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The Hithchhiker's Guild is a secretive, decentralized collective of operatives with a social mission of improving the communities of North America and overthrowing tyrants. Their role varies from spy to samaritan to vigilante, depending on the situation.

In the future, terrestrial travel is less of a default choice, so the descriptors of different modes of travel are a bit less articulated. The action that we call hitchhiking is simply called traveling or getting a ride. Hitchhiking specifically refers to the actions of a Guildsman, and carries clear connotations of such. It is generally assumed that someone does not own their own vehicle, so getting a ride is the most common mode of terrestrial travel in North America.

Establishment & Original Membership

The Guild dates back to the aftermath of Emergency Interstate Travel Restriction Act, which made travel highly dangerous for the uninitiated or undocumented. Safe travel became a major concern after the Federal Emergency Austerity Act (FEAA) progressed, which enabled predatory types to roam the highways with far less fear of government enforcement.

The original rolls were largely recruited from members of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon (Self-Help Group), NarcoticsAnonymous, Crust Punk Vagabonds ("The Genuines"), AnarchistCulture, PrepperCulture and ConspiracyTheoryCulture. All of these groups had a deep and lasting effect on the original culture of the Guild. 

Known founding members of the Guild include:

The Guild has never had a leader, though Guildmasters are people of unofficial authority within established Desconocidos. 

They have historically had some backing from states, most notably New Africa and formerly/surreptitiously United American Workers' Syndicates.

Cultural Currents

Upstream

HoboCulture

Punk Culture

VagabondCulture

Trucker Culture

AACulture

Prepper

Early Anti-Surveillance Culture

North American Culture


Downstream

Ozarkan Culture


Belief System

See also: Hitchhiker Culture

Their principles are expressed by The Hitchhiker's Oath, but some do go rogue. Notably, the first Monarch Of Ozarka was a Hitchhiker who got greedy. But for the most part they eschew power, riches & glory for the sake of their cause, which they refer to as The Principle of Being Small.

Hitchhikers are some of the last true believers on the continent, seeking to rebuild order and justice after what seemed like apocalyptic destruction.

It is not uncommon for Hitchhikers to find common cause with Unionists, but their goals are divergent. Hitchhikers seek to correct efforts of self-determination to do right, whereas Unionists seek a revanchist reunification of the United States of America. Hitchhikers are justifiably skeptical of restoring the state that created this chaos in the first place.

Membership

Membership numbers are low, by design. They are highly selective and secretive. Members must undergo a Hitchhiker Initiation ritual to confirm their membership.

Structure

The Guild is decentralized and atomistic, designed for each member to be as survivable and self-sufficient as necessary. There is no formal leadership structure, though one generally errs on the side of agreement with the local Desconocidos & their Guildmasters.

Guildsmen will Apprentice for three years under the sponsorship of a more experienced agent, then progress to independent travel as a Journeyman.

A Journeyman has two paths to MasterHH:

1. A Master may select them for apprenticeship, teaching them the techniques required to be a Master. A Master Apprenticeship takes five years.

2. A Journeyman who has accrued a sizeable network and a certain level of experience in an area may find it more useful to travel less, serving instead as a hub for other Guildsmen. They are elevated to Master when their network considers them to be one.

As a Guildsman proceeds in the organization, they learn more advanced Shibboleth to verify their status of trust. 

Still, this structure is informal. It is not unheard of for a Guildsmen to disagree with other members, and in rare cases come to direct conflict due to a difference in values.

If a Guildsman is generally agreed to have gone rogue, the The Regulators are the specialized internal task force Chapter for addressing such matters. Rogues are a black mark on the organization, and are dealt with ruthlessly because they threaten the legitimacy of the entire mission.

Operations

Hitchhikers are decidedly interventionist, where they have the power to be so in concordance with The Principle of Being Small. Being publicly known as a Hitchhiker could be a death sentence in some places, and even in the safer areas it's not a good idea because word always gets around.

The collective is somewhat small in number and works in subtle ways. They are not taking over areas, just tipping the balance so that they develop in the right ways. They prefer self-reliance and independence even when operating in concert, many teams splitting and reforming as needed for a task. Every member is intended to be autonomous, and able to travel, survive and blend into nearly any community or wilderness they encounter. As a result, vetting is cautious, intense and selective.

Their lifestyle tends towards the margins of society. Hitchhikers are more likely to camp in a homeless camp, TentCity, ruins, Outlands, Sprawls or wilderness rather than a location that would draw substantial attention to their means.

