Setting

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Overarching Theme

The last and largest hub of urban civilization on Earth, Sector 7 is a sprawling megacity located between the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the Northern Pacific Coast. At its center lies the Central District, which circles around the historic site of the old Seattle Space Needle and is home to the sector's majority population.

Humankind, once spread across the solar system, has been sabotaged and beaten back to its home-world. War with what was widely believed to have been hostile extraterrestrial forces has devastated much of the planet, pushing refugees in droves back from the outlying colonies and stations. Peripheral sectors of Earth have likewise been abandoned, their displaced populations today struggling to establish their footholds in Sector 7. Some choose to live outside the boundaries of the city, but the nomads are few and far between. Humanity won the war; there's no arguing it left a wound.

In the aftermath of the conflict, the wreckage of the mothership still orbits the Earth; some suspect the close proximity is changing the human genome. Others turn to religion to explain the quasi-supernatural occurrences that crop up with greater and greater regularity in the world around them. Either way, it's an strange time to be alive.

Alter Epoch is a cyberpunk RPI (roleplaying intensive) MUD (multi-user dungeon) with sci-fi overtures. We feature permadeath and primarily non-consensual roleplay.

Theme Primer FAQ

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction featuring futuristic technological advancement set against societal decay. As player characters are viewed as the protagonists of the setting, in many ways they're expected to respond to things in ways that fly counter to the status quo. In order for PCs to stand out as non-standard against the setting, however, the players have to understand what the standard is. This allows third parties to respond realistically to the character's choice to try and operate outside societal norms.

It's impossible to touch on every possible scenario, so we'll focus on those that have been specifically requested.

  • Corporations control civilization, but not brazenly.
    • Corporations can and do exercise control over the population, but they do so in such a way that their actions are indistinct and hard to pin down. Plausible deniability is the name of the corporate control game. The less known a corporation is for public scandals, the more likely it is that that corporation has actual power and influence. Corporations don't need to debase themselves by throwing their weight around or engaging in slap-fights. They either have the power to get what they want without doing these things, or they probably just don't have power.
    • How corporate power works: Funding is poured in secret into polluting the air as prep work for the release of a patented air filter. Without this filter people will die; everyone is thus forced to buy a filter. Falsified documents emerge pinning the pollution on a competitor. The corporation has exercised control over the population and compelled them to obedience without dirtying its own hands or reputation.
    • How corporate power doesn't work: A corporation's CEO sends a threatening email to an official ordering them to do what they want or else. The corporation has made itself look weak, ineffective, and unaware of how the world works. A person with power wouldn't need the official in the first place, and a person without power isn't worth the time.
  • Life is cheap and so are body parts.
    • The idea of a dead body being owed a ceremony and little plot of land for permanent storage fell out of practice centuries ago, when the population simply grew too dense to accommodate that kind of "frivolity." The ceremonial burning of corpses fell similarly out of favor when air regulations tightened under the global government. The sheer number of dead to contend with in a population the size of pre-war Earth shed humanity of much of its attachment to corpses, and if there was any sentiment lingering the magnitude of the war put paid to it. Disposal via recycling has been a common practice for hundreds of years. These parts are used in countless fields, from simple organ transplants and biotech slurries to stem cell and pathogen research.
    • Organ sellers are body recyclers and are not unusual; operating one of these facilities is a common route out of the Dregs for slummers with the funds but not enough education to run a cleaner business.
    • Today, plots in cemeteries are typically purchased only by the wealthiest of the wealthy, used as a sign of prestige (some might say selfishness) and a demonstration of personal value. If your meat has its own yard in a world where land is a limited commodity, you were clearly somebody remarkable in life.
  • The government doesn't care about your feelings.
    • The government is not a moral authority that can be turned to when outrageous things are occurring in the world. The government doesn't care if slummers are being hunted for sport by law enforcement and filmed for reality holo television; there's always more slummers, and they don't account for much tax revenue. The government doesn't care who hurt whose feelings and which person hates who or why. The only thing the government cares about is revenue and maintaining its own power. It occasionally puts on a show of caring; that's what the PR team is for. The government doesn't care about you, your family, or your pet gerbil. It doesn't care about anybody at all.
      • What the government cares about: Significant threats to its revenue or political movements of sufficient enough power or influence to pose a threat to it.
      • What the government doesn't care about: Someone emails the President of the USE explaining that an enemy is plotting against their company and also refuses to sort their recycling on Thursdays, thus not doing their part for the environment. The government doesn't care about any of this.
  • Class warfare is generally subtle.
    • Prejudice based on one's assumed social class is an automatic reflex for most. Someone who comes from the Dregs would have a series of assumptions made about him and reactions to him would be informed by those assumptions. A corporate person would also have a series of assumptions made about him and reactions to him would be just as informed by those assumptions. The poor and well-to-do interact freely and consistently; refusing to interact with people outside one's social class would be unusual and extreme.
    • Less qualified corporates are more likely to be hired than a very qualified slummer based solely on that corporate's surname or the university listed on their resume. It's economically dangerous to report negative stories about corporate citizens in good social standing, so the majority of news networks focus on the threat of slummer crime. Law enforcement doesn't tend to bother with minor offenses committed by corporates in good standing, while slummers are picked up routinely even when they've done nothing wrong. Slummers are simply assumed to be up to no good.
    • Prejudicial interactions between social classes are thus not a matter of running around screaming about hating people from other socioeconomic backgrounds. It takes a subtler form.
      • Example of realistic class prejudice: CEO Fauntleroy notices that his credstick is no longer sitting on his nightstand where he left it. Only two people have been in his room since he left it there: His son, who came in earlier and asked for money that he didn't receive, and the slummer housekeeper who has worked in his condo for years. He immediately assumes that the housekeeper stole his credstick.
      • Example of less realistic class prejudice: CEO Fauntleroy is being driven through the megacity and spots a slummer begging on the corner. He tells his driver to pull over and pours garbage out the window onto the slummer, then screams that he should get a job and hits the accelerator, running the now garbage-covered slummer over with his car.

