2.4 Memetic Shticks
Here’s another place where we are seriously diverging from Classic Traveller. The psi-powers as writ just didn’t fit the world we were using (I really didn’t like the ‘magic’ feel to them when everything else, saving the Jump drive, was fairly hard SF). Memetics and Biomods fill that gap, as both are newer twists on super-human powers in SF stories.
Our Memetics are a combination of hypnosis, meme theory carried to an extreme and a galactic human linguistics code touched on in John M. Ford’s Princes of the Air and turned up to 11 in Neil Stevenson’s Snow Crash (and other places). Ultimately the strongest progenitor of the memetic powers are the Bene Gesseret from Dune, since that has strong antecedents in the imperial SF that informs CT. People with the proper training are able to influence or even control humans, implant suggestions, erase memories and similar feats of mental prowess.
Memetic training is not incredibly rare. Characters with a 13 or higher in any socially based Bridge skill can claim a memetic origin for the extreme skill rather than a bio mod.
Like Bio-Mods, Memetic shticks require Meme point spends for more powerful uses. There is no Memetics action skill so trying to use it in combat has the standard bridge skill in combat rules unless a Meme Spend option says otherwise.
You are naturally able to command attention and respect so your orders carry more immediate force. This is intended as a combat use ability and therefore requires a Meme spend.
Meme Spend: you can temporarily end any conflict with a barked command and a brandished firearm. Everyone stops what they’re doing and has to talk. If your opponents restart hostilities after talking, you get a pre-initiative Outcome 16 guns check on the target of your choice (which need not be an opponent).
You have a sizable amount of information loaded into your mind over which you do not necessarily have control. This is an advantage so it’s not going to possess or control you. You and the GM can define the broad contents of the down load and you will gain one immediate benefit from it (such as speaking a language, or knowing how to use an obscure device) but that’s the extent of the immediate advantage.
Meme Spend: With a 1 point Meme spend you can consciously access the memetic download. This just gives you key pieces of information in the area covered by the download, either provided by the GM or your suggestion.
You are able to, with a short whispered conversation transfer vast amounts of data into another sentient being that understands your language. If used in a casual way the utterance of a single syllable into someone’s ear will transfer the immediate plan of action and their part in it, or similar amounts and complexities of information.
Meme Spend: with a 1 point spend you can make someone the recipient of a Memetic Download shticks to unload an enormous amount of information – your entire life, essentially - assuming they have the skills to unpack it, or temporarily give someone a skill you have at your skill level at the outcome of your Memetics tests or your skill level, whichever is lower. While the memetic download is permanent the skill transfer lasts a single scene.
This is the act of asking someone a series of innocuous direct questions in order to learn how to tailor your commands to them later. Make a Memetics test against your targets Mind stat. If successful you can add that outcome to any social rolls against the target for the remainder of the scene. The target only registers what you’re doing on a critical failure or if they already know this ability exists and you have it, in which case they may deduce it normally.
Meme Spend: with a one point spend you are able to use the Voice shtick on your target, assuming you have it. Yes, you have to spend a meme point to even activate the other ability.
The ability to control others merely by work choices, body language and the shadings of tone in the high speech. This lets you use your Voice skill to compel obedience in others. At the baseline level this lets you influence thoughts and motivations, even more than you can with Registering. Any successful Mind check and the target will rationalize a way to follow your instructions for the scene, unless you order them to do something suicidal. PCs are able to burn Fortune points to break out of this, and make a Mind check every few minutes to likewise resist control, as can named opponents; Mooks are putty in your hands.
Meme Spend: with a 1 point meme spend (over and above the one needed to Register someone enough to use this shtick at all) you can take physical control over the target with a Voice roll against their Mind. Mooks do whatever you tell them for the remainder of the scene. Named characters will be under your control for the remainder of the sequence in a fight, or for a few minutes otherwise – unless they spend a fortune point to break free.
Human Lie Detector
Your senses are attuned to various nuances in speech, tone, stance, facial expression and so on that make you impossible to lie to. You will always detect straight up lies and have a +3 on Investigation rolls to see through more complex Deceits.
Meme Spend: with 1 point you can immediately allocate blame for a complex event based on body language, speech patterns, etc. You must be able to interview the people involved, either in a group or individually.
Every world has a slightly different way of speaking, looking and acting that someone trained in memetics can learn to read and identify. With a Memetics test against their Mind (or Deceit if they’re actively trying to fool you) you can tell someone’s social rank, area of origin and schooling.
Meme Spend: With a one point spend you can perform Sherlock Holmes level background deduction on all life circumstances down to individual background events. The GM will either provide you something prepared or you can throw in your own plot elements.
You have been trained to enter a hypnotic state and let the superflow of the memetic universe wash over you. In practical terms this means you can make a Memetics roll to have the GM remind you of anything that had occurred in play so far and indicate what other plot elements it connects to without telling you exactly how.
Meme Spend: with a 1 point spend you can either ask the GM how any plot element links exactly to other things that have already happened or get an oblique reference to how it will tie to things happening in the future. All the standard caveats about precognition in RPGs apply.
With any viewing of a conversation – be it a grainy video footage or peering at the people through a crowded room – you can observe every facet of the conversation, from topics to specific quotes to body language.
Meme Spend: with a one point spend you slip into a hypnotic state and are able to hear any conversation that is currently happening near you (say, on the same space station) or in the immediate past (last week) as long as you know who all the participants are. Or were.
This is the ability to set up long term memetic trends to influence a culture. This has few practical applications in the realm of game play, but any player with the Memetics skill can permanently spend one Meme point (the spent point still counts against the cost of buying more) to initiate such a change in a system-wide environment over the course of several months. Exactly what this is and entails is left to the player and the GM to determine.