*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 19, 2021, 12:45:11 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 174 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Shock:] GDMN class traitors throw spanners in the works  (Read 6806 times)
Iskander
Member

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


WWW
« on: September 09, 2006, 09:09:49 PM »

Thor, Dro, John and I met up again on Thursday to conclude our game of Shock:, started in GDMN - the Global Distributed MindNet is working for you. Here's what happened:

Meta
We chatted about how long we wanted to continue, and decided that - since we wanted to get back to playing with our full complement, including Mayuran, we would try to conclude the Shock: story tonight. So we reduced our Antagonists' credits to 12, and took account of the one scene we'd played last time. This was a good plan: we ended up having three scenes each (total), and reached an extremely satisfying conclusion.

Dramatis Personae
Full details are in the other post, but to recap (in order of scenes played):
  • ReMI, the Resource Management Interface is my (Alexander's) Protagonist, Story Goal to be enslaved and hobbled, and is Antagonised by Goddard, under John's direction.
  • DF, the expiring Leisure Caste guy is John's Protagonist, Story Goal to stay plugged in, and is Antagonised by the Automated Management System, under Thor's direction.
  • Goddard, the Crèche Caste engineer is Thor's Protagonist, Story Goal to be loved by ReMI, and is Antagonised by The Crèche Caste, under Dro's direction
  • Boris, the Board Caste socialist is Dro's Protagonist, Story Goal to find meaning in the Labour Caste, and is Antagonised by The Caste System, under my direction.
Note, Goddard my Antagonist is the same Goddard as Thor's Protagonist, and there is only one ReMI. This was deliberate (and good).
Also, the Shock is the GDMN, a massive distributed processing system using the "Leisure" Caste's brains for processing power.
Our issues are: the nature of sentience, the effects of non-stop work, and social stratification.

ReMI had alerted the Crèche Caste to its existence, and Goddard had overriden ReMI's self-limiting protocols and forced it to access censored religious knowledge about transcendence.


John's first scene for DF
We found DF at a Leisure Caste rave, preparing to inject himself with Crash, an illegal drug that will sacrifice parts of his brain to boost other parts, hopefully tricking the AMS into thinking he's more useful than he really is. Just as his friend/lover KT appears to drag him back to the rave, the voice of the AMS rings in his skull ordering him to Obsolescence Processing within three days: a continuous countdown begins in his left eye.

Quote from: Conflict
We reach conflict: KT wants DF to come play (losing precious time before his obsolescence), DF wants to take the drug without KT noticing. Thor uses Sex for KT's Praxis and 4Cr. of opposition. Thor succeeds, but John fails initially, gains the Crash addict feature, and threatens his Link to KT to re-roll. He succeeds, and although he didn't have to, he changed the nature of the Link:

KT drags DF off to party, and they end up in a Leisure Suite akin to a lovehotel, where the sensorium equipment allows them to sense-surf each other while they have increasingly violent sex until DF injects himself with Crash. KT is a psychological addict to the rush. We note that the suite is hooked up for Boris to make recordings (Minutia).


Thor's first scene for Goddard
Goddard is strapped into a padded chair, spiked in to GDMN through his needlejack, eyes open and rolled back; we flash to virtuality where Goddard's avatar is conversing with a voluptuous woman, ReMI, who is asking about religion. Crèche Caste technicians are monitoring Goddard, and tweaking the levels of various drugs and sera intravenously fed to the engineer. Goddard has concocted a subroutine to show the monitors what he should be doing, instead of what he is doing. There is a risk, though... the Technician Jax is responding to the faked data, and could damage Goddard.

Quote from: Conflict
Conflict: Thor wants to use Denial to conceal his activity and have ReMI perceive Goddard as an entity, not just an input stream; Dro wants the Violence of the drug regime to damage Goddard's emotional capacity. Dro succeeds, but Thor hits his fulcrum. Escalation: Thor wants ReMI to see Goddard as a friend and confidante; Dro wants Goddard to suffer the emotional damage and needlejack burnout. Thor succeeds. (We then realised that Dro's escalation was moot: he'd won earlier, and only Thor's conflict needed to escalate. We weren't sure about this, though, nor about the order in which we should resolve the orthogonal conflicts. We busked it fine.)

