Rainworld's setting is Rainworld itself — the colloquial name for a half-terraformed planet officially named the Republic of Libertaria — and specifically one of the terraforming megastructures, an atmospheric processor and accompanying settlement named New Shenzen.
The intent of the Human Diaspora was to forge a Star Empire for Earth to rule. In practice, the outer reaches of the galaxy are a shattered fringe of isolationist colonies, each chartered in order to build a singular utopia from the ground up. Each is forged in the ideological image of its founders’ dreams, paying lip service — if that — to the regulations of the Interstellar Commonweal.
Two centuries into terraforming the New Republic of Libertaria, the planet is nice enough — well, liveable enough — as long as you live within a few dozen klicks of one of the sky-high toadstool-shaped atmospheric processors. And lucky you, you do, in the urban sprawl around the base of the New Shenzen processor. The daily rains are a side effect of terraforming — should calm down in another few hundred years. The main thing is, your ancestors escaped from the Commonweal’s long nightmare of peace and prosperity to found a society based on the real principles of real men — the capital-F Freedom to sell yourself into indentured servitude, own a different military assault weapon for every day of the year, and die from a minor infection because actually seeing a doctor is a deluxe premium optional extra for your medical insurance.
Breathing the air is still free at point of use, but trust me, they’re working on it.
Human residents are injected with gelware PineaLink brain implants at birth (and synthetic sapients’ brains are simply designed to include equivalent functionality); aside from acting as a tracking ID, these act as bidirec- tional computer interfaces and visual Augmented Reality overlays. Unemployment benefits, such as they are, include access to a limited governmental ISP hookup — enough to get porn, soaps, shopping channels, wall-to-wall advertising, and fill out mandatory job applications in the comfort of your own head. Jobs usually come with corporate ISP accounts, which add company-internal social media and training materials, and perhaps some filtered general access. Private ISP access...will cost you. Adblockers are legally classed as terrorism.
Anyone without a PineaLink implant must carry a Blue Pass biometric identity document and work permit, readable by PineaLink scanners, at all times.
Nonhuman sapients are permitted to immigrate, but remain the most popular targets for hate crime. Certain Commonweal subsidies depend on meeting minimum standards regarding sentients’ rights and population diversity; in order to technically qualify, the government buy an annual percentage of Peepl Biocorp’s production of synthetic people — homunculoids — and grant them legal personhood.
As a player, you take on the role of an entry-level operative for a corporation serving the specialist niche of governmental function outsourcing: Services 4 Government. By enrolling with S4G, aged 7, characters have had the stellar opportunity to receive a basic education, firearms training, and their choice of vocational training package from the PEACE plan. Now they begin their standard elastic-term training cost repayment contract (minimum standard duration: 20 active work-years). In the absence of the socialist horrors of public services, some problems just keep piling up until somebody will pay to make them stop; and once S4G has pocketed that money, you’re the ones it sends to do the work.
Due to a quirk of Rainworld law, corporations automatically count as persons with rights, but actual people only conditionally qualify, under a tiered system. Entry-level operatives don’t have security clearance for the lucrative jobs that might enable them to buy their contract out early — and they can’t qualify for it, either. Most starting Ops join or form a several-person squad, which, being a commercial entity, has a security rating and can eventually qualify its individual members to apply for one of their own.
As operatives, you are among the more fortunate of Rainworld citizens, with a guaranteed source of work and a certain amount of authority. In terms of absolute power, however, you are strictly one rung up from the street — S4G’s Fire Response Operatives (the elite “Red Frogs") outrank you, and the private security of Rainworld’s rich, never mind the rich themselves, are untouchable.
The Republic uses the Libredollar (ℒ). Operatives don’t get anything so socialist as wages — instead, they show the virtues of industry and initiative by visiting their nearest Workcentre. The Department for Operative Allocation (DOA) accepts Request For Work (RFW) tickets from other government departments and private-sector partners, and the Workcentres distribute them.
Operatives can browse the available RFWs, or volunteer to be assigned one. Volunteering means unconditionally accepting whatever you’re given: refusing to complete a ticket after volunteering means paying non-completion fees and a reprimand on your permanent record. (Non-completion fees are set by the ticket’s originator, not the DOA — although if left blank, the DOA will “helpfully" default it to 500ℒ per ticket for each Operative signed up for it.)
The standard DOA rate for completing a ticket is 50ℒ, or 100ℒ for a volunteer ticket. Many tickets are incentivised with Performance-Related Operative Payments (PROPs) — sometimes a simple completion bonus, but usually linked to Key Performance Indicators such as minimal casualties, no property damage, or completion within a time limit.
Additionally, in times of public emergency, the DOA emergency broadcast system can send MANDATORY PRIORITY TICKETS (MPTs) direct to all operatives’ PineaLinks. As the name suggests, these immediately and automatically override whatever else an operative might be doing, with serious legal repercussions for failure to respond.
While all Libredollar transactions are supposed to be conducted under the benevolent eye and transaction processing fees of the CashBlink corporation, allowing each citizen’s PineaLink-identified purchasing habits to be data mined by advertisers and anti-terrorist efforts, a furtive cash economy exists, with ℒ-scrip produced mainly by the criminal gangs of the Fringe, and surprisingly widely accepted.
The basic citizens of Rainworld. Mostly poor, oppressed and miserable, living in squalid high-density capsule housing, anaesthetised with direct-to-brain VR television. There is some variation, however — even in the Republic’s free-market utopia, there are winners — and even worse losers than average.
BASELINE humans are the basic genetic stock that arose on Earth and conquered the galaxy.
MUTTS are mutated — whether by exposure to environmental toxins, smart highs, or combat pharmaceuticals, de novo or inherited. Hardy, vigorous, still human enough to be part of society, but obviously weird enough to be stigmatised.
PERFECTS are the cream of humanity, deliberately crafted to exquisite extremes. Genetic, memetic and subtle cybernetic enhancement have created a new aristocracy of hyperfunctional individuals.
However short and dark the lives of Rainworld’s human citizens are, when someone in the New Republic says, “Imagine a random person," that ‘random’ person is Baseline human. A white, cisgender, heterosexual, baseline human man. Privilege is the ultimate social lubricant, and affords unearned opportunity.
GANZFELDS are nearly human — their ancestors definitely were. Mysterious folks from another of the Interstellar Commonweal’s many worlds, Ganzfelds claim to perceive and manipulate a deeper reality that underlies and manifests our universe. Their weird powers are undeniable.
MANX are among the most useful — and therefore common — nonhuman S4G recruits. Fast, compact, fluffy pursuit predators native to icy planets.
HOMUNCULOIDS are synthetic lifeforms, mass-produced by Peepl Biocorp to target various markets: inherently obedient workdrones, naturally armoured and scruple-free riot suppression troops, environmentally hardened maintenance and inspection workers, and many more.
Rainworld is polyglot. The official languages of the Interstellar Commonweal — Standard Sinic, Standard Neosperanto, Commonweal Standard Sign Language — are widespread, albeit written more than spoken. Like all colonies, Rainworld is developing a characteristic local dialect, so far officially nameless; this is the language characters speak (and are literate in) by default. Immigrant Manx, and their early-generation offspring, may know one (or more) of the subsonic throat-singing languages of their ancestral worlds. Similarly, Ganzfelds may speak Standard Scandic.