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I want to develop the lore of my world for a project. The main idea is: The protagonist has something (can be a curse, whatever, it will be decided later) that makes everyone forget about him when he is not around.

Explaining a little better: If he/she is with someone, all is fine, but when he/she gets more than a certain distance from that person, that person's memory about the protagonist will start to fade away, until that person completely forgets. What would be the implications of such world for the life/personality of the protagonist? Also, I was thinking about problems, like he/she buys something, and the seller would forget about it, so he/she needs to make sure no one thinks it's stealing.

EDIT: Answering all the questions (I was with a 12-hour shift from work, sorry guys).

It wouldn't strike at birth, should be something it was acquired later on by the protagonist, maybe on his/hers early 20s. As given on comments, it would be very interesting to have some antagonist with the same situation, but maybe with a better grasp/control of it, or at least knowing how to greatly use on his (the antagonist) favor.

Once you get out of radius, it would slowly fade way, and yes, depending on your relationship with the protagonist, the memories would take longer and harder to forget. The shopkeeper you just bought something would quickly forget, but some kind of lover would take way more, like days/months, but would start forgetting one fact at time. Memories lost this way, so far, would not come back, but I'm still thinking about it.

Documents, things destroyed and on would stay the same. So if the protagonist is punched or punches someone, it would still be there even if the person forgot what happened, and pictures taken this way would still keep his/her record (but people who see will get that feeling of "how the f*ck this guy got in my picture?"). So, to make it clear, any physical/digital record made would be kept.

I was wondering about the time setting be placed somewhere with not advanced technology, like medieval/steampunk time, so people would be more dependant of what is told to them, also trips would take longer, making the condition of the protagonist worse (a trip that we would make in 2hr by plane would most probably take 1 full day by horse, leaving time to some people to forget him/her). So, even with his/her SO, things could be complicated, like, the SO remembers being with someone, but can't remember who.

So, if the time setting is indeed the one I stated, jobs as a mercenary would fit well, if set in the modern age, remote jobs would do just fine, as the comments pointed out.

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closed as off-topic by Mołot, Aify, Hohmannfan, Mindwin, dot_Sp0T Dec 28 '16 at 15:36

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 29 '16 at 20:29
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Also, I was thinking about problems, like he/she buys something, and the seller would forget about it, so he/she needs to make sure no one thinks it's stealing

Actually, I was thinking that this could be a great way TO steal things. A fantastic advantage...Steal from a store, the owner calls it in. If the cops are a few minutes, the owner forgets their face...If it's an hour or a day, maybe they even forget they called it in?

Explaining a little better: If he/she is with someone, all fine, but whe he/she gets more than a certain distance from that person, that person's memory about the protagonist will start to fade away, until that person completely forgets. How would be the implications of such world for the life/personality of the protagonist?

Lots and lots of first dates? Here's a question, which isn't completely clear from what you wrote, if I see the forgettable protagonist, and have a conversation with him, and then I see him again, do I suddenly recall our past interaction? It doesn't sound like it. If not, for a lot of men, at least, it means that they can gather info on a person they like and be a perfect man for them the first time she remembers meeting him.

If I forget the protagonist until the next time I see him and then I remember, that changes the way the protagonist interacts with the world and the people in it. In this case, it's possible to live with someone.

It's also possible, though somewhat difficult to keep a job, depending on the type of society/time that this is set in. In a large company, most people are just names on a payroll. Getting the job would be difficult, but, maybe not, since the protagonist can have multiple conversations with the person that has the power to put them on payroll (again, this depends on if the person would suddenly recall their last interaction upon meeting them again, which would not be conducive to getting put on payroll, or if they would be meeting the protagonist again, for the first time). It's a fabulous way to get information.

If set in modern times, I expect that they would have an online persona and email. They would interact with people in that way, most likely. And, it's another way for the forgettable man to get a job. It's also a way to interact and get a rental home or buy a house. If most of it is done electronically, or mailed, they can live life around this inconvenience.

EDIT BASED ON TIME PERIOD ANSWER: You put Medieval/Steampunk, and I'm going to say that there's a vast difference. Steampunk, even if it has some elements of modern stuff and some mystical and weird science elements, is generally set at the dawn of the industrial age--like the 1830s-1910.

