Travelling in Utopia

From #DATPOSTMIL

This is going to be short and sweet. A lot of people talk about “Utopian” eschatology, but very few people actually know what Utopia was originally made to be.

“Utopia”. It’s a term coined by Thomas More in his book of the same name written in 1516.

Features of this “Utopian” society include, but are not limited to:

  • Abolition of all private property.
  • A “fluid” household structure. People are assigned and redistributed between households and towns dependent on “what is good for society”.
  • Each “household” is required to rotate the house in which they are permitted to live with another household every 10 years.
  • Assigned labor and professions (there aren’t many options).
  • Ruling officials are those identified as scholars based on their ability to learn. These ruling officials are also given the best food which is totes adorb.
  • Clothing is to be simple and uniform, there is no fancy garb, nor makers of fine linens permitted.
  • An across the board, cradle to grave welfare state.
  • Euthanasia is permitted.
  • Engaging in premarital sex carries the penalty of a lifetime of enforced celibacy.
  • Unauthorized travel is a big no-no. It is heavily regulated, and one must get permission to go anywhere.
  • If you travel to a town when you are not authorized, on your second warning you become a slave. Yes, in Utopia, there is enslavement for unauthorized travel between different towns.
  • There are no taverns or ale-houses.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you ask me, Utopia sounds….well, like shit.

Not my idea of The Perfect Society.

But there’s a good number of Vilani out there…

and more than a few Solomani East Asian cultures (waves to Ming China, the Qing Dynasty, and Shogun Japan)

…who’d just love the place.

You’d get more Vilani support if you remind them that “the ability to learn” has nothing to do with scientific development per se, but more like the rote memorization and the regurgitation of facts. Recall that Imperial China based her entrance exams on the ability to recite obscure poetry…


I hope that the observant Traveller spotted some particularly interesting points:

  • Engaging in premarital sex carries the penalty of a lifetime of enforced celibacy.
  • There are no taverns or ale-houses.

No, not that point.

(And if you work in the Islamic-influenced Empty Quarter, you should know the ins and outs of getting a decent drink already!

As for the other point, whorehouses exist in the Islamic world just like everywhere else: perhaps with more discretion, more payoffs to the Religious Police, “The Guardians of Our Morality”, and more clearly enslaved women, using chains and whips instead of drugs and beatings like on the Civilized Worlds *cough*.)

(Trivia Note: Isn’t it odd, that both the Zhodani Thought Police and the Bwap paramilitary force are called in their native tongue “Guardians of Our Morality”? Both groups have certain other traits – from being tall, turbaned (yes!) and dark (Zhodani) to wearing cloths on their heads (see: “ragheads”) and a taste for theocratic governments (Bwap) that were pretty subtle in 1977, but not in 2017…)

No: I mean these points:

  • Unauthorized travel is a big no-no. It is heavily regulated, and one must get permission to go anywhere.
  • If you travel to a town when you are not authorized, on your second warning you become a slave. Yes, in Utopia, there is enslavement for unauthorized travel between different towns.

“I hear they don’t like Travellers very much in Utopia.”
“No. No…. they don’t.”

So, let’s say that the PCs somehow found themselves in just such a situation: most likely on a single world where travel is really restricted, but possibly in a small and obscure pocket empire, 50 parsecs or more from Imperial Civilization.

(Or set the PCs in around 1750 AD, during the time of the Ziru Sirka/First Imperium. It’s quite likely certain that interstellar travel in Vilani Space is tightly controlled by the Shadow-Emperor and the corporate Bureaux, and scofflaws will be fortunate indeed to get away with just a heavy fine…)

So, what the PCs will need to do is one of the following:

  • Get a Patron who will provide the legal cover for Travelling. Depending on the nature of the campaign and the kindness of the Referee, the price for this cover could be quite light, occasional but substantial, or rather rare and very heavy.

(And if the price is only in money, count yourself blessed indeed!)

  • Do your Travelling without being caught – officially at least. One of Traveller’s mechanics increases the likelihood of a successful bribe, the higher the law level. Or the PCs may have a sneaky trick – technological, social, sleight-of-hand, etc – that both gets them off the surveillance net and lets them slip into the new town/province/world.
  • Violently defy the authorities. Be cautious with this one: once the bullets fly, your illegal activity becomes open defiance against the government. Government tend to react to such a direct challenge with a great deal of lethal force.Moreover, even oppressive governments have some popular support, usually grounded in some form of xenophobia. And focusing public hatred on off-worlders is a great way to boost public support for all governments.
  • Travel in the borderlands. Not even the efficient, competent, ruthless Vilani could closely supervise and control all the worlds and all the borders, all the time. So — just like everyone else — the government will focus control and assets on 1) the more important cities, worlds and sectors and 2) the notable trouble-spots.This means the boring, quiet, poor borderlands and the more impoverished regions of the nation/government/pocket empire/Imperium will not be very closely supervised. This means holes in the surveillance net, which means the ability to do some highly illegal Travelling without being caught.
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About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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