Wednesday, November 6, 2013

310: Ishnigarrab

ENTRY 310: Ishnigarrab

"This is a society of non-negotiable affection. Every transhuman deserves love, company, and companionship; without cost, without condition. We give without asking, because we know how difficult it is to free ourselves of the desire to take, to possess. Ours is not a transaction, there is no haggle or barter. You do not offer more than you wish to give, you do not ask for what is not offered."
- Corrupted Chrysanthemum, the First Lesson

"I saw a bouncer, coming in off the asteroids, step out of the gate from Customs. Covered head to toe in rock dust, straight out of an airlock. I don't think he'd seen another transhuman in the flesh for months, maybe more. He just stopped and stared at the crowd, the noise, all the great mass of people moving around, moving around him. So alone. Then a young splicer came, a pink flower tucked in their hair, and gave him a hug...and he cried, he just cried, tears carving muddy canyons down his cheeks."
- Joy of Sparks, Extropia Customs Agent

One of the most exceptional traits of transhumanity is the ability to be...nice. To show affection without expecting reciprocation or reward, to give companionship without obligation or contract, to be kind and warm and caring not because you have to be, but because someone needs you to be. It is an expression of empathy that can cut through economic ideals and social constraints, and for the unprepared it can be confusing when first and unexpectedly encountered. For the Ishnigarrab, non-negotiable affection is a confirmation of their transhumanity, a promotion of positive thought and emotion that is universal in nature.

Considered by many a reaction to the Carnival of the Goat, the Ishnigarrab are an open society on many habitats that offer physical companionship and affection - not explicitly sex, unless both parties desire it, but friendship, company, sometimes hugs and kisses, hand-holding, massage - whatever the Ishnigarrab chooses to freely offer. Some habitats have established forums where the Ishnigarrab gather and welcome visitors, in other habitats they wander freely, bestowing affection at random to whomever seems to need or desire it. Their symbol or costume is a flower tucked behind the right ear (often a plastic one, given the cost), and augmented reality tags flit about them, explaining their philosophy.

The Ishnigarrab are not without controversy, nor has their spread and development been without trouble. Many transhumans fail to grasp the nature of their enterprise, and make rude demands or offer violence. Others mistake them for prostitutes or monastics, both of which are gross misinterpretations that the Ishnigarrab actively work to avoid being associated with, not because they disapprove of sex work or religions, but to better distinguish their own unique policy of free and open affection. This is made all the more complex and difficult because some Ishnigarrab do sidelight as sex workers, nuns, monks, etc., and have difficulty separating their profession from their volunteer work with the Ishnigarrab. Visitors that become violent, abusive, or obsessively clingy are dealt with by the standard protocols for the station wherever possible, though many Ishnigarrab visitor centers include at least one security officer, and provide effective small, concealable defensive weapons and defensive courses in how to use them.

Using Ishnigarrab

The universal mission and appeal of the Ishnigarrab mean that they are a society that can appear in any habitat, at any social strata, and often carry with them a certain dignity and respect ordinarily reserved for political, religious, or hypercorp representatives, though the Ishnigarrab explicitly avoid being associated with those groups while volunteering. For gamemasters that want a group that can effectively fill roles for nuns, monks, sex workers, etc. without being explicitly tied to a religion or with the stigma of prostitution, the Ishnigarrab are a good alternative. They also work as a handy counterbalance against the Carnival of the Goat, which they disagree with on philosophical grounds as well as on their particular approach. Being compassionate, and having access to some moderate resources, the Ishnigarrab will sometimes hire mercenaries to undertake missions of mercy, rescuing transhumans that are indentured, enslaved, imprisoned, or abused - solid employment for the player characters.

Of course, gamemasters that desire a deep dark secret below the open affection of the Ishnigarrab are welcome to explore that angle as well. They could be a splinter of the Carnival of the Goat whose visitors centers work as recruiting ground for "fresh meat," particularly vulnerable to exsurgent infection, a deliberate political ploy to undermine a local sex workers guild, or any other underhanded or dangerous scheme. In this case, the Ishnigarrab's surface act effectively disguises their true colors - PCs may be misled by the social distrust some feel toward the Ishnigarrab, feeling that the volunteers are victims of prejudice when maybe the truth is some people know better than to believe the philosophy they profess.

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