As far as record keeping goes, that time period is VASTLY different than Medieval. (I've studied the Medieval time period a bit). Medieval times also varied greatly from geographic area to area. It wasn't until the rise of the Medici banks that a system of record keeping and doing more business through writing than in past ages, really developed. The Renaissance was more of a time of education and it started in the 1450s. The variance in Medieval times, as far as records and writing are concerned, had to do with a lack of education for a lot of people and a lack of social mobility. This changed with the Black Plague, which, I think, was part of the reason we were ready for the Renaissance. Basically, if you want this guy to use writing or written records to conduct his affairs, it's an easier road if you go no earlier than LATE Medieval or squarely Renaissance. (I like the swinging 1580s and 90s myself-- and it's a time of great playwrights, which is a job your guy can have...with an assistant who can be remembered).

Now standard Steampunk period--that there's the time of Dickens & Sherlock Holmes. I cannot tell you how many plots of Dickens' revolve around a mysterious benefactor, never seen or revealed until the end, who makes life better for the protagonist through a law firm. And Dickens isn't the only one to apply this device for this time period. It's a thing, I promise. And it serves to illustrate that as long as there is $$, and documents, stuff gets done in the 1830s-1910s by people barely seen. (In some plots, lawyers just get letters and never SEE their clients, they just collect the money and act for them.) It's actually easier to get a lawyer to act for a mysterious person they have never seen than it is today, if you can believe it, because they didn't really do background checks very well and because travel was more difficult. (And they did have trains...Steampunk can be blended with any time period, but the word "steam" is in there for a reason, and that means steam engines).

In either period, jobs are going to be more difficult, but not impossible, than they would be for the modern era. Playwright or courier are two that come to mind. Mercenary oddly, did not. What job depends on the world and frankly, exactly when--because the jobs of the 1100s were not the jobs of the 1450s or 1660s or 1860s, it's all different and is going to be dependant on your world. Find a specific time period you like and research the ever-loving heck out of it--you'll find something, or lots of things.

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    $\begingroup$ Good points! One thought, though: I can see that a shop keeper of rare goods in a fantasy world would perhaps think that an item he sold was stolen as he'd probably only have one or two of it and easily notice that it was missing; although, he could remember selling it, but not to whom. I would guess, though, that unless the actual shop owner runs into the protagonist and see the item, then no one will think it to be stolen anyway (if you carry something around as if you own it, people tend to assume you do). $\endgroup$ – Mrkvička Dec 27 '16 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička Depends on the shopkeeper. Some kept meticulous records by the 1400s or even earlier. A bit like seeing that the sale was run up on the receipts. They'd see they had the money, see a record in their handwriting and see the item missing. They might wonder about it, but some shopkeepers certainly wouldn't admit that they couldn't remember. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 27 '16 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička This is also a good way to get remembered. Find a shopkeeper like this and buy items from him. He WILL remember the items and the money--when you come back again, you say "I was the customer who bought the magic harp last month, and your entire supply of caltrops. I would think you would remember." Any good merchant will be like, "Yes, of course" and if they come back more than once, he will chalk it up to a weird thing, but if he's business-minded and incurious, might not care. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 27 '16 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ In the Five Kingdoms series by Brandon Mull, once someone crosses over to there from earth, they are completely forgotten. Any evidence of their existence ( photos, letters, emails, belongings, rooms, etc.) are glossed over by the minds of people on Earth. This could operate on a similar principle, which would complicate things. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 27 '16 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon Complicate things or make it easier, depending on the situation. With the shopkeeper, if it's glossed over in their minds, then, they wouldn't even remember to be upset, maybe? Interesting angle to come at it. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 27 '16 at 22:40
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Groundhog day

This situation would allow the protagonist to repeatedly re-initiate meeting people, each time learning from how their previous "first meeting" or first date went - it can have some parallels to the popular Groundhog day movie.

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    $\begingroup$ Also at least one episode of Star Trek and the last few books of the first Sword of Truth series. And several other instances already mentioned. Basically quite a well-treaded idea, though I'm sure there's still scope for new work. :-) $\endgroup$ – Harry Johnston Dec 28 '16 at 5:20
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Sounds like a very lonely existence for your protagonist. To know, but never be known.

It would be impossible to hold a job or have any kind of meaningful relationship unless there was a way to somehow turn it off or mitigate the effects for short durations.

