Motes PlayedA Post-Self Story

A primer before reading

Post-Self is a science fiction setting involving uploaded consciousnesses and all of the daily dramas that go into their everlasting lives.

This primer is broken into two parts:

The setting

Starting in 2115, advances in technology allowed individuals to be uploaded. This is a one-way, destructive procedure. That is, once you are uploaded, there is no going back, and your body dies in the process. Given the ongoing deterioration of the climate on Earth and the fact that, in most countries, uploading is subsidized (one’s beneficiaries are provided with a payout after one uploads), this is often seen as a very attractive solution. Other reasons that one might upload is to enjoy the anarchic society on the (deliberately opaquely named) System, the functional immortality offered to uploaded individuals, or some of the mechanics enjoyed by cladists. These cladists live embedded in a giant computer at the center of a space station at the Earth-Moon L~5~ point known as Lagrange. There are two smaller versions of the System, Castor and Pollux, which were launched in opposite directions traveling out of the Solar System in 2325.


Individuals on the System are known as cladists. This stems from the fact that individuals can create copies of themselves, and those copies can go on to create copies of themselves, and so on. This leads to a branching tree of individuals, or a clade.

‘Cladist’ refers to both the original upload and any of their numerous copies, and debates about whether or not cladists are still human are a perennial activity.

Forking, quitting, and merging

The act of a cladist creating a copy of themself is called ‘forking’, as in a fork in the road or forking a source code repository. This new copy is a complete person. They have their own will and drive to continue living and everything. This is not a hive mind thing: both the original and the copy are true individuals.

That said, this new copy (often called a ‘fork’ or an ‘instance’) is, at the moment of forking, the same as the original cladist (called the down-tree instance, because they are closer to the root). After all, that cladist was one person, right? They are just now two! That means that they are created thinking the same sorts of things and sharing the same ideals. Over time, however, they all start to individuate, learning to appreciate their own things based on the separate experiences that they have.

These new instances of our example cladist also have the ability to quit. This means that they all simply stop existing. But wait! Why would they do that?

One reason is that one might simply want to accomplish a task. Perhaps you are cooking a lovely meal and the pasta needs stirring while you are cutting up the garlic bread. Why, simply fork and now you have two pairs of hands, one to go stir the pasta, one to cut the bread. The pasta thus stirred, the new instance may as well just quit. No reason to stick around.

Another reason is to go and experience other things in the world and then bring back those memories. Quite literally, too! When a fork quits, the cladist who forked them receives all of their memories to incorporate with their own. A cladist may wish to cook their delicious meal, but they are also entertaining guests: they can fork off an instance to go cook the meal while they entertain and, when they are done, quit. The down-tree instance will receive all of the memories of having cooked and all of the feelings about the process so that they know to warn their guests, “Hey, uh…the pasta is a liiiittle spicy…”

One can only ever merge down to the one from whom one was forked up until 277+42, and after that point, one can merge to any of one’s cocladists, but only within a clade.

“But what about the transporter paradox?” you ask. Post-Self’s answer to that is a shrug. The memories live on. All of the experiences live on. One simply lived two lives at once for that time.

A note on those memories…

One unforeseen consequence of living in a giant computer is the inability to forget. This can start to cause problems as one gets older. And older and older and older…because one is functionally immortal. Even though those memories can be organized, or even storied away in imaginary bins called exocortices to be remembered on demand, the fact that they keep piling up is both a boon and a bane. It is a boon because now, suddenly, you can remember everything! No more forgetting names, no more losing track of items. It is a bane, though, because that can get kind of maddening for your average 300 year old.


For instance, they can create just about anything they can dream up. This is not as easy as it sounds, of course; it takes skill to get good at dreaming up very specific things such as strawberries or cars or a pencil.

They can also create sims. These are the locations where they live out their lives. These can be everything from a studio apartment to an entire city. They can be private or public. They can be ornate and finely detailed natural settings or they can be plain gray cubes of space.

Crashing and CPV

Occasionally, something will happen and a cladist will crash. This is usually not too big of a deal, as it can be sorted out by a systech and the cladist brought back to life.

