Monday, October 15, 2012

Personality Overlays for StarCluster 3 or In Harm's Way: StarCluster

 This is from Dan Potter, one of the players in my StarCluster 3 IRC game.
Quote:  Don't just look different, Think different.

A personality overlay is a program designed to run on an implanted computer, that situates itself between the host brain's layers and translates intentions into actions based on previously defined personality matrix;  changing language, mannerisms, short term intentions and desires to match those of the emulated personality. The strength of these edits is determined by the level of the program, and thus the number of skill slots it takes up, as the program uses one slot per level.

Mechanics: Each Slot functions as an edge for staying in character. 1 Small Modifier per Level Penalty is applied to the difficulty to determine that the person is not who they are emulating.  Half the edge rounded up can be used to apply to social skill roles that the emulated personality should possess but only used in applications that make sense for the design of the emulated personality - usually Engrace, Endear, Entice, Convince, and the like.


1  Virtually every brain hack has at least tried out this level of personality overlay. These are generally very stereotyped and overacted, mostly confined to speech pattern modification and two to five mannerisms. Still its better than just trying the role cold with no acting skills.  The base personality is unaffected.

2.  Level two is a significant improvement over level one and exmples are commercially available as acting software.  Although extremely unfashionable to use, (To accuse a professional actor of using one usually means a duel.) these programs are wide spread throughout the entertainment world.  These programs can completely rewrite the individual's sentence structure and alter body posture in dozens of ways.

3. At Level three body language is now altered in hundreds of ways but the simulation adds emotions specific to the character being emulated and will react to those emotions in an appropriate manner.  Emulating a maid, a broken a vase will trigger a rush of shame, fear and will cower and the operator will grovel in a very convincing manner.

4. At this level the personality matrix becomes deeply invasive, able to suppress and overrule base desires of the character. The emulation now has a completely individual lists of attractions and disgusts, altering base instincts and desires. A human emulating a Hyena uplift would think nothing about eating carrion (although he would still get sick.) Generally these emulations have a name of their own.

5. A Level five emulation is a complete individual, with goals and desires completely their own and separate from the character running the software.  A complete set of memories are fabricated and drawn on. While it is running the character is only very dimly aware of their original thought patterns.  It takes a major act of will to shut off or act out of character with emulation at this level.  A failed roll makes the next attempt harder and can only be attempted once per day. Because of this Level five emulation programs typically have triggers
or conditions that will turn them off in response to an outside stimulus or circumstance as the operator can be lost. 

Personality Overlay software is frowned on within most intelligence communities for many reasons, preferring agents with acting skills rather than software.  Firstly acting out of character with a emulation running or shutting it down is a disorienting experience as the  user must wrestle off the instructions of the software.  This slows the reactions of the user by a significant amount, producing a initiative penalty of the level of emulation times 1 Small Modifier.  If the software is turned off this effect lasts for the software level in turns otherwise it persists until the character resumes their character.  For example our cowardly maid who's actually a special forces marine decides flatten a thug who's holding a gun on her instead of cowering in fear.  She will have a -3 Small Modifier to all initiative rolls for the next three turns.

Secondly while the emulation is a static program, the mammalian brain is not.  It constantly learns and while an overlay is running, it learns all the mannerisms and emotions the overlay puts it through. Spending any length of time running a personality overlay will cause alterations in one's own mannerisms and behavior.  Activating a level 2 is disorienting and at level 5 is downright traumatic as the software does not come online instantly, rather the user can feel his or her patterns of thought changing. Regular use of emulation has been linked to a variety of mental disorders including disassociation, PTSD and multiple personalities disorders.

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