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It's all fun and games until someone loses their mind...
Inspired by the Horde patches put out by jinx.com. I've been mulling how to do this for a few months now, and here's what I've come up with. Consider this my commentary on MMORPGs.
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Description: A round cloth iron-on patch bearing the insignia of the Horde faction from the popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. There are distinguishing marks, no glowing auras, or other unusual signs. The patch can be purchased online, or at certain retailers (game stores of all kinds, comic shops, Hot Topic...)
Effect: The patch must be ironed onto an item that can be worn or carried, such as a jacket, coat, backpack, pair of jeans, or handbag. Once per day, if the wearer of the patch yells the phrase, “For the Horde!” they feel a surge of strength course throughout their body, gaining a +30% bonus to their next Struggle roll. However, they are immediately overtaken by a brief flash of the world appearing as if it were the World of Warcraft: disproportionate, cartoon-like anatomy of people and animals around them, a Quest window displaying things needed to do today, and so forth (Unnatural check). The patch-user then is filled with an intense need to play World of Warcraft (Helplessness check). In fact, they must play World of Warcraft for one cumulative hour per day, per use of the patch. One use equals one hour of play per day, two uses equals two hours per day, and so on.
Each use of the patch increases the hallucinations of the real world appearing as the game world, triggering Helplessness and Unnatural checks as necessary. Once the patch has been used at least five or six times, and it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid playing the game for hours on end, Isolation checks start coming into play. After twelve uses, the user discovers that by invoking the power of the patch, they can deal extra damage for a short period of time while playing World of Warcraft. After 23 uses, the user is a complete recluse, taking only hour-long naps before waking up and playing online for the next twenty three hours.
Once the patch has been used 24 times, the user finally stops playing the game. They instead begin living it. The world now permanently appears to function like World of Warcraft. For example, men all appear to be more muscular with tiny waists, meaty hands and square jaws, while all women appear far more slender and sexy. This supercedes their previous appearance, whether skinny or fat, handsome or ugly. Colored text appears over people's heads, describing their profession, name (if known), and their standing towards the patch-user, i.e. Police Officer, red text for hostile; Amy Smith, Girlfriend, green text for friendly; or Homeless Man, yellow for neutral. If the user is asked to do a favor, the words spoken will appear on a floating piece of parchment with options for acceptance or denial of the “quest.” Observers notice that the user will seem to only need to eat if they've been injured, and consuming, say, a loaf of bread will strangely speed up the healing process. Most frighteningly of all, the user will also vehemently hunt down squirrels, dogs, cattle, and eventually people, gibbering madly about “XP” and “leveling up.” Each kill triggers a level-appropriate Violence check for the patch-user.
While terrifying to observe and experience on its own, one hour after the 24th use of the patch, the patch-user will receive a cartoon-style letter informing them that they only have a certain number of days left to live (this is equal to their Soul stat). At the end of that time, the player must succeed a Soul check at a -30% penalty, even if they've gone completely insane beforehand. If they fail, they let out a stock “death” sound and their corpse collapses to the ground in a heap. As their eyes close, a window appears before them, with the text: “You are dead. There is no resurrection option.” If they succeed, they are overcome by a sudden rush of perspective: the realization that they've been living as a virtual entity, instead of living their own life. Reality snaps back into focus and the Horde patch promptly incinerates. From that point on, World of Warcraft doesn't appeal at all to the former patch-user.
It should be noted that only a handful of Horde patches actually bear these supernatural powers. If a survivor of the patch attempts to use another in the same manner, there is no effect, and they feel a little stupid for having acted that way.
What You Hear
“In 2005, a Shanghai court handed a life sentence to an online game player who stabbed a competitor to death for stealing his cyber-sword -- a virtual prize earned during game-play.” Could this have been a patch-user driven to the brink of madness?
Just noticed PRIMER's submission on a similar topic. Oop!
Strangely, after dieing from the patch a person's main character in WoW continues in the game.
PRIMER | profile | Apr 02, 07 | 8:06 am
Its wierd, I have one of these patches and it happens in RL