Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Going off-grid in Icar

Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Off-grid is when you live your life without touching Gaia. Being on-grid does not mean that you're being tracked all the time by the Imperium. The Imperium have very strict laws to protect people's privacy and will not track someone's actions on Gaia unless they have overwhelming evidence against them. Being on-grid is the norm, you chat with friends, keep in touch with family, book seats at a restaurant or on a space cruise. Living off-grid is really, really hard. However, being on-grid means that there are chances that illegal organisations (called Info Brokers or Hackers) can be collect, store, analyse and use you data from across human occupied space. Point a hacker at something within Gaia and if there is any trace of information left there, then it might be found. Off-grid is a problem. As a Syndicate operative in Sayshell Sector with your feet up, enjoying a glass of brandy; you can't order a hacker operating out of Dorian Sector to find anything out about a person in Remmar Sector. If the target is off-grid, you can't even call them over Gaia. You have to put down your brandy, collect your things and go there. Rather than a problem being resolved in minutes, you have to travel for days to actually find them.

Why go off-grid?

The most obvious reason to go off-grid is to avoid the Star Enforcers or a Syndicate. It's not foolproof but it makes their life much harder. Some go off-grid by accident, their lifestyle simply having nothing to do with Gaia anymore. Some go off-grid because they believe that the virtual world of Gaia is dimishing the human experience. Some go on a detox, knowing that plenty more time in Gaia is coming but they just need a break from its pace.

Living off-grid

In the simplest form, you can go off-grid by switching off your Gaia card. Like turning off your cell phone, no-one will be able to get in contact with you. If you interact with nothing technical from this point on, you're off-grid. You will pay for things with disposable data cards. You live in a self-sufficient place and use services and companies that never ask for your identification. If someone asks for a name for a booking, you can give a false one and no-one really minds.

If you need something from Gaia (such as information on your favourite Gaia soap star) then you can use Gaia without using a Gaia card. However, people will be able to see you looking at the information. It's better to have someone else find it for you, although you will need to ask them face-to-face.

Travelling off-grid

Interstellar travel from your colony (be it planet, Orb or orbital) can be really difficult if you're being off-grid. Most reputable spacecraft will need your picture and a name. You can have cosmetic surgery to change your appearance but the machines that do the work use Gaia. You don't want off-grid cosmetic surgery, not if you ever want to use a mirror again.

Switching Gaia cards

Your Gaia card is your identification. Buying a new one is essentially buying a new identity. If you don't tell people that your old and new identities are connected and you use different profile information for the new card, then you can use Gaia safely under this new identity. If the reason to live off grid is to avoid an crazy 'ex' then a new Gaia card would be enough. However, if you're on the run from the Enforcers or a Syndicate then one small slip and they will catch up with you with terrifying speed and won't let you go off-grid so easily next time.

How to go off-grid

  • Go to a well populated planet surface (or orb).
  • Move all your contact information and money from your Gaia card onto a datacard.
  • Dump your Gaia card into an incinerator.
  • Buy passage as far aways as you can with the money on the data card (see the black market prices).
  • Buy a house (with cash) in the middle of nowhere for cash where you can pick up supplies from a nearby village.
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