Friday, March 13, 2009

Campaign Sketches: Tokyo Indenture

Recycling Day-- just as an example, some brainstorming I did for an idea Sherri originally played with that I did some goofing with-- of a Cyberpunk future where when people die, their insurance pays out to their beneficiaries, but then brings them back from the dead to work off the debt. I think some of this is from exchanges between Sherri and I on some of these ideas.

Tokyo Indenture: (Random Notes and Totally Draft Crap)
Opening scene (intro story vignette) , Adam_X waking up, dry throat, stiff neck…discount life insurance …girlfriend problems from prohibitions against touching the dead.

The Life Insurance…pays for funeral and pays off other debts and such…also pays out a chunk to their next of kin…(another Flaw: Ungrateful Next of Kin)…however, since they died, they now have to pay off that money at usurious interest rates.

“Karm-omter” how much money they owe at any given moment. Stuck to their wrist or chest.

Disadvantages: loose limbs, reduced flexibility, required substance, garish appearance, deterioration, leaking, someone else’s parts, memory flashes, wiped, brain in a box, breakdown/bad wiring, overheating. Look at the typical zombie disads from the All-Flesh Book.

Humans are human, so a number of the zombie advantages wouldn’t apply. However, could have a number of Cyber-Limbs/devices, etc. Could be some other powers though, that reflect new abilities given by being unliving i.e. take a bullet or twenty…Mechanical versus non-mechanical advantages

Justifying some of the zombie advantages…independent limbs, etc. Remote broadcasting. Vignette with Adam_X Head knocked off…able to move body.
Other future equipment. Weapons? Armor, etc.? Suggestion: Bam! Take every item up a notch and rename it.

For more high fantasy story line: Anc. Chinese sorcerer (ala Fistful) who is upset by the rash of “resurrectionists”…there is a limited supply of “unlife” in the world and he wants to have a monopoly on it.

Another option…all these zombies being built for a great battle between supernatural folks…zombies can channel the powers of ancient heroes? But this fails and the group has to find their own method for dealing with the baddies.

The company that is less pleasant about the way it brings people back. Using zombies for other matters. Not so good about the zombies and their treatment…mean, less thinking zombies.

(ala Green Eyes) Zombies who do manual work…thought control…one of them managing to remain in control…able to lead the others.

Zombies in mechas. Built into them…battlesuits.

Giant monster zombies…experimental genome derived from a particular subject (like Godzilla)…however, over time it repairs the zombies and then draws them together to create a giant Flesh thingy.

Undead brain box AIs…especially psychics. Cheaper to take a brain and clean it and put in programming. AI therapists. Zombie Therapists

Motorcycles. Population density…lots dying off in plagues/terror attacks. Still a lot left but packed into particular blocks and areas…heavily crowded areas and then badlands.

Things they can do to make money: constantly broadcast over their interior headsets…parking tickets…traffic tickets…littering…plot device while in the midst of real life a particularly juicy thing comes up…costs for destroying public property…not citizens, but who is liable when they start breaking laws.
The Net…probably more comfortable for some of them there. Handle really abstractly
Tech Cops…mecha and other suits.

Striking the balance between horror, tragedy (C-Punk) and anime silliness. Group living weird things interrupting their daily lives. The contrast between the shiny, chrome, high-flying super-decked out group and their own. The simple things of daily life…paying for their apartment one day at a time, buying used underwear, eating jelly sandwiches.

NPCs…Adam_X…with his taped together computer and cracked screen.

***

Ok--here's the thing...the idea is more interesting if zombie-ification is a threat. Payments must be maintained--so that they get their 'post-death' treatment which keeps them from turning into zombies. Once the debt is paid off, they still have to pay a much smaller amount for the treatments to maintain 'humanity'. Missed treatments lead to zombification--and the companies then take possession of the zombies, if they can catch them SINCE THEY ARE NO LONGER LIVING CREATURES AND MAY BE CONSIDERED PROPERTY. One of the ways to make money is to bounty hunt AWOLs who have 'gone zombie'. Sometimes people miss a treatment or two not because they're behind on payments, but because they're detained from making it to the treatment centers by circumstances (anything that can keep you out of town). They do not go zombie immediately--that takes maybe 3 months of neglect. If they take treatments after, they suffer only partial zombie effects. THe treatments may be weekly or monthly! --your choice. And so you can have degrees of zombie-fication. The more zombie you are, the more you're liable to look like a zombie (and have the disads therein)--and the greater chance of mental deterioration.

The 'treatment' can be the root of a thousand conspiracy theories and desperate crimes.

Or something like that.
***

I like that idea...the loss of humanity as a definition of their struggle...does the flesh define the humanity. It could be that they occupy until they "go zombie" a niche of a second-class citizen. I think people would still have/be able to choose a number of those disads from the start (to represent shoddy care or their death having been particularly awful) and then there would be a chart of decline if they don't make payments...which of course could make for an interesting adventure.
I also like the idea of an alarm clock going of in your head any time a opportunity to cite someone or commit an act of public decency...to make money for the company. The karmometer tracker, alert, no privacy, gauge, happy smiley thing, complete with mascot, bounded vs. undead (???)

Drug scenario: memory aid, memetic helper. Chemical gives zombie good feeling in human starts slowing them down and zombifying their organs.

Also, they probably live off of tips for saving the world

***

Heh. Exactly.

