A Dystopia is a world - frequently, but not always, a Science Fiction or Cyberpunk setting - in which existing or imaginary social issues are taken to an extreme. A Dystopia often is a Crapsack World, but the reverse is not necessarily true - for instance, an After The End setting doesn't necessarily qualify since there aren't enough people to have huge, overwhelming social issues. Some sort of civilization or society must be present, though it may be crumbling. Often it is society itself which does the oppressing, but it might also be the government or other powerful political, social, or economic force or organization.
A more disturbing Dystopia can be less 1984 and more Brave New World … in which case people are oppressed not by some external force, but from within by their own degeneracy and limited ambitions.
A Dystopia doesn't necessarily require oppression either … the Cyberpunk genre is crowded with petty tyrannies but the overall impression is an almost medieval one of conflicting power centres and a net anarchy (no pun intended) that results.
It's also worth noting that one man's dystopia is not much more than everyday life for another, even (perhaps especially) in the real world.
- Bad Future
- Big Brother Is Watching
- Empire With A Dark Secret
- Government Drug Enforcement
- No Sex Allowed - reproductive control features occasionally in such worlds
- Police Brutality
- Released To Elsewhere
- Secret Police
- The Computer Is Your Friend
- The Evils Of Free Will
- Twenty Minutes Into The Future
- Utopia - the opposite
- Alexis Carrel - his ideas would fit well into a dystopia
- News: China Enacting A High-Tech Plan To Track People
- News: Luxury Yachts Offer Pirate Hunting Cruises - what the rich could get up to in such a world
- News: Raiding The Icebox - when the USA goes beyond the pale
- News: The Floating Labor Camps of the Now - Dystopias will likely see more of those
Game and Story Use
- A Dystopia provides plenty of opportunities for adventures, since there is so much the characters can fight against - up to and including the government itself.
- Alternatively, the forces of oppression might be too powerful to fight. In that case, the challenge is to survive, hopefully with some semblance of morals still intact.
- For more moral ambiguity, the PCs can work for the government, possibly without being aware that they live in a dystopia at the start of the campaign.