Lead Protagonist during each Mission, and the only PC that gets to make Skill Rolls during the Mission is the Lead Protagonist. However, the other PCs can use their Skills to make Supporting Rolls to help her, should they wish – though they must narrate how their actions help her to succeed, not simply make a roll.
The GM should feel free to give the Lead Protagonist a +1 bonus to her Skill Rolls should she do a good job narrating a Mission. Furthermore, upon successfully completing a Mission, the PC receives a precious, precious Hope Point. The two exceptions to this are the Missions Decision/Destination and Afterward. But more about these things later.
Before the game can begin in earnest the PCs must first meet one another. This can be done in person, over the Web, through trusted third parties, or have even occured at some point in the past, assuming the Lead Protagonist can spontaneously create a compelling story explaining why. Furthermore they must be able to identify one another as Interesting People: a dicey proposition, given the dire consequences if they are discovered by Sentience.
Potential meeting locations might include a workplace, nightclub, a Sepak Takraw team, or on a fan-chat dedicated to a favorite member of The Hundred. They could be neighbors in the same Scraper, or meet while on vacation, floating above the abandoned wilderness on a huge AntiG Airship. Any of a wide number of Skills might be creatively employed to gather them together, including Acting, Bribery, Bureaucratics, Charm, Computer Programming, Conversation, High Society, Oratory, Persuasion, and Streetwise.
Since this represents the beginning of the game, the GM can select the Lead Protagonist from among the PCs, should they not be able to so themselves. This particular PC will likely turn out to be the (nominal) leader of the group, as she is the one who has helped to bring them all together. Also, unlike other Missions, all of the PCs should be allowed to endanger themselves by making non-supporting Skill Rolls, as the very process of finding one another is extremely dangerous.
Additionally, in this particular Mission it may be necessary for the Antagonist to assume the role of Lead Protagonist, as the players may have some trouble getting “into the groove” until they’ve interacted with one another for a while. Should this be the case, a Hope Point (see XXX) should be awarded at the end of the Mission to each player who displays particular ingenuity or narrative ability. Also, under the circumstances any PC will have to make an Interesting Person Roll should they fail a Skill Roll.
The PCs’ second mission is the exception that makes the rule: they need not select a Lead Protagonist, there need be no Skill Rolls, and no there will be no Hope Point awarded. Instead, they should use this time period to decide where they will go once they escape Earth, and to create an outline (with the GM’s minimal assistance) of what they will need to do to accomplish that escape; which is, after all, the crux of the action in the game. It is during this Mission that the GM outlines for the PCs the Missions they will have to accomplish.
The PCs are very much aware that in the past groups of Interesting People have used all sorts of things to create the hull of their spaceships: Scrapers, seagoing vessels, lengths of oil pipeline, shipping containers, tanker trucks, and amusement park ride components, to name but a few. Basically anything that can be made airtight, able to withstand the pressures of the vacuum, and can be treated to block radiation is a potential hull for an AntiG powered spaceship, so long as it is large enough to hold its passengers and any supplies they wish to bring.
Spaceship hulls can also be made from scratch, assuming the PCs have the expertise, can locate the necessary material, and have a secret location to assemble them at (see Assembly). Useful Skills for acquiring or creating a hull include SS: Engineering, PS: Engineer, KS: Outer Space, Electronics, Inventor, and Mechanics.
Life Support/Personnel Support
You gotta breath. Well, unless you’re dead or an inanimate object; in which case you’ve got other problems. It also helps to not be frozen solid. The PCs’ ship will need appropriate amounts of air and heat if they are to survive in the cold vacuum of space. There are any number of different ways to accomplish this. Compressed tanks of oxygen. Specially programmed Fabers. Reprocessing machines. Maybe just a whole fuck-ton of houseplants. In short, whatever the GM finds reasonable.
Additionally, personnel support systems will have to be constructed for the ship, so that food can be dispensed and waste disposed of. These could be as simple as crates of Spam and buckets to piss in, or as complex as an automatic food dispensing chefbot and a complete green water/gray water/black water sewer system.
