The world will turn strange, soon.
Eugene Leitl
Millenia in coming, the modern age is here.
It sanctifies the future, yet renders us with fear.
So many theories, so many prophecies,
What we do need is a change of ideas.
When we are scared we can hide in our reveries but
What we need is a change of ideas.
Change of ideas, change of ideas,
What we need now is a change of ideas.
Bad Religion, Change Of Ideas
May you live in interesting times!

The world is racing towards cataclysm. Nobody knows what is on the other side - a future filled with infinite possibilities or total annihilation. As the seconds tick away the forces pushing the world forward grow stronger and stronger. But powerful groups will do their outmost to prevent change, holding back with all their strength. They are failing, but they will not let go without a fight. And that fight is the InfoWar.

The roleplaying game InfoWar is set in the near future, at a time when several current trends collide with each other. On one hand there is the tremendous growth of technology - information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology each have the ability to remake society just on their own, together their potential is tremendous. On the other hand are the attempts to hold on to the old industrial nation states and their institutions - the voters trading freedom for security, institutions trying to follow rules that no longer apply, governments desperately trying to hold things together regardless of the price. There are also other trends: the increasing number and power of the old, the attempts to form transnational alliances and trading blocks, the splintering of our culture into more and more incompatible philosophies. Together they make an explosive mix.

The world of 2015 is dominated by three immense trading blocks, more or less running the world economy and fighting a quiet economic cold war to keep the status quo. They realize that new technology and new social ideas are dangerous, since change of any kind can upset the fragile balance they are trying to uphold. Hence they do their best to suppress or limit the dangerous new concepts that appear more and more frequently. But other groups want change, they want to break the status quo. And several groups try to free technology and society from the Powers That Be. This is the InfoWar.

The stakes of the InfoWar are extreme: the future of the world economy, the dominant ideas that will create the rest of the 21st century, perhaps even the future of humanity. There is no wonder there are people willing to do anything to make sure their vision prevails over all others. The status quo is unstable, but can bring terrible force to bear to protect itself. And if the balance is broken, the disruption can be awful.


Decision of technology
Revision of the future
Social uncomformity
Mother Earth on Ecstasy
Children on-line,
not a dark horizon coming,
but the dawn...
A cataclysm is a very important or violent social, military or political event that fundamentally changes life or society.

A cataclysm is on its way. Approaching fast.

It is unavoidable: there are too many new and radical technologies around like infotech, applied cryptography, biotech, AI and nanotech whose consequences are so far-reaching that even one of them could completely change the rules of society if it became common. Digital economics can wipe out the nation states. Nanotech can end material scarcity, as well as wipe out life as we know it. Biotechnology can redefine life itself, and what it means to be human. AI could lead to superhumanity, or no humanity at all. Social trends and forces are all destabilizing the situation; the imbalance between young and old is growing, the demands of an emerging global information society don't mesh with the current institutions, the demands from people on governments worldwide are increasing and the governments can't really fulfill them. The current system doesn't work well and is inherently unstable: the three power blocks cannot balance each other completely, and each wants to be ahead of the others. It is enough that one of the factors shifts, and the cataclysm will start.

While some try to comfort themselves with calling the cataclysm mere millennialist thinking, they are deluding themselves: the causes are out in the open and quite clear. Regardless of what people would like to think, it is fast approaching due to logical processes in society.

When written in Chinese the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
John F. Kennedy

A cataclysm doesn't have to be negative. There are people who look forward to the great release, hoping to seize the change and start a new era. It is a moment of freedom, where new rules can be written. Others fear the cataclysm: there is a very real chance that many people will die and that awful dangers will be unleashed. Not to mention the chilling uncertainty of loosing all the well-known. The difference between the TU and FOG is that the TU accepts the inevitability of cataclysm and strives to guide it, while the FOG fights it at every step, hoping to prevent it and retain the status quo just for a little bit longer.

The FOG, TU and Activists

But wait a moment. If the electronics revolution is, and will be, as sweeping as we're all predicting, shouldn't we be scared out of our minds? And, just as important, shouldn't we be terrified by anyone who isn't frightened?
Michael S. Malone
Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.
Mayor Giuliani, New York Newsday pg A3 4/20/98
In the InfoWar, there are three sides: those who get it, those who don't get it, and those who think they got it. They are called the TU, FOG and activists respectively.

FOG is underground slang for the "Fascist OverGoverment", the system of government, big corporations and international organizations that runs the show. Big Government and Big Business lean desperately on each other: the large corporations are inefficient and rely on government contracts, lobbying and trade protection, while the states need ever more tax money to pay for rising social and administrative costs. If you can't be efficient, be big.

While the fascist part is partly activist insult, it is not entirely undeserved. Even fairly democratic governments have begun to do an awful lot in the name of the common good that few would have accepted a few years back. Surveillance cameras in public places are proliferating, national service is used as a source for cheap labor and control, social security systems not just help but also keep track of people to a huge extent and often interfere with their lives. The governments are slowly growing harsher as the perceived threats to social stability, economy and traditional politics grow stronger. The FOG is desperately fighting the cataclysm, and may in the end sacrifice everything to prevent it.

