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saxifrage00
A few days ago I asked for seed ideas for campaign settings, and I got a few interesting responses. I also got a couple interesting, nearly full-fledged stories, but I'll see what I can do with those...

In any case, here's the result of what one idea grew into in my mind. Sure, it's more than 1000 words, but none of the seeds given were something I could do a simple one-off setting with. Besides, it's more interesting this way.

A Campaign Setting Of No Title
A Background Sketch and Notes

"Once, long ago, there were no geneditors, and the people were cursed -- divided into male and female. There was much strife, and much deviancy. The guardians of the people saw this and despaired, for they saw that the people were damning themselves to destruction and suffering.

"The crude prototype of the modern geneditor had been invented then, but was only used by the wealthy class to correct errors in their children. Seeing this, the guardians began a program to improve the geneditors and to spread their use, so that all might allow their children to live without flaws.

"With the world beyond their borders becoming increasingly dangerous and unstable, the people, under the guidance of their guardians, withdrew into the safety of their homeland and sought to heal the rift in their people. Each generation that was born was more perfect than the last, and unity could be seen on the horizon; the people were glad and their guardians saw hope.

"There were a few who sought to corrupt the minds of the people, however, and reviled the geneditors and the approaching unity of the people as a disgusting. They were rightly recognised as agitators and dangers to the peace, rebels who desired only the anarchy beyond the borders to be let loose among their brethren, and they were cast out.

"The Great Conflagration took the people by surprise, and many perished. Those who survived retreated below ground, to where the abyss of the air and its rain of fire could not reach them, and there they nursed their wounds and rebuilt. Some of the geneditors had survived, and they were prized for a time. Once society had rebuilt itself and the pockets of people reunited via the great Roads, improving the geneditors was once more pursued. Soon, all organic material was produced with specialised geneditors, and society stabilised as the supply of sustaining materials was stabilised.

"You must remember, that the old geneditors could only correct flaws in a developing child, which was at that time carried within a person and was placed there with the flawed biology of our ancestors. The geneditors of today are very much different than those that went before. They are powerful, but only tools. They are to be respected, but cherised. Remeber these things, and you will serve the people well when I pass on and you take up my place."

Notes:

Geneditors are machines that take cell samples and induce meiosis in them to produce gametes. Within a chamber, the gametes of the parents are joined and the child is grown in a reproduction facility. All outward indications of gender, being attributed to the evils of the past era and considered a "flaw," is eradicated in favour of the outward appearance of a "proper" human being.

The people are outwardly androgynous, as a result, but internally gendered. As biological reproduction is no longer practiced, and is, in fact, physically impossible, the myth that the people have no gender is preserved.

In actuality, there are differences between the genders. Because body chemistry could not be completely re-invented, hormonal systems and other internal gender features apart from those directly involved with reproduction needed to be preserved, albeit only at a necessary level. The hormones that could not be entiredly removed from the body's cemistry still exert subtle behavioural effect on the individual, but since no individual knows what their internal gender is (and in fact believes that they have no internal gender!) subtle differences in behaviour between individuals is unremarkable.

Society is tightly controlled by the ruling caste, although in some ways this control has eroded out of lack of necessity. The deeply-ingrained belief that deviancy from the norm is a threat to the fabric of their society is enough that there is a self-regulation among people at the individual level. Lust, romance, love, and deep attachments are reflexively repulsive to people as throwbacks to a depraved time. This, combined with the fact that each person's birthright of "perfection" means that people are almost interchangeable. This lack of attachment to eachother synergises with the belief that deviancy from the norm is dangerous, creating a society where if someone does not fit, they are disposed of as a threat.

Society is very ascetic. Higher pursuits of art, intellect, science and invention, and the like are encouraged. The wheel of progress turns slowly due to the discouragment of "different" thought, but a population bred for high intelligence offsets this to a degree. Existing technologies are highly refined, and intellectually challenging art in a broad array of media is a devotion of many citizens.

There are still subversive elements. There are those who, realising that they are somehow different yet at the same time understanding that they must appear to conform, strive for a way out of the straightjacket that the culture has provided for them. Most die alone, discovered, but a very few chance upon like minds.

A group of such people planned an escape from the tunnels of their country and emerged onto the surface. The surface had recovered from the nuclear holocaust that had driven their ancestors underground and was habitable, although its dangers were unfamiliar to them and their agoraphobia made it difficult.

Growing older, these escapees realised that their escape would be futile if they were all to just die of age or accident. Returning to the tunnels, parts and means to build a geneditor were acquired over time, and it was assembled. At the same time, efforts were made to identify others still in the tunnels who did not fit into society. Some were rescued. Others, who were sufficiently well-adjusted to remain undetected, opted not to escape so that they could continue the work of identifying and recruiting "deviants." Soon a network of these agents was established, and though they were few and maintained a painfully low profile, ever so often an other "deviant" was identified and was aided in their escape.

With the geneditor, children were born. At first the changes made were slight, but after enough generations, the people of the surface reclaimed the heritage of gender.

In time, those who remained below felt the difference between themselves and people of the surface too acutely and struggled with their repulsion, and many turned against their fellow agents and helped the ruling caste to expunge them. Even so, some remained undetected and continued to help others escape.

The surface society became two-tiered. Those, long-lived, who were born below remained genderless, although there are those who tried to form relationships with others. Those born on the surface were male or female, and could reproduce biologically. Many were never born of the geneditor. Still, some pairings chose to have a child by the geneditor. Some because one was born below, and some pairings because of a desire to have some control over the genetics of the child -- they had learned, painfully, that children born biologically are fraught with "flaws" and that the process itself is not enjoyable to everyone.

Campaign ideas:

Players could be of the tunnel people, some taking on roles as regular citizens, others as "deviants" as either part of a/the network or as potential escapees, and others as the secret police that the ruling caste employs. Technology available is advanced and can be whatever the GM needs -- except perhaps mind-reading stuff. The inherent hypocrisy of the genderless myth means that such technology would impair the society rather than enable its continuation, and so the development of such tech would have been halted or severly controlled and developed in secret by the ruling caste as this became clear.

Play could also center on the escape network rather than the tunnel society. Players would be potential escapees, network agents, or surface agents. Opposition NPCs would be tunnel society security and the general tunnel population. Neutral NPCs would also be of the tunnel population.

Another possibility would be adventure play, using all this only as bacground for the surface setting. Players could run genderless tunnel-born characters or surface-born characters, as they explore the ancient post-apocalyptic world and reclaim it. Possibilities here are myriad: devolved tribes of humans could be encountered; long lasting radiation or chemical/biological warefare effects might still have an effect on the surface world, the biological possibly having mutated over the centuries into something macro and truely different; some societies or countries might have survived, and may be technologically advanced -- they may be tunnel dwellers like the genderless people, or have escaped the nuclear holocaust, or be the decendants of tunnel dwellers. Another possibility is that an extraterrestrial civilisation has discovered the seeminly-uninhabited Earth and colonised it, or maybe only put a base on it. In either case, interplanetary roleplay could be the ultimate goal of the campaign.

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Oooooooooooh! I Wanna play! I really do!! >_____<

It sounds so awesome.. but it would be difficult to roleplay a "genderless" person... it would be so different from us now! And what would a "perfect person" look like?

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