Monday, 29 April 2013

Directive 23

Directive 23 

Like every want to be Game Designer I've written tons of games, most of which languish at the botom of my hard disk waiting rediscovery. Well as it happens I've recently dusted of my old "Directive 23" project. Not really sure why, but I think its good to revisit old stuff periodically, it reminds you where you have come from and renews your vigor to keep going.

Anyway, I wrote Directive 23 back in 2000-1 before I started working on Fading Suns with Redbrick. At the time I'd just parted ways with Eden Studios and their Conspiracy X line for which I had done a little writing.

So here was the pitch I wrote up for the game world, if the reaction is positive I'll perhaps publish a couple of the chapters I wrote for the game.

Directive 23
“Mankind stands anew upon the brink of a golden age, or possibly upon the precipice before the plunge into darkness. Our technology races ever faster and our lives, once short and static are now long and ever changing. Adaptation, evolution, survival, but at least we have hope that, after the trials of the past, there is a future for us.” - Dr. Robert L. Morgan, 2098

World Setting 
Directive 23 (or D23 as my playtest group named it) is an adventure / conspiracy setting in the world only 100 years from now. The world has experienced massive upheaval during the last century; war, famine and pestilence. In the 20’s the small pox pandemic killed 1 in 4 and scared the psyche of the survivors, society could not continue as it had been. The old powers fell and a new order rose. Even three generations on, the scars of that time have not yet fully healed. Technology has leapt to greater heights; this has empowered some, but isolated many. The world is dominated by three superpowers that control the UN World Government. Not only are nations represented within but also, world religions and international corporate concerns. Many claim that this order is corrupt and abuses its power. The assembly asserts that the ends justify the means and that a new utopia is dawning. Those who seek independence from the invasive authority of the assembly migrate off world seeking new lives far from the centers of power, but as technology marches relentlessly onwards the solar system is getting smaller and those with independent spirits must forge yet further in to the dark.

Technology is a key theme of the game setting. Technology has advanced with several critical developments that would seem at first to create an idyllic reality. Death is almost a thing of the past; people can be rejuvenated, even resurrected, if they can afford the procedure. The greatest risk from body death is memory loss. Memories can be manipulated and stored, given new bodies or join the ranks of the transcendent, that swim in the sea of accumulated knowledge that is the datasphere. Many people are permanently connected to the datasphere or employ companion AI systems wet-wired directly into their own minds, to overcome the inherent isolation of this ‘joined’ society. New energy sources can produce limitless cheap power, though not entirely clean, these advances are considerably more efficient and less environmentally damaging than the power sources of the last century. The greatest single change is the ‘gate’, the ability to temporary form a wormhole between two points in space/time, permitting near instant travel to any other gate. This is typically replacing air travel as the primary means of transport between major population centers on Earth, Luna, Mars and the Jovian Colonies. The rest of the solar system is within humanities grasp. The weakness of this technology is that there must be a target gate to form a wormhole and ‘translating’ across a distance is an inherently disorienting and painful procedure that can cause physiological and neuro-biochemical damage to the traveler if not controlled with drugs or mitigation implants. Data comms cannot be transmitted through a wormhole, giving rise to data couriers, who make translation a profession. As a result information transfer between dataspheres is relatively slow in the joined world. So far only Earth and Luna have fully fledged dataspheres, Mars and the Jovian Colonies are likely to move from dataweb to full sphere status in the near future.

Misfits (Player Characters)
In this new utopia not all is well. Some people just don’t fit in; they have difficulties with the advancing pace of technology, social isolation, risk taking or ‘criminal’ psychologies. These misfits usually gravitate towards crime, the new frontier or become troubleshooters co-opted by the government under the 23rd Directive. There is a very wide variety of potential campaigns within the game world. The type and power level of game should be set by consensus between the Game Director and the Players prior to character genesis. With modern technology death will no longer be the end point for many characters, but far more critical is the loss of memory and error creep that slowly degrades the mind and personality of a character over successive regenerations. Society is becoming ageless with static immortal pillars setting the way that things will be.

The Right to Exist 
This theme exists on several levels within the setting. Crime and punishment have evolved, persistent criminal behavior can result in ‘branding’ this places virtual markers on a person that clearly display his criminality and prevents him from legally receiving medical intervention (like rejuvenation or resurrection). Sentences usually involve a minimal time in a custodial facility, but act to inhibit prolonging life expectancy or accessing areas of the datasphere or the physical world. Termed a ‘curtailment of rights’. Much less obvious is the right of future history to exist. The gates transcend both space and time, so it is possible for unintended glitches to cause disruptions in a traveler’s temporal continuity. That is, they might move forward or backwards in time, perhaps arriving only seconds before they left, but in rare cases much greater continuity errors occur (these are not well understood by the gate scientists and not public knowledge). The only requirement for traveling to a destination is that a gate be present. This introduces the possibility of delivering travelers to gates not built by humans. And for gates that still exist in the far future to be accessed as well.

Temporal Conflict
There are a number of possible futures, ‘possible’ because much like Schrödinger’s Cat, the future doesn’t entirely exist until the ‘current’ time frame makes it real. So the Eden, Abyss and other temporal frames are currently in conflict for the right to be ‘the future’. If they are indeed possible futures of our present temporal continuity then they exist on separate mutually exclusive continuities and cannot translate to and have direct conflict with each other, they only place they can fight their war for existence is at a temporal convergence (the present). A few notes no temporal conflict are necessary, paradox cannot exist! It is not possible for a character to step back in time and assassinate Hitler for example. Other than having no gate to access that time, even should that limitation be over come the history has already been set, whatever interaction the character had in that time will only bring about events as they happened in our history. The future is however fluid and much more accessible.

Meta Plot 
Directive 23 has a strong meta plot that will see the game world change and evolve. One of the themes of the game is adaptation and living with the consequences of your actions. The core releases will be lite on information related to temporal theory and warfare and focus on the initial setting. Only the later releases will bring this element to the fore as the general level of knowledge about the conflict increases and the Present becomes a battleground for the future. Although the gates will be a focus of the setting and they are capable of sending people to alien worlds and different time periods this is not ‘Stargate SG-1’ or ‘Quantum Leap’ and should not be played as alien world of the week (though if you want to you can). It is far more about what is coming to our world unknown and unseen and the consequences of that short sightedness. And what happens to a traveler in the ‘nothing / everything’ instant of translation.