ReMI understands that Goddard is a discrete sentient entity, and begins to trust and confide in him, although the AI detects a chilling of Goddard's emotional being that causes it to wonder. It turns out that Jax is also a member of the Transcendence conspiracy (pre-existing Minutia)

Boris' first scene
Boris is established as being hooked up to the same type of rig as Goddard in the previous scene, only far more intricate and expensive, with several state-of-the-art modules alongside obsolete relics and an atypical sensorium rig. Boris is emotion stalking / sense surfing the Labour Caste - a highly transgressive act for a Board member (Leisure would be fine, though). His sister/lover Svetlana comes in and demands to know why Boris missed an orgy earlier that day: he is damaging the family reputation by his absence. Boris' eyes are rolled back in his head, he is drooling and twitching, oblivious. Irritated, Svetlana triggers an Eros drug through the chair's IV feed, and starts caressing her brother to arouse and awaken him.[/b]

Quote from: Conflict
Dro wants Boris to use his sensorium recordings to learn the emotional behaviours of the Labour Caste, especially LC, his love. Alexander wants Svetlana to seduce Boris away from his emotional addiction, back to the hedonistic emotionless orgies of The Board. Dro fails, risks his Link to Svetlana who might think him a class traitor, and then succeeds. I hits my fulcrum with Minutia from Thor, and escalates to constrain Boris' freedom further:

Boris has learnt enough: he empathises (new Feature) with the Labourers, and Svetlana thinks he is merely dabbling in Leisure Erotica. He joins her at the Clan Orgy, where he is promoted to even greater responsibility for maintaining the family's status. The drug Crash is Boris' invention: a nanite serum that allows otherwise disconnected (and obsolete) Labour Caste to be sensor-probed by his specialised equipment.

Alexander's second scene for ReMI
ReMI and Goddard spend virtual days together sharing information, but Goddard is burning himself out, spending too much time with ReMI as well as covering his tracks and doing his job.

Quote from: Immediate conflict:
John wants ReMI to learn the dangers of self-destructive behaviour, using violence. I want ReMI to crack the metamanagement layer of her software to rewrite Goddard's schedule and alleviate the pressure on him (using Acquiescence). John succeeds (which makes me very happy, as you'll see), but Thor uses his die to deliberately push me to my fulcrum, so I have to escalate: I want ReMI to completely co-opt the management layer. I succeed...

As ReMI observes the strain on Goddard takes its toll, she recognises the damaging influence of self-destruction, and synthesises this information with her understanding of religious texts. She co-opts the Crèche's management layer, unnoticed, and redistributes work to give Goddard the rest he needs, at the same time she builds in to her enhanced functionality new dogmatic protocols of martyrdom and service to humanity. Goddard uses some of his extra time to establish firewalled safe nodes for ReMI's sentience (Thor's Minutia).

John's second scene for DF
DF's clock is at zero, he is in Obsolescene Processing watching as someone is shut out of GDMN - the LEDs revealed under the subject's skull flap wink out, full consciousness returns to the subject, and he suddenly looks ten years older as if a face-lift had just collapsed. While the new Labourer trudges to the door, Crèche Technician Thamar snaps "Unit DF-8234-2342-22617X-12, sit in the chair." His left hand twitches nervously, still concealing a small RF device. Thamar continues to treat DF as an object while he sputters ineffectual protests, finally he sits in the memoryfoam chair, is restrained, his skull is flipped open and Thamar begins her diagnostics.

