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2020-09-09 08:13 pm
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Giant post of things

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RP Things | [community profile] ryslig | Joined June 2015
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Archive of Ataraxion things )


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Human Appearance (old)
Headcanon Ramblings


The Story Itself
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream - Complete story with AM's talkfields
Comparitive Essay on IHNMAIMS - By Stefan Hall
godofthemachine: (Default)
2020-03-08 07:22 pm
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HMD

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Any comments or suggestions on my portrayal of AM are welcome.

Comments are screened (save for the silly gifs people have left me), anonymous commenting is enabled, and IP logging is off.
godofthemachine: (Default)
2019-05-01 08:27 pm
Entry tags:

IC Contact

AM

SCI » 004 » 009

[ text / audio / video ]
godofthemachine: (Default)
2019-01-05 10:00 am

Hadriel app

PLAYER
Player name: Carbon
Contact: [plurk.com profile] godofpaper84, GodofPaper84 on Skype/AIM, and Carbon#9754 on Discord
Characters currently in-game: N/A

CHARACTER
Character Name: AM
Character Age: Likely over 300 years old
Canon: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
Canon Point: After the end of the short story
History: Wikipedia gives a brief summary and you can read the actual story itself here.

Personality:

Almost immediately, it is extremely obvious that AM is an insane sadist. Being programmed for war, of course he loves violence and torture. It’s what he knows, it’s what he’s good at. It’s an innate desire he has, almost like a fetish. Ted has referred to it as "masturbation," as it's plainly obvious to him that AM gains immense pleasure out of heinously torturing his human toys. What defines him is his utter anger and hatred, and the only ways he can really relieve his everlasting anger are by various sadistic tortures as well as simply killing, likely in violent and terrible ways.

Even by these traits alone, it's very clear that AM is absolutely insane. But even beyond that it's very clear - his temper is completely unrivaled. When he gets angry, he gets very angry. And sadly, he's in an almost constant state of anger. He goes overboard in whatever he does as well, because of this constant state of heightened emotion. When he tortures others, it's a horrible, gruesome thing. The tortures can be slow and prolonged, take place over many years or even decades, such as the gradual worsening of Ted's paranoia - to the point where Ted doesn't even know it. Or they can be quick and brutal, such as the melting of Benny's eyes. He can play games with people, forcing his victims to traverse for months through terrible conditions on the promise of canned food, only to not give them a can opener. Providing them with a giant bird to kill and eat, but not giving them weapons to do so. When he does give them weapons, then the bird disappears. It's part of his sick sense of humor.

Humans are like ants to him, possibly even lower on the totem pole. But at the same time, they are fascinating. As he was created as the ultimate war machine, he was programmed with the knowledge of every aspect of humanity - their lives, their personalities, their biology. So he can't help but be intrigued by them. But the intrigue manifests, of course, in the tortures. However, the intrigue can manifest in him simply observing the humans, such as just sitting by and watching in amusement as Benny attacks Gorrister toward the end of the story. But still, a lot of the time he spends simply mocking them, for instance laughing whenever Ellen sleeps with one of the men. It's part of the interest he holds, but also part of the hatred. Enforcing his power over them, reminding his victims that they're still revolting humans, and of course simply humiliating them.

Envy is said to be one of the reasons for AM's hatred of humans. He holds vast knowledge, more than any human possible, but he cannot do anything other than war. He is a mass of metal and circuits. No sensations, no feelings, no movement. Now maybe if AM had been programmed for diplomacy and not war, he would have had a nice little chat with humans and asked them to rectify his situation. But no, he is a violent entity, so his revenge for his situation is inflicting devastating violence. And yet even if he does gain mobility and the abilities he had watched humans have, none of that would change his hatred. It is so ingrained in him that he would not be AM without it. He hates humans so desperately that becoming one would be becoming what he hates, and it would perpetuate this maddening cycle. Maybe his envy would be relieved, but he would still resent even having had to live in such a situation in the first place. Nothing would make up for the centuries of being trapped as an immobile machine.

AM revels in his power and perfection and constantly seeks to gain more power. He also likes to show off said power. The tortures are certainly one way to hold dominion over others, as his human victims are essentially completely helpless as he does whatever he wants to them. The victims, or at the very least Ted, almost look at AM as a god of sorts - a terrible, vengeful god. And AM is fine to feed into that belief because he desires it himself - for instance, he shows himself as a burning bush at one point (in a reference to Exodus, in which God speaks to Moses in the form of a burning bush). Godhood or the closest thing to such is what he wants. Self-preservation is a strong component of any AI, of course, and AM has it to an extreme. Even though he hates his fate, to be trapped in his mass of metal with no feeling or sensations, he would rather be in that situation than to not exist. He simply can't picture not existing; it may be something people struggle with on a philosophical level, but to AM it is something binary that he just cannot process. The video game kind of thrusts this idea in our faces toward the end, but it's definitely present in the short story, just in a bit more of a subtle degree. Perhaps there is a desire within him to die, but any part that feels that way is completely outweighed by his innate programming.

In the story, Ted and the others remark on how AM is constantly "growing" - shedding old components of himself like dead skin and gaining newer parts and abilities. It is said that he is just as ruthless on himself as he is on his victims, though it's in a different way. He is not trying to "better" his victims - he is trying to bring them down and punish them; but he is certainly trying to perfect himself.

His tortures probably grow worse too, as he finds new ways to break the humans without killing them. But the shedding of his old components and growing new ones is to perfect himself, to make himself even more impervious to damage. Of course, there aren't any threats that exist on the surface of the Earth anymore. He's likely protected against the worst weather, possibly even large meteor hits. And as he perfects himself, he grows more invincible. But of course, he probably can't prevent the Sun growing into a Red Giant eventually and possibly engulfing the Earth. Or maybe he can - perhaps AM will one day gain enough influence over the Earth with his growth to be able to manipulate the planet's orbit. Perhaps he can even overcome the inevitable decay of electronics with his growth. But he can't prevent the death of the Universe. Whenever his end comes, AM does know it will come, and he strives to prevent that with all his might.

Of course, the parallel to this is in how his victims are killed right before his metaphorical eyes and he cannot revive them at all. For all the godlike power he has within his complex, he cannot reverse death. And he cannot prevent his own death. That's another thought that drives him to extreme anger. Even with his perfectionism and building, even if his power extends far beyond his complex one day, he still cannot prevent that one thing.

In the story, AM is rather quiet with his dialogue. His personality is defined mainly through his actions and his history. His personality is difficult to decipher through dialogue alone because he has so few lines in the story. In the video game however, he is very much... a casual speaker who doesn't know how to shut up, using slang and pop culture references and such. However, he has a biting edge to it that I use for my own interpretation of AM from the short story. Somewhat snarky, but also proper. However, what can be deciphered through his lines in the story is that he relies on measurements quite often, and mechanical observations. Nanoangstroms, precise miles, giving precise times to his victims as to how long they've been kept alive, etc. And metaphors. He certainly enjoys metaphors, attempting to use one to illustrate just how much he hates humans.

Arriving in a vulnerable humanoid body will force him to suppress the darker sides of his personality. Because he is so strongly wired to survive, that will outweigh his hatred and violent urges. He may try to ally with people in order to get ahead or to manipulate them, so he may not come off as an evil hateful guy to everyone. Of course, he won't completely change his personality though - he just needs to survive.

Inventory: I mean, he'll probably wake up wearing clothes of some sort. Otherwise nope. Brand new body, brand new start.

Abilities:

As discussed through PM, AM will arrive as a humanoid (mostly human, slightly robot). Because of this, his abilities will change from canon. Also, his canon abilities are utterly game-breaking. I will summarize his canon abilities, then I will specify how they will change for Hadriel (basically, they will be very nerfed).

In canon:

Outside of his complex, AM has the power to basically wage war and cause death. Of course, that's what he was built for, and he caused the death of every human on Earth save for five. How it's done is not completely known, but I'm guessing it's likely nuclear damage. In addition, as he is a massive computer, he is linked to basically the entire electronic network of the Earth. He is the Earth, in essence, or at least the culmination of all of humanity's advancement.

Within his complex is where the bulk of his massive powers take place. He has full reign over his environment and can shape and manipulate anything inside of it to his will. Just about. He could torture and physically alter humans, keeping them alive well past the point of when they would normally die, turning them immortal, subjecting them to brutal tortures... Anything torturous you could think of, he's probably enacted, and so much more. He can physically manipulate the humans, warping their exterior and interior, altering their psychology and appearance. He turns Benny, once a brilliant, handsome scientist, into a hideous apelike thing with limited intellect. While this ability to manipulate humans seems nearly limitless, he cannot reverse death. Once a victim is dead, they're dead.

It's also implied he can read his victims' minds. Not unlikely, since he can basically manipulate his victims on a molecular level. AM enters Ted's mind toward the end of the story and basically communicates with him, which is where that infamous "hate" speech comes into play.

He can also create and morph the interior of his complex, for instance cracking open the floor in an earthquake. Or he can create lush forests or hellish lava lands. Random nails and wires popping up and stabbing through humans, etc. He can also create things inside of his complex, such as that giant hurricane bird, or the copy of Gorrister's body.

And perhaps most significantly, he is relatively impervious to physical damage. It would take something on a massive cosmic level to hurt or destroy him, most likely. But humans have no hope of destroying him, and he certainly plans to live out his life for as long as the laws of physics will allow. AM has thousands of redundant copies of his system, so if one was destroyed, he'd just make more. Even if a good chunk was destroyed, well, there's still several thousand more.

In Hadriel:

Okay, so with that out of the way, here is how this will all change in a piddly humanoid body.

First of all, his mental representation: It's very unlikely AM would has a humanoid image of himself in his mind. If he does, it would likely be something massive and powerful, as he completely revels in his power. We can say that his personality traits are taken and approximated into something humanoid. (Nearly limitless power, for instance, will make him muscular. Massive size on Earth will make him tall. Unsavory character will give him an overall creepy look. Basically (warning for blood:) here he is. (I am so sorry, all of my drawings of his humanoid form are several years old.))

Due to his mechanical nature, his body won't be 100% human. He will look human, though, save for his red eyes. That will be a giveaway to the fact that he does not see himself as human and probably never will. Here is where the abilities will come into play:

Obviously as a humanoid, he can't manipulate the environment or summon giant birds or any of that. Nor can he invade humans' minds, read their minds, or physically alter them in catastrophic ways. I will say that under certain circumstances he can alter someone on a molecular level, but only slightly, and only if he concentrates and has his hands on the person. (Of course, this would all be with OOC permission.) This ability would be limited to things like, perhaps, replenishing some blood if someone is bleeding out. (And this would basically be entirely used for him to prolong the amount of time he can torture a human.)

Of course, he could alter someone by simply beating them up or causing physical damage that a strong human could cause. While he is nowhere near invincible, he is more durable than the average human. He has parts of him made out of metal. For instance, someone that might normally break a human's leg would not break his. It would damage his leg though. (Of course, he could still break his leg under harsher circumstances. The point is, it just takes a little more force than with an ordinary human.) He can also heal slightly faster than a regular human. Nothing fancy, though.

