Narrative is essentially the same as the narrative found in all forms of storytelling, with the critical exception that it is nonlinear, altered and developed by participants’ decisions within the narrative. In other words, ARG narrative is highly interactive, and does not have a pre-determined outcome like traditional stories.
Mechanics are the rules and methods, often arranged into complex systems, used to manage the interactions between participants and narrative. These are essentially protocols, guidelines for interacting with The Array, with the whole system, whether it is conceived of as a game or not.
The Future was won, and must be won again.
The core ZS mythos is that a handful of Posthuman civilizations exist in the late 21st Century, several of which use advanced technology to manipulate the past, working to ensure their own existence. ZS (and others) sent back “seeds” intended to grow into the main factions of their later, full-blown selves, and each such seed sets its own goals and missions toward that final victory.
The unfolding of that narrative is at the heart of the ARG, and of the Black Book. As the narrative emerges from our actions and choices, the content of the Book takes form. The narrative can emerge in a number of ways, most often as a result of the Houses attempting to accomplish missions toward the establish of themselves and ZS as a whole, and creating puzzles to entice people into investigate what we are building.
1. Collect: Dharma (MAP)
You don’t win unless your whole team wins.
The Dharma system is based on the idea that participants keep track of their own efforts to help others (and the “Dharma” or “Mutual Aid Points” accrued by those actions). The system is not based on any central authority, but the participants’ ability to check each others public records of transactions. Of course, an automated version of this protocol would not be unlike a cryptocurrency blockchain, but with each participant having responsibility for maintaining their own publicly-readable record of transactions (which can be verified by cross-referencing other such records).
Secondly, ZS values individual achievement and success, but only where such achievement also helps your community, those you are connected with. Personal achievement that can’t help anyone else is no achievement at all. We express that dynamic through the Twelve Houses, in that each ZS citizen is loyal to their House and its fortunes, and loyal to ZS as a whole beyond that.
2. Outreach: The Golden Tesseract
As described in the wiki entry linked above, the Golden Tesseract is an exponentially-growing network of connections between ZS and the rest of the world. After the twelve Houses are established, even in the most minimal form, the Zero State’s first step is to begin growing this network of connections.