Right now in ‘Real Life’, the planet Earth (where you will likely be playing) is in the midst of a transitionary patch called The Paradigm Shift. Because Real Life doesn’t have the option to shut down & restart your game, or simply swap out your old edition’s gamebooks for the ones from the new edition, between each pair of major expansions (often referred to as Ages), there is a transition period, where much of both versions is still in place, and the collective decision-making of the player characters is helping shape specific details of the next expansion.
We are just reaching the end of a patch called “The age of deception, technology, and globalization”. For just over the last 100 years, there have been huge bonuses to tech skills, especially things to do with research & development. There have also been lots of bonuses for guilds based on the size of their membership, and the amount of in-game currency they hold. Unfortunately, many large guilds have used these bonuses to limit the access of others to certain technology, and even more disgustingly, to create systems that convince others into joining as members and supporting their projects, often taking up “jobs”, paying “taxes”, and becoming mercenaries for the guild to use in violent aggressions against other guilds & free-zones (places without a “ruling” guild).
Some examples of these large guilds, growing ever larger by power-gaming are:
- The Catholic Church
- Major Media Corporations
- Big Ag/Big Pharma
- Governments & Supragovernmental Organizations
- “Private Military Contractors” (sell-swords/mercenaries/war profiteers)
- Drug Cartels
- “Academia” / The Schools
These guilds have managed to trick literally millions of players into taking on the role of NPCs, simply to be part of their guild, or to farm in-game currency, out of fear of not being part of a guild, or simply because they literally don’t know any other way to play the game. This has been accomplished by a relatively small number of players, through the creation of “public schools”. These schools are all roughly based on the same prussian model. On the one hand, for the first time in recorded history, most of the world learns to read & write, which is certainly an improvement. This comes at the cost of overwhelming levels of indoctrination, as these schools are designed specifically turn players into obedient, docile, worker drones.
The religious/spiritual practices & beliefs of the current build are varied (though much less so than in builds prior to the “European Colonialism” expansion releasing). Still, there are currently a handful of large, organized religions that rather dominate the meta, with a ton of variations & spin offs of each. There are also a wide range of much more self-directed schools of spiritual practice/belief on the planet, which have been rapidly growing in response to the size, violence, and lack of freedom within those larger religions.
Earth is not currently a world defined by its gods (though it has been at many times). The current “religious” paradigm is highly monotheistic, with the different religions all exalting what appears (to an outsider) to be the same god, yet violently disagreeing on the details. Many portions of the population do believe in/pray to some number of saints/gurus/messiahs/prophets (essentially ascendend players), as well as having dealings with angels, djinn, elementals, and other extraplanar beings. In the current build, the gods (especially those of the monotheistic religions) seem to be very uninvolved in the human world, and the extraplanars only show a bit more interest, still rarely being involved in the the physical world itself. According to the histories of all the religions, those gods were quite active just a couple thousands years/builds ago.
One of the main ways that the interaction with extraplanars has been appearing in the current meta is in the form of extra-terrestrials, with many holding the belief that some are living on life in human form.
Image by my good friend Brett Jones
A Return to the Village
In the “Industrial Revolution” patch, there began a massive shift of players going from living out on the land, with their own space, growing their own food, and basically taking care of themselves and their communities, to a meta where most players living in overpopulated cities. In these cities, players have vastly reduced living space, pay much higher costs of in-game currency, and are always in close proximity to other humans, more often than not relatively oblivious to them all. This closeness of proximity with lack of real connection pervaded many industries, the “public education” system, and even a lot of families for a short time. This style of living has been a large driver behind the shift of players into these pseudo-NPC roles that they now play.
“People, the thing they actually like most, is being an essential part of a small group that is struggling to survive.That is the human experience for hundreds of thousands of years, we’re wired for it, we’re wired to like it. The people that responded to that challenge tended to pass on their DNA, the people that didn’t respond well didn’t pass on their DNA. We’re the descendants of the people that sort of.. Took some thrill from that challenge and acted well, with vigor and with community in the face of hardship and danger. We’re the descendants of those people, inevitably.”
~Sebastian Junger on Joe Rogan Experience #1034
Since roughly the ‘World War I’ patch, there has been a growing drive amongst players to leave the cities and the NPC roles that the force so many into, and return to life on the land. A new type of guild known as an ‘Intentional Community’ has become extremely popular, creating various spinoffs (eco-villages, communes, ), and fulfilling the natural desire for connection with the land, spending time with friends & family, and being self-sufficient.
The Recent History and Current State of Currency
Since the “Creature from Jekyll Island” patch in 1913, there has been a small group of players who have figured out a way to monopolize the in-game currency systems. They’ve made deals and replaced opposition around the world in order to lock in their debt-based, interest-earning currencies as the universal standard. This small cluster of guilds (known colloquially as the Banksters), includes the Federal Reserve, The International Monetary Fund, and any “central bank”, has spread worldwide, effectively taking control of most of the world’s major zones. Of course, there has been a pushback against this monopolization of currency, and especially in the last couple decades, alternatives & counter-economic models have been multiplying rapidly.
For the last century, there have been a small handful of guild-issued currencies which have dominated the Earth’s markets, their use often violently forced onto millions of players. The Dollar, official currency of a guild calling itself “The United States” (though the currency is actually created by the Federal Reserve, and loaned to “The United States”, with interest) has been the most widely accepted & recognized currency on the planet.
The very recent “Crypto-Currency” patch has been a big success in beginning to shake the foundations monetary cartel, mostly through its reminding players that there are other options. It has also allowed for many players who fall outside of many of the larger metas to accumulate a large amount of in-game currency, offering quite a bit of financial support for exciting new projects around the world. At the time of this writing, a Bitcoin (the original crypto-currency) has just passed a value of 18,000 “dollars”, after launching just 8 years ago for a fraction of a dollar.
As always, the players adapt, and they find a way. We’ve recently seen a great rise in smaller community-based currencies, time-banking systems, and many players returning to bartering and precious metals (gold, silver, platinum) for their exchanging. Flexibility is an important factor, but one also needs to consider whether or not they want to participate in certain games or fund certain guilds.
As with all the other sections of this book that I've been sharing, this is very much a work-in-progress, and I am super open to your insights, questions, and recommendations. To see full breakdown of the project so far, please see: The Status, Vision, and Needs of 'Real Life: The Role-Playing Game"
This project is something that is extremely important to me, something I have felt called for SO LONG to create, and I am overjoyed to be opening the container and getting input from other creators as well! If this feels exciting and empowering to you, I'd love to have you involved!
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