Wednesday, October 16, 2013

289: Monadarchy

ENTRY 289: Monadarchy

"Groups form from collective experiences. Shared memories that lead to common ground and from the basis of interrelationships. Team-building exercises have always focused on this aspect of transhumanity, forcing individuals to live, suffer, and work together to achieve common goals, hoping that this would develop in hours or days what takes months or years to do under normal circumstances. Of course, today we can literally share memories - and we can do so on a much greater scale..."
- The Monadarchy, sales pitch

Transhumanity values its individuality; each unique ego is precious because it is different, and represents a distinct perception of the universe. Some see in individuality a hedge against extinction, the multitude of viewpoints more likely to perceive a solution than any single ego with a million forks. Others consider it an aspect of the transhuman condition, and an inviolable part of transhumanity - to be separate and individual among others, to possess the instincts for self preservation, self realization, and self promotion that have driven history and development. For without selfishness and individuality, how else could transhumans appreciate self sacrifice and groupthink?

On the other paw, transhumans are social animals that rely on coming together for common purpose, to specialize and proliferate, to produce more by the sum of their efforts than they could as individuals. In habitats which have experienced tremendous growth with the influx of refugees there has been the desire to form communities and communal identities, to better serve and preserve transhumans in this delicate period of transition from their home planet to the stars. Not an easy task with the billion distractions of the Mesh, where local politics often give way to tribes based around common timeframes and personal preferences, where transhumans can claim membership in groups as diverse as the Militant Neo-Pony Fancier Federation and the Left-Handed League. Community investment is a difficult concept to sell, and group activities intended to foster community spirit often ill-attended.

One competitive technology in the nation-forming field is the Monadarchy. Technically a microcorp operating out of Mitre Station, the Monadarchy is a technological co-op that aims to enhance group experience while preserving the individuality of egos, an effort at team-building on a grand scale without forming any accidental hive-minds. Monadarchists simply download an app into their cortical stacks that backs up their ego to the Mesh as they sleep; the forks are then subject to a trade secret recombinatorial process that distills the group collective experience and applies it as a software patch which is then uploaded to the sleeping transhuman. They awake with a common cultural experience imprinted in their memory - not the individual memories of all the transhumans in their network, but a digest of events major and minor. Monadarchists know, on a gut level, the feeling of the group majority toward issues and individuals, even if they cannot cite the statistics without tapping into a newsfeed, and they always have common ground with other members of the network based on the shared memories downloaded from the night before.

The Monadarchy proclaims this as the fundamental cultural basis of a new society in transhumanity, although for the most part it remains a purely optional choice in those few habitats that have embraced it, mainly Argonaut strongholds like Mitre Station and Markov. The truth is that many transhumans remain suspicious of the localized Monadarchy networks, afraid of another Synergy incident, or the "rolling emotional trauma" bug caused after a serial rapist joined the monadarchists on Markov, necessitating quite extensive group therapy (not helped when the Monadarchy reps temporarily claimed that the group activities would help bring the survivors even closer together).

Using the Monadarchy

Loss of individuality is a familar science fiction trope; this plays with that idea while trying to undercut it. The real benefit of the Monadarchy to a game is a sort of assumed cultural background knowledge - PCs wake up already knowing the best places to eat, what the three seashells are for, that the local population doesn't want McAlister to run for re-election as Supreme Overlord/System Administrator (SOSA), etc. - including things that wouldn't make the local Mesh newsfeed, at least not above the fold. How gamemasters play this is up to them, though generally it should be seen as a sort of accelerated acclimation and acceptance to a group, not characters finishing each other's sentences or engaging in flocking behavior. Unless there's a glitch...


  • The PCs are accosted by an Argonaut splicer named Numero 17 (he had to fight over fifty transhumans to keep that name, and would kill fifty more to keep it). No. 17 is an insomniac that has been up for eighty-odd hours, and he swears that the members of his Monadarchy network have forgotten an important event from seventy-eight hours ago - the disappearance of the Tiajing Triplets. All the local news media archives of the event have been wiped, and nobody else remembers it. No. 17 is afraid that when he falls asleep and it updates, he will forget as well. The PCs might question No. 17's sanity (and why he doesn't just uninstall the app), but if they're willing to humor him, they'll have to keep him awake while investigating this collective amnesia.

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