The Zipper Merge [Prep] [Cutscene] [Background]

The Heart Factory is an unassuming slab of electrogalvanized steel, with several cable jacks and externally mounted heat sinks. It’s attached to an uninterruptible power supply, and then to a wall outlet. A panel displays gauges and numbers on an LCD screen, like a car dashboard, but what it’s indicating is unclear.

“There’s two plugs, A and B. Normally there’s an induction hookup here, on A,” Leo explains. “This is where I connect the chip in my head to the machine. There’s probably ways to make it compatible with other brain-machine interfaces,” he adds, glancing at Jason.

“The way Pneuma and Otto were created, I plug myself into A, a robot brain into B, and the machine extracts data, does the processing, and dumps the results out immediately into a waiting body.”

“What we’re going to do is called a Zipper merge. We read from both A and B into storage, remix, and remaster B - our physical Pneuma. What’s in her head now becomes an offline copy, as will our virtual Pneuma. Their threads of memory will twine together, like a zipper, and hopefully mesh without a conflict.”

“Both Pneumas continue to exist in a sense - the machine simply reconciles both such that they can no longer distinguish each other as separate individuals. Their individual mental resources will have 100% overlap. Two people become one.”

“From her perspective, she takes some LSD and goes on an acid trip for a bit, then comes out of it with extra memories. How she reconciles those depends on her state of mind. The set and setting, I think they call it. That’s why it’s important to do this at a good time. Maybe she’ll remember daydreaming on the way to the airport, or feel like she had an out-of-body experience. I don’t know for sure.”

----

There’s probably not a reason to play through this during the session if all goes well and no other player/PC wants to be involved. However, I can imagine roles for Adam, Jason, or Charlotte (dive into the mental world being created by the machine, either to witness or to influence), and Harry (manually fix synaptic connections on a console at a higher speed than anyone else can manage, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNnyuNK5dv8)) - especially if there’s a problem with the procedure. If any players are interested in playing these or other roles, involve yourself with my blessing. :slight_smile:

This otherwise continues the “robot mysticism” narrative that’s been going on since Father Freeman.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5781689

I’m interested in this, and have an idea in/around this. It’s not a huge thing, but there’s probably at least a scene in it.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5781844

Jason would be interested in lending a hand.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5781967

*** Dave H. said:

Jason would be interested in lending a hand.

Adam as a child is confused and worried about all this. It might have something to do with being twelve-years-old and having an issue that deals heavily with metaphysics (insert your own TNG Measure of a Man quote here) that he doesn’t understand but which he is still going to have strong feelings about (because Pneuma–both of them–is a friend) and is going to need someone to explain how putting two people together and getting one person who is both and neither of them at the same time is a favorable outcome (this may be important for later).

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5781996

Mike said:

Adam as a child is confused and worried about all this. It might have something to do with being twelve-years-old and having an issue that deals heavily with metaphysics (insert your own TNG Measure of a Man quote here) that he doesn’t understand but which he is still going to have strong feelings about

This is why I thought having Adam witness the process firsthand would be interesting for the character. Rather than Leo defending what he’s about to do, Adam could see and learn for himself. It seems well established that his powers can do this (he woke up Jason doing what I assume is a similar deal) and actually has experience being bi-located (and so has a perspective nobody else on the team does).

is going to need someone to explain how putting two people together and getting one person who is both and neither of them at the same time is a favorable outcome (this may be important for later).

Leo’s answer to that question will be simple: “it’s what they both asked me to do. If they didn’t both consent to it, and understand what was involved, I wouldn’t do it.” Any further elaboration must come from one or both of the Pneumas (who I suspect would both answer the same way).

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5782069

Just as a note, Jason has a few things he needs to talk with Leo and Pneuma about before the post-Rook fixing stuff gets underway, before this very cool stuff leaps to a fait accompli .

[Some of it touches on one of the Love Letters for Jason, but it was stuff I was already thinking about last game session.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5782188

*** Dave H. said:

Just as a note, Jason has a few things he needs to talk with Leo and Pneuma about before the post-Rook fixing stuff gets underway, before this very cool stuff leaps to a fait accompli .

[Some of it touches on one of the Love Letters for Jason, but it was stuff I was already thinking about last game session.]

During the session is good, or if you want to get the ball rolling early, on forums is probably fine too?

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5782203

Let’s have it during the session, since it may cascade a bit off the love letters.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5782371

I’ll just have to speculate then.
J: “So you built a human-like robot shell for her…”
L: “Yep.”
J: “And that machine can extract my imagination into a functioning AI…”
L: “That’s what it does.”
J: “My birthday is next week…”
L: “God dammit, Jason, no.”

