Roll for &/or choose as many keywords and phrases as you like to create an imaginary settlement.
Published by Sad Press Games. A resource for roleplaying games or writing or something else. By Alice the Candle (aka Jo Lindsay Walton) with contributions from Louis Evans.Heterotopia Hooks is an expansion of the settlement generator in Fury Road Trip in the Conjured Games Soft Apocalypse anthology (2021), but it’s a system agnostic tool. It was expanded into this form for the David Graeber memorial games jam. Thank you /r/RPGDesign esp. /u/Heger. Images by Tithi Luadhong (Itch.io cover) and Victor Zastolskiy (above). Version 1.3 .Feel free to expand / hack.
Tips on using the resource
You don’t have to roll on all the tables. One or two results may give you all the seeds you need.
You can roll on the same table more than once. Sometimes the results will make sense. Sometimes they might not make sense till you MAKE them make sense.
There’s a postapocalyptic energy to this (Fury Road Trip, Apocalypse World, Dream Askew etc.) but you can use it for any fantasy or science fictional setting.
Let it be weird. If necessary, explain things later or even not at all.
‘Unrealistic’ societies can become realistic when populated by rich three-dimensional characters who care about their world.
To build the world of the settlement, extrapolate: if this thing is true, what else is true? Also reverse-engineer: what else needs to be true, in order to make this thing be true?
Collaborate. For example, if you’re the GM, invite the whole group to take charge of making the world coherent.
Imagine. Games and fiction allow us to explore any kind of society we can imagine. Why then are they so often based on the same old feudal, capitalist, or command economy systems again and again? Even the real world offers more varied social and economic structures than a lot of fantasy and science fiction … let alone what we could imagine together.
There’s probably no such thing as ‘human nature,’ or if there is, most of what we’re told about it isn’t true.
If you’re accustomed to thinking that something ‘always’ or ‘inevitably’ fails, try to come up with the story where it works or kind of works.
Overall vibes (roll d6 / d6)
1/2 beehive (anthill / termite mound / etc.)
1/3 bug-out spot
1/5 camp / yurts / bivvies / under the stars
1/6 airport / train station / truck stop
2/1 former city center (deli, laundromat, tattoo parlor etc.)
2/2 cars / caravans / camper vans
2/3 cave complex / subway ‘dungeon’ / trenches / quarry
2/4 citadel / outpost / stronghold
2/5 dirigible or other aerial settlement
3/2 forested former suburb
3/3 garage (incl. garage band)
3/4 hunting lodge
3/5 junkyard castle
3/6 labyrinth / maze
4/1 mall / retail park
4/2 harbor / marina / offshore platform
4/3 monastery / cloisters / temples / shrines
4/4 motel / gas station / roadside attraction
4/5 oasis / trading post
4/6 stacks / vault / warehouse
5/1 post-institutional site (prison / hospital / school / etc.)
5/2 raft / sea steading / yacht / tanker / underwater bubble
5/3 ranch / croft
5/5 ruined amusement park / fairground / casino / zoo
5/6 scavengers’ paradise
6/1 semi-nomadic settlement
6/2 shantytown / slum
6/4 sports facility (cricket pitch / baseball diamond / ice rink)
6/5 mobile (maybe) mechanical settlement (e.g. Traintown)
6/6 stilt village / treehouses
Resources &/or scarcities (roll d6 / d6)
1/1 art / books / jokes / stories
1/2 ammo / weapons
1/3 contact lenses
1/4 dry / fertile / unpoisoned / any land
1/6 fresh air
2/1 fresh water
2/2 fossil fuels (gas, oil, charcoal, peat)
2/3 human meat but wait wait wait hear us out
2/4 illyrion / unobtanium
2/5 iron / copper / tin / steel / etc.
3/1 machine parts
3/6 nails / screws / bolts / etc.
4/1 pigments / paints
4/4 seaweed / sealife
4/5 seeds / biodiversity
4/6 solar panels
5/2 spades / rakes / trowels / hoses
5/5 tinned goods
5/6 telescopes / exploration equipment
6/1 textiles / clothing / shoes
6/5 wind turbines
6/6 wood / trees / timber
An important role (roll d6 / d6):
E.g. leader, ephor, high priest, elder, scapegoat
1/1 We change who it is every year
1/2 We change who it is every season
1/3 We change who it is every month
1/4 We change who it is every day
1/5 We change who it is every hour
1/6 Anyone may challenge for the role
2/1 We usually fear them
2/2 We usually mock them
2/3 We usually honor them
2/4 We usually interrogate them
2/5 We usually do the opposite of what they say
2/6 We usually love them
3/1 We usually / always ignore them
3/2 We usually / always imprison them
3/3 We usually / always disguise them
3/4 We sometimes hunt them
3/5 We sometimes cuddle them
3/6 We sometimes eat them
4/1 The role is filled by a Squidlord
4/2 Faces in the clouds
4/3 A Council of Seven
4/4 A Council of All
4/5 A Council of None
4/6 A Council of Nope
5/1 The role is filled by giant puppets
5/2 An algorithm
5/3 A sequence of omens
5/4 A clockwork dragon crossed with a library
5/5 A bunch of brains stitched together
5/6 A voice that issues from a slit
6/1 Candidates must beat a feat of balance.
6/2 Candidates must answer a riddle.
6/3 Candidates must let us touch their wounds.
6/4 Candidates must meet the Ancestors.
6/5 The office rotates between estates.
6/6 They undertake the ‘highest’ and ‘lowest’ duties.
Decision-making (roll d6 / d6)
For an important decision to be reconsidered, you must …
1/1 … survive three days in the desert with the Singing Missile.
