Saturday, March 21, 2009

My "Settings": McSphere


This will come up eventually if you don't just run a generic setting and allow anything. Someone will show up with an idea that just doesn't work. Usually it's because the character works perfectly in a completely different setting, sometimes it's because they just hate some major part of the setting and think demanding you scrap it is better than just not playing. I mean, yes, you can change the character to fit the setting with work, but I'd still rather be presented with a character that didn't need this basic retooling.

Sometimes it is even more fucked up! I've had people submit characters which only work if the history of the setting is rewritten. One time the backstory actually did rewrite the history (and some of the major race fluff) to establish the player's homebrew race as once-dominant Mary Sues who were hunted down because their tears were highly-prized magical liquid or something.

Once you are done gagging, we may continue.

I was actually going to start posting about the settings I've actually run, but I forgot one of the settings I haven't - McSphere. (I was going to do a test run with one player, but he objected when I rejected his character - more later maybe.) I made a few posts about it on /tg/ a while ago (that varied in quality).

Basics

The McSphere is a megastructure (named after a dyson sphere) of unknown size and shape; I've been assuming it is the size of a galaxy, but it can be the size of a supercluster or just arbitrarily large and nobody would notice.

Inside, humanity lives on. Sort of. You ever heard the phrase "fast food empire"? Here, it is more literal. Humanity is divided into Corporations instead of nations and such, and these Corporations are mostly ruled by massive artificial intelligences. Corporations and AIs are both eerily similar to today's fast food companies and mascots.

As a result of living in a high-technology setting where robots and AIs do all the work, average human intelligence has dropped hard. Your average humanoid (referred to these days as a "Customer") spends his days watching advertising, working jobs they barely understand, and saving up for Meals (amazing dishes of heavenly burgers and fries so delicious people queue for years and will go to amazing lengths to get them). They also spell things wrong.

The players are mercenaries, travelling from place to place in the brobdingnagian sprawl of corridors and rooms that is the McSphere blowing things up with high-tech weaponry. Points are awarded for doing it in xtreme ways or using brand products. Available "classes" include Soldiers (the standard fighting type) Teknomancerz (people with cybernetic implants and psionic machine empathy), Alkemists (sort of scientist-brewer-genetic engineer-bomb expert-medic-
chefs), Tekgineers (tinkers who can build mechanical stuff, hindered only slightly by their intellect) and Psyons (psions).

A bit like Idiocracy IN SPACE!
except it's all indoors and maybe they're not all that stupid and I guess it could also be like Paranoia WITHOUT THE PARANOIA! also soft science fiction!

Yeah.

