Friday, March 1, 2013

060: Death-of-Self

ENTRY 060: Death-of-Self

Immortality is not for everyone. Even if physical existence can be sustained indefinitely without mental degeneration, not everyone can adapt to changing times, or sustain themselves against a looming eternity, or deal with loss. When it comes time for a crisis of mortality, many habitats provide therapeutic services. Sometimes it is enough to help these people cope. Other times, it only discusses the options. The disposition of assets, possessions, intellectual property. Suicide is wasteful, and anathema to most communities, as much the waste of resources associated with the physical cessation of existence than the loss of a member, so habitats look for more positive and economical alternatives.

Death-of-Self is a radical ego pruning procedure used by those who cannot continue as they are. The process retains the subject’s existing morph (if any), but trims away the subject’s specific memories, retaining only key reflexes, and sometimes basic skills. In an age of forks and digital resleeving the loss of continuity of consciousness is less of terror for many than it was, but for those individuals that choose to lose themselves in this manner the idea that some core of their personality, behavior, or thought-patterns may pass on to another is often a source of comfort in their final moments. Death-of-Self is also a possible though relatively rare punishment for extreme crimes in habitats that do not subscribe to capital punishment and after psychiatric evaluation are unwilling to accept lesser rehabilitation schemes.

The pruned ego is, essentially, a new individual. Some retain a few mental and behavioral characteristics of the old ego, or even a key language or skill, but all specific memories are erased. They look at the universe through new sensors and a clean mind, full of potential.


Death-of-Self is a long-term psychosurgery ego-pruning technique (Eclipse Phase, p.274) which effectively ceases the existence of the character (although other forks and back-ups may exist, sometimes preserved as a muse). The new ego that results may share some ego-specific traits (Eidetic Memory, Math Wiz, mental Addictions, etc.) but should generate new skills and aptitudes as a starting character. If the new ego retains the old morph, it may be mistaken for its old self, and run into difficulties from old lovers, enemies, debts, social stigma, etc.

Using Death-of-Self

Practically, Death-of-Self is a convenient way for players and gamemasters to modify a character that just isn’t working—the build is wrong, the morph is good but the skills were ill-chosen, too many negative traits, circumstances have rendered the character difficult to play, or the player simply doesn’t care to play that specific character anymore. Death-of-Self provides a quick transition between the old character and the new one, to keep the game flowing. For NPCs, the story possibilities are considerable, as the loss of self in this manner has been a popular science fiction theme in stories such as Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man or Bruce Sterling’s The Artificial Kid.

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