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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Visions by Television - setting

Based on the threads pointed at my last post (Well of Urd and Anyway) and their discussion of color I had a small epiphany. I had already circled out some elements that I wanted to focus on in my setting, now I just realized why.

So here is one element, with tentative mechanics to support it where I’ve had some sparks go off.

Portable self:
What is does this new world of digital immortality entail. Step one is that the body becomes an accessory.
This give rise to three potential types of body for a character:
A Sleeve – a biological body based on the human genome, although easily modifiable after the mapping of not only human DNA, but that of most of the now near extinct animal kingdom. Comes in two kinds, natural or vat grown.
A Synthetic – a replica of the human body, just built from more durable material than gene-modified flesh. For those times pure human just wont cut it.
A Shell – in some situations the human form just needs to be abandoned. For some, the extreme of transhumanism, for others a side-effect of poor employment contracts. Robotic shells that have myriads of functions that genetics just can’t add. Like zero-g thrusters or armourplates. The thing is that all these transhumans have virtual avatars that still look human, and that these avatars are identical with the transhuman’s self image. It seems that we can upload the ghost, but not give it up.
Each of these affects social and physical interaction, then there is the Transient Damage inflicted by downloading into non-human sleeves.
Uploading into a new sleeve – one TP
Uploading into a new synthetic sleeve – two TP
Uploading into a new shell – three TP
The difference in the body types lies in the capabilities of the basic stock. A human genome sleeve can never have higher than rating one capabilities (adds one dice to the conflict pool when called upon). A Synthetic can have rating two and a shell have rating three ( no prices for guessing how many dice they add), there is also a resource discount for non-human bodies, after all they are quicker to make.
Oh and then you can get off the rack sleeves, custom jobs, alpha-sleeves and you can even be assigned one in the sleeve lottery.

But I’ll get to this.

I have not yet decided how much weight to add to the religious issues this raises. I can see how this can cause a split in any faith, but I am unsure how much to weight is necessary.

While we are on the whole portable self issue, I have to include another kind of identity, the AI. In my inner eye I see the AI’s as naturally evolved from the blurring of VR and digital personalities uploaded in the net. Code is Code, and it would only be a matter of time before some programmers wanted to play God.
Keywords here are:
Panic
Firewalls
Personality Altering Weapons.
But like the following I haven’t nailed too much down yet, so this whole part is up in the air.

Which makes another very fascinating point pop up. Memetics, or dawinian ideas. Weapons that can change your character’s memories, inhibit actions, inflict TP damage. Used for both advertising and crowd control, memetic viruses are the ultimate terror weapons of the future.
Imagine having on you character sheet that every time you use a memory to replay a scene you have to include a coke can in your narration somewhere.

I spoke of VR. Visual overlays, different perspectives and time dilations are all potential problems that can be systemized. And information overload can really be a problem and a weapon. If this game is about identity, well the VR is about what is real. If you can’t tell what is real, how can you know what is you?
And why have expensive prisons when time can be served in VR, with psycho conditioning added for no extra charge.

And another setting element that must be a part of a game that has violence as one of its themes is crime and punishment. Murder as we see it is now really nothing more than traumatic vandalism. The chip is very hard to destroy.
And if one can live forever, well the sanctity of that kernel of life that is your Source Code becomes quite precious. Nearly sacred.
So crimes like Code theft, Code scrambling and even worse Code copying become very, very serious indeed. And then the ultimate punishment must be Code erasure. Because then you are really, really gone.
If what you did was not bad enough for this, then maybe a little re-write is all that is needed.
I’ve already spoken warmly for VR-prison time, well you commited a crime, why should the state/corporation/commune pay for the upkeep of your sleeve. After all it is feasible that you can get out after a two hundred year sentence now.
Enter the sleeve lottery. Your body gets handed out to the next Source Code released from VR storage, and when you’ve served your time you get the first available.

I’ll be chipping away on these gradually.

But my main focus now is chargen and resources.

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