Thoughts on Currency, Memory, Prisoners [JRMM]

Posted: May 15, 2010 by Guy Shalev in Design, Juiced Rider
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I think as some friends of mine have pointed out, the most interesting part of the game is the memory interface. How players or rather characters can gain and lose memories. As such, I think a lot depends on how memories are handled, and how you get new ones and such.

I think another important aspect are the “Credits”, though there may be something that needs to be done with them, perhaps to tie them into something that is more story oriented, so the higher your credits, the more the emotional onslaught is going on, so you will want to leave less, or your friends will need you, or you realize how fucked up you now are as a result of the memory swapping that had been going on.

Even if we leave the currency as it is now, the issue I wanted to touch upon was that we need to see how quickly currency is gained, and how quickly in general end-game is reached, either the rare “Salvation” or the more likely “Down-spiral of doom”. Of course, once we find this information out, it’s only half the job because I don’t know what I want to reach. If it ends within 6-10 sessions, it might be great, but what if I want it to end within say, 8 hours, or two sessions? I think knowing will help greatly, especially knowing what affects it, as this will enable me to control different variables to make the game friendly both to longer campaign play and to one/two-shots for convention play or long weekends.

The other reason this is important, and let’s be frank, I don’t need to just “discover” where the game is aimed in terms of length, I need to decide. The discovery is of what affects it, so I could modify it accordingly. Anyway, the other reason it is important is for the memory deck. The memories get added and removed, and currently this happens between sessions, but if the game is to work in one-shots, then is the deck that you have the one that you will have until the game ends?

The upside is that you are much more likely to gain back your memories, even if someone else ends up with a memory of yours, if you can get them to get it back to the joint pile then you once again have a shot to get it. But there is then a much reduced chance of the excitement of not knowing if your memory is there. The two lead to differing themes, one is the chance to reclaim yourself, even if only the player truly knows that this is the character’s true self, as the characters cannot truly differentiate, or the theme of losing hope of regaining oneself and having to make do with the tattered remains and the patch-work quilt that now makes up your history, your past, your friends, your morality, your you.

I think that it is required that there will be specific actions that not only enable you to swap memories with the pile in the center, but also actions that will call for you to remove memories from the joint pile, add memories to the joint pile. I wonder at removing memories without adding new ones, or adding new ones without removing old ones.

I am also unsure about whether it is better to remove the memories removed from the pile without letting players know, or letting players know, in order to be able to highlight the hopelessness the characters now have in regaining their old selves.

This is another issue, will the characters try to regain their old selves? Will they know their self had been modified? I can’t help but think characters will use tattoos and journals to write down who they are, to help them hold on to the fact they had changed, even if the new them is truly them, as the emotions come with it.
On that note, I wonder if the psychiatrists and psychologists aboard the ships will help people cling or will try to get them to remove their hold on their past. I suspect it may be quite a utilatarian world-view in the default setting, where they will merely try to keep them hanging, because this is all that matters.

Here is another issue, Prisoners make the rules kind of murky. Removing the monks seems almost par the course, with enabling them in an appendix for an alternate style of game, with them being not only the default but the only kind of player-character-types.
Anyway, I think that if you look at the setting then the whole concept of “Prisoners” as distinct from regular characters is a bit ridiculous… because in the end, after memory-swapping, how can you tell, and is it truly important who was a criminal before? A criminal might end with a hero’s personality make-up, and vice versa.

Thus, I think any person might volunteer for this thing, and if they manage to get out of it alive and finish their tour, then they get the money and a pardon if they are criminals. Conversely, one might add a dystopic rumour about how due to exactly this clause, whoever is freed is placed under permanent surveilance, because they might be dangerous. Heck, as a result of the war they had participated in, even heroes with heroes’ personality make-up might become somewhat callous, especially if you take into account the set-up that they are in, their comrades, and so on and so forth.

This seems to me to be a much better direction. Things like shooting missiles should definitely cause memory-swap and also erasure, as it warps the psychic-mind in the area around it in space. We’ll see.

I also need to verify that the system is not too fiddly, perhaps there might be also cause for some more RP scenes, though I kind of like the austere and bare-bone quality it has.

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