Useful Skills for creating Life Support/Personnel Support include Computer Programming, Systems Operation (Life Support Systems), Systems Operation (Personal Support Systems), SS: Life Support, PS: Engineer, Inventor, and Mechanics.
Anti Gravity is a funny old technology. Hypothetically the size of the power plant doesn’t matter: an AntiG engine designed for a Floater could theoretically lift an Airship. However, while the size of the engine doesn’t matter, the amount of energy sent through it definitely does. With AntiG tech the speed of the gyroscope within the engine is what produces lift, and that speed is generated by ever increasing amounts of power. Also, generally speaking the larger the engine, the sturdier the construction. While it may be possible to lift an Airship with a Floater engine given a big enough power plant, it’s likely that the engine’s components would quickly disintegrate under the strain. Typically an Airship is equipped with no less than three large AntiG engines, two power plants, and a massive battery bank so that it can descend slowly to earth in an emergency.
So, in practice, a spaceship needs a big engine. Better yet, three.
Useful Skills for acquiring or creating a hull include Electronics, SS: Engineering, PS: Engineer, Inventor, and Mechanics.
What’s out there? For that matter whose out there? Does anyone want to talk to you… or maybe just be insulted by you?
Without Sensors the PCs won’t be able to find wherever it is they’ve decided to travel to, or to tell that anyone is trying to stop them from getting there. Without Communications they can’t talk to anyone who may already be there… or the Producer-Consumer Army Spaceforce, should they like. The Lead Protagonist in charge of Sensors and Communications will have to go through the difficult and dangerous process of acquiring (or manufacturing) the necessary equipment if the PCs are to succeed in their quest to leave the planet.
Useful Skills for acquiring or creating Sensor and Communications equipment include Electronics, Systems Operation (Radar), Systems Operation (Metal Detectors), Systems Operation (Sensor Jamming Equipment) Systems Operation (Wireless Digital), Systems Operation (Radio), Systems Operation (Satellite Communications), Systems Operation (Communications Jamming Equipment), Inventor, and Mechanics.
The Posthegemony doesn’t want to you leave utopia. After all, staying in utopia is what is best for you. If you simply have to try, they want you dead: and the Producer-Consumer Army Spaceforce is just the faceless bureaucracy to do the job. Safely and at a comfortable distance, where they don’t have to actually see anything nasty happen.
In this Mission the Lead Protagonist must acquire arms and defenses for the spaceship. These can be anything the PCs think appropriate, though particularly foolish or ridiculous should be punished by the Adversary during the Escape Mission, while particularly clever and inventive solutions should be rewarded (see below). None of the defensive or offensive systems the PCs acquire need to be described in rules terms so long as the Lead Protagonist can acquire them in the coarse of the mission.
Useful Skills for acquiring or creating Sensor and Communications equipment include Electronics, Systems Operation (AntiG Forcefield), Systems Operation (Missiles), Systems Operation (Lasers) Systems Operation (Projectile Weapons), Inventor, and Mechanics.
HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Slave from Blake’s 7. Computer from Star Trek. Unless you want to get all Soviet Lunar Lander and control your ship with levers, wheels, and other steampunkesque miscellany, you had better integrate some sort of computer into your ship. In fact, the use of AntiG technology means that you have to: it’s simply to complex to be controlled by anything as slow and simple as the human mind. So you have some complex choices to make. Do you use something simple and easy to control like a Com, or something complex and independent like Personal Sentience? If you chose the later, is Personal Sentience really… well, personal? Or is it just Sentience? Your PCs may have to find out the hard way during the Escape Mission, or possibly before.
Useful Skills for acquiring (or creating), installing, and operating a ship’s computer include Computer Programming, Electronics, Inventor, PS: Electronics Engineer, SS: Engineer, and System Operations (Ship’s Computer).
