Creative Destruction: A PTA Campaign

An Introduction

aka wordswordswords: the campaign

Welcome to Aniseed, the city of broken dreams. You've called this shattered cradle of humanity home for at least the past twenty years, if you've even lived that long. Many of you have, and some for much, much longer. And of those, most are unfortunate (or fortunate) enough not to even know.

It was just as the futurists predicted - following Moore's Law to the letter, computational advances allowed humanity's technological prowess to grow at an exponential rate, dragging along a society quite unprepared for the consequences of progress. It began slowly. The first mass-produced artificial intelligences, the Porygon, were clever pokemon, capable of a few neat tricks but a clear mark below human intelligence. Slowly, the developments advanced. Newer Porygon models outthought humans by increasingly wider margins, and eventually the human scientists simply gave up and left them to run their research projects. New biological life was also invented, and the first successfully manufactured Reuniclus was met with celebrations around the world.

Concurrent with these developments, humans advanced themselves, augmenting themselves with wetware and uploading their minds to computers - blurring the lines between human and machine. But then something went terribly wrong. No one can quite tell you what it is, and you can't exactly go outside to check things out, not curled up like you are in this battered subterranean metropolis. It's been years since anyone you know has even seen the outside world, and the dead pixels and broken displays of the artificial sky above you are a constant reminder of this fact. Those around you all call it the Sundering, for the way it utterly broke humanity and left the citizens of Aniseed isolated as they are today.

What the records tell you is that Aniseed once was a sanctuary for those who found themselves unable or unwilling to cope with with the fast-paced, rapidly evolving lifestyles of transhuman society. To the uninformed, it's funny, because for all the technophobia you find scrawled in the archives of the city, from extremist neo-luddite rhetoric to simple lamentations on the loss of pastoral society, Aniseed's citizens live relatively pampered lives. Cornucopia machines transform simple input matter into nutritious, if somewhat bland, food, and the more rare complex models even seem capable of replicating pokeballs given the right materials.

But you know better - for the first citizens of Aniseed, modern society meant much more than simply a steady march toward a better future for all - for them, it was a civilization that had descended into debauchery. Free from material need, humans began living increasingly bizarre lives to combat the ennui of living free from material want. Mind upload technology encouraged unconventional lifestyles - humans living in pokemon bodies, children raised as multiple "forks" given different childhoods from which the parents then selected for their perfect kid, collective minds unified as one and guided by Alakazams or other intelligent pokemon. All of this became too much, too confusing for some, and they retreated to Aniseed to live simpler lives, where their needs were met but they could live free from humanity's acceleration towards the weird and ludicrous.

You may or may not share their views, but either way you live in the shell of their city today, or at least part of it. Whether or not you were a citizen of Aniseed or an outsider who broke in desperate for shelter, it was the first refuge you found after the disaster 20 years ago. Perhaps it is the only refuge left for humanity, but you can't know for sure. Aniseed had purposefully cut itself off from the outside world, remaining disconnected so its citizens could live their lives at the pace they chose, and now the roaming wild pokemon at its edges prevent all but the strongest - or stupidest - from wandering far outside its borders. Even worse, a shocking majority of the city itself has been lost due to wild pokemon and strange phenomena, leaving all humans to live in the very center of the city, with most of the rest uninhabitable. Fortunately, the city's power supply is still holding strong, and the few thousand people who now live here have managed to salvage enough of the security system to maintain control of this inner sanctum.

A Quick Primer on Aniseed Today

Demographic Notes

Important Locations and Organizations

WORK IN PROGRESS, MORE TO COME

Your Life in Aniseed: The Athenaeum

So you want to know more? You want a complete history of this place, free from the vagueness, holes and outright inaccuracies that plague common knowledge? Well, of course you do, that's your job. The Athenaeum is a small group of Aniseed citizens dedicated to retrieval and understanding of the past, particularly anything that can help them bring the old technologies back. The organization's operatives act as a blend of archeologist, research scientist, and city guard, venturing out past the safe haven of the city's security systems to retrieve old databases and other artifacts from before the Sundering, to investigate anomalies that could hold the secret to escaping this prison, or simply to eliminate roving bands of wild pokemon that threaten to grow strong enough to break past the city's defense systems.

The Athenaeum has appropriated a modest research facility for their use. Located in one of the deeper underground pockets of Aniseed, it enjoys increased security from the pokemon attacks that occasionally mar the city and is the perfect storage place for the many recovered artifacts that hold the last hope for a recovering humanity.

An imposing sign in the entrance hall mockingly declares: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It is unclear whether the original intent was to reassure operatives that the bizarre objects they found and events they observed could one day be understood - or whether it was a cynical jab at the absurdity of their jobs. After all, some operatives have even reported sightings of pokemon long thought to have been mere myths from thousands of years back. The existence of so-called "legendary pokemon" is not officially recognized by the city of Aniseed nor even by the Athenaeum, yet the organization still quietly organizes investigations into the lore and myths, especially when faced with artifacts and phenomena beyond their scientific understanding.

Character Creation

First of all, you need to decide how it is you came to Aniseed, whether you rejected the "gifts" of the future to live a more tranquil life in Aniseed long ago or whether you traumatically found yourself torn from the wonders of modern civilization to find yourself just lucky enough to make it to the city's safe haven before disaster caught up to you.

