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World Building Shenzhiwu 2210 | Setting & Roleplay Concept

MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
shenzhiwu_header_text_blur.png

Shenzhiwu 2210 is a dystopian setting that attempts to take a fresh can of paint to the concept of corporatocratic futurism (cyberpunk) where commonsense societal evolution takes prominence over forced grittiness for the sake of grittiness. Because of this, the setting isn't cyberpunk in any sense other than the fact that it's a corporatocratic high-tech world. The Shenzhiwu 2210 Project is an exercise in research just as much as it's an attempt at creating an interesting world. It takes queues from our modern-day society and attempts to bring our bizarre existence into the 23rd century while amplifying aspects of hedonism, urbanism, and social disillusionment along the way. But it's noteworthy to mention that this "toning down" of the dystopic (cyberpunk) concept shouldn't translate into a setting that's void of anything dark and grim, or that there aren't lots of stylistically "out there" subcultures and kooky characters. The project is simply trying to avoid classic cyberpunk tropes that you can't find much support for in emerging technology or what are natural human needs and wants. Essentially plucking the "punk" out of "cyberpunk", if that makes as much sense to you as it does to me.

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The Central Circle, Terrestria City.

These are the four core pillars of design for the project

Establish believable futurism:
Corporations, cultures, and organizations should be modeled on direct real-life examples or a mix of several real-life examples. Technology should be an extension of real-world technologies and an advancement of the current forefront of science.

Documented history for easy callbacks:
Historical documentation, especially for corporate activities, should be dense and well established. This includes items that might not be key to any central plot but serves the GM or storyteller when establishing detail.

Metaphysical reality:
Incorporate metaphysical ideas that take the setting from the expressionless reality of corporate Terrestria into the multiverse and the essence of reality itself. Do this without ruining the setting's cohesiveness with the implementation of "magic" or the supernatural.

Plot hooks:
Create an underlying mystery from which the order of things stems. Add central events that are extensively detailed that drive passions for and against the corporatocracy.

Terra is an earthlike planet situated somewhere in the vastness of space. It has an orbiting moon and the solar system it's situated in fields planets much like our own. Terran society evolved from a hunter-gatherer, eat and be eaten kind of world, and on through the cradle of civilization and eventual modernization. Now, its hypermodern citizenry is fixed in the caressing arms of an ever-booming market economy and nonstop dopamine rewards through limitless recreation. All provided by yours truly, the megacorporations. With the governments of the world paralyzed by conflicting loyalties and the newsmedia's overt partisanship and sensationalist streak, corporate consolidation could proceed mostly unchecked. Acquisitions, followed by mergers, followed by more acquisitions — an obvious pattern and a recipe for a slow-creeping redistribution of power. Companies like the Hellion Group, UAC, Kraznom, Nac Medical, Perusahaan, and VW came out on top in the consolidation-race, all of them following a similar evolution. From their breakthrough as a single company to the formation of a corporate conglomerate, and to eventually grow so large that any one of them dwarfed the continental government in sheer size and influence. By the time regulators began questioning their indifference to the situation it was already too late to act on that afterthought.

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Side alley from Berget Lane, Terrestria City.

A Summary of History
Two connected events set the wheels of corporate dominion in motion. The first put society out of balance in such a way that governments were made desperate enough to invite the corporate class in and relinquish control of sectors traditionally held within arm's length. And the second, the resolution of the first event, supercharged corporate power to such an extent that the state could no longer contain it.

After worrying signs that climate change was spinning out of control were made public an initial summit on the issue was held at the Northern Academy in 2016, attended by world and corporate leaders alike. After extensive measures were put in place the issue lost its urgency and public perception of climate change was that of a past problem that had been efficiently dealt with. The strategy for combating climate change (by ways of reflecting sunlight) that was put in place was effective, but it was a tactic that did little beyond containing the problem and failed to address the root cause. Roughly 40 years later researchers of the same institution make catastrophic discoveries of large cracks in the earth that had spread all over the planet. These cracks were emitting toxic gasses into the atmosphere at an irreversible rate and it's consensually understood that a catastrophic climate crisis had been knocking and was about to break down the door.

In response to this more summits were held. And after several years of deliberation, it was decided that every single person on the planet would migrate into an expanded Terrestria City, a continental megacity of half a billion inhabitants. This would allow the construction of a controlled environment inside the city and allow people to survive when the outside world became unlivable. To make this unprecedented global transition possible the governments of the world, spearheaded by the continental government, drew upon the immense resources of the private sector in exchange for contracts detailing the distribution of the commercial opportunities that would arise in this new world. The corporate sphere responded in full force and the jousting for position among them created tense, deep-rooted rivalries between individual megacorps and allied groups.