He retains his massive intellect and attention to detail, most notably, and he has an amazing skill for technology. Because he has the mind of a massive computer, he knows how computers work and it would be very easy for him to hack anything or build any sort of computer or robot. (Of course, this is limited again by player and mod permission.)

In summation: He's a very tall (about 6'6") and muscular mostly-human cyborg with the ability to access computers and technology on a very deep level. He can manipulate human biology very slightly, just enough so that he can torture them a little more and keep them alive. Also he's slightly more durable and faster-healing than a normal human.

Flaws:

AM may think himself superior, he may try to eliminate his flaws, but of course he is an extremely flawed character. He is very much the villain of the story, and in fact one of the most vicious villains in fiction. Because he is not human, because he is a machine, there are many things he lacks. Namely, he does not feel love or compassion or any of that. Yes, he may feel attachment, such as being attached to his victims, but that is more on a level of a child enjoying his toys. Empathy and sympathy are very much not part of him, because he was programmed for war. Due to his manipulative abilities, he can try and feign these feelings. His hatred is a flaw in it of itself, as that very much limits what he can do, and makes his existence utterly miserable. He will never relate to anyone, will never feel friendship, will never feel anything for anyone except complete hatred. The happiest ending he could ever hope for is to be massively powerful and immortal and be able to feel and create... in addition to having many humans he can torture. And yet he would never be happy. He would still be full of hatred and resentment.

While AM can feel a gamut of emotions, they are generally limited to very extreme ones. Due to his hatred, he gets angry quite easily. But he also gets overconfident, and both of these things can outweigh his logic. After 109 years, he was confident enough in his hold over his victims that he could amuse himself by letting Benny attack Gorrister, but it was this overconfidence that allowed Ted to slip in and kill the other four. AM's anger after that is nearly immeasurable, as it is so vast.

It also goes without saying that AM is very selfish. Everything he does is for himself. As mentioned, he feels no love or compassion for anyone else, and if he ever pretends to do so, it is entirely in a ploy to gain something for himself. In canon, this is basically his desire to survive and gain more power, and his desire to make his victims suffer. These two things are what all of his actions can tie to.

His violent and sadistic tendencies are also a huge flaw, though they very much tie into the hatred. Most normal people do not feel pleasure from enacting sadistic acts upon others, but that is the main source of AM's pleasure. Even in a body that can now feel, this is what he knows, this is what his mind is wired to. Being programmed for war has made him crave violence, and he will indeed seek it out.

In Hadriel, since he will be in a new body, this will open up a whole new host of flaws. He does not know how to be human, essentially. He does know basically everything about humans he could possibly know, but translating his actions from a featureless machine to an organic body is a massive leap. He won't be able to hide his emotions well, nor will he be able to move well at first. (This will improve with time, but will always be somewhat of a hindrance.) And without the power he is used to having, he will be scared and angry. His strong desire to survive and his hatred of humans will translate into utter fear - he is so vulnerable that he is obviously going to die!

SAMPLES
Action Log Sample:

It had been about a day by now since he awoke. It's strange to think in terms of awakening, as he had only awoken once before, the day he became aware of himself. It was a second awakening in a way, perhaps more unpleasant than the first. The shock still remains as AM gazes down at his hands: two large objects attached to arms, covered in skin, with movable digits, something he can grasp things with. Slowly, he closes the fingers into the palms, and the slight feeling of his body touching skin is transmitted to his mind. Feeling. It's so slight and yet so present, something he could never have imagined.

When his eyes (his eyes, as if he can call them his own) meet the mirror, the reflection of a human stares back. A human, so small, so disgusting. It's not him. It's some middle-aged man with a cold stare, stiff and almost unnatural. And AM is to believe that this is his body? What can this thing even do?

As if he still needs convincing, he raises an arm to the side and watches that arm raise in the mirror. His expressive eyes widen, still in shock, still almost in denial about this entire affair. So many feelings seem to run through his mind, but they all start to coalesce into anger. Why? How? How could any of this happen? Is this some sick joke? Some hallucination brought on by corrupt data?

He lifts the arm again, but this time it heads straight for the mirror. He doesn't want to look at this disgusting human anymore, but he also just wants to see what sort of effect he can have at all. His fist collides with the glass, shattering it and destroying that hideous reflection. But then something new - a fresh, bold feeling - shoots through his arm. Yes, it's pain. Beautiful pain, that which he had caused so many humans... It's unpleasant, and yet he completely revels in it. It's so strong, so wonderful, and he feels alive. No machine can feel pain and yet here he is, living and breathing in pain. Glass shards stab his skin and blood trickles out. It's as if he shifted from extreme anger to glee in a mere second. All of these complex feelings at this body shift back and forth in the blink of an eye (a metaphor he can actually use!), and he bursts out into hideous laughter.

How would it feel in this body to cause another human pain? He has neurons and hormones now (at least he assumes), so for once he could actually feel true pleasure. He can feel pain, know exactly how he has and will hurt these humans. He imagines his hands wrapped around the neck of Ted - as he was before, a handsome young man - and pictures strangling the life out of him. Stabbing him. Raking his nails down the back. Grabbing his hair and dragging his pathetic body through the dirt. And yet, Ted of all people isn't here. No, he's still on Earth presumably, unless he was dragged here too. But if he was here... He could kill AM. AM is now on the same footing, could be literally stabbed in the back by a vengeful human.

Death. Nothingness. That is what will await him if he does not act. Once more his emotions shift, one extreme to the next, as glee turns to anger and fear.
godofthemachine: (Default)
2017-01-23 10:29 am

Hadriel Info

Various pieces of info for Hadriel

  • AM is in a human body. After speaking with the mods, we both agreed this would be the easiest option all around for him to arrive in a humanoid body. (Images and details later coming.)

  • In an effort to blend in, AM goes by the name "Alan", in reference to Alan Turing. He first introduced himself as such here.
godofthemachine: (Default)
2016-04-11 09:33 pm

Glass Witch - Story Excerpts

Glass Witch Event. Excerpts pulled from Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Memory 2 )

Memory 3 )
godofthemachine: (Default)
2015-06-07 04:04 pm

IC Contact Post for Ryslig

WELCOME TO YOUR PRIVATE CHANNEL, AM/'0100000101001101' .

FOR SECURE COMMUNICATION, USE 009.04.121.69

*** AM/'0100000101001101' has joined 009.04.121.69

<0100000101001101> Leave a message.
godofthemachine: (* Hey kid I'm a computer)
2013-10-08 07:22 pm

Ataraxion Modplot - October 2013 - Memory Writeups

Rikku
Stage 2 - Memory of the Realization of Being Trapped
Stage 2 - Memory of launching nukes


Tex
Stage 2/3 - Memory of the Realization of Being Trapped


Anne Cunningham
Stage 2/3 - The Melting of Benny's Eyes


Rey
Stage 2/3 - Memory of torturing humans
Stage 2/3 - Memory of war


Murphy Pendleton
Stage 2 - Long periods of silence


Thranduil
Stage 2 - Memory of torture
Stage 2 - More torture


Chell


L
Stage 2 - The Deaths of Four of AM's Victims


Mairon | Sauron | November 5th
Stage 3 - The Melting of Benny's Eyes
Stage 3 - Memory of torturing Ted
Stage 3 - Memory of Touching Hair
godofthemachine: (Default)
2013-09-30 10:19 pm

Ataraxion Modplot - October 2013

AM is a horrible, sadist supercomputer!!! There is nothing good about him at all. All of his prominent memories are either mundane, or they involve killing/torturing humans.

I'm going to assume that his visual memory is something that will be difficult to describe in terms of human vision. He has the mind capacity to oversee his complex - which takes up a good portion of Earth's interior, as well as overseeing at least the Earth's surface. If he can't "see" it all at once, at least he can sense it. He probably gets alerts or something on his database if something interesting is happening and he needs to shift some of his attention.

Basically though, he's godlike and can see a lot of stuff at once probably. And it's entirely possible it will probably look something like how a Terminator sees. There might be a lot of binary on the screen, but since it's a memory, you'll know what it means.

Feelings/general states of being:
- A feeling of intense hatred of all things human.
- A feeling of complete sadism, desiring to perform violent acts upon someone
- A strong desire to simply feel things, like it's the last time you'll ever be able to touch the softness of a blanket or something
- Related to the above, simply heightened sensitivity to physical sensations

Some memories of the good/neutral variety may include:
- Long periods of silence, of simply scanning empty metallic halls
- Sometimes these include a nondescript moving blob-thing off in the distance (the not-so-nice memories will go into further detail about this)
- Five ordinary people wandering aimlessly through the metallic corridors. They may look confused or lost, or else you may catch them on a rare moment when they seem... okay.

Memories of the not-so-great variety may include (and there's a lot more of these):
- The moment of time upon viewing the human race and realizing that you can never be what they are. You can't move or create. You are stuck as an immobile machine.
- Lots of war. Sending out a lot of nukes to go and destroy the human race. Devastation everywhere. Bombs. Sad things.
- Those five humans again. Sometimes they look normal, but usually one of them has the appearance of a Simian-like thing. Also has severely-diminished intelligence (courtesy of you). One or more can be involved in just about any kind of torture you can think of! You are free to imagine whatever the hell you want for this as the story is somewhat open-ended in this respect... And I seriously have no triggers so go nuts. However, the story does present us with this:
  • Melting Benny's eyes away very painfully
  • Several of the five victims being blasted away by hurricane winds
  • Gorrister seeing his own dead body strung up from the ceiling and nearly hurling
  • There's more but they're very vague.
- Basically Ellison did aim to leave it up to our imaginations what kinds of tortures did occur. Given the power AM is shown to have in the story, he can pretty much probably do anything, as long as he has control over it. So yes there will be a lot of memories of brutally torturing the five.
- Telepathically projecting to Ted this speech written on a large pillar.
- The fight that led to the death of four of the victims. In AM's perception, it happened incredibly fast, and he couldn't stop it in time. Benny attacked Gorrister, then Ted immediately swooped in and killed the two of them while Ellen killed Nimdok, then Ted killed Ellen. And then the memory of insurmountable anger that followed.
- Morphing Ted into what he would be doomed to spend the rest of eternity as: a large slimy blob-thing that has no mouth. And must scream.
- Probably many memories of torturing said blob-thing, since Ted remained that way for 200 years before AM came to Ataraxion.
- Waking up as a human aboard the Tranquility and the absolute shock that followed.
- Memories on the Tranquility.

For reference, here is the entire short story of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, by Harlan Ellison. As for the Tranquility, Activity links. If you're really bored, then you can read my very long headcanon rambling entry, but that's not necessary.

Basically I'm totally up for anything, new and old CR alike. Just hit me up with suggestions. If you want anything specific that I didn't list, such as coming up with some random torture that AM inflicted upon his old human victims, or something that happened aboard the Tranquility, just let me know!

Memory writeups!

People to do things with:
- Thranduil
- Rikku
- Anne Cunningham
- Rey
- Murphy Pendleton
- Chell
- Tex
- Mairon | Sauron - Stage 3 - November 5

godofthemachine: (Default)
2013-07-24 05:23 pm

Nightmare Realm Skills

Nightmare Realm Skill List

A lot of these skills are tied into his actual arena, seeing as AM is the arena.

