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Author Topic: <OA/RPG> Memetics in Orion's Arm  (Read 5126 times)
Resonantg
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« on: August 10, 2005, 01:45:07 PM »

Larry Lade suggested that I start another thread on the topic of Memetics here so specific discussions, pertinent to the gaming world could be discussed.  Since Orion's Arm is a collaborative hard SF universe, and others can use it to suppliment their own game systems I figured this would be a safe enough way to start it.  All my group is doing is creating the "official/sanctioned" product for OA, and hence why Memetics are important to the game system since they are very important to the setting.

Basics on Orion's Arm as to get you up to speed.  The fastest way to do that would be to just send you to http://www.orion'sarm.com and have you look around.  But for the super condensed version here it is:

1.  Orion's arm is set in the year 10800.
2.  Mankind is far from the top of the intelligence totempole, being supplanted by his creations known as Archailects and Transapients who have undergone "Ascension" into transapience. 
3.  Humans and humanoids are not the only intelligent creatures.  There are many provolved animals, sentient robots (Vecs) and AIs (AIoids). 
4.  There are no humanoid aliens.
5.  It's fairly hard science, so no FTL, violating of the laws of science, time travel and others.
6. Humans live like pets or herds inside huge interstellar empires called Sephirotics run by incredibly powerful Archailects.
7.  Humans can never ever ever ever defeat an Archailect only 1 Toposophic (factor of intelligence/comprehension) level above them (there are 6 levels) unless they're being helped out.

Now for the good news for gamers before you all say "crap. why bother playing?"

1. The game takes place in a section of the Terragen Sphere known as "The Seams", and it has only 1 Archailect, the Burdikeer, that keeps ALL other Archai out and let's the baseline humans and related sophonts (people/vecs/AIoids) do what they will.
2.  The only exception to this self governance and determination is if it interferes with Burdikeer business (which is to monitor the borders and wormhole networks that facilitate interstellar trade between the Sephirotic empires.
3. There are no known ways to escape the Seams for those who are sent to them or live in them, with only a few exceptions.  Most sephirotics use it as tradelanes and an exile territory for troublemaking baselines.
4. Memetic control that usually helps control and contain populations in other empires is almost totally lacking in the Seams, except of baseline, or Transavant (partially ascended beings) nature.

Now, that should give you a base grounding in the setting.  For those with more questions on the universe, please check out the main site... it's a huge read but lots of fun, and it's a shared universe so if you have ideas that you want to add to it, you're more than welcome. 

For those not familiar with the concept of Memetics, it is the relatively new science/study of how ideas and beliefs spread in society similar to that of genetic material and viruses.  In many ways it takes both a biological and computer science view of thoughts and ideas, breaking them down into componant parts and how they transmit.  For instance, a commercial jingle is considered a meme.  It can be remembered, modified and passed on via a variety of forms.  That's about as simple as we can get.  Just say "what's the opening notes from Beethoven's 5th symphony and I would suspect that 90% of all westerners would recognize it and him for it.  Now, memesets are larger groupings of memes that cluster together.  This can be anything from an ethical code, to a set of employee rules.  These are much larger and have greater effect on the people who have them as well due to their interconnected nature, so the theory goes.

In OA, Memetics is considered an ancient science, and uses all the dirty tricks possible to enforce it.  From subliminals, tuned advertising, blatant emotional manipulation and subtle coloring of data.  Even the use of superstitions and omens are part of the lexicon of this science/art.  No intelligent mind is immune from this form of manipulation, they can just try to defend against it and maintain their beliefs and ideas without it being supplanted.  That's what makes things so insideous.  Not to mention why it makes it so violent as well to the point of being comparable to combat, but this time, the wounds are not so easy to see, and the dying, much more difficult to cure.

