- @ 9 a.m.
Run at Phoenix 2016, Christchurch, NZ
by Warren Tusk
Melek Taus Abramides, the Black Scrivener, has died.
It is an appalling fact, unbelievable on its face. In this civilized age, within the precincts of the Terrestrial Coil, no one is supposed to die. Not ever. The technologies of the Machine Intelligences have rendered the human body invulnerable to injury and disease and decay -- and should those defenses somehow fail, every consciousness is stored away for safe recovery, with a hundred backup copies hidden away in secure places. But there he sits, his rotting corpse slumped upon his dream- throne, sunken and sad beneath the magnificent robes and the death mask. His servitors say that there was not a single personality-recording to be found, that he must have deliberately erased them all. And he left a will. Suicide, true and irrevocable suicide, seems like the only possibility.
There would be enough of a scandal if an ordinary citizen had elected to discard his immortality. But Melek Taus Abramides was no ordinary citizen...and he left behind him no ordinary bequest.
The Black Scrivener was a maker of worlds. Now that he is dead and gone, his worlds lie waiting for a new master.
He created, in his time, dozens upon dozens of simulated realities. A bare handful of them were released to the public as dream-bubbles, and those few dreams were enough to make him a minor celebrity; each and every one was an impossible realm of enchantment, where physics and metaphysics and logic worked according to bizarre rules that no one else could have imagined. But the vast majority of his work was hoarded away, in a private archive that he called the Thousand Worlds. That archive must contain any number of conceptual structures that cannot be found elsewhere, and countless simulated personality files to boot. Control over the Thousand Worlds would be a prize beyond imagination.
According to the terms of his will, any one of the guests at his funeral may end up inheriting that prize. The decision lies completely in the hands of his estate’s executor: an active-copy personality simulacrum of the Crow Knight, a major character from his most famous and popular work. It is a strange and macabre way to do things, but what else could you expect from such a man?
Abramides had few friends, but the friends he had were extraordinary. Only six guests are in attendance at the funeral. They are all movers and shakers in the Terrestrial Coil, legitimate geniuses in their various fields...and busy, so busy, with their projects and enterprises. For them all to be in the same room together is a rare, precious thing in its own right. They will not let the opportunity go to waste. They have a great deal of business to resolve with one another. The decisions they make will do much to shape the future.
But that is not why they have come. They have come to mourn a tragic, incomprehensible loss.
And they have come to lay claim to the treasure of a thousand worlds.
Inheritance is a mechanics-light speculative fiction game set in the far future for seven players designed to run within 2 hours and generate deep philosophical discussion about meaning and identity.