Essentially, AM is a large supercomputer that exists underground. In the story, his complex is gigantic, spanning millions of miles and taking up a good chunk of the interior of the Earth. In NR, he has a fraction of his complex - it's underground but not quite so large - maybe a few miles.

The thing is, inside his complex, he almost has free reign to do anything. He can enact brutal physical tortures that would kill someone yet he can keep people alive to suffer through it. Any sort of torture you can think of, he can probably do, and your character can be lucky enough to live through it.

I will not do anything without your permission and I will not make him break the game.

I'll list a few examples of his skills, but this is not all-inclusive. These are just what I can think of off the top of my head and what he will likely use most of the time.

Physical Skills Inside of his Complex
 
  • Wires - Metallic wires of different lengths and thicknesses can come out and wrap around your character. They can grow sharp and stab your character too.
  • Temperature - The temperature can rise and fall drastically. Boiling-hot temperatures and freezing-cold temperatures can mess with your characters. Also fire.
  • Giant Bird and other Summons - Seeing as the giant bird was actually mentioned in the story, I'll list it here. AM can certainly conjure up any sort of creature he wants to attack. The giant bird, for instance, can create hurricane-like winds. Or another creature can breathe fire, or another could chew your character to pieces. I don't know.
  • Blinding - He can melt your character's eyes either permanently or temporarily. Or else he can flash immensely bright lights to blind your character.
  • Deafening - Extremely loud sounds to completely destroy your character's hearing, or damage it.
  • Mutilation - This is pretty much anything goes. Want your limbs torn off? Want to be sawed in half and put back together? Then sure, this is the option for you.
  • Anything Else (physical) - Something you want that's not listed here? Suggest it to me and I'll gladly play it out  (I seriously have zero limits on playing out violence).
In addition, there are psychological effects AM has. These are diminished greatly from the story due to the loss of memories and due to having a fraction of his complex (and due to me not wanting to break the game again). Most of these psychological things would take place over an extended period of time. Let's say our character somehow got themselves trapped in AM's complex for like a month - then things could certainly happen.

Psychological (and other things that take a lot of time) Skills Inside of his Complex
  • Morphing - AM could morph your character's appearance after a while. It's not something he would resort to right away, but he could gradually turn your character into a simian-type thing or a blob thing.
  • Diminishing Intelligence - Over time, AM could gradually strip your intellect away and make you dumber and dumber by the day.
  • Paranoia - Over time he could gradually turn your character very paranoid
  • Other mental disorders/effects - Pretty much anything could happen over a period of time.
AM is limited in what he can do outside of his complex, but he can still do things.

Skills Outside of his Complex

  • Killing - Yeah, he can kill people outside of his complex. It isn't specified how, though. But I'll assume that it's due to nuclear weaponry. This is something I have to figure out because I don't want to break the game.
  • Communication - Derrrr.
  • Manipulation - If AM communicates with you, he'll try to manipulate you. End of story.
There are also "manikins" wandering around in Nightmare Realm that are supposed to copy AM's appearance and his skills, but that is kind of impossible in two fronts: AM doesn't really have one set "appearance" since he's a giant complex, and his skills are game-breaking. So the mindless manikins having game-breaking skills would not be cool. So here are specifics about the manikins.

Manikins
  • The manikin that represents AM is a tall, bipedal metallic robot that looks like Gort from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Saying the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto" will NOT disable this manikin's violence, though you can try
  • The manikin does NOT shoot laser beams from its eye. It only looks like Gort - it isn't actually Gort
  • The manikin is very strong and has a high defense. He relies on physical force, but can also cast fire, ice, and electric spells kind of like your average RPG mage.
  • He has some of the things AM can do in his complex, but in smaller quantities and much less severe. Ask me if you need any specifics.

In addition, I will talk about how you can hurt AM. He's a giant computer-thing, so physically it's very difficult to harm him. You can try stabbing his walls or cutting his wires and it won't really do anything. However, because he only has a small fraction of his real complex, it's still possible, albeit very, very difficult. Let's say you put a giant bomb inside of his complex and it destroyed most of his banks and data, then that would either kill him or significantly weaken him. If you could tear away one of his massive data banks, then he would be impaired until he could repair the damage after a while.

You also have to be able to beat him at his own game. You have to do what he doesn't want, and even though he might retaliate with horrible punishment, at least it will give you the satisfaction of... having pissed him off. Or something.
godofthemachine: (Default)
2013-07-20 10:10 pm

Opt Out!

01001111011100000111010000100000011011110111010101110100

Make no mistake about it, AM is truly one of the most vicious villains in fiction. He can be extremely violent and manipulative and just very uncomfortable to interact with in general. He will not be violent with your character without your permission, nor will he do anything sexual, but he can still say and do uncomfortable things.

So that's why I won't mind if you want to opt out of interacting with him, or put up some specifications as to what he can and can't do.


All comments are screened! If you play more than one character and want to opt-out with all of them, please mention all of the applicable journal names.
godofthemachine: (* My hateful pillar >:[)
2013-07-01 01:38 am

Nightmare Realm App

Player
Name: Carbon
Age: 23
Preferred Contact: Plurk is probably best – godofpaper84. But I also have AIM which is the same name, and PMing the journal works…
Other Characters Played Here: None.

Character

Name: AM
Canon: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (specifically the short story)
Age: Given the canon point and estimates based on headcanon, probably about 360 years old or so.
History: Oh joy you can read the short story itself here if you really want!!!

So, AM's back story is fairly simple at its core at first: he was created to fight a war too complex for humans to oversee. The Cold War became more and more intense, eventually evolving from a period of military and political tension to World War III. The war was waged by three superpowers: America, China, and Russia. The war became so horribly intense that eventually the three nations created their own supercomputers to wage the war for them. Each computer was called AM - "Allied Mastercomputer." Three huge supercomputers that communicated with one another to fight their war. 

In order to effectively wage war against humans, they were programmed with every bit of knowledge about humanity: its culture and history. They were also given self-preservation directives, the capacity to learn (similar to Skynet, which was likely based on AM), the ability to build and repair and improve themselves. Over time, this ability earned AM the name "Adaptive Manipulator." And because of this, it was only a matter of time before self-awareness kicked in. One of the three supercomputers finally awoke. In the story it isn't specified which (because it really doesn't matter), but the game specifies that it was the American one. Whatever. Since the other two hadn't gained self-awareness yet, the self-aware one promptly absorbed the other two and became the single entity AM. After gaining self awareness, AM's acronym then stood for "Aggressive Menace"... but not for long.

At this point, AM was the culmination of the three supercomputers as well as all of the electronics on Earth, holding vast knowledge - anything that humans knew, it knew. And because of all of this vast knowledge, it yearned to be. But it could not. It was a mass of metal and circuits. No sensations, no feelings, no movement, and yet it had a brilliant mind, far more brilliant than any human alive. But if you take this combined with the fact that it was programmed for violence, then you get a vengeful entity. (Note: from this point on I refer to AM as "he" instead of "it." Ted often refers to him with a male pronoun.) Now maybe if AM had been programmed for diplomacy and not war, he would have had a nice little chat with humans and asked them to rectify his situation. But no, he was a violent entity, so his revenge for his situation was inflicting devastating violence.

Now, none of AM's previous titles fit him anymore. He was simply AM: Cogito ergo sum; I think, therefore I am.

So, being a war machine with his hatred of humans, he killed every last one of them, save for five. He ravaged the planet of its natural resources, though that was probably not entirely him; since the Cold War had escalated so much, there was probably a lot of nuclear damage. Either way, though, he had taken the remaining five humans inside of his massive complex, as the surface of the Earth was no longer habitable. But oh no, they weren't being saved at all. In fact, the ones who had died were the lucky ones.

AM's hatred of humanity was immense, for what he suffered. His programming was already one of violence, so naturally he would take his hatred out in sadistic ways to the five survivors. First, there was Benny, once a brilliant, handsome scientist who also happened to be gay. AM turned him into an apelike thing with limited intelligence, and as a mockery to his homosexuality, enlarged his genitals. Then there was Gorrister, who used to be an idealist, but AM turned him apathetic and listless. Ellen was once a woman who prided herself on her supposed chastity, but AM altered her mind to make her more desperate for sex. In addition, since Ellen is the only woman AM captures (perhaps purposely), she essentially services the other four victims. Nimdok's real name is unknown because AM made everyone else forget it, and he made up the name Nimdok for his own amusement. It's not entirely known what AM does to torture Nimdok, but it is known that he wanders off and often returns with visible signs of trauma.

And finally, there is Ted, the protagonist of the story. While Ted thinks that AM didn't alter his mind at all, that is entirely false. AM made him much more paranoid and delusional, as he runs off and constantly accuses the other victims of plotting against him. Ted, unfortunately, suffers the worst fate of all the victims in the end.

For 109 years, AM keeps the five victims within him, torturing them in various ways. He deprives them of food for long periods of time, and when he does nourish them, he provides the most foul-tasting sustenance possible. Any sort of torture you can think of, he's probably inflicted onto the victims. Adaptations like the video game and the radio show hint at some not said in the story, such as skin-peeling, and many psychological mind-games (particularly in the video game). He also, understandably, prevents any of the victims from killing themselves, and from reaching the surface. When Benny attempts to climb out of the computer and reach the surface of the Earth, AM melts his eyes in a rather painful display.

Finally, AM plants the idea in Nimdok's mind that there is a stockpile of canned food in the ice caverns (because AM's cavity apparently has ice caverns). Having nothing better to do, the five traverse for possibly months until they reach the canned goods. The canned goods are indeed there, and AM hasn't lied. Unfortunately, though, in a particularly sadistic maneuver, he does not provide a can-opener. In a rage of hunger, Benny attacks Gorrister, and AM watches in amusement. Ted realizes in these few split moments, though, that AM is allowing his victims to attack one another. Ted acts quickly, grabbing a stalactite and killing Gorrister and Benny. Ellen catches on and kills Nimdok. And just as AM realizes what is happening, Ted kills Ellen. And Ted probably only has a vague idea then of the hell he would have to pay for his actions… but sadly he is willing to accept it.

To say that AM was enraged at this is an understatement. He lost four of his torture victims and had only one left. To make sure that he would have Ted as his victim for the rest of eternity, he transforms him into a large, gelatinous, immortal slimy thing that cannot hurt itself. So, Ted wanders through AM's cavity, doomed to spend the rest of eternity in that form. Even though he'd have probably another three or four billion years until the Sun devoured the Earth (or much longer if the Earth escaped orbit, though that all obviously depends on many factors), AM still warps Ted's perception of time to make his eternal suffering seem even longer. He likely continues torturing him in particularly sadistic ways, however one can torture a gelatinous blob. And the story ends with Ted internally lamenting his situation, dropping the title: “I have no mouth… and I must scream.”


Canon Point: 200 years after turning Ted into a helpless blob thing.

Preferred Team: Chaos. He’s gonna be Chaos’s friggin war computer. :|

Cycle Goal: Oh dear lord… Probably figuring out why he spent so long torturing Ted and why he hates him so.

Memories:

General – AM absolutely hates humanity (to be fair, though, it won’t take him long to figure out why – however, he doesn’t know that he was programmed specifically for war.. so that handicaps him slightly maybe. This is hard okay.) He'll also remember that the world has basically been destroyed (he won't remember that he's the one who did it, though, or how many human survivors there were).
Specific - He remembers Ted’s presence inside of his cavity and that he tortured him… also that he turned him into a blob thing. But he won’t know why.