So, this is just a very quick primer on why OA needs to have a memetics system that can act both as an environmental constant and as a combat system when neccessary.  It needs to be able to manipulate the character in a way that the player will not be as resistant to changes made to the character beliefs and thoughts as well as make these types of interactions fun.  The reason I see the parallel to combat is purely because it needs to have an arbitration system similar to that of combat when you have contested "I shot you, no you didn't" style disagreements.  At the same time, there needs to be the freedom to ignore these rules when they're really not that contested and let the game be what it is.

This system would be a dynamic replacement for both alignment and any ethic codes and psycological details.  We've been toying with calling them "Socio-Memetics" since it would encompass pretty much everything mental your character is and deals with, as well as fame, friends and enemies.

ANyway, that's all I can say for now, and really would love some input.  I'll add more about the GAMM-D system that we're using to help out in this regard when I can post next. 

Thanks to all who kibbutz.

:c)
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MDB
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See my game development blog at:     http://resonancepoint.blogspot.com
xenopulse
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2005, 02:25:08 PM »

MDB,

That sounds neat, but I'm not sure what you're asking...

I'll just assume for now that you are looking for ideas on how to do this? If I was to create a system like that, I'd probably do it like FATE's aspects that can be triggered by the GM, not like combat at all. In this case, you'd get infected with a certain memetic belief. The GM can trigger that belief in applicable situations. You can resist acting on it, but it'll cost you. And if you act on it, you'll be rewarded. That seems like a good way to represent pressure without taking choice away from the players. You just need to figure out what your reward/penalty mechanism is.
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James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2005, 02:45:13 PM »

MDB,

That sounds neat, but I'm not sure what you're asking...

I'll just assume for now that you are looking for ideas on how to do this? If I was to create a system like that, I'd probably do it like FATE's aspects that can be triggered by the GM, not like combat at all. In this case, you'd get infected with a certain memetic belief. The GM can trigger that belief in applicable situations. You can resist acting on it, but it'll cost you. And if you act on it, you'll be rewarded. That seems like a good way to represent pressure without taking choice away from the players. You just need to figure out what your reward/penalty mechanism is.
Additionally, one of the bennies is that memes are there to replicate. So even if you find yourself carrying a meme that has negative implications for you, you might want to hold onto it (assuming that, memetics being sufficiently advanced, there's gonna be some kind of meme-b-gon medical treatment available) in order to use it to hose, or indeed help, others. Which means that it should be possible not only for the GM to trigger these beliefs in player characters but for PCs to be able to trigger them in others.

Which, system-wise, would presumably just be an application of the same system, really.
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Larry L.
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2005, 10:00:47 PM »

Michael,

All right, now we're cooking with gas.

Okay, question one: Have you read Ron's essays under Articles? Specifically,
Yes, they are freakin' doozies, and you don't necessarily need to subscribe to these ideas, but it will save us a lot of re-inventing the wheel.

Glancing over your design so far, I suspect you wish to support a Simulationist creative agenda, but I'm not sure if you're conscious of this intent. I would handle memetics quite differently if you were developing, say, a game with a Narrative focus, because of the "mind control" issues.

Tell ya what, I'll kick through a few more chapters of Susan Blackmore if you read the essays.
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2005, 01:15:01 AM »

What do characters do?

I'm still not clear on the role the characters are expected to fulfill, and this has bearing on whatever implementation of memetics you settle on.

On the one hand, there is social engineering as an act of policy.  Frex, Hitlers dictum on the Big Lie being an example of a sort of memetic engineering.  Are the players expected to be involved with, engaged in, the memetic architecture of their societies?

Alternatively, are the characters expected to be in resistance to the default local memes?  Is "overcoming your programing" part of the theme here?

Or is it just set-dressing, stuff that needs to be there to give it an appropriately SF colour?

What precisely do you expect the interaction between characters and memetics to be?
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Resonantg
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2005, 08:51:18 AM »

To Larry:

I've read a few of those articles, and will read the rest to make sure. 

