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  • Heaven

    Inspirations: Tron, The Matrix, Digimon Tamers.

    I've always been fond of the cyberpunk concept of netrunning; and this system hack is designed to facilitate that in a DtD game. Note that I'm not as familiar with DtD as I am with the other gamelines that I've produced hacks for; so feedback is especially appreciated.

    Heaven is real, and it is the Mind of the God-Machine. It is the native realm of angels, much like the Shadow is the native realm of spirits, where they serve as the functions of the God-Machine.

    When an Occult Matrix summons an angel, it doesn't construct the angel out of nothing; it pulls it out of Heaven. In general, angels have little trouble entering Heaven; but it takes the workings of an Occult Matrix to leave.

    Due to their physicality, demons cannot enter Heaven the same way that angels do: they're visitors instead of residents; and entry takes effort, as they need to separate their perceptions from their bodies. On the other hand, departure is much simpler. In all cases, you need a Terminal — a portal connecting the physical world to the digital world. While the ephemeral beings known as angels enter Heaven bodily, a demon's body remains in the physical world — though there may be an Exploit that allows for physical entry.

    Heaven itself is a vast digital web, composed of a network of interconnected sites corresponding to different pieces of Infrastructure on Earth. Travel between sites is usually done through the Links that connect them. I strongly recommend books that detail Mage: the Ascension's Digital Web or Shadowrun's Matrix for more ideas in detailing Heaven. In particular, Shadowrun's Matrix features a somewhat similar arrangement of “rogue agents” operating under the nose of GOD (the Grid Overwatch Division) that could be adapted quite readily to DtD.

    Heaven is the God-Machine's stronghold, and demons need to be very careful when visiting. But what most don't realize is that a potential Hell is intimately connected to Heaven: if a demon can find a way “out” of a Site without using a Terminal or Link, he'll find himself in a vast, barren terrain, a sort of digital “Wood between the Worlds”, to borrow a concept from C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew. This place is beyond the influence of the God-Machine, albeit in a desolate realm that's not particularly habitable. The demon can use this realm to hide from pursuit, as angels fare even worse here than demons do, and to bypass Links. Of course, getting into another site from the wasteland poses its own challenges; but once a demon has figured out how to get out of a site and into the wasteland, he at least has a clue how to do the reverse.

    I use terms like “barren” and “desolate” to describe this place in order to point out that there's no known “native life” here; everything in the digital world is in some way derived from the God-Machine. That said, if you want to introduce something like the Nulls featured in Shadowrun 5e or the ISOs from Tron Legacy, go for it! If you do this, they should be rare, hidden, and — in classic Chronicles of Darkness tradition — alien even to the children of the God-Machine.

    There might also theoretically be a few rare “sites” produced by human infrastructure that has somehow managed to avoid being co-opted by the God-Machine, though that's more a matter of a possible conclusion to the Descent than something that a demon is likely to stumble across.

    Thoughts?



  • #2
    So, how does Data Form Process and the Behind the Curtain Exploit function with this?

    One thought - maybe human data infrastructure acts like a kind of Gauntlet/Border Marches medium between Heaven and Earth? Infrastructure would be the equivalent of a Locus, while the more built up areas are "easier" to cross over? The back-end of nowhere/dial-up zone would be like Gauntlet Rating 5?


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

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    • #3
      Thanks for pointing those out. Like I said, my familiarity with DtD is somewhat lacking.

      Under this system, the Dataform Process is what allows a demon to physically enter Heaven — if he’s in contact with a Terminal when he activates it. This is in addition to its current utility, which works whether or not Infrastructure is involved. I’m figuring that mental projection isn’to Heaven uses a technique similar to how mages enter Astral Space: go to a DemesneTerminal and meditate. When someone loyal to the God-Machine does this, it would be considered a form of prayer — though mortals can’t normally do this. (A mortal would require special gear to do this, which could indeed be provided by appropriate Infrastructure or a suitable Gadget — i.e., a cyberdeck; I’d call it an Embed, except that every demon can do it by default and doesn’t need an Embed.)

      The Behind the Curtain Exploit lets you teleport from anywhere where there’s Infrastructure to anywhere where there’s Infrastructure. When used in conjunction with Dataform, all of Heaven is considered to be “somewhere where there’s Infrastructure”. Without Dataform, you’re limited to places where your physical form could go.

      I’m using “Terminal” to mean “that part of the Infrastructure that forms the bridge between Heaven and Earth”. All Infrastructure has a Terminal somewhere, usually where summoned angels appear.

      As for mortal data infrastructure: this should require an Embed to work, even though accessing Heaven from a Terminal doesn’t. And yes, I could see their being something akin to the Gauntlet providing additional resistance based on the nature of the lowercase-“i” infrastructure. The idea here is that most demons (and angels) think that “Digital Web” and “Heaven” are synonymous; being able to access the Web using mortal data infrastructure instead of Infrastructureshould be a special trick that only aa few have access to.

      As well: if you ever Link a Digital Site that isn’t controlled by the God-Machine to one that is, you’re effectively inviting the Heavenly Hosts to invade your server. And mortal firewalls and virus protection aren’t up to the task of repelling Angels.