1/2 … issue a leadership challenge (or equivalent)
1/3 … persuade the Glitch Knight to advocate for you.
1/4 … end someone else’s feud or repay their debt.
1/5 … sway the majority of our General Assembly.
1/6 … achieve consensus in our General Assembly.
2/1 We all lead.
2/2 We have no leaders.
2/3 We’re not sure what a ‘leader’ is.
2/4 Our leader is a despised tyrant.
2/5 Our leader is benevolent yet despised.
2/6 We have ways of dealing with would-be leaders.
3/1 Our decision-making processes incorporate safety tools.
3/2 Decision-making happens mostly in the subtext.
3/3 There are just so many committees.
3/4 We use decision tree flowcharts for EVERYTHING.
3/5 The Decision Trees grow in the Decisions Grove.
3/6 Policymaking keeps to the principle of, “Yes, and …”
4/1 We practice liquid democracy.
4/2 Cellular democracy, kinda like nested electoral colleges.
4/3 We distinguish matters for consensus and matters of agon.
4/4 Democracy is gamified: every citizen has a stat block.
4/5 Our means of distributing power widely is / isn’t working.
4/6 We practice sophisticated crowd self-control.
5/1 When you rise in the vrok hierarchy, you sink in the yum.
5/2 Frequent referenda, anonymous voting.
5/3 Consensus decision making by the General Assembly.
5/4 Bicameral: one assembly elected, one filled by sortition.
5/5 Representatives can be recalled by people’s assemblies.
5/6 We have a way of avoiding “whoever shows up”-ocracy.
6/1 We have a problem with / the solution to fake news.
6/2 We debate things outsiders find trivial (and vice-versa).
6/3 We use Robert's Revised Rules of Order for the Aftermath.
6/4 We make decisions at brunches, sports events, & parties.
6/5 We have a big steampunky Decision Support Tool.
6/6 Our parliamentary procedure involves LOTS of props.
Property (roll d6 / d6):
1/x Everything is shared in common …
1/1 … and no exceptions!
1/2 … except a few personal belongings.
1/3 … except the shacks.
1/4 … except the salt / the spices / the gas / the guns.
1/5 … except anything designated noopin.
1/6 … except property of the gurlyfurgin.
2/x Any item usually has two owners …
2/1 … its squimwatch and its fimzl.
2/2 … each with different rights and duties.
2/3 … who swap seasonally.
2/4 … one ‘waxing’ and one ‘waning.’
2/5 … each with a different possessive pronoun.
2/6 … although sometimes three or more.
3/1 Things can only belong to other things.
3/2 We recognize usus, fructus, & abusus rights.
3/3 Every little thing is on a kind of stock market.
3/4 A taboo forbids owning anything non-physical.
3/5 There is no property in winter.
3/6 We draw lines around ‘things,’ but not like you do.
4/1 Things can only belong to other things.
4/2 We recognize usus, fructus, & abusus.
4/3 The owner is whoever smells most / least like it.
4/4 The owner is whoever can describe it best.
4/5 You can only own what you have made.
4/6 You can only own what you have been given.
5/1 Only broken things have owners.
5/2 Only inherited things can be owned.
5/3 The Merging Plague makes ownership risky.
5/4 We can’t own more than we can carry.
5/5 Only a faction / caste / committee / adhocracy can own.
5/6 Different spheres of ownership for different genders.
6/1 Ownership implies duties but no rights.
6/2 Only abstract concepts can be owned.
6/3 Only surplus, once everyone ‘has’ one, can be owned.
6/4 Everything is pretty much owned by somebody.
6/5 A few categories of things are held in common.
6/6 A tax-like system keeps the commons flourishing.
Cops (roll d6 / d6):
1/x Cops have been superseded by …
1/2 Ghosts and/or magic.
1/5 Mutual aid.
1/6 No cops.
2/x We guard against cop power …
2/1 … by rotating certain duties.
2/2 … by what we call the squimwatch.
2/3 … by checks, balances, & separation of powers.
2/4 … by everyone except cops carrying badass weapons.
2/5 … by a culture of moment-by-moment accountability.
2/6 … by always seeking the real root of their violence.
3/1 We call them the squimwatch.
3/2 We call them Autodefensas.
3/3 We call them Mediators.
3/4 We call them Mental Health Responders.
3/5 We call them criminals.
3/6 We call them the Interrupters.
4/1 We’re looking for a new sheriff, you interested?
4/2 Well, we elect judges. Does that count?
4/3 We choose Serenity Sentinels by sortition.
4/4 We have Detectives, Mediators, and Lookouts. No cops!
4/5 Only the Infected may pass judgment.
4/6 We built this here L.A.W.B.O.T. & can’t switch him off.
5/1 Oh, the cops pretty much run this place.
5/2 The Secret Police may be listening right now.
5/3 We do feuds & duels.
5/4 Ain’t nobody defy verdict of xkiskimatch.
5/5 The Mommydaddies punish us when we’re naughty.
5/6 To police a type of crime, first get away with it.
6/1 Vigilante posses are a real local specialty.
6/2 There are two / three rival police forces.
6/3 What’s past is past, justice is about next time.
6/4 We have peer juries and jury geasa.
6/5 We have Problem-Solving Circles.
6/6 Our cops work like they should, and here’s why.
Justice (roll d6 / d6)
1/x Justice is …
1/1 … almost non-existent.
1/2 … retributive.
1/3 … ludic.
1/4 … restorative / participatory.
1/5 … transformative / reparative.
1/6 … poetic.