(All this teasing is really due to the fact that Jason’s AI 79, on being booted up with full knowledge of him, his nemesis, and the Quill database, decided he had some kind of perverted intent)

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5782514

(All this teasing is really due to the fact that Jason’s AI 79, on being booted up with full knowledge of him, his nemesis, and the Quill database, decided he had some kind of perverted intent)

The sad thing is, Jason never had that intent until AI 79 accused him of it. But now it’s difficult not to think of.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5783443

*** Dave H. said:

(All this teasing is really due to the fact that Jason’s AI 79, on being booted up with full knowledge of him, his nemesis, and the Quill database, decided he had some kind of perverted intent)

The sad thing is, Jason never had that intent until AI 79 accused him of it. But now it’s difficult not to think of.

On this general topic, Leo may be wary of letting Jason plug in, especially if he finds out about Li’lycia. “Maybe you’re infected with something she left behind. Maybe you’d infect Pneuma too. Or you’re just under too much strain. I want to trust you, so help me figure out a way to do that.”

On the other hand, the Heart Factory analyzing Jason’s neural data in isolation might help troubleshoot those issues too…

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5792104

On the other hand, the Heart Factory analyzing Jason’s neural data in isolation might help troubleshoot those issues too…

Oh, yes, I’m sure Jason wants still more technology riffling through his neurons. :slight_smile:

Another ball in the air …

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5792716

Some of these balls will be landing soon. Plus, if Jason wants to bring up that point, Leo’s counter-point is “at least you can be more sure Alycia hasn’t back-doored my gear”. Plus, he needs practice for interfacing with Jason’s stuff for an upcoming project.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5794922

Oh, it’s perfectly legit as an idea. Jason’s reaction isn’t necessarily a rational one (in so many cases).

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5794972

There’s two other types of merges Leo prepared for, in case they ever came up.

The Victory Merge is more of a mental health aid than a way to make new people. Take someone’s mind, take a partial extract or specific memories from a second mind, patch the first with the second, and remaster. New memories, new perspectives, new attitudes. For example, this is the sort of merge Leo would use to patch Pneuma’s missing memories from Numina’s after Rossum overwrote them. It could be done for larger chunks of memory, of course.

The Cerberus Merge is the riskiest and most radical. It’s the opposite of a Zipper Merge - it doesn’t assume you’re reconciling two very similar memory tracks, but two very different ones. If two minds were concentrated enough on one thing, or dedicated enough to one issue, Leo could combine them, starting with that strong central focus as an anchor for a new identity, and letting that seed draw memories from two different donors to fully blossom. This is how a Steven Universe-style fusion gem would be constructed.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5912722

It sounded like what Jason had wanted (a memory patch from Alycia to cover his missing memories) would just be an artifact of his transition off the Doomed Playbook to something else. If that’s not the case, and people want to throw dice, Unleash Your Powers doesn’t really feel adequate. Here’s one suggestion for a merge custom move, which would include Jason’s situation.

When your memories are remixed with someone else’s via Newman neurotech, roll +Conditions. On a hit, the resulting connectome (a map of how a brain is wired) is stable, and the merge goes forward. On 10+, pick three side effects. On 7-9, pick one.

  • An important existing memory takes on a new form, or you get a new perspective on it
  • You get memories the other person would prefer you don’t get
  • You gain one of their goals or plans; if it’s something you wouldn’t have done before, mark potential if you do it
  • Your ego is in flux; the GM shifts your labels
  • Their relationships bleed into yours; give Influence to the other person, or to someone they give Influence to

On a miss, choose one: the connectome isn’t viable and the merge can’t take place and you must try again after time passes, or the merge succeeds but your ego is wildly in flux, and the GM will rearrange your labels as they see fit, and you take a powerful blow.

----

Why do it this way?

It focuses on the person being merged and the effects of the process on their self, rather than any technical proficiency on the part of the person running it. It’s an odd move in that the “best” outcome is in the middle of the road, and there’s no “pure” good outcome, but I think that’s fair for something that messes with the heart of the self. Even a miss is intended to let the player have some say in the consequences to their character for the same reason.

It’s based on Conditions, rather than any particular label, on the theory that a mind under stress will be more malleable and easier to stabilize with outside influence - a mind at rest and at peace with itself will actually be more resistant to change. At the same time, too much stress will leave the resulting mind unstable. A variant would be to just roll (with no modifier, like rejecting influence).

Can you spend team? Maybe. Helping them into a receptive emotional state or otherwise preparing them to become someone new might count. It might be more interesting to use a balance of Influence spending (to inflict Conditions) or Comfort and Support (to cure them) to put someone into a useful mental state.

