I need your help fixing a mistake I made.
When I was hired as the Storytelling Director here in Georgia, the first task I was given was to unequivocally place our story in a region without slavery, and figure out a way to communicate that effectively to our players.
This was harder than I thought it would be. We had a decade of Dystopia Rising game history, lore books, and the general perception of what ‘makes sense’ in a post apocalyptic setting to push back against. We are still within a transition period in the network where the phasing out of slavery-related stories is in progress leading to the 3.0 ruleset.
As I was practically new to the network and the lore, I had a lot of work to do pretty fast. This was a good challenge to have, because our leadership team shared a really important goal - to build a game setting where our players felt they could play safely while still experiencing the story of a dangerous future world.
Slavery is a poisonous activity that has been experienced throughout the course of human history. The United States has some of the ugliest history with the practice in the world, and fought the Civil War over it. Those who were chattel slaves where we live today are only barely outside of living memory - and there are still those living today who, with the passing of Jim Crow laws, experienced slavery in all but name. The first person to ever go to an integrated school in the South is only 64 years old. Human trafficking still happens every day in the United States.
We didn’t feel that the type of play environment that Dystopia Rising: Georgia provides is right for this subject. Slavery is a topic that deserves gravitas and seriousness, and we did not feel it was our place, as a largely white directorship, to tell that story. So building a slavery-free region within an established location was the best path we could consider.
During our initial worldbuilding process, I believed it would be pretty cool to see the South as a place that was ahead of the curve in its appreciation of free will and the sanctity of choice. Living in the South my entire life (Georgia and Florida) and being quite familiar with how we’re often perceived as backward and close minded, it felt kind of nice to write the South as somewhere that was, in its own way, progressive, even in the straight up nuclear-viral hellhole of the post-apocalypse.
So much of the Southern identity comes wrapped or obscured in the Confederate flag, and finding a way to show our identity in story as something valuable, but still not throwing away everything about our region, was an attractive storytelling opportunity. And I was pretty sure I figured out the right way to do it with the Redeemed South as a way to define the boundaries of our Slavery-free zone, and the Affiliates of the Redeemed South - a group of people in a region who have acknowledged bad choices and practices of the past, but wanted to grow into something better by choice, not violence.
I picked this name with complete ignorance to any historical context. That’s on me - I didn’t search Google when I decided on the name, to check for any negative associations. It was part of my job to avoid a situation like this and I slipped here.
Many groups, in the present and past, use terminology like “Free South” to describe a desire to return to a national identity that once included keeping people as property, among other bigoted ideals. The obliviousness of that linguistic irony just kills me. This also applies to a group that formed after the Civil War, called the Redeemers.
Here’s a handy link to increase your “oh shit” feelings like it did ours:
What’s fun about these folks was that they felt they could ‘redeem’ the south by kicking freedmen out of the Southern states and disenfranchise people of color. Again with that dissonance that in modern day just seems ridiculous.
So my error leaves us at an impasse, and I’d like to ask our players for help with figuring out a solution. Can you help us find another way to label this particular location and faction? We want to still hold on to a southern identity, without being too similar-sounding to racist political and social groups around in the past and today. It's a tough nut to crack ;)
Interested in helping me brainstorm? Here’s a form to submit ideas:
TL;DR The Redeemed South is a term that was used in the Civil War by racist politicians to identify southern states as “Redeemed” by removing the influence of Northern Reconstruction efforts, generally in the form of rolling back the rights of freedmen in the South. We didn’t knowingly choose a term used by historically racist groups when building our setting, but that error is on us and we apologize for the trouble. We’d like your help in coming up with another name or term for our Slavery-free region where we tell the Dystopia Rising: Georgia story.
Thanks for your help making our game the best it can be :)
Please - if you have a concern or complaint about the story we write, reach out to us directly, on site during a game or after an event. We’ll listen to you. We always want you to know the door is open. Directors@DystopiaRisingGeorgia.com is the best way to touch base with me, any time.