Joy Division

Joy Division is a near-future role playing game of technological horror. Characters are agents of the Joy Division, a small but well-funded transnational espionage agency concerned with advanced, destabilizing technologies. Its mission is to neutralize major threats that might arise from transformative technologies, including planetary-scale biocide, genocide and related crimes against humanity, nonconsensual alterations of the human genome, and, where necessary, consensual but radical transformations of human identity. Characters will use a range of quasi-legal and illegal means – targeted investments, blackmail, commercial espionage, misinformation campaigns, kidnappings — to neutralize or limit technological threats.

The Change

In 1924 the writer Virginia Woolf noted that “on or about December 191 human character changed.” ** She was at least a century premature. With apologies to Ms. Woolf, who chose that date due to a provocative modernist art exhibit and expansion of the suffrage, you haven”t experienced change in character until your only daughter has her brain pulped and her personality embedded in an AI platform. Your values aren”t tested until you and your kind are viewed as expendable animals by a hypercaste of fantastically enhanced and ferociously careless hybrid machine-humans. And you can”t fully appreciate post-impressionist painting until you see the blue of the eastern horizon ripped to a congealing mass of doughy gray by invisible chains of poorly-programmed nanobots feasting on atmospheric gases, perforating the sky like termites crossbred with neutron bombs. I can”t tell you exactly when this change will come ? February 229 or June 238 or thereabouts ? because when it does there will be no one left to care, at least nothing that will concern itself with calendars or human character… Which is why we have to stop it.

By the late 2th century a number of futurists projected that accelerating technological developments would converge in the not too distant future in a Singularity ? an exponential, explosive transformation of machines, society, and human nature. *** Some celebrated the possibility that artificial intelligences and related transhumanist innovations would free mankind from the limits of human biology. Others doubted that these predictions were anything more than wishful thinking or science fiction ? techno-optimism run amok. Meanwhile a subset of the world”s business, scientific, and political elites grew concerned. They noted trends in robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology and related fields, that, while intriguing and potentially profitable in the short term, were socially problematic when extrapolated along a curve of accelerating innovation.

Doubting that nation states or intergovernmental organizations were willing or able to track and regulate the coming singularity/transhumanist revolution, in 211 a group of the concerned convened a session on “Transformative Technologies” on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Participants drafted a declaration calling for a balance between innovation and regulation. They chartered a new organization, the Coalition on the Responsible use of Transformative Technologies (CRTT), to carry out public education, research and advocacy. Behind the scenes, conference organizers consulted with several highly-placed sympathizers who were unable or unwilling to sign the declaration. This inner circle provided funding for an Immediate Response Division (IRD). The IRD was designed as the clandestine arm of the CRTT. IRD agents would intervene surreptitiously but aggressively to stop or delay the launch of problematic technologies. And that”s what the IRD did. Although no one inside or out of the CRTT-IRD, except possibly the most unflinching bureaucrat, used that designation… They all called it the Joy Division.


One Response to “Joy Division”

  1. Sheikh Jahbooty Says:

    I love this setting so much I’ve been trying to use it in other ways, for example: using the Cold City rules.