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What exactly is this?

Fully Automated is a tabletop roleplaying game designed to provide a certain set of tools and stories that the creators of this game couldn’t previously find elsewhere.

The game is meant to allow players to go on street-level adventures in a solarpunk future. If you’re not familiar, solarpunk is a genre adjacent to cyberpunk, but which largely challenges and inverts most of its dominant themes. It envisions a world in which technology and our societies are brought into harmony with nature. It rejects cynicism about the futility of fighting to challenge power structures. In place of themes of scarcity and selfishness, it imagines abundance shared convivially. And in place of a nihilistic view that life is valueless, it imagines not just that every person is priceless, but that personhood can be granted to far more things than just humans. But while it is growing fast, tools for running solarpunk tabletop games are still too few.

Is this your weird manifesto?

No, this is a real game. It’s actually fun, too.

Admittedly, its also ideological. But this is a real game designed specifically to help writers and GMs overcome the common challenges they may encounter when creating solarpunk stories.

What are the challenges this seeks to address?

Because cyberpunk, steampunk, fantasy, and space operas have large volumes of existing content, it’s easier for writers and game masters to put together stories using familiar beats. It’s also easier for readers and players to pick up on what the game master is describing. Additionally, many of these stories take place under economic systems that are generally familiar. The protagonist lives in an apartment they rent. They get paid for the adventures they undertake. Their antagonists are simple and familiar: nobles, politicians, business tycoons, etc.

Conversely, solarpunk doesn’t have nearly as many well-known tropes. Not only is writing stories more work, but if an interested game master gathers friends there’s a good chance that some of them are coming to the table with no prior familiarity. And on top of this, because solarpunk embraces radical ways of thinking and living, it takes additional work to figure out how every part of society runs. What do the protagonists’ living arrangements look like in a world without landlords? Do they get paid? And what kind of antagonists or challenges make sense?

What is this game meant to do?

Fully Automated was designed specifically to address these and other challenges.

First, the game includes a straightforward, accessible world guide. The process of producing and distributing goods, the means of maintaining order, the cultural behaviors, and so on are provided to make describing everyday life easier. This lore was designed to be used in full or in pieces. It provides a history of major events to explain the present, but it’s not meant to require adherence to a singular vision. Like many genres, solarpunk comes in a lot of flavors. This is why this game is meant to accommodate a broad range of tastes in regard to technological progress, seriousness, or realism.

Next, the game is complete. While we expect people to hack the game to their liking, we don’t require it. Fully Automated is written to provide a fully functional game system — including a robust character creation and progression system — that is ready to play.

And crucially, the game is being released with a collection of playable adventures. These stories have been written to be easy to run, easy to play, and make a case for the possibilities solarpunk settings offer. Our belief is that solarpunk can deliver a lot of the attractions associated with cyberpunk, but with refreshing new ideas and experiences. We hope that newcomers to the genre may discover that compared to a world of boundless possibility, dystopia is just boring.

Finally, this game is an ideological project. Unlike most genres, solarpunk is not just a genre to be passively consumed, but also an active philosophical movement to realize a better world. Once we started playing this game, we found that the experience carried over into our out of game lives. We started seeing new possibilities around us. There’s a concept called “Capitalist Realism“, which is the theory that one of the strongest forces which maintains our widely unpopular status quo is the deliberately imposed sense that no other option is available. Capitalist Realism relies on a media environment that steers people away from learning about alternative ways of living, ridicules and demagogues any movements advocating for radical economic changes, and generally impresses upon people that they’re free to complain all they want, but that they shouldn’t bother looking for radical solutions, because there’s nothing else to be found.

There is a lot more to be found. This is our part of adding to the project of introducing people to these ideas: to sit alongside high-minded books on Marxist philosophy and library economies we have made a game where a team of oddballs can receive a quest in a tavern, and then get immediately distracted from it by a goose (against a backdrop where our civilization honors its obligation to serve our ecosystem and people are no longer forced to live in a state of mandatory perpetual competition).