Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tangent IV. Progens and Drops

Updated sketch of Kellerman, the Progen Technician by Sam Alcarez.

A few weeks ago I went into some detail about Gen-Mods - genetically modified workers used in the mines. Today's tangent is talk about Progens (progenitor workers) and Drops (recent arrivals).

Within the labor colonies throughout the Incorporated Worlds there is a distinction made between what are referred to as Progens and Drops. Progenitor workers were part of the earliest waves of colonists or are direct descendants of those colonists. They carry a sense of entitlement because they were there first and are afforded a slightly superior standard of living by their corporate contract holders to match that entitlement.

Drops on the other hand are off-worlders brought fresh to the colonies who are expected to work for less. Not surprisingly, most Breakers are Drops. This is a division deliberately manipulated by the corporations by ensuring that Progens are intermixed into crews, usually as crew leaders, to make sure the Drops tow the line. By elevating Progens in colonial society just enough to feel they have too much to lose by Breaking, they will disrupt break attempts, rat on their co-workers, and strive to maintain the status quo. This dynamic keeps the workers divided and makes attempts to organize on a large scale extremely dangerous, which is why most break attempts are spontaneous or composed of only one or two small work crews at most.

Kellerman, as a Progen and a technician, has not only greater social currency and greater privileges in colonial society, but Kellerman could jeopardize the standing of their loved ones, who also benefit from being progenitor colonial laborers. It is these sort of complications that make an attempt at mass revolt so difficult. As such, in the story line of Deep Underground, the crew leader, Kollis, starts out with a rag tag group of Drop laborer Breakers and in the second scenario the Breakers may approach Kellerman and try to convince them to sacrifice their relative privilege to join the break attempt. Appropriately, this should require more than a few Dealing Checks and may not even be successful in the midst of the chaos. However, as a Progen and a technician, Kellerman would be a huge asset to have along.

Progens feel like a way to add in wild card characters appropriate to the context of the storyline that could go either way during the game and have a very genuine cause to flip their loyalties. This may make strategizing harder, but it creates an unpredictable narrative component that feels right based on the setting. It remains to be seen how it will go in play testing, but I think by starting Progens as NPC's (non-player characters) to interact with and acquire like equipment, it will be just fine. Its an interesting complication well worth exploring in game terms.

Thanks for reading.
-Nick

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