2/x Justice involves …
2/1 … the Rites.
2/2 … the Beast.
2/3 … the Game.
2/4 … the Device.
2/5 … the Path.
2/6 … It.
3/x Justice requires …
3/1 … you getting yourself a good haruspex.
3/2 … the Scepter of Justice, it’s a Barbie doll, we know.
3/3 … roleplaying, storytelling, writing, and art.
3/4 … rejecting judgments rooted in hierarchy.
3/5 … constant change to accommodate newcomers’ ways.
3/6 … all legal arguments to be regular metre.
4/1 Anyone who takes life must leave forever, no exceptions.
4/2 Compensation is decided by a physician after nine days.
4/3 Kin of an injured party may declare a blood feud.
4/4 Certain injustices, old but in living memory, shape society.
4/5 A judge who issues a punishment relinquishes their role.
4/6 You have the right to trial by combat.
5/1 Anyone can propose a law by offering a sacrifice.
5/2 Anyone can propose a law by donating to the commons.
5/3 Before a case can be brought, a long cool-off period
5/4 Every transgression has its own justice system.
5/5 No one is treated like an incomprehensible monster.
5/6 Listening is an art, incorporating the Seven Silences.
6/1 We have no word for ‘excuse’ but twenty words like it.
6/2 We do not conflate accountability with forgiveness.
6/3 We have networks of mentors and other support roles.
6/4 The omens reveal their verdicts.
6/5 Justice is slow … deliberately slow.
6/6 The First Rule is a rhyming couplet.
The Commons (roll d6 / d6):
1/x With community resources, everyone’s got an equal say …
1/1 … & we use majority voting.
1/2 … & we use unanimous consensus.
1/3 … & we use consensus-minus-one.
1/4 … & we use a system we call n?kh?rl?l.
1/5 … but we got a lot of working groups.
1/6 … but we got a lot of expert panels.
2/x The affected parties have the bigger say …
2/1 … & we have a pretty clear definition of who they are.
2/2 … but we get some disagreements about who that is.
2/3 … but everybody gets an equal say on who they are.
2/4 … and we follow stakeholder mapping procedures.
2/5 … but not by much.
2/6 … in matters pertaining to their Seven Sanctities.
When folks don’t play ball …
3/1 … we have a sliding scale of sanctions.
3/2 … let’s be honest, it often goes unnoticed.
3/3 … we monitor that pretty closely.
3/4 … it’s over pretty fast.
3/5 … it takes forever.
3/6 … it always causes a big hullabaloo.
4/1 Our big problem is the Road Reavers.
4/2 If only it weren’t for the auditors from Bullettown.
4/3 But our common resources are being eroded.
4/4 Most times, we plain forget why we called the meet.
4/5 The only real problem is overwork and burnout.
4/6 The only real problem is Bob.
5/1 We don’t talk about the simmering discontent.
5/2 Our settlement is part of a large mutualized network.
5/3 You into frolicking? Frolicking nurtures togetherness.
5/4 We mutualize the common pool via the Formula.
5/5 We’re gonna adopt a way better system than commoning!
5/6 The commons are to be enclosed by the Harrowspider.
6/1 We do / don’t clearly define what things we share
6/2 We do / don’t clearly define who has rights to it.
6/3 We do / don’t have rules reflecting our local situation here.
6/4 We mess on through without too much formality.
6/5 We have a few main rules and improvise the rest.
6/6 We have a pretty clear set of rules.
Bureaucracy (roll d6)
1 We deliberately use two incompatible systems.
2 Bureaucrats are blissed out on an admin pill.
3 Every third time a rule is applied it must be changed.
4 The bureaucratic class are also gardeners.
5 Every document contains a phu, a deliberate mistake.
6 Mainly relates to vaccines and antibacterials.
Metrics and measures (roll d6)
1 Measurements like ‘a stone’s throw’ are very literal.
2 Time is measured in cooking durations (‘two rats’).
3 Measurement is revered, almost sacred.
4 Every measurement also makes an unmeasurement.
5 Our measurement practices spook & confuse outsiders.
6 We can quantify what they never could in the olden days.
Childcare (roll d6)
1 All the grown-ups look after all the kids.
2 What’s a ‘kid’? Everybody just cares for each other.
3 A credits system.
4 Complex system of care agreements.
5 Kin networks care for children.
6 Children rotate through the families.
Number of spheres of exchange (roll d6)
2 Two loose spheres, conveyances not uncommon
3 Two strict spheres, conveyances rare
4 1d6 loose spheres, conveyances not uncommon
5 1d6 strict spheres, conveyances rare
6 It’s all a massive mess and everyone disagrees
Exchange across spheres involves (roll d6) …
1 … disgrace for the initiator of the exchange.
2 … the risk of violence breaking out.
3 … waiting for the stars to align.
4 … permission from the Cave Eye.
5 … adding a word to the Stone Poem.
6 … witchcraft.
Things within a sphere of exchange can only be traded for one another, except under very special circumstances (‘conveyances’). Roll a few times on the list to the right, and then group the results into spheres of exchange that feel intuitive or interesting. Expand each sphere by adding examples of other similar items.
Contents of spheres (roll several times & group)
1/1 art / books / jokes / stories
1/2 fresh water
1/3 sun block
1/4 dry / fertile / unpoisoned / any land
1/5 phones / computers / electronics
1/6 gardening / agricultural implements
2/1 ammo / weapons
2/2 fossil fuels (gas, oil, charcoal, peat)
2/3 blood debts
2/4 illyrion / unobtanium
2/5 iron / copper / tin / steel / etc.