When it comes to the game design, yes it's primarily Simulationist, but there are avenues for the game to be very Narrative and there will be some serious gamist issues.  Frex: A gamist wants to know how to "win"?  Simple, ascend to become a transapient, or find a way to escape the Seams, or join the Burdikeer and prove yourself worthy.  These goals will exist, though the most common is going to be Ascend.  Also, for a Narrativist, Ascension and the personal story of how your character becomes is going to be very powerful too.  Remember, OA is based on Transhumanist idiology that Mankind is only the first level and you can improve yourself to become a godlike intelligence and one day run your own empire.

But me personally, I'm a hard core simulationist above all else.  Sure I've some gamist and narrativeist tendancies, but primarily it's simulationist.  And since I've not found many game systems that support this type of play very much I feel it's got a niche.  We're talking major commercial games, not indie games since I've only recently discovered this market.  The major companies, I don't feel feed simulationists very well.  Gamist and Narrativist, yes.  I'm not trying to leave out anyone deliberately, but anyway, I digress.

Susan Blackmore... ugh, dry reading, and not the most helpful I thought.  More interested in supporting Dawkins than actually talking memetics.  I had better luck with "Virus of the Mind" by Richard Brodie and "Thought Contageon" by Aaron Lynch.  Much more interested in dealing with what Memetics is and how it works than supporting another author.  Found both my copies at my local library system.

To Contracycle:

The following may seem a bit chaotic and crazy, but it's what I have to work with to make this an "official" product.  So bear with me.  If you want more info, check out the main OA site.  Most information on the Seams is located in the RPG forum. :c)

Okay, to explain a little more about sophonts (any intelligent being) in the Seams.  There are three distinct populations that live there.  The Invited, the Rejected and the Curious.  They came willingly or unwillingly to become Denizens of the Seams.  Some were just dumped because their home empires saw them as a potential, or real problem to the running of their territory.  Then of course, there is the native population as well who was born here, and will die here.  And since the Burdikeer, or governing Transapient, doesn't bother with non empire affairs of these baselines in the Seams, they govern themselves with all the inherant problems that occur with it. 

As for what the characters do, it depends on what the players want to do and what the GM has planned to happen.  For instance, if all the players are Rejects from a certain empire, they have a whole set of issues that face them.  Integrating to their new home, finding a way to make a living, and all the myriad complications of now living in a pretty imperfect and chaotic society with very few of the controls they were once used to that made life safe and good.  In this manner, it's sort of like "Twilight 2000", where you're told "you're on your own, good luck." but not totally.  Also, to add to the complications even more, you have bionts (those who were originally from human or terran animal stock), Vecs (Self aware robots) and Infomorphs (AIoids - Artificial intelligences) to choose from with their own ideas as well.  So if you want a high intreague game of Spies and whatnot, or wars, or palace intreague (depending on the type of government) or even a criminal or crime busting game, have at.  All this will be possible.

Much of the local memes and everything are based on the local setting that you choose.  The game will of course come with one local setting, but we are already developing at least 3 others, and will be able to make suppliments for them.  There will be tools provided (a construction set) for the GM to make their own systems as well.  You can end up playing an "alien" scenario, where you are the alien crashlanded on some jerkwater world who forgot they were part of an interstellar empire, to a world totally run by AIs like the Matrix and worlds so affluent money for nearly anything has been useless for 5000 years and nearly anything can be had just by asking.

This may be the simulationist in me, but this is why setting and memes have to be two separate entities so that you can attach, and detach quickly and easily to modify the setting to make it fit better.  Modular design would be a good watchword.

So as to how memetics fit into the game per your question. Yes it's one part window dressing, giving background and mood, but it has to be a part of the game, or just like Cyberpunk, neat fashion setting, but useless in game functionality.  Memetics are definately not useless.  They set a character's beliefs, limitations, desires, and attitudes.  For instance, if a character is a Solarian exile, his memetic background will match his former empire with the belief that the "Lord of Rays", is the emperor and true god of the universe.  That's a pretty strong ingrained memeset influencing the character.  But you get someone from "NoCoZo" they will believe just as ardently in a libretarian style capitalism and a "Caveat Emptor" memeset, things could get interesting. 

