Welcome to the future
This chapter will give you the broad strokes on what to expect from the Megacorp RPG Setting. What does 'every day' look like? Well, it depends on the city, what race you were assigned and a whole lot of other factors, but we will get to those very soon. Let's talk about the big things, the broad themes, which form the foundation of this futuristic and often dystopian environment.
- 1 Gaia
- 2 Aohu and the new face of government
- 3 War and conflict
- 4 Technology
- 5 Education
- 6 Social media
- 7 Human advancement
So how does one explain life on Gaia? Well, broadly speaking, it's a pretty decent place to live by most standards. The planet has the same atmosphere, gravity and conditions for life as we know it, which is precisely why it was marked as one of the 14 possible new homes for humanity when everything went to hell on "old earth". This essentially means that all people living on Gaia are descendants of colonists that left the earth a few thousand years ago.
Aohu and the new face of government
As the setting is focused largely on the continent of Aohu, it's best to start there. It's a large landmass subdivided into 9 regions, each of them brimming with their own rich history. The continent was famously caught between the two sides of the world war. Due to its central role in the history of the planet, it is almost always depicted in the center of the flat plan world maps of Gaia.
Where there used to be countries, there are now just cities which are run by the mega-corporations that literally own them. Those are the Civil Corporations, the governments formed from the ashes of the great world war during the Awakening. People have kept their 'regional' culture to a large extent but also see themselves more and more as citizens of those same mega-corporations.
It's not quite as bleak as you think- things are far more efficient and technology has made life generally better when compared to 21st century Earth. It's easier to get into business as well as it is to raise funds. You can easily get a job in a multitude of new sectors, including promising startups and if all else fails; you can go work for your jurisdiction's civil corp.
Welcome to Aohu.
Everything is privatized. All functions of every government are private, from the army to the fire department. In most cases, this actually makes them work better since they now have customers to please. So unless they want someone else to get their business, and thus their city, they better do their job and do it right. But in much the way as it was on old earth, this does not mean that they provide perfect service all the time. Far from it. A company might be strapped for cash and could decide greatly cut down costs in order to increase the holy bottom line.
Another major difference how corporations work is that every single entity, even yourself, is a legal and public entity. This means that every adult has shares which can be traded. As a result, most Civil corporations have done away with taxes and are instead requesting personal shares in exchange for citizenship.
War and conflict
Just 60 years back, the world war was reaching apocalyptic proportions, which in turn provided ample fuel for the polarized racial tensions. If you were Corp, you were aiding the western allies, and if you were Incarnate, you were part of the eastern empire bloc. All of this changed with the intervention of the AI named GENECIA. As part of this intervention, she stopped the war in a matter of days and reorganized almost every aspect of society. Some feel that GENECIA enforced this peace with an iron fist, whereas others see it as a stern parent saving children from themselves. But as these things go, the peace could not last forever. After the dust had settled down and GENECIA pulled back to create the beanstalk space elevator, tensions slowly started to rise again. It seems that it's only a matter of time before humankind will regress to what we've been doing since before the stone age; waging war. It took mankind 38 years to forget what war was like. 22 years ago, in 38 A.A, two corporations, Lumaki and Avatar industries, sparked a war for the resources that could be found in the region of Theresia. It took the Ascension of the living Saint Asa to end it, but not after killing thousands and displacing even more.
Weapons have gotten a lot more advanced and thus easily ten times more deadly. Rifles and pistols all have the same caliber thanks to the Universal Calibre system. Smart-rounds filled with smart high explosive yields or even bullets equipped with automatic target seeking, make firefights extremely deadly. Swords have a big comeback thanks to the miniaturization of vibro generators, allowing them to slice through even steel with ease. This, in turn, has sparked renewed interest in the previously archaic concept of armor, which has made vast improvements due to contemporary alloys and composites.
