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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 99 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Agents in the Matrix  (Read 14479 times)
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« on: October 28, 2005, 09:56:32 AM »

This is an alternate setting inspired by SS in the Valley (aside from The Farm, probably the only true horror game I've ever read). I wonder if this is a way to approach those issues ...

Characters: You play Agents, working to ensure the population continue to have the world pulled over their eyes.
Inspirations: The Animatrix (especially Beyond and A Detective Story, The Matrix trilogy, Dark City, The Truman Show.

Town Creation:

CURIOSITY - either about inconsistencies in the world or odd phenomena

... leads to ...

DISCOVERY - that the world is not all that it seems

... leads to ...

EMOTION - joy or fear seem to be 2 typical responses

... leads to ...

SHARING - your new knowledge with others

... leads to ...

THEORISING - about the true nature of the world

... leads to ...

REBELLION - which seems to take two forms: escape attempts or resistance.  Resistance involves fighting, spreading the word and hacking.  It is usually accompanied of adopting another name or identity.

... leads to ...

POWER - in the form of being able to manipulate the code of the Matrix

... leads to ...

TRANSCENDENCE - which can take many forms: freedom, escape, public exposure, a systems crash, reprogramming an entire area, harvest failure.

Damage:
Talking (d4)
Physical - fighting and chases (d6)
Guns - (d8)
Code - (d10)

Ceremony:
Three in authority.
Body swapping.
Recoding.
Explaining the truth.
Calling by name.
Torture.
Bullet time.

That's all I got.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Danny_K
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2005, 10:10:26 AM »

Hey, I like it.  It would work with only slight modifications for running a Mage-inspired "Technocrats in the Vineyard" game, too which is something I've thinking about for a while. I particularly like the way you have Power and Transcendance at the top.  Neo is a Sorcerer, obviously. 
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I believe in peace and science.
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2005, 10:13:48 AM »

I think it shows the power of this game, that it makes rebellious folks like RPGers want to play authority figures.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Brian Newman
Member

Posts: 53


« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2005, 11:30:25 AM »

Oh, wow.  I really like this concept.  I'd actually never before thought about playing the Agents, but now this makes me want to.
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hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2005, 11:37:45 AM »

After posting it, I started critiquing it - thinking, "Well, aren't Agents just programmes? Won't they just want to enforce the will of the ... whatever, Matrix, Architect, Supreme AI? I mean, they don't exactly have free will."

Then I thought, this is where this variant starts to really get interesting to me:

1. Agents do have disagreements about how to do the job.
2. In these movies, AIs develop different personalities  - with complex motivations & even emotions like empathy.
3. Human players playing 'bots supressing humans ... well, in me that'd create this immense pressure to rebel at some point.
4. For the first time ever, I could see how a game set in the Matrix universe could be interesting.
5. Players would probably sympathise with the objectives of both the Agents & the Humans in this setting.

Danny, I'm not too familiar with the mythology of the Technocracy. What are the parallels?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2005, 12:27:12 PM »

4. For the first time ever, I could see how a game set in the Matrix universe could be interesting.

Yes.

Actually, reading the orriginal post made me think, "Well at least there is now some good reason for the second and third Matrix movies to exist at all." Cause really, it works.
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- Brand Robins
Brian Newman
Member

Posts: 53


« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2005, 12:39:29 PM »

What about "Deja Vu" as a Ceremony Raise?
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Danny_K
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2005, 12:58:33 PM »

Danny, I'm not too familiar with the mythology of the Technocracy. What are the parallels?

Sorry, reference to the White Wolf game Mage: the Ascension.  (The original Mage, not the rebooted version)
In it, the basic idea is that a big war is going on between mages that support a technocratic worldview (see, they use technology but they really are doing magic) and the traditionalist mages, which are a wildly disparate group of shamans, witches, mad scientists, and so on. 

The technocratic side has basically won, and spends much of its time crushing the resistance of the few remaining traditionalists through Orwellian means -- spying, contact tracing, brainwashing and assassination.  Originally, the technocrats were just there as antagonists -- the "orcs" of the game -- but eventually additional material came out allowing  you to play the side of the technocrats in a manner very similar to the Men in Black movies.  For some fans (like me), the Technocratic side of the game was a lot more interesting and fun to play. 