This is where the whole concept of "Birth-To-Play" character creation is going to get important.  Since you pick up memes at various stages of your life, and they all compete and jockey for dominance, you have to view the character from the beginning and to the point of play.  You were born and raised with these memes, and raised in this environment which allows you to choose from these memes, and then oops, a random encounter introduced this meme to your mind and this is all influenced by your personality code which is WXYZ, leaving you with these memesets when you start play.  It's not totally random, but it's not totally controlled either... just like life. :c)

To Xenopulse:

Essentially yes, I see where I want to go with this, but not quite sure if what I'm seeing would be fun for players or just a control freak's dream.  I can see Memengineers as PCs never raising a gun in combat but having a selection of quick acting memetic tools to fight just the same, or negotiations at the boardroom table being just as "lethal" as any combat you experience in a game right now with just as tangible results on the character.  I know the gamist aspects of this will be of some interest to many out there, while the Narrativist crowd and some of the simulationist fans will be less thrilled with it, so I have to make it inclusive and interesting but also "detachable" if the GM just wants to fire up the winging it privilages and use judgement calls.

Technically a Meme is both weapon and shield.  It needs to act as such when the character confronts relevant hostile memes that wish to stick in the character's head.  Good point on the reinforcement reward.  That could make for a neat mechanic.

To James Holloway:

Hmmm maintaining negative memes to use as weapons against your opponent... hmmmmmm!  That's sick, twisted and wrong, but yet so... intreaguing!  I like it. ;c)  Sort of like the finale of "The Crow" in some regard, but not quite as mystical maybe?  I dunno, with DNI (Direct Neural Interface) it's very possible that that effect could occur in a hard SF setting too.  And with the use of some cybernetic implants (ohhhh yeah, borgs of all types are frequent) you could use a "Data Filter" to capture and store safely memes that are bad for you but usable against an enemy.  Very intreaging.  Viruses for the brain indeed.

I hope this clears up some stuff and foments some ideas.  Things are starting to click on my end as well.  You guys have been a great help so far, so I appreciate the nudges and ideas. :c)

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MDB
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Larry L.
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2005, 01:32:27 PM »

Michael,

Cool. I'll bring in the meaty bits then.

Now it's worth pointing out that memetics currently holds a dubious status as a legitimate academic discipline. Critics argue that all of this stuff could be more usefully described in terms of neurology and social sciences. All this means is that memetics is wonderful stuff for science fiction, since you get to assert that it is a functional science. It works. Its effects upon society are obvious. And frankly, the consequences of a well-developed system of memetics are mind-altering, since it can blow a lot of basic human assumptions about belief and self to pieces. And that in itself is a cool theme to explore.

(Yeah, Blackmore strikes me as something of an academic socialite. Nice survey of what others have done, but nauseating where she inserts her own opinons. All of Dawkins' worst tendencies without his better ones. It's been pushed down in my reading list for a while.)

So there's why I don't think it's fruitful to discuss memetics in RPGs in general. One futurity is totally justified in having a completely different portrayal of memetics than another. A post-singularity setting like Orion's Arm lets you do some pretty extreme things.

But let's get to the crunchy bits!

I'm going to make a guess that memetics is more important to this setting than combat. If so, you should probably have at least as much rules for memetics as for combat. (Do you have a detailed combat system? Refer to Mike's Standard Rant #3 regarding this subject.) Honestly, I'd throw out detailed combat rules in favor of memetic combat, but you may really desire to show off that miltech.

In the earlier thread you mention a differentiation between core values and the latest pop fad. This strikes me as completely missing the value of memetics -- that every transmissable mental element breaks down to some common something.