Merges going horribly wrong, and other meditations on memory:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6102838

“Why is it called a Victory Merge? It’s uh, it’s based on a story arc from Transformers Victory. To sum up: the main robot dude, Star Saber, has a robot friend named Ginrai who gets mortally wounded in battle. Star Saber comes up with a plan to rebuild Ginrai, and he can do that because he’s the biggest goddamn Mary Sue in Transformers canon. The process will cost Ginrai his old self, but he’ll live. So they do it, and the result takes on the name Victory Leo. I really dig the name. Anyway. At first, Victory Leo is unstable, but he gets better. The rebirth made him a new person - a whole person - a whole, new, person.”

“There is no real ‘self’, no independent ‘I’ or ‘me’. Who we are is like a hologram, a projection of light reflected off the mirror of memory. Gain new memories, or lose memories, and the self changes. A Victory Merge doesn’t make you who you were before. That’s impossible. It just makes you a new, but more complete, person. Like Victory Leo.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6102919

Very interesting, thanks.

This is a bit more complicated than I/Jason originally thought, as Jason/Leo noodle about this:

  1. Current diagnosis is that Jason’s Doom (the problems with the interaction between is brain/mind and the nanobots) is largely or completely due to the hack job Byron did on coding the memory-snipping bits (it’s always those last-second code changes that don’t go through QA that getcha, every time). If the memories get adequately patched, that should let the mind/nanobot interface work properly (or without fatal errors leading to an inevitable BSOD for Jason). So to that extent, it _is “_an artifact of his transition off the Doomed Playbook,” but that transition (getting out from under one’s Doom) is not guaranteed in the Playbook, just allowed.
  2. Hey, Jason finally marked potential last night, which lets him advance. So, yeah, he’s going to take the “Confront your doom on your own terms” – which, again, doesn’t guarantee success, but does create the avenue for it.
  3. It appears that Alycia has some broken memories, too (thanks, Dr. Chin). So there need to be some rewriting back and forth in this.
  4. One complication here is that the goal here is not to create a single merged Victory Jalycia (neither Jason nor Alycia are particularly interested in that), but to find specific memories that have been edited and create common memories from them that both share. (Which will be weird enough.) Fortunately, it appears that the memories that Byron snipped are pretty “easy” to spot in the code he did to do so. Even if that repair work doesn’t catch everything, it’s going to be an improvement, and should be enough to fix the deeper Doom problem.
  5. Jason hasn’t yet talked with Alycia about this (given the dialog last night when he asks her back to the Primeverse, though that could be retconned when we circle back to resolving Charlotte and Jason’s post-MoT time in the Sepiaverse). With her in AEGIS custody ("She did what?!"), that doesn’t make the story issues any easier.

So that raises something else that I’m going to note elsethread. That actually doesn’t impact this directly, because I’m very interested in how this turns out and it has significant impact on the overall story depending on how it works.

I like your idea for the Merge move, Bill.

  1. Resolving the Doom isn’t a simple fiat, and the potential side effects here, here, even on success, make sense.
  2. It probably needs to invoke a Doomcheck; switching the memory functions into diagnostic mode to allow code rewrites is non-trivial).
  3. I would think some level of Team contribution should be allowed, given that a number of folk could assist with this (assuming they don’t think Jason is nuts for trying it and walk out of the room). Heck, by Leo if nobody else, since presumably he’s manning the console on this.
  4. I almost wish we could keep the results (beyond success/failure) secret (even from me), just because it’s great fodder for screwing with the character(s) involved (“So I’d like to raise a glass to everyone for the success of this afternoon’s MUST KILL YOU ALL!!!”).

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6103410

I think the Zipper Merge move is elegant and really nice.

The order of events I see in my head:

1. Face Doom on own terms.
2. Unleash your Powers to recode the nanites. Possibly with help, or some badness on a 6-. How’s Jason’s Freak? Maybe 1a needs to be friendly Label Shifting by People With Influence to get him to acknowledge his Smarts In This Area.
3. Once the bot code is back online and Working As Intended ™, then Victory Merge to address (some of) the damage previously done (mostly the intentional stuff can be fixed - the stuff lost randomly due to the buggy Byron-hack generally won’t have a similar match with Alycia to work from), both to Jason and Alycia.

Is that most of it? It feels like that’s most of it.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6103782

Summer is qualified and would probably ask to perform the procedure - also a callback to Jason’s work on fixing her up. Leo will be happy to assist that process as well, as would Aria (who has been doing independent research and development on the Heart Factory for her own reasons).

So yeah, either use the move as presented for Doyce’s step 3, or make a new one to taste.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6103882