Welcome to the Donut!
We are a society of functionally immortal, cybernetically modified, telepathic infovores. Our culture is centred on a reputation economy in which all basic needs–sustenance and shelter–are accounted for. If you wish to do more than just survive–if you wish to create, perform, build or destroy–you must win the approval of your friends and the community at large.
Our “community at large” is currently over 80,000 strong. It is contained in a Stanford Torus-style space station parked at the L5 Lagrange point of Titan and Saturn. Our habitat was designed to hold 40,000 comfortably. We’ve modified it to accommodate our expanding numbers. There are no laws in our society, yet there is also no crime and no death. So we think we’re doing a fair job.
You are now one of us. Welcome!
Freemarket is a transhumanist science fiction roleplaying game by Luke Crane and Jared Sorensen. Published in 2010, it experienced a brief burst of popularity before dying quickly. These days the game is somewhat abandoned: its website’s domain has expired, the character sheet PDF isn’t to be found on the internet, and its presence on social media is all but zero (which is a bit weird given the game’s emphasis on connectedness, but also strangely appropriate given how the denizens of the Donut go through memes and fads like we go through facial expressions).
There’s a couple of points I’d like to make about Freemarket:
1. It’s weird
The Sorencrane MRCZ (warning: website seriously defunct) tends to produce somewhat complex games that require at least a session or two to come to grips with, and Freemarket is no different. While not having the tactical crunch of, say, Torchbearer, it’s still somewhat complex, with a number of different actions possible in challenges, as well as tactical decisions of when to burn your tech or call the challenge, and how to assign your successes.
The game is also conceptually slightly complex. The characters live in a world where death is temporary, scarcity (at least of basic resources) a thing of the past, money obsolete, and laws abolished. This forces you (the player) to re-think how you’d solve problems. It also means that the GM has to think of different problems for the players to deal with.
These two points mean you need to be on your toes when you run/play the game. Were I feeling cynical, I’d say that the complexity of the game somewhat affected its popularity.
2. It’s gorgeous
There’s another factor that may well contribute to Freemarket’s downfall, and that’s the price tag of the basic set. That’s because it’s beautiful: thick, high-quality cards (a deck per player), shiny, chunky cardboard tokens, and a full-colour, glossy rulebook. It’s truly a pleasure to own, even if I’ve only played the game twice.
This is why, in mid-2014, I decided to run a campaign of Freemarket.
We spent a session making characters and ran a couple of sample challenges (which gave us an existential, brooding film noir about the fragility of human life, and a tame, ambulatory wasp nest). Then I went home and started to prep for the first proper session.
And I found I was missing a bunch of resources. I didn’t have anywhere to put my NPCs, or the MRCZs1 the players would encounter. I could use the character sheets provided, but they were full-colour and far too pretty to mark. And my players caused me to dive for the rulebook whenever we entered a challenge.
The obvious solution: make my own set of sheets. And then share them on the internet to earn flow.
MRCZ lit. “Multi-Regional Cultural Zone”: an ad-hoc collection of people banded together for a common purpose. As close as you get to a company on the Donut. ↩
These are designed for player/GM reference. If you end up using them, I’d love to hear any feedback you have.
NPC record sheet, double-sided. Includes reference for quick NPC generation.
MRCZ record sheet, double-sided. Includes reference for MRCZs (how many of each tier exist, what facilities they have access to).
Rules reference sheet
Rules reference sheet for during play. Includes player options during challenges, rules for memories and flow, and the effects of each type of challenge.