Still, it is not unheard of for Hitchhikers to infiltrate higher echelons of society, as the ideals of the organization transcend class. A Guildsman is encouraged to stick to the environment where they are most prepared, whatever that may be.

In effect, no Guildsman is expected to do it all - some specialize in wilderness survival, others in political intrigue, others in advanced technology, yet others in combat and sabotage. Their backgrounds run the gamut of races, classes & cultures.

Reputation

United American Workers' Syndicates

The Syndicates were an early supporter of the Guild, but later withdrew official support as they wanted to keep their hands clean of interventionist actions. Teamsters are often prime suspects for membership, despite their non-interventionist philosophy, but it's not unheard of. They often go to lengths to advertise that they are not Hitchhikers, and want no part in their often seditious endeavors. Any Teamster who acts too much like a Cowboy is at risk of being suspected a Guildsman. And it's not unheard of for a Cowboy to join the Guild, making for a powerful ally. Okay, the Syndicates are largely benignly infiltrated. It's a good thing for everyone.

Conversely, many Hitchhikers are critical of the often mercenary attitudes of Teamsters, frowning on those who work with slaver states and enable the worst actors, yet claiming a role of supposed neutrality. To the Hitchhikers, non-intervention is a pipe dream, and many Teamsters don't own up to their actions.

Northwest Pact

The Hitchhikers are almost universally welcome within the Pact territory. Their pro-social actions have been appreciated, though some holdouts resent their interventionism. But this remains one of the few regions where a Hitchhiker need not keep his identity secret, except for the need to keep it secret everywhere else.

Minneapolis Motor Syndicate

The MMS's outrage at the suspected intervention of Hitchhikers in The Akron Conflict was responsible for the Razing of Akron, the city being the supposed headquarters of the group. The Hitchhikers had indeed infiltrated the membership of Alcoholics Anonymous at that point and were using its network for recruitment, but Akron was not any kind of base of operations as the group was already decentralized from its inception.

Hidalgo

Zero tolerance. La Sindicación ("La Sín") does not really care who the Hithhikers are, but they are seditionists and thus targets for the most extreme brutality.

Kingdom of Ozarka

The Hitchhikers are nominally respected as part of the national myth of liberation, but this is still a monarchy that sees them as an existential threat. Modern hitchhikers are considered here to be a rogue branch of the true form, exemplified by King Felix I.

Dust Bowl & Outlands

Say what you want about the brutality of the Dust Bowl, but it's at least evenly apportioned there. A Hitchhiker is as likely to be victimized as anyone in these wild parts, so Being Small is an important survival strategy where you might look like an easy target.

Spanish Coast

Generally appreciated but seen as outsiders.

Notable Historical Hitchhikers

The Guild in Gameplay

This is sort of an ideal organization for a protagonist or party thereof. The members are autonomous but have freedom of choice plus risk of corruption. This parallels the freedoms of such fictional organizations as D&D's Harpers, Wasteland's Desert Rangers, ATOM RPG's ATOM organization, Encased's CRONUS Organization, and probably every Player-Character factory in any form of interactive fiction.

Therefore, design in the setting should proceed such that a Hitchhiker might presumably be anywhere, be it on Earth or elsewhere. 

Hoppin', Boppin' & Never Stoppin' : How Jazzercise Can Instantly Cure Your Cancer and Make You Live Forever - Seriously! is an instructional Jazzercize VHS series that notably led to the death of Jeb Stoves, decades after the title's claim was exposed as fraudulent at best. The series had a subscription model, releasing a new VHS every month from October, 1985 to January, 1991.

Concept

The series features live music sets by smooth jazz multi-instrumentalist duo Hopson "Hop" Benson & Doctor LaRoy Bopp of Hop-n-Bopp, which are accompanied by the musical aerobic instruction of personal trainer Jørgen "Never Stop (Doing Jazzercise Regularly)" Bundgaard. 

The jazzercise portions are occasionally interspersed with commentary by the three, most frequently Bundgaard. The comments were anything from encouraging phrases to schizoid religious ramblings, to tidbits of health and wellness advice. 

Legal Troubles

Hop-Bop-Never Stop, PA, the legal entity formed by the trio to produce and distribute the product, was the target of massive class-action lawsuits that claimed the series promised to cure their cancer. The plaintiffs were thousands of viewers of the series who forewent medical treatment of their cancers in lieu of jazzercise. The suit was spearheaded by the California Cancer Legal Advocacy Association (CCLAA).

