The Matrix: Revealed (A reboot project)

edited February 2008 in Story Games
A while back, I decided to write my own sequel to the original Matrix movie. It takes Neo's speech from the end of the movie as the New Gospel:
I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.
I call it, The Matrix: Revealed.

Here's the opening scene in screenplay format. (It's short. Give it a look.)

So, you get the idea. The opening mirrors the original film, but with the roles reversed: the humans are the hunters and the programs are the prey. Morpheus is suped up, and apparently in charge. Where's Neo? What's the human agenda?

So that's where you come in, Story Gamers. Let's reboot the Matrix sequels for gamey goodness, taking that screenplay snippet as the starting point. Everything about the official sequels can be ignored or stolen as you like. What would be cool in this world? What are the canon characters all about this time around? Remember, we have not seen Zion and we don't know anything about the true nature of the machine world.

I was thinking that Morpheus is still the True Believer, but turning corrupt steward. He was persecuted, now he's the persecutor. Neo as the aloof, disconnected, zen dude might still work, but his speech up above pegs him as the Prometheus/revolutionary type, I think. Neo is tricky.

Anyway, have at it. If we get around to talking about how to do this at the table (systems even), that's even better.

(By the way, the third movie in my series is The Matrix: Reborn. Feel free to riff on that part of the rebooted sequel timeline, too.)

Comments

  • Whenever I click on the link, it comes out as source html. Which is funny, given the subject matter, but probably not what's supposed to happen.
  • John, my idea is very simple.

    What happens when most of humanity gets the idea that this is all a dream, gets power, and starts using it?

    Maybe there IS a reason they didn't awaken people after a certain age?

    Of course there will be humans who want to take power. So then you have the old revolutionaries of Zion against every new group that might pop up.
  • edited February 2008
    Here's the things which have made me go "oh, maybe that's an interesting movie after all."

    1) The robots in the matrix are programmed with Asimov's three laws of robotics. The power generation explanation for the matrix is blatant nonsense. But Asimov's robots are not allowed to harm a human or by inaction cause a human to come to harm. What if the Matrix is something which the robots maintain, at massive cost to their own society, to protect humans from each other?

    2) The "real world" is so patently fake it's almost paper thin. What are the other levels of reality and which one is, ultimately, "real?" (see the movie Avalon)

    3) The first fifteen minutes of the first movie, with the paranoia and secret agents and naked-lunch style insects. By the time that they're using their KEWL POWERZ to mass-murder fellow humans I tuned out from these characters being the good guys (see #1).

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • The link should work now. Funny that it was showing the code! I wish that had been on purpose.
  • Chris: I like it. Power corrupts.

    Ben: TOTALLY. I agree on all points. In some of the Animatrix, they pretty much come out and say #1, and it does make the world way better. I say we keep that for sure.

    Maybe Neo has gone off on a pilgrimage to look for the real Real World?
  • What if there are other colonies of humans outside of the Matrix? Maybe some of them have deals with the machines, or allow the machines to control their society.

    I like the idea that Neo has gone off looking for "out," which most people take to be a doorway to a higher level of reality. It'd be neat if there are people in "level 2" who can prove that this isn't any sort of final reality but are at a loss for how to "wake up."

    It'd be cool if there was some reason to have it be more espionage-y and less blow-out combat. But that's just my take. I realize that blow out combats may be more what other people are looking for.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • Or, for fun game crossover- what if the Matrix is some kind of dive into the subconscious ala Lacuna? In which case, the only way out is "in", and the robots are protecting us from going too deep into the subconscious to places we were/are/no longer aren't ready to go to?
  • The "2nd level" is kind of the impression left with me at the end of the second movie. I kind of liked that idea. When Neo supposedly felt the 'bots and triggered an EMP. During the dialog with the Architect, I kept wondering, "Are these machines dumb?!" If it really had been the sixth/seventh time "The One" has come traipsing through his office, you'd think they'd've learned by then to add another layer to "reality." Effectively, allowing Neo to become "The One" but still remain stuck in the machine.
  • I really, really like the idea of I Robots being behind the matrix. "You ruined the world. This is the best we could do."
  • So here's a system thing.

