So right now you’re probably irritated, wondering who the hell dragged in the Econ 101 text. Or you’re bored, wondering when we’ll hear more about something interesting. “Yeah, like ‘crystalline, cold-based insectoids’. What’s that all about?”
I’ll cop to the fact that the last two posts weren’t as interesting as some others. But they were absolutely necessary.
The entire game is based around Guns, who are (in essence) D&D adventurers in a different setting. You get hired to stop bandits, kill monsters, protect innocents. Or you can search through ruined cities. Or explore the Outlaw. Or go vortex jumping into the Beyond.
Guns are also cyberpunks in a different setting. You get hired to intervene in a gang war. Or raid a company outpost. Or enter the Shadow World and crack a computer system. Or steal a spell or martial technique from a rival magus Tradition or shadow warrior School. Or kidnap someone. Or rescue someone who’s been kidnapped. Or kill a guy who badly needs killing.
That’s the point of the game: jobs and adventure opportunities, interesting allies and enemies, and interesting places for all this to happen. It’s raw material for gameplay.
(There’s also interesting toys for PC’s to play with. That comes from setting details as well.)
So why the econ? Because I’m creating this setting, and I have to understand it. And until I can explain it to myself, I can’t explain it to other people. The economic issues are a primary explanation for a huge percentage of the game.
New York City, the capitol of the Fed, is divided into three zones: the Green Zone, heavily policed (think the Alliance planets, from Firefly), the Red Zone, an urban hellhole (think Robocop or Death Wish III, with the thick crowds of Blade Runner), and the Black Zone, a wasteland inhabited mainly by monsters (think New York from the Will Smith I Am Legend movie). But why? Why doesn’t the Fed just flood the city with soldiers and bring it under control?
Economics. It doesn’t have the money or men to do that. And even if it did, there’s better places to commit those resources.
What about the Outlaw? Any idiot can tell it’s a bad idea to allow bandits, bezerkergangs, and bloodgangs free reign over the countryside. Why not send out the troops, pacify the countryside, unite the country?
Again, economics. Not enough men, not enough vehicles, not enough bullets.
Well, why don’t the settlements just join the Fed? They’re Americans, they love their country, they should just sign up.
Well, now we’re back to the three depressing posts about the plague and the Collapse. For years after the Plague, Americans fought other Americans who were trying to take their homes and their food. People they know were killed, and they killed others.
And it wasn’t just strangers fleeing the cities, it was former neighbors, cities just up the road. Imagine the TV show “Jericho”, with the escalating conflict between Jericho and New Bern, and instead of ending with military intervention, the feud just continued for 24 years. This is the situation across much of the Outlaw.
America is tribalized. People trust those like them — members of their tribe — and distrust everyone else. Outlaw settlements both loathe and fear the Fed, and won’t join it voluntarily.
The central trope of the entire setting is this: “small islands of civilization in a vast ocean of chaos”. (Hence cyberpunks + adventurers.) To explain why this exists at all, I needed to understand why people remain apart (tribalism) and why the central government can’t just forcibly re-unite them (economics).
(These two issues, along with the Black Skies, also explain the Mesh’s existence. The Mesh itself, and the telecom shroud, explains other aspects of the setting.)
Those details on economics won’t appear anywhere in my final writeup. GM’s don’t have to read them, nor do players.
But when the equipment list gives prices in “shells” (how many 7.62mm bullets something costs), or when players notice everybody is poor, or when they dump some Fed dollars for 1/2 face value, because no one will take them, the economics will be there.
These issues will be implicitly embedded in setting details. And in order to do that, I have to understand and explain these issues.
(Next post — back to the Mesh.)