Maybe the longer your protagonist "imprints" on an individual the longer it takes the memories to fade from existence. Maybe video and/or audio cues (skype/phone calls) is enough to maintain the memories.

This would be an incredible ability for a covert operative as long as he/she maintains the imprint with the home base.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I want to get in this point, since everything related to people would be way harder than already is. I edited my post to answer it, sorry taking so long! $\endgroup$ – Myrium Dec 28 '16 at 15:37
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First, you need to use agents. Here buy this widget for 50 pounds for me. The shop seller remembers the agent so everything is fine.

Unless, proximity restores their previous memory of you, if you got married your spouse could never leave your side. Even to goto the bathroom. The priest need not remember you a permanent record of the marriage exists in the marriage registry.

I hope at least your children can remember you, or it is going to be awkward. In modern times a dna test would prove it, and that would be enough for the legal system.

In modern times, everyone believes the computer. You show up with a drivers license and that is who you are. Most people today, don't remember individual people. You have a receipt, therefore you paid for it, and everything is fine. Especially with security cameras, I may not know his/her name, but their they are paying for their purchase. Done.

Using credit cards, your name matches your drivers license so your fine. In today's society it wouldn't be that difficult to own or handle things as you are a number. Buying a house, you are probably one of 50 people buying house from that agent, the forms are complete and witnessed, transaction complete. The agent will think nothing of forgetting one of hundreds of customers, as the facts will be written down.

Self employment might be your best option, as long as you have records of money spent and earned so you can pay your taxes as far as the government is concern everything is fine. Inventor, or something you can do by yourself would be best.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, it's not line of sight it's distance, do the protagonist could probably just hang out next to the bathroom door. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 27 '16 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon Still you will need a very clingy wife who will voluntarily never be more than a few steps away. I hope the distance is at least 10 or 15 feet so they can be anywhere in the same room. $\endgroup$ – cybernard Dec 27 '16 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, this is exactly why I asked for time period clarification. Modern times make this all...a bit easier. Depends on the tech level for sure, as to what kind of life yon forgettable protagonist has. A forgettable having kids: this is where Santa comes from. You won't remember him, but there's bike on Christmas morning and the cookies get eaten. Santa had a lot of children... $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Dec 28 '16 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ Plausible. Here's a real world couple that stays within 15 ft of each other at all times: jezebel.com/391274/… The marriage lasted 20 years. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Roach $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Dec 28 '16 at 5:05
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I recommend you "Forget me not", a Marvel comic with the same concept.

I like to think that there is some kind of "ritual" or "thing" that he can do, so the people remember him a little or just get to know his existence ,like: "ooh, you are that guy that helped me yesterday! oh...what was your name? I can't remember it...".

An interesting topic would be his childhood, how his parents acknowledged his existence and so on.

It would be funny to see managers confused when looking at the papers like: "how in the hell that guy made 8 job interviews with us? I never saw him in my life!"

I important topic would be his mental health and how he maintains it. Obviously you would be shocked if everyone that you love forgot about you and treated you like a stranger.

I see a character like this stick his existence to documents as much as he could. Internet blog/artist, journalist , bookwritter and so on. People who meet him would be like "no way you are that guy!".

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! I will give it a check. It could be something he can do to make some people retain some memories, or the ones they dear most. Also, some people could make diaries by themselves, and wonder who is that guy who disappeared. Still on the diaries topic, one person could realize it has several entries of a person who is not being remembered $\endgroup$ – Myrium Dec 28 '16 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ maybe to "counter balance" the fact that he appears on documents you could put something like "more proof you exist, quickly people forget you" if you want a more dramatic approach >:) $\endgroup$ – LouizFC Dec 28 '16 at 16:22
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Mr. Average Gray was an ordinary person, there was no facial feature, or anything else that stood out. His manners were soft and his speech friendly, without any excess, just enough to be trusted and be remembered briefly, a couple of minutes at most.

Average did not have enough charisma for a woman to be attracted to him, so he never had a girlfriend or anything that could be named. Dating? Not exactly, some sporadic and brief encounter, sometimes of great sexual intensity ... but quickly forgotten.

It was not just his physical appearance or his behaviour, Average suspected there had to be some other cause. A pheromone or some telepathic effect was what made him so unmemorable.

And thinking about this was when Mr. Gray decided to take advantage of it ...

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