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Lower Centrum, Terrestria City.

The expansion of Terrestria City began in 2060 and is still ongoing in the year 2210. The steep shift in power from the government to the corporations set the stage for an eventual conflict between the public and private sectors. But as stated previously, the regulatory slumber from which the Continental government awoke had derailed the situation so far that any attempts at standing up to the corporates were fruitless. The government was finally dismantled in 2137 with the Parliamentary Committee for Corporate Oversight (PCCO) remaining intact as the highest-ranking governmental body. During the onset years, before the shakeup, corporate tensions had been growing exponentially and some of the "smaller" megacorporations, acting in the shadow of the Hellion Group and its allies, were growing tired of their nonchalant behavior. And just as the government had fallen and public unrest was setting in, these tensions grew into a full-scale conflict of armed private security companies confronting each other in the street and cyber-warfare attacks crippling society for years. When the dust had settled, the corporations came together to form the Terrestrian Council, a regulatory body of common policy where certain aspects of Terrestrian society would be "neutralized" (meaning they were in the common good of all corporations and should serve each equally), and certain crime would be investigated by the continental police (now under the guardianship of the PCCO) and not by private actors who were easily corruptible or under the direct influence of private interests. They also established "corporate protocol" a document that's the de facto law in corporate areas, and created a new set of regulations for the PCCO which concerned only criminal acts that the PCCO was set out to investigate (mostly violent crime).

Terrestria City in 2210
It's now the year 2210, 73 years past the fall of the Continental government and the beginning of the new age of corporate dominion. The Terrestrian corporatocracy has the 15 billion people of Terra divided into two camps. The corporate loyalists, people of all echelons and backgrounds, who are so indoctrinated with the inherent value of the system (order and a high standard of living) that they suspend their critical faculties and eat corporate dogma for breakfast. And on the other side, the anti-corporate movements of activists and subcultural youth who believe that the only way to retain their freedom is to dissent and fight the system from the outside. With 15 billion people, these polarized sides are highly varied and don't act as a cohesive unit (especially on the anti-corporate side of the equation). Corporates are divided among megacorporate lines with conflicting loyalties towards their employer(s), their industry, their social circle, their political beliefs and so on. Anti-corporates encompass anything from hacktivists trying to sabotage corporate networks and make some money in the process, to religious revivalists who believe the corporate class is suppressing an emergent truth about the nature of existence itself or simply that humanity has lost its way by losing sight of the divine.

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The Shenzhiwu flower crescent.

This is a brief description of the history of the world. In a couple of weeks, I will add a more in-depth look at the world as it stands in the year 2210, going into the multifaceted culture of Terrestria City and the forces at work. Be it megacorporations, the senate of organized crime, armed socialist revolutionaries, exploitfarmers, stilyagi fashionista, and much more.


Welcome to Shenzhiwu 2210

v1.0 (38.5%)
Development Roadmap

Progress is as of August 23, 2019. I update the progress bar about 1-4 times a month. Currently, 79 of 205 items completed. Check the roadmap for what I'm working on at the moment. Please leave advice or any ideas you might have in a reply to this thread. Any comments are appreciated! And yes, this setting will eventually become an active roleplay but it is still quite aways in the future. If you are interested in more information about that please send me a message here on RPN or reply to this thread.

This thread has evolved from a simple advice thread to a general development log for my setting, but I am still actively looking for advice and other perspectives and will ask for it in future replies to this thread. At the bottom of this post, you can see the original post which is related to the first replies to the thread.

Remember that this is a statement of concept and is subject to change during development.

This project is in no way a criticism of cyberpunk and should not be read as such.

Thank you and enjoy!

MDL


Thread History:
  1. The original post, industries of the future.
  2. Economic theory with @Idea, back-and-forth starting here.
  3. Hacking. How it works and corporate relationship to hackers

So I am fully invested in dystopian world-building at the moment and am looking at corporate structures and various industries, trying to establish a corporate landscape for a future where there are about 8-12 different corporations that monopolize the entire economy. Right now I am trying to think of various industries that need to be covered by these companies. So far I have thought of:
  • Communications
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Energy
  • Entertainment
  • Biotechnology
  • Media
  • Manufacturing
  • Automation
  • Construction
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Retail
  • Food/Alcohol Manufacturing
  • Restaurants
  • Energy
  • Mining
  • Tourism
  • Farming
  • Nutrition
I know that's a big list, but they will be bundled into a few corporations that have conglomerated many different industries under one banner. I would welcome any suggestions of industries or sciences I haven't thought of. Or just businesses that might be cool to represent.

