Thursday, October 24, 2019

Shot Through the HEART_ (REVANESCENCE_'s health mechanic)

REVANESCENCE_ is a word made of a simple idea. 

Evanescence: fleeting, it's there and then it's gone. But it's RE: that passing, briefly existing thing, it happens over and over and over again. Always repeating. Looping. 

The health system in RVNS_ (That's REVANESCENCE_'s abbreviation) is based on that principle. Your body has something called a HEART_. That's linked to a COFFIN_, which is a container holding a tank full of biomass, computer and a battery. The HEART_ keeps a picture-perfect scan of you. An image, like you take of a computer. A back-up save of your entire biochemical makeup plus your neural activity. Thoughts. Feelings. Memories. The whole noodle shop.

When you're killed, the HEART_ recycles what's left of you that it can access and uses BIO_ (a measure of biomass and electricity) from your COFFIN_ to reconstruct you from the last image it took, right before your death. Basically, it retroactively clones you. Your health in this system does not reflect how hardy your body is, or any of that vague shit. Every succesful hit kills you. Your health is how much BIO_ you've got left to be remade. You live, you die, you live again. That's REVANESCENCE_, baby. At least, as long as you've got BIO_, and your HEART_ is intact.

Art by Jan Buragay

You don't get BIO_ from nowhere. You gotta buy it, of course. But you can steal the money you do it with. Corporate'll take anything. Money's BIO_. BIO_ is your life. Put two and two together, why don'tcha.

When your BIO_ runs out you're nothing but a HEART_ stuck in a corpse. People'll just rip you out of your last body and use you as an extra core in a cracked junk computer somwehere.

Sure, there's people with no HEART_s. But they don't last long. Not in this economy. When you can only die once, you're gonna need a real good head on your shoulders for it to stay that way in the strata. The things are crooked too. BIO_ Doesn't feed you. Doesn't heal you. Probably could. They say the technology ain't been developed, but they can bring you back from the dead. Truth is why would they? When you're alive, you buy. You consume. You worship. So they just need you alive. BIO_ only gets transferred when you croak.

Could you hack your HEART_ to do that anyway? Maybe, probably. But hacking HEARTS_ is illegal - yeah, one of the few things that still is - and corporate isn't forgiving about it. Someone who hacks hearts as a job is called a Heartbreaker, or a Casanova.

Art by Jakub Rebelka

You don't control your COFFIN_. It's in a big bank somewhere, a CRYPT_. Could say it's like cloud data, except it's your life. There's crazy people who build their own tanks of bio, with their own mass transmitter, and switch the link from their corporate one to theirs like they're Indiana Jones. Most of the times it doesn't work. They turn into goop when the ego scan doesn't come through. Maybe the computer gets glitchy and reads the scanfile from a year ago, they lose a year's worth of their existence, maybe ten. Maybe the transmitter's a bust, maybe it just fills them up with undifferentiated BIO_ like a water balloon. Pop.

Art by Jan Buragay

But there's some who manage. Those are really far out. When the system works, having the BIO_ feed you, heal you, is a sinch. Those people become what big corporate refers to as "null assets": people who don't eat, don't drink, don't watch BUYBUYBUY, don't have the impulses that the market assumes you have. They hide deep in the strata, because the Zodiac doesn't want people to have that option. They're hidden gurus, impossible to find, for corpos, for anyone. But they're the best non-corporate techies out there. By a long shot.

Oh, and a last note: When you're out of BIO_, dead, and you're in your HEART_, the pearly gates sure look a lot like adverts for BIO_ loans. "STRAIGHT TO BANK ACCOUNT - NO BULLSHIT" "GET BACK YOUR LIFE - DOWNLOAD EXTRA BIO" Don't expect any good to come of it when you take one. People living on a loan are called ZOMBIES_. Undead. Desperate for money to pay back their necromancer.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Setting/game concept: REVANESCENCE_

I've been keeping this in my head for too long, so instead of putting it in a kickstarter or zine rollercoaster seat which never departs, I'm going to put the basis of it on this blog. If there turns out to be a crowd for it, who knows, maybe it does have a future as a bigger project.

