DW Live! The Colony

Right them, back with more stuff for the DW Live! At this point, still four weeks out, we’ve still collating crisis and faction suggestions so please keep them coming. This post will give a bit more background on the main setting and how we intend to model the colony itself, with one more post – on Crisis Management and how this all ties together to come.

The Tabula Rasa

The Tabula Rasa is not the first of Earth’s colony Ships but it is the largest and most diverse. After years of wrangling and nearly a decade of construction, this UN-backed starship was hurled out into space, aimed at a small, habitable-looking world around star LV-1701. On board was packed everything need to start a new civilisation around a distant world, all the vehicles, manufactories, pre-fabricated orbital facilities, and more, along with a hand-picked council to determine the government based on local conditions. Everything, it seemed, had been thought of, so perhaps it was inevitable something would go wrong.

A minor fault in the Tabula Rasa’s main FTL drive caused a massive explosion as the ship re-entered realspace around LV-1701, causing a rapid and unplanned evacuation of the stricken vessel. The colonists have therefore found themselves scattered across their new home, small pockets in nearly every corner, and only around the main landing site has anything approaching the organisation government envisioned been created. After several years getting things moving, the colony is now settled and growing, and there is a feeling that the long-delayed process of government can now begin. Accordingly, representatives of the major forces in this new society have been summoned to aid in thrashing out the way life in the colony will run from now on.

Technology and Environment

We don’t want to be too prescriptive about the tech-base that we are working on here, as we want some of that to come from the Faction suggestons. So if we great idea for a faction of Unionised Robot Buddhists, then we want the technology to exist where Robots are advanced enough to seek Enlightment and Throw Off the Shackles of the Management at the same time. We do need to have some guidelines however, and so here we go:

  • Power is clean, and plentiful, and barring disaster, not a problem for the colony
  • Micro-manufactoring, raw materials and sustainable food stuffs is likewise available.
  • Returning to space is straightforward, but only to low-orbit. Intra-system travel is difficult, and FTL is out of the picture, at least at first.
  • Comms back to Earth exist, but are sporadic and subject to * waves hands * space interference.

LV-1701 is a broadly Earth-like planet with a somewhat basic post-oxygen atmosphere. Local plants are wildlife exist roughly akin to the Carboniferous period (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboniferous) so you’re seeing alien plants, insect and fish/amphibian analogues. Note the world is too young to have coal or oil banks, so raw hydrocarbons are either manufactured or imported from Belt Miners and the like. There is no sign of intelligent life so far discovered on the planet, or indeed anywhere else. The colony is based on the edge of a large continent, with plenty of room for expansion, although other settlements are scattered across the world.

Life in the Colony

One of the things we want the game to model is what life is like in the colony for it’s citizens. And hey, we claim to talk about Social Sciences in the Podcast, so we want to have some Social Sciences in the game. So want we wanted was a way of quantifying what sort of society we have created, and thankfully, smarter people than us have already been into this. Geert Hofstede developed a theory that national character could be charted using a series of opposed factors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstede%27s_cultural_dimensions_theory), which is handy for our uses as we can add some simple gamification to them. They are:

Power Distance – How the society views the distance between it’s leaders and it’s population. Typically highly democratic societies have low Power Distance, and Autocracies High.
Individualism vs Collectivism – How a culture values the power of the individual against the power of larger social groups.
Uncertainty Avoidance – Basically an assessment of how the society views risk and change.
Quantity vs Quality of Life – Essentially a rating of how important status effects are (titles, wealth, power) vs Family, Free time and “work-life balance”.
Long-Term Orientation – Pretty self-explanatory, do we want things now, or are we in it for the long haul.
Indulgence/Restraint – How much a culture gives into its current needs and whims. Can be a sign of how liberal a society is, for instance, but also how febrile and violent it’s mobs are.

Note that these are non-judgemental, and can good or bad things depending on circumstance. For instance, you may think “hey, long-term-planning is great!” but at the same time many dictatorships survive on the promise that things will get better once this next 5-year-plan is completed, so stay in those ration-lines now, folks! Similarly a culture that values social cohesion and charity will have a high Collectivism rating, but so did Stalin’s Russia.

Again, don’t get hung up too much on the theory and remember that this is a loose framework for describing how our new society looks. In game terms our colony will have a rating on each of these going from +3 to -3, which we can add (or subtract) to rolls. Factions can also attempt to change this, and it will “drift” naturally over time. This means you can try and buck the will of the people, but it can be harder (or easier) depending on what you’re trying to do.

Our next post will pull Factions and Colony life together, and show how they intertwine as moments of crisis hit.

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