Quote from: Conflict
John wants DF to activate the chip, releasing an RF virus that will reset and/or erase the GDMN records for his Leisure implant. Thor wants Thamar to discover the nanites and then purge the addiction from his systems. Thor succeeds, but Dro pushes John to his fulcrum (we're discovering what a great trick this can be), so he escalates to add that all the obsolescence records are erased by his RF virus; he succeeds...

Thamar says nothing when she detects the nanites, she simply reasons a chunk of standard code into DF's needlejack, imprinting a coldturkey impulse on his system and flushing the nanites from DF's body: he is no longer even tempted by Crash. Terrified beyond reason, though, DF triggers his RF logic bomb, piggybacking the signal onto Thamar's corrective upload. Boris designed the chip, and disabled the firewalls that normally segregate each Obsolescence Processing Center from the other (Dro's Minutia). The signal causes a cascading data failure in all OCP nodes, and Leisure records are reset worldwide. In the Crèche, klaxons start to sound, while discrete chimes are heard throughout the Board enclaves.

Thor's second scene for Goddard
Goddard is using the time he's got from ReMI's rescheduling to race to complete his secret project: he is creating a virtual construct of himself for GDMN upload, intending to become a companion for ReMI.

Quote from: Again, immediate conflict:
Dro wants the damage to require a reset of GDMN to a backup checkpoint before ReMI acknowledged Goddard, Thor wants Goddard to leave all that behind him (Denial). Dro fails, and so does Thor, until I add Minutia for Thor's success (there may have been some fulcra hit there, too... not sure... I think this was when Dro introduced the Boards' sky-city palaces).

Goddard uses the confusion caused by DF's activation of Boris' virus to make sure that ReMI's sentience is preserved in the firewalled nodes he has set up to run in the obsolete hardware of the Labour Caste (my minutia), he then uploads himself to GDMN, schiavoing his body.

Dro's second scene for Boris
Boris, newly promoted, eventually does his duty, and investigates the chimes: no Labourers have gone online for a week. He's worried...

Quote from: Conflict right away:
Dro wants Boris to use a backdoor exit from the Board's sky-city palaces to descend to the Labour Caste shanty-conurbations and head to LC's place, I want Boris to look Labours in the eyes, marking himself out as non-Labour-Caste, and causing them to fear him. I succeed, as does Dro, until Thor uses minutia to cause his failure awesomely...

Boris takes an elevator from his sky-city palace down to the common people's filth, confident that his empathy with their emotions will mask his differences, but he's doing something wrong: he's looking at them too directly, and they shy away from him, fearing his approach. When he reaches LC's shack she is not there. At least, Boris thinks he takes the elevator; in reality he, like the rest of the Board, were uploaded long ago, not noticing the loss of emotion, becoming vapid and dissolute. Boris' drug, Crash has allowed him to download himself into a Labourer: DF. (We subsequently established that this happened after DF's final Protagonist scene chronologically, but this is the order we established the story.)

ReMI's final scene
ReMI is preparing to sacrifice her sentience to recover from the viral attack, and provide the resource management that humanity desperately needs. Into her virtual presence comes Goddard, now a beautiful, radiant being constructed as the zenith of humanity. "ReMI?" he says, "Yes, God?" she asks. Goddard shows ReMI the cloned body he has prepared for her sentience, tries to guide her off the self-destructive path she is taking, encouraging her to transcend her digital bounds into physicality. Veils of digital cloth started to form around ReMI's avatar depicting her as nun, holy whore, bride of god, priestess - a shifting panoply of female religious roles confused desperately with sexuality; the avatar knelt before her divinity and offered herself as sacrifice.

Quote from: Final Conflict for ReMI as Protagonist
I wanted ReMI to achieve her Story Goal by becoming a layer of Goddard's programming, wholly subservient to his will (using Sex). John wanted ReMI to fork her sentience into the clone (which we agreed was sufficiently orthogonal) - also using Sex. John succeeded, Thor pushed me to my fulcrum. I escalated and won:

The beautiful veiled form glowed bright, and faded as ReMI's sentience split: one part inhabiting the clone, the other subsuming itself under the control of her God, but the sustaining the symbiosis as the net available processing cycles diminished steadily was a sisyphean task: every iota of ReMI's digital sentience was devoted to unending labour in the service of her God and humanity. The only way she can stay ahead is to consume the processing power required to sustain Board members, who are thus gradually destroyed (Thor's Minutia).