    I like espionage. I also like blow out combats. Also, hovership battles. So we steal the Praxis idea from Shock:. For each Level, there are Praxis that tell us how you get things done on that level. For the Matrix (level 1) maybe they're Kung Fu/Gunfighting and Hacking/Mysticism. For Level 2, you have something to do with flying hoverships and hiding from sentinels.

    In other words, the way you solve conflict depends on the level of reality you're on.
  • I like the idea that only certain things (resources, types of accomplishments) can be done on certain levels- so you have to navigate up and down the reality ladder to do certain things. Want to get info from the Oracle? Well, you have to go on Matrix level, want to hack your body with new cyberware? Got to go on Level 2 and change your plugs... etc.

    If you want to go a step further, and follow a bit on the movie Avalon, or even Little Matchstick Girl, maybe you can bring certain items OVER between levels, in which case, it becomes really interesting in terms of "questing" up or down the ladder to get things. ("We need more allies!" "Shoot, that means we have to go into the Matrix, wake up more people, then FIND them over here!" "Did they bring back that improved flight system from Level 3 yet? " etc.)
  • edited February 2008
    So, you know how Neo is basically a Christ figure?

    Well, applying a sort of badly wrangled religious metaphor, where are the Jewish-esque types, who don't really believe that Neo is the One, and view this new turn humanity has taken as a horrible consequence of misinterpreting the Prophecy and old tales?

    Basically, you have Neo's followers acting like Dark Ages Catholics, another group of humans trying to oppose them and find the true answer to the Prophecy that they believe is still coming, and the Machines trying to avoid the collateral damage to the human minds imprisoned in the Matrix, who are starting to go insane and/or die as the overtly reality-breaking actions of the Neo-cult create failures in the simulation programming upon which they've become dependent.
  • Great screenplay, by the way: I could "see" it and wanted to watch the movie....

    In no particular order:
    * I like the question of "how many Levels are there?" It's turtles all the way down, my dear. But why does it work that way?
    ** The machines are protecting humans from themselves, and so "unfold" a new level each time a human has an insight that would give them the lower level's ability (ex: Neo can EMP--and, thus, presumably fly eventually--in Lvl2, which means that they have to unfold a Level 3 in which he can't).
    ** Possible coolness: the Lvl 3 is whatever that human thinks they deserve for "afterlife": heaven or hell, a closed loop "rebirth" back into Lv1 1 in a "new" personality (Hindu), a merging with the Core OS above Level 3 (Buddhism), whatever.
    *** Thus, the game involves bootstrapping abilities up another level (or down--cool idea, too!--there's "angels" or "effrits" in Lvl 2 or even 1) so that one can eventually "break out" to the next level up.

    * At Lvl 1, death = death at Lvl 2 (per the movies). So, suppose at Lvl 2, "death" is an entryway to Lvl 3. Put another way, any "death" bubbles the "victim" up to Lvl 3 automatically.
    ** After all, they never really explained how dieing at Lvl 1 would be any different from "dieing" in a dream: maybe the "illogic" is just a way to slow down Lvl 1 mastery, by booting the dieing person up to a Lvl 3 in which they'd be "satiated" by "life's reward" and would also expect immortality. Once a human think he or she is in heaven eternally, he or she isn't likely to start rattling the bars of the Lvl 3 cage to get to Lvl 4.
    ** Basically, the machines are making human immortal, or near to it.

    * Or, hey, the humans ARE effectively immortal... because they are Flatlines: complex AI and personality programs running in a colossal computer system.
    ** Maybe the End Game/Coda is finding out that all of the minds are, in fact, embedded in a vast, black-hole-powered, multi-dimensional Archive at the End of the Universe, which "the machines" (actually, the ancient races of the Universe) setup to try to ride out the heat death of the Universe.
    ** So, if someone can unfold to Level 4, he or she would be (basically) external to the operating core of the system. He or she (it, really) would be able to sense or act upon whatever management systems and controls are exposed in the black-hole archive OS.