I would treat each meme or memeplex a character possesses as a sort of mini-character. (Like a Pokemon! *shiver*) You could stat it up something like:

Size - How much data needs to be communicated to spread. A commerical jingle having a low value; the philosophy of Heidegger being high.
Resilence - How difficult it is to modify or forget a meme, especially when confronted by conflicting memes. Sort of the "defense" number.
Propagation - The efficacy of the meme to spread. Sort of the "offense" number.

Now, you should feel free to fiddle with those to better model your own understanding of the field. But the general thing I'm trying to get at is with a few stats, you have a system to simulate just about any kind of meme possible. So now it's just the old question of "how many stats to I need to properly simulate this."

Examples:
"Killing my family is wrong" - Size: low Res: very high Prop: ???
Budweiser frogs advertisment - Size: low Res: low Prop: high
Roman Catholic dogma - Size: high Res: high Prop: low (in OA, at least)

And these values would change by individual, like if the memeplex is constantly expanded through study its size would increase.

So now we can figure a crude model of a combat system here. If memes are considered "conflicting," then the invading meme can roll its Propagation versus the resident meme's Resilience. Victory would let the invading meme gain a level of size, the host chooses whether to reduce the resilience of the defending meme, or, as suggested in the previous thread, the host can try to possess both memes and gain "cognitive dissonance" or whatever.

I wouldn't get too tied up with meme<->belief either. It's quite possible for someone to intellectually understand and communicate beliefs that he doesn't personally hold to be valid. Saint Augustine infused Christianity with a plethora of pagan ideas by simply refuting them at length.

All this talk of "alignment" a la D&D and its clones is kinda amusing. That's pretty much a telltale symptom of fantasy heartbreaker thinking. For an example of mechanics that put limitations on a player's actions and actually work, take a look at Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard. (Trick endorsement -- it's out of print until September.)

Whew! Is this the sort of thing you're looking for?
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contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2005, 12:41:34 AM »

As for what the characters do, it depends on what the players want to do and what the GM has planned to happen.

Alright, but the same could be said for any game under the sun.

You at thi spoint I could propose the following: us the memetics primarily in the character generation subsystem.  It is part of character definition, setting definition.  It makes hte character more of a walkin' talkin' representative of their home culture.  In this context you probably don't need a  really developed system for governing memetics so much as one for governing the individuals ability to endorse or refute a given poisition.

It would be different if you were expecting the players to engage directly with memes, to act purposefully with memes in mind, as part of the toolset with which they solve their problems.  That would be Cool.  However, as long as your form of play is as wishy-washy as "anything you want" in this game world, I think the memes are going to be little more than set dressing.
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James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2005, 03:37:45 AM »

To Larry:
As for what the characters do, it depends on what the players want to do and what the GM has planned to happen.  For instance, if all the players are Rejects from a certain empire, they have a whole set of issues that face them.  Integrating to their new home, finding a way to make a living, and all the myriad complications of now living in a pretty imperfect and chaotic society with very few of the controls they were once used to that made life safe and good.  In this manner, it's sort of like "Twilight 2000", where you're told "you're on your own, good luck." but not totally. 
Even so, the system is going to provide for a particular kind of play, a particular default set of PC activities -- even if that's something as broad as "struggle to make it in a universe a lot bigger than you." T2000 is a great example, actually. You were "on your own," but there was still structure to the play, a lot of it provided by the system.

A lot of the time, it's hard to spot this coming out in the design, especially if you're very close to it. The easiest way to do this is probably to look at the games of OA you've played and look for the similarities between sessions, in terms of the goals of the PCs, in terms of the structure of the session. That should help clear up the point you're designing toward.

A cool memetics system is neat, but if it doesn't serve the point of the game it's just going to make things more difficult rather than getting used to create exciting, compelling play. So the thing is to look at how you feel it's going to be used, and design the system toward that purpose.
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Resonantg
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2005, 09:24:05 AM »

Quote
Now it's worth pointing out that memetics currently holds a dubious status as a legitimate academic discipline. Critics argue that all of this stuff could be more usefully described in terms of neurology and social sciences. All this means is that memetics is wonderful stuff for science fiction, since you get to assert that it is a functional science. It works. Its effects upon society are obvious. And frankly, the consequences of a well-developed system of memetics are mind-altering, since it can blow a lot of basic human assumptions about belief and self to pieces. And that in itself is a cool theme to explore.

