Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chipped-in Wage-Slaves

Over at Pair o' Dice, they mentioned the concept of chipped workers in Shadowrun (and the same could be done in Cyberpunk), people who are slaves to the company they work for. A company that never had to train them, they just plugged in a skill chip that guides the worker's hands. Scary, creepy, sci-fi fun. And it's only a few years off.

Talking about it, Scott at Pair o' Dice wrote:
Wageslavery as a Backdrop to the Action

I am not suggesting players take on wage slave characters (although some runners have backgrounds as an ex-wage slave or corporate drone), that would probably be a terribly dull game.

But I gotta say, that actually gave me two really cool campaign ideas that aren't dull at all:

  1. A game where the PCs are wage slaves, and some sort of mix-up happens. One day, they show up for work, and their "Assembly Line Efficiency & Company Loyalty" chip has been replaced with a "Urbo-Anarchist Badassery" chip. Or just a Martial Arts chip. You're playing ordinary people who suddenly have a single maxed out skill, which was no doubt slipped to them by someone for some reason. Cue the clues, interspersed with Matrixy fight-scenes. You have to break out of work, with company property still in your head, and the pursue the mystery.
  2. A game where you don't play the meatbag, you play the AI. I'm a super-spy that only exists as a skill chip. Plug me into a person, and I immediately over-ride their personality as well as tacking on a couple of very important skills. If things go south and I need to lay low, I just convince someone else to try this awesome skill chip instead. You'd play the same character, but have new character sheets and background every time you swapped your plugging. There's some logistics to work out about the couple seconds between unplugging from your current body and getting plugged in to the other, but I'm confident it could be explained in a way that would at least diminish the risks and plot holes. If the persona lingers for a few minutes after the chip is pulled out, for example, or if the last thing you do before unplugging is auto-hypnosis. Every NPC you meet that has a visible chip socket becomes a potential bodysnatching.
Anyhow, the blog post over at Pair o' Dice is pretty cool. Check it out


Grant Woodward said...

Brilliant. I love the first idea as a one- or two-shot Shadowrun game. The second is interesting for a long-term game (or a really memorable NPC.) Paperwork would be a pain for the player unless you came up with a really good system, though.

satyre said...

The second idea is canned Evil and going to appear in my next cyberpunk setting. Paperwork can be fixed by putting the relevant stats on a 3x5 index card if you've taken a PC.

Yoinked for great justice!

Spikey said...

Can't rememebr the systems for Cyberpunk or Shadonrun off the top of me ehad but could you not do it the White Wolf way. Let the player redistribute the points the original body had each time he jumps. Thus assuming he jumps into better bodies as he increases in XP / skill.

To start wit hmaybe he can only body hack janitors and receptionists in 'the company' or similar social caste targets (the class of body he can hack is restricted by the glass ceiling), but after a while he has access to computer programmers and socialites and eventually the new stats for the latest body jump is for a way cool street samurai or a millionaire corporate hot shot.

r_b_bergstrom said...

Neat idea!