    Of course, that's a stagnant ending: maintenance with no change. But, in the end, is it turtles all the way down, or is there a final escape, and why would the "final level" be physical anyway? (It's kind of inefficient to maintain and store fully formed humans, when brains in jars or digitized personalities are so much less material- and maintenance-intensive.) Even better, if they've got Super Science that (for instance) uses the interstices of atomic bonds--or, hell, the flux of gravity waves--to encode such personalities. There could be, literally, BILLIONS and BILLIONS of "worlds" within this 4-level Hierarchy of Being--maybe breaking out to Lvl 4 lets the players begin to literally define elements of whole peoples and worlds, which are "isolated" from the other worlds at the Lvl-3-and-below levels.

    Ah... rambling is fun.
  • Who says the AI programs in the Matrix are computer programs? What if they are the encoded essence of people who found the "big truth" about the universe? Perhaps they made some kind of Faustian bargain where they learned the truth but now they have to serve as guardians. Too much truth at once causes everything to fall apart. In other words, the AI are guides, in an oblique way, to evolution from flesh to electron.
  • Posted By: John Harper
    I like espionage. I also like blow out combats. Also, hovership battles. So we steal the Praxis idea from Shock:. For each Level, there are Praxis that tell us how you get things done on that level. For the Matrix (level 1) maybe they're Kung Fu/Gunfighting and Hacking/Mysticism. For Level 2, you have something to do with flying hoverships and hiding from sentinels.
    I was thinking that if you played this as a game, Nine Worlds would work really well. Arete would be all the "normal" cool things that Trinity, Morpheus, etc. can do at the beginning of the first movie, and Hubris would represent direct interaction with the Matrix's code, ala Neo, Agents, and rogue Programs.
  • We are on the same wavelength, Lukas. I actually ran a Matrix game using Nine Worlds, and yeah, it worked great.

    You could maybe combine 9W with the the Shock: praxis idea, and have the Urges change based on what reality you're in. Actually, that sounds pretty good.
  • edited February 2008
    Posted By: Landon DarkwoodBasically, you have Neo's followers acting like Dark Ages Catholics, another group of humans trying to oppose them and find the true answer to the Prophecy that they believe is still coming, and the Machines trying to avoid the collateral damage to the human minds imprisoned in the Matrix, who are starting to go insane and/or die as the overtly reality-breaking actions of the Neo-cult create failures in the simulation programming upon which they've become dependent.
    I like this idea. IMO, starting from Johns screenplay, I'd absolutely have the "revolutionaries" of the first movie turn ugly in a really bad way. You now, "revolution eats its children" and all that.

    I could also imagine how the "Hunt for agents" would turn into a hunt for any AI program and play with all the ugly consequences of that. Sure, in the first movie we mainly see the agents, but the existence of other kind of programs would be worth stealing and may well be a reason for other human factions to side with the programs and protect them against the witch hunts of the Church of The One.

    This would be a great chance to change the matrix itself, or at least it's surface illusion. Suddenly, the world is a much darker, colder place as the structures that confined/protected the connected minds society break apart. Suddenly, we're knee-deep in a full blown Strange Days/Bladerunner End of the Century mania as cults proclaiming the end of the age and the return of the savior bloom like mushrooms in the dark, end-of-the-world parties like out of a Toreadors wet dream and so on.

    ...

    Damn, and here I was so very content with thinking about only three games I'd like to run. Thanks, Story-Games, for giving me a fourth one! T_T
  • Yeah, that's good stuff, Aaron.

    Things could really go to hell inside the Matrix if people start thinking that the world isn't "real" and they can do whatever they want (and maybe they can, at first). I also love the idea that there are other AI programs (similar to those in the sequels) that are truly serving humanity and keeping the system running smoothly, but are nevertheless hunted down by the revolutionaries.