Yep, I think so too.  It really creates a pseudo computer hacking feel for interpersonal relations where you're trying to make Dale Carnagie look clueless about people. ;c)  To be honest, there are only a few major "systems" to where I see OA going.

Physical Combat: Covers damage and destruction to physical objects.
Memetic Combat: Covers social and idiological damage and manipulation of minds.
Reality Hacking: Covers manipulation and control of environments through computer interfaces and ultratech.

Currently, those are the three major systems being worked on.  The Physical Combat system is the farthest along and has been doing playtesting.  We've been doing only HtH and melee weapon combat, and some problems are being ironed out, but it's highly simulationist, and a bit crunchy.

Memetic Combat, that's where I've started to turn my attentions to some to prevent total burnout on working on the combat system.  It's in it's infancy, but as you can tell, I know kinda what I want, but not sure how to get there yet.

Reality Hacking... well this is going to be interesting.  It's heavily inspired by the Mage: The Ascension magic system in how open it is, but is all technologically based.  When you have a universe like OA and DNI is pretty much available to everyone, hackers will utilize access to twist and reshape reality as we know it, within technology's limits. 

Quote
Honestly, I'd throw out detailed combat rules in favor of memetic combat, but you may really desire to show off that miltech.

Actually what's funny is that I've read this rant a while back and realized with the exception of Initiative (Preventing players from fighting over who goes first) and Damage Allocation (How bad are you hurt and what functionality have you lost), our combat system is completely task resolution centric.  There is no difference between throwing a camera and taking a picture with it except in maybe timeframe.  If you want to read up on what the current combat system, it's posted here: http://www.orionsarm.com/dyn/bbs/rpg/viewtopic.php?t=161

It's a step back right now because I haven't had time to do the latest update and want to get one more playtest in on an aspect before I put up the new latest version, but it will give you the fundamentals.  It plays smoother than it looks right now.

Quote
In the earlier thread you mention a differentiation between core values and the latest pop fad. This strikes me as completely missing the value of memetics -- that every transmissable mental element breaks down to some common something.

You're absolutely right, this is a problem sticky spot of usability for the game.  I don't want the game to be totally about memetics.  I want it to share the spotlight with combat as being important, the same as Reality Hacking will be.  The problem I have is with pertinance and recordskeeping.  I know enough gamers that will see this system as massive and too records heavy, and so I want to make sure that Memetics deals in what's pertinant to the game, not any little idea like you have the "meow mix" jingle stuck in your head for a day.  That's color, and not neccessarily something that is going to affect the game beyond casual interest.  And if that's the case, I don't think it really should merit character sheet space.  Relevance is a key issue and what me and some others have been haggling over for a while now, with no real good success yet.   I guess what needs to be figured out is what is "Trivial" to characters and what isn't.

Quote
I would treat each meme or memeplex a character possesses as a sort of mini-character. (Like a Pokemon! *shiver*)

Yep, essentially, Memes would be something like that in your head.  Little creatures demanding supremacy.  The problem is that if we give these memes too much weight, suddenly the system becomes very gamist.  You're no longer playing a character but a group of creatures.  Now mind you, there is some appeal to this for maybe a card game, but as for an RPG, I think this nature needs to be backed off a bit as aspects of the character dependant on it, not the other way around.  Can't have the parasites running the host. ;c)  I do see your point though.

As for traits for Memes, yes.  I've considered it for a while, and even though about what the traits would be.  The application of such is the hard part.  One of the basic componants of OA is that your character has Trait "Spheres" with five Traits in it.  These Traits represent the character's ability to influence these reality in the forms of Force, Speed, Accuracy, Stamina and Toughness.  All characters have a base of 3 spheres: Physical (Body), Cognitive (Mind) and Behavioral (Personality/Soul).  The spheres are also expandable to cover different realities, like virtual realities.  (for instance, you may be a total schlub in your Physical sphere, but in "Gronkworld" you're a god of physical might so you add that sphere to your sheet... assuming the GM is going to be playing in Gronkworld.)