3/1 machine parts
3/4 work of an artisan
3/6 nails / screws / bolts / etc.
4/1 pigments / paints
4/2 magic spells, ingredients, or advice
4/3 cooking implements
4/4 seaweed / sealife
4/5 seeds / plants / biodiversity
4/6 solar panels
5/1 promotions, titles, and certifications
5/2 tools for hunting and trapping
5/4 preserved consumables from the olden days
5/5 food, food ingredients, small consumable items
5/6 ropes / crampons / exploration equipment
6/1 textiles / clothing / shoes
6/3 vehicle parts
6/5 wood / trees / timber / charcoal
6/6 certain rights within the community
Hierarchy (roll d6 / d6)
1/x There is a strict estate / class / caste system, based on …
1/1 … birth.
1/2 … chance.
1/3 … rotation.
1/4 … what we call peckle.
1/5 … the Sorting Heart.
1/6 … the Championship.
2/x There is a loose estate / class / caste system, based on …
2/1 … voting.
2/2 … age.
2/3 … astrological sign.
2/4 … which actual gods you have personally met.
2/5 … the Sorting Hut.
2/6 … aesthetic opinions / favorite icecream / allergies.
3/x Among other things, estate / caste / class determines …
3/1 … vassalage and servitude.
3/2 … forms of social interaction.
3/3 … occupation.
3/4 … sports fandom.
3/5 … who you can romance.
3/6 … access to legal remedy.
4/1 There is a ‘shibboleth’ phoneme.
4/2 The hierarchy is in rapid flux.
4/3 We’ve solved meritocracy without hierarchy.
4/4 Interlocking matrices of oppression.
4/6 Fiercely egalitarian.
5/1 Strong norms against egoism and altruism.
5/2 Authority is theatrically & playfully taunted & parodied.
5/3 Levelling mechanisms.
5/4 Even the levelling mechanisms have levelling mechanisms.
5/5 Ternary society: the Crows, the Magisters, the Scours.
5/6 Class structures are inverted in the Dreamland.
6/1 Imperial occupiers.
6/2 Sumptuary laws.
6/3 There are more classes than people.
6/4 Religious sectarianism.
6/5 We serve the Hollowwalkers.
6/6 A revolution is unfolding.
Violence (roll d6 / d6)
1/x Potential violence is projected …
1/1 … into an ever-changing mythology.
1/2 … into the Battle of the Bands.
1/3 … into a game / ritual.
1/4 … into the Competition.
1/5 … into dreams.
1/6 … into theater.
2/x Those who use violence are …
2/1 … honored.
2/2 … ignored.
2/3 … shunned / mocked.
2/4 … exiled.
2/5 … re-educated.
2/6 … killed.
3/1 Violence is a scourge on our community.
3/2 We’ve figured it out better than in olden days.
3/3 Violence requires a ceremonial sword.
3/4 When someone gets sick, a witch did that.
3/5 Violence requires a ceremonial pool noodle.
3/6 We do baseball bat duels.
4/1 Sorry about the skulls everywhere, lol.
4/2 Ear necklaces.
4/3 We construct scrapbots to battle in the Arena.
4/4 With ornate claws.
4/5 In ceremonial dresses of magnetic ribbon only.
4/6 We settle our differences with foosball.
5/1 What is ‘violence’? Like when you trip and fall?
5/2 Our deliberative assembly practises escalation of force.
5/3 Our deliberative assembly practises escalation of farce.
5/4 We live in harmony with AI-controlled bio-supersoldiers.
5/5 There is a kind of spell that transforms violence.
5/6 We have six very different words for what you call violence.
6/1 The Eyes stun both aggressor & victim just before contact.
6/2 Violence is always spiritual first and foremost.
6/3 We have weapons that capture memories.
6/4 We are proud warriors, but we never kill.
6/5 We overthrew oppressors but things are a bit purgey.
6/6 We’re in the midst of a revolution.
Money and debt (roll d6 / d6)
1/x There is no money, but there is a lot of gift-giving.
1/1 We keep careful record of who gives what.
1/2 We keep track, but not too carefully.
1/3 Public gift ceremonies, based on reciprocity.
1/4 The whole place is strung with Abacus Bunting.
1/5 All ‘exchanges’ are Pokemoney dances / duels.
1/6 Competitive gift-giving sometimes results in ruin.
2/1 Anyone can issue money, like an IOU.
2/2 Currency must be scavenged / mined.
2/3 The quantity of cash is fixed forever.
2/4 Our government issues currency.
2/5 Another government issues it.
2/6 Special banks issue it.
There are many kinds of money. Each …
3/1 … can only be exchanged for certain things.
3/2 … can only be used by certain people.
3/3 … can only be used at certain times.
3/4 … is informally ‘earmarked’ to differentiate it.
3/5 … is used for exchange, or for something else.
3/6 … has its own special origin and life cycle.
There is one kind of money, and …
4/1 … it’s a useful commodity itself.
4/2 … it’s technically useful, but seldom used.
4/3 … it’s backed by a useful commodity.
4/4 … it is made of a rare substance.
4/5 … it’s backed by a rare substance.
4/6 … it is fiat money.
4/1 Money is based on scarcity.
4/2 Money is based on stories.
4/3 Money is based on insults.
4/4 Money is based on time.
4/5 Money is based on money.
4/6 Money is based on dreams.
5/1 Money is based on energy.
5/2 Money is based on smells.
5/3 Money is based on music / art.
5/4 Money is based on carbon capture.
5/5 Money is based on rumors.
5/6 Money is based on ghosts.
6/1 Money is based on boasts.
