Our next game: Teilhard’s Agents

Finally, we have something to announce: Work on a new rpg has begun.

Teilhard’s Agents is a roleplaying game mixing elements of politics, emotion theory, Jungian psychology, Lacuna Pt. 1, and The Matrix. (Yes, all of that at once.)

Set in the modern world, player-characters upload their minds into the noosphere, a realm where emotions are living creatures and Jungian archetypes are real. Affecting change in the noosphere impacts humanity by supporting or undercutting emotions, thereby affecting people’s politics. Some would change the noosphere to make humanity more conservative or liberal. Others will defend the noosphere, allowing humanity to choose their own destiny.

First, the setting:

  • Besides the biosphere (the physical world), there is the noosphere (the mental world), also called the collective unconscious. Every human’s mind is connected to the noosphere via emotions. It is broken into regions based on culture (such as New York / East Coast / American / Western).
  • Normally, you cannot visit the noosphere. However, several organizations have the technology to project a human’s consciousness into the noosphere while their body remains in the biosphere.
  • In the noosphere, emotions are living creatures. Affecting a great number of a particular emotion-based creature in the noosphere will affect that emotion in humans in the biosphere. (For example, killing a lot of fear-based creatures will make humanity less fearful.)
  • Since emotions often underlie politics, you can change people’s politics (more conservative, more liberal, etc.) by making changes in the noosphere that affect emotions. You can even target specific political beliefs (pro-choice, anti-war, etc.).

Now, the characters:

  • The PCs are social scientists that work for the Teilhard Institute for Applied Psychology. They dive into the noosphere and either 1) protect it against those who would harm the noosphere for political gain, or 2) work to make the world more liberal or conservative.
  • Rather than the usual attributes based on physical/mental traits, attributes are based on the equipment used to project a consciousness into the noosphere.
    • Coherence: Strength of your presence in the noosphere. If you have a strong coherence, you can more easily impact the noosphere–but it’s easier for things in the noosphere to impact you in turn.
    • Signal Clarity: Quality of data transferring between your mind and the noosphere. If you have a strong signal quality, you can easily perceive things in the noosphere–but it’s easier for things in the noosphere to perceive you in turn.
    • Bandwidth: Space available for data to flow between your mind and the noosphere. If you have plenty of bandwidth, you can move more quickly in the noosphere. You can also “upload” equipment, but that clogs your bandwidth and makes you move slower.
  • Characters also have an Anima/Animus power (which provide superpowers in the noosphere but can spiral out of control) and a Coursework ability (bonuses to certain situations based on the type of social science you studied).
  • Hit points are cortisol levels. “Dying” in the noosphere leads to potentially-fatal seizures.
  • Equipment is “uploaded” to the noosphere by the Teilhard Institute while on a dive.

The mechanics:

  • Each attribute is rated with a die type ranging from d4 to d20, such as Coherence d8.
  • These attributes have two paired skills, and the range of that die type is split between the two skills such as Coherence d8: Potency 1-3 / Immunity 4-8. To succeed on an attribute check, players roll within the range with the die type. In the above sample attribute, you would need to roll 1-3 on a d8 to attack something in the noosphere.
  • Emotion-creatures have their own die types for the three attributes, but they roll against the player’s ranges. Weak creatures have d20, and they roll against your Potency (1-3 on a d20) to hurt you. Strong creatures have d4, and they against your Potency (1-3 on a d4) to hurt you.
  • During the game, players can adjust the ranges on the fly (but not the die types) to suit the situation.

If that wasn’t weird enough, here are some unique aspects of Teilhard’s Agents:

  • The game includes specific mechanics for changing a culture’s political views on real-world issues, such as abortion or welfare. Want to remove capital punishment? Decrease the amount of anger, disgust, and aggressiveness in the noosphere and people will turn away from it.
  • Creatures in the noosphere are based on emotions and include Mourner-in-the-Rains, Bold Jimmys, Greedlings, and Sisters of Perpetual Agony. Each has its own unique ability, such as the power to make you cry or seduce you into giving up on the real world. Some, like the Shouting Monks, are almost cute. Others, like the Boogymen, are downright scary.
  • Besides these emotion creatures, Jungian archetypes (Wise Old Man, Earth Mother, Trickster, Hero, etc.) live in the noosphere and have their own agendas. Dealing with a pack of Shouting Monks might be easy, but what happens with Trickster decides to “play” with your characters?
  • Character “powers” will be based on repressed emotional drives/disorders. If your character craves attention, she could have the power to force creatures to pay attention to her (as opposed to another character). However, these powers come with a dark version that can manifest, such as forcing other PCs to pay attention to your character.

Teilhard’s Agents will be available as a Kickstarter in mid-2014. Interested in contributing? Send us an email and we can talk!