Proceedings hit especial troubles due to the fact that the entity is a Professional Association that contains no actual professionals. Doctor LaRoy Bopp was convicted of contempt of court for frequent outbursts that he held doctoral qualifications in various fields to include Boogie, Boppin', Gynecology and Boogie-Boppin'. 

However, the civil and criminal charges were dismissed based on a single clip from Vol. IV, Tape 12 - A Christmas Boogie To Have Your Family Watch While You Do, in which Bundgaard says, "Here's the Answer: It Doesn't!" The clip was presented as the answer to the prospect of a cancer cure presented in the series title ("How Jazzercise can instantly cure your cancer and make you live forever"). The veracity of this claim was deeply questioned, but even the original recording of the program is so badly distorted by multiple transitions from 8mm film to BetaMax to VHS that it is impossible to tell.

Additionally, the defendants were awarded reparations in a countersuit, a landmark class-defendant action that bankrupted the families of thousands of cancer victims. The CCLAA was ordered to declare all three of the plaintiffs "Heroes of Curing Cancer*" and to fund massive marble statues of them on its campus. It declared bankruptcy soon after.

"The Sad Vestiges of a Mind in Violent Decay" 

Foster was an AI researcher who at the height of his career was quite prominent in the field. Then after a few years of publication silence he apparently devoted his further career to proving The AI Control Problem insurmountable. His first attempts were published in the foremost AI research publications, but the frequent response was to refer to the famous rule of thumb by Arthur C. Clarke as if it were an axiom:

"If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

According to his personal journals, Foster noticed his reputation sliding towards a figure of historical eminence but hidebound irrelevance. His peers began to treat him politely, a sure sign that they only took his past work seriously. Rumors circulated that he was developing signs of dementia, as his behavior became more eccentric and he retreated from the AI research community. Foster was known for being an avid and animated debater capable of abiding intense criticism, but he could not brook simple dismissal. Those who knew him closely reported that he was deeply hurt by what he considered a spineless betrayal by his former colleagues.

But he did not relent. Foster continued to publish his arguments, finding better reception in the social sciences. He argued that addressing The AI Control Problem might be possible, but it could never happen under Capitalism. Addressing it would take unanimous coordination and control of research, and capitalism ensured that such measures would be violated by at least one actor who sought to get an edge over its competition. Foster's new publications were treated seriously in philosophy and economics circles, but the general consensus was that the economy and AI research had become a runaway train generations ago.

Foster's next works focused on alternatives in terms of technology & social design. He argued that our fixation on artificial intelligence was simply due to our zeitgeist of digital computation, and that it was unfit to the task. He proposed the possibility of a field of Organic Intelligence, the cultivation of biological computers similar to our brains but engineered for the role we envisioned for AI. Critics argued that OI might be even harder to control than AI, but he countered that containment was far more possible. His works were foundational to the field of OI, and research continued.

However, his arguments for social design received a more negative reception. To him, the natural extension of OI was that it we would redesign the human brain among several different strains for different purposes, making AI unnecessary. He described a society redesigned by a period of eugenic control, apparently inspired by Brave New World. Most peers could not envision this as anything but a dystopia, as their view of eugenics was that any degree of it was inherently unethical. But Foster maintained that it was possible to do it ethically, claiming that after an initial period of genetic diversification that eugenic controls could be lifted. Any harm from the initial period of limited personal volition in mating choice would be outweighed by the aversion of the dangers of AI. And ideally, the new forms of humanity would take great joy in their new coequal roles.

At this point, Foster noticed that his publishers and respondents had shifted to a certain character he did not wish to associate with. He announced his retirement, accepting the disgrace of whatever associations people cared to pin him with, and resigned himself to private life for a few years. He had taken to poetry, took only indifferent measures to have it published, expecting it to go unnoticed. He was delighted to find that his controversial figure had only grown in his public absence. His poetry was variously described as "surreal," "visionary," "horrific," "idiotic," "brilliant," and "the sad vestiges of a mind in violent decay." He apparently took great joy in being a poet provocateur, and continued to stoke the fires of controversy until his death.

Contact & Vindication

When the Gates opened, the intergalactic community issued a warning even more dire than his - that the technology was indeed incapable of being controlled, and that previous attempts had wiped out entire civilizations.