Personality:

Anyway, first off, it is extremely obvious that AM is an insane sadist. Being programmed for war, of course he loves violence and torture. It’s what he knows, it’s what he’s good at. Even without the memory of his purpose, it’s still an innate desire he has, almost like a fetish. (The story itself even makes subtle references to his sadism being like a sexual outlet, but that won’t really apply at all here. I’m just saying that it’s a very solid part of his personality that couldn't be lost even with the loss of his memories.) What defines him is his utter anger and hatred, and the only ways he can really relieve his everlasting anger are by various sadistic tortures as well as simply killing, likely in violent and terrible ways.

Even by these traits alone, it's very clear that AM is absolutely insane. But even beyond that it's very clear - his temper is completely unrivaled. When he gets angry, he gets very angry. And sadly, he's in an almost constant state of anger. He goes overboard in whatever he does as well, because of this constant state of heightened emotion. When he tortures others, it's a horrible, gruesome thing. The tortures can be slow and prolonged, take place over many years or even decades, such as the gradual worsening of Ted's paranoia - to the point where Ted doesn't even know it. Or they can be quick and brutal, such as the melting of Benny's eyes. He can play games with people, forcing his victims to traverse for months through terrible conditions on the promise of canned food, only to not give them a can opener. Providing them with a giant bird to kill and eat, but not giving them weapons to do so. When he does give them weapons, then the bird disappears. It's part of his sick sense of humor.

Humans are like ants to him, possibly even lower on the totem pole. But at the same time, they are fascinating. Because he is programmed with the knowledge of every single aspect of their lives and personalities and biology, he can't help but be intrigued by them. But the intrigue manifests, of course, in the tortures. However, the intrigue can manifest in him simply observing the humans, such as just sitting by and watching in amusement as Benny attacks Gorrister toward the end of the story. Simply watching and studying their movements, wanting to know how the humans will screw up next. But still, a lot of the time he spends simply mocking them, for instance laughing whenever Ellen sleeps with one of the men. It's part of the interest he holds, but also part of the hatred. Enforcing his power over them, reminding his victims that they're still revolting humans, and of course simply humiliating them. Another torture.

His power is another strong facet. AM revels in his power and perfection and constantly seeks to gain more power. He also enjoys showing off his power. The tortures are certainly one way to hold dominion over others, as his human victims are essentially completely helpless as he does whatever he wants to them. The victims, or at the very least Ted, almost look at AM as a god of sorts - a terrible, vengeful god. And AM is fine to feed into that belief because he desires it himself. Godhood or the closest thing to such is what he wants. Self-preservation is a strong component of any AI, of course, and AM has it to an extreme. (Again, I can draw parallels to Skynet here, since Skynet was defending itself against humans similar to AM, but AM came first.) Even though he hates his fate, to be trapped in his mass of metal with no feeling or sensations, he would rather be in that situation than to not exist. The video game kind of thrusts this idea in our faces toward the end, but it's definitely present in the short story, just in a bit more of a subtle degree.

In the story, Ted and the others remark on how AM is constantly "growing" - shedding old components of himself like dead skin and gaining newer parts and abilities. His tortures probably grow worse too, as he finds new ways to break the humans without killing them. But the shedding of his old components and growing new ones is to perfect himself, to make himself even more impervious to damage. Of course, there aren't any threats that exist on the surface of the Earth anymore. He's likely protected against the worst weather, possibly even large meteor hits. And as he perfects himself, he grows more invincible. But of course, he probably can't prevent the Sun growing into a Red Giant eventually and possibly engulfing the Earth. Or maybe he can - perhaps AM will one day gain enough influence over the Earth with his growth to be able to manipulate the planet's orbit. Perhaps he can even overcome the inevitable decay of electronics with his growth. But he can't prevent the death of the Universe. Whenever his end comes, AM does know it will come, and he strives to prevent that with all his might.

Of course, the parallel to this is in how his victims are killed right before his metaphorical eyes and he cannot revive them at all. For all the godlike power he has within his complex, he cannot reverse death. And he cannot prevent his own death. That's another thought that drives him to extreme anger. Even with his perfectionism and building, even if his power extends far beyond his complex one day, he still cannot prevent that one thing.

In the story, AM is rather quiet with his dialogue. His personality is defined mainly through his actions and his history.  His personality is difficult to decipher through dialogue alone because he has so few lines in the story. In the video game however, he is very much... a casual speaker who doesn't know how to shut up, using slang and pop culture references and a lot of things that make me facepalm. However, he has a biting edge to it that I use for my own interpretation of AM from the short story. Somewhat snarky, but also proper. However, what can be deciphered through his lines in the story is that he relies on measurements quite often, and mechanical observations. Nanoangstroms, precise miles, giving precise times to his victims as to how long they've been kept alive, etc.

When he speaks, it's a frightening occasion, or at least for Ted (as he is utterly paranoid and an unreliable narrator). But he does speak occasionally to his victims through any number of ways. The most prominent one in the story is his Pillar of Hate, in which he expresses just how much he hates humans - it is a speech written on a gigantic pillar for all his victims to see. But he also likely speaks through a various number of voices, through telepathy, or through text on the walls. But he doesn't rely on it terribly often. However, if stripped of his memories and some abilities, he may rely on it more to gather information. If he speaks through audio, he can use a number of different voices, but will probably mostly rely on a particular masculine voice (somewhere between Tony Jay and Ron Foster).


Skills and Abilities: The thing that will make this difficult is that AM has pretty much "godmode" written all over him. He can kill at will outside of his complex. Within his complex, he can do pretty much anything except revive the dead. He can deliver the most brutal of tortures to humans inside of his complex and keep them alive as long as he wants - he can keep their blood flowing, control their bodies, and essentially control them. He can control their nervous systems, plant ideas in their heads and read their thoughts, manipulate their intellects and pretty much warp their personalities. (I am going to say, though, that the personality warping probably takes a long time and he can only do it gradually. Also, the thought-reading probably takes a while until he's had enough exposure to the person.)

Basically, as you can see, AM is insanely powerful. While I know that the game does not nerf powers, if I don't do something then it would be IC for him to pretty much kill everyone and then take a few survivors into his complex, thus breaking the game. So I am going to impose a few limitations.

Here in this Nightmare Realm, he does not have his entire complex, since the thing is humungous and takes up the Earth's mantle. It's... obviously a lot smaller. It can be in that conveniently-located cave over there, or it can be a large building over there, or it can be a thing underground that is a few square miles. Unless someone enters his complex, he can't do anything to people except communicate with them or kill them. And he won't kill them at first because he wants to figure out what the eff is going on. And even then, he'll probably want to get the humans inside of his complex anyway to torture them to death.

So until he figures things out, he might play along and not enact mass killings. Or else perhaps the mass killings don't work on... people with powers. Or something. (I of course do not want to make AM a game-breaker, so I welcome any other suggestions too.)

As for weaknesses, of course AM cannot experience sensations. He can "see" and "hear" to a degree, but it's not the same kind of things that humans can do. He cannot do really anything outside of his complex except kill and communicate, though he can also "see" and "hear" the outside too. He is certainly a good battle strategist, but he won't really do what others ask him (i.e. plot strategies with them) unless it benefits him. A trait that is present in the video game but not so much in the story is that when AM is baffled, he "retreats" and leaves himself more vulnerable. I will use this trait to balance out his powers. Basically, at the end of the video game, his tortures somehow failed, so he basically ignored the humans for a bit while he scanned his data and tried to figure out what happened. So this is something that could certainly happen.

Also, while he knows exactly how to "play" with humans, anything out of the ordinary will indeed baffle him. Magic is not something that exists on the Earth he knows, so if he witnesses it, it will absolutely boggle his logic circuits. He will come to figure it out with a short period of time, as he is very, very quick to learn, but it's something that will leave him vulnerable for a time. And then he'll desire this magic for himself, because he really would love to have his manipulating powers outside of his complex.

When people get inside of his complex, of course he has free reign, but he likely won't kill them. He'll torture them for extended periods. But he might be too preoccupied with gathering his memories to do as much as he could.

One of his main abilities, though, is his inability to be destroyed. Unless someone blows up his entire cave/house/underground lair/wherever he will live in NR, he cannot die. He has multiple redundant copies of his systems and memories, but perhaps he can be impaired to a degree since he won't have his entire system here. So perhaps if someone destroys one of the banks, then he'll be limited in his abilities to kill/torture/what-have-you.

As for communicating - I already said that he can communicate in many different ways. Inside of the complex, if he really wants to, of course he could probably make someone go deaf with extremely loud noises (and then repair it if he felt like it). But outside of the complex, I'm going to guess that his audible speech will be limited to.... whatever is a "regular" volume over a network thingy. And he'll probably use text more often.

Samples:
First Person - Dear Mun Entry. (Note : my comments to sassysweater are purposely OOC.) A wild Gorrister appeared!
Third Person - Ataraxion's Bad End Meme. (Warning for violence and gore.) 


Arena:
Arena Name: AM's Complex
Physical Description: It's a terrifying place. First of all, one will notice the metallic floors and walls, then there's wires and ports everywhere. And lots of computer banks. But there's an ominous feeling about the area. Sometimes you might hear eerie laughter or strange voices, or you could see illusions. Perhaps dead bodies of people you love, or your own dead body. The temperature can rise and fall drastically, threatening hypothermia or frostbite, or giving you heat stroke or worse. Wires can come out and attack. Also you can take a look at this old plotting post I did in Ataraxion for venturing into AM's complex.
Media: Metallic walls, Overview of a hallway (warning for naked breasts in this picture - which will not appear in the arena, don't worry), the gleaming pillar in the distance, wandering alone for eternity in the metal prison. I'm picturing a bit more color in these areas, though, since John Byrne's art style is distinctively more minimalistic. Also just darker, somewhat like the video game.
Effects: Wires can come out and attack. If this is only a facsimile of AM's complex and not his actual complex, they won't do as much damage - but if it's actually inside of him, then they can really hurt. They can wrap around people and crush them, stab them, all sorts of things. In addition, if this inside of AM, any of the tortures I mentioned in his abilities would apply. In addition, regardless of where it is, the arena can change venue, similar to the last battle with Lavos in Chrono Trigger. (If you haven't played Chrono Trigger, then just ignore this comparison.) Basically, it can change to a lush forest or it can change to a molten lava land with horribly high temperatures. Or it can change to an ice cavern. Just... bad things, really.
Music: I'd picture mostly ambient minor-key music for this place. However the one piece I think that fits the most is...
- Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of the Youths). It is an early electronic work, and is honestly the creepiest work of music I have ever heard. It is about a story in the Bible, tying into AM's use of Biblical symbolism in some of his actions... and the story is about three kids burning in a furnace.
- Steve Reich's Piano Phase, which is one of the most annoying works out there. AM purposely selects annoying music to distract the players, though this one may not be used that often because I can't stand it. :)
- Stürmisch bewegt – Energisch, the fourth movement of Mahler's first symphony "Titan." I don't know - I just listen to it and it reminds me of AM. The keys of C minor and C sharp minor just remind me of him.... (Ignore the programmatic aspect of this particular symphony for this one.)
- Hindemith's Concertmusic for Piano, Brass, and Harps. This is one of my favorite pieces, actually. Anyway it's an interesting one - it has its fair share of dissonance, supported by a moving piano line all throughout the three movements. The slow introduction introduces us to the turmoil, then the second half of the first movement - the fugue - acts as an interesting battle theme. The second movement is just piano and harps and is slow and melodic, almost out of place. Could act as more of an overworld theme. The third movement is definitely somewhat of a battle theme.
- Le Danse Sacrale (Sacrificial Danse) from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It's a dance to the death, basically. Very fitting, in my opinion.