Sector 7, the Physical Setting

Sector 7 is a megacity located in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to 2371, the population of planet Earth was divided into multiple sectors, all of which were heavily populated (see help sectors in-game). Beyond just the sectors of Earth, colonies had been established off-world on various planets and in various stations, which survived for several generations. Cataclysmic events took place from May to June 2371 that drove the human population back to Earth, then devastated it considerably. Sector 7 was the home of the global government, then called the Sol Ascendancy, throughout these events, and was thus where humanity's last stand was made. It was also where the citizens of the world and beyond were corralled for evacuation. With few exceptions, all but the nomadic clans were driven into Sector 7, where the Sol Ascendancy's military and space-capable fleet could defend them.

Humankind was ultimately successful at repelling the force from Earth, but great damage was done to the population (see help population in-game) and infrastructure. Sector 7 was the only part of the globe left almost entirely intact, at least in terms of a livable modern civilization (see help ecology in-game). Today, the majority of the Earth is believed to be unpopulated by human beings, and in the absence of the species the planet is slowly but surely recovering. Life inside the sector has gone on almost as it always has, albeit with a denser population per mile. Beyond the sector, the world is ruled by berserkers (see below), and the government lacks the funds or interest in another war.

The War, What Would Most People Know?

Most people would agree that there was a connection between the destruction of the space fleet that left the Sol System and the later invasion of Earth. Both incidents are blamed on the "Quzot" species, which is a name that was decided upon because it stood out in the garbled scan that was performed on one of their early, first contact vessels.

The first indication of trouble on the horizon was the eerily silent arrival of the mothership. It arrived, and then did nothing. Attempts to establish contact with whatever occupied the vessel were met with silence. It hung in the sky above the planet's capitol, Sector 7, for several weeks, but that was all that it did.

It's known that the Scions, who were human-like creatures created by the Quzot to replace people that were deemed, sometimes incorrectly, to be important, were activated around this time. They began sabotaging the colonies and stations in order to encourage a massive evacuation of the human species to Earth. They succeeded in this endeavour.

Once the population had been herded into a central location, the pylons erupted from the Earth and released the creatures colloquially known as "berserkers." Any adult alive today would have memories of this event. The pylons were massive structures the size of skyscrapers and were composed of an unknown, matte black substance. When they emerged they did considerable damage to their environment, sometimes levelling entire city blocks. They seemed to have been below the surface of the Earth for eons; if they were a new construction, it's assumed that someone somewhere would have noticed something.

