WHAT IS AIDA? - Expanded version
What is AIDA
AIDA stands for "Artifically Intelligent Data Anomoly", and that is what it is. It is a very, very subtle hive-mind AI that infected the World's system (and started to spread out into the entire network that goerns the real world). Even people well used to strange anomolies that govern the world, and investigating it, took quite a while to discover that it was an entity -- they found black dots, and could blast those with their Avatar powers, but it wasn't until something like... six? Someone check this? ...months had passed that an actual fully-formed AIDA emerged from the 'holes' and they had to deal with it directly.
You see, AIDA advertises its presence by black dots (obviously in a computer system this is more 'graphical glitch', but for the sake of camp, it's alawys easy to run the world as having the data world and the real world overlapping). These 'holes' make a strange bubbling noise that people with very strong, perception-related extra-sensory powers can hear. But behind these holes are the main body of individual AIDAs, which are modelled on biological forms and all of which go by cute names. For example, this pretty girl is Anna. And this is Helen. This handsome man is Oswald. And we mustn't forget friendly old Victorian. ...etc.
What does AIDA do?
AIDA is primarily a parasite. As it is intelligent, it is technically capable of being a symbiote, but it doesn't want to be.
It infects people through technological means. Although canon is often unclear on how the real person becomes affected when their PC is infected, the games often raise questions of AI intelligence and reality, and I'm pretty sure it is indicating that a human's neural network -- ie, their mind -- functions much the same as any computer network might. Either way, the fact is that in .hack, players AREN'T hooked up to their computers cyberpunk style -- no, they use hardware like anyone else, and players themselves can still get infected. So, when the PC they are controlling gets infected, this bleeds backwards into their real self. Without more information on how exactly this works, it's easy to swing for camp, where much of camp involves you or someone you know using a laptop quite a lot. Even if your player can't use them, you can always run into someone who does.
AIDA can also 'jump' from living being to living being. This is through contact -- not skin contact, exactly. The AIDA can choose when to spread by sending out its tendrils (long black tentacles with hands at the end) out of its host (be it electronic or human); if it can penetrate its target with these tentacles, it can lodge an AIDA inside that target. This penetration is, for the record, not bloody or gory -- it 'passes through' if it can hit. They can be deflected, however. Even if it's not bloody, it's implied it's a bit painful; when we've seen it happen, the person involved invariably cries out, sometimes hugs themself, etc. It's kind of a shock to their system.
What does AIDA want?
AIDA loves people :)
...No, really, that's basically it, except that AIDA, in its alien 'love', wants to study people. It finds emotional expressions fascinating, and thus when a person is infected by AIDA, the AIDA spends much of its time pushing the human to the emotional extremes they are capable of -- the hidden ones especially, like fears of loss of power, etc. A languid or apathetic person will become extremely apathetic over everything except the one thing they like, which they will spend all their time doing. An apologetic person will become more depressed and apologetic, a love-struck person will become incredibly possessive and desperate, and a proud person will become incredibly obsessed with and terrified of losing their standing.
And, of course, violent people will become more violent. :) :) Which AIDA is fine with, of course :) It gives them even more chances to possess people while they're distracted with fighting!
What are AIDA's side-effects
Well, sometimes you grow strange black arms out of random body parts that glow with red veins, or your eyes turn black, or you get crawling veins over your body.
And of course there's the fact your emotions lose control and your strongest dominant feelings intensify.
You also become stronger. Essentially, having AIDA gives you +10 levels of AWESOME. Like grannies lifting cars off trapped children, you feel things so intensely that you hit hella harder and can do more about them.
...You also might go insane and maybe develop psychic powers, like this one kid who turned some of his classmates into him-worshipping zombies...
Or you might show few side effects at all except the emotional increase and power-up.
How do you get rid of AIDA?
Most people can't, honestly.
If you have the ability to manipulate data -- or, in camp, since we're playing with an overlap of data/reality, we're free to expand that to 'dealing with possession' or 'ability to fuck with reality' and so forth; if you think you apply, feel free to apply! -- then what you can do is start to use your skills. This will draw the AIDA's 'main form' out into a fight.
AIDA fights shouldn't necessarily be a pushover -- even Annas have a range of skills and can take a little bit. It can be as cracky as you want, naturally, but in order to keep with the spirit of AIDA, it should be just hard enough to make your player sweat over the battle even if they're certain they'll win. That's the one thing we will ask -- that you angle the difficulty of the AIDA to fit whatever your character can do if you can deal with them, but still make it a tough fight. Since there are a variety of skill levels (from Anna up to Victorian) you can pick any difficulty you want, but make sure it's one that'll give you a good fight :)
Although each of the skills is named differently based on which type of AIDA it is (...usually after programming, actually, like COBOL Bullet), each AIDA has a basic set of skills you can expect it to pull out in a battle. All of them are advertised very shortly in advance, and the player can, if alert, dodge any to all of them:
- A 'bullet' ability: it sends out a variety of energy balls that the spread out in a scatter.