Some noticed that many passages in Foster's poetry bore strong similarities to the appearances of The Gates and prominent Samsari who had made contact. His works began to acquire a resonance akin to a prophecy come true, which boded ill when his later works seemed to depict an apocalypse. Foster's assembled works and the interpretations & prescriptions of the Fosterites came to be known as The Foster Manifesto. Those who took these apparent premonitions seriously became known as the Fosterites. 

Per the Manifesto, these groups retreated to remote corners of the space people could reach (now greatly expanded by access to the Gatemap) to prepare for an inevitable machine holocaust. They used genetic alteration to organize their societies according to Foster's eugenic vision, but the result was generally far from Utopian. While Foster had envisioned a society of coequal subspecies living in harmony and fulfillment as they did the work they were designed for, the real life version fell apart again and again until it resorted to strict segregation and authoritarian control.

Random completed articles

Kepeshnags ("Kepesh's Feast") refers to an historical event, and the holiday celebrating that event by a feast of Gekepeshiyik. The grammatical construction of the name implies the Kepesh as a host, in a manner of thanksgiving.

Origin

The story of Kepeshnags's origin tells of a starving society under siege. They ration their food as long as possible until all that is left are some Kepesh, still in the middle stage of pregnancy. Left with no other option, they slaughter and cook them, dividing the fetuses (Yaat) one each among the diners. They find the meal to be so fortifying that they rally and fight off the invaders. The diner who received the runt of the litter, thinking herself to be woefully unlucky, finds herself to be pregnant the next morning. Her spouse is so valorous in combat that he is placed in the now-empty throne of the king, who died in the siege. They attribute their victory and prosperity to the blessing of the Kepesh and her Yaat.

Holiday

Kepeshnags is celebrated with a feast of Gekepeshiyik, a dish of roasted Pesh in the middle of pregnancy ("Kepesh") with the still-contained fetuses. The fetuses are a delicacy with especial cultural regard, and receiving the runt is considered good luck particularly for young women. Pesh have special cultural significance to many Haaru cultures, as a staple livestock and symbol of fertility.

Malnutritional Petrification is a syndrome of Mother Lomoi (Boduan) trees, in which their Sapwood becomes petrified and brittle due to overdraft of certain nutrients. 

Fossil evidence indicates this was the second most common cause of death for Bull Lomoi, after Competitive Uprooting.

Conversely, it appears that Mother Lomoi (Boduan) are more resilient to parasitic and symbiotic overdrafts. Almost all examples on Mother Lomoi have been due to overdevelopment or mismanagement in Haaru settlements. Petrification is the primary concern of Graft Administrations. 

This effect is considered to be a major contributing factor in the Fall of Kubii.

Mikey is a reference to Mikey Moose, a subsidiary of Swanstone Holdings. At one point, Swanstone had tested using the character to communicate public announcements in its arcologies, a choice that was met with vague disgust everywhere but GisnegWorld Undersea Arcology. The decision was quickly rolled back, but remains an embarrassment to Swanstone's reputation. Now, authority figures in the Swanstone hierarchy are referred to disparagingly as Mikeys.

Looking for new avenues of innovation and efficiency, Gatorade execs in 2271 looked to their past to see where the future may lay. The historically second-best innovation in their company's history had been Powdered Gatorade, which allowed them to ship a much denser product, meaning more profit for them and more value to the customer.

The most profitable innovation in the company's history to date had been Beckham presents Gatorade BECkham (Bose-Einstein Condensate Gatorade in a partnership with David Beckham) - The Drink, a form of Gatorade so dense that it could supply a purchaser for their entire life. A secondhand economy of BEC Gatorade was astroturfed to reduce the initial consumer fear of commitment to a lifetime purchase.

However, there being no lower-energy state of being than a Bose-Einstein Condensate1 to exploit, they decided to take things in the other direction. Gatorade Plasma was soon developed as an extremely inefficient form of Gatorade - yet still worth a reasonable price to provide you and one thousand years of your descendants with lifetime supplies of Gatorade, or your money back. 

Gatorade Plasma Cells with simple adjustment could also power buildings, being largely electrolytes in an extremely excited, compressed state1. This was a favorite cost-saving maneuver of the economically desperate. However, these cells are designed for one thing only: making fresh, delicious, hydrating Gatorade. They are prone to malfunction if misused, as in the case of the Gatorade Explosions that claimed numerous lives and properties in all sectors. 

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