Corporations
  • Maxx, a dystopia ruled with an iron fist by the oppressive Grimace, who happens to be an insane paranoiac. Partly based on Paranoia. The native Customers of Maxx are the Maccas, who are the average dudes of the setting, and the McNuggets, a genetically-engineered race of cute orange blob things created as repairmen to maintain the McSphere. Some Customers hope for the return of St. Ronald, the AI who ruled and mysteriously vanished before Grimace appeared.
  • The Kremelin, a Corporation of vaguely-Communist transhumans with a mysterious unknown ruler. The native Customers are the Krispies, short three-fingered humanoids with a thing for cybernetic implants and thin robotic exoskeletons called "icing". Krispies believe the universe passes through various technological eras before reaching the Omega Point, the time where the worthy are enlightened ascend to a higher plane of existence and the unworthy reincarnate at the beginning of a new universe and start over. Individual Krispies have different thoughts on what this means, from wanting to destroy the McSphere to hasten the Omega Point's arrival to trying to discover all its secrets.
  • Starbo, a coffee-obsessed Corporation which lives near giant balls of flaming gas found deep within the McSphere. Most of Starbo consists of school campuses and coffee shops, and society is a meritocracy based on how many degrees you have. The native Customers are the Pequoid, coffee (and sometimes other drugs)-addicted Customers who look like hippies with pointy elven ears and spend most of their time sitting around coffee shops in silly hats debating the nature of being poorly.
  • The Kingdom, a Corporation ruled by the Super-Sized Senatorum Imperialis on behalf of the mysterious and half-mythical AI "King", who is said to reside in a legendary White Castle. Most Customers here are Brugs, a strong race which goes around in powered chainmail and laser swords fighting the forces of what they think is Evil. Despite their appearance of well-intentioned honest Customers (which they mostly are), Brugs can be pretty skilled in the art of sneaking and general roguishness.
  • Huttannia, a pizza-loving Corporation ruled by the Pizza Head which seems more like an enlightened steampunk society than anything else. Unfortunately, it has recently been invaded by outside forces and is finding its way of life under threat. Huttannia is inhabited by the Huttons, dapper men with British accents who like pizza and cups of cola (the gentleman's drink). Recently they have developed large sets of steam-powered armour called Klokwerks to defend their homeland. In other news, I'm a weeaboo.
  • Dominance, another dystopia ruled by a mysterious and evil AI which seeks to usurp all others. Its Customers are enslaved members of other Corporations except for the Noids, sinister red-clothed servants with cybernetic implants. They are as cruel as they are mysterious, mysterious as they are evil, and also they are pretty evil.
  • XKZ, a more laid-back Corporation ruled by the pleasant General, with the closest the inside of a metal megastructure can get to a country atmosphere. Its main Customers are the Chimerickens (a race of dark-skinned Customers who enjoy farming, square dancing and the simple life (ie: lasers and computers). They are slightly xenophobic, tend to oppress the white worker Customers who migrated there from other Corporations, and are as close to genetic experts as they can get. XKZ is also the home of the Fingerlikkers, white-skinned Customers with partially animal features who tend to be treated as second-class citizens within the Corporation (though the General has abolished slavery and granted equal rights recently).
  • Sphereway, which is less of a Corporation and more of a Sphere-spanning (people assume) network of faster-than-light trains which link everything together. Sphereway is maintained by the Footlongs, which are like halflings only corrupt bureaucratic greedy assholes. These scrawny little jerks are obsessed with Quiznus (Sphereway-destroying bogeymen no Footlong has actually seen) and the threat of terrorists, enough so that they have created the hulking battle-droid Subz and signed away most of their personal freedom to the sinister AI Jared in exchange for protection.
  • Wynda, a psyonikally-inclined Corporation which lives in the colder regions of the Sphere and is ruled by Wendy, a relatively benevolent AI-Customer hybrid woman thing with godlike psionic powers. The native Windans worship her as a god, have natural psionic talent, grow hair with odd properties (from changing colour to suit mood to being useable as hands) and eat a lot of ice-cream and beer.

Wow, that was horribly long. Oh well, don't care.

To wrap up, here is a potential party you might see travelling the McSphere!

From left to right:

  • Blammo McMustard, a McNugget engineer who was once the cameraman for the Maxx propaganda show Maxx Tonight. His greatest fears are returning to Maxx, being eaten and cats.
  • Branston Pickle, a Brug soldier who fancies himself a paladin and is not above looting all his gear from dead opponents, by which he means living people. His favourite weapon is the Maxx quintuple-barreled Fry Rocket Launcher.
  • Kit Cappuccino, a Pequoid psyon who is more-or-less constantly high and hallucinates that he is actually a wizard in a bad fantasy heartbreaker who rides a rust monster called Toto. (He doesn't.)
  • John Johnson, a dapper Hutton who is exploring the options other Corporations could offer in terms of "things that will help me get my family back from Dominance". Pilots a scrappy old Klokwerk called Thatcher and hides a nuclear-powered laser cannon in his hat.

I have yet to run a proper game of it yet, sadly, but I'm more or less ready to go. As I said, I was going to run it with one guy who was extremely interested, except he quit when he found out he couldn't play a smart, intellectual type in this setting which was explicitly stated to not have them like fifty times previously. I banged my head against a desk and that was that.


That is all for now. Next time: Less words.

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