Friday, November 29, 2013

333: Private Mode

ENTRY 333: Private Mode

"How much do you trust your muse? How much do you trust yourself?"
- Jovian dissident

Transhumanity is long past the age where thought-police are mere allegory and hyperbole. In many habitats, the Panopticon is here, where every biomorph can breathe in a nanosensor every six seconds, where every online search is traced and recorded, and all the hypercorp-manufactured augmentations and morphs dutifully send back regular feedback that can be used to model and identify consumers and their habits, to be repackaged and sold to any bidder. In the Jovian Republic, some of the more repressive habitats have even taken to extreme step of assigning government-crafted muses to citizens, as part of a standardization service to assure that everyone can take part in government and receive their due benefits...and, of course, to report on any concerning behavior to the proper authorities.

It is in such an atmosphere that Jovian dissidents created the Private Mode app - a quick add-on popular with more than just the paranoid few in the Jovian Republic. When activated, the app temporarily deactivates the user's muse and buffers the ego's short-term memory through their cortical stack, sending the memories to a new fork instead of allowing them to pass into long-term memory or story. When the app is deactivated, the user is left unable to remember anything that occurred while Private Mode was activated, as the memories are stored on the fork instead - and often encrypted for greater safety. This does not offer full protection to the user (and thus remains nominally legal under Jovian Republic laws), since authorities can still hypothetically track any of their Mesh activity, it does create a legal loophole where the ego that performed any actions during the use of Private Mode is the fork - the main ego has no idea what they did. This allows many egos to pass lie detectors quite easily, as well as dispense with critical evidence at the expense of their own memories.

Using Private Mode

Retrograde amnesia and blackouts with lost time are bullshit plot devices that gets far too much love and affection. However, the ability to selectively induce such states is more interesting - and a good way to bring these old tropes into play in your Eclipse Phase game without any other handwaving. While this is a fun tool for gamemasters - including the old carrot of "You wake up with no memory of the last 10 hours but there's a bracelt on your wrist with a digital timer that seems to be counting down." - it should also be seen as an interesting item for player characters to muck about with. Private Mode could be a key part in a planned robbery, for example, or they might be trying to infiltrate an Exsurgent cult and need to get past the telepath, where their thoughts really would betray them. One of the key things to remember about Private Mode is that it only functions for a set period - so if, for example, Firewall had wanted the PCs to infiltrate the exsurgent cult, they would have needed to find a non-obtrusive way to get them to turn on Private Mode without leaving any memory clues that the telepaths would pick up, then give them the briefing and set things up from there. It's a trope that gives a tricky, confusing plot - but then, that's the whole point.


  • Someone is attacking one of the PCs - clearing out their credit accounts, torching all their safe houses, alienating friends, giving their ex's their new number - generally making their life a living hell. It seems like the PC's new enemy knows all their secrets - but it might just be that they know secrets even the PCs don't know. It turns out that one of their Private Mode forks has been captured by a hacker - the character's own cortical stack is now their own worst enemy, and they'll have to find a way to deal with an enemy that has a captive ego that thinks just like they do.

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