Some rambling on Shadowrun world-building today. More or less thinking out loud to work out a vague idea in my head.
So, as mentioned a while back I have been thinking about Shadowrun because I thought I might be running a tabletop RPG in the Shadowrun world. 2050’s of course. Where all the good stuff happens. I probably will be running a more D&D type game if it happens, but my brain still has Shadowrun rolling around inside it. So here is an idea that more or less solidified in my brain last night. Based on concepts in a non-fiction book about programmable matter.
One of the interesting ideas the author explores in the book is the idea of smart buildings that can do various things to move around heat. Form heat sinks, move heat around, radiate it out where they want. As well as preventive measures like the outside of the building becomes reflective when the building gets too hot. That one is actually possible now. The author helped design a type of glass that gets reflective when it gets hot. For office buildings, especially the ones that have entire glass/window walls. The day is really hot and all the windows reflect sunlight away to help the building cool down.
So if we take his extrapolations of smart buildings made with programmable matter, which he even points out might lead to skyscrapers radiating enough heat to be dangerous to people nearby and mentions that in downtown areas there might even be low-scale conflict between all the buildings trying to get rid of their heat by dumping it out to the buildings around themselves.
Which strikes me as a very cyberpunk situation. Downtown in cities is dangerous to be unprotected. The buildings are practically hitting each other with lasers and enough heat to boil water. The rich people have armored and protected cars (the really rich have flying cars of course in the best movie/television cyberpunk tradition). Citizens can use public transportation of armored buses (though the buses and subways won’t be quite as protected as private cars due to budget limitations of course). The non-citizens? In Shadowrun that would be those without a System Identification Number (SIN), have to walk or make other arrangements. It becomes literally suicide to go walking in the heart of big cities.
Can’t get on a bus without a SIN. Taking one is possible, but a fairly serious crime. Not to mention everyone with a SIN, real or fake, is tracked 24/7 by the government and corporations. On the other hand, you could have people that manage to live completely unregistered and unmonitored in the shadows of the skyscrapers and elite upper class. A little program hack in a few buildings here, or a reflective tent there. The area between the buildings is too dangerous to have surveillance equipment after all. As long as you stay away from the main routes of traffic.
A world where the poor literally can’t live in big cities because technology has gotten to the point that outside of the perfectly comfortable office buildings is literally deadly. Yes, I think that is going to be added to my standard Shadowrun world from now on.