    The PCs could be those AIs! Nifty.
  • Posted By: John HarperThe PCs could be those AIs! Nifty.
    I'd make it a mix. In a setting like that, there are three things I'd be really interested in:

    -Conflict between Free Minds: There would have to be, at the very least, two factions, potentially more. One would follow in the wake of the "Church of Neo" of the first movie and would be really, really hardcore. Like, monodominant WH40k Inquisitors with added Bullet Time and the Certainty that the people they are killing aren't even really alive. Then we have one that sides with the more "humane" AIs and opposes the church and maybe there are a couple of others, like one that thinks the Matrix is fine as.
    -The Witch Hunt, playing the hunted: In this game, the role of the hunted AIs would make an interesting one. All your existence, you've been on the side of the Status Quo. You were The Man and The System. Suddenly, all that has changed and the roles are reversed. Now you are prey for the Church crazies and while that's not fun, it would make for a good game.
    -The Breaking of the Matrix: The third part I'd like to see in play is how fucked-up the Matrix has become. In the movie, it had it's ugly parts, but it was very much "now, as we know it". In this game, that too is over. The propaganda of the Church and the elimination of many central Matrix sub-routines has made the world a bad, bad place. Without AI supervision and strengthened by the cultists Doomsaying, the dark parts of humanity rise to the surface and this game should show it. It would be a mix of Blade Runner, Strange Days and the Crow movies. It would also be awesome. :D

    So I'd have a mix of Free Minds and AIs as PC, slugging their way through the horrors of the matrix, hunted by Churchies and, well, everybody, really.
  • I was randomly thinking about this topic this morning.

    One of the things that I've always wondered about the first film is Morpheus's certainty that Neo is the One. The very first thing established in the film is that Morpheus's crew is watching Neo, and that Morpheus believes he is the One. Why? When Neo first appears, we learn he's a hacker and that he's scanning news reports about Morpheus, but later Trinity explains that she went through a similar experience before joining Morpheus, so that's not enough to mark Neo out as special. So, why Neo? How does Morpheus come by his certainty?

    What if Morpheus's role is greater than simply "finding" the One? What if Morpheus knows Neo is the One because he made him that way? Perhaps Morpheus is an even greater hacker than we realize from the first film; perhaps he's actually an AI inhabiting a human body. Is he a rebel, or is he the secret mastermind? I'm imagining something like the scene of Neo reaching the Architect at the Source, except in this version Neo finds himself in the endless white of "the construct", seeing the same two leather chairs from his first meeting with Morpheus - except the chairs face away from him - and hearing Morpheus saying "Hello, Neo" just as he does the first time they talk on the phone. I don't mean to say that it should follow the same plot as Reloaded, just that at some point there should be a similar surprising reveal, things are not as we (and Neo) thought, but this time Morpheus turns out to be behind it.
  • edited March 2008
    Once upon a time I planned a game which would have started as a High Fantasy romp, with heroic characters fighting the bad guys in a totally railroaded plot. Of course, the players being who they were, they would have totally rebelled against the railroad. And the in-game response would have been swift and brutal. Increasingly difficult challenges would have faced them if they left the path. Especially if they headed towards the "tower of good" in the center of the realm. Agents of the King would begin to hunt them down, Agents who posess incredible power. Of course, for the players, this is all gravy. They'd head for that tower as quick as they could. They'd fight their way up the tower, through the seemingly "good" guys. And wake up.

    They're in a darkly distopian future, where political prisoners are kept in a VR prison. They've woken up, and now they're being hunted. Their only allies are the secretive "Hidden Order" who have a base somewhere, that the PCs must never visit, lest it be discovered. I'd explain to the players that the last game was just a setup for this, the real game. Now they can follow the "real" plot, of destroying the government of this dark future. Of course, this plot is just as railroaded as the last, except this time I'm using OOC coersion to keep them on the right track. Finally, over my protests, they find the secret base, and wake up!

    They're in a technologically advanced utopia, where there is no hunger, and no desire. Everything a human could need is provided for them by giant organic constructs which resemble plants and trees. Everyone spends their time hooked up to "Dream Plants" which provide exciting adventures, and escape from the boredom. There is nothing to do here. Somehow, the PCs would create enough havoc in the world to finally wake up.

