Dialect in the Solar Slums


Tonight we played another session of Dialect by Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyalioglu using the “2081 Solar Slums” background. Our characters—Laila, an underground hacker known as the Vanisher; Chelle Rifts, the most strident anti-corporatist around who trains young outcasts on how to hack and stick it to the corporate overlords; Doc Hermes who helps all those without corporate-sponsorship with the hardships of our sun-baked Earth; and Jorday, an artist who constructs installations out of shadow and light—were outcasts from the corporate-sponsored bio-domes where the respectable cogs lived. We stayed in a slum known as Freedom Skies that was defined by three aspects: the blazing hot sun that could fry a human not wearing protective headgear or clothing, our hacking of the corporate systems and the hover car chop shop and demolition races that sustained our slum economy, and the constant struggle to reach past our biological limits without using body mods since that technology had been abandoned after driving the early adopters insane.

First we introduced a greeting “ent-dow” from “enter my shadow” that means “welcome”. The concept of worry, especially about death, developed from photophobia into “pho-pho”. Our currency is tied to our hover car economy and knows as sparks & scraps, like dollars & cents. And the cream that can protect and treat the dangers of the sun is in short supply but known as Burn Out. Later, we added “shi-shi” for shining shiro (white in Japanese) to mean a feeling of power and mastery, the opposite of pho-pho. Those who lost their minds by becoming cyborgs are known as “Rimzers” and the unbreakable promise we make to one another as free humans is being “bareborn” to each other. Toward the end of our story, before our slum was transformed by corporate raceways and racer sponsorships and the installation of portable domes to provide semi-permanent protection from the sun, we orchestrated a mass demonstration against the corps by hacking the casino and handing out shade sombreros, fedoras with telescoping brims to block out the sun, that led to “Fred-Z” or fedora frenzy that flashed a proverb that used to define Freedom Skies: “You can’t cover your passion with Burn Out”. By the end, our four characters mostly stayed in the underground, but the vast majority of our fellow free sky-ers went to live in the portable domes.