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Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Shock] Please help me with premise for a session of Shock rpg

I'm a big fan of Bladerunner and Neuromancer, so this premise is nothing new.

My premise for a session is that in this cyberpunk world there is an agency called Turing Police (mentioned in the Sprawl Saga), which is for detecting and containing (possibly destroying) any emergent self-aware AIs.

I want to play a veteran Turing Police operative whose own mind is trapped inside cyberspace when a renegade AI he was tracking takes over his e-brain. Now he must find a way to stop the AI who took over his body, while evading the same Turing Police agency of which he used to be a part, since he is now a disembodied entity.

If you've ever played Shock, you know that Protagonists have a set of stats called Praxis, which are usually sort of opposed, such as: love vs hate, buying vs selling, etc. I look at them as being like the theme of a story that you want to explore.

Like I mentioned, I love Bladerunner and wanted to do something similar, without obviously ripping it off. I settled on the following Praxis(I have to think of another pair):

feeling vs supercomputing: I envision feeling to encompass things such as empathy, hunches, etc. While, supercomputing, is the cold hard logic and flawless thinking (as flawless as you could get).

My problem is that I feel like the theme doesn't quite fit with a consciousness trapped inside sillicon, since human feeling depends on hormones, and the nervous system, etc (in my not so informed view). It feels kind of silly that my Turing Police agent would have any sort of feeling inside cyberspace, given his body is not connected to him anymore.

I've thought that maybe I could decree that emotions could be emulated inside a program, but I don't know...seems kind of weak.

Just looking for feedback, even if it means changing the premise or the theme. Though it would be great if I could find some justification for keeping them both. :)


  1. So, the main character will be "disembodied" the entire adventure? Do I have that right?

  2. Hey JF!

    At least as the inciting incident, he would be disembodied, but I envision the session to take place mostly inside cyberspace, but in a Matrix-like environment (or similar to the Aleph in Monalisa Overdrive: So, as far as physical hijinks (even if they're virtual), I think I'm covered.

    I want to explore a theme similar to the old Bladerunner tropes, so I thought of pure intellect vs emotion, and that morphed later into super computing vs feeling. I guess the theme would be something akin to, "Is a person with no feeling still a person?", or maybe, "What role do emotions have in personhood?", and also, "Can self-aware AIs develop feelings?"

    I'm just running into a block because I can't logically justify an AI having feelings without the hardware for that(even though some 80's movies don't have a problemw with that, lol).

    I apologize for how half-baked it is right now, JF. I guess that's my usual modus operandi! :)

  3. Hmm... I get the block.

    What about emotions as computer virus?

  4. Aha! I kinda like that. Let me explain why.

    As I said, I kind of want to explore a Bladerunner-esque question of what true personhood is. At the same time, I want to give the Turing cop an Inner Problem that is in tune with that (his Outer Problem is getting out of Cyberspace back into his body). I was leaning towards having his Inner Problem, and his character flaw, be a deficit in empathy, brought about by the fact that he has to be almost as logical as AIs in order to understand how they think and how to trace them.

    Emotions as a virus don’t quite explain away the lack of emotional hardware, but it opens the door to the possibility that emotions follow from a certain mysterious mode of consciousness- a short circuit of pure logic, maybe?

    Maybe when he gets sucked into cyberspace, whatever software was encoding his consciousness isolates his emotional capacity as a virus. That makes for a nice Inner Problem (literally), tied to his flaw.

    I have to think a bit on how to make that Praxis work. He needs to have at least some capacity to access his feelings in cyberspace, because I don’t think the stat can be zero…

    Thanks JF!


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