We got to play Caroline Hobbs’ Downfall at our first (of many I hope!) game night of Story Games Wilmington.
We created a community that lived in domes at the bottom of the sea, using steam as its main source of power. The core value of this community which made it prosper in this very difficult location was selflessness. People here had to continually put the group ahead of themselves in order to have enough to eat and to be able to build a community, so they called their world the Hope Bubble. The Bubblers had some very interesting practices and traditions that they developed through time to encourage this selflessness.
For instance, the most popular form of entertainment was swarm racing. People loved to attend or participate in these events. People would form into huge groups at the arena and then run as fast as they could together. Since participants were so close to one another, coordination and communication where key to keep everyone standing and not trampled by other team members.
One of the hardships that shaped the Bubblers the most, was the dearth of food available in this section of the sea. To solve this, the people from the Hope Bubble had to do regular sacrifices in which a person from the community would wear a bucket of chum as a necklace and go up into the sea to attract swarms close to the bubble. As the swarm devoured the chum and the sacrificed member, the rest of the community would hunt the swarm and get the much needed food.
But probably the most interesting practice this community developed was its form of government. To ensure there is never a conflict of interest among those in power, an Ambivalence Task Force was developed that is charged with identifying people’s interests so that they can then assign positions of power to those that have no personal interest to the realm they are assigned, thus guaranteeing that all decisions made will be selfless.
Ultimately, this ended up being the downfall of the community. While the system worked for a long time, it also lead to having people unqualified or uninterested in government who were not willing to make any decisions when the mail stopped working and the bucket of chum was never delivered. Despite efforts by some to encourage direct action without going through the government channels, the community did not get enough food and died slowly of starvation.