Sensitive Stephen Maturin from Master and Commander. Irascible “Bones” McCoy from the original Star Trek. The annoying holographic Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager. Any ship going on any expedition needs someone with some sort of medical training. And, whether he’s an EMT-B fresh out of training or a veteran neurosurgeon with decades of experience, he’s going to need equipment. What sort of medical system (or “sickbay”) the PC’s ship will have for their uncertain journey into the eternal night is the job of the Lead Protagonist in this mission. It could be as simple as a first aid kit bolted to the wall or as complex as an autodoctor.
Useful Skills for acquiring (or creating), installing, and operating a sickbay may include Paramedics, SS: Medicine, Systems Operation (Medical Sensors), and Systems Operation (Surgical Equipment).
Now that the PCs have acquired all of the components necessary to build their spaceship, they will have to find a place to put them all together and assemble them. (Unless they’ve devised a clever way of creating their ship out in the open right under the nose of Sentience. It’s been done before, though not in some time.) The Lead Protagonist in this Mission will have to describe the process through which all of these components are gathered into one place and assembled… all in complete secrecy.
Useful Skills for the Assembly Mission might include Bureaucratics, Bribery, Concealment, KS: Logistics, SS: Engineering, and Security Systems.
You’ve got your spaceship built. Now what are you going to put inside of it… and how much space you do you have really? Potential items might include food, weapons, clothing spacesuits, seeds, mining equipment, robots, solar panels, fertilizer, precious metals, android sex slaves, Fabers, Floaters, Coms, frozen fetuses: anything, really, that the PCs think they might need either to create their own civilization, or buy their way into one already created by previous generations of Interesting People.
Potentially useful Skills for the Provisioning Mission include KS: Logistics, Systems Operation (Personal Support Systems), Survival, and Trading.
This is the pivotal, Gygaxian moment of the game. The one where you either soar away on wings of Randian self-reliance, escaping the grasp of the Posthegemony, or tumble to your doom in a flaming, Nathaniel Brandeneqsue wreckage!
Okay – it’s not that Gygaxian. But there is just one roll (though the GM is free to ignore it should he chose). In this Mission the Lead Protagonist describes how the PCs break free of the Earth’s gravity well in their AntiG spaceship. Of course, the Antagonist will inform her that the Producer-Consumer Army Spaceforce has fired a brace of deadly missiles at their beloved ship (not to mention beloved selves), and the Lead Protagonist must in return describe how the defenses constructed in the Defense/Offense Mission defeat this attack… or at least try to.
In the end this mission all boils down to a single roll. The GM should work as hard a possible to make this moment exciting and suspenseful, but not necessarily deadly. (After all, if the PCs have done a good job of narrating their story they shouldn’t be punished for it!) Any number of Skill Rolls could be used for this climactic event, including Computer Programming, Combat Piloting, Systems Operation (various), or should all else fail a simple DEX Roll while feverishly gripping the ships controls! The other PCs may use Supporting Rolls or spend Hope Points to help.
The final Mission isn’t really a mission at all. In Afterward, the Lead Protagonist narrates what the PCs “did” after they escaped from the Posthegemony. This could be anything from a suspenseful cliffhanger to a lengthy description of how the characters successfully founded a colony and lived a tough but satisfying frontier existence. The player should feel free to be as imaginative as possible, with the GM and other players lending as much assistance as they see fit.
BELLS, WHISTLES, DIALS, AND OTHER STUFF
“Failures of perspective in decision-making can be due to aspects of the social utility paradox, but more often result from simple mistakes caused by inadequate thought.” – Herman Kahn, futurist (and the model for Dr. Strangelove)
As a setting Posthegemony: Terra Nomenklatura isn’t intended to be combat intensive. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Posthegemony isn’t a particularly violent or dangerous place. Unless you’re a member of an underground fight clique, you’ll probably have no idea how to brawl and no experience with violence of any sort. (Yes, yes: I supplied a sample PC with combat abilities. Have the fuck at Tamerlane.) In any case, it was my strong desire when designing this game to steer away from the wargame roots of the HERO System, highlighting instead the sometimes-neglected use of Skill Rolls and the interactive use of Supporting Rolls within a narrativist framework.
