Thursday, November 26, 2020

Stellar Omelas

A conversation that I had on the OSR discord server the day before thanksgiving contained a concept that I find really interesting. I can't really sift the parts relevant to this from the discussion of other topics, cause a lot happened that day, but it went approximately something like this:

Anarcho-Communist: All people deserve the freedom to define and organize themselves on their own terms. Decision-making structures should be horizontal rather than vertical, so no one dominates anyone else.

Hobbesian: The natural condition of man is a condition of war of every one against every one, solitary life is poor, nasty, brutish, and short. For that reason, it is created that great leviathan called a commonwealth, or state.

Transhumanist: There is no need to pay homage to the product of selfish genes - as though self-replicating DNA from the old Darwinian era were some sort of secular equivalent to Providence.” 

Liberal/Centrist: We must mistrust utopias: they usually end in holocausts.   

Moral Pluralist:  I think a pretty strong response to this is making sure everyone is able to say “Hey, you better not oppress us, because if you do, we can pack up and go somewhere else.

Basically the core idea I took away is that an anarchist society would work if transhumanism eliminated the violent and selfish parts of human nature but some people would not want to be altered in that way. Since not violating people's autonomy would probably be important to an anarchist utopian society, those people would be given spaceships and the supplies to go somewhere else. I'm not sure whether it is even feasible, but fictionally it is a really interesting concept: a high-tech utopian society with strong exit rights for the people who don’t want to have the ‘evil’ parts of human nature removed.

My first thought, though, was that the people who rejected this chemically-mandated dys/u/?topia to go out and do their own thing sound like they would be great PCs, or main characters, or whatever. It would be interesting to write about or play as the kind of person who consciously chooses to reject a utopia. And the places where the utopia-rejectors go would be an interesting setting, because a lot of interesting communities and factions would form.  

If I turn this idea into an RPG campaign, the system I use would probably be Stars Without Number. It is a sci-fi RPG that contains a lot of tools for randomly  generating different factions and planets. This story would probably be about exploring and surviving in the border regions where all the utopia-rejecters go. 

This is more a vague idea that I got from a conversation, but if I decide to actually run this thing I’ll probably write more about the actual setting details and stuff. Honestly, I probably won’t though. I just felt this idea was cool enough to put on the ‘unfinished projects’ shelf instead of just letting it briefly occupy my brain and then fade into the ether.

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