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On Theme, Social Dystopia, Secrecy, and Criminality:

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  • On Theme, Social Dystopia, Secrecy, and Criminality:

    As there has been some confusion lately about the concepts of "right" and "wrong" in the game, I thought I would make a post concerning theme and criminality and how it relates to in-character behavior.

    As many of you have already figured out, the main theme of this game is a social dystopia. Meaning that everyone (PC-wise) living within the confines of the game is under the control of a government which is both repressive and coercive. This does not mean that all the NPCs/Doctors/Humans in charge are "bad", but it doesn't necessarily mean that they're "good", either. In fact, it throws the entire morality of the game into a hazy grey area. What does this mean for you as players?

    Many players come from a background of games where there is a very distinct background for good versus evil, right versus wrong, correct versus incorrect, heroism versus villainy. Breaking the law is bad, doing what your social betters tell you is good! Rescuing maidens from dragons is heroic, while helping the evil magician concoct a spell to take over the world is villainous.

    Such is not the case in Lazarus. Heorism and villainy are painted to be purposefully unclear. Some of the Doctors seem to be nice and helpful, while others are sadistic and harmful. And no matter their personality, they are all in charge. The ever-powerful Ministry of Security is there to enforce the whims of these "betters", no matter how illogical or cruel their requests might seem. So to touch on some subjects that might help reduce any lingering ooc frustration or anxiety:

    Criminality - Being labeled a criminal in Lazarus doesn't necessarily make your character a bad person. It also doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong in game. While you may be participating in an activity that's illegal within the society, that activity may not be wrong or bad. The humans have secretive reasons for making these activities illegal, and part of the mystery of the game is figuring out why! The punishments of reprogramming and Mendus are meant to be interactive and a challenge to roleplay, rather than an attempt to dissuede you as players from participating in illegal activities. So, why the punishments?

    Secrecy- Dystopia just wouldn't be dystopia if there wasn't something slightly "off" about the government in charge. It also wouldn't be dystopia if there wasn't the fear of what might happen if you fail to do what the government dictates you are supposed to do. However, we want you as players to have fun with this attitude. The punishments are in place to preserve the feeling of secrecy and anxiety in character, and not to punish the players out of character. Much of the in-character harrasment you might receive from the human authorities is to reinforce the feeling of repressiveness. If your character has reason to lie/mislead/confound these authorites, we encourage you to do so! The punishments are meant to punish the character, not the player.

    This also creates a different sort of valuable commodity: Information! As you have noticed, many VPs/NPCs/even players are very tight-lipped about what they know. The abovementioned punishments are meant to be scary, and it is natural to fear trusting a new individual when you don't know where their loyalties lie. This fear to trust is an essential part of a dystopian theme, and is also created on purpose. We understand that this makes it hard to break into the storyline at times, and as staff we are more than willing to answer an assist from a player who says "I am interested in being involved in x, y, z, but I'm having trouble finding out anything about it." While we won't tell you the direct answer to any of the game's mysteries, we are always wiling to give hints, direct you to PCs that might be able to help you get information, or bring out VPs to give clues about where to start.

    As a whole, we're here to help make the game fun for you guys (even if the colony isn't always a fun place for the characters to be), and ecourage you guys to file @assists, whether for clarification on punishments, help with something you're stuck on, or simply to submit player plots. Please don't be afraid to ask, as the worst we can say is that we're unable to give you the information you seek directly, but point you in the direction of someone who can.