I also am trying to get to grips with how a basic corporate structure would look like. While browsing Wikipedia, I have come up with this basic structure:
  1. President
  2. Board of Directors
  3. Chief Executive Officer
  4. Chief Financial Officer
  5. Chief Legal Officer
  6. Executives from subsidiary divisions
  7. Committees
This would represent a conglomerate structure, essentially like Alphabet Inc. The owners of Google, and all their other subsidiaries.

Any ideas on this?
Please report any spelling mistakes!
 
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Beckoncall

World-Weaver and servant to the most-holy PC
Supporter
Wow. Just wow.

I think you have things pretty well in hand. Besides looking up some Megacorporation generators on the web which might give you some interesting ideas to flesh things out it looks like you already have a strong start and can start consolidating things into a game world where people can start to have fun. Without knowing more about your world and why it's a dystopia I think people would be hard pressed to offer you more.

Let me know when you get into other aspects of your world-building. I'd love to help.
 

MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
Wow. Just wow.

I think you have things pretty well in hand. Besides looking up some Megacorporation generators on the web which might give you some interesting ideas to flesh things out it looks like you already have a strong start and can start consolidating things into a game world where people can start to have fun. Without knowing more about your world and why it's a dystopia I think people would be hard pressed to offer you more.

Let me know when you get into other aspects of your world-building. I'd love to help.
Well. I'm looking for any ideas that pop up. Right now I'm trying to establish the history of how the corporations consolidated their power by merging with each-other, eventually becoming so big that their influence became to great to question. I assigned these various industries like a puzzle. So you will have different corps dominating different things:
  • Corp 1 (Communications, Consumer Electronics, Energy, Entertainment, Biotechnology, Media)
  • Corp 2 (Manufacturing, Automation, Construction)
  • Corp 3 (Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Neurotechnology)
  • Corp 4 (Pharmaceutical, Retail)
  • Corp 5 (Food & Alcohol Production, Restaurants)
  • Corp 6 (Retail, Construction, Manufacturing)
  • Corp 7 (Energy, Mining, Manufacturing)
  • Corp 8 (Tourism, Restaurants)
  • Corp 9 (Consumer Electronics, Entertainment, Retail, Media)
  • Corp 10 (Farming, Food & Alcohol Production, Nutrition)
  • Corp 11 (Media)
  • Corp 12 (Entertainment)
I'm also trying to think of cutting-edge technologies to implement.
 

The Dark Wizard

🔥
Administrator
Well. I'm looking for any ideas that pop up. Right now I'm trying to establish the history of how the corporations consolidated their power by merging with each-other, eventually becoming so big that their influence became to great to question. I assigned these various industries like a puzzle. So you will have different corps dominating different things:
  • Corp 1 (Communications, Consumer Electronics, Energy, Entertainment, Biotechnology, Media)
  • Corp 2 (Manufacturing, Automation, Construction)
  • Corp 3 (Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Neurotechnology)
  • Corp 4 (Pharmaceutical, Retail)
  • Corp 5 (Food & Alcohol Production, Restaurants)
  • Corp 6 (Retail, Construction, Manufacturing)
  • Corp 7 (Energy, Mining, Manufacturing)
  • Corp 8 (Tourism, Restaurants)
  • Corp 9 (Consumer Electronics, Entertainment, Retail, Media)
  • Corp 10 (Farming, Food & Alcohol Production, Nutrition)
  • Corp 11 (Media)
  • Corp 12 (Entertainment)
I'm also trying to think of cutting-edge technologies to implement.
There is a Mega corp I run in a roleplay and I simplified my setup at the top by having the President and the different chairment of the board who are actually the various department heads and under them are their people, etc.

President
13 Chairmen
Everyone else.
 
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MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
There is a Mega corp I run in a roleplay and I simplified my setup at the top by having the President and the different chairment of the board who are actually the various department heads and under them are their people, etc.

President
13 Chairmen
Everyone else.
I see. I think that's probably the way to go for roleplaying. But I am, perhaps foolishly, trying to create different corporate structures based on the various histories of the companies and what their corporate culture is. This might sound overly ambitious, but I'm not writing with the pretension that I'm necessarily going to use this for anything :)

I think having the chairmen as heads of department is an effective way to tell a story, so I might adopt that. I'm also harboring this idea that there was a corporate breakup, to counteract monopolization, but the remnants of the old corporations are actually interconnected, as the same people are serving on different boards, or as executives, under fake names and such. To make it look like they're different companies but actually they are far more connected than they seem.

