Democracy 4

At March 21, 2015, I played Democracy 4 by Mark Harding. The players are in a spaceship that is going to land at Democracy 4 a new planet discovered couple decades ago. The planet is very similar to Earth, offering the perfect environment, so it is perfect for colonization. Since the planet was discovered robots and drones were sent to build cities for humans beings, and now for the first time Democracy 4 is going to receive its first inhabitants.

The game presents the difficulty issue about how to determine the value of a life. There is a problem on the spaceship, and it isn’t able to land on the planet. There are 12 people and 4 escape pods, and each one can hold up to 3 people. Every person onboard has a spot, but the escape pods have different percentages to reach the planet successfully due structural damage. The first pod has 80% chance to land, pod 2 60%, pod 3 40%, and pod 4 only 30%. The players have 60 minutes do decide who goes in which pod, and it must be an agreement among all characters otherwise the pods won’t be launched and everyone dies.

I have participated in two play tests, and both went really well. The game is solid and ready to play the way it is. The 12 characters are pre written, so the player only have to read them and play. The game has no workshop, other than a brief introduction  about how the game works. The facilitator role-plays I7, which is a hologram of the main computer spaceship. During the larp any character can address questions to the facilitator by invoking I7. The set up for the game is really simple, you only need a room that can fit all players, and in each conner of the room an identification for the pods.

The game has many subtleties that make it very interesting such as racism and sexism. Most of the characters have cybernetic parts, so they are androids; one character is a sentient robot; an alien who uses a synthetic human body suit; a 7 years old kid who has a non-contagious terminal diseases; a pregnant woman of twins. All those characters create a big mix of relationships, which makes the game really interesting. Coincidentally or not both games I played ended with only men in the first two pods, which have a much better chance to survive. This bring the idea of men are more likely to survive than women. This is a very miss concept who brings the legacy of a sexist culture, and the interesting part it wasn’t intensionally selected in this way. There were another diplomacy issues inside the game. The Bishop of the Guiding Light (if I’m not wrong), who represents the most popular religion is onboard. Also a possible diplomatic issue could arouse due the ambassador of an extraterrestrial life form is onboard, and if s/he dies, a war can starts. Another design element is the rumours. Before the game starts each players receives a rumour about another character, which can help or complicate in the decision about where to put determined character.

Both times we got in an agreement and we actually launched the pods. Once the places were determined every person went to their pods, and one person on each pod draws a stone from a bag. If the stone is red, the pod didn’t arrived at the planet. On the other hand, if it is white, the pod successfully arrived on the planet. Only the group knows the result, and the next act in the game is to role-play it. One group at a time, starting from pod 1, role play what happened to its pod. Both times I played my pod made it successfully. First time I was on pod one, and the second time I was on pod 3.

As I mentioned before the game is really good. Good job Mark!

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