ENTRY 037: Io Warren
The Io Warren is like a scumbarge, minus the barge. The transient community is a model collection of unplanned, juryrigged, barely-maintained mobile vehicles occupied by some of the grungiest, varied, and unsuited itinerants—escaped prisoners, runaway Jovians, failed exhumans, and all manner of other fringe people cobbled together into something less than a community but more than a family or anarchist commune. The genius that binds them, despite their mishmash of skills and equipment, is the Prog, an incredibly robust networking app that facilitates the division of labor, food, basic healthcare and maintenance, education, and socialization.
Following the Prog, members of the Io Warren take their shifts sifting sulfur and strange volatiles from volcanic ejecta, manning the pumps and bacteria stacks that recycle biological waste, collecting samples and scientific data, or any of a hundred other tasks—and are rewarded by having their morph and ego’s needs met. Participants in the Io Warren Prog receive daily rations of food, water, oxygen, repairs, and various forms of entertainment, even sex if the right social and medical conditions are optimal and all parties agree. It is an open community, constantly gaining and losing members when it arrives at trade depots, willing to accept almost anyone willing to work, but also willing to boot them out in the middle of the forsaken volcanic wasteland if they shirk their tasks, for while the Io Warren is generous with its resources to those who follow the Prog, those resources are limited and especially dear on the long treks between resupply.
Using the Io Warren
While suggested for Io, the basic concept of the vagabond band bound together only by a communist social networking app can be easily transferred to almost any location where the surface is generally hostile to human life but permits free movement—Luna, Mars, Europa, etc. While the Prog takes requests, calculates needs, and gives orders and options for work and entertainment, player characters may well look for the transhuman behind the Prog—the man, woman, neuter, transgender, nongender, or group which controls, programs, and maintains the Prog itself. Given the population makeup of the Io Warren community, the political and social dynamics of who controls what are likely to be completely batshit insane, featuring loud and charismatic characters and small, quiet groups of less flamboyant NPCs, punctuated at times by kinetic weapons fire and a blocked air line. Feel free to play up the craziness—because however strange and violent they may appear, they all answer to the Prog.
- The Prog is actually an AGI—and the cumulative stress of holding life or death power over the members of the Io Warren is finally causing it to crack, sending out a number of completely nonsensical orders while neglecting basic maintenance. The PCs as outsiders are most likely to notice something wrong and seek to address the issue, possibly by talking/re-programming the AGI, or freeing it and reloading the original Prog.
- A murderer hides among the Io Warren. Messages left by the victims suggest that the Prog is ordering the assassinations of low-productivity, non-essential members to save scarce resources for a week-long trek through the Crags, a particularly harsh badlands carved out by pyroclastic flows and filled with mineral nodules and hidden pockets of soft ash that can suck a morph down to their destruction.