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Regulators in the Neo-Utopia (alternate setting)

Started by Spooky Fanboy, September 10, 2005, 01:36:33 PM

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Spooky Fanboy

Now I have the PDF, soon to be the official PDF with the upgraded rules. I will play this game as is, post-haste, I promise, so as to get a better feeling of how the game is supposed to run. But I am a compulsive setting-monkey. I borrowed a friends copy awhile back and posted Lions in the Crystal City, an alternate setting mixing the standard setting with Ars Magica, to create an interesting hybrid. Then the book had to be returned, and I petered out. (If anyone is interested in revivng that, let me know.)

But lately I've been reading conspiracy theories and cults, and DiTV has mixed with my current reading material to produce an unusual hybrid. I want this to be a playable alternate universe, and I would appreciate feedback and suggestions for improvement. I have my own ideas, and want to create an alternate religion that is neither too weird (gives off that "must run from religious wackos" vibe) nor too comfortable (as that denies me as GM hooks to galvanize players).

The setting is in modern times, in the southwest corner of the USA. (Utah, New Mexico, Texas, with areas of Louisiana and southern California). A cult has taken a majority membership in those areas, and is suing the USA to declare them a separate country unto themselves. It is by and large a movement of passive resistance, but they have proven willing and able to defend themselves. What makes it worse is that, unlike other cults, they actively promote and encourage modern technology, as well as being self-reliant. Cases involving them are currently clogging the courts, and most federal agencies are at a loss as to how to handle them. Making matters worse is the fact that this particular cult appears to be quite sane on many levels, despite their bizarre beliefs, and they are most emphatically NOT a doomsday cult (in fact, quite the opposite.)  The USA is experiencing it's first successful homegrown religious movement in modern times (outside of Scientology, whose members are not currently advocating separation from the USA), and it's testing the rights enumerated by the Constitution to their utmost.

To outsiders, it's beliefs are a cagey meshing of UFO/ New Age cultism, Gnosticism, and Deism, with some oddball spin-off beliefs and a cult of personality holding it together. Spokespeople for the cult to outsiders agree with that assessment, but add an important caveat---like it or not, it's the One True Way. The success that both the movement and it's membership have enjoyed is testimony to that. The Reynardian Movement for Intelligent Design (known to outsiders as The Reynard Cult, The God-Machine Cult, or worse), is the way of the future, and they are here to stay.

The PCs are Regulators, and travel among the Satellites (branches) to insure that they are thriving, and that they are living according to the Movement's policies, keeping an eye out for Entropion (demonic) influence and the machinations of Entropy. They are taught to administer "quick-fix" policy in the event that the Coordinator (Steward) is unable to do so, and to use any and all means necessary to reestablish the Intelligent Design. Because the Movement is forced by circumstance to allow access to the outside world (for trade and recruitment purposes), and because they are still members of the USA, they walk a fine line. However, a vast majority of the Devoted stay so, and thus what happens within the Satellites stays there.

Some questions:

1) Would you be interested in seeing more? Any particular questions/suggestions you have?
2) Where seems like a good place to put the main HQ?
3) Big guns. In modern times we have them. Should the dice for them go to d12? Should I also include WMDs at d20?
4) BTW, a big inspiration for this setting was the book "New America" by Michael A. Smith. I picked it up around the same time as Dogs came out, and the idea has been germinating ever since. What if The One True Way came into existence during modern times? What if the loony cultist was the right one after all? Which brings me to this question: should I expand on USA (Territorial) involvement with the movement, or is it credible to keep government agents out of the main activity and keep the focus on the Satellites?

Proudly having no idea what he's doing since 1970!


Dogs straight used to have d12 fallout, for getting blowed up. D12 traits too. Playtesting proved the d4-d10 range to be much better for everything and I dropped all the d12s.

If you really think it matters, bump "primitive firearms" or "small firearms" down to d8 fallout instead - but I wouldn't bother.

But that out of the way - the tricky bit facing you is: how are you going to make the cultists' beliefs seem genuinely held? If the townspeople seem like dupes and slackjaws to your players, you're going to lose the oomph.

My recommendation is to make your own ideal religion for the cult. Give it real, honest virtue, real goodness, from your own true point of view. Make it so that its teachings are morally compelling - make it so that its believers could renounce it at any time for any reason, for instance, but they'd lose so much love, goodness, and genuine human support if they did so that they just pretty much don't.

I mean, like, in Dogs you can't renounce the Faith because it's what's holding your world together in the face of winter, famine and violence, right? In a non-frontier, contemporary U.S., that won't be true anymore. You'll need a new reason why you can't renounce the Faith. The internet, airports, supermarkets, effective police forces, taxes and the DPW, public libraries - those things have been the death of frontier religion. You need to make it so that all those things create strength in the Faith instead.

Make sense?


Spooky Fanboy

Okay, so even for Color, it's best to just leave the dice as they are? Maybe just make WMDs d12? Or maybe I'll just reserve that for playtest.

I'm still struggling on how to make the Movement honestly attractive enough to keep people even when things don't turn out roses while still giving the players honest-to-goodness story grist. I'll post more when I can squeeze out more ideas in this direction.
Proudly having no idea what he's doing since 1970!