What roleplay is this, if I might ask?
 

Beckoncall

World-Weaver and servant to the most-holy PC
Supporter
Look at this generator for ideas.

Random generators provide a great starting point for a more flushed out narrative!

 
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The Dark Wizard

🔥
Administrator
What roleplay is this, if I might ask?
I tend to use it for megalopolis reboots, fractured and other games. I flesh out departments as needed. I see dystopian corps almost as dictators so they wouldn't overly complex themselvea.
 
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MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
I tend to use it for megalopolis reboots, fractured and other games. I flesh out departments as needed. I see dystopian corps almost as dictators so they wouldn't overly complex themselvea.
I see your reasoning. Interesting thought. That would entail quite a high level of complacency. When you go from corporation to a mafia-like structure, perhaps. Megalopolis still around? It's crazy that this shit's still going on. Like Amaranth. Just wonderful.
 

Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
I can't really think of any industry you're missing per se, though there are economic agents your megacorporations still don't control with your list that would be major hidrances to them:
1. Banking (and financial agencies in general, from things like banks and loan sharks to investment managers and to an extent insurance)
2. Education
3. Transportation/Travel
4. Engeneering and related (sewers, roads, dams...)

Still, I do believe that while this is all well and good, there is one absolutely major obstacle to the scenario that will be hard to swipe away with suspension of disbelief: pretty much every country in the world has intense anti-monopoly laws. There are caviats to some of these laws, many of which involve the company being owned by the government, however given the kind of dystopian scenario you want to build the laws still cover even that, such as the abuse of dominant position. And this is without even going into how whenever companies merge they have to report to a specific agency for approval, or burocracies when it comes to internal law differences and so on...

You are going to want to think of how the megacorporations managed to get away the rather blatant infrigement on the laws that allowed them.


Another BIG thing to think about, though people are generally more forgiving on this one is the question "who's paying for it"? For anything a company does people must be investing in it-and each invester has their own goals, which while generally profit-oriented doesn't mean they have no standards as to what they will do to get said profit.


Hope this helps. Best of luck and happy RPing!
 
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MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
I can't really think of any industry you're missing per se, though there are economic agents your megacorporations still don't control with your list that would be major hidrances to them:
1. Banking (and financial agencies in general, from things like banks and loan sharks to investment managers and to an extent insurance)
2. Education
3. Transportation/Travel
4. Engeneering and related (sewers, roads, dams...)
With banking I considered that the corporations are so massive that they just are a bank in and of itself, they run all of that internally, but that was just a quick thought I had. Now, education I hadn't even thought of, nice catch my friend. Probably I would go with a decentralized system, that all education is privatized. Seems perhaps too powerful of a tool to lend to a single corp. Not sure about this. Transportation I would guess falls under what corporation runs what area. Or perhaps there will be a powerless centralized system, sort of like a governors office, that runs some things. Also not sure about this. Physical infrastructure I guess falls under "Construction". Nice ones my friend, really appreciate this. Sometimes when you're trying to come up with a list like the one I did with the industries, you come up with so many that eventually you are blinded to the one's you're missing.
Still, I do believe that while this is all well and good, there is one absolutely major obstacle to the scenario that will be hard to swipe away with suspension of disbelief: pretty much every country in the world has intense anti-monopoly laws. There are caviats to some of these laws, many of which involve the company being owned by the government, however given the kind of dystopian scenario you want to build the laws still cover even that, such as the abuse of dominant position. And this is without even going into how whenever companies merge they have to report to a specific agency for approval, or burocracies when it comes to internal law differences and so on...
Well, right now I am designing an alternate version of our modern world. I don't know exactly how different it will be. But I am trying to represent our modern companies, but instead merging different companies into one. Like making one 24/h news network like FOX or CNN, instead of having several of them. But everything will be named differently. Kind of like how Caprica in Battlestar Galactica is not earh, but very similar to earth. If you catch my drift. About the anti-monopoly laws and how to work around that. This is something I'm considering when I'm writing the history at the moment. My only comment right now would be to say that these laws exist, but somehow we still find corporations merging constantly. Like AT&T and Time Warner, or Heinz and Kraft, Verizon and Cellco. The list goes on. This is nevertheless a great point you are making. Thanks.
Another BIG thing to think about, though people are generally more forgiving on this one is the question "who's paying for it"? For anything a company does people must be investing in it-and each invester has their own goals, which while generally profit-oriented doesn't mean they have no standards as to what they will do to get said profit.
Yes this is something to consider, but that will come later I think. When I get into the nitty-gritty of the economic system at hand.
Hope this helps. Best of luck and happy RPing!
It sure does help. A lot. Great post. Thanks!
Speaking of which, I think we're still waiting on that :P
So it lives...
I've been faring much better after my procedure.
I wish you all the best with that. Hope it goes well!
 

Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
Oh God I'm so sorry I completely forgot to reply!

With banking I considered that the corporations are so massive that they just are a bank in and of itself, they run all of that internally, but that was just a quick thought I had. Now, education I hadn't even thought of, nice catch my friend. Probably I would go with a decentralized system, that all education is privatized. Seems perhaps too powerful of a tool to lend to a single corp. Not sure about this. Transportation I would guess falls under what corporation runs what area. Or perhaps there will be a powerless centralized system, sort of like a governors office, that runs some things. Also not sure about this. Physical infrastructure I guess falls under "Construction". Nice ones my friend, really appreciate this. Sometimes when you're trying to come up with a list like the one I did with the industries, you come up with so many that eventually you are blinded to the one's you're missing.
You'll have a hard time really passign that idea, because banks (specifically a country's central bank) gets to do something that a company would never be allowed to: literally print money. Combating inflation and financial imbalances that could damage the economy is the central bank's biggest job and a company with biased interests taking it over would be a story in of itself.

Other than that, I think you're good. To tell you the truth even I had to think for a while before coming up with that short a list of things to add.
 

MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
Oh God I'm so sorry I completely forgot to reply!


You'll have a hard time really passign that idea, because banks (specifically a country's central bank) gets to do something that a company would never be allowed to: literally print money. Combating inflation and financial imbalances that could damage the economy is the central bank's biggest job and a company with biased interests taking it over would be a story in of itself.

Other than that, I think you're good. To tell you the truth even I had to think for a while before coming up with that short a list of things to add.
That's true. How does the economy remain balanced at a macro-level without a regulatory system? I've written about 20 pages so far and I have arrived at the conclusion that there is a public police force and a public court system. During the time when the government was in the process of being disbanded there was an extensive power-struggle between the corps. Because of this it was decided that there was a need for a neutral police force, but only investigative, they don't patrol streets - they only respond to crime scenes, so that corporate disputed could be solved. And the courts to go with them. But as we get closer to the actual date of the world this force is continuously corrupted by corps trying to get ahead in the game. So things have started to destabilize.

I will probably need something similar for the economy. An agency that is mostly powerless but is in place to keep the economy stable.
 

FoolsErin

You’re a villain alright, just not a super one!
You've already put more effort into this than most YA dystopian writers.
 
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MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
How are things coming along? Think you'll get to a "Gamestate"?
It's going good. I have thought about the story I want to tell with this setting, and the general feel of it, for quite a while. So the writing is flowing quite well. I also have a great, progress-focused method of writing which helps to counteract writer's block, and running out of ideas about one aspect of the world. The game that I am eventually going to host is called Shenzhiwu 2210, but it is still quite a ways away, as I have had experience with play-by-post when I was doing it five-six years ago, and half-assed world-building kills the written aspect of RPing. Prose, in my opinion, demands references, otherwise people are just making up random shit that often times doesn't go together well. I know exactly how I want to run the game, and exactly what I need to be able to do that. And it is a lot.

I could publish some facts about the world here, if anyone's interested. But I'm not going to post long texts, as they aren't finished, and i plan to re-write/polish all of it before arriving at a state where I feel that the world is strong enough to put into practice.
You've already put more effort into this than most YA dystopian writers.
Haha. I don't doubt it. A lot of YA writing is exceptionally low effort in terms of world-building and riddled with plot-holes. Not that it necessarily matters, a lot of the examples like that where the books are still popular and well written place the effort in the written word itself, more than the world-building, I guess.
 

MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
Here's the header for the interest check I made just for inspiration. I have gathered 74 images of futuristic city-scape for inspiration so far. This was one of them. It is suppose to be part of a downtown area called Central Circle. But don't let the "grimness" of the picture speak too loudly, this is not cyberpunk.
shenzhiwu_header_text.jpg
 
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MDL

RIP Doctor Calgori (2012-2017)
Anyone know any good near-future/cyberpunk settings that I can look at for inspiration?
 

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