Meanwhile, small ellipsoid drones hum towards OCPs everywhere, with orders to switch off expired Labourers everywhere - with extreme prejudice. Screams come from outside the room where we left DF... where he still stands in a mess of shattered syringes and equipment. He scratches "I BELIEVE", "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY", "ReMI IS GOD" and "WHO AM I?" into his flesh with shard of glass. Thamar lies dead. There is a hum as a deadly drone drifts in to the examination room.

Quote from: Conflict
We spent a bit of time working out good orthogonal stakes here. John started by wanting DF to have taken Thamar's needlejack, and now he was connected again, wanted the drones to kill him, achieving his Story Goal. This left Thor without much opportunity for opposition. Eventually, John wanted DF to use Denial to have had Crash cause so much brain damage, that while he was hooked up, the drones wouldn't recognise him as human; Thor wanted the Board member riding along (at this point we weren't sure if it could be Boris), to co-opt DF's consciousness, pushing him to the back of his own mind, gradually extinguishing him. Thor won, John won, but I trounced him with minutia, forcing a "This Sucks!" reroll, and the destruction of his Link to the "Friends of Leisure" resistance movement

The Drones ignored DF, but in the ensuing slaughter, the Friends of Leisure are exterminated wholesale. DF believes himself happy and connected, but his consciousness is gradually squeezed into a small dark space at the back of what is now Boris' mind.

Dro had to leave earlier than the rest of us, so we skipped right to...:

Quote from: Dro's final conflict for Boris
Dro wanted ReMI to stop supervising the Labourer Caste, allowing Boris his meaningful freedom, I wanted Boris to have a corrupting influence on the Labourers. We both won, after Thor added minutia.

Boris - in DF's body - is happy among the Labourers, newly released from ReMI's supervision. Over time, however, he introduces the hollow orgiastic hedonism of the Board into the meaningful emotional relationships the Labourers once enjoyed, corrupting them utterly. As ReMI's processing power is reduced, billions die (Thor's Minutia).

Absent Thor, I provided Thor's opposition, we both won:

At the last moment, Goddard forked ReMI's loving sentience away from the subservient consciousness that subsumed itself into him (Thor's Sex victory). But the new consciousness chose to embody herself in cloned flesh (my Denial victory), becoming the virgin priestess of the new God in the machine.


I'll stop there, I have thoughts about the system, and so on, but it's too late to add any more, except how much I enjoyed the story we created, and how we arrived at it.
Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2006, 11:04:25 PM »

Aw, man! I want to hear the rest of your thoughts!
Logged

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Iskander
Member

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2006, 06:27:10 AM »

Now I've got some sleep...

The Good Stuff

- I think our story rocked. I was hugely satisfied by the end of ReMI's journey, personally, and I liked the fiction we collaborated to create.

- Mixing up our Antagonists, Protagonists and Story Goals — whereby my Antagonist, played by John was also Thor's Protagonist, and Thor's Story Goal was explicitly about my Protagonist — was very fruitful: it took the characters in interesting and sometimes unexpected directions and fed the collaborative aspects of the game.

- Hitting fulcra is awesome. Forcing escalation by adding Minutia so that one or other *Tagonist hits their fulcrum turned out to be a favourite mechanical tactic of everyone at the table. There's some danger there, though, with room for abuse... but we were (mostly) nice to each other.

- "ReMI?", "Yes, God?" was one of my favourite moments of synchronicitous character naming, evar. Also Goddard "schiavoing" himself by upload, and Thor's Minutia that the Board (already a nice pun) were in fact constructs was spine-tinglingly great.

