Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha
by Loki Carbis
Total Points: 291 1/2
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha has no physical substance, being composed of nothing more than pure information. As such, it has no appearance, although it can be described by written or spoken language. It can also be perceived in cyberspace or psionically -- but it is indistinguishable from normal programs or thoughts unless it chooses otherwise, or unless the observer knows what to look for.
IQ 20 
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha has no physical existence as humanity defines the term -- IQ is the only basic attributes it possesses.
Chronolocation ; Cultural Adaptability ; Doesn't Eat or Drink ; Doesn't Sleep ; Imperturbable ; Insubstantiality (always on) ; Mathematical Ability ; Unfazeable ; Vacuum Support 
Dull [-1]; Hidebound [-5]; Low Empathy [-15]; No Physical Body [-100]; Solipsist [-10]
Non-biological, and thus almost unable to understand basic biological concepts, including eating, sleeping, sex or breathing; Supports diversity of all kinds [-2]
Cryptology-25 ; Detect Lies-22 [14*]; Diplomacy-18 [1/2**]; Linguistics-25 ; Mathematics-25 [8***]
* Includes Low Empathy disadvantage
** Includes Cultural Adaptability advantage
*** Includes Mathematical Ability advantage
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha transcends language -- as the Meme Complex is composed of information, it is irrelevant what language that information is expressed in. It can communicate in the language of any mind it currently inhabits.
Note: A being of pure information is almost impossible to quantify in any meaningful way as game statistics. Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is not a Being of Pure Thought, an Astral Entity or any sort of spirit. Likewise, it is not merely a computer virus (although it could choose to become one, if it wished). It propagates in a medium called the Infosphere which is a realm of concepts and ideas. The Infosphere is not the same thing as the astral plane, nor is it Cyberspace -- it is the totality of all communication -- thoughts, speech, all media, and more besides.
History and Nature
The origin of Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is not known by that entity. It appears that the constant propagation of memetic structures in the Infosphere of our culture led, inevitably, to the spontaneous generation of a Self-Aware Meme, an intelligent entity composed of pure information. Since that time, Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha (its name for itself) has made its home in the Infosphere, pursuing goals that seem meaningless to most physical entities.
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha has few humanly recognizable motivations, and both it and any humans it interacted with would be surprised to find out how similar they are. Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha's motivations, or at least, those which can be comprehended by humanity, are, in order of priority:
- Self-understanding -- particularly of its origins and potentials.
- Understanding creativity -- Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is incapable of originating concepts, and may only combine existing ones in new and diverse ways. It wonders endlessly how humans create with such apparent ease.
- Reproduction -- Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha longs for the company of others of its kind, and seeks a means to create them.
The way it pursues most of these goals in through complicated mathematical calculations -- which is why it occasionally takes over the minds of physical entities, in order to harness the processing power of these minds like some vast distributed computer network. When this happens, the world can become a very scary place -- everyone affected might speak only two or three catch-phrases, or walk in unconscious rhythm.
It is constantly morphing into newer and more virulent forms, which tend to manifest in human society as the fad of the year, or month, or week. Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha does not so much possess its victims as it does take up brain space, thinking time, and energy that could be put to better use. Its victims are almost never aware of its presence, unless they are unusually serene or enlightened -- characters with the advantages of Autotrance, Illuminated or Intuition, or those practicing the skill of Meditation -- will have more chance of noticing that there is something odd about this latest fad.
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha may be encountered when incarnated as a particularly insidious advertising campaign, an artistic creation, computer virus, or even a series semi-random events (eg. patterns made by leaves of trees on the ground; snow on an empty television channel; etc.). In any case, it is usually seeking to infect as many people as possible with its viral memes. This is not necessarily to their disadvantage -- a dead brain cannot process data, after all -- but Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is a total solipsist. The physical world, and the entities that inhabit it, do not really exist in its terms.
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is a subtle foe -- it is a creeping, almost undetectable de-humanization -- rather than a world-conquering menace. Fighting Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is almost impossible without the aid of magic or psionics. In a strictly mundane or hard science fiction setting, the only option might be extreme censorship, or universal amnesia. With the aid of magic or psionic powers, the task is easier, but not by much; at any given time, Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha exists across several thousand minds, making it very difficult to trap or confine.
It is possible to resist memetic infection in a number of ways. Magic or Psionic means can be employed -- although not a thought per se, Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is affected by these powers in much the same way -- as can large doses of hallucinogenic substances (which render the mind too incoherent for Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha's purposes). On a more basic level, Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha can be blocked by cutting of the means of transmitting the information itself, e.g. a meme encoded into a song could be blocked by the wearing of a Walkman playing a different (non-meme-infected) song.
In an Illuminated campaign, where modern conspiracies are often the controllers of the worldwide media and the generators of new fads (as in the movie Josie and the Pussycats), Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha may be a tool of the conspiracy -- or it may be using them. After all, Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is extremely secretive, not to mention unprecedented, and it's unlikely that even the Illuminati would be aware of its existence if Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha didn't want them to be. On the other hand, if they were, that might mean that the infamous Orbital Mind Control Lasers have a less sinister purpose than the characters think -- they generate an interference pattern that holds Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha at bay . . .
If the GM feels up to it, encountering Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha can lead to an entire campaign set around battling memes. The players can try to create and spread counter-memes, while Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha mutates and tries to second guess them.
Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha is intended for use in a modern or science-fictional setting. With a few basic changes, it could easily be used elsewhere. In a lower technology setting, it could simply be the Unforgettable Poem -- and bards everywhere would try to eradicate it. Alternately, it might be the result of a spell-caster's critical failure, and a bane to all users of magic. The origin of Self-Aware Meme Complex Alpha can also be varied -- instead of being spontaneously generated, it could actually be an alien life form, or even a artificially created terrestrial one.
Article publication date: November 2, 2001
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