Gladden, Matthew E. Utopian Confederation: Conspectus. Volume 01 in the Utopian Confederation Sourcebook series. ISBN 978-1-944373-83-2. Indianapolis: Mnemoclave, 2020. 62 pages.
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Imagining a different world
This book offers an introduction to the Utopian Confederation RPG series and the peaceful, prosperous, and high-tech future society that provides the setting for its adventures. In this world, the island-republic of Utopia isn’t an imaginary land; it’s a diplomatic, economic, technological, and cultural trailblazer that has succeeded in unifying the world’s nations under a banner of peaceful collaboration – thanks largely to the Utopian mindset that combines a strong rationality and pursuit of scientific knowledge with a social and political philosophy that’s grounded in a deep spirituality and theological sensitivity.
Will we find the answer around other stars?
By the 2130s, the Utopian Confederation – and its technologically posthumanized society of human, animal, and artificially intelligent beings – has deftly mended and revitalized the earth and established new footholds throughout our solar system, on bodies including the moon, Mars, several asteroids, Callisto, Europa, Titan, and a number of orbital spacebases.
No signs of life have yet been detected from from other worlds; contact with even a single alien civilization would be an epochal event that would rewrite our understanding of the universe. And advances in slower-than-light propulsion have finally brought within reach the dream of undertaking our first journeys to the nearest star systems. The recent perfection of the subluminal nuclear pulse (SNuP) drive by the Utopian Academy of Sciences has at last opened the door to the creation of true “starvessels” and made feasible the next step in our exploration of the cosmos: scientific missions to the extrasolar planets of Alpha Centauri, Barnard’s Star, Epsilon Eridani, Tau Ceti, and Wolf 1061. This endeavor is aimed at shedding light on the Fermi Paradox, which remains the most vexing scientific, technological, philosophical, and theological puzzle confronting humanity: why are we yet to discover any evidence of intelligent life “out there” in space, when all of the best scientific theories and evidence suggest that the galaxy should be teeming with advanced civilizations?
Not just “utopian,” but “Utopian”
Central to the game is the realm of Utopia. The remarkable history of the Utopian island-state – from its founding in ancient times up through the early 1500s – was described in detail in the eponymous volume published by Thomas More in 1516, which was based on the firsthand accounts of the explorer Raphael Hythloday, a former travelling companion of Amerigo Vespucci and one of the first modern Europeans to visit the island. Within the future gameworld of Utopian Confederation, Utopia is not a “nowhere” (as is suggested by the Greek roots of its name) but a concrete “someplace” that has played a critical role in shaping the course of events in our world – and beyond.
The atmosphere of Utopian Confederation
At its heart, Utopian Confederation is a game of better worlds. It is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual exploration not only of the past worlds that might have been, if human beings had made wiser and more compassionate choices, but (more importantly) the future worlds that might yet be, if we manage not to continue destroying one another and our planet. It’s a fundamentally optimistic and hope-filled meditation on the mysteries of theodicy, metaphysics, science, and the depths of the human heart and mind.
An gameworld with an “8-bit ethos”
The world of Utopian Confederation also possesses a distinct aesthetic and philosophy: it’s lovingly wrapped in an “8-bit ethos” that inspired by classic video games that moves beyond the realm of graphic design to permeate all aspects of its gameplay experience and mechanics. This design philosophy not only lies at the heart not only of the Utopian Confederation computer games that are currently under development; it also serves as the foundation for a series of sourcebooks (to which this volume serves as a brief introduction) that will allow you to adapt the gameworld as a setting for tabletop RPG sessions or campaigns employing your favorite rule systems.