Economies, real and fancied

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GenUGenics GenUGenics's picture
Economies, real and fancied

Love the setting, but still trying to get my head around some of its implications and consequences. Some assertions in the sourcebooks seem at odds with other realities of the game. For example, there’s an assertion of post-scarcity when everywhere there is evidence of scarcity of the most important sorts.

Fabber Economy

It strikes me all fabbers of quality must be within the [official/unofficial] control of some group or affiliation or instrumentality. Otherwise, what purpose do the souk markets serve? What purpose do gangs and gangers serve (unless, y’know, beating and stabbing and hustling people serves as its own entertainment reward)? Certainly fabbers are an essential commodity to own and control, and therefore there would at least be attempts to own and control them.

It could be a benign control (“take a number and if you cut in line, you will suffer”), or terribly corrupt (“whoever pays most goes first in line”). This creates a command / control economy that at least justifies the purpose and goals of gangs.

It also makes a bit of sense that, if the population of Mars suddenly quintupled, the number of fabbers would prove inadequate and someone could profit from that inadequacy (supply-and-demand) and enforce the inadequacy. Boom town.

A group like the PC, while perhaps not exactly liking public fabbers controlled by nefarious gangs and crime lords, recognizes it’s at least a more secure option than an open network of fabbers and an open source of bootleg bomb blueprints. Within their own spheres, the elites and hypercorps would control fabber access for identical reasons and purpose. Lots of speeches about how terrible it all is; no action.

I’m not necessarily trying to impose any restriction on players here, but it does actually assist play if motivations are clear. Players are going to have to create relationships, at the very least, maybe do a favor here and there, to get the equipment they want.

Biomorph Economy

Contra the promises of “post-scarcity economies” and the lovely assortment of colorful morphs, I perceive there is indeed a scarcity of biomorphs baked right into the game—

* “The clanking masses” and associated a-biomorph stigmata and social prejudices
* Thousands (millions?) of uninstantiated egos and infomorphs awaiting resleeving—get in line, buddy
* Comparative complexity in growing and resleeving biomorphs vis-a-vis other morphs, etc.

Suggests to me that having a flesh-&-blood body is a highly sought commodity, and that the exotic sorts of biomorphs would be reserved solely to the wealthy classes and probably exceedingly rare. You’re awful lucky to have a real live, honest-to-goodness splicer, in other words, and the hypercorps could probably exert all manner of standard market pressures and extortions that would strongly resemble a scarcity economy. The “planned obsolescence” disadvantage might just be the tip of the iceberg.

The entire setup seems fairly elitist, and that’s cool. Tools a GM can work with, and all. But it does sort of render as rather fanciful the idea of skanky biomorph low-life. The game fancies the cortical stack as being more valuable than the body, but the evidence suggests pretty much the opposite—a hot market for stack evictions (scalpers and skinners) and sleeve-jacking. Don’t like it? Here’s a lemon robot for you to rot in forever. Or worse, we’ll install your infomorph in a replica Donkey-Kong game on feedback loop.

Economists today are starting to consider the social ramifications of inheritance and consolidated hyper-wealth, but forking and virtual immortality would seem to put all that on steroids. Narcissism on rocket fuel.

I mean, who is ultimately responsible for widespread biomorph prejudices if not the social trendsetters, snooty meme-makers and influence peddlers? They’re the ones apparently enforcing the paradigm.

I can see an entire class of glitterati who, if they’re not outright hiring morph-jackers then they are tying up whatever resources exist in order to either preserve that capacity exclusively for Me-Myself-I, or are at work to kibosh that capacity for others. An imposed morph scarcity might be the only way they could hire and retain police forces and mook units, for example. There has to be some juicy treat dangled to justify “Taking a Bullet for The Man...”

Firewall might be a shortcut around such imposed scarcity, a meritocracy that transcends a vicious cycle that rewards the rich and resourceful. Someone had earlier mentioned a Group Rep, and I like that idea—that you’re really no one without your “tribe.” Maybe one of the routine skunkworks of Firewall is to put a bullet through the brain of the worst of these resource hoarders who are stinking up the loftier goals of transhumanism.

Just some thoughts.

mellonbread mellonbread's picture
GenUGenics wrote:I mean, who

GenUGenics wrote:
I mean, who is ultimately responsible for widespread biomorph prejudices if not the social trendsetters, snooty meme-makers and influence peddlers?

Barring a brief mention of people going "technical" in Sunward I don't think the psychological difficulties of life in a robotic body are ever discussed, but I'd think it would be quite mentally damaging to involuntarily spend an extended period of time without skin, facial features, genitals, etc. I don't think you really need social engineering to convince someone stuck in a case, or even a relatively good quality synth, that life in a biomorph is preferable.

GenUGenics wrote:
Firewall might be a shortcut around such imposed scarcity, a meritocracy that transcends a vicious cycle that rewards the rich and resourceful.

Firewall is essentially the only way most PCs are going to get their hands on any specialized morphs or implants, barring what they start with. Without some very generous Proxies it seems like Sentinels will spend most of their time in fairly vanilla morphs with the bare minimum of augmentation necessary for the mission.

It's a shame that a game about transhumanism makes swapping bodies so cumbersome (recalculating stats and rolling three separate tests for every new morph) and discourages players from using the majority of the sleeves on offer (almost every morph is 20,000 credits minimum).

Did you hear the one about the guy who became a fence?

Spoiler: Highlight to view
They say he was a real posthuman