Contraproprioceptive virus is the only way to kill a cladist. It disrupts their sense of their body and induces a crash, from which one cannot recover. This was patched out in 2401 — alas, that is still a few decades off from this story.


Cladists engage with the world with all of the same senses that we have. These are lumped together into a sensorium. One of the benefits they have is the ability to share some or all of these senses with another cladist as a form of co-experiencing via a sensorium linkage, or as a tool in the form of a sensorium message. If you want to show your friend what you are looking at, send them a sensorium message to share your vision. Some sims even mess with your sensoria (consensually, of course) to change the way that you see things or how things feel.

The perisystem architecture

There are some tools included in the System itself in what is called the perisystem architecture.

All of those creations listed above, and even some of these experiences, can be shared publicly on the exchange. This was originally a marketplace where one bought and sold such things with Reputation, a currency put in place in the early days when System capacity needed closer management, though this has since become almost a non-issue.

There are also feeds which one can use to share information, news, stories, all sorts of things! Think of these (loosely) like subreddits.

The perisystem also contains the clade listing. Privacy was an important consideration from the founding of the System, so one cannot simply look up any old cladist and find out everything about them without being granted permission.

Finally, it just plain stores information. Things like libraries are essentially locations to go engage with, access, manipulate, or otherwise play with the information that is always available.

The characters

People upload for lots of reasons! Once they are sys-side, though, they settle into society as they will.

It is an anarchy

There is no way to truly govern such a system beyond the mechanics provided by its very existence, and so it is simply left ungoverned. The forces behind the scenes have largely sought only to guide the System in vague directions, often towards yet more freedom. Rules are per-sim, engagement is optional, and cultures are fractured and finely tuned around shared interests or heritage.

It is queer-normative

The System allows for endless freedom and endless expression. In such a setting, boundaries such as strict gender binaries, hetero- and mono-normative relationship structures, and even species have been broken down. Trans folks may upload and live as they will as cis folks of their chosen gender, or they may remain visibly and proudly trans. Furries may upload and become their fursoñas (this is a metafurry setting, after all; everyone on Earth is a human, and thus every cladist began life as a human). Plural and median systems may upload and split into component selves, or they may remain plural sys-side. Even names and identity have been queered, and you will often see clades adopting naming schemes such as taking lines of a poem for their forks’ names.

Why are there so many skunks?

If you have seen cladists out and about on the web, the chances are good that you have seen some skunks among their number, usually with long, poetic names. This is due largely to the canon works in the Post-Self cycle which feature anthropomorphic skunks heavily. Several folks have adopted these skunks as headmates or characters for roleplaying.

The story so far

The story leading up to Motes Played is told in the four books of the Post-Self Cycle: Qoheleth, Toledot, Nevi’im, and Mitzvot. Here, let me spoil them all for you:


In 2112, RJ Brewster (known to eir friends as AwDae), an audio technician for the Soho Theatre Troupe gets “lost”: a virus trips a safeguard in the implants ey uses to connect to the immersive ’net, which locks em within eir own dreams, leaving em in an apparent state of catatonia. In the months leading up to this, several people in the Western Federation have gotten lost, and Dr. Carter Ramirez is tasked with figuring out just how to help them, but she has been encountering more friction than expected in the course of doing her job.

She is joined on her search by Michelle Hadje — who goes by the moniker Sasha in furry spaces — though as they start to realize that the origin of the Lost is not a virus but a way for the government of the Western Fed to disappear undesirables, Sasha, too, is lost. Once Dr. Ramirez manages to break the case wide open and all of the Lost are resuscitated, it is found that none of them remain the same, each having suffered some deep neurological trauma.

In the end, AwDae defects to the Sino-Russian Bloc — the other major world power — to volunteer to be one of the first to upload to a new world.

Nearly two hundred years in the future in 2305, Ioan Bălan is contacted by an enigmatic fennec fox named Dear, Also, The Tree That Was Felled of the Ode clade who needs eir help finding someone and solving a mystery. Someone has revealed a secret — the name of a loved one — which puts its clade at risk. After a journey down several strangely-shaped rabbit holes, they discover that one of the Odists was at the heart of this mystery. Now going by Qoheleth and clearly struggling with delusions of grandeur, he has sent Ioan and the Odists on a wild chase to get them invested in his discovery: memory on the System is eternal, and all of the oldest uploads are at risk of slowly losing touch with reality.