To keep things simple combat in Posthegemony should be conducted like this: the PC makes an Attack Roll using the standard HERO System combat rules. (You know: OCV, DCV, and all that jazz.). If she succeeds her opponent is knocked out, dead, or whatever works narratively for the story. It’s treated like any other Skill Roll: if the PC fails, she didn’t manage to hit or hurt her opponent in any way. She has to make an Interesting Person Roll, since her intended victim has gotten away to call the RoboCops.
Unless an opponent is a RoboCop or otherwise remarkable, his DCV is always 3 for the purpose of making this roll. If the opponent is a RoboCop, then the GM and players are going to have to decide whether to enact an actual combat using the HERO System, or use an optional method described on page XXX - whatever makes your bloodthirsty munchkin asses happy.
Hope is the most noble of all emotions. Love, Hate, Wrath, and Sorrow are all more robust and powerful, but without fragile, weedy Hope they cannot function. It is the lubricant that permits the machinery of the human soul to function. The characters in Posthegemony would seem to be trapped in a hopeless situation, surrounded by a perfected, authoritarian utopia so subtle and all pervasive that rejecting or defying it would seem to be a clear indication of insanity. Yet what differentiates Interesting People from normal producer-consumers is that they still have Hope in their hearts: the Hope that they will one day be free.
Hope Points can be used in various ways. They can be spent like Experience Points at any time to buy or improve Skills, permanently turning them into three Character Points for each Hope Point. They can use them to influence dice roles by lowering or raising the result of the role by one for each point spent, depending on which result the PC finds desirable. This may be done before or after a roll. They can also be spent to force a re-role of a result the PC doesn’t like: for each point, a role can be redone once.
A PC doesn’t have to spend Hope Points on herself. She can also donate them to or spend them on others at any time, as she sees fit.
Interesting Person Rolls And Points
Each time a PC fails a Skill Roll during Mission in her role as a Lead Protagonist (see page XXX), her player makes a Interesting Person Roll to see if Sentience has discovered her deviancy, and decided to arrest her or not. If she “fails,” it automatically goes up by one, making her better” at being an Interesting Person. If she “succeeds,” the happy robots with weapons built into their arms haul her away to a very private movie theater where her eyes are sewn open so that she can watch torture-porn until her mind disintegrates… but I digress.
In addition to using Hope Points, when a character “succeeds” at her Interesting Person Roll, the other players may choose to “spend” Interesting Person “points” to buy that Roll up so that she “fails,” or to force a re-roll at a cost of one point. However, “spending” an Interesting Person Point simply means that the other character’s Interesting Person Roll goes up for every point spent to buy up their fellow’s Roll or force a re-roll. In short: every time you help someone else get away, it makes it more likely that you will get caught.
Additionally, when characters intervene to prevent one of their fellows from being hauled away for ReEducation, they must narrate how, precisely, their character has acted to prevent it. As always the Adversary/GM should feel free to reward or penalize based on the quality of this narration.
VARIOUS TERRIBLE FATES
"Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like." - Lemony Snicket
When Interesting People are captured and taken away by RoboCops to be turned into Uninteresting People, they are taken to ReEducation. Of course, no one is really sure where or what ReEducation might be. Rumors abound: it’s a hideous torture facility filled with maniacs a la the film Hostile. It’s a boring medical facility manned by androids, a sterile research lab, or a dirty prison filled with Batman’s rogue’s gallery. No one is certain what THEY do to you there, either. Do THEY torture you with knives, shoot you up with drugs, or hook you up to machines. Do THEY lock you into sensory deprivation tanks? Surgically implant alien parasites in your brain?
One thing is for certain: when you come back, you aren’t you anymore.
