Greg and I had a Mythic session the other night set in the Ornithopter setting. The strangest thing happened: we had characters, we had background, but no action developed. Instead we ended up describing a society. No ‘adventure’ occurred – or at least not much. It was more like developing a big picture in which adventures could occur. It informed me, at least, what kinds of societies are possible in the Imperial system of Ornithopter. Here is the record of that finding.
Asturias has a Plutocratic government and a Stasi style internal security system. Every citizen is employed in some way to spy on everyone they come in contact with. There are a half dozen richest men who rule the planet. It is a class conscious society, based entirely on wealth. Tax is of paramount interest to the authorities.
Built on the ruins of an earlier civilisation, there is a known tourist trade in travelling to the sites of religious ceremony. These cults are long extinct, but the architecture attracts tourists.
Our protagonists were an Elderly Shopkeeper (a tour guide operator who runs trips to the old sites) and a Fanatic Civilian who was an under cover Imperial geologist – both of these from Üne. The geologist, we discovered, had found a deposit of Jacobite, a valuable mineral.
Jacobite, we discovered, is something the Imperial government routinely claims the rights to. The local government was therefore keen to keep the find secret so that it could exploit it themselves: wealth being the only driver for these people.
The problem for an adventure would have been how to get to the spaceport and exit with the information given that everyone was a spy and every conversation was being monitored. However, by this time we were probably too tired – or plastered – to dig into a actual character-driven game.
Key Mythic and Brewer’s rolls and the interpretations we came up with:
What is the prevailing feeling of this society? Mythic – Spy. The Innocent. The government is security conscious to the extent that it has become corrupt and invasive. It uses civilians to spy on each other.
What is the driving nature of the government? Brewers – Fee Penny (debt). The goverment is driven by money. It is a Plutocracy (government by the wealthy). Therefore all the spying that is going on is all about making sure that the classes stay in their place and that taxes and fees are paid in full. All trades must bve declared to the government. There is no such thing as private enterprise for the mass of citizens – they are all ’employees’.
Do the protagonists support the government? Given the pervasive system, very likely. Mythic – No. So our protagonists are opposed to the government, or more acuaretly we can say that they are conscious of the government’s actions and disapprove, where most people in most systems just accept that things are ‘normal’. So our protagonists have a secret that they are keeping from the government.
Without a roll we proposed that the shopkeeper was a tour operator, or travel agent, offering trips to ancient religious sites in remote locations (like Angkor Wat). The other guy was a geologist who had gone on one of these tours and has discovered a mineral deposit. Opening Brewer’s at random we found the name of the mineral was Jacobite.
Is the second man an agent of an off-world interest? Mythic – Emphatic Yes. This left no doubt: he was an Imperial agent. This explained his fanaticism.
What was the conenction between the geologist and the tour operator? Why would the tour operator choose to defy the goverment, and why would the geologist stop to help him? We thought to ask Mythic: Is the geologist the tour operator’s son? Mythic – Emphatic no. We concluded, after a lot of backstory discussion, that the geologist was a friend of the tour operator’s son who had left to join the Imperial service. However the son was killed in action and had placed the obligation on his friend (the geologist) to protect his father. So that was the connection, the loop was closed.
Having fully understood the circumstances and set the scene (a three hour discovery process), we declared that the pair were headed for the spaceport, false papers in hand.
What are the conditions the pair find at the space port? Mythic – Carry. Victory.
And at about that point we were exhausted and the story seemed to close itself. We could have gone through the minutiae of handing passports to officials, but decided not to. The primary goal of describing a new place had been done. So we closed this story, and started a new one. But that can be another blog entry.