6/2 Money is based on secrets.
6/3 The whole money system is regularly redesigned.
6/4 Tickets to the last skeeball arcade game.
6/5 Vrill is based on anger, nyim on love.
6/6 Skei is based on boundaries, yii on triggers.
Work (roll d6 / d6)
1/x We have a new division of labor.
1/1 Ensuring fair distribution of expertise.
1/2 Ensuring no job is too onerous.
1/3 ‘Balanced job complexes.’
1/4 Which constantly changes.
1/5 Gift economy meets gig economy.
1/6 The the?mka disrupted the old order.
2/x Most work is accompanied / accomplished by …
2/1 … singing.
2/2 … dancing.
2/3 … poetry.
2/4 … dreaming.
2/5 … pattycake.
2/6 … ‘magic.’
3/1 We work four hours a day.
3/2 It’s mostly playbor.
3/3 We use Kanban boards for EVERYTHING.
3/4 We try to compensate all work.
3/5 All work is sacred.
3/6 Work is taboo, we don’t talk about it.
4/1 We don’t care if contributions match benefits.
4/2 Folks should get out what they put in.
4/3 We work in a frenzy, then chill for a long time.
4/4 The lizards do the work. We clean their teeth.
4/5 We regularly de-bullshit-ize our jobs.
4/6 Nobody has to work unless they want to.
5/1 Each day we invent new jobs by mashing up old ones.
5/2 Most work is done by vocateurs.
5/3 For any hard work we induce the Flow Trance.
5/4 Almost all work is crowdwork.
5/5 What is ‘work’?
5/6 Work is arranged around the needs of democracy.
6/1 Occupations are randomised.
6/2 Occupations are rotated.
6/3 Occupations are inherited.
6/4 Occupations are bought & sold.
6/5 Debt bondage.
6/6 Chattel slavery.
We have this word here (roll d6 / d6 + d6 / d6)
1/1 … & it just ain’t possible to translate.
1/2 … it refers to what you might call a taboo.
1/3 … it refers to what you might call a ritual.
1/4 … it means what you might call our leader.
1/5 … and when it’s on you, there’s things you must do.
1/6 … and when it’s on you, folks treat you different.
3/1 … it’s a game, but then again it ain’t a game.
3/2 … it’s a special profession we have in these parts.
3/3 … it’s the thing that lives in the shadows.
3/4 … the prophecy foretells its coming.
3/5 … it’s a process, a holy process, for deciding.
3/6 … it’s a process, a holy process, for protection.
4/1 … so we don’t say ‘individual’ so much any more.
4/2 … I’ll give you a hint, it’s bigger’n a breadbox.
4/3 … now I can’t rightly explain that myself.
4/4 … and fam, even we think it’s weird.
4/5 … it’s a local emotion.
4/6 … it ain’t quite a thought, exactly.
5/1 … it helps smooth things out, put it that way.
5/2 … you add it to an emotion word to mean, like, uh …
5/3 … that captures the contingency & non-finality of being.
5/4 … that indicates the interconnectedness of existence.
5/5 … that can only be spoken once.
5/6 … that transforms every conversation where it is uttered.
6/1 … only they may use fire / electric / big words / the Hatch.
6/2 … it means to solve a problem with a problem.
6/3 … it means something like ‘contract’ or ‘dream.’
6/4 … it means joyfully stopping at the zenith of something.
6/5 … it assigns causation but not responsibility (or vice-versa).
6/6 … it means something like ‘care’ or ‘control.’
1/x Our pit latrine(s) is / are …
1/1 Getting dug as we speak.
1/2 Partially lined.
1/3 Fully lined.
1/4 Fully lined with a spiral wall outhouse.
1/5 Fully lined with outhouse plus ventilation pipe & flyscreen.
1/6 As above plus twin-pit design & odor-absorbing sawdust.
2/1 Not gonna lie, this is an area for improvement.
2/2 We are at war with the settlement downriver.
2/3 We’re low on infrastructure, but there’s gong farmers.
2/4 Help yourself to a bucket or trowel, Shit Hill’s that way.
2/5 That why we built the Crapapult.
2/6 There are some kinks in the Incinerating Toilet design.
3/1 We built our own aqueducts & limestone filters.
3/2 We got the old system up & running.
3/3 Open sewage canals in the center of the streets.
3/4 Small-bore sewerage & a waste stabilization pond.
3/5 Grinder pumps, vacuum sewers & treatment plant.
3/6 Gravity sewerage with lift station & treatment plant.
4/1 Pour-flush pit latrine with squatting pan plus water seal.
4/2 Pour-flush pit latrine with pedestal plus water seal.
4/3 Rainwater cistern plus septic tank & drain field.
4/4 Rainwater cistern plus septic tank & biofiltration.
4/5 Two-stage septic tank process with biodigester.
4/6 Tiger-Worm Toilet.
5/1 We use permaculture arborloos / treebogs.
5/2 Bench / squatting urine-diverting compost toilet(s).
5/3 Lots of small plywood box urine-diverting toilets.
5/4 Three seashells.
5/5 Fecal sludge becomes biodiesel feedstock.
5/6 A diverse array of sanitation technologies.
6/1 It’s based on an alchemy unknown in the olden days.
6/2 Our stillsuits recycle 90% of waste into catchpockets.
6/3 We live in symbiotic harmony with the Dungsparrows.
6/4 We’ve developed a substance called Excre-Cement.
6/5 Bioengineered Sewerage-Vines.
6/6 It’s a secret.