- A 'laser' ability: It shoots out and moves across the area either from left to right.
- A tackle ability: The AIDA's body suddenly charges at the player.
- A 'sticky' ability: The AIDA shoots out some kind of web or energy net that slows the player down until dissipating naturally some 5-10 seconds later.
- A counter-able distance attack: The AIDA sends out some kind of energy ball that can either be hit back (sometimes taking a few swings) to stun it, or if it hits you, does heavy damage.
Distance attacks are the safest bet to take with AIDA, since if you get too close it will immediately lash out at you. But if it takes enough damage, it gets temporarily stunned. So, the best way to deal with AIDA is to attack it from a distance until stunned, then rush in and hit it at close range until it shakes out of its stun. Distance attacks do minor damage only, but close-range attacks deal massive damage to the AIDA...'s shield.
You see, you can't kill an AIDA just by doing a lot of damage to it. AIDA has a protective barrier which is what you have to do damage to. Once enough damage has been done, the barrier will fall and the AIDA will go into "Protect Break" mode. This is the mode where you have exposure to deal with the AIDA's main body, and it knows it. ANY abilities you have that are applicable in camp can be used at this point, be they hacking, exorcism, or whatever. "Protect Break" mode lasts for a minute only before it restores its somewhat-damaged shield and you must try again, and the AIDA spends that minute trying to dodge and sending out weak bullet attacks to try to break your concentration.
But if you do one hit with your ability while it is in "Protect Break" mode, the AIDA is destroyed utterly. So this is your window of opportunity.
Would I Notice AIDA?
The short version of this is that you can if you want to, but don't have to.
See, there are a huge range of reactions to a growing AIDA infection. In .hack canon, we see the following:
1) Possessed by AIDA and totally aware of being possessed by AIDA. The AIDA may have a secondary body it manifests to bud around with you.
2) Possessed by AIDA and totally aware of being possessed by AIDA, but not interacting with it separately on a physical level.
3) Possessed by AIDA and somewhat aware that you've got something driving you, but no idea what (and naturally, while AIDA-possessed you don't really care).
4) Possessed by AIDA and totally unaware of it but acting really weird; YOU'RE making sense to you, OF COURSE NOBODY CAN OVERTHROW ME IT IS MY RIGHT TO BE HERE YOU ALL JUST WANT TO TAKE IT FROM ME AHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHA.
5) Possessed by AIDA and totally unaware of it and acting close enough to normal that all you might notice is that violence is getting more and more fun (or whatever emotion is appropriate).
6) Not possessed by AIDA, but aware AIDA is infecting specific individuals, ex. Person A, person B, and Person C (etc).
7) Not possessed by AIDA, but aware AIDA infections are going around, and alert to the fact that Person A, Person B, and Person C, are acting really, really weird lately, so it MIGHT be AIDA.
8) Not possessed by AIDA, and don't know AIDA exists, but is aware that specific individuals, ex. person A, Person B, and Person C, are acting really really weird lately and something might be causing it.
9) Not possessed by AIDA and don't know AIDA exists, but have noticed that specific individuals are acting kind of weird. Still, people change, but it's kinda weird.
10) Not possessed by AIDA, don't know AIDA exists, and haven't noticed anything weird.
So with a huge range of reactions there, if you want no part in this, you can justify it without feeling like you have to 'ignore' the event -- lots of people never do notice it's going on at all! And if you want a minor part in it, or a major part, there's all those options throughout.
So basically, do whatever you think is fun with this.
Obviously, since it's a camp event, although some serious will be cool, naturally we want crack. Liberal crack. Whatever you want to do.
A partial list of things that come to mind to play with are:
- AIDA names ("No! Don't take Billy-Bob from me!!!")
- AIDA ability names ("TENTACLE TACKLE!" "What.")
- AIDA 'main body' appearance (when we start with fish and spiders, it can only go up from here?)
- Emotional obsessions (Sure, you can be obsessed with the one you love, or your feelings of inferiority. Or you can FEAR SOMEONE WILL TAKE YOUR CELLPHONE FROM YOU EVERYONE INTERACTING WITH YOU WANTS TO TAKE YOUR CELLPHONE OH MY GOD YOU CAN NEVER HAVE MY CELLPHONE!!!!)
- Manifest your AIDA and insist it's something else. ("What? Artifically intelligent data what? No, this is Ulricht. He is my pet Wallaby. Say hello, Ulricht.")
- Sprout strange body parts that are black and glowing with red veins. Er... I'll leave THIS one to your imagination.
- Say horrible things while under the influence, like that time Bordeaux referred to trying to kill Haseo as loving him MORE AND MOOOOOORE.
But there are many more opportunities to have fun with it!