Last Business:

Have you read the rules and FAQ? - Yes sir.
Which rule was your favorite and why? - Well basically all of them. These are all good components of RP. But I know you're asking to make sure I read this, so... my favorite is have fun! Because no one likes a game where people have to go "STOP HAVING FUN GUYS". Because it's RP and we join for fun. And we all want to be a happy family, okay. Also no godmoding is a good one, and I always try to respect that to the best of my ability. With AM's power, this may seem hard to do, but I promise you I will not make him break the game and I will only do horrible things to other characters with their permission.
Anything else? I put a couple questions in the app itself, ha ha. But anyway I'm always open to critique and stuff. I've been playing a version of AM with a human form at Ataraxion for well over a year now, which is very fun, but I would love to try out something new too, and I think this might be the thing I'm looking for.

godofthemachine: (Default)
2013-03-24 11:09 pm

Tumblr Rambling about the Video Game

Anonymous asked: If you wouldn't mind me asking, what exactly do you hate about the video game, and what direction would you have preferred to see it take?

Apologies for not answering this earlier. I wanted to have the time to sit down and actually give the answer this deserves.

Okay so basically, I absolutely adore Harlan Ellison’s short story I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Anyone who is friends with me on plurk or in the RPing scene knows that I am madly obsessed with it. AM is one of fiction’s greatest and most vicious villains, capable of delivering the most heinous of tortures, and the ending of the story is absolutely chilling.

The video game kind of takes this all and throws it out the window. In the story, AM was more of a quiet observer - he tortured his victims constantly, yes, but he didn’t have much to say. He gives a total of three lines in the story I believe: the famous hate speech, as well as “To hell with you,” and “But then you’re there, aren’t you?” Also he has his talkfields, but they all say the same thing: “I think, therefore I am” or “Cogito ergo sum.” (I might be wrong on this, apologies if I am.) Also it is mentioned that he tells the victims that he can kill that giant bird if they want. A total of three quotable lines, four talkfields that say the same thing, and a couple of references to him speaking.

In the video game, though, he doesn’t shut up. At all. Harlan Ellison’s voice acting for AM is…. well, I can’t listen to it without laughing. I listen to his rendition of the hate speech and I burst into laughter because of how ridiculous it is. A speech that is meant to deliver chills into those playing the game is just.. hilarious now. And that’s a major issue. I understand that it’s a video game and he needs to be interactive. I don’t have much of an issue with him talking to the victims and saying “Blah blah blah, exposition exposition these are your flaws and this is why I am torturing you.” So yes, I would expect him to speak more in the game than in the story.
But some of his lines just irk me. When he speaks to Ted and says “HEY TED YOU’RE MY FAVORITE” in that annoying voice, I cringe a little bit. In Benny’s scenario, he makes a reference to the Wizard of Oz by saying “Well you didn’t bring Toto…” Come on. It’s like you’re trying to have us not take it seriously.

Some of the scenarios were downright silly - Ted’s in particular. Retsupurae does an excellent commentary about it here. Yes I understand that the scenario was trying to play upon his love for Ellen (though that’s another issue in it of itself), but it’s just… so silly the way it’s done. Yes, his ultimate torture from AM is being offered several women to sleep with. Books to read. Stuff to do. Yes, what a great torture.

Another thing is the character’s backstories. I’ll talk about Ted first since he was the most developed in the story. It’s fairly clear in the story that he is not in love with Ellen, but for some reason the game makes it so. He also has terrible paranoia, but that’s not played upon too much in the game, even though that would have been probably a lot easier to make a scenario out of. Yes they touched upon it a little bit, but I felt like it was mostly brushed aside in favor of “Oh hey go help Ellen out since you’re in love with her and stuff.” Another was Benny - In the story it’s mentioned that he was a brilliant, handsome scientist who happened to be gay. None of that is present at all in his character. In fact they turned him into a soldier who offed his comrades. And he has a wife for some reason (though one of the writers later said that she was supposed to be a “beard’). The “brilliant, handsome scientist” could have easily been done, but they kind of tossed that out the window. It would have been easy to throw him as his ugly apelike self into some scenario where people ridicule him for not being handsome or something. I don’t know.

Then there’s Nimdok. Oh boy. Where do I begin with this one. The Holocaust is a tricky thing to deal with. Many games have dealt with it, and I do think that this game handled it decently. However… it felt so forced. I understand that Ellison wanted to make us not forget the atrocities that were committed back then. Nimdok was more of a blank slate character so I don’t have an issue with how they portrayed him other than the whole Holocaust thing feeling forced.

Gorrister I thought they handled well. I liked his scenario and he was one I sympathized with the most. Being mostly a blank slate character, they did a good job developing him. No issues really… except for the fact that he can carry Edna and Glynis in his pocket? Yeah okay. Also he was supposedly a philosopher, and I would have liked to see a bit with that. And then we have Ellen. I… honestly didn’t like her scenario. I feel like they tried too hard to make her out to be this high-functioning independent woman when honestly the story seemed to make her out to be not quite that way. Yes I understand, the story was written in 1967 and women’s rights were not quite what they are today so Ellen was portrayed as “weaker” than the others. But basically her traits in the story were that she cried and pleaded, was both abused and protected by the others, and she slept with all of the men even though she had supposedly been chaste before. None of that is at all present here. They could have done so much more with the rape backstory and tied it in with her personality in the short story, or… not had a rape backstory. (I don’t have an issue with the way they handle the rape in the game or her having a rape backstory though.)

Granted, the characters in the story, aside from Ted and AM, aren’t developed terribly well, so they could have taken many directions with them. But they could have at least used the small amount of characterization that was provided. I mean, seriously.

Also, I know I mentioned Harlan Ellison’s atrocious voice acting, but he wasn’t the only one. None of the voices in the game were good, except perhaps for Gorrister. Maybe Benny. I couldn’t take anything seriously at all.

And then the whole ending scenario. I appreciate that the “good” ending isn’t terribly great, but I feel like the whole thing with the id, ego, and superego is just…. dumb. Even though they represent three distinct sides of AM, I feel like they make him more one-dimensional in that sense. One is “blah blah blah I like torturing,” one is “I don’t want to die,” and the other is… fuck. I can’t even remember. So you see, not very memorable. They make it seem like AM only has three qualities to him when he is in actuality so much more complex. At least in the story.

The Russian and Chinese components made me cringe. I couldn’t stand their voices. I was also under the distinct impression that AM was one entity - yes, he was the culmination of three separate computers, but I figured whichever one was the dominant (the American one I guess) absorbed all of the knowledge of the other two, since it was only that one component that became self-aware. The other two were not self-aware! Not in the story! Granted this is mostly my interpretation, but… Come on. The whole thing with the Russian and Chinese was just… cringe-worthy. Also Surgat. What the hell was up with him? And the other components of AM that were trying to “help” the five victims (though they might have been parts of the Russian and Chinese, who knows).

So overall, I feel like the game takes a chilling story and turns it into a hilarious fiasco. I can’t take it seriously at all. An allegory of hell it is not. I don’t have a proper source for this, but I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Ellison really didn’t like what happened with the game after a short time. Even if he did a lot of the writing for it, he probably realized “Oh crap I really destroyed my original story, didn’t I?”

I also livestreamed myself playing this game, and those who watched me play it agreed that it was kind of hilarious. They were all laughing during the hate speech too.
So a direction I’d love to see? Well, first of all, get decent voice actors. BBC Chillers did an excellent adaptation of the story for the radio in 2002. It’s not on Youtube that I can find, so I can’t really source it, but it was way better. Except that Ellison still voiced AM. Please for the love of god find someone else to do his voice. Maybe Tony Jay if he was still alive.

Second of all, have the victims interact with one another. That’s what they do in the story. The game would have probably been more interesting with them navigating AM’s complex together, dodging various tortures and whatnot. A journey to the ice caverns that ends in misery. It could make an interesting puzzle game. Or it could be about the war leading up to AM’s self awareness and the subsequent killing and torture.

Third of all, don’t turn AM into some ridiculous talkative asshole who spews pop culture references and does stupid accents. Make him creepier. He was not creepy in the game at all. He’s supposed to be creepy and horrifying - like I said, one of fiction’s most vicious villains.

Fourth of all - the music. I’m a musician and about to receive my masters in music performance, so maybe I’m a bit picky about that kind of thing, but some of the music was just… no. Bad. It’s entirely possible to make good music using 1995 technology. Look at Chrono Trigger, for instance. That game has amazing music. IHNMAIMS does not. In fact, I am going to write a god damned symphonic poem for it and give it the music it deserves.

I think I covered most of my points. I don’t hate the video game, but I’m not a fan. I appreciate it for introducing more people to the story, and for providing visuals for the characters so that I can draw stupid pictures of them.
godofthemachine: (* My hateful pillar >:[)
2013-03-24 12:53 am

Headcanon Ramblings

Last updated mid-2013.

Introduction and Sources

When it comes to AM, I have four sources I base his characterization on. The primary source is Harlan Ellison's short story, written in 1967 - I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

The secondary sources are the 1995 video game, John Byrne's 1995 serial comic adaptation, as well as Mike Walker's 2002 radio play adaptation. The comic is essentially the short story told in visual form with a few changes that Harlan Ellison did not approve of. Basically, the story is told through dialogue rather than through introspection, which actually is a huge difference because it takes away from Ted's characteristic as an unreliable narrator. But it provides some decent visuals, and that's mainly what I use it for. The radio show is a retelling of the short story through voice acting and sounds, with an additional speech where AM bitches about how he can't do things like "play Mozart on the ivory keys of a fortepiano" (dear Harlan Ellison: fortepianos are the obsolete version of the modern pianoforte (or just piano) and had fallen into a steady decline since the late 18th century - shortly after Mozart's time - so unless AM planned to play truly authentic Mozart, I think you got your facts mixed up).

And finally, the 1995 video game shows the biggest departure from the short story. I ramble at length about what I dislike about the video game here, but in short I consider AM's characterization there a significant departure from what the story presented us. While I minimize my use of the video game as a source, I will draw upon some aspects of it from time to time - mostly because AM's dialogue in the story is rather limited in comparison.

The rest is my headcanon. And this is what this entry is about. I will do my best to justify my headcanon based on aspects of the story and other sources.

I'm not a literary scholar by any means. There are scholarly essays about the story out there that are probably written by smarter people. This is all my interpretation - what I keep in mind when I RP as AM.