Once upon a time, in the ruins of the old order, a paradise was built by a brave band of …
2/3 drag queens
2/6 incels / edgelords
3/2 hippies / hipsters
3/5 makers / hackers / live coders
3/6 metalheads / goths / glam metal rockers
4/3 reply guys
4/4 revolutionary elite
4/6 former slaves
5/1 sea punks
5/2 sex workers
5/6 street magicians / preppers
6/1 tech bros
6/2 time travelers
6/4 Trekkers / LARPers
Our founders were (roll d6) …
1 … from all over.
2 … from two places, mainly.
3 … mostly from round here.
4 … refugees from nearby.
5 … refugees from far away.
6 … from an alternate dimension.
Gender (roll d6)
1 There are supposedly just three genders.
2 There are supposedly just four genders.
3 There are as many genders as we need.
4 Gender ain’t so much about bodies like it was.
5 Gender ain’t so much about desire like it was.
6 Gender ain’t so much about work like it was.
And you know what?
1 It all somehow works perfectly!
2 It don’t work like it’s supposed to, but it works!
3 It works pretty well!
4 It kind of even works!
5 That won’t give you any idea of what it’s really like.
6 That’s only what I can tell you. Wait till I show you …
Miscellaneous (roll d6 / d6)
1/1 Thousands of strange stalks of light.
2/2 Anyone who wears Old Meg’s hat is Old Meg.
1/3 Shadow puppetry is banned.
1/4 It’s legal to love, but market forces make it unlikely.
1/5 It’s legal to dream, but market forces make it unlikely.
1/6 Color can be bought and sold.
2/1 It’s too expensive to laugh.
2/2 Baskets for feudal wages have been shrinking.
2/3 Baskets for feudal rents have been enlarging.
2/4 Grain must be poured from shoulder height.
2/5 Land is measured as grazing capacity (‘two goats’)
2/6 A rhyming couplet describes a law.
3/2 It’s hyper-mutagenic zone.
3/3 Everyone has a different identity by day & by night.
3/4 In these parts, your genes go dreaming.
3/5 There’s alien / ancient tech.
3/6 Enwreathed by ravenous emerald-vibrant jungle.
4/1 The Golem is here.
4/2 Buen vivir.
4/3 Today’s the day of the Aug Parade.
4/4 The Spirit of the Pit may grant a boon.
4/5 Calculations are performed visually.
4/6 The calendar is shrinking.
5/1 Every other day is spent doing yesterday in reverse.
5/2 Everyone is an artist.
5/3 Art is banned, but also art is kind of everywhere.
5/4 The the?tu? dictates that we repaint all these colors.
5/5 Every structure must always be under construction.
5/6 EVERYBODY ITCHES.
6/1 A dispute with a nearby settlement is escalating.
6/2 We like to improve, but not to optimize or ‘perfect.’
6/3 Time glitches every time lightning strikes in the Circle.
6/4 All our institutions are ‘generous by design.’
6/5 The light in the watchtower is jammed at a fixed point.
6/6 Cats have full equal status as citizens here.
The ingeniously jury-rigged …
1/1 kitchen / food warehouse
1/2 medical equipment
1/4 extreme weather protection
1/5 pump / well / shishi-odoshi
1/6 cart / vehicle / transport
2/1 energy generator (e.g. pico-turbine, energy kite)
2/2 surveillance equipment
2/3 micro-farm / garden
2/4 clothing / suit / exoskeleton / waldo
2/5 workshop / smithy / mill / loom
2/6 spa / swimming pool / sauna
3/1 arena / forum / theater
3/3 heating / cooling equipment
3/4 sofa / table / gazebo
3/5 sanitation infrastructure
3/6 mobility / accessibility equipment
4/1 toy / sports equipment
4/4 tractor / digger
4/5 construction equipment
4/6 agricultural equipment
5/1 mining equipment
5/2 irrigation system
5/3 administrative apparatus
5/4 science laboratory
5/5 carbon sequestering assembly
5/6 alarm / palisade / wall / moat / firebrake
6/1 biodiversity measure
6/2 intruder countermeasures suite
6/3 communications equipment
6/4 pit latrine / wastewater plant
6/5 sports / recreational equipment
6/6 stealth equipment
… has / have been constructed incorporating an old …
1/1 tape measure
1/2 broken toilet seat
1/3 frayed tarpaulin
1/4 bouncy castle
1/5 plaster of paris cast, covered in signatures
1/6 broken solar panel
2/1 rusted car hulk
2/2 garbage can lid
2/3 stonewashed blue jean jumpsuit
2/4 lawn mower
2/5 pair of paintball guns
2/6 pool table
3/1 shipping container
3/2 geiger counter
3/4 skull / bone / headstone / urn of ashes
3/5 welding mask
3/6 vacuum cleaner
4/1 leaf blower
4/3 set of golf clubs / golf tees
4/4 bicycle / e-scooter / skateboard / segway
4/5 set of teleprompters
4/6 bed sheet / old mattress
5/1 garden hose
5/2 boxing glove
5/3 aluminium crutch
6/2 bunch of tins of congealed paint
6/3 wardrobe / bookshelf
6/4 grill rack
6/6 set of camping equipment
“One of the problems with writing science fiction and fantasy is creating truly different societies. We tend to change things but keep other things at societal defaults. It’s really easy to see this in older SF, where we have moved on from those societal defaults and can thus laugh at seeing people in the future behaving like people in the fifties. But it’s very difficult to create genuinely innovative societies, and in genuinely different directions.”