Normally speaking, in game terms when a PC succeeds at her Interesting Person Roll, and that roll isn’t somehow corrected using Hope Points or some other means, she is removed from play: dead, for all intents and purposes. However, there is no reason that the remaining PCs couldn’t launch a Mission to rescue her from the fiendish clutches of ReEducation. If they chose to do so it is up to the Antagonist to determine what, precisely, ReEduction really is.
RoboCops: the polite policemen of the Posthegemony. Named after a beloved religious figure from the 20th Century and armed with non-lethal weapons that stun and restrain, they are common to every public space, and are well thought of by the vast majority of Producer-Consumers: though no one is certain whether these androids are intelligent in their own right, or simply marionettes of Sentience. Bland, courteous, and always ready to lend a hand, RoboCops spend the great majority of their time directing traffic, helping old people across the street, keeping drunken and/or stoned hoi-paloi from injuring one another, and assisting in the aftermath of natural disasters. In fact, hauling terrified Interesting Persons away for ReEduction is a fairly small portion of their job portfolio.
Physically RoboCops appear to be large, headless men with silver skin. In pace of a head, their body projects the hologram of an oversized yellow sphere adorned with a simple “smiley face” that always faces the viewer, no matter where she stands in relation to it. RoboCops dress in simple blue jumpsuits with an insignia on the front left pocket, and wear a utility belt that holds zip-tie restraints and medical supplies. The RoboCop’s non-lethal weapons are built directly into its arms.
In game terms, RoboCops aren’t meant to be fought: their job is simply to come and take you away when you “succeed” at an Interesting Person Roll. Of course, the PC can narrate his doomed attempts at escape, and the Antagonist can obligingly counter-narrate just how doomed it is: whatever floats your mutual boat.
Optionally, however, the PCs could fight the RoboCops that are sent to take their friend away, or attempt to rescue her before she reaches ReEducation. They might even succeed… at first. Sentience only dispatches two RoboCops to perform arrests, and they are very tough, but not indestructible. However, there is effectively an inexhaustible supply of RoboCops, and Sentience will exponentially increase the number it sends until the Interesting Person is apprehended.
But some people just like to destroy robots. So a character sheet is supplied.
Val Char Cost Roll Notes
20 STR 10 13- Lift 400 kg; 4d6 HTH damage 
14 DEX 8 13-
13 CON 3 12-
13 INT 3 12- PER Roll 12-
0 EGO -10 11-
20 PRE 10 13- PRE Attack: 4d6
5 OCV 10
5 DCV 10
0 OMCV -9
0 DMCV -9
4 SPD 20 Phases: 3, 6, 9, 12
10 PD 8 Total: 5 PD (0 rPD)
10 ED 8 Total: 5 ED (0 rED)
7 REC 2
0 END -4
15 BODY 5 Total Characteristics Cost: 69
Movement: Running: 12m
Cost Powers END
15 Android Body: Cannot Be Stunned
15 Android Body: Does Not Bleed
10 Android Body: No Hit Locations
60 Android Body: Takes No Stun (only takes BODY)
10 Tireless: Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) on STR
12 Tireless: Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) on Running
2 Tireless: Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) on Leaping
1 Tireless: Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) on Swimming
49 Riot Shield Projector: Barrier 12 PD/12 ED (1m long, 2m high, 1/2m thick), Non-Anchored, Mobile (+1/4), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (65 Active Points) Activation Roll 14- (-1/2), Restricted Shape (rectangle; -1/4)
60 Internal Weapons Package: Multipower, 60-point reserve
3f 1) Shock Baton: HA +5d6, Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (37 Active Points); OIF (-1/2), Hand-To-Hand Attack (-1/4). Total cost: 28 points
3f 2) Magnetic Bola: Entangle 4d6, 4 DEF, Takes No Damage From Attacks (+1/2) (60 Active Points) 10 Charges (-14), Limited Range (40”; -1/4). Total Cost: 30 points.