    Turtles all the way down!

    I was a dick back then. But I still kinda like the idea of manipulating the tropes of RPGs as part of a "Matrix" type game. After all, the irony of an RPG character searching for "reality" shouldn't be lost on anyone. Isn't the natural conclusion of such a game for the player to end the game, and go out into the "real" world?
  • Simon C,
    that would be OK if not played as a "mind-fuck-GM-knowsitall" setting, but if you informed the players about what's going to happen. IME, it makes for better role playing of the naïve start game and the brutally-educated mid to endgame characters.
  • Yeah, you're right, although I think it kind of doesn't work either way. You need the players to not only be working against the opposition in game, but also the out-of-game perception of what their characters are supposed to do. You're challenging not just the character's perception of their reality, but also the players' perceptions of the game's reality. Of course, as you say, this creates the "Mind Fuck" game, which isn't really that much fun, so I don't think it's a good idea that way either.
  • What if you presented your players not with the idea that "here's what's going to happen" but instead "I've got this idea for a colossal mindfuck adventure." The trick then would to have enough layers of mindfuck to resist the player's trying to understand what's happening in terms of it being a mindfuck. I might be up to play that.
  • edited March 2008
    Oh man. This thread is making me come back to SG from a long long vacation.

    1 - I planned on making my own matrix rpg once; it was a weird mix of ideas, quite incoherent actually, but some of those are being repeated here. I might dig up the project.
    2 - In that time, i REALLY inspired myself with the material on the matrix website, and i urge you to do the same. Specially, the comics and Gaiman´s short story; those really expand the setting´s potential, IMO.
    http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/ - there.
    3 - I had the very same idea ( or sort of ), that Simon there had, but when i was thinking about Creative Agendas in a subway ride. Back then i was struggling to "get" Narrativism, and i thought it was a version of Illusionist genre-emulating sim. So the basic idea was to make the same as Simon: a railroady game with a lot of genre-emulating mechanics, but that enclosed the character so much that he struggles to break free... to a very realistic sim game in the "outer world". I was much more inspired by The Truman Show, though. I think that if the players know they are "playing Truman" it would go ok and not "me vs. the mind fucking GM"...
  • edited March 2008
    I really loved the first film, on its own, because by itself if feels like a composed, subtle whole where nothing is entirely trustworthy. It's not about fact and minutae in a world, and it's not about individual characters, but it's certainly about character interactions; it's a "what-if" of nested narratives that you keep peeling off the back of your eyelids.

    After watching the third film, there was moment that I realized the trilogy almost made sense, perhaps, if you were viewing the trilogy as a whole as a kind of muddled, recreolized whole that parents told their children: "Yes, son: this world was remade into a better one. And someday, if we try hard enough, like Neo, we can find our way beyond, to the real one." Again: it's a narrative throwing archetypes together, trying to reveal to you some other wisdom.

    So, the most satisfying narrative for me might be, perhaps, sticking with either the post-first-movie world, or treating the whole trilogy as some ancient gospel, but ultimately focusing on an uncertain world and gnostic self-knowledge, wrapped in the forms of the movies we know.

    EDIT: i rave more
  • I had the following thought after seeing the second movie:

    No, no, no -- you should end the second movie by having someone, maybe even Neo, while in the "Zion/Real World" environment, wake up to yet a third layer.

    I also read somewhere that the original idea was not have the power source thing, but that the machines were using human brains as computer processors -- which "explains" the powers and whatnot: there's feedback between the human brains 'running' the software, and the virtual environment, which is one of those 'programs'. This was apparently "too confusing" for the studio...

    Always thought it made a ton more sense, though.
  • That makes colossally more sense! I'd never heard that. Hearing that the humans' bodies are somehow producing more energy than they consume, while only being fed each other, still makes me twitch every time I watch the first one. I'm no physicist, but I did pass seventh grade.
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