— Jo Walton, ‘The Best Science Fiction Ideas in any Non-Fiction Ever:
David Graeber’s Debt: The First Five Thousand Years,’ (Tor.com, 2012)
Worldbuilding: Further Inspiration
Some suggested nonfiction (mostly) for post-apocalyptic, solarpunk, dystopian, utopian & anti-utopian, & anti-dystopian, heterotopian & miscellaneouspunk futures. May expand: living document here.
Aberth, John. An Environmental History of the Middle Ages: The Crucible of Nature (2013)
Acchiardo and Vachris, Dystopia and Economics: A Guide to Surviving Everything from the Apocalypse to Zombies (2018)
Adamik, Verena. In Search of the Utopian States of America: Intentional Communities in Novels of the Long C19th (2020)
Adams, Richard. Watership Down (1972)
Ahmed, Sara. The Promise of Happiness (2010)
Anderson, Chris. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (2012)
Arnoldi, M. Geary and Hardin (eds), African Material Culture (2005)
Asad, Talal. Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (1973)
Attlee, Harper, and Smith. Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture (2019)
Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood (2009)
Bang and Walter Scheidel (eds), Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean (2013)
Baur, Wolfgang. Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding (2012)
Benhabib, Seyla (ed.). Democracy and Difference (1996)
Bennett, Judith. Ale, Beer and Brewsters: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 (1996)
Bloch and Parry (eds), Money and the Morality of Exchange (1989)
Botsman, Rachel. What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (2010)
Braungart and McDonough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002)
Brewer, E. Cobham. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1870 / 2020)
Butler, Octavia. The Parable of the Sower (1993)
Callenbach, Ernest. Ecotopia (1975)
Carson, Kevin. The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand (2001)
Case, Amber. Calm Technology: Principles and Patterns for Non-Intrusive Design (2015)
Chase, Jackson Dean. Writing Apocalypse and Survival: A Masterclass in Post-Apocalyptic SF and Zombie Horror (2018)
Christian, Diana Leafe. Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities (2003)
Church and Regis, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves (2012)
Clifford, James. Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the 21st Century (2013)
Coe, Sophie D. America's First Cuisines (1994)
Corbin, Alain. The Life of an Unknown: The Rediscovered World of a Clog Maker in Nineteenth Century France (2001)
Corbin, Alain. The Village of Cannibals (1990)
Crego, Robert. Sports and Games of the 18th and 19th Centuries (2003)
Crombie, A. C. The History of Science from Augustine to Galileo (1952)
Cruikshank, Julie. Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination (2000)
D’Alisa, Demaria, Kallis (eds), Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era (2014)
Davies, Will (ed.). Economic Science Fiction (2018)
Der-wei Wang, Leung, and Yinde. Utopia and Utopianism in the Contemporary Chinese Context: Text, Ideas, and Spaces (2020)
DeVries and Smith, Medieval Military Technology (2012)
Dillon, Grace (ed.). Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (2012)
Doctorow, Cory. Walkaway (2017)
Dodd, Nigel. The Social Life of Money (2014)
Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966)
Dunne and Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming (2013)
Durfee and Zeiger. Made Up: Design’s Fictions (2018)
Ellefson, Randy. Cultures and Beyond (2018)
Evans, Susan Toby. Ancient Mexico and Central America: Archaeology and Culture History (2008)
Gee, Maggie. The Ice People (1998)
Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures (1973)
Gibson-Graham, Cameron, and Healy. Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities (2013)
Gibson-Graham, J. K. A Postcapitalist Politics (2006)
Gibson-Graham, J. K. The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It) (1996)
Ginzburg, Carlo. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (1976)
Gleik, James. Time Travel: A History (2016)
Govers, Robert. Imaginative Communities: Admired cities, regions and countries (2018)
Graeber, David et al., Why Work?: Arguments for the Leisure Society (2018)
Graeber, David. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018)
Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011)
Graeber, David. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004)
Graeber, David. Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (2008)
Graeber, David. Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination (2011)
Graeber, David. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015)
Graeber, David. Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams (2001)
Greenfield, Adam. Radical Technologies (2017)
Guarneri, Carl J. The Utopian Alternative: Fourierism in Nineteenth-century America (1991)
Gupta, Vinay. The Future of Stuff (2020)
Hannam, James. God's Philosophers (2010)
Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005)
Hemenway, Toby. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture (2001)
Herbert, Eugenia W. Iron, Gender and Power: Rituals of Transformation in African Societies (1993)
Hitchcock, Tim. London Lives: Poverty, crime and the making of a modern city, 1690-1800 (2015)
Humphrey and Hugh-Jones (eds), Barter, Exchange and Value (1992)
Irby, Georgia L. (ed.). A Companion to Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome (2016)
James, P. D. The Children of Men (1992)
James, Simon. Exploring The World of the Celts (1993)
Jameson, Frederic. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (2005)
Johnson-DeBaufre, Keller, Ortega-Aponte (eds), Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology (2015)
Judith Schlansky, Atlas of Remote Islands (2009)
Kat, Alice Sparkly. Astrology and Storytelling (2018)
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (2013)
Kuper, Adam. The Invention of Primitive Society: Transformations of an Illusion (1988)
Lambert, Arnaud F. Anthropology of Marriage and the Family (2019)
Lanier, Jaron. Who Owns the Future? (2013)
Latta, Sara. Body 2.0: The Engineering Revolution in Medicine (2019)
Le Guin, Ursula K. Changing Planes (2003)
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed (1974)
Le Guin, Ursula. Always Coming Home (1985)
Lessing, Doris. Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
Levitas, Ruth. Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society (2013)