In the midst of explaining this to all of the Ode clade, he is assassinated in grand fashion by one of the other guests — someone who Dear assumes is one of the more conservative Odists.

In the end, it is revealed that the Odists are all descended from Michelle/Sasha, who uploaded in 2117, and that the name they keep secret is that of AwDae, who Dear explains killed emself. In eir final note, ey left Sasha/Michelle with a poem containing the lines from which they take their names.

The version of Ioan who agreed to this adventure, having found emself changed far beyond eir root instance, decides to become eir own cladist, adopting the name Codrin Bălan.


In 2325, two smaller versions of the System named Castor and Pollux are launched in opposite directions on a long journey out of the Solar System, leaving the original System, now called Lagrange, behind in orbit around Earth. The date, Ioan realizes, is important due to it being the 200th anniversary of the secession of the System from the governments of Earth, and the correspondences start to pile up from there. Working with another Odist, May Then My Name Die With Me, on Lagrange and Codrin Bălan over on Castor and Pollux ey starts to compile a history of the System from its foundation.

After the trauma of getting lost, Michelle/Sasha uploads as soon as she can afford to. With her experience in campaigning for the Lost, she joins the Council of Eight, a guiding body for the early System, but quickly finds herself overwhelmed, as she struggles to maintain a single identity — either Sasha or Michelle — as well as a single form — either skunk or human. Promising herself a two week vacation, she forks the first ten members of the Ode clade, each taking the first line from the ten stanzas of AwDae’s poem. The vacation turns out to be permanent, and shortly after the events of Qoheleth, she summons the rest of the clade to merge down so that she can experience their joys and sorrows, and then quits forever.

The Only Time I Know My True Name Is When I Dream — or just True Name — remains on the Council as the political member of the clade while the other skunks/women/skunkwomen wander off to work on other projects. She is tasked by Jonas, another councilmember, with aiding in the campaign for secession. She finds it surprisingly easy and surprisingly fulfilling, quickly leaning into the role of the politician, using her skills as an actress and theatre teacher to help sway those around her, as well as their phys-side friend, Yared Zerezghi, to accomplish her goal.

After Launch, much of this information comes to light, along with the fact that, despite the Council of Eight being disbanded in the 2150s, Jonas and True Name (along with the rest of the eighth stanza) continue to steer the politics of not just the System but the governments of Earth from behind the scenes — or so they say. So dramatic are their stories, that the Bălans’ book, An Expanded History of Our World, comes off more as sensationalist schlock than anything serious.

This, it seems, is by design.

In an epilogue in 2346, astronomer Tycho Brahe on the launch vehicle Castor receives a transmission from an outside source: someone has picked up their signal and would like to meet.


With the signal from the Artemisians, as the aliens are dubbed, True Name and Jonas leap into action to prepare not just for the arrival of the Artemisian emissaries but also to shape the reception of this news for the remainder of Castor — and the other Systems beyond.

Codrin is, of course, tapped to help document and take part in this project along with Tycho Brahe, True Name, Why Ask Questions Here At The End Of All Things, and Sarah Genet, a psychologist. Given the effects that the Bălans’ History has had, few people seem to trust that True Name’s heart is in the right place, despite her assurances otherwise and apparent earnestness.

The Artemisians — actually four different alien races traveling on a single ship, also taking the form of an uploaded-consciousness system — agree to send a delegation of five to Castor to meet with humanity’s delegation, while our five intrepid heroes prepare to transfer to Artemis to accomplish two meetings in parallel. Artemis, however, does not have forking. Instead, they have malleable control over time. This is so close to what the Odists experienced while lost that both True Name and Why Ask Questions immediately begin to struggle just as Michelle/Sasha did so many years ago.

Did I say Why Ask Questions? I meant Answers Will Not Help: those sneaky politicians decide to test their luck by sending a subtly different delegation to Artemis than the one on Castor.