Since the Technocrats are basically Men in Black fighting enemies who can change the nature of reality with sheer willpower, it ends up being very Matrix-y, even though the game predates the Matrix.  I think they both come from the same cyperpunk/gnostic roots.  So this writeup and hierarchy would work very well for a Technocrats game, with only some differences in color and descriptors.

For an even more longwinded fanboy answer, check out Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocracy_%28Mage:_the_Ascension%29
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I believe in peace and science.
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2005, 03:40:17 PM »

Deja-vu – yep, that’s kind of what I was implying with Re-coding. But you’ve phrased it better.

There's still some odd spaces in this setting. Which just proves to me that DitV does what it does. Porting it to another time & place makes me appreciate its construction a lot better. So, questions:

I’m not sure what demonic influence equates to. Maybe it’s like “Reality, breaking through” or ‘the most evidence you’ve seen that the Matrix is breaking down’.

I’m also not sure what people want from the Agents. Mostly it’d be – to be left alone. This would have a completely different vibe to a DitV game. People wouldn’t want to talk to you or honour you. They’d see your characters as powerful representatives of the government. You’d probably have to torture and interrogate people ALL THE TIME to find out information. Looked at that way, the section of The Matrix from where the Agents enter Neo’s workplace to when Neo wakes up clutching his stomach is probably part of a typical game.

And all this is based around dealing with 'townsfolk' who are hooked into the Matrix.  I haven’t even thought about you’d handle confrontations with ‘real hackers’ from Zion.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Chris Geisel
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2005, 05:03:37 PM »

Would demons be hackers from Zion?
Would agents have relationships with people?
How would it handle agents possessing people?

Very interesting setting idea. I'm looking forward to watching this thread.
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Chris Geisel
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2005, 10:29:35 AM »

I don't know why but for some reason it feels wrong to have demons = 'hackers from Zion'. At the moment I'm tending towards Vincent's POV from an earlier thread, that they = 'bad luck and things going wrong'.

Agents seem to have relationships with people in the movies.  Agent Smith has relationships with Cipher, Morpheus and Neo/Anderson. He also has a relationship with The Matrix ("I hate this place."). While most of the relationships are negative, some people are helping him/betraying humanity.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Ignotus
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2005, 07:02:26 PM »

How about having the demons be legacy code/obsolete programs from previous iterations of the matrix?  As the structures of the present matrix break down, old things seep back in through the cracks to cause chaos... 
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Mikael
Member

Posts: 206


« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2005, 10:12:15 PM »

This is interesting, but what I do not quite get yet is what would make this a Dogs game. Agents clearly have the mandate to judge, and in their guise as super government agents, would even be welcomed in crisis situations like the start of the first movie. But what I do not get is what would make the Agent´s judgments difficult, and what inhibits them from escalating to guns the first chance they get? As discussed so far, the only difficulty would be getting the information out of the humans, which presents no moral problems to the Agents, just the players. But hey, isn´t that just like Dogs? Characters have absolute moral authority so that the players get to make all the hard calls? Well, no, if you ask me. Dogs are still human, helping their human community members cope with their all too-human weaknesses.

I guess you could introduce restrictions like "must keep up the production; every human battery is valuable" - but I would, personally, find it hard to play with such mentality.

It would be nice to have an actually playable game set in the Matrix, but I need to have answers to these questions before pitching it to our group. Other groups may vary.

Cheers,
+ Mikael
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lumpley
Administrator
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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2005, 06:12:09 AM »

I agree with Mikael!

At the risk of provoking John Harper again, clearly Neo and Trinity and them are the Dogs, and the agents are the sorcerers and/or possessed people.

It's a curious thing. In Dogs straight, the PCs are the protagonists, and the PCs have authority. As people try to adapt Dogs' rules to setups where protagonism and authority are at odds, they tend to keep "the PCs have authority," over "the PCs are the protagonists." I suspect that it's because they don't know what makes a protagonist, but they do understand authority, so the authority is what they think matters.

-Vincent
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Danny_K
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2005, 10:46:39 AM »

That's a great point Vincent, and there's a corollary: who's a possible protagonist will vary between play groups. 

I suspect part of the reason people find the Dogs and the Faith so compelling and provocative is that these ideas tap right into the intellectual history of the UK and the USA -- the story of virtuous pioneers making a new home among dangers and temptations.  So, even if you're distinctly unsympathetic to the Faith as it's presented, it's still prettty easy to fall into the Dogs mindset. 
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I believe in peace and science.
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