Lewis Jones, Huw (ed.) The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (2018)
Lewis, Sophie. Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (2019)
Lietaer and Belgin, New Money for a New World (2012)
Lipson, Hod. Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing (2012)
Litfin, Karen T., Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (2013)
Loper, Rebekah. The A-Zs of Worldbuilding (2017)
Lovejoy, Paul E. Transformations in Slavery (2012)
Luther, Daisy. The Prepper's Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods (2017)
Manchester, William. A World Lit Only by Fire (1992)
Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005)
Mars, Roman. The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design (2020)
Martinez-Alier, Joan. The Environmentalism of the Poor (2002)
Maughan, Tim. Infinite Detail (2018)
Mauss, Marcel. The Gift (1925)
McCloskey, Deirdre ed. by Stephen Ziliak, Measurement and Meaning in Economics: The Essential Deirdre McCloskey (1999)
McEwan, Cheryl. Postcolonialism, Decoloniality, and Development (2018)
McIntosh, Susan Keech (ed.). Beyond Chiefdoms: Pathways to complexity in Africa (1999)
Mechikoff, Robert A. A History and Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education: From ancient civilizations to the modern world (1993)
Menocal, María Rosa. Shards of Love: Exile and the Origins of the Lyric (1994)
Mortimer, Ian. The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England (2008)
Newman, Sandra. The Country of Ice Cream Star (2014)
Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990)
Pascoe, Bruce. Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture (2018)
Pauketat, Timothy. Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (2009)
Peet, Richard. Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development and Social Movements (2004)
Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)
Piketty, Thomas. Capital and Ideology (2020)
Polletta, Francesca. Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements (2002)
Power, Daniel (ed.). The Central Middle Ages: Europe 950-1320 (2006)
Puglisi and Ackerman. The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers (2020)
Raber and Tucker (eds), The Culture of the Horse: Status, Discipline, and Identity in the Early Modern World
Raworth, Kate. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think like a 21st-Century Economist (2017)
Reséndez, Andrés. The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (2016)
Richter, Daniel K. Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts (2013)
Robinson, Kim Stanley. Pacific Edge (1990)
Rosenfelder, Mark. The Language Construction Kit (2011)
Russ, Joanna. The Female Man (1975)
Sahlins, Marshall. Stone Age Economics (1974)
Saramago, José. Blindness (1995)
Sarr, Felwine. Afrotopia (2019)
Saviano, Roberto. Zero Zero Zero (2013)
Schaffer and Shapin, Leviathan and the Air-Pump (1985)
Scott, James C. Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (2017)
Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (1999)
Seghers, Nick. Off Grid Solar Power Simplified: For Rvs, Vans, Cabins, Boats and Tiny Homes (2020)
Shiva, Vandana. Making Peace with the Earth (2012)
Shute, Nevil. On the Beach (1957)
Sitrin, Marina. Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina (2006)
Solnit, Rebecca. Hope In The Dark: The Untold History of People Power (2016)
Spufford, Francis. Red Plenty (2010)
St. John Mandel, Emily. Station Eleven (2014)
Stonger, Shannon. The Doable Off-Grid Homestead (2018)
Susskind and Susskind. The Future of Professions (2015)
Tainter, Joseph. The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988)
TallBear, Kim. Caretaking Relations, Not American Dreaming (2019)
Tam, Alvin. The Off-Grid Living Guidebook (2020)
Taylor, Jane. Petra and the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans (2001)
Thomsett-Scott, Beth (ed.). Makerspace and Collaborative Technologies (2020)
Tilley, Helen. Africa as a Living Laboratory (2011)
Toensmeier, Eric. The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security (2016)
Trahair, R.C.S. Utopias and Utopias: an historical dictionary (1999 / 2013)
Trevena, A. How to Destroy the World: An Author's Guide to Writing Dystopia and Post-Apocalypse (2020)
Turchi, Peter. Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer (2007)
Turnbull, David. Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers (2000)
Ulibarri, Sarena (ed.). Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (2018)
VanderMeer, Jeff et al., Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (2013)
Varnava, Andrekos (ed.). Imperial Expectations and Realities: El Dorados, utopias and dystopias (2015)
Veaux and Rickert, More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory (2014)
Von Mallinckrodt and Schattner (eds.), Sports and Physical Exercise in Early Modern Culture: New Perspectives on the History of Sports and Motion (2017)
Wagner and Wieland (eds), Sunvault (2017)
Wahl, Designing Regenerative Cultures (2016)
Watters, Ethan. Crazy Like Us: The Globalisation of the Western Mind (2011)
Watts, Edward J. The Final Pagan Generation (2015)
Weeks, Kathi. The Problem With Work (2011)
Weinersmith, Kelly. Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything (2017).
Werner, David et al., Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook (1970 / 2017)
Wilson and Bauthus, The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide (2014)
Wright, Marcia. Strategies of Slaves and Women: Life-Stories from East/Central Africa (1993)
Wynne-Jones, Diana. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1996)
Zamalin, Alex. Black Utopia: The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism (2019)
Zelizer, Viviana. Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy (2010)
Coming in a later update hopefully: A glossary defining agon, altruism, balanced job complex, bicameral, bullshit, commodity, commons, conveyance, crowdwork, earmark, egoism, enclosure, ephor, fiat, geas, generous by design, gong farmer, haruspex, heterotopia, kanban board, metric, mutualize, optimize, pit latrine, sanctions, sartorial, sumptuary law, seashells (three), sortition, sphere of exchange, stat block, and usus, fructus, & abusus.
Other tables it might be nice to have: More random and miscellaneous, common reactions upon entering the space, religion, morality, culture, storytelling / music / art / aesthetics, education and socialization, sense of humor.