Rollo's picture
December 6, 2013 - 1:07pm
Hey all. Sorry in advance for this wall of text! :)

I've recently been watching a show produced by Joss Whedon called 'Dollhouse' and I'm rather intrigued by the concept. To that end I plan to fashion it into a Star Frontiers scenario that would encompass many lesser scenarios that could potentially lead to a lengthy campaign. I thought that my efforts might be useful to the community so I'll post here for anyone that wants to use the outline/concept.

For those who are not aware of the show, I'll sum it up. Be warned, spoilers to follow.

A shadowy corporation has developed some tech that enables them to download a subject's personality profile (this would include skill sets, memories, mannerisms, etc - though physical attributes would remain constant) and save that data on a hard drive. The person in question then becomes, in essence, an empty vessel with a child-like disposition. The corporation can then use that same tech to imprint a new personality profile into the subject, or 'doll' as the show calls them. This equates to being able to create a programable person whose new traits (read: skills) enable them to be tailored to specific situations/tasks. Meaning that the same person can be a master thief one week, commissioned to rob some impregnable bank and then be a master painter capable of flawlessly reproducing some master work of art the next - whatever the corporation wants really.

In the show, the corporation collects troubled subjects and offers them a deal: they agree to a 5 year term as a 'doll' and in exchange, they receive a new identity, exorbinant amounts of cash or whatever the potential 'doll' wants pretty much. The rub is, that during that 5 years the subject would have absolutely no control over their actions except what they have been programed for and they would have no memory of what happened after the job has been completed. Each 'doll' is assigned a handler who insures that the 'doll' can be quickly retrieved in a bad situation (imminent death or exposure to law enforcement, etc). The handlers are not 'dolls' and are highly trained; often ex-military or ex-law enforcement.

In turn, the corporation rents out these 'dolls' to extremely wealthy individuals to fulfill the fantasy of the renter - much of the time that fantasy involves prostitution in some way or another, but usually with some sort of string attached that the renter simply would not be able to find in any other way.

Alright, so that is the general premis and this is how I plan to utilize it:

This is essentially human (species?) trafficing and would be considered highly illegal. So the corporation in question keeps this part of their operation very secret. They would specifically employ either nefarious personnel or people who justify the work as being 'beneficial science' or good for the 'dolls' in that, they are well treated, cared for and given a new identity as compensation for their 'services'. Likely there would be some combination of all of the above - though the higher echelons of the corporation (or at least thier shadowy wing of the corporation) would all most certainly be nefarious in nature.

Despite being a nefarious situation, the 'dollhouse' is very careful to keep their 'dolls' safe and unharmed. This is done more out of concern for their bottom line than for the welfare of the 'dolls' as each 'doll' takes a considerable amount of capitol investiment to create and maintain. 'Dolls' are therefore a precious commodity. To that end, 'dolls' are well looked after whether they are out on a job or in house between jobs.

Commissioning a 'doll' for service would require that the corporation have advance notice in order to imprint the 'doll' and for the monetary transaction to be completed. I haven't decided on the renumeration, but it should probably be in the multiple-hundreds of thousands of credits per 'doll' rented - and perhaps as much as a million at a time for certain circumstances whereby the 'doll' could easily be harmed or maimed. There would be some sort of risk assessment that would factor into the fee schedule I would think. Perhaps I could tie the fee to the level of skill(s) imprinted as well as the degree of risk.

Above I noted that 'dolls' are voluntary in nature - and so far in the show that is true. But I see no reason why some 'dolls' might not be involuntary in nature. Perhaps captured corporate spies, former employees that were looking to expose the actions of the corporation or even law enforcement personnel that got too close to the truth. This is where the nefarious leadership comes in - the underlings wouldn't ever need to know the truth of the 'dolls' origion after all.

As well, sometimes the 'house' will aid law enforcement agencies covertly. This might seem counter-productive to the well-being  of the 'house' considering the nature of their business. However, this is often done whenever a high-placed member of law enforcement (or a politician with law enforcement ties) has used the 'houses' services in order to keep that individual compliant by offering them an equitable rationalization for their involvement. This would also keep some of their own employees compliant if they thought that they were actually doing good deeds.

So the corporation I may use for this is the Interplanetary Industries Corporation (II) - it just seems to fit. I thought I may add another layer of intrigue by having II unknowingly infiltrated by The Investors (cult/cadres section of Zeb's). II is getting all of the scientific research and whatnot, while the Investors are pocketing most of the rental fees from the 'dolls'.

One nice thing about this setup is that you can have your PC(s) doing many different types of mini-scenarios at the beginning (especially if they are playing a 'doll'), giving them a wide range of play options from the same character (their personality is wiped after every job and a new imprint installed for each new job). My plan was to allow the player to create a character as normal (excepting skills), but I would assign the skills for each mini-scenario. Some example mini-scenarios are:

01) art/jewel heist
02) assassination
03) hostage negotiator
04) hunter/prey (where the 'doll' is the prey)
05) coporate espionage
06) body guard

This list is pretty endless and I plan to drag it out over a lengthy period of time.

At some point the PC(s) may be able to break away from the constant cycle of profile wipes and imprints and escape the clutches of the corporation. My plan for that possible outcome would be to give the player(s) X amount of exp to spend however they like appropriate to the amount of exp they would have collected during their time as a 'doll'; I'll just secretly keep track of it.

Another option is to have the PC(s) play a handler. Perhaps they wish to expose the corporation's nefarious activities. This option would make the overall adventure last considerably less time than if the PC(s) played a 'doll'.

And still another option is for the PC(s) to play a member of law enforcement who is investigating the 'dollhouse' urban legend. Perhaps their peers think of them as the Fox Mulder of the department, etc.
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink