Okay, so I just learned about the upcoming science fiction RPG Nova Praxis from a review over at Stargazer's World (http://www.stargazersworld.com/), which I check almost every day. One of the themes for the campaign universe for the game is that of "Utopian Prison vs. Dystopian Freedom". The Nova Praxis web site puts it this way:
Because of the wealth of resources available, the Coalition can afford to provide its citizens with the option to “default”.
Citizens who default generally do not provide anything of value to
society. They don’t work. They don’t provide many favors to others. They
may or may not create objects of art or that hold some other sort of
value, but if they do, they do so at their own pace. Their Rep may never
climb very high, but so long as they avoid being a problem, they can
live out the remainder of their lives never really doing anything they
don’t want to do.
To many, this is paradise. But not to all…
While many would have you believe that the Coalition lifestyle is
free, there are others who claim that registered citizens pay an
unacceptably high price. And not every person accepts the rule of the
Coalition cities, habitats and homes sport nearly ubiquitous
surveillance technology. The ARIS strips that provide the interface
between you, your mindset or PPC, and the local mesh also functions as
the eyes and ears of an AI monitor that watches your every move.
Coalition citizens have grown accustomed to this, and most never give
it much thought. There are some, however, to whom this invasion of
privacy is simply intolerable.
Apostates, as non-citizens are often called, value their privacy and
choose to live outside the Coalition system. They live on ships, secret
space stations, or enclaves on planets the Coalition deemed unworthy of
colonization. Without access to compilers, apostates must get food,
clothing, and other necessities the old fashion way. It’s a harder life,
but at least they are free from the ever watching eyes of the
If transported to such a universe, personally I would very much prefer the "Utopian Prison" over the "Dystopian Freedom". Wouldn't most people--or have I accidentally wound up on crack?
Now, I'm assuming that stories in a Nova Praxis game will most likely take place in the "Dystopian" part, where there will always be some vicious, heavily armed a-hole looking to take your stuff and kill you--just because they can. Or maybe they assume that you, the player, will be the vicious, heavily armed a-hole looking to take people's stuff and kill them--just because you can But from the perspective of an RPG gamer making a character for a Nova Praxis game I would find it hard to come up with a character on that basis. I just can't relate to the idea of calling this sort of lifestyle "freedom". It's like those stories you hear about homeless people who claim to prefer being
homeless because of the "freedom" it gives them. Bunch of idiots, I
say (or lying to avoid feeling embarrassed about being homeless).
I think the closest I could come would be a character living out there in exile, perhaps running from a painful failed relationship. The character isn't there because they like it there but because they are running or hiding from something back in Utopia. That would provide some interesting character motivations--but I would still have trouble believing that anyone would stay away from Utopia for long if they had the option to go back.