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FreeMarket: Lord, Have MRCZ

(Yeah, I'm sure someone's already done it. Still.)

My last post explained my issue with the roleplaying hobby: the irony that, in a hobby that tends to pride itself on storytelling and exercising the imagination, prioritising character development over optimal tactical decisions is counterproductive in many sets of rules.

(Sure, sure, Golden Rule and all that, but if a set of rules doesn't cater for what you and your friends are actually doing around the table to have fun, why are you wasting your money on it?)

So what does FreeMarket do in this regard? Well, it removes the possibility of a user's profile being removed from play,* but it still keeps user death firmly on the table. The twist in the tale is that, as previously mentioned, death isn't an end; it's more a pause.

At the start of a given set of sessions, every group of users is part of the same MRCZ (pronounced “mercy”), the bastard offpsring of a company, a commune and a charitable organisation. All the users define the MRCZ in terms of its overall goal, its general operations and what it needs in order to expand and improve, giving the users direction and the superuser an idea of how best to mess with the users, i.e. such that they'll be itching to issue challenges instead of frustrated and putting the telly on. The game text also defines the MRCZ's resources (living and working space, equipment, etc.) by tier (ranging from 1, a small, startup company of a handful of friends, to 7, the FreeMarket equivalent of a major corporation).

Now while it may seem tempting to make a group that sticks to the two-guys-in-a-garage ethos, there's one big incentive for the users to improve their MRCZ's tier: Resurrection. While resurrection is always an issue of “when”, not “if”, death still means trouble for a user. A tier 1 MRCZ only allows users to return to play with the profile they had right at the beginning, minus any bionic hardware. It's only at tier 3 that a resurrected profile matches its state at the start of a session and only by tier 5 that cybernetics start being restored. I'm not sure whether this means lower-tier MRCZs have to play “hunt the body” in order to get a user's cybernetics back, but if so it's certainly fodder for more drama and challenges!

All this means that, as a dead user's profile resets to his or her last backup, “deathing,” as freemers call the act of murder, is a great way for someone to make sure a given user loses a memory that could cause that someone trouble. Add in the facts that FreeMarket is kind of lawless and that people can come back from the dead, and deathing becomes a fact of FreeMarket life that the users may well deal with on a semi-regular basis!

* A user can certainly remove his or her profile from play, both in the traditional manner (whether "this character's getting old, I want to try something else" or "thanks, folks, but I'm pretty much done with this game") or by opting out of resurrection in the event of "perfect death". My point is that the character cannot be entirely eliminated due to a bad die roll or poor tactical decision.

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