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      • #4
        I've thought about similar (though mostly in the context of my D:tD -> C:tL recasting).

        You might be able to simplify Terminals and Linchpins - if the Terminal is the connection of Heaven to Earth, destroying that (the Linchpin) would also end the Infrastructure.

        Data Form could be integrated as a core Demon feature instead of a Process as well. Otherwise, you could say it is for navigating and exploiting existing data transmission systems. Behind The Curtain could simply be the separate/specific Exploit needed for bodily travel to Heaven (similar to Rip The Gates for other realms). I'd add that "spiritual travel" Embed in, like you said, and either give it for free to all Demons, or not (being "cast out" having some impact, until you learn to pick the lock).

        One impact of having Heaven as a Shadow analog (with Gauntlet analog) is that Reaching becomes a new valid method of interaction for Angels - ones in Heaven can do things inside Infrastructure that they don't need to be there for, and can even affect other places on Earth while still in Heaven though co-opting human mechanisms. Also, Angels that Discorporate end up back in Heaven.


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

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a very intriguing idea, and I'd love to see more of it.

          Do the Unchained retain memories of Heaven after they Fall? What is the noumenal digital realm meant to look like?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
            I've thought about similar (though mostly in the context of my D:tD -> C:tL recasting).

            You might be able to simplify Terminals and Linchpins - if the Terminal is the connection of Heaven to Earth, destroying that (the Linchpin) would also end the Infrastructure.
            That's reasonable.

            Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
            Data Form could be integrated as a core Demon feature instead of a Process as well. Otherwise, you could say it is for navigating and exploiting existing data transmission systems. Behind The Curtain could simply be the separate/specific Exploit needed for bodily travel to Heaven (similar to Rip The Gates for other realms). I'd add that "spiritual travel" Embed in, like you said, and either give it for free to all Demons, or not (being "cast out" having some impact, until you learn to pick the lock).
            First, a nitpick: it's “Dataform”, not “Data Form”. When you mentioned it, I Searched every DtD book I have for the latter and couldn't find it; I then manually looked at the Processes in the core book and in Flowers of Hell before I found the former.

            Second, I'm going for minimal rule impact here: I'm trying to keep existing functionality unaffected while adding new functionality where appropriate. As well, I'd prefer the default means of a demon entering Heaven to be some sort of projection, where the demon's body stats on Earth and its mind essentially spawns and possesses an Icon in Heaven. By default, that Icon would look like its Demonic Form ; though altering its appearance should be an option.

            Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
            One impact of having Heaven as a Shadow analog (with Gauntlet analog) is that Reaching becomes a new valid method of interaction for Angels - ones in Heaven can do things inside Infrastructure that they don't need to be there for, and can even affect other places on Earth while still in Heaven though co-opting human mechanisms. Also, Angels that Discorporate end up back in Heaven.
            It's not so much like the Shadow (which conforms to Earth's geography) as it's like Mage's Emanations from Imperial Mysteries, which (in 2e) are connected to Supernal Verges on Earth, with an Iris connecting the two. In this case, Infrastructure replaces the Verge, the Lynchpin replaces the Iris, and a Heavenly Site replaces the Superman Emanation.

            Originally posted by espritdecalmar View Post
            This is a very intriguing idea, and I'd love to see more of it.

            Do the Unchained retain memories of Heaven after they Fall? What is the noumenal digital realm meant to look like?
            I would say that yes, the Unchained retain their memories of Heaven after they Fall. As for what the digital realm looks like, I've been taking my cues mainly from Tron here; but you don't have to. The main thing I'd go with is that shapes tend to be a bit too smooth in Heaven, colors too uniform, sounds too regular. Everything has an artificial feel to it. That, and Aether is everywhere, and quite visible; that's where the Tron influence comes in, with circuit-like glow-lines conveying Aether around.


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            • #7
              So you avoid the gears and clockwork aesthetic that is often associated with the GodMachine? I am never quite sure how literally to take the mechanical imagery.

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              • #8
                Gears-and-Clockwork works well for the God-Machine's body. With Heaven, we're talking about its mind; so it seems more appropriate to go with more of a computer circuitry motif.


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                • #9
                  If anything, I think that the Machine would be pumping Essence around its Heaven rather than Aether, which would likely just be dumped as the waste material that it is. That said, I'm reminded of the fibre optic ley-lines of The Secret World - which is a good thing.


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                  • #10
                    It sounds like a fun idea, although doubtless many will be put off by an overtly futuristic imagery. But I agree with it, it seems unlikely there'd be gears inside a realm of information.

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                    • #11
                      Well, there's always Escher to draw on.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Deinos View Post
                        It sounds like a fun idea, although doubtless many will be put off by an overtly futuristic imagery. But I agree with it, it seems unlikely there'd be gears inside a realm of information.
                        Just make it look like modern heaven from a distance. Except the clouds, when you get close, are constantly shifting Tag Clouds; the rainbows are pulse-light optic streams (categorized by wavelength, of course); and the architecture is gilded because gold is a better conductor.


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

                        Comment

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