[Nominally JRRM] Con/Arc Idea “Truth Inc”. Memory Rules’ Plug-and-Play Version

Posted: April 15, 2009 by Guy Shalev in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I had a thought for a con-game or short-arc, perhaps devoid of system, but based off of JRRM, and posted it on Story Games. It’s Philip K. Dick-esque in nature.

I later posted the memory-swap rules, made “Plug-and-play”, so you could put them into any game, or have them as your sole rules. I seem to be heading currently in the road of looking at older designs and seeing what can be taken from them and used elsewhere.

Anyway, these are reposts.

The idea and some background is as follows: In a future-world, there is a war, an alien invasion, rebels fighting against Earth Prime, what have you. People sign on to the army to pilot mecha in order to fight the enemies of Earth (go Voices of a Distant Star!).
There are two catches: Interfacing fully with the Mecha requires a drug which has the side effect of your memories mixing with those of others, both other pilots and random memories caught from the collective subconsciousness. The other catch is that if you volunteer to pilot these mecha, you cannot retire until you earn a large sum of money (in the form of bounties, go Area 88) To combat this, some of the people piloting mecha are “Prisoners”, who as their sentence are sent and forced to pilot these mecha, being injected this drug.

Since no one has returned from the front yet, or if they have, they are sequestered from the public and media (often by their own choice, perhaps by a semi-martial law restricting the flow of information), and some rumors circulate about many such prisoners being people who have been framed, or committed very low-key crimes (theft? neglect?), one character will be a news-reporter who volunteered in order to find the truth of the matter, and get it back to Earth.
Complications are abundant: First, the prisoners will have been there longer, and not all their memories will be their own. The reporter will also have to remain there for a period of time after getting his interviews, and his memories may not be something he could trust after a few missions; is he a reporter or a murderer, is he an innocent, a framed person, or guilty? Would he even retain memory of his mission? Perhaps one of the Prisoners would get his mission, and what are we if not our memories? If a murderer loses the memories that made him a criminal, is he still a murderer? Is an “innocent” person with the memory of a murder he committed not guilty?

After I had the idea, especially the original mission, I thought it reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s Lies Inc. which I oddly enough remembered as “Truth Inc.”, and on further reflection, the whole game seems very Dick-esque to me, A Scanner Darkly, anyone?

Semi-generic rules on the memory-swap bit. I will first list the most-generic version, and then list things which can be added to your game, as modules that can be added or removed separately.


Starting off: The group will need a bunch of 3″*5″ index cards, or any other form of small cards to write on.

Each character has three memories, write each memory on a separate index card, and put them in front of you.

–At the beginning of the first session, each player writes an additional two memories, which do not belong to any Player Character. Shuffle these, and then remove N-1 memories (Where N=number of players) from the pile, not looking at which ones are removed. This pile, placed face-down is The Collective Subconsciousness.
–At the end of each session, remove N-1 memories from the pile, not looking at which ones are removed. This is important, so players will never know when they seek to reclaim one of their lost memories if that is still an option!
–At the beginning of each session each player will write a new memory. Remove one such memory randomaly and then shuffle the rest into the pile. Do not let players look at the memories other players introduce.

In case it isn’t clear, even when not mentioned, never look at which memories are discarded, and which memories are currently in the pile. These represent memories of other pilots, and memories which leaked from the group-mind. Memories removed either dissipate or find a lodging in other Riders.

Switching: Come up with times when the player will have to switch their memories, such as times which are very stressful, powering up special maneuvers for their mecha, when they need to interface deeper with the mecha and get an overdose of the drug, etc.
–When that happens, choose a memory (or if you want that, do it at random) of the player’s, then pick a memory at random from the pile and exchange them. Then shuffle the memory pile.
–The Exchange is complete, the character may know he’s missing something, but not beyond. His new memory is his, featuring him. If his new memory has the person it belonged to remembering how they’ve murdered someone, then the character will not think, “No, this is not me, I’d never do that!”, but rather remember it as if they did do it, which is now a part of their personality make-up, and for them, had always been?

Memory Beads: If you use any form of player currency, of the form of “Fate Dice” or whatever, I suggest that whenever a player wishes to spend one, they have to come up with a memory (not one of the Big Memories, but a small memory of the character) and how it fuels them to do more in this situation.
Losing Memories: Rather than merely switching memories, some actions may require the character to lose a memory. Take one of their memories and put it in the memory pile, or alternately, tear it up. Regardless, they do not get a new memory, but will proceed with one Memory less, the capacity of their mind having been reduced. Should the character lose its last memory, give it an Epilogue.
Anchor Memory: Give each character an Anchor Memory. This memory cannot be swapped, and if you use the Losing Memories Module, it will be the last one lost. This memory could be either the reason the character had volunteered for this mission, or some other pivotal moment in the character’s life, that defines them.
Morality: Characters start with 3 Morality traits, each being something the character will do or not do, something they will uphold… if they can, this is a war. Should the character lose a memory and gain another one, the player may decide to switch a morality trait to a more fitting one, though this is not mandatory.
–Sub-module: Should a character have to contradict a Morality trait (perhaps if several times), they may replace it for another. The stress of this could result in a memory-swap.

True Core: Well, the true Core is a lot simpler… just take three memories per player, come up with a pile of memories not belonging to the players’ characters, come up with when they switch them, and you’re good to go.


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