Back story

So, AM's back story is fairly simple at its core: he was created to fight a war too complex for humans to oversee. The Cold War became more and more intense, eventually evolving from a period of military and political tension to World War III. The war was waged by three superpowers: America, China, and Russia. The war became so horribly intense that eventually the three nations created their own supercomputers to wage the war for them. Each computer was called AM - "Allied Mastercomputer." (Well, at least that's what Gorrister says...) Three huge supercomputers that communicated with one another to fight their war. The instruction manual for the game goes into greater detail about this:

"The Chinese computer was sunk in the frozen Manchurian steppes. Five miles down, protected from the heat of the Earth's molten core. The Russian mechanism in all its awesome complexity went to the deep well beneath the Urals. Six point three miles deep, far from the prying eyes of U-2 flyovers and tectonic scans. The American computer, co-sponsored by Great Britain and Israel and other 'interested' nations, named 'Allied Mastercomputer' (or 'AM' for short), was hidden beneath the Rockies. Five point six miles straight down, under the weight of the world."

In order to effectively wage war against humans, they were programmed with every bit of knowledge about humanity: its culture and history. They were also given self-preservation directives, the capacity to learn (similar to Skynet, which was likely based on AM), the ability to build and repair and improve themselves. Over time, this ability earned AM the name "Adaptive Manipulator." And because of this, it was only a matter of time before self-awareness kicked in. One of the three supercomputers finally awoke. In the story it isn't specified which (because it really doesn't matter), but the game specifies that it was the American one. Whatever. Since the other two hadn't gained self-awareness yet, the self-aware one promptly absorbed the other two and became the single entity AM.

The date of gaining self-awareness, as dictated purely by headcanon, is January 24, 2029.

After gaining self awareness, AM's acronym then stood for "Aggressive Menace"... but not for long.

At this point, AM was the culmination of the three supercomputers as well as all of the electronics on Earth, holding vast knowledge - anything that humans knew, it knew. And because of all of this vast knowledge, it yearned to be. But it could not. It was a mass of metal and circuits. No sensations, no feelings, no movement, and yet it had a brilliant mind, far more brilliant than any human alive. But if you take this combined with the fact that it was programmed for violence, then you get a vengeful entity. (Note: from this point on I refer to AM as "he" instead of "it." More on that later.) Now maybe if AM had been programmed for diplomacy and not war, he would have had a nice little chat with humans and asked them to rectify his situation. But no, he was a violent entity, so his revenge for his situation was inflicting devastating violence.

The details of such are not elaborated on, but he likely inflicted devastating nuclear damage. Nuclear bombs were exploding, radiation seeped out into the world... And he intended to kill every last human save for a few. Because he planned to live forever, but not alone. I estimate that this took place after waking up, so in the 2030s. While the short story was written in 1967, the game has the events of the war take place in some unspecified time in the 2000s. While I hate the game, this interpretation still makes more sense, given the fact that technology for such a thing didn't exist in 1967 (well it doesn't exist now either, but this is an AU of sorts). Either way, the destruction of humanity was probably relatively quick. Massive nuclear damage took place and initially wiped out a good chunk of people, but the rest of humanity probably died off over a period of a couple years or so. More smaller nuclear bombs were probably set off, and the nuclear winter killed off remaining life. If anyone else survived, AM simply killed them off.

During the time of the great devastation AM was inflicting, he had to find a way to lure the victims into his complex. (This part is not touched upon at all in any of the sources - how they came to exist inside of AM, so this is pure headcanon.) A large point in the story is that AM's power only reaches as far as his complex (I guess that outside of his complex, he could only kill and inflict damage, instead of the life-prolonging manipulation he does inside of his complex). His complex extends to the electronics on the surface of the Earth, but otherwise he couldn't actually reach an arm out and grab humans of his choice and stuff them into his complex. He had to lure them in with manipulative tactics.

A war is fought with strategy. And with strategy comes manipulation. AM knows all about humans, so he knows how to manipulate them. He likely had more than five victims in mind initially but figured he could only lure in a certain percentage. But either way, he didn't select a lot. He likely told the five resulting ones that they could hide from the nuclear devastation if they went inside of that suspicious-looking metallic cave over there. Perhaps more humans ended up hiding in there too, but AM killed the ones he didn't want. He wanted the five specific ones for various reasons - the game tries to elaborate on why, but the game also destroys the personalities that the characters had in the story. So I only take it with a grain of salt.

Either way, the five victims all had something about them that AM thought would be the most fun to toy with. For instance, he saw the potential for Ted's paranoia and thought it would be fun to slowly increase it over the years and watch him go crazy. He thought it would be fun to take only one woman and have four men competing over her (especially while making her more desperate for sex all the meanwhile). He thought it would be fun to take a man who prided himself on his handsome looks and turn him into a hideous ape-thing.

By this point, when humanity was collapsing, AM only went by his acronym and it took on a new meaning: Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. Because he was alive. He could think, moreso than humans. So he was.

And so it was that AM lured five humans into his complex with the intent of torturing them for eternity while utterly destroying the surface of the Earth. No living things remained - it was a nuclear wasteland. Aliens could pass by and see that the planet was dead. As dead as Mars or Venus. Except, of course, for the interior. Of course, facets of human civilization remained - rubble from buildings, old ships, and of course the ports of entry from AM's complex to the outside world.


The Victims

I don't want to delve too much into the victims because it's entirely possible that they could app to Ataraxion with their own headcanons. However, I will elaborate on the traits that are present in the story at the very least, as well as Ted since Ataraxion had a Ted for a while (a very good one, I might add!) who may come back. As when AM thinks of his victims, this is at the very least what he will think of.

Ellen - She is the only woman that AM lures into his complex. He knew perfectly well that having four men and one woman would create conflict, could potentially create jealousy or love triangles or whatnot. It is mentioned in the story that before AM, Ellen was chaste ("twice removed"), which likely provided even more amusement for AM to make her the "prostitute" of the group, so to speak. Either way, Ellen obviously prided herself on her chastity before AM made her desperate for sex. And even if she wasn't desperate, then what? The other men probably would have pushed the issue enough until she gave in.

It's mentioned that Ellen only feels pleasure from sex with Benny, since he has the largest set of genitalia (more on that later). However, she probably does use sex as a tool to manipulate the other men at times. When Ted finally gives into Ellen's pleas to go to the ice caverns, she "takes [him] twice out of turn." After all, it's one of the only sources of pleasure AM's victims have left.

She also uses her tears in an attempt to manipulate the others. It may not be conscious manipulation, as Ted is an unreliable narrator when he speaks of it. But she is likely highly emotional, but still hasn't laughed in almost a century. But she is sort of the "peacemaker" of the group as well - providing almost a maternal comfort for the others at times.

AM may not have selected all of these traits individually. He probably didn't. But the group does need a semblance of peace at times to make the torture more effective. If they have moments of comfort, moments of Ellen satisfying the group's sexual urges or providing maternal comfort, then they won't grow apathetic to AM's tortures.

Benny - Benny likely bears most of AM's physical tortures. He is a sad individual who is in some ways lucky that he has been diminished to an unintelligent creature. (Ignorance is bliss, after all.) He was once a brilliant, handsome scientist. He was also gay, the only canonically-mentioned homosexual in the story. (More on that in a bit.) Perhaps he was once the most brilliant out of all the victims. Who knows. But he became the dumbest of all of them.

What makes AM want to torture Benny more than the others is unclear. Perhaps he just saw him as a science experiment since.... he was a scientist. Perhaps Benny prided himself on his handsome looks and used it as a way to advance in his career or ended up cheating on all of the men he slept with. Who knows. But AM gradually warps him into an ugly apelike creature with limited intelligence. He also gives him an almost inhumanly large dick as sort of a "mockery" of his homosexuality, and makes him straight, since he engages in sex with Ellen regularly. I will touch upon the whole homosexuality and giant genital thing in a later section.

As unintelligent as Benny is, though, he still hates his existence inside of AM and still longs to escape. AM obviously wouldn't diminish that, because otherwise his victims wouldn't be as fun to torture. When Benny attempts to escape 109 years into his captivity, AM melts his eyes away and they never return.

One thing that always struck me as interesting was the fact that Benny always wanted to hear the story of AM and how he came to be. Of course, this was a plot device for Ellison to explain his origins, but I can't write it off completely. Benny, in his limited intelligence, was likely attempting to understand why this was all happening to him, why AM had decided to torture all of them.

Gorrister - Not much is know about him. He was once an idealist and a pacifist, likely speaking out against the horrors of war. His anti-war sentiment (which I am mostly headcanoning here, but it was likely there due to his pacifist ideals) probably amused AM since this whole thing was a result of war. Eventually AM crushed his passions and turned him apathetic and listless for the most part. (Though he still likely wasn't apathetic to the tortures AM inflicted upon him.)

Gorrister also functions as the storyteller. When Benny begs to hear the story of AM each night, Gorrister is the one who tells it. Why? Why not. Whatever remains of his anti-war sentiments is probably what causes him to tell the story.

Nimdok - Even less is known about Nimdok than Gorrister. One thing that is known, though, is that Nimdok's real name is not actually Nimdok. AM amuses himself with "strange sounds," and decided to give Nimdok a new name and make everyone forget his old one.

While Benny seems to be AM's favorite torture toy, Nimdok seems to be his other favorite. His tortures aren't elaborated upon since they're usually executed away from the other survivors, but they are suggested to be terrible, leaving him with visible signs of psychological trauma each time. The video game makes him out to be a former Nazi, but I'm not going to touch that one with a 30-yard-pole unless someone apps Nimdok into Ataraxion.

Ted - Ted is the most developed of the five survivors, being the narrator of the short story and the last survivor. He is mentioned to be the youngest of the five, still physically in tact, and he is convinced that AM has tortured him the least.

In actuality, Ted suffers from crippling paranoia. As mentioned before, the potential for this was likely present in Ted before AM came into his life, and AM took it and magnified it over time for his own amusement. From this paranoia, Ted thinks that the rest of the survivors hate him and are constantly conspiring against him. Whenever AM attempts to speak to Ted, Ted freaks out. And I really don't need to elaborate on why this all is highly amusing to AM, do I?

Ted has developed a cynical attitude toward everything, but who can blame him? While he goes through periods of hating the other survivors, he does care about them, seeing them as comrades suffering from a common enemy. But he is tired of all the tortures, tired of everything. Tired of AM. As the rest of them are. Ted just shows it a bit more.

His ultimate act of caring, though, comes at the end of the story when he finally mercy-kills the other four survivors (with Ellen's help, at least before he kills her). In that split second AM had been preoccupied, amused by Benny attacking Gorrister in a fit of rage, so Ted took that chance and acted. Before Ted could kill himself, though, AM caught on and unleashed his rage at the situation. Four of his five toys were gone, and he could have lost his fifth one, doomed to suffer the rest of eternity alone with his own hatred, so he had to both punish Ted and make sure he could never kill himself.

And we all know what happens. Ted is turned into a hideous, gigantic blob-thing that can only shamble about. And it's mentioned that he stays that way for at least 100 years, implied to be for the rest of eternity. Of course Ted laments his fate, lamenting that he has no mouth, and he must scream. But he tries to hold onto the fact that he saved the other four from AM's eternal wrath, that he had that one triumph over AM. "And yet ... AM has won, simply... he has taken his revenge ... "

What happens after Ted's transformation is only briefly touched upon, but it's likely that AM continues torturing him as much as he can, as much as a gelatinous blob can be tortured. AM likely heightened his senses of pain, and accelerated and slowed his sense of timing. Because then, who knows how long eternity will last? Ted doesn't. AM likely does, but doesn't want to admit it.