Memetics probably would have traits too, and I did some preliminary thought to what they may be if used in this manner.  The current list I was considering was this:

(CGN) Contagion : Force = Memetic Infection Power
(VRL) Virulence : Speed = Speed of memetic expansion / expression
(RFN) Refinement : Accuracy = Precision and specificity of meme
(PST) Persistance : Stamina = How memorable is the meme
(DUR) Durability : Robustness = How tenatious is the meme

This would then mainstream the stats into a memetic system compatable with the Traits and task resolution system we use if we go this route.  Like I said, these are older notes and ideas I've been considering on and off.

Quote
"Killing my family is wrong" - Size: low Res: very high Prop: ???
Budweiser frogs advertisment - Size: low Res: low Prop: high
Roman Catholic dogma - Size: high Res: high Prop: low (in OA, at least)

And these values would change by individual, like if the memeplex is constantly expanded through study its size would increase.

<and>

I wouldn't get too tied up with meme<->belief either. It's quite possible for someone to intellectually understand and communicate beliefs that he doesn't personally hold to be valid. Saint Augustine infused Christianity with a plethora of pagan ideas by simply refuting them at length.

This is where we would get back into relevance issues on how much for which meme?  Combine this with individual meme issues versus memeplexes and memesets and it can get complicated.  Now when you tie that in with the whole meme =/= belief aspect, you add a layer of complexity but also a layer of fun as well.  Memes then suddenly can have a combattive use as well like "Hmmm he focusing so hard, time to mess him up a little, and start singing 'Elvira'."  This adds an entirely new twist to the system which I personally like.  But once again, how to determine if you're just carrying a meme or believing a meme?

So yes, this is kinda what I'm looking for.  I don't want to make OA all about memetics.  There's too much cool setting and Space Opera that would be buried if we did.  But I do want it to have influence and power similar to that of combat, and possibly can be used as an alternative to combat.

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You at thi spoint I could propose the following: us the memetics primarily in the character generation subsystem.  It is part of character definition, setting definition.  It makes hte character more of a walkin' talkin' representative of their home culture.  In this context you probably don't need a  really developed system for governing memetics so much as one for governing the individuals ability to endorse or refute a given poisition.

Good point.  How would one defend or attack with a meme?  Just express it if they can?  That's yet another point when things get interesting.  Some memes are visual, others are aural and some deal in multiple senses.  Can a meme be as effective if presented in a less than accurate way?  Like I said before though, I don't know how detailed this has to be to be effective.  I do know that it has to be functional and useful in gameplay and not a rules version of wisdom teeth.

I don't want to have players separating themselves from the "reality" of the moment in the game to represent the memes in combat though.  Although this isn't a big deal for Gamist or Narrativist games, for me being a simulationist, it's a distraction.  This functionality should be accessable from "inside the game".

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A lot of the time, it's hard to spot this coming out in the design, especially if you're very close to it. The easiest way to do this is probably to look at the games of OA you've played and look for the similarities between sessions, in terms of the goals of the PCs, in terms of the structure of the session. That should help clear up the point you're designing toward.

Unfortunately, the system is not in any level of playability yet.  The setting is still to broad and needs to be refined before I can start running regular games of it at this point.  So I don't have the ability yet to playtest the way you are suggesting. :c/  I agree that would allow for much clearer understandings of what's important when and how.

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I guess the hard part is the next part.  Assuming we do go the "Trait" route and create a memetics sphere to model them, then the question comes back to game relevance.  After that question is solved, then the next is how to figure how to deal with interaction between the memes and the characters.

Anyway, that's all I can think of for now.  So more later, and some great stuff to consider! :c)
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