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Trading away memories and trauma via Pacts?

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  • Trading away memories and trauma via Pacts?

    So I've got a player in a game I'm running with an interesting idea: his primary cover is an ex-army officer who was discharged due to PTSD. A number of his Cover's contacts and associates are other veterans, some of whom have similar traumas. His player has had an idea: he wants to kill two birds with one stone via pacts. Namely, he wants to have these people trade away their war stories, thereby relieving their trauma (as the incidents in question transfer to his Cover instead), while strengthening his own Cover at the same time.

    My question is: is this doable? It's certainly an interesting idea, but I remember something about Pactbound retaining their memories of their lives before the pact went into effect, so are these people still going to have all their memories (and associated trauma), but now nobody else even acknowledges that it happened to them. Is this demon going to end up accidentally gaslighting the people he's trying to help?

    If that is what would happen, is there some other way he can work the Pact(s) to actually accomplish what he's trying to do?

  • #2
    I would rule that he could, sort of. While he can't take away the pactbound's memory of the events, he can take away the negative effects. So the pacting veteran would still remember the brutal night he spent fighting house to house, but the depression and nightmares would be gone.

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    • #3
      It says that only those directly affected by the pacts have their memories changed - in the context that's clearly referring to third parties whose relationships with the mortal are trsnsferred to the demon.

      Nevertheless, atmospherically, taking the memories of experiences does seem like something pacts ought to be able to do. ETA, Slagheap's idea is a good one too.

      But within the tightest interpretation of the rules... A demon could find a veteran whom sessions at a VA therapy group aren't really helping, and buy their relationship with the group - thus the group will remember the demon being to the one to share that trauma (and the demon can gradually "turn thing around and be helped" if need be) - in return using assets to give the veteran a comfortable life or some other means to numb the trauma.

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      • #4
        There's a given form that allows you to jack into people skulls and manipulate their memories. Make it's usage that part of the pact's contract.

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        • #5
          I would say the easiest method for handling it would be making it so that the trauma is part of the terms. To my mind the best angle for claiming these patches for the cover would along the angle of, "You want to live a normal life again, without the breakdowns and flashbacks of those nights, correct? I can help, sign here and the issues you've been suffering as a result will clear up. Though in the interest of full disclosure as far as most of the world will be concerned you were never at that incident, so don't talk about it like you were there unless you want to cause yourself problems."

          The implication in the core was that the demon does not specifically need to be able to grant their end of the bargain for a pact to work. I.e. You don't need a ton of money or to manipulate the stock market etc to give a person wishes from their pact. So, you probably don't need to be able to rewrite a person's mind if they pact to have a mental trauma cleared up.
          Last edited by nalak42; 11-26-2017, 08:24 PM.

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          • #6
            Best bet is something like Malus suggests - Use Memory Theft (the Form Ability) to outright remove the memories as part of the Pact. I think there are other Embeds or Exploits that could accomplish similar. If nothing fits perfectly, find something similar and make a Near Field Gadget, and make that a condition of the Pact. If it is that central to the character, they could also make an Interlock or two out of it.


            Or, since we are talking Demons here, you could give the Pactee abilities or powers to "take justice/their healing into their own hands" against some scapegoated cause/target. It would be an SOB thing to do, abusing the trauma of veterans to turn them into supernatural terrorists for their own petty gain, but, again, Unchained we are talking about here.

            Maybe a antagonistic mirror, if the concept is too A-hole-ish to play?
            Last edited by Vent0; 11-26-2017, 09:52 PM.


            Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
            Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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            • #7
              You could also say that if it's the memories themselves being offered in the pact, the person might remember making a deal for their memories but be unable to recall what's been taken.


              Jason Ross Inczauskis, Freelance Writer
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              • #8
                Part of the particular PC's concept is that he's a genuinely good person (for the most part, at least - this cover is also part of an Animal Rights Militia style violent activist cell), so screwing these people over would actively be defeating the point of why he wants to do this in the first place, from an IC perspective.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Juhn View Post
                  Part of the particular PC's concept is that he's a genuinely good person (for the most part, at least - this cover is also part of an Animal Rights Militia style violent activist cell), so screwing these people over would actively be defeating the point of why he wants to do this in the first place, from an IC perspective.
                  Try to make an Interlock with Imagine and (something). You could always include the exploitative concepts above as antagonists.


                  Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                  Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
                    You could also say that if it's the memories themselves being offered in the pact, the person might remember making a deal for their memories but be unable to recall what's been taken.

                    Granted that I'm biased, being the player in question, but I rather like this take on it. Doing it as an interlock would certainly be interesting as well though.

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                    • #11
                      By RAW, demons can't take memories as Cover Aspects. The benefits to Cover come from relationships, and one of the big disadvantages of Pacts is that the demon gets precisely zero information about those relationships apart from what they can sleuth out themselves, and only people directly affected by the Pact have their memory altered. E.g. the boyfriend you bought thinks you've always been together, but the pactbound who sold him and any friends or family do not. So you could buy someone's traumatic war story, but that would just put your (Cover's) name in the veteran's registry instead of theirs and do absolutely nothing to relieve their pain.

                      However, demons are allowed to take conditions via Pacts (Flowers of hell, p. 34). This passage specifically refers to physical conditions, but I don't see why PTSD should be any different.

                      And keep in mind that boons granted by Pacts represent more than dots on a sheet. You don't sign a Pact for three dots of Expression and Fame 2; you sign a Pact to become a renowned violinist, which is mechanically represented by dots of Expression and the Fame Merit. By the same token a person with PTSD could sign a Pact for "peace of mind", which you'd represent with dots of Composure, Meditative Mind or similar. Though I'd still rule that to fully cure someone you'd have to take the condition on yourself, just because that's more narratively interesting.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Terrorforge View Post
                        So you could buy someone's traumatic war story, but that would just put your (Cover's) name in the veteran's registry instead of theirs and do absolutely nothing to relieve their pain.
                        This is exactly the kind of thing I was concerned about, yeah. They're still traumatized, except now nobody even believes that the trauma even happened to them, because as far as the rest of reality is concerned, it didn't.

                        However, demons are allowed to take conditions via Pacts (Flowers of hell, p. 34). This passage specifically refers to physical conditions, but I don't see why PTSD should be any different.

                        And keep in mind that boons granted by Pacts represent more than dots on a sheet. You don't sign a Pact for three dots of Expression and Fame 2; you sign a Pact to become a renowned violinist, which is mechanically represented by dots of Expression and the Fame Merit. By the same token a person with PTSD could sign a Pact for "peace of mind", which you'd represent with dots of Composure, Meditative Mind or similar. Though I'd still rule that to fully cure someone you'd have to take the condition on yourself, just because that's more narratively interesting.
                        This part is interesting, though. I'll have to think on it.

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                        • #13
                          You could do an end run around it: don't make the pact with the vet, make it with their CO. So now the demon was the one who was part of the patrol that got ambushed rather than the vet you are helping out.


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                          • #14
                            If you are set on memory focus, look at the memory theft demon form. It isn't pact per say but it'd ease their mind by wiping or altering memories. Full effect would take awhile mind you.

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