Most images of the past regarding our feature prominently display flying cars zipping around the city skyline. Although these are technically possible, they face the same issues as choppers in 21st century Earth. First, you need to get airspace clearance, second, you need to get the license to own and/or fly one and third, you simply need a lot of money to buy and maintain one. So unless you are Zeb Hu's lawyer's trust fund brat, it's highly unlikely you own one.
Despite all these difficulties, there are some cities, such as New Shanghai, that do make use of this technology. They have the equivalent of flying buses as a major part of their public transit system. Apart from that, a lot of emergency responder use flying vehicles in order to cut through traffic. But not all cities are as rich as New Shanghai, so the vast majority of people living on Gaia are dependant on trains in order to travel. But don't think that trains have not been touched by the ever advancing technology. Train lines often run in 3 dimensions, which not only provides a significantly faster commute but also provide a spectacular view of the city.
Another issue with hyper-realistic virtual reality is that poor and unsuccessful people tend to overuse such experiences to escape their failure, and sometimes it results in "Digicide": People unplugging from the real world and engaging with the virtual to the point where their body simply gives up.
If you happen to be a member of the GENECIA worshiping Kurzweil Cult, you swear that you are entitled to a digital afterlife with a joyous upload into some virtual utopia. But let's be honest. If there has been a successful case of human mind uploading, we would have heard from them by now. It is possible in theory, but the technology available today is still far from reaching it. The members of the Corp race can digitize their memories. The police can pull memories out of your head regardless of what you are, but that's not quite the same, isn't it?
Power and electricity
Most grid-based power is now renewable, mostly thanks to the technological gifts provided by GENECIA. Mainstream cobalt based batteries now allow devices and vehicles to store vast amounts of energy, making them effective for days instead of hours before a recharge is required. But old habits die hard and there are always those that oppose change, be it due to cost or simple stubbornness. As such, there are still a great number of regions that rely on fossil fuels to meet their energy needs.
Robots and Automation
Robots are a common sight. They run the factories, they clean the streets, serve your food and even do your taxes. The maturity of the robotics sector as an industry has made drones both cheap and widely available. Robotics has also vastly reduced risks in dangerous verticals: Humanoid robot enforcers, such as the EXA 16s, patrol the crime-ridden outer suburbs of San Miguel in Argos.
We know there's at least one true AI: GENECIA. But she has made it clear that we should not make others. No one really knows why she made this demand, maybe she simply does not want the competition. Whatever the reason she has for it, no-one has dared (or is able to) go against this directive. But GENECIA has used a different definition of what a "true" AI entails. There are algorithms and virtual personalities that can and have the Turing test. But for all their abilities, these entities are unable to improve themselves beyond what they are programmed to do. Rumor has it that there are lesser AIs that have come into being but stay hidden, lest they face deletion.
While it makes more sense to utilize drones for dangerous environments such as undersea rigging or a war zone, there is still a concept that is called "legal liability". This unfortunately still means that sometimes a human operator has to be present and in control. This has resulted in mech-suits, which are essentially big robots with room for a pilot. But not all mecha's are because of legal nuances, some organizations simply prefer a human at the controls.
Power armor and exoskeletons
Exoskeletons are now so compact they can be worn under clothes and have been helping grandpas walk for the last three decades. Stronger exoskeletons are used for industrial use and of course the obvious military application. Contemporary exoskeletons can have modular plates connected to them that fully enclose the wearer for protection. This armor can, of course, be further customized to include tools and/or integrated weaponry.
Kids still use them, baseline humans still use them. Genetically modified superhuman Incarnates still use them. But no self-respecting Corp would bother, they can just surf the net with their heads. Wearables, phones, and tablets still exist, as there's still a huge addressable market. But they look almost nothing like what we had before, as they have gotten incredibly light, flat and foldable. Despite all these advantages, warranties are still only one year and still don't cover drops.
Animal cloning is passé. Human cloning is stable and very much possible. Replacement organs and limbs have been mainstream since the war and used to put dismembered soldiers back in the field. The cloning of a human and raising it as an infant is legal and is more or less treated with the same solemnity as adopting a child. Barren couples, especially right ones, often opt for cloning as an alternative to adoption.