This thing is called REVANESCENCE_. It's, if you will, esoteric cyberpunk, a brainchild of my love for Ghost in the Shell, RUINER, Transistor, Blade Runner, Neuromancer, all those classics and then some. The Earth is a Kowloonesque megacity. It doesn't even resemble a proper planet anymore. Everyone worships the Lucky Golden Zodiac, a fivefold of modern demons that embody the pillars of boundless hypercapitalism. The bones of the planet have all broken under the weight of the obese mass of greasy blubber that is humanity. You've got as many lives as you can buy. Let's go.

Movie poster for ALIEN (1979, Poland)
You'll die over and over again. Your HEART_, a gizmo in your body, builds you back again and again, ready to go another round. It builds you with BIO_, biomass plus energy that's kept in your COFFIN_, your outsourced bank account of extra lives. but BIO_ ain't cheap to buy, or cheap to steal. When you run outta BIO_, you're nothing but a cute little computer gadget trapped in a corpse. Lots of scrap-built hardware uses the HEARTS_ of poor fools as processing power, if they can crack them (people who do that for a living are called Heartbreakers). Makes them haunted, full of traces of people. Lost memory scraps someone couldn't burn out. Glitchy relicts of people everywhere. Maybe you think that's fucked up. Maybe you just wanna play pong over some dead gal's trauma.

The Zodiac's on every street corner, on every tacky new year poster in Chinese or Russian or English or whatever, on every happy takeout menu, wherever you like it. It's rat, tiger, pig, crab, monkey.

Art by waneella
First one's real name is RAT_KING_, demon of hierarchy, dominance, ambition, backstabbing, will to power. Then there's VIDEOMANCER_, demon of fake images, fake beauty, fake emotion, fake love, big industry porno, monetised intimacy, exploited and manufactured body ideals. THE_HOLLOW_, who's never got enough. Consumption. Resource exploitation. Neocolonialism. Mining, overfishing. Gorging. Hogging. IMMORTAL_P_, demon of plastics, synthetics, nuclear waste, all that shit that humans keep making that'll outlive em a millionfold. He's pollution and he's carcinogens. And then there's APEMIND_. The corporate data-mining of human behaviour, human tendencies, human psy- and sociology. Tying the species' evolutionary roots to its fingers and using them as puppet strings.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995
Maybe you're not made of meat, maybe you ain't got no HEART_. Then you're AI, android, computer. Programmed to be something. If you're a pop star, a celeb, then you're as fake as can be. Your codelines got nothing but smiles in them. And the brand of course. Gotta sell the brand. You're a happy shiny sociopath, your mind eating up whatever the audience preference algorithm shits out, telling all those love-starved fans to BUYBUYBUY. You're a slave to love, and you're a love slaver. You're the ultimate soulless idol of a maxed-out Kpop industry. There's no people in those quirky sparkly clips no more.

Art by Sachin Teng

Everything except the top layers (of society, of the ladder, of the planet), no actual human being from corporate actually deals with anymore. They just let the algorithms run on autopilot, let the programmed androids do their job. The stuff does a well enough job maintaining itself just enough for the cash flows not to stop coming. Mobs and gangs and Zodiac cults run it all- there's at least two that call themselves the police. Corporate doesn't mind. Even gangsters need to BUYBUYBUY. They don't care where the money comes from, so long as it comes. There's rebels too, but they ain't got no power. It's all just pirate radios and angry graffiti. And violence, 'cause all that anti-corpo hatred that can't reach up to the shiny white of the top layers has to go somewhere. Everything under the polished top is strata of rust, shit, and smiling sunny billboards.

The Zodiac's cults in the strata are a lot different than the ones topside. Down they're supplicants, up they're profiteers. The strata ones are cargo cults hoping for money and power and beauty and all that shit, so long as they worship, and sacrifice, and idolate. The topside ones are like masonry lodges and illuminati entwined with corporate hierarchies and bureaus, serving the Zodiac because they actually DO gain from it. Because it DOES give them power. All the shit the strata ones do and give up and serve and BUYBUYBUY, that doesn't give THEM power, it gives the topside ones power.