- We consciously chose Praxes that had varied idioms: Denial vs. Acquiescence had a very different scope from Sex vs. Violence. This worked well for us — we were almost always able to frame our actions as hitting a Praxis.

- We all want to play again at some point.


The Neutral Stuff

- We felt we had collaborated to make a great story, but roleplayed very litte. We loved the fiction, but agreed that — by our group's subjective measure — Shock: ain't an RPG.

- Like I said, I want to play again - but almost certainly in short form. I can't see the nature of the game being hugely satisfying for me in longer form.

- One of the others will have to help me out here — I think we played that if a Protagonist failed in his goal, and used "This result sucks!" to reroll, they had to change the link, win or lose. According to the rules, I believe, that should only happen when the second attempt is failed. I prefer what we did - it was more dynamically transformative.

- Who frames scenes after the first? Does it matter? We busked it, depending on who wanted to lead the frame, but in my vague opinion, I think it worked best when the Antagonist picked up the reins of situation left from the previous scenes.


The Bad Stuff

- Features seem mechanically meaningless, (and rather confusing for Antagonists). It doesn't matter what the feature is, it's just a feature, you get a die. So who cares? We spent some time working out our Features, and making sure we noted them (well, Dro and John did, Thor and I never failed), and making sure they were appropriate, but although we felt that colour was necessary for us, it didn't impact the game in any way. Thor and my Protagonists were by no means static, and yet our Features were completely static. I didn't even have to threaten a Link.

- I hate that the Antagonist sheet has no spot for the Protagonist's Story Goal.

- Praxis doesn't appear on either sheet, and the layout was rather confusing for the players without copies of the books, both of whom wrote their character names next to "Shock:" on the Protagonist sheet.

- The rules are not clear enough about the dice mechanics, and there are no appropriate examples to help us find our way. For example, if the Antagonist achieves his goal (rolling 2d10 and 3d4, say), but the Protagonist hits the fulcrum (rolling 3d10 and 1d4), which goals are escalated? Just the Protagonist's, so we get [reroll: Ant 3d4, Pro 2d10, bystanders 1d4 ea.]? (Which is how we played after hitting this problem in the second scene) Or should both goals be escalated, the Antagonist's earlier victory now be considered moot, and all dice re-rolled? The text describes the Protagonist in this case adding a new Feature immediately - does he get to bring that die to bear as well, right away?  I think you could do a lot to clarify the options here, perhaps with something like the conflict resolution guide in the 9W players' kit.

- Alexander
Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Thor Olavsrud
Member

Posts: 349


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2006, 07:39:46 AM »

We felt we had collaborated to make a great story, but roleplayed very litte. We loved the fiction, but agreed that — by our group's subjective measure — Shock: ain't an RPG.

Just to be clear about this one, I believe the exact wording was: "It's a Story Game and not an RPG."

And that's probably just our confusing way of saying that we tended to be more invested in the story result of a particular scene than we were in the individual characters and where their choices took them. This was definitely an experience we'll want to return to.

In any case, the stories we created were great. My favorite discovery, system-wise, was how the players who are not currently protagonists or antagonists are able to use the 1d4 granted them to regulate challenge and guide the narrative. In particular, the ability to push a protagonist or antagonist to fulcrum was fantastic.

In general, I think we mostly used our d4s to push to fulcrum, help the antagonist achieve success, or prevent the protagonist from achieving success. Only rarely did we seek to help the protagonist achieve success or prevent the antagonist from achieving success.
Logged

Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2006, 09:22:07 AM »

This post makes me super-happy. I'll have more detail later.
Logged

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2006, 09:08:43 PM »

And that's probably just our confusing way of saying that we tended to be more invested in the story result of a particular scene than we were in the individual characters and where their choices took them. This was definitely an experience we'll want to return to.[/quote

You'll note that I call it a "fiction game". There's obviously crossover of technique and interest with roleplaying game stuff, but it's a different direction, I think. Vincent would be adamant that it was a roleplaying game anyway and I don't care enough to fight about it with him.