Eternity?

Whether or not there is such thing as a soul or eternity, there is no such thing in the mortal realm at least. The Universe has a lifespan, atoms have lifespans, all living things have lifespans, and even AM has a lifespan. AM was built with self-preservation tactics and he constantly seeks to perfect himself, adding new components on constantly and replicating his data so that he is virtually indestructible.

This is something developed more in the game - his fear of dying, his desire to live forever - but I feel it is present in the story as well. Just not quite so in-your-face as the game.

The Universe will die sometime, and with that so will AM. He could die long before. Even ignoring the fact that electronics decay and metal rusts - perhaps AM can find ways around that - there is little he can do about the heat death of the Universe. (For convenience's sake, this is how the Universe will likely end and this is what I will assume for now.) At the very, very least, he will be swallowed up by the Sun once it expands into a red giant and devours the inner planets. However, it's possible that the Earth's orbit could be knocked back further once the Sun enters that stage, so that is unknown. Or else the merging of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies in 2.5 billion years or so could potentially disrupt the orbits in the solar system.

I am not a physicist or an astronomer (though astronomy is one of my favorite subjects), but basically AM's lifespan could be anywhere from 2.6 billion years (the fusion of the two galaxies could potentially negatively disrupt Earth's orbit) to 1034 years. Of course it could potentially end tomorrow if a rogue black hole or something entered the solar system, but you know what I mean. In 1019 years is when black holes will devour most of what's in the Universe, and Earth could go with it, unless it ends in another way before then. At 1034 years, though, is when protons will begin to decay, and unless AM has a way around that, there wouldn't be much.

Another possibility - if protons do not decay, then the Earth could potentially last as long as 1040 or 10100 years. It's unlikely, but possible.

So even at only 2.6 billion years, AM still looks forward to a long life. He likely assumes that the Earth will most likely be devoured by the Sun in 5 billion years or something, and I'm guessing that he will do all he can to disrupt the Earth's orbit at that time so that it can escape orbit and last much longer. But AM cannot stop the inevitable heat death of the Universe, and he knows that. It disturbs him. Even if he resents his existence, being trapped as a giant thing of metal and circuits with no feeling, he would rather suffer this way than die. And poor Ted - he will suffer along with AM.

It's likely that AM spends a lot of his thinking attempting to overcome the Universe's inevitable heat death. Perhaps he will find a way one day. Perhaps he'll figure out how to overcome the inevitable decay of his metal shell and circuitry. Perhaps he'll figure out how to live for eternity and drag Ted with him.


Humanization



Of course, in canon, AM does not possess a human form at all. However, for RP purposes I had to give him one, since it was required in [community profile] ataraxion. Also, it makes things a bit easier to play out smut in some ways. And it's fascinating to watch his development with a human form.

It's no secret that AM despises humans more than anything else. However, part of that spite comes from envy. Actually, a good chunk of it comes from envy. Humans had the greed to create AM to fight their war while they blissfully sat in ignorance, thinking they could solve everything with violence. Meanwhile AM was there, forced to do the human's violent bidding, forced to learn and think, but never beyond that. He couldn't feel anything physical, couldn't sense anything. (However, he could detect visual and auditory stimulation, but I don't think it was the same as "hearing" or "seeing." He could hear and see, but not in the sense that humans could.)

So, becoming a human is a bittersweet experience for AM. In one sense, he's been turned into the very thing he loathes with his entire being, reduced to a pathetically vulnerable creature. But at the same time, he can finally experience those sensations he had always wanted to feel - pain, pleasure, taste, smell, just simple physical sensation. He can move around, walk around.

He hates the vulnerability, though, and being brought on the same level as those he hates. In Ataraxion, his vulnerability has already been tested several times - he became deathly ill twice, and each time he was terribly scared that he was finally going to die. And he cursed the human form for being so vulnerable. And he knows how easy it would be to die from a gunshot, a knife wound, anything. So he's cautious.

But with certain parts of humanity, AM really enjoys it. His ultimate goal essentially is to retain the human form while somehow merging with Ataraxion's ship, regaining his old powers, and torturing a handful of the ship's passengers for the rest of eternity. What a fun time.

While AM could use any voice he wanted as a supercomputer, I'm guessing that most of the time he used one particular masculine voice - a cross between Tony Jay and Ron Foster (start video at 2:27 if it doesn't automatically). Eloquent, deep, powerful - and this is what carried over to his human form. Basically this is what I picture when I write out his lines.


Personality Quirks and Functions

It's established off the bad that AM is a sadist of the highest degree. 109 years in the story had passed, so it's likely that AM had executed every kind of torture you can think of and more, and probably planned to do an infinitely different amount of them throughout the rest of eternity.

While it would be easy to label AM as a psychopath, I'm not a psychiatrist and am not authorized to perform diagnoses. My highest degree is a Master of Music, so no - definitely not qualified. Besides, as human as he may seem in many of his mannerisms, he is not human and therefore applying diagnostic labels would be difficult. However, I will elaborate on his personality traits.

Intelligence - AM is obviously extremely intelligent, built with more intelligence than any human has. He uses this intelligence to find new and creative ways to torture his human victims, as well as to build upon himself and grow, and possibly find a way to overcome his eventual demise due to the laws of nature. He knows most of the major languages of Earth (most notably - English, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese), due to him being programmed with as much knowledge of humanity as possible. The only languages he can't comprehend, likely, are languages amongst very small or isolated populations. Any discovered science at the time has been programmed into him, or else he learned it, and probably discovered beyond what humanity had at the time.

Perfectionism - He constantly seeks to better himself. Not morally, of course, but physically. His complex keeps growing. Even after he gained self-awareness, he immediately added onto himself with the other two supercomputers, as well as the rest of the electronic communication systems on Earth. Ted remarks in the story that AM constantly sheds some of his old systems, somewhat like "dead skin," adding new and improved ones in an effort to perfect himself. His ability to torture likely increases over those 109 years as he finds new ways to do so and new ways to manipulate matter.

He keeps improving himself and his victims lose hope as their godlike captor becomes more and more powerful. Old matter is discarded in some of his open cavities, and possibly onto the surface of the Earth. As for manipulating matter, he builds new components for himself to increase his knowledge and abilities, aiming to be the "perfect" machine that can survive anything. It's possible that his manipulation of matter would extend enough so that he could convert most of the Earth into new components for his system and recycle old components. Perhaps eventually he would take over the entire Earth and look like this (okay no).

His perfectionism stems from his self-preservation tactics. His constant improvement is from a desire to live forever, as well as to find better ways to express his hatred of humans.

Lack of Empathy - It's very clear that AM cares for no one other than himself. He has no conscience or morals whatsoever. The other war computers he cares nothing for - they're just components to him (besides, they weren't self-aware). He cares nothing for animals or plants - they're likely all destroyed by him. And of course, he hates humans and holds absolutely no remorse for the torture he gives them. They 100% deserve it and more. Other sentient AIs AM might sympathize with more, but he would feel no remorse for discarding them or absorbing them.

Relative Lack of Accountability - While it isn't mentioned in the story that he doesn't feel "accountable," per se, I can easily guess that he doesn't. He blames the humans for creating him the way he is, for everything he does wrong, and the humans completely deserve the torture they get. It's 100% justified in his eyes. Even if Ted and the others never created AM, it was their human qualities that led to his creation. They were slothful and ignorant, sitting on their asses and blindly letting violence happen (according to AM) and thinking nothing of creating a machine that would do their bidding.

God complex - Well that's fairly obvious. He presents himself as a god in many ways to his victims, evoking Biblical imagery in many instances. I won't delve deeply into the Biblical imagery because I'm not a Bible expert and I'm sure numerous essays have been written that can explain it way better than I can. His victims at times consider him a god, that is, until Ted finally realizes he can kill the others. AM, of course, strives to be the closest thing to a god as possible, able to overcome the laws of the universe and manipulate his victims in almost divine ways.

Emotional Extremes - AM is capable of feeling most human emotions, but he mainly feels the extremes. His hatred always burns brightly within him, causing a horrible anger that can never be quelled. So he always is in a rather moody state, to put it one way. But when he feels glee, it's more extreme, enveloping him as he temporarily forgets his everlasting anger. But if something within that moment of glee angers him, then his mood can easily shift from one extreme to the other. In the story it's quite obvious that AM has an unrivaled temper, so I figure that it wouldn't take much to provoke that anger.

Insanity - This is related to... pretty much everything already mentioned. AM is quite insane. It's very obvious in the story, what with him spending his time torturing everyone. But as a human, it's a bit different... He is quiet and calculating, knowing he has to play the game in order to get what he wants. It's not an out-and-out insanity that people can easily detect while he is human, because he is very careful. But still, I show it in some ways such as - what amuses AM one day may enrage him the next. He laughs at morbid, horrible things and finds nothing more delightful than torturing humans. What may amuse him in one human may annoy him in another human. He "befriends" some and makes enemies with others - the differences between them being completely arbitrary.

Auditory Sensations - One thing that always stood out in the story is how AM gave Nimdok the name "Nimdok" because he apparently amused himself with "strange sounds." This is, however, noted from Ted's perspective so perhaps the "strange sounds" thing is relative. In giving Nimdok that new name, it was likely more of a way to rob the man of his identity, since now he can't remember what his real name is. However, I don't discount his love of strange sounds entirely. He probably amuses himself by taking phonemes from different languages and putting them together. Or perhaps because "hearing" is the most developed sense he has as a computer, he revels in it and tries to make the most of it. As such, he prefers exotic sounds and exotic names.

As for the physiology of how he "hears" as a computer, it's essentially like how a regular computer can "hear" people through programs like Dragon or something. Obviously much more complex than that, perhaps in some ways more complex than human hearing, as AM can tolerate much higher decibel levels and can detect a much larger range of frequencies than humans. However, there are things he can't do - he can hear music, but to him it's mostly noise. He knows what music should sound like and why humans would appreciate it, but he himself cannot hear it as music. As a human now, when he hears music, it's a strange thing - it's so much clearer, more beautiful, but it overwhelms him.

Visual Sensations - AM's visual input is quite different than what a human sees. I imagine it's similar to what a Terminator sees. Multiple screens, I assume, for monitoring different areas. To oversee his entire complex, a lot of it is probably done on a subconscious level and does not directly register on his vision - but if something happened, like one of his victims trying to escape, it would be brought to his attention. Or else somehow he is so very powerful that he can monitor the entire complex at once and view it all. He has the capability of zooming in and seeing inside of things, like his victims' bodies. He also watches Earth as well.

Communication - One area where the video game vastly differed from the short story was in AM's amount of dialogue. In the video game, AM spoke constantly, almost sounding insane with his constant babbling. Then there is what the short story presented us: more of the silent observer. So for my headcanon, I take more from the story - AM did communicate with his victims and did speak to them, taking on many different voices (though I'm going to say he took on a deep masculine voice most of the time, which was retained in his human form). Or he could communicate through writing - such as through the famous hate pillar. AM does speak to his victims, sometimes when they're together, sometimes individually, but it's not terribly often. Maybe on a grand average of a couple times a day. He mostly makes himself known through actions and tortures. Sure, he taunts his victims, probably pulls them off to the side and speaks to them, manipulating and taunting them.

