I'm currently working on a world concept that revolves around an island, let's call it Amnesia, that is basically under siege by an all powerful malevolent force, let's call it BrainDamage. The idea is basically that BrainDamage periodically wipes the memory of the island's inhabitants and completely resets the society. The inhabitants of the island are unaware of any world outside their island, as well. BrainDamage's motives have not yet been fully fleshed out but I'm leaning toward BrainDamage using the inhabitants of the island as sustenance, harvesting and consuming their memories when he resets their world.

Each time the society is reset, I'm envisioning that everyone will wake up in neutral clothing, all the signs of all the shops are erased, etc. My question, then, is how can I be sure to prevent a 50 First Dates-esque occurrence without significantly hampering society? Things like "no history books" would prevent that society from being rich and cultural, I'm afraid. For all intents and purposes, let's say that BrainDamage gets more sustenance if he consumes richer, more well rounded memories.

Bonus points if your answer can also include some options for how a certain select few individuals can "circumvent" this total wipe and allow for a 50 First Dates experience while society at large still get's zapped.

If it helps with the theme, I'm designing this world for use in a D&D game though I'd like the answers to be largely free from specific rules.

Unfortunately, like this world the bonus points are made up. (:

Edit: 50 First Dates is a movie in which Drew Barrymore has some crazy mental disorder where every day she wakes up is a specific day in her past and she doesn't remember anything after that day. Adam Sandler falls in love with her and to get her to remember him he creates a video explaining everything that she watches each morning.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you explain the '50 First Dates' reference? $\endgroup$
    – Martin_xs6
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, it's been added! $\endgroup$
    – Kymvaris
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't an all-powerful being have all the options? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ Since the being is all powerful, it can give the people new identities and memories each time they wake up, ala the movie Dark City. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ What is a "richer, more well-rounded memory"? Are all memories erased or do they still retain things such as language and reading? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


If the creature is able to erase the people's memories then why couldn't it give them new ones? The Island inhabitants wake up only knowing what profession that the malevolent force has assigned for them and are forced to go about rebuilding their society. Who was The Baker last week is now The Carpenter, and The Teacher is now The Mayor. etc.

If the entity is particularly mischievous, I could see it amusing itself by putting people in roles that they are particularly unqualified to perform. Assigning new roles solves the problem of society collapsing after each reset or just repeating itself, and could potentially throw the town into a controlled chaos for the creature's amusement/nourishment.

Depending on how much control the creature has over the island, maybe it can only see current residents and so a shipwreck nearby the island could introduce a foreign body to go about unraveling the mystery of the town. The creature might even notice the interference but be unable to reset it and so the next reset all the islanders wake up as soldiers to defeat the threat like some sort of white blood cell defensive response.

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    $\begingroup$ As an evil entity, I would find it amusing to make the entire town think they are "Kevin, the unhappy mayor who actually does nothing other than wander around and make sure everybody is happy." $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ For a similar concept, see the 1998 film Dark City. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 22:26

Well, the best solution for stopping Adam Sandler from making making movies would probably be... seriously, you should explain what you actually want using English instead cryptic reference to a romantic movie. I'll assume you want to stop people gaining a collective memory that allows them to discover what was done to them. If that was incorrect, please comment.

You just need to get the initial hit right. If the first time is a complete surprise and people have no opportunity to prepare and no advance knowledge of the events they could possibly store and recover, you are golden. This is because they will have no reason to be discontent and rebel... that they can remember. If they do not have any reason the first time, the odds they could discover something unpleasant in any one period are pretty remote. As far as they know, remember, starting periodically from tabula rasa is the normal state of things. They'll adapt and be content.

Simplest option for a few select beings to avoid this is, if the Mind Eater wants it that way. It would be reasonable to have a Sacred Order capable of communicating with "God" and tasked with helping people get restarted after a wipe. This would imply being exempted from the wipe. The Order would also be tasked with helping teach the people that the wipe feeds God and helps him keep the demons from eating the World. So people would be motivated to develop their minds and collect vivid memories. It would be their part in saving the World and keeping everyone alive.

