ENTRY 224: Earth Beta
Reality is too much for some people to handle. Most people know the lines between simulations, Mesh games, and the real world, and move through the layers of their digital and physical realities as easy as breathing; it’s how they were raised, how they’ve lived. Full immersion in a simulated space is rare—that level of escape from reality is unusual for most egos; even those infomorphs that live entirely within the Mesh prefer the spice of variety, able to shift between different games or Mesh channels as they would. Fully immersive simulations are usually reserved as therapy tools for damaged egos that cannot cope with reality—controlled, comfortable environments away from the hard realities of life after the Fall.
The largest such simulation is Earth Beta, a simulation of pre-Fall Earth operated as a comprehensive therapy space for the thousands of egos that can’t cut it in the post-Fall solar system. Most of the “inhabitants” are volunteers, playing little roles in the background, while the trained therapists and technicians actually interact with the “patients,” ideally preparing them for eventual re-integration into post-Fall society. The fact that so many egos remain essentially stuck living in the past, trapped in a simulation supported by the donated time and resources of tens of thousands of volunteers has led to considerable argument about the effectiveness of the Earth Beta project.
Perhaps in response to these criticisms, the project leaders have promoted Phase Three—a procedure which would enact a “safer” necessitated abandonment event than the Fall, but which would transition the egos from living in a simulated past to a simulated present, where they could then be re-integrated into society.
Using Earth Beta
Millions of transhumans today live in panopticon societies, their every move and action viewed, recorded, and compiled into endless statistics algorithms, the details of their lives distilled into the blocks of a multidimensional spreadsheet. Yet though many are aware of the ubiquitous net of cameras and sensors, they are not so intrusive as to disrupt every activity, and people go on about their lives knowing they are watched and controlled without always thinking of it. How then do characters react when there are egos trapped in a simulation of old Earth, unable to face the reality of the Fall? When the PCs become the voyeurs and jailors of their own panopticon, keeping others blind and ignorant of the truth ostensibly for their own good? Earth Beta exists as a way for PCs to juxtapose their lives and illusions against those being forced on those damaged egos—and, of course, to play with and explore the many tropes and adventures that come with people trapped in vast digital simulations of reality.
- The Eingerost (Entry 058) have long staged individual “awakenings” for patients in Earth Beta, catapulting them out of their comfortable simulation and into the harsh reality of this world. Now, the PCs have caught wind that an Eingerost cell has infiltrated and subverted the Phase III project—to forcibly subject the entire population of Earth Beta (including the therapists and volunteers) to a recreation of the Fall, the same trauma that most of the thousands of patients are still suffering from.
- A hypercorp hires the PCs to deliberately seed Earth Beta with advertising for contemporary corps, as a way to appeal to potential clients by offering them familiar brands when/if they finally exit the simulation. Opposing the PCs are the volunteer cybersecurity forces of the project.