The Technological Underground tries to surf the wave of technology, to survive the cataclysm and use its momentum to bring about a new world. It realizes that it is useless to resist change, we have to adapt to it and learn how to control it. But FOG is preventing that; as long as there are no other alternatives their way will be the right one. Hence the TU is fighting FOG, but even more trying to circumvent it and make it obsolete.

However, there are different views about means and ends. Some don't give a damn about the teeming masses of clueless, they are rushing headlong into the future and will attack anything standing in the way. Many of these people are linked to the organization calling itself WETF: World Engineering Task Force. Others realize that this approach won't work, and while views may differ in many respects, cooperation is in the long run more rewarding. These have formed a competing organization, the Concordat, encompassing everything from cypherpunks building secure communications networks over political hackers to underground academics, all linked together by a clever digital trade and communications web. The Concordat tries to create a survivable future.

The activists realize the approach of the cataclysm and welcome it, but do not approach it with the rationality of the TU. Instead they base their views on instincts, feelings, faith; the strong old human concepts of heroic fighting, salvation, the will to power, "protect your friends and death to the others": an abandonment of rationality in favor of faith. They see the cataclysm as the Final Days, Escaton or the True Revolution, when their ideology will rise to take control of humanity's destiny.

Most of the activists haven't a clue, they are malcontents, believers and lunatics that do not truly understand what is going on, and it doesn't matter: passion and action are important, not planning. These are the anarchist cells that set fire to police stations, terrorists who want to show the world their truth by spreading anthrax or angry youth just lashing out against anything and anyone suitable. But the truly dangerous activists are those who get it, who understand that by exploiting the growing disorder they can gain influence. They have a vision of the future and they will bring it about at any cost, whether it works or not.


All progress means war with society.
George Bernard Shaw
He passed the camera pack to her hand. It hurt to give it up. The pack contained the entire history of the Bohr Maker's liberation. But more than dry fact, the records he'd accumulated were solid proof that the Commonwealth could be successfully undermined. He held in his hand the soul of a revolution... and he was about to trade it for a few minutes time.
Linda Nagata, The Bohr Maker
The InfoWar is not a war in the traditional military sense, not even a guerilla war. It could possibly be described as subversion and countersubversion on a global scale. It is something completely new and unknown to everyone.

The weapons include the spread of information and ideas, technology that through its mere existence challenges society, tools that circumvent or subvert the existing structures, media manipulation of all kinds. Old-fashioned weapons like repression, violence and intelligence methods are also used, but they are ill adapted to meet the new threats. How do you strike against enemies that can be anywhere in the world? How can you defend against the spread of new technology that completely changes the fundamentals of the economic system? How to repress the spread of subversive information through the net and encrypted channels? How to limit the spread of dangerous technology if you are forced to use it yourself in order to stay ahead? When even information can be dangerous, intelligence networks can suddenly become a liability.

The InfoWar moves fast. Using computer simulations, intelligent programs and nanofactories TU engineers can develop new devices at a high rate in basement labs. Software agents traverse the net, gathering information and putting it together into useful packages for their owners in seconds. People move across the world using transcontinental airlines, telepresence or virtual meetings. Markets shift day from day. More and more people are waking up and noticing that something is going on. Everywhere the clocks count down to cataclysm; you have to move fast or somebody else will get there before you.

And while all this goes on, ordinary people live their lives as they always have. The media constantly reassures them that everything is all right, everything is under control and nothing special is happening. But something is in the air...

The Game

Now's the time to be alive to see it all happen, to be a part of it. That makes the blood race, and each breath is an adventure.
David Eddings
InfoWar could perhaps be described as "near future techno-political thriller".

The characters in InfoWar are members of the Concordat, people who for various reasons have become involved in the fight for the future and ended up linked to the largest and most diverse of the groups in the Technological Underground. They can be scientists, mercenaries, journalists, nanotechnologists, politicians, doctors, information hunters, media people, genetic engineers, artists, security experts, cryptographers, engineers, clerks, interfacers, or anything else. What is important is that they are aware of what is happening. They have realized what is going on and have taken charge over their lives - they are not going to let FOG, WETF or the activists ruin everything, they are going to create the future together with the rest of the Concordat. To their aid they have a global network of contacts, underground research and development, a secret economy and advanced technology. But that might not be enough; the InfoWar is accelerating, and almost anything is possible.

Adventures might involve attempts to undermine FOG and the other dangerous groups, either directly or by devious means. Corporate, political and international intrigue are another component. Hacking the system, be it computers, economics, media or politics, is essential. Espionage, technological crime, subversion, exploration and research all are part of the InfoWar. Not to mention spreading the ideas, convincing people to join the rebellion or switch sides. Locations can range from the sober government buildings of Brussels over secret basement genetics labs and the smoggy and bustling streets of the new Chinese cities to the battlegrounds in the third world. Everywhere the InfoWar is fought, secretly and slyly.

Ideally InfoWar should be a fast-paced and challenging roleplaying game. It is "realistic" in the sense that technology isn't magic, guns kill and the characters are responsible for their actions. At the same time reality is more exciting than much fiction: a lot of the technology and situations in the game are based on reality or extrapolations from the present.