Keywords: overpopulation, city and only city, anonymity, privacy, solitude
In-game language: Danish – Læs dansk udgave her
Imagine a world completely covered by an endless city. Rows upon row of ultra skyscrapers and huge blocks reaching into the stratosphere. The few square meters of ground surface, which is free, are reserved for the very richest and most powerful elite. All others must make do with the public “parks”, a few rooftops or confined spaces carefully maintained by gardeners, filled with hundreds of ordinary citizens who are on their annual park visits. There is a general inadequacy of everything, from space, food or water to privacy, love, or just common humanity.
Humans can adapt to the most incredible circumstances, and residents of Urbania survive or try to survive this constant throng of people by pretending that they are alone. They each go around in their own little world, anonymous and isolated behind the cape and veil, to avoid contact with the hundreds of thousands of people they would otherwise have to deal with every single day. They mostly keep to their tiny homes, enclosed in what on other worlds would be called a large closet, living through virtual contact with small communities based on common interests. A very few of these online friends, they will grow so “close” to, that they will choose to meet for real, but for procreation most choose artificial insemination with donor sperm and so life continues, even under these circumstances.
This world is the most extreme example of uncontrolled urbanization in this part of the galaxy and is therefore known as Urbania. Formerly it was known as Earth, but now that it is no longer possible to see the ground, this name has become an old tired joke.
Urbanites claim that humanity and human civilisation originated on their planet. There is no consensus concerning this among scientists, but it is true that the Urbanites physically practically defines the general human norm. The snide say that if this is true, then only the cowards and the catatonics remained, and that this is reflected in the mentality of the Urbanites. It may well be true, as the ordinary Urbanite is somewhat quiet, passive, withdrawn and often acts only after thourough deliberation. Whether this is genetically determined, is hard to say. There is a high proportion of what would be considered psychiatric patients on most other planets. This is probably directly related to the poor living conditions, rather than being genetic.
Urbanites live such a technological and virtual life that gender has practically no significance. Some Urbanites never indulge in physical relationships. If such Urbanites want children, they use either assisted insemination or pay for a surrogate mother. Due to the high state of the technology on Urbania, both genders can bear children, if they should want to. Most Urbanites think of the fact of their gender as a very private piece of information, like their name, and will only reveal both to their closest friends. Their traditional dress hides all gender attributes.
In public, Urbanites always wear a closed, hooded cape which hides the face and all gender attributes. The cap covers the entire upper body, draped with folds and goes down to the thigh (to hide secondary sexual characteristics such as the hips). It is usually made in a neutral gray colours (hence the pejorative term greycape, meaning the distinctly conventional model citizen), while a few outsiders, who cannot tolerate suppressing their individuality so far, wears brighter colours. The large hood attached by the neck of the cloak hides both hair and face. The material is one-way transparent. Thus it allows the Urbanite to see without being seen. Because the hood is not tightened to the Urbanite’s face, but rather droops down like a veil, the Urbanite can consume food or drink without having to lift the hood too much. Extremely eccentric people, who really want to stick out (similar to hard core punks), wear embroidered or patterned cloaks, which seriously breaks the social norms and will cause other Urbanites to feel discomfort and embarrassment.
The Urbanite names are often a mix of names from the time when Urbania was divided into different nations. To maintain the individual’s anonymity, the names are usually unisex. Examples of names first could be; Kim, Michelle, Sascha, Xiao, Andrea and Peyton. Examples of surnames could be; Merkler, Smith, Kim, Patton and Beaumont.
Urbanites’ behaviour on their home planet is described above, but how do they act when stuffed into the small claustrophobic conditions in a spaceship’s cargo hold as refugees, along with a mismatch of people from other places and cultures?
They will use their usual social rules to handle it, but have a hard time of it. Urbanite refugees fled their home planet, exactly because they cannot endure the overpopulation.
They seem very reserved towards others and consider fast or open attempts at contact as unwanted and rude. If you give them time and slowly initiate contact without going too close, they will respond more positively. They do not look people in the eye, talk in low voices, are extremely polite and would rather not ask personal questions or volunteer very personal information about themselves. They will consider even questions about their name as rude. These things are all socially taboo, which an Urbanite has been brought up never to do.
All these habits are ingrained in them, but they will have a desire to change this,since they look forward to getting to places, where this cultural behavior will not be necessary. Therefore, they can swing between aloofness and excessive openness.
The Urbanites will often want to reach a planet with a low-tech civilization and a beautiful nature, just the opposite of what they are coming from. One might think that the Urbanites could just apply for a visa to the Culture and then search for a scenic planet, but the extreme conditions in which they live, make them so prone to insanity, that none of the sought after civilizations want to let them in.
The Urbanites find people from other cultures very loud, rude and intimidating. Refugees who of course want a different life from the normal Urbanite, will be torn between this reaction and admiration of such a free behavior. The Urbanites are very tolerant of other ways of life, if the strangers just keep to themselves and does not try to influence them.
As an Urbanite, you suffer from temporary attacks of psychiatric disorders. You have to choose one of the following disorders, which you would most like to play. You choose when and how often you have attacks, whichever suits your game.
Paranoia, i.e. you think everyone/anyone is out to get you
Compulsions such as rocking back and forth, wringing your hands over and over, opening and closing something
– Anxiety attacks where you suddenly become terrified of nothing
– Delusions/hallucinations where you see things that are not there, like spiders crawling all over one’s body
– Hysterical blindness where you suddenly think you cannot see
– Manic or depressive episodes, where you are either super happy and hyperactive or unhappy and paralyzed
Richard (M), artistic, colourful, eccentric (by Urbanite standard), lover of freedom, 24 years old
Kim (F), grey cape, i.e. a conventional Urbanite, in love with Richard (although this is almost against their will), only fled because of him, 23 years old
Peyton (M / F), nature lover to a fanatical degree, suffering from schizophrenic split personality, is normally a grey cape, but occasionally switches to a gentle, loving, animalistic personality, 26 years old