In fact, there is a big question about the inevitability of the onset of zombification, even with the treatments. However, given enough time and rest, people DO recover and can give up the treatments. Very rare tho. Not too many people can afford 3 years of bedrest.

Here's what I imagine: the resurrection is managed with a little bit of this 'undeath' close to the time of death--this DOES NOT zombify the person, but it does physically 'knit' everything back together enough for the body to recover from the trauma of death and go back to functioning if the proper recesitation can be done. However, it slows real healing phenomenally (hence the leaky parts and loose limbs). And it has to be sustained with further doses--these do not really increase the amount of undeath in a person since that is expelled by the living body over time--it only maintains the 'knitting' that was done. Here's the thing: once introduced, the undeath is there. The 'zombie' effects are parts of the body giving up on functioning as living. They're still kinda knitted on, but they are no longer living in the sense that they need blood or warmth...the last functions to go are motor functions, but pain goes early and so does circulation (think of the effects of diabetes for the onset, in some ways...feet go first--hence, if you're clumsy, you get called a zombie). It's a strange effect.

People who drowned might recover fairly quickly--(remember, brain damage CAN'T be fixed by the treatments)--but they might not ever be 'right' again. A decapitation victim will never recover, but the treatments will keep them 'alive' for their natural life. Terrible injuries from an auto accident: you'll look like you just walked out of surgery--stitches, and the like, but no swelling. Broken bones are often steel-plated together or somehow reinforced since they won't heal on their own for years. There are new technologies in replacing or physically repairing tendons, muscle groups, and cartilage because of this--it all goes on your bill tho.

Later deaths for any of these people will cause zombification to advance.

And, of course, the necromancers want the supply of 'treatment'...it's a huge wealth of the stuff they need to consolidate their power. There are even 'new-style' necromancers who have a very modern approach to controlling their undead minions...addictive drugs that worm through to their deadened senses...
Humanity is defined by the flesh in the mechanics...and by the will of the individual in reality. Once a carcass gives up, the descent to zombification is inevitable and having forsaken the fight for their 'human' selves, they are susceptible to all manner of different 'philosophies'...just like any disenfranchised people. That zombies are strong, can't feel pain and ugly does tend to give rise to a certain kind of brutality...but it doesn't have to be like that. Except that no one seems to want to leave a zombie in peace to contemplate their new path to enlightenment. See? That whole 'flesheater' reputation.

Companies to do battle with…their company, government zombies…soldiers and or mercenaries

One to six scale of zombification. Used to keep people (players) in line.

Consider how to contrast the light and the dark between them.

Zombie City Tokyo
Zombie Experiments Lame
Boogiepop Zombie
Zombie Seed
Zombie_7
Those Who Hunt Zombies
Zombie Hunter D
Revolutionary Zombie Undertaker
Zombie Marionette J
Neo Genesis Zombie
***

He could gargle, but that was about it. Laying on his back there, the lamps burning into his eyes, all he could remember was a successful Netrun and then…something happened.
“The ceiling…I saw the ceiling…”
The tech leaned over him, sour breath still coming through the face mask. “Yeah, you probably did. I understand they found your head on the floor, someone with a monowire did a number on you. Residual memories.”
Adam_X saw him straighten up, work the holder for a needle onto his black rubber gloves and then jab him in the neck. He tried to move, but his head wouldn’t even turn.
“Nah, you’re not going to want to turn your head for a while. It’s got to seal back up right…see…” he dabbed at Adam’s head for a minute. “See…too much movement and you’ll spring a leak. Those fluids are nasty. My suggestion…cheap shirts because that stuff stains. Anyway, you’ll eventually have 60% range-of-motion for your head left to right and probably 30% for up and down. There’s a big metal brace-lock on your spine to keep it in place. If it does come off, you’ve got a remote link so you’ll have a minute or two to jam it back on…but the fluid spray will be bad…”
“I’m a robot…” Adam’s jaw started spasm, feeling his tongue, trying to figure out what was going on.
“No…you’re a zombie. You died and we stuck your head back on and changed out a bunch of your fluids.”
“Wha…how…” he could feel his hands, his legs, his hair…
“You remember that really crappy life-insurance policy you bought?” Adam remembered, some booth down at the transit tubes. He’d paid out like a token yen a month or something-- auto-deducted from his account.
The tech took his pause as an acknowledgement. “Yea, well it paid out. Whoever you signed up as a bennie got a chunk of cash. Now though…” the tech started to work some kind of surgical tape on his neck again. “…you have to work off that money…and of course the cost of reviving you.”
Adam let out a groan. “Oh, shit.”
“Yea, it takes a while to hit you when you realize you’re meat.”
“No…no…not that. My girlfriend’s Buddhist.”
The tech’s lips puckered. “Dead flesh prohibitions…not good. But I’ll make you feel better…” He smiled, a big mouth of mismatched teeth. “…that’s probably the least of your worries.

Tokyo Indenture could be done as a setting of an Anime/Cyberpunk future. It can be run light-hearted (XXX), deadly serious (Ghost in the Shell) or something in-between (Bubblegum Crisis). In it, the players are various marginal but talented characters. They have managed to get themselves killed. However, this is not always an obstacle and the employment agency who purchased their life insurance contract has need of their particular skills. Brought back, they are not quite human and not quite zombie, but second class citizens nonetheless. They work to pay off their debt; escape is not an option as those who do not receive proper treatment over time may find themselves fully devolving into zombies.