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Monday, February 13, 2006

Lost in Translation

I’ve left out one important part of the whole “question of identity” mechanic I am going for here. Or more correctly put; the mechanics that will drive the choices around the question of identity in a V. Baker Fruitful Void kinda dance.

The point is to create situations where the players choose to replace/reprogram their characters memories to keep the characters game effective. Does that make sense?

To put it in other words; I wish to create a mechanic that damages the integrity of the characters self until the point comes where the player must choose whether to reprogram the character or have the character face the crisis weakened. Either way the player makes a statement about identity and its value.

I had a mechanic, and it used to be called Trauma Pool. I’ve renamed it and nailed it’s peculiars a little better now, calling it the Transient Pool.
Here's why:
When one digitizes an analogue signal there is a loss of information. It might be small, it might be considered negible if one has a high enough bit rate, but it will always be there. And when you then upload the copy into new wetware, that copy is imperfect and the information loss is irreversible. This digital noise is called Transients in this game because they tend to occur when the changes are sudden and sharp, making the information lost between the digitized bits critical.
Here is a definition of transient from wikipedia: Electrical Engineering.
“A transient system is a short-lived oscillation in a system caused by a sudden change of voltage, current, or load. Engineers use voltage regulators and surge suppressors to prevent transients in electricity from affecting delicate equipment.”
So in this game, performing certain actions or submitting oneself to certain things causes psychological and physiological reactions that due to their highly fluctuating nature create digital noise in source code. This builds up over time, like a JEPG picture opened and saved many times over.
This digital noise then builds up until one of the key components become corrupted (or bad) and this component then produce more noise, or transients, until the entire code is so corrupted that it crashes, efficiently destroying the persona.
There are ways to fix this, one is costly and time consuming. Another is cost-efficient and quick, guess which one is bad for you.

There, that was the fiction justification. The game mechanic justification is to provide a cost pr copy function to the upload download economy of the game, aswell as provide a tainted incentive to use violence. To understand this lets look at the mechanic.

Transient pool.
Used by players to
1. provide extra dice in conflicts that are by the game's definition of viloence violent.
2. gauge the integrity of their character’s source code and let them gamble this to achieve their character’s desire.
Gained in game by:
1. hurting, harming or breaking other characters. (one, two or three points respectivly)
2. uploading into a new sleeve (one point)
3. uploading into a non-organic sleeve (synthetic) (one point)
4. memetic attacks (one point)*
5. being the victim of violence (one point)
6. ware-wolfing, using puppet personalities to perform horrible tasks to remove the stigma of guilt, replaces point one. (one point)
7. using a corrupted source code component (one point)
Mechanical destruction:
As the trauma pool builds up the pool will exceed the Variable Values (Recall, Response and Resolve), aka thresholds, or a multiple of these values. Once it passes a threshold there is an immediate conflict between the Transient Pool and the Threshold Variable. What’s at stake is one of the components of that threshold. If the player looses then he picks what component became corrupted (aka bad). If he wins, then the transient pool is untouched and continues to grow until it passes a new threshold. Repeat.
When the player runs out of components the damage spreads to the variables. When they get corrupted the only way the character can interact with the setting is through violence. More on that later.
Reducing the transient damage:
The human mind has a miraculous ability to heal. This is where a character’s Releases come in. A player may have a character development scene and reduce the amount of by narrating how the character indulges and then rolling the Resolve variable against Transient Pool. This then goes back and forth like a contested test until the player has spent all the resolve dice (and story points). The pool is then reduced by the amount of dice the Narrator had to roll from the pool.
The second way that the transient pool is reduced is when the transient pool over comes a threshold variable in a corruption contest. The transient pool is then reduced by the amount of dice spent.

I will expand upon this, but the gist of the thing is that you as the player will be forced to choose between the integrity of your character’s source code and winning contest.

Oh and Filippa got her first tooth saturday and I have had minimal sleep since then.


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