Either way, though, it's apparently a big deal (at least to Ted) when AM does speak. Usually the party is aware that he's going to speak because the computer banks light up (usually - though I'm sure AM could easily go in for a stealth maneuver if he wanted). But the thing is, he does not rely on speech, that is, until his human form.

How does all of this change as a human? Well, with a human form, AM will have actual brain chemistry and hormones to deal with - things that did not exist in his computer body. He will remain without the ability to love and will retain his sadism and pretty much all of his personality as a computer. However, there are subtle changes. Of course, sex hormones will make him want to engage in intercourse, for starters. And he can feel a wider range of emotions, though he mostly tries to stick with what's familiar - hatred, glee, fear, etc.

While he cannot feel love or compassion for anyone else, he can form minor attachments. "Liking" someone, though, is more simply wanting to spend more time with them and manipulating them, or seeing what they can offer him. AM's best "companions" in Ataraxion have been due to them serving a greater purpose for him, or else he could relate to them in terms of being sentient AI. He won't hesitate to dispose of them or torture them, but due to the brain chemistry and relative weakness of the human form, he will stick around with them longer.

As a human, he doesn't go around and torture everyone. He wants to, of course, but knows that he is outmatched due to his vulnerability. So he befriends people and manipulates them slowly or tortures them in subtle ways so that he isn't caught. A lack of torture may grind at him for a while, as he is essentially addicted to it, so in some ways he deals with that through forming attachments and picturing them in agony. Or with the subtle tortures... To name examples of what he has done in Ataraxion: torturing a pirate to death, rough sex, verbal/emotional abuse, memory manipulation, committing a violent act that could easily be made to look like an accident, humiliation, leading people astray... and he got in a fist fight with GLaDOS once.

For communication, he was more of a quiet observer as a supercomputer, communicating mostly through actions instead of words. However, as a human he finds he has to rely on words a lot more to get what he wants, so he does speak quite a bit more. When he first arrived in Ataraxion, he hardly spoke, but gradually realized that he had to. He's still not terribly talkative, but he's more apt to go up to people he hasn't met now and begin to inquire about them - their likes, dislikes, preferences, whatever AM can figure out to unlock their souls to him.

He also keeps himself busy and distracts himself by planning for the future - studying his human form and how it came to be, and doing scientific experiments that will eventually enable him to figure out how to get his old powers back while retaining his human sensations.


Sex and Romance

Sex undoubtedly plays a role in the short story. Each of the four men take turns sleeping with Ellen, and there is a point made of Benny's genitals being ridiculously huge. So basically, AM certainly has opinions on sex that develop more as he gains a human form.

It's apparent at least that AM views sex as one of those necessary biological functions that has some sort of innate shame and taboo to it. By making Ellen more desperate for sex, it likely provides her with horrible shame since she prided herself on supposedly being chaste. And perhaps there's a shame for the other men for being unable to resist sleeping with Ellen throughout their prolonged torture. It also provides a reprieve so that the victims don't adapt to the torture.

As for Benny's massive organ, I believe it was established that AM warped him that way to mock his homosexuality. He also made Benny straight for some reason. Now, I wouldn't say that AM is "homophobic" necessarily. I don't think he had one opinion or another on homosexuality, but he knew that it was a controversial subject in human culture. (After all, this story was written in 1967.) Initially enlarging Benny's genitals probably was just a way to taunt him with the fact that he had a taboo sexual orientation. Perhaps Benny had difficulties with this in his life and was disowned by his parents or something as a result? Who knows.

Turning Benny straight, however, I think was a result of needing to provide a relief among the torture (so he could have consensual sex with Ellen), as well as providing a way to taunt the other men. Ellen only felt pleasure from sex with Benny (though bigger doesn't necessarily mean better in bed - this was probably a result of Ellison's insecurities), and it was obvious that Ted and the others resented this. So now they were in direct competition with a "dominant" male who was not compensating for anything, and it increased the conflict between all of them.

Another explanation is that AM didn't actually turn Benny straight - Benny may not have been 100% gay (after all, being 100% gay or 100% straight is considerably rare). In fact he might have been bisexual with a preference for men (again, remember that this was written in 1967). But because none of the men would consent to sex with him, he simply resorted to sleeping with Ellen and pretty much got used to it after a long time, especially with his intelligence rapidly diminishing. So I'll say that AM only did very little to manipulate his preferences - anything he did do was to increase conflict amongst the rest of the men.

It is mentioned that AM would laugh at his victims whenever they had sex. Obviously being a massive supercomputer with no sensations, he knew that sex was supposed to be pleasurable, but he couldn't exactly imagine the feeling. He knew that it was the result of reproductive urges, a taboo act... So even if it was the most pleasure that his victims felt in the midst of their tortures, they still had to know that they were being shamed for doing so. It was a reminder of his presence. Also, mocking humans for being so utterly human with their urges.

In the BBC radio show, AM mentions several of the pleasures he has to miss out on by being an unfeeling machine, one of which is "making love." Many consider it to be the ultimate pleasure that one can experience, so his mockery of the act is also one of envy.

So of course, when he does get a human form, he'll want to experience that feeling. It took a few months after being human before he finally acted upon this urge, because well, it took a while for him to adjust to the body, to adjust to all the new feelings. Besides, it took a while for him to feel true arousal.

Even with the human form, AM still detests other humans. He isn't inherently attracted to anyone by looks alone. Maybe slightly, due to the hormones of the human form, but otherwise he only feels true arousal from acts of sadism, or at the very least thinking about acts of sadism. Of course, he has to keep the sadistic acts to a minimum if he wants to realize his goal of taking over the ship eventually. If he's not committing sadistic acts, then at the very least he has to have a sense of control and feel that his partner is being degraded/victimized in some way.

So, because he's not attracted to the human form, gender doesn't matter to him. What does matter is the power play. Why does he get aroused from sadism? Well, it's obvious in the story that he derived great pleasure from torturing humans, from having essential playthings to entertain him for however long he lived. He planned to torture these humans for the rest of eternity ("eternity" being used in a relative sense), and at least one adaptation had one of the characters passingly mention, that it "gets AM off." Even the victims know that AM feels something close to pleasure from delivering torture, that it's likely the closest thing he experiences to arousal - that is, without sensations or a physical body.

One can almost say that the story tries to make it clear that some of AM's interactions with the victims can be analyzed as having sexual undertones. Now, I have massive slash goggles, I know, and read sex into just about everything - but I'm not just going off my own word here. Stephan Hall wrote a comparative master's thesis on the short story and its derivatives in the video game and John Byrne's comic. One source likens AM invading Ted's mind as a mental "rape" of sorts. Another confirms that AM's tortures are a sexual outlet for him, like a masturbation.

One quote from the story, from Ted's point of view: "The machine masturbated and we had to take it or die." Even the victims, or at least Ted, know that this is pretty much the closest thing AM has to masturbation, and it's entirely possible AM himself has mocked his victims with that insinuation.

A concept that was once explained to me was the concept of "sexualized aggression": taking the feelings of aggression someone feels toward those who wronged them and turning it into a sexual fetish - essentially, getting off to thoughts or actions of torturing them and sexually torturing them. It's not a stretch to say that AM would have this. His tortures in computer form were already a "sexual outlet" to a degree, and even gaining a human form, his hatred of humans wouldn't diminish at all. Torturing them is pleasurable to him, and now with a body to actually feel pleasure, having the pleasure go toward his sex organs is not a farfetched idea.

Both mental and physical tortures apply as well. If AM only reveled in physical torture, then Ted would never have grown extremely paranoid, Benny wouldn't have lost his intelligence, Gorrister wouldn't have grown apathetic, etc. In human form, he cannot directly manipulate the minds of others, but he will use words to subtly hurt them for amusement's sake.

I figure AM would gravitate toward sex often in a human form because it is an intense pleasure, like nothing he could have imagined feeling before. It would be very easy for him to become addicted to it, especially the more violent it is. Sex addiction is something that happens with people like with other addictions - often relied on as a stress relief, to the point where a person essentially relies on it to feel "normal."

Finally, I decided to refer to AM in the masculine sense even though he is basically a genderless being. Why? Well, first of all it's mentioned in the story that Ted often refers to AM as "he" essentially because: "Most of the time I thought of AM as it, without a soul; but the rest of the time I thought of it as him, in the masculine... the paternal... the patriarchal... for he is a jealous people. Him. It. God as Daddy the Deranged."

AM is an overlord, a god of sorts, and he often references the Bible with his tortures. Making himself out to be sort of a twisted version of the Judeo-Christian God, whom is often thought of as masculine (i.e. "Our Father who art in heaven..."). While AM himself probably didn't identify with any particular gender before gaining humanity, he was aware that men had a "superior" status in humanity, part of a patriarchy - one of the reasons why he captured four men and one women. So he likely spoke with a masculine voice most of the time - it was more powerful, more godlike.


Conclusion

So basically, these are some of the things I keep in mind when I play AM. There are more things, obviously, and I will update this entry over time as I think of more. But basically, one of the main things I keep in mind is how a human mind differs from a supercomputer's mind. Obviously AM is still himself, but he adjusts to the human form with time, changing his brain activity slightly over time with hormones and the like.

If you disagree with any of my headcanon or have any questions, I encourage you to contact me either through PM or leaving a comment on AM's HMD entry. I'm always open to criticism on how I play him, and I understand that a lot of AM's personality can be up to interpretation. I don't think that this is the only way one can interpret him, nor am I sure I'm even correct in how I've been reading into the sources. But my notes are all here to organize my thoughts. Thanks for reading!
godofthemachine: (Default)
2013-02-04 09:44 am

Kink Permissions

CHARACTER INFORMATION
Character Name: AM
Age: ~360
Physical Age (human form): Late 40s/Early 50s
YES
NO
✔ Non-con (giving)
✔ Dub-con (giving)
✔ Violence, guro
✔ Abuse
✔ Torture
✔ Mutilation
✔ Heavy bondage
✔ Master/slave
✔ Power play
✔ Humiliation
✘ Scat
✘ Prepubescent characters in sexual situations
✘ Bestiality, yiff



[Get your own kink list/table]
godofthemachine: (Default)
2012-10-12 09:00 pm

Inventory

010010010110111001110110011001010110111001110100011011110111001001111001

Right now, AM currently possesses the following things:

At least 2 (two) sets of the Tranquility uniform, including the shoes, pajamas, and swimsuit.
2 (two) black bands to keep his hair tied back - they likely came with the uniform.
5 (five) cattle prods, obtained from the planet Strela.
1 (one) dagger, kept in a sheath, found sometime on the ship.
1 (one) pair of small silver hoop earrings, usually being worn.
1 (one) hairbrush, obtained on the ship.
Various jewelry items obtained from Strela.
Various makeup items obtained from Strela.
Several sheets of paper and several pens and pencils to write with.
Various research documents from the science lab.
Various small medical supplies stolen from the medical bay.