4f 3) Sonic Stunner: Blast 6d6, NND (defense is Hearing Group Flash Defense; +1) (60 Active Points) 10 Charges (-1/4), Limited Range (40”; - ¼). Total Cost: 40 points.
Total cost: 70 points.
5 Computer Link (Sentience)
1 Fringe Benefit: Local Police Powers
12 +1 Overall
1 Combat Driving Programming 8-
3 KS: Emergency First Responder Programming 12-
3 KS: Posthegemony Law and Procedure Programming 12-
1 Language: Basic Mandarin Program 8-
3 Paramedic Programming 12-
3 PS: RoboCop Programming 12-
5 Tracking 13-
Total Powers & Skills Cost: 281
Total Cost: 350
300 Matching Complications (50)
5 Hunted by Sentience (Frequently, More Powerful, Watching)
25 Psychological Complication: Must Obey Sentience’s Commands (Very common, Total)
20 Psychological Complication: Unimaginative/Prone To Rote Behavior (Common, Total)
Description: RoboCops are the powerful, almost indestructible, and annoyingly polite law enforcement androids of the Posthegemony, tasked with keeping the public safe… and Interesting People in ReEducation. In combat they have a variety of choices. From its left hand, the RoboCop can project a Riot Shield to protect itself. This is generally done in crowd control situations, but it can be deployed at any time. It can also choose from three different types of imbedded offensive weaponry in its right hand. It can retract the hand and extend a shock baton capable of delivering painful blows, fire magnetically launched bolas to entangle opponents, or produce blasts of sonic energy capable of knocking targets out without hurting them.
“Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache.... Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.” – George Orwell, Why Socialists Don't Believe in Fun
My favorite science fiction exists as social metaphor. So does this game.
They say that for liberals, utopia lies always in the future: for conservatives, in the past. I don’t believe in utopia. The Earth was not conceived as a speculative real estate deal for Heaven; attempts to force the creation of the Shining City On The Hill in our world have invariably resulted in cruelty, butchery, oppression, hypocrisy, and genocide to one degree or another. It is far better to fight such schemes, no matter how noble sounding, than to be party to their inevitable, hateful results.
With that said, the characters in Posthegemony are attempting to flee their society, not fight it. There can be no fighting utopia. It would probably be immortal to do so. The vast majority of producer-consumers love the Posthegemony, which provides them with excellent healthcare, limited personal responsibility, long lives, delicious food, and limitless entertainment. They don’t care that their existence is crowded, restrictive, and soul-crushing, any more than most modern urbanites care about such things. The PCs can publish all of the John Zerzan-esque manifestos they can write, release endless destructive computer viruses, and blow up Scrapers until they die from fertilizer poisoning. They can assassinate authority figures until they get carpal tunnel in their trigger fingers, or passively resist with endless patience and ingenuity.
It’s not going to change a damn thing.
Since the PCs represent either that tiny remnant of humanity whose very nature rebels at the sort of society they find themselves in, or whose own doomed utopian visions conflict with that of the majority, the only moral choice is separation and departure, rather than rebellion. Waging an insurrection against the Posthegemony would be no more ethical than Ted Kaczynski sending bombs to astronauts, an environmental activist destroying a car dealership, or an x-urban refugee burning down a power plant. As abstractly satisfying as such violent gestures surely are their meaning is completely lost on the vast majority of people, who are invariably unsympathetic even when they do understand.
They are also evil, as they neither teach nor correct.
Posthegemony: Terra Nomenklatura is at its heart a reaction against the urban utopian paradigm that has come to dominate most aspects of our emerging “worldwide civilization.” Or, to be more accurate, it is a process through which people can examine the effects of that nascent new order upon the individuals and cultures that it consumes. It presupposes a state that many in history have faced - stand, fight, and be martyred, or flee into a hostile, uncharted wilderness to build an uncertain future – and challenges them to be clever and to make the hard choices.
Because, in the end, that is all that stands between free men and slavery: cleverness, and hard choices.