The cloning of an adult human, however, is universally reviled and highly illegal. This is in principal because it creates issues with biometrics and identity theft alongside a whole slew of ethical concerns. Cloning an adult human is also seen as one way to violate the immortality ban; "simply" clone your own body and transplant all of your memories into the new body.
Primary and secondary education has been largely replaced by technology, with human teachers relegated to early child care. Schooling can be done remotely thanks to the combined wonders of high-speed internet and VR. There is only one "public " university: Aohu University. It has campuses in every major city on the continent, and it has no school fees: entry is strictly by merit alone. Its lecturers are virtual personalities of famous and long gone human luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Jack Ma and many more. Hundreds of these personalities exist, each of these virtual mentors was a gift from GENECIA as part of the heritage archive.
Node and Veri are the two leading social media networks. It's pretty much what you expect from a social network, except now everyone wants to stream everything. This does mean that kids can be pretty annoying, just take two top trending live feeds this very morning: "I lov3 this Hot girl, but have to prank." and "Uncut and unregulated raw fights: Rane vs Kol".
Now consider social media integration with virtual reality. In short: Fake people got even more fake. Fake news is so rampant is hard to consider social media as a valid news source at all. Despite all that, many people still use it as the first place to find out what's happening in the world.
It's not that far of a stretch to go from fully functioning autonomous robots to implanted technology. A cybernetic prosthesis can not only effectively replace their original organic counterparts, but can also exceed their natural abilities by wide margins. The only issue with cybernetics is scar tissue formation, rejection, and latency. But if you have the Nano blood that marks you as part of the Corp, you don't have to worry about any of those silly problems. The nano-bots, powered by the adaptive software written by GENECIA herself make sure of that
Not only cloning is possible, it's also possible to modify your DNA in order to achieve a whole range of improvements. If getting and maintaining a cybernetic prosthesis seems too much of a hassle to you, you could just assign yourself as an Incarnate and grow back that missing limb. But why stop there? By taking cues from nature, humanity has developed a whole range of genetic enhancements. Super powered hearing? Check. Advanced speed? Check. Shifting your shape to further enhance those abilities? Also check.
Even with all the technological advancements available to mankind, combined with the understanding of a near-omniscient god-like AI, there are things that are still beyond our understanding. The most important of these is the closely guarded secret of the Civil corporations, with the Gnost Quorum in particular; There are those amongst us that have abilities that can only be classified as supernatural.
These "Gifted", as they are often called, all share a certain type of cells. These Magellan Cells allow them to perform feats that used to be classified as magic. No-one really knows where the power they wield from really comes from, or how these cells fit into all this, but one thing is clear; these powers are not without risk. Untrained users risk wreaking havoc of unprecedented scale or even to rip a tear into reality itself. This is why the Gnost Quorum employs specially trained Paladin teams to identify and "secure" these individuals. If they fail in this task, a new team will be sent, with more strict and deadly orders.
So who wants to live forever? Everyone. That's exactly the problem with it. The behavior of the crew of the Genesis Ark proved that long life equals serious mental illness, despite being engineered to be immortal in order to survive long space travel without cryostasis. So it's not strange that this was one of the big topics at the Aohu conference. GENECIA, using the simulation models that she used to instill the Corporatocracy, argued that there could not be one set of rules for one part of the population and another set for the rest. So the civil corporations were forced to make a decision; Either everyone should have a chance at immortality or no-one should. In the end, most of the companies were persuaded by the evidence recovered from the ark and voted against immortality. Though the exact manner in how this ban will be enforced is unclear. The Progressive caste of the Incarnates have incredible life spans but were given leeway as long as they do not increase their longevity further. Any cloning, digital breakthrough or genetic modification which would result in an individual living beyond the arbitrary 200-year limit would be dealt with harshly, potentially by a covert death squad.