Mind viruses and roundhousing an age of myth

I’ve been mulling over an idea for an rpg…

I was thinking of this game world, where there’s this sort of mental virus in effect. There might be a government style body, or mega corporation (or just an old fashioned corporation), but its just the virus’s main manifestation. This will embody it more and gives it a more grounded feeling than just being in peoples heads.
Anyway, the virus has the curious ability to hack souls. There are actually many, many variants of it. I’ll be…making up…a bunch latter on. But one primary one for talking about here is one that uses authority as its contagion vector. The important thing to remember here is that this is an intellectual virus – it isn’t carried by some small biology, it’s carried through information. Symbology and just plain old written world (like the ones I’m writing now…creepy, eh?). Primarily this authority virus is like a worm – it authorises the target to do something that isn’t physically possible. In terms of this, it evades immediate logic immunology by leeching the idea of intellectual property and intellectual ownership to propose that it is in change of the process, therefore it is the authority of what happens in that process. And so it ‘grants’ the ability to do something – which is not physically possible. This leads to not self correcting behaviour.

A stronger form of the virus is where it grants them the ability to add to the process, yet stipulate the process is not changed (using the intellectual authority to assert something changed is not changed). This is a kind of breeding stage of the virus, as that adding is a ‘blooming’ process that helps it spread out.

Another variant of that is where it would be horrible to perform the process without doing X, therefore X is part of the process. When indeed it is not – this meta virus may have more trouble latching on initially, as the process may initially suck enough that it is physically rejected. However, once it does latch on it has an incredibly strong bio feedback signal to reinforce it – if you took away X, the target suffers a large dose of unpleasantness – so the use of X is reinforced by sheer use of the stick. Again, this is a blooming stage, as X is saturated with the initial ideas in what does exist in the process.

So that gives you an idea of the conflict involved.

Now I was thinking, for various reasons, of ripping the matrix for the protagonists angle and situation. Mostly cause I feel like a good old kick ’em in the teeth visceral feel to what is otherwise a lot of thought and talk. Initially I was thinking that the protagonists work through virtual chat rooms, and the action involves kicking the shit out of peoples video avatars whilst making penetrating arguments to cut past viral defenses. Hey, these things don’t just propagate, they embed. The actual fight is more like fighting a manifestation of the virus – or you could think of it as crossing the matrix with the exorcist, lol! Why a chat room involves kicking and stuff, I hadn’t made up yet, but it would and I’d make up the reasons latter.

BUT virtual chat rooms? There’s no blood on the floor! No teeth in the gutter! It’s just pixels! And imagined ones at that!

So what I was thinking was that yes, the protagonists engage the infected through various media, but at the same time they enter a psychic trance, where they also engage in a dream world with the actual psych of the infected. And in the dream world, the virus manifests far more clearly. You are kicking them in the head – right inside the head! Cue matrix action! (also, I liked to think the series ‘Life on mars’ was about going into some cultural dream consciousness and dealing with past issues/sins)

But that’s perhaps getting a bit freaky psychics in your head stuff – but I dunno. Seems to work. Can anyone think of a conflict arena that involves communications and very, very violent kicks to the head? I’ll consider any ideas given.

One thing is the sort of ‘Agent smith’ factor. Essentially, to portray what I’m getting at, you can’t beat the fuckers. You can make a good point – land a roundhouse kick to the head and drop them and…they just make another post/come right back in another body, which ignores the previous fallen body, no matter how well put down it was. Because there are no ramifications on the communication channels.

But I was thinking maybe that fits well the matrix style desperation – the idea could be to get in, insert a counter virus (typically ‘doubt’ about what was previous taken for granted), then get the hell out of there before too many smiths show up and waste you. I think with getting out, a certain elegance would be involved in getting out – otherwise your just dumping your counter virus the same way the original virus did. You don’t care about the person, you care about the propagation.

That’s probably where it gets a bit narrish. Are you right? To engage this question, its easier to fight if you just assume your right. But that makes you more like the virus you combat. It’s harder to fight if you merely provide evidence for your position and leave some part of them to decide for itself, but then if you are wrong, you didn’t become what you had set out to fight. Sometimes the toughness of a fight might make you switch one way or the other. Also there would be ‘innocents’ in the combat arena – these are reflections of the infecteds own genuine desires of self expression and what they enjoy, were they to isolate the infection in their head and instead enjoy the infection like one might enjoy the toxin that is alcohol (ie, in moderation). You can try and look after these while fighting, but it makes things a lot harder – it’d be easier to just ram in the point. Also there’s personal cost you can spend as a player – how much of his finite lifespan is the protagonist prepared to spend suffering the kicks and bludgeons of the zelously self assured? How much time, before he just says they can rot?

I’m thinking the virus’s also exist in the legal and political domains (perhaps define them). So hell, maybe deciding they can rot and moving onto the broader domain is actually shedding something? Pretty cutting stuff!

Anyway, I was thinking when I designed it I’d start with a single mechanic that’s in some way a small bit of fun to use by itself. Just nothing this incase its useful to others. I did this for a computer program I’m writing at the moment – I started with a stake and a single random dice roll. It amused me and I added a bit here or there that amused me too and it got bigger and bigger. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made what I had now if I had tried to just make it all at once, without any enjoyment from it until it was finally complete.

Yeah, but I’m still thinking in what sense/medium do I want to implement that matrix style combat? Cause I definately want the teeth kicking combat >:)

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2 thoughts on “Mind viruses and roundhousing an age of myth

  1. Try to look for “Code of Unaris”, one of the earliest Indie RPGs of this generation, where part of the rules are you changing the sentences written by others. It is meant to be played completely in a chat.

    Also, see “Memetics” 😉

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