Roleplaying in Sterlings Shaper/Mechanist future
If ever there was a setting that called out for the simple tratment this wasn’t it. But it had me thinking about how to do justice to the enormity of futuristic RPGs.
I have allways maintained that the best roleplaying comes from good old fashioned dungeons where nobody thinks about what they do for a living and there is only a tissue of plot to hold it all together. Somewhat like Kabuki where all of the movements and costumes and plots are prescribed, the fun comes in using those elements in a unique way. The further we come toward the present day and a world we understand there are so many other things to think about that we sometimes get lost in the other things. I had a wonderful Spy Scenario back in the day that fell apart because one of my players had this nifty idea he got from one of his economics classes to hold money from a kingpin he was supposed to be fighting and didn’t want to. He was an economist his character was not and had no economic skills to speak of and I didn’t know enough to figure a way around it. I was more brittle then, and things quickly fell apart. I can think of a couple of ways to keep the game running now but the point is that we game in a shared imagineation space and it get tricky to keep everyone on the same page in the present. A wide open future is going to be a harder thing to do. One of the concites of the Cyberpunks is that everything works like it does now except they are all jumped up and armed.
The Shaper/Mechanist future is a really big place where people have very different ways from ours and everyones worldview would be quite different from everyone else. I have been trying for years to find a good way for characters from different backgrounds to have unique knowledges as well as enough shared info that they can work together, But in the S/M future you have a world where the characters don’t see the same things in the same object. And the players being the little info vacumes that we all are have read the rules and know all sides at the same time. What this game needs is a way for the different factions to develop away from each other. seperate wikis might be a way to do this that way the players can develop a world view that would be seperate from each other and give them access to differnt skills or techniques or weapons that the other factions wouldn’t know about. by controlling the lists and having a generalized system to create new skills/Tech/Words/ideas the parts would be controllable.
I take back what I said earlier. Maybe in a game about the Shaper/Mechanist future we have an opportunity to build a new thing. A game that exists on many levels and develop rules to cover what the players can add and what they need to know and how to hold it all together.Play on!