Dan: No nifty godlike gadgets, just good old-fashioned pogroms of scientists and science-literate people.
Michael: Making the catastrophe a man-made one gives the story an Us vs. Them dynamic but would we still keep the broken environment? Are the computer systems still breaking down? It might introduce a modern industrialism wrecking the environment theme.
But I’d say the powers-that-be still can’t fix those problems without rebooting the system or some such and resetting the physical laws and that would be Against Uchronian Law. The Krypteia would be the most obvious enforcers of that status quo. That would also lend itself more easily to revolutions and palace coups.
Dan: I like Sarah’s notion of systems evolving away from user-friendliness over time as the more selfish reproducers proliferated. These systems are so deeply rooted and powerful that they look like nature, but they aren’t. They’re a governing body that doesn’t necessarily have the best interests of people at heart. “Irrelevant” systems (like gravity) are ignored and break down or go feral. AIs fight with each other over resources, leaving humans in the crossfire.
Ooh ooh, remember seelie and unseelie fae? Perhaps there are forces within the environmental systems that still find humans appealing (some atavism of their ancestral programming, perhaps) but they are steadily loosing to the more competitive “unseelie” AIs who don’t give a damn about humans.
Here’s something interesting, my early inputs were about the question of whether or not people built technology to make the world more like a “fairytale” and what the issues with that would be. I think you guys have hit upon one of those issues. That is, bizarre emergent phenomena that reproduces itself will emerge from any complex system, and world spanning narrative hypertech ecologies certainly count.
Since this was a fantasy LARP world, would some of the original settlers have hoped for a permanent low tech existence? Did someone cause this cataclysm on purpose? There are luddites today, why not the future? The emperor could genuinely believe that removing the tech interdict will drive them back into chaos.
But feral technology is running rampant, the unseelie court is growing stronger, weather AIs are forgetting what to do.
Chaos is coming, whether we like it or not.