In an email exchange, friend of the Accidental Survivors in Germany, Wolf, mentioned Innocent Gun, which another listener had mentioned (for those not in the know, we talk a lot about Innes & Gunn’s line of beers), and I wrote that it would make a good RPG title.
Wolf suggested a western, gothic, cyber-punk. I like that, but I’ll go one further – post-apocalyptic.
Dig this: it’s hundreds of years after a cataclysm that is known in the region in which the PC’s begin as the Event. Every culture has a different myth about it, but it was a huge disaster. The world is only just starting to recover. Part of this new recovery is an organic network into which certain people can tap. It is a decentralized information network that evolved after the Event. Resurrected industry is taking advantage of this much the way it takes advantage of computers and the internet in our world.
But this recovery is very localized. Certain places have factories, electricity, transportation and communications, but much of the world remains outside these “points of light.” Yes, “civilization” is advancing, but slowly. Carefully. The people who live on the fringes have civilization, sure, but it’s a frontier civilization. In many places, might makes right.
And there is a secret, whispered about on the network. Something is growing. Something powerful. A global geothermal energy project is coming back online. Its substations are spooling up one by one. An energy grid built to power a world beyond even the 21st-century’s voracious needs could change everything.
In my conception of this, I have no idea what the Event was. It’s unimportant. The network is due to nanobots that existed before the Event and are replicating, but due to the specifics of the ones that survived the Event, they can only work with individuals with very specific genetic markers. The nanobots are also powering up the geothermal grid – working on parameters set hundreds of years ago and happening now because they have replicated enough that there is a cascade, as more power increases production, which allows more power, etc.
Gothic, I think, is generally very intertwined with the aesthetics of cyberpunk. The world is constantly dark as the Event created an almost impenetrable layer of clouds (yes, I know this would have huge environmental repercussions, but so would magic and no one ever seems to care about that ;). It rains all the time. It’s a dark and depressing world in which wealth has created the kind of class divisions known during the Middle Ages (a representation of the current wealth gap).
And the PCs are the ones bringing order to both the cities (protecting the underclass rather than taking the barons coin) and in the frontier (where the network is starting to have a great impact).
They are the Innocent Guns. But how long will they remain so?