It’s Monday, and if there’s one thing for me to look forward to, it would be checking out the meat of Minjammer’s default setting in today’s article.
The New Commonality Era presents the events that led to the Mindjammer universe. It’s a surprisingly compact chapter, conveying the key points in the history of the setting that gave birth to the Commonality, and the various worlds of humanity waiting to be re-discovered.
When I first ran into the idea in the earilier chapters of the book, it seemed rather strange to me to have worlds full of colonists, and to lose track of them, but the way that it’s presented in Mindjammer is a surprisingly human account of how such a thing could very well happen. As with real history, Mindjammer’s setting is rife with high hopes, great hubris and at times, stunning apathy, all of which led mankind forward into the current status quo.
The chapter also gives a look at two key Polities, vast interstellar empires, as it were: The New Commonality of Humankind, and The Venu Empire. The Commonality, being the default faction of players is given more detail.
Between the two, it’s hard to choose a “good” faction vs. a “bad” faction, something that I definitely enjoy in many RPGs. I come from the school of thought that while some atrocities are abhorrent across the board, sometimes, history is a matter of perspective. Good and bad are judgments made in hindsight, but in the heat of the moment, everyone believes that they’re doing the right thing.
That said, the Venu Empire seem to be an interesting reference to a faction from a different sci-fi universe, as they share more than a passing similarity to the Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40k. It’s a nice touch, and may be rather too obvious to some people, but I figured that they’ll make for an interesting opposition. Perhaps in further sourcebooks they’ll be able to shine more light to the Venu and differentiate them further.
This isn’t to say that the Commonality is all sunshine and rainbows. If there’s anything that this chapter achieves, it’s to paint the setting in shades of gray. Cultural manipulation, propaganda, and indoctrination are all tools used by various polities (and even corporations) leaving mankind even more prone to being abused by people in power.
Tomorrow, we check out Cultures in Mindjammer, and how Cultural actions and conflict are handled. This might seem like a strange thing to model, but given the focus of the game on keeping mankind united through a singular Uber-culture, it definitely has a place.