Those who've lived in Aniseed all their lives have the benefit of mental stability - they can be relatively sure of what they know and their egos are fully theirs to grasp. They may be behind the times when it comes to all that newfangled technology, but they have it all there in their heads. If you have wetware installed, cybernetic augmentations, it is probably the bare minimum needed to interface with simple systems such as the immersive augmented reality internet that operates in the city's network.

Outsiders aren't likely to have had it so lucky. While the technology of Aniseed is advanced - augmented reality coats the city with a dazzling glow of activity and cornucopia machines provide for all basic needs - it is a far cry from what you are used to. Most likely, some of your memories were kept in external storage somewhere or at least sustained by mental augments you suddenly find to be no longer working. You could even have been a fork - a copy of someone's mind temporarily created for a certain task before a planned reintegration with the original mind. If you made it to Aniseed, you were one of the lucky ones, sufficiently primitive despite your augmentations to have left The Sundering without having been reduced to a total blank slate. Your memories are likely to be incomplete and perhaps even tampered with, but you're happy to be alive. But seriously, you will not remember a lot of shit from before the Sundering if you take this option, and of the stuff you know, you may have no idea why you even know it.

Second, just who are you? You're living in a transhuman world now, and not everyone is just a normal human being in a body of flesh and bones. Now, given that you're in Aniseed, most of the population will look upon someone who spends most of their time sunk into cyberspace and only briefly visits meatspace in an artificial body to be…well, eccentric at best and repulsive at worse. You can even be a miniature Tachikoma, but don't be surprised if you get treated like a butler or servant due to misunderstandings or simple malice.

It is possible to play all manner of weird things, though keep in mind your concept should still be capable of using trainer stats and feats in a feasible manner. For the record, over 99% of the population of Aniseed (each sentient mind counts as one person) is in a flesh and bones human body, though many have cybernetic augmentations. Definitely talk to me and the other players if you want to explore one of these options - after all, you'll be working alongside them IC and everything should work out well. As much as it's something cool that should be explored in a cyberpunk setting, not everyone needs to be a robot or infoentity.

Third, decide your role in the Athenaeum. Operatives work in groups called pods, and obviously the PCs make up one such group. There is not necessarily an enforced balance of roles in a pod, but it is common to have a variety of specialists. Your role in a pod may inform what classes and features you take as well as your pokemon selection, but please do not ever feel that it constrains those choices. Creativity will get you places.

Your chosen role is important, as you will receive bonuses and other neat gifts as a result of it.

MORE TO COME (MAYBE)

Oh, You Want the Numbers and Crunch?

Trainers:

Pokemon

Weapons and Armor

Cybernetic Augmentations

Losing is Fun

Home Base

Working for the Athenaeum is an arduous job, but it definitely has its perks. In addition to whatever living quarters your character has in the city, they will have their own dedicated living space in the Athenaeum research facility, located near their peers in their pod for when they are inevitably stuck in the office for long hours finishing conducting research or analysis.

There is also a large shared office space for your pod which can be filled with all sorts of neat stuff as time goes on. It acts like a home base of sorts, a safe and private place to socialize or to get work done. As you are a starting new pod, it is minimally furnished right now, almost depressingly so. Well, at least everyone has their own workstation where they can plug in their AR implants or adapters, much the equivalent of a desktop computer nowadays. Additional equipment will be assigned based on starting classes and roles chosen by the PCs.

Even more stuff will appear as the campaign goes on, and here is where to check for it!

Current Office Space:
1 AR workstation per character
1 single-purpose cornucopia machine (insert carbon compounds and other organic materials and it produces a beverage heavy in Trimethylxant-…okay, it's a coffee machine. But a damned good one.)

And speaking of acquiring more equipment for the office…

The Reputation Economy

SECTION UNDER HEAVY CONSTRUCTION - FEEDBACK AND IDEAS REQUESTED

Simple credits get you most of what you need in the city. The city's population is small enough that everyone is assured living quarters free of charge, though they tend to be cramped. Other basic needs such as food and clean water are easily provided using the simple cornucopia machines that litter the city.

Pokeballs, TM and most standard trainer equipment can be purchased with credits when necessary, though the specific availability of these items may limit purchases. Cybernetic gear, advanced computers and other equipment that's either more likely to be office fixures or involves advanced technology is not as available with simple credits, mostly because it tends to be under the control of the Athenaeum.

Internal affairs in the Athenaeum are managed with a reputation-based economy - your pod has an Eph rating within the Athenaeum, a measure of its overall reputation and is gained or lost based on how its actions are perceived both within and outside of the Athenaeum. Really, each citizen has a measure of Eph, and people are more or less willing to accomodate them, give them favors, invite them to social functions, etc based on their Eph, but for what you likely care about, the pod's measure of Eph as a whole defines whether or not the Athenaeum deems you trustworthy enough to loan or even gift you special equipment.

Each person in Aniseed is able to give or remove Eph from others in a rating of them, a small amount that aggregates to the community's assessment of a person as a whole. A low Eph person has just as much influence as a high Eph person in this regard. Obviously, a carefully maintained system of checks prevents any gaming the system, and those caught often find themselves with nearly no Eph for a long time, having access to only the bare necessities for life. They may even find their credits aren't wanted at certain shops that don't want to be associated with such social outcasts.

HOWEVER, you need not worry about most of this. One person's decision is miniscule compared to the effects of collective votes. All you really have to worry about is keeping your pod's reputation up by doing things that people like and not doing things that people don't like. You may get shiny toys out of it once in a while. Think of it as a fluff excuse for me to drop cool shit in your lap once in a while.

Just so you know guys this shit ain't running for forever.

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