Rebellion would arise, if over time the Mind Eater got careless and said bit too much to his servants and they could spot some discrepancies. If he got careless before the first wipe and the Order was founded before the first wipe, the Inner Circle of the Order might have a disturbingly accurate idea what is really going on from the very beginning. Otherwise it would be something that a small and secret tradition of Free Thinkers within the Order collected over a long time.

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    $\begingroup$ I believe that my edit sufficiently demonstrated the idea I was going for. If it did not, you did assume correctly. One thing I realize I didn't make very clear is that the Mind Eater is evil and the few select beings who would avoid the wipe would be adversarial to him and attempting to bring him down. Could you possibly address that? If so, I'll edit the question to include that info; if not, I'll leave it so as to not invalidate your question. Additionally, you addressed the initial hit, but could you expand to include periodic wipes? $\endgroup$
    – Kymvaris
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ Though one thing I never thought of was having certain people intentionally exempted! I will definitely use this to give the big bad Mind Eater some good minions! $\endgroup$
    – Kymvaris
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Kymvaris The idea was that if you get the initial hit right, the periodic wipes are not an issue since unless Mind Eater tells he is evil and what he is doing is wrong, the poor amnesiacs lack the references to realize it. Also, I did realize you wanted the exempted to be the good guys, but the simplest solution is still to have them start as "good minions" who are intentionally exempted, who then rebel once the Mind Eater somehow messes up and loses their loyalty. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ I want to hear more about how to stop Adam Sandler from making movies. That's sort of worldbuilding, isn't it? ;) $\endgroup$
    – Ayelis
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:49

If an evil god wiped the memories of the inhabitants on an island, society would simply break. Men and women would wake up in bed next to complete strangers, children would not obey their parents nor would the parents give orders not having remembered them. Any possible clues that they could have, such as clothes or signs, you've established that they too will be wiped clear. The society would plunge into chaos, with many of the inhabitants leaving the town or getting murdered.

I assume that the scope of this evil god isn't to destroy the inhabitants but to simply leech off their memories, so completely wiping the memory of the island's inhabitants strikes me as a bad idea in general. It seems to me that the smarter thing to do would be to let them hold on to those few memories necessary to keep society in place, namely memories of who their family is, who are the people in the town and what it is that they do in town (or you risk that they'd hole up in their house for the entire day before the next reset).

Then, in order to create definite memories in the minds of those you will consume, what better way than to announce your presence and your evil deeds in a booming voice in the sky? The town will remember you all too well. The next day you can do it all over again.

However, if by "richer" memories you mean family-oriented memories, then you could just as easily paint a story for the island. Create a monster that must be fended off by the inhabitants, and let it be killed by them. The families will rejoice and create a feast, thinking that they've destroyed the curse creating many "richer" memories. The next day you'd do it all over again.

Conceivably, there would be no way to fight against a god if he wanted to wipe your memory, so to this effect, if you wanted someone to get around it, perhaps the evil god simply overlooks some aspects. Perhaps his memory-wiping doesn't affect the mentally handicapped or animals. Perhaps a believer in this god is immune to the memory wipe because of his faith, and that believer can change his idea on his faith later and the evil god may overlook him. It would be an interesting twist on the Peter and the wolf tale, with the island's inhabitants all believing in the monster and the curse laid out for them, but the immune inhabitant and former believer of this god must try to find a way of breaking the spell and nobody believing him.

  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your insight. I did have some methods for avoiding the total massacre that you mentioned such as possibly a "divine guidance (false, obviously, from the evil deity) vision" or, as Ville Niemi mentioned above, have the BBEG have some followers on the island that create peace and society after each wipe. Though I do still like the idea of the BBEG wiping memories I also like the idea of him siphoning certain memories, this will add a cool reason for short term memory loss into the story. (: $\endgroup$
    – Kymvaris
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ One thing I should clarify is that I didn't originally intend for this BBEG to be a deity. I realize now that my use of "all-powerful" gives that impression though in my opinion a deity must both be all-powerful and all-knowing to truly be a deity. Omniscience is not something I was planning to give this BBEG. Good answer, in any case! $\endgroup$
    – Kymvaris
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:55

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