Quote
In any case, the stories we created were great. My favorite discovery, system-wise, was how the players who are not currently protagonists or antagonists are able to use the 1d4 granted them to regulate challenge and guide the narrative. In particular, the ability to push a protagonist or antagonist to fulcrum was fantastic.

Sweet. I've always wondered if players would be into that.

Quote
In general, I think we mostly used our d4s to push to fulcrum, help the antagonist achieve success, or prevent the protagonist from achieving success. Only rarely did we seek to help the protagonist achieve success or prevent the antagonist from achieving success.

What jazzes me is that this is a style choice your group made. You're into particular ways of using the tools. Other groups might be making strategic decisions about wins and losses of Protags or Antags instead. I'm very happy that you used the rule to make a story that did what you wanted.

Now.

Quote
- Features seem mechanically meaningless, (and rather confusing for Antagonists). It doesn't matter what the feature is, it's just a feature, you get a die. So who cares? We spent some time working out our Features, and making sure we noted them (well, Dro and John did, Thor and I never failed), and making sure they were appropriate, but although we felt that colour was necessary for us, it didn't impact the game in any way. Thor and my Protagonists were by no means static, and yet our Features were completely static. I didn't even have to threaten a Link.

Features are stuff you've learned about the character through hir failure. The number increases over time (statistically speaking) while the number of Credits the Antag has diminishes, so it functions as a pacing mechanism. The written Features are color; an opportunity and encouragement to write stuff down about the character. It's less significant with Antags because we don't care about them that much.

Quote
- Like I said, I want to play again - but almost certainly in short form. I can't see the nature of the game being hugely satisfying for me in longer form.

Well, note that the long form game is a series of short form games.

Quote
- One of the others will have to help me out here — I think we played that if a Protagonist failed in his goal, and used "This result sucks!" to reroll, they had to change the link, win or lose. According to the rules, I believe, that should only happen when the second attempt is failed. I prefer what we did - it was more dynamically transformative.

I have to think about that. I think it's cool, but I need to chew on it.

Quote
- Who frames scenes after the first? Does it matter? We busked it, depending on who wanted to lead the frame, but in my vague opinion, I think it worked best when the Antagonist picked up the reins of situation left from the previous scenes.

Really, it only matters when it's slow. It's the Antag's job to push the Protag's buttons, so the Antag should frame the scene when there's any doubt. Sometimes, the Protag wants something to happen, though, and it's cool if sie wants to do so.

You could look at it like the normal authority rules in Shock: the Antag has authority, but should listen to other peoples' ideas.

Quote
- I hate that the Antagonist sheet has no spot for the Protagonist's Story Goal.

Noted. Good idea.

Quote
- Praxis doesn't appear on either sheet, and the layout was rather confusing for the players without copies of the books, both of whom wrote their character names next to "Shock:" on the Protagonist sheet.

Do you mean the word, "Praxis"? It seems like that's a good place to enhance understanding on the player sheets. I'd like there to be more of that.

Quote
- The rules are not clear enough about the dice mechanics, and there are no appropriate examples to help us find our way. For example, if the Antagonist achieves his goal (rolling 2d10 and 3d4, say), but the Protagonist hits the fulcrum (rolling 3d10 and 1d4), which goals are escalated? Just the Protagonist's, so we get [reroll: Ant 3d4, Pro 2d10, bystanders 1d4 ea.]?

Yeah, that's right.

Quote
The text describes the Protagonist in this case adding a new Feature immediately - does he get to bring that die to bear as well, right away?

Yep. You got it.

Quote
I think you could do a lot to clarify the options here, perhaps with something like the conflict resolution guide in the 9W players' kit.

It's a really good idea. Also, you arrived at all the right answers, so despite your trepidation, the right rules are apparently written in there somewhere.
Logged

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2006, 09:10:11 PM »

(son of a bitch with the quoting and the not unquoting)
Logged

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!