The farm of the future utilizes many closed, automated systems to grow the most product for the highest profit margin. The farm can quickly change the food being grown to meet shifting local market demand.
Each One Shot RPG setting is integral to how the adventure plays out. Where the adventure takes place can be thought of as a character itself; it needs to have personality, a background, and be visually unique. Planning how the farm functions, what types of facilities it contains, who works there, and what they do, will dictate the types of encounters players will be experiencing.
The Farm of the Future
The farm of the future will be mostly automated. Closed systems, such as the solar-powered towers I’ve mentioned before, will require zero workers. Everything from seed sowing, to harvesting, to cleaning the windows will be done by robots. Open systems, such as fields, will require very few workers. The land itself will be monitored by drones, and sowing, watering, harvesting will be done by robots. The few workers at the farm will be researchers, engineers, and technicians. They control the instructions—what to plant, where, when—for the automated systems to carry out.
The farm has two products: plant and animal. This article will cover the plant side of the operation.
Genetic Engineering Lab
In One Shot RPG’s version of the future, genetic engineering—transgenic plants—won’t have the stigma attached to it like it does today. People will accept that plants will be engineered to be more resistant, nutritious, and require less energy to grow. GMO food will be proven to be safe and effective, hundreds of years before the game even takes place. It’ll be the corporate greed surrounding the process that people will find fault with, not the process itself. Genetic modification will become so common, that each farm has its own lab dedicated to it, tailoring plants to the individual community’s needs and tastes.
The genetic engineering facility at this farm is overrun by the scummed’s ability to control growth. Players will encounter plants that defy logic. They may be attacked by sentient plant-monsters that skirt the borders between flora and fauna. Characters may be suddenly stabbed by a vine that follows their movements.
Plant Nutrition Mixing
When discussing soil-free, closed, automated systems for growing plants, there’s the need for a “nutrient solution”. The solution provides the nutrients that plants naturally would find in soil. If farms are tailoring their plants to the geographic area, then each farm would need its own mixture of nutrients. Therefore I envision that the farm has a dedicated facility that is used to mix the ingredients needed to feed the plants. Giant vats of chemicals line the walls, hooked up to tubes that automatically move the required amounts to the mixer. The solution then is carried where it needs to go, all without the involvement of any person.
The scummed has turned this facility into the main poison production plant. There she is mixing the poisons that she’s using to kill the animals, and to make the general population sick.
Plant Nursery and Seed Harvesting
Many of the plants grown on the farm will be seedless, so the baby plants will have to come from somewhere. This facility is a plant nursery. If the plants reproduce through transplanting shoots, then this facility automatically pulls apart offspring from their parent plants. If the plants are grown from seeds, then the parents are automatically pollinated—through robotic bees—and their seeds are harvested. Even plants that require grafting are created in this facility through automated processes.
This facility would provide a great way for the party to encounter the scummed for the first time. Imagine they’re walking around, surrounded by seeds and small plants, when all of a sudden they erupt into growth. It would demonstrate the scummed’s ability to rapidly grow plants, and her penchant for trapping people be walling them in.
Because the farm is tailored towards market needs, there’ll still be a market for plants that are grown the old-fashioned, “natural”, “organic” way. Those words will have a different meaning three hundred years from now, but to the local community it means plants grown in a field. Inbetween the high-tech buildings is a large field where plants of all kinds are grown. As mentioned above, there’s still a lot that’s automated, from sowing, harvesting, to monitoring.
The open field can be used as a place for a large-scale battle. It’s open area is well suited for the premade characters’ strengths. Some technicians could have been forced to reprogram the facility’s robots, such as the drones that monitor the field, to attack the party.
Aquaponics is the process of growing plants in fish tanks. The fish (or other aquatic creatures) produce waste that provide nutrients for the plants. The system is almost self contained, as the only input is feeding the fish. At this specific farm, the fish feed is also made in house. I’ve envisioned that the local market currently has fish demand trending upward, so the farm is providing some of the supply while the food corporation is building a dedicated fish farm.
I imagine that when the party walks into the facility they find all of the fish are dead, the life being sucked out of them by the plant’s roots.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants suspended in air, without soil. The plant’s exposed roots are sprayed with nutrient-rich water—the nutrient solution mentioned above. I keep mentioning that the farm has solar-powered towers, and aeroponics are their function. The towers are fully automated, onlookers can see the various robots tending to the plants on every floor. They provide most of the farm’s vegetable output, and the specific plants being grown can be easily switched out as market demand changes.
Towers are a common trope in role playing games, and are often the final dungeon in an adventure. I could go overboard and have each floor of a tower be a separate encounter, but as a one shot, the gaming group doesn’t have a lot of time to fully explore all of the floors. I could have the final encounter with the scummed be at the top of one of the towers, or I could create an encounter at the base and have the party move on.
Growing food is not the only purpose of a farm, many farms take what they grow and process it into other products. This farm is no different, and has a few processing facilities.
This facility has machines that take the plants and turn them into something else. Think pressing seeds to obtain oils, or heating up ingredients to sterilize them as they’re mixed into a blend. A common sci-fi trope is the idea of a food goo, and the machinery here would mix that up—once again without any of the stigma attached. This is also the farm’s main money-maker, as the products here are what provide the most nutrition for customers for the least price.
The party may discover the food is being poisoned during an encounter at this facility. The scummed is adding the toxins as the plants go through the processing machinery.
Warehouse and Storage
Because the farm services a specific local area, and must change output to meet demands, the farm would probably have its own warehouse and storage facility. An interesting encounter for the party would be a fight against security forces hired by the company to protect their products. The party would either have to take them out or convince the foes that they’re not the real threat.