Director's Note on Roleplaying Strainism:
Remember, art is a reflection of real life.
One of the key aspects of the culture of the world of Dystopia Rising is the evolution of the individual strains and how divorced their cultures are from our own. The strange mutations, evolutions, and growth of the individual strains can cause both a familiarity and an alien sort of culture for the people that exist.
These strains take their origins from a blending of pre-fall (real world) cultures and apocalypse-period cultural mutation. They have had their cultural story line either moved forward or erased from the history books entirely. This allows for players to have characters that they can relate to in regards to emotional and psychological design, while still removing their own player identity from the character.
However, there is a very distinct line that separates the culture and history of the strains in Dystopia Rising from the pre-fall, real world cultures that were used as the foundation of the backstory for Dystopia Rising. Seeing this division, being considerate of real-world cultural references, and not appropriating the cultures of the real world as stereotypes for the strains of the game world is very important. There is a line that needs to be drawn between strainism and racism, between taking inspiration from real world cultures and being someone who is demeaning another person's culture as a caricature or stereotype. If that person's culture is not associated as the dominant culture, or one of prominent power or privilege, and that culture is being presented in game as a caricature or stereotype, they have extra right to be pissed off and hurt. Crossing this line is without a question racial harassment on an out of game level, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. Please see the rule book policy on harassment. DON'T BE THAT GUY.
In the creation of Dystopia Rising, the game world was designed with many of the same satire, cultural commentary, and allegory that is found in amazing post-apocalyptic and zombie cinema and literature. Since modern zombie culture has cinematic roots of barely-hidden stories of cultural slavery, mob mentalities, blind patriotism, unthinking devotion, and fear of cultural loss, it is not surprising that at times the culture and design of Dystopia Rising seems to be almost a mockery of our modern culture. In exploring these themes of culture and community, it is incredibly important to not only be understanding and compassionate with regards to the comfort and origins of your fellow player, but to also take a few moments to consider the relative "real" actions that your character would take.
Race: 1. a group of people descended from a common ancestor.
2. a population within a species that is distinct in some way, especially a subspecies
The concept of the Strain in Dystopia Rising is an indirect reference and a parallel to race. Strainism, for all intents and purposes, functions mechanically and thematically in-game like racism does in the real world. While none of the strains make direct references to a real world race, players use strains, even when they are not direct analogues, to play out stories that run parallel to the experience of race.
For some, this process is unconscious; for some it is intentional. It is why clarifications about not drawing direct comparisons between strains and races are needed. Strainism can often fill the same role in our storytelling of the post-apocalyptic world as racism would in the present day real world. Some people use their role-play in the post-apocalyptic world as a way to explore such issues so actions and behaviors in-game can mirror racism in the real world.
With strain as a parallel for race, we can infer much by how it is used in-game. We can draw rather direct parallels between the interactions of strains much like we could races. Did you have a bad experience with a single member of a strain and now you hate or fear all members? Was your family killed by a person of a certain strain and now you seek revenge against all members? Do you think that members of a strain are all greedy, or dangerous, or exotic, or smart? All of those things would be strainist, and some of those things are even built into the strain itself as common place.
These are not bad themes to explore and in fact are something that can be very powerful. It allows us to make predictions about in-game behavior based on our real world experiences and to use common storytelling elements to better understand the Dystopia Rising world. Strains and strainism can be used for role-play between player characters and as a tool to teach or learn. However, without being aware of the deep experiences possible playing with strainism can unintentionally cause harm out of character.
This doesn't mean everyone takes it seriously, though. People often enjoy playing Lawful Evil characters in RPGs and video games for the thrill of it, and that is great in that setting, or even a small table top setting. We as players, however, need to be able apply critical thinking to roles, characters, and situations we encounter in a fully immersive live action environment.
Does this mean that you can't play a Yorker on a quest for vengeance against the Baywalkers that wronged them? No, but it means that we can and should acknowledge how that character might make bad choices on the road they have chosen, such as lashing out at every Baywalker regardless of who they are. It means we can't tell the players that if they take strainism too seriously, or are uncomfortable with the subject, that they are being unreasonable. If players are becoming uncomfortable out of character, or unable to maintain an immersive attitude towards the game, then we need to make corrections for the benefit of the community.
We encourage the community to talk about strainism in the game so that everyone can learn and come to an understanding about the subject. Acknowledging a subject is how we open dialogue, it is how we become comfortable with it, and it is how we learn more about it. If we treat these subjects as taboo, we won't be able to explore them, learn more about them, or discuss them.