The player starts in an office, at a computer. The PC is reading an article titled Cartographer I project delayed, researchers refuse to explain why. We hear a door opening, and the PC quickly alt-tabs to a program with various data on it. He swings around to face the person that just entered the room. It is a man in his late twenties, wearing a lab coat.
PERSON IN LAB COAT: Well, since we're going to be using your soul for the project, we thought it would only be right for you to decide the physical features of the host body. I've uploaded a program to our intranet. You can use that to decide what you'll look like in your next life. It's in a hidden folder in the main directory, so you should be able to find it pretty quickly.
PC: Thanks. I'll get right on it.
PERSON IN LAB COAT: I'll leave you to it, then. (beat) By the way, your reaction times have slowed. I managed to read that headline before you switched windows.
PC: (muttering) Dammit...
The PC opens a terminal window and opens the program. Another window pops up, and this is where the player designs their character. Options are body shape, skin tone, facial features, sex, etc. The player also names the PC here.
Once the player is done, fade to black.
The player sees nothing, initially. After a few seconds, the player's eyes open to reveal a white room with a door. It takes a few seconds for their eyes to focus. The PC is on a bed, and gets up. The PC stumbles for a bit before regaining its balance.
VOICE: Ah, you're awake. Glad to see that, I am. How are you feeling? Good, I take it? If not, feel free to rest.
PC: What's going on? Where am I?
VOICE: Hm. Seems you haven't recovered any of your personal memories yet. At least you know our language. Anyway, you are the result of an experiment to capture a soul and put it in a dormant body. As you can tell, the experiment was a success. You are free to leave the room now. If you have any questions- and I'm sure you do, feel free to direct them to anyone who's not working.
The player hears a click, and a light just above the door handle changes from red to green. Once the player exits the room, they are free to explore the lab. Talking to the staff lets you learn more about the project, and the surrounding world. You can also visit an obstacle course and a firing range, as a combat tutorial. It's about lunchtime when you wake up, so there are a lot of people with free time. The in-game clock doesn't advance until the player exits the lab, by the way. This section of the game is basically a tutorial, so the player isn't required to talk to all of these people and is thus skippable. I'm looking at you, Custom Robo.
At the firing range, the player has access to various firearms and is allowed to train with them. The guns available are mostly (BORDER NATION) weapons, but a few (CYBERPUNK NATION) and (MAGIC NATION) weapons are there as well. You are allowed to fire at targets, and can choose the range. Moving targets are available as well.
The person at the firing range has some knowledge he's willing to spare you for, mostly about weapons. Which weapons are best for what situations, the differences between various manufacturers, etc. He talks at some length, and you have the option to request (politely or not) that he stop.
He also mentions a challenge he has for you. Give him however much money you're willing to bet. Complete the challenge, and he'll double it. Try as many times as you want. The challenge is designed to be impossible, but you can win it. You'll just have to cheat. Sneak in your own weapon, mod it, use special ammo, rig the course, etc. If he isn't going to play fair, you don't have to either. Bet a small to medium amount, and you'll get double if you win. If you bet a lot, he'll still accept, thinking that you can't win. If you beat him, he'll admit this and offer you everything he has on him. Since this challenge was off the books from the start, and he tried to con you, you have a lot of leverage. Thus, you have a few options.
1) Give me the money.
2) Bullshit. You're holding out. (He is. If your speech skill is high enough, you get the extra cash. If not, you get the regular amount and he hates you a little more. May be this could tie into a later quest?)
3) Keep your money. I'll take a favor. (He thinks you're talking about a sexual favor, which the PC corrects. I'm not sure what to do with this option. Maybe have it tie into the same quest? Any advantage this gives you should not be required to complete said quest, but would make it easier.)
4) Keep your money. I'll take a gun. (He can't give you one of the range's weapons, since they're all licensed to the range and kept in stock. If one of them went missing, the bureaucrats would know. Instead, you get to choose from his collection. All the guns have women's names. Mabel, Vera, Beatrice, Jayne, Seras, etc.)
Whether you take the challenge or not, you can pay this guy to mod your weapons.
In the cafeteria, the player can ask about the outside world. If they do, they're directed to a specific person. In-game, this is because he knows a lot about history, politics, etc. Design-wise, it's so a bunch of dialog doesn't have to be recorded several times over by different VAs. Once the player talks to this person, they can discuss the following topics.
- What is the soul transfer project? (An experiment to capture and transplant a soul into a dormant body. The project director's health was failing, so he offered himself as the donor.)
- I remember the name Cartographer I. Do you know what that is? (The Cartographer I is the first man-made satellite, currently under development. Its main purpose is to see what's behind the Fog Wall.)
-- Fog Wall (A border of fog surrounding the continent, about three miles from the shore in every direction. Nobody that has gone into the Fog Wall has ever returned. The player doesn't learn this for some time, but it's actually utility fog.)
- What's outside the lab? (Player's question is answered, and conversation turns to the political state and how it got there. From then on the player can ask about any of these topics.)
-- (MAGIC NATION)
--- Magic (Not as diverse as the magic you'd find in a "normal" fantasy setting, but very powerful. The downside is that you're literally using your soul as ammunition. It's also possible to absorb memories, adding them to your soul. This results in more "ammunition" for spells, but is likely to drive the receiver insane. Since this isn't like regular fantasy magic, maybe I should call it something else?)
---- Sleeper agents with false memories
--- Political state
-- (BORDER NATION)
--- History and founding (Born out of the latest of many conflicts between (MAGIC NATION) and (CYBERPUNK NATION). The two nations have been fighting for as long as anyone can remember. )
--- Political state
-- (CYBERPUNK NATION)
--- Prosthetics (Think Ghost in the Shell. Prosthetic eyes are common, as are minor body mods. In the poorer cities, you can't afford a good prosthetic. Thus, infections and rejection from the body are common problems. Moonshine is a common antibiotic.)
--- Political state