For visually impaired:
ZIGGURATTI is a cyberpunk game about serfs trying to survive and thrive in a technocratic arcology that is structured like a feudal state. Players assume the roll of “burdens,” serfs marked for banishment, deprivation, or death because they either can’t or won’t do the work that their birthright demands of them. To survive, they have banded together with other burdens who refuse to yield to the arcology’s brutal order. Their very existence is an affront to the society they were born to, but they have each other, and they will not be denied the right to live.
The burdens’ story takes place inside a “ziggurat,” one of the few dozen arcologies supporting human life in the wake of extinction-level climate events. The ziggurat’s enclosed environment protects millions of people from extreme temperatures and toxic air. Inside, its physical structure mirrors its socioeconomic structure. Society is ordered in four castes: serfs, knights, clergy, and zigguratti. The serfs inhabit the lowest, broadest, and most populous layers of the ziggurat. Above them are the knights (the ziggurat’s enforcers) and the clergy (the ziggurat’s economic elite). Above all are the reclusive zigguratti, who only a handful of serfs have ever met or seen. The zigguratti make all the decisions for the ziggurat. Their will is made public through the clergy, enforced by the knights, and obeyed by the serfs.
The serf is born indebted to the zigguratti. The costs of sustaining human life on a planet no longer suitable for that endeavor are staggering. It would take a lifetime for a serf to pay back their debtors, which is why their lifespans have been extended through cybernetic augmentation.
Cybernetic augmentation is so ubiquitous in the ziggurat that it is mundane. Every serf, at a minimum, has a wireless neural jack to interface with technology and an augmented reality (AR) overlay that, among other things, visually identifies caste membership. In addition to these mandatory technologies, serfs often undergo additional (mandatory) augmentation to support the work they were born to do. “Miners,” for example, who leave the ziggurat to salvage the ruins of abandoned cities, often have strength-enhancing modifications, along with heightened toxin-resistance in case their hazard suit tears. As a general rule, the less cybernetic augmentation someone has, the less likely they are to be a serf.
The burden, then, is the serf who cannot or will not pay their debtors. They have been flagged in everyone’s AR overlay as persona non grata. To feed them, shelter them, or do business with them is to risk burden status yourself. If you see a burden eating, it is because they have stolen food. If you see them sleeping, it is because a knight has not yet shown up to enforce vagrancy laws.
The ziggurat is not a prison, and the zigguratti are not its wardens. The burden may do what they wish. The zigguratti simply needs all serfs to either work or die.