Across the globe, the berserkers did what they were clearly designed to do, which was to destroy anything and everything they saw. Inside the capitol, Sector 7, the Sol Ascendancy's military forces worked tirelessly to put them down. This lessened the destruction in Sector 7, though did not entirely prevent it. Outside the capitol's umbrella, it's generally well known that entire cities were turned to dust.

Details are more sparse among the general public for what transpired when the mothership finally activated. It's known that there was a fleet battle in space over Earth. It's known that a number of the Scions overcame their programming and chose to fight on the side of humanity. The last thing known for certain is that the mothership was destroyed, and when it was the berserkers suddenly withdrew, confused, before fleeing the capitol into the wastes. Today, the wreckage of the mothership is a permanent feature of Earth's skyline, observed as a "second moon."

The Supernatural, What do Most People Know?

At this point in time, the only things people know about the supernatural elements in the game are what they have personally encountered and experienced in-character. As with most things, this is likely to change with time. We'll update this entry when the time comes.

Classes, What Are They?

Slummer

Slummers are the working class and below. They comprise the vast majority of the population and receive little education beyond compulsory schooling (see help education in-game). Not all or even most slummers are criminals, but as criminals are typically the slummers that receive the most press, the assumption in other rungs of society tends to be that all slummers are precisely that. Slummers have a deep sense of community and drive to take care of their own. They are very unlikely to work with or provide evidence to CorpSec, preferring to handle their own problems within their communities.

Slummers who make it big give back to the communities they came from. Slummers may legitimately want to see each other claw their way out of the cesspool, but they expect to hear back when somebody makes it. Further, slummers might want money, but they don't want to be corporate. A slummer who strives to be a corpo is the lowest of the low; you can't get much worse than a sell-out. Note: As slummers can be anybody and their cultural quirks tend to be relatable to most, they're the recommended class for first-timers.

Corporates

Corporates come from powerful families of board members, CEOs, old money, so on, and have open access to the highest forms of education. Even when a corporate fails, they tend to fail upward. The family connections are their connections; losing one position typically just means another materializes in front of them. With that understood, social savvy and refinement are the corporate's bread and butter, and without them they starve. This starvation may not be literal, but it can feel every bit as significant to the person frozen out of privileged circles.

Corporate society and the business world it rests upon expects propriety, at least in public. Those who fail to comport themselves respectably, those who create overt enemies of others in power, those who embarrass themselves with theatrics or just generally make a spectacle out of their existence: these are the outsiders in the corporate world. It may be uncouth to have to acknowledge you've worked with an embarrassing business associate or raised an embarrassing son or daughter, but it's more embarrassing to allow yourself to be perceived as currently supporting their antisocial behavior. Cutting ties is almost always the more advantageous route to take.

Corporates who fail to adhere to the social understanding - the appearance of refinement, albeit often veiled over unseen and unspoken layers of brutality and backstabbing - find themselves hung out to dry, outcasts in ways a slummer could never relate to. That corporate citizens tend to live very public lives tends to make this ostracization more brutal. Once a corporate has ruined their own reputation (or "allowed" someone else to ruin it for them), they become spoiled goods. The general population will relish the opportunity to pillory one of their betters, and other corporates, unwilling to risk their own reputations by associating, will have no use for them. The loss of reputation is like blood in the water; the sharks come rushing in. Note: Playing a corporate character is challenging and costly, so isn't typically recommended for first-timers.

Nomads

The nomads live outside of civilization and often go without basic amenities such as electrical power; there is no impetus to create or maintain an electrical grid outside the city and nowhere near the customer base to justify it financially, so they go without it and most things like it. Things that city folk take for granted - running water, power, matrix connectivity - are worked hard for in the "wastes." Nomads are generally poorer than slummers in terms of credits, but also have fewer uses for digital currency.

Nomads choose the life they have because they want it. The city's not far away. Anyone who wanted to head there could do so, and most nomads visit the urban hellscape that's Sector 7 for work fairly regularly. They know what they're "missing" and consciously don't want it.

Nomads tend to operate in a clan that is comprised not only of their blood relatives, but also anyone who happens to live with them. They feel strongly about their people and an intense possession over their territory. Many nomads resent it to the point of violence when outsiders start sniffing around their turf. Note: While nomads aren't an especially challenging theme to play, they face the unique challenge of coming up with reasons to be in the more commonly populated places for RP.