Things are not quite so easy back on Lagrange. True Name is struggling, and when she meets up with Ioan and May Then My Name — now disgustingly cute partners — things do not go well. May falls into ‘overflow’, a sort of rapid mood swing that all Odists seem to experience, and in the process, two of her cocladists quit, leaving the Ode clade now numbering ninety-seven.

While Ioan tries to pick apart what is going on with True Name, ey winds up befriending her, seeing that, no, really, she is just as earnest and vulnerable as eir own partner, and the act that she put on during the writing of the History has left her overworked and lonely.

The meetings go about as well as can be expected. That is to say, on Castor, they go fine, and on Artemis, Answers Will Not Help loses her mind and somehow manages to quit, despite such not being possible. At the end of three days and having had their ruse brought to light, the delegates learn that the end goal of this convergence is to establish whether or not humanity will be able to join Artemis on its ongoing travels around the galaxy.

The final step is simply to want to, and when Tycho admits this in a meeting, they are formally welcomed aboard as the fifth race.

The prologue and epilogue detail the story of AwDae leaving behind eir life in London to travel to the S-R Bloc to be a part of an experiment, searching for a way to upload a mind to a computer. All previous attempts have failed, but they have hope that, with the information gained from em getting lost, eirs will be a success. In the end, although ey emself does not wind up within the System, eir mind becomes a part of the foundation, leading to all future successful uploads, which explains while all of the Odists say that they can feel em within.


Four years after convergence, Ioan is still meeting with True Name on a monthly basis. Nominally meetings to maintain friendly relations between True Name and May Then My Name, these meetings show real friendship between the two. They also show that True Name is struggling more and more over time. On Secession day, 2350, Jonas attempts to assassinate True Name, killing 106 of her forks and leaving the instance who was visiting Ioan the sole living instance of her. Jonas, when confronted by Ioan, demands that True Name meet with em before the end of the year to discuss his plan B — it is that or hide away forever. He requests that Ioan write a book about this to help shape this outcome as he would like.

Forced together as she goes into hiding, True Name and May Then My Name struggle to get along, with mixed results. While they find it easy enough to remain polite, some of the information that True Name shares sets May off; it turns out that, in order to gain leverage over her, Jonas set True Name up with a snarky and dapper fox named Zacharias, a long, long diverged fork of May Then My Name’s, using the taboo against intraclade relationships as a means of control.

A few days later, in the heat of the moment, May talks one of True Name’s other up-tree instances, End Waking, into merging down with her. Given how much End Waking hates her guts, this does not go well for True Name, leaving her feeling torn in two. While May feels quite bad for having hurt her, True Name at least understands her stated goal of helping her become more — or at least other — than what she was.

In an attempt to reconcile, May herself merges down, leaving True Name feeling a more comfortable plurality, though it also leaves her with May’s love for Ioan. Her identity is now that of True Name, that of End Waking, and that of May Then My Name.

Jonas calls on her to appear before him in one final meeting, where she seeks a way to remain alive. All of her experience in theatre and politics pays off and she changes both her shape and her name, going now by Sasha. Given the empathetic view that many have of the Sasha/Michelle of old, this means that Jonas cannot do anything to her without putting himself at risk, and she is free (with some restrictions; no going back into politics) to live on.

In an extended epilogue, the book, Individuation and Reconciliation, is published and Ioan enters a sometimes-relationship with Sasha, whenever she is feeling up to being around people, given that she now has three different types of overflow, two of which lead to her requesting space from others. She — along with the rest of the eighth stanza, the Bălan clade, and Dear — have been cut off from the sixth and seventh stanzas (those of Hammered Silver and In Dreams) for her actions.

And so now…

By the time of the story of Motes Played, Sasha has started working with Au Lieu Du Rêve (when she is able, at least) as a stage manager. She — along with May and Ioan — have been welcomed into the arms of the fifth stanza (that of A Finger Pointing) with love and kindness. The taboo around intraclade relationships has quickly loosened, and the System has entered once more into a sort of long peace.

Post-Self an open setting, meaning that anyone can create content within it, though the canon is loosely managed in order to keep it consistent. If you enjoyed this story and any of the many others within this universe, it is open for you to write, draw — or paint! — or otherwise create within. For more creative Post-Self endeavors, look no further than, and for more information than you could ever want, check out the Post-Self Wiki over at