So for the past few months I’ve been searching for a setting that I could build on. I wanted something that had a modern feel but where the protagonists could drive fast cars and shoot guns in the middle of a city and then sip champaign in a penthouse. Yet the stories would not be ABOUT fast cars, guns and penthouse parties.
Existing settings that can do that sorta stuff would be (off the top of my head), any Zombie setting, the matrix and more recently Inception. Bond movies do all those things too but they’re more about the character and his special clearances than the setting it’s self. The trick is that all these settings have some sort of “magic” that makes their lives immune to the repercussions of inflicting mayhem on society.
The problem with trying for setting-driven urban mayhem is that it’s very hard to fabricate in a way that hasn’t often been done. This is why Zombies are so popular – because when all the sheeple are dead it’s those few social outcasts that were “prepared” for it, that will be driving around monster trucks and sipping champagne in a newly acquired central-park penthouse.
So the goal was to create an urban playground setting (rather than an urban fantasy). Last night I think I managed it.
50 years from now the human race will be handling our energy crisis by staying largely stationary. Everyone works from home, everyone interacts online. Computer interface has gotten to the point where a person can cybernetically link to have a total immersion. People stay within that state for months at a time if they so choose. Food is provided intravenously, and exercise is obtained by nerve stimulation at periodic intervals. People are exist in a near-perpetual state of being plugged in. This is not a forced state, but one borne of a ever widening class gap. Bandwidth is nearly free, but actual travel is quite expensive, especially since – in an attempt to cut down emissions – the governments tax “unnecessary” fuel use an astronomical amount. So the idea of interacting online has become entirely acceptable and even favorable to the environmentally conscious masses.
It’s not too much of a logical stretch – conceptually so then all I had to do was unplug our protagonists… and voila! The city streets are clean with light traffic! Houses pristine with the occupants present, but their minds almost literally elsewhere.
All such a setting needs is a little protagonistic impetus to become and stay unplugged. A reason that would make it dangerous to go online. Something that makes the protagonists undeniable evidence that something has gone wrong, and thus the keepers of the status quo would want to brush them under the rug.
In an RPG setting, the ideal reason to stay unplugged would be an evolutionary mutation or – superpower. Nothing too potent, just enough to keep parity when the automated forces of the New World Order come hunting for the PC’s. However in a movie or novel setting, mutations would undermine the potent plausibility of the setting. The real kicker is the question: what is the cause of these superpowers? It needs to be indicative of a greater stirring of the force – so to speak. And I haven’t quite figured out what that is.
But as of right now I have a very nice hook for an urban playground.