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Monday Mashup #15: Foundation

For Mashup number fifteen, we’ll return to the classics of science fiction. Our subject today is the Foundation Trilogy, Asimov’s soft-SF series of psychohistory, galactic empire, and barbarianism. I’m more interested in the original three books than the multitude of sequels, but suit yourself for your mashups.

The core concept of the trilogy is Hari Seldon’s psychohistory, with which Seldon predicted the fall of the Galactic Empire and manipulated events so as to minimize the time before another Empire would rise. Add in the backstop that was the Second Foundation — and don’t forget the psionics — and you have a lot of material to work with.

Oh, and this is your sporadic reminder that there’s a game meme announcement mailing list. The only traffic on the list is announcements of new game meme posts; right now it’s just me and Ginger’s WISH.

Now, on to my Mashup.

I just picked up Gamma World, and the new edition is a very suitable platform for this mashup. It’s not really your father’s Gamma World — rather, it’s a look at the other side of the Singularity. What happens if the Singularity fails? And there’s your crashing Galactic Empire right there.

So an AI takes the Hari Seldon role. (This is near-Singularity stuff, and I feel justified in going all Greg Egan and letting the AI run on genetically engineered termites. But that’s just setting detail.) It works behind the scenes to protect and influence a chosen community, which is our Foundation analog. I kind of like it better if the community doesn’t know it’s special in at least that way.

The Mule is a mutant anteater. You can imagine how this might screw up the AI. Hm — come to think of it, the AI is both Hari and the backup Second Foundation, which puts the Mule in the right context.

The PCs, of course, are members of the community. Eventually they’ll figure out the truth. If you wanted to get multi-generational, remaining true to the original, you could bolt the Pendragon generational rules onto Gamma World. But I wouldn’t.


  1. t.rev t.rev

    Here’s a very quick and sketchy take, and possibly hopelessly obscure:

    Set the game in Glorantha, which is all about collapsed empires and their barbarian descendants.

    The Foundation analog can be set in any of the western Malkioni/rationalist regions. Someplace isolated before the re-emergence of the Kingdom of War, perhaps, or maybe the enclave of Brithini in Sog City.

    The Second Foundation is hidden somewhere in Kralorela.

    The Hari Seldon figure could be Zzabur, or Nysalor, or Arkat (which would position both Foundations as Stygian Arkat-cults).

    Of course, as the Hero Wars start, the Seldon-figure’s prophecies all go wrong. Who is the Mule? This would be THE central plot arc for the campaign, of course. Any one of literally dozens of Heroes active at the time could be the culprit.

  2. This week’s Monday Mashup is the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Funny enough, I mashed Foundation years ago, when I was in high school. I was reading the series at the time and I started thinking about a setting where…

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