A Fading Earth
After the Great Collapse, hope died for most of us on Earth.
The asteroids were supposed to provide us with limitless resources, but their promise was stolen by a corrupt monopoly.
The powerful enforce a status quo dedicated to protecting their interests, leaving the rest of us fighting over scraps.
Mars is the last chance for anyone who still believes they can make something of themselves.
It's time to stake your claim.
Time to head Offworld.
The year is 2063. The last generation experienced a series of disastrous setbacks, making even the most optimistic of us doubt our futures. Earth suffered the Great Collapse: a world-wide market meltdown fueled by human greed and achieved by an artificial intelligence gone rogue. There was also the Red Disaster, leaving behind failed and dying government-sponsored colonies on the Martian surface.
In this environment of fear, a powerful Syndicate took over and claimed exclusive rights to the resource-rich asteroid belt. Fueled by enormous deposits of precious metal and other materials, the Syndicate became the exclusive lender to world governments. No one was safe from their controlling hand, and after the reestablishment of debtors' prison, the remaining free countries of the world decided something drastic needed to be done.
The spark needed to ignite the human spirit lay offworld. The governments of the world determined to re-establish colonies on Mars, hoping to wrestle back control of their futures from the usurious Syndicate lenders.
In an attempt to do things differently this time and avoid a second Red Disaster, a free market based on competition and meritocracy seemed our best bet. Long-gone were the days of subsidies and automated electronic transactions. Each colony's business would be won on the economic battlefield, and only the most successful ventures would be allowed to continue.
The New Martian Colonies would be supplied and fought over by a strange variety of people, all with one hopeful idea in common: "Let's do it better this time around."
The New Martian Businesses
A large number of companies are inspired by the startup boom that took place in the late part of the 20th Century. Their retro bike messenger bags, thick-rimmed glasses, vests, and old-fashioned hairdos recall a time when millionaires were minted before their twenty-fifth birthdays. Their optimism may be as outdated as their fashion sense, but they have a sincerity of purpose. These Startup Corporations are fueled by massive and crushing debt just to get established Offworld, but they know with enough work, and favors that money can buy, they have a chance to make it – just like people did in the old days!
Even though artificial intelligence created much of the mess of the past few decades, some cultures have invested heavily in robotics. Not willing to risk their children's lives on the harsh red deserts of Mars, they designed robots with consciences. They have built their values, their hopes, and their dreams into the modern circuitry and algorithms of the modern synthetics. These Robotic Factories are able to thrive while providing the colonies with food, water, and breathable air, all because the robotic surrogates require none.
One of the largest population groups on earth are those in debtors prison. These unfortunates, mostly working-class, paid the price for the arbitrage of the automated trading that led to the Great Collapse. Losing not only their investments, but the value of their existing cash, they have been working off their debt in the builds and highways, slowly becoming a forgotten underclass of people. Instead of allowing this perpetual debt to be a blot on our history, part of the plan around the New Martian Colonies involved allowing groups of inmates to earn their freedom by joining a Penal Outpost for a 5 year period. If successful, every inmate of a joint venture would be given a stake and claim on Mars, and be fully forgiven their debt, regardless of its size or value.
One final group is entering into the Offworld business, and an unlikely one at that. Scientists have decided to bend their efforts toward exploring and discovering new ways to build colonies on Mars by establishing Research Facilities. They are not only looking to help the living on Mars, but are also interested in discovering if life was on Mars in the past. Each well dug, each quarry extraction, provides new information to research and study. They may be new to the world of economic warfare, but scientists like these have always fought the good fight in the pursuit of truth.