Early Adopter
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Basic Information

An early adopter or lighthouse customer is an early customer or advocate of a new technology or product. It's this person's evangelism that brings the product to the attention of all your later customers. They're the one taking the risk if your product turns out to be a lemon or a confidence trick. They're also imperiled by any bugs in the early versions of the product. But it may all be worth it if the product is solid, or the benefits for early adopting are high. The higher pricetags that new technologies often have at the time of initial release is sometimes jokingly referred to as early adopter tax.

Early Adopter also be used as a characterization trope. In this case, it's that trendy person who always has the last apple product that just released yesterday, and already has a presence and followers on the new social media platform you've never heard of before. They invest heavily in being ahead of the curve, and take pride is showing it off.



Game and Story Use

  • Some new nanotech or macguffin has a terrible side effect or unseen consequence, and this character is the guinea pig or patient zero when it all goes pear-shaped.
    • It may even be a trap, where the tech has a intentionally malicious dark side that will soon be unleashed on the world. The PCs are called in when the first early adopter dies or turns into a monster, and have to figure out which of three different brand new devices he's carrying may have caused the problem.
      • Perhaps it's a combination of them all being used in tandem, and they have some calamitous interaction when paired together.
  • Early adopter is good characterization trait for a Noble, Techie, Artist, Influencer, or High Society Movers and Shakers.
    • Better for wealthy characters than starving artist types.
    • There's also the option for the networked in tech geek who is in on the public beta (or even alpha) trials of the device and gets shiny stuff at promotional prices (or even for free) in return for testing, evaluation and bug logging/de-bugging. This is essentially paying the early adopter tax in time rather than money, but allows the starving artist (or at least engineer) access if required for plot.
  • In a rules-system where mastercraft equipment gives a quantized bonus (say +1), the brand new cutting edge tech might have a better bonus, but be inherently (and unpredictably) unreliable. Maybe +1 and a Fudge Die for a total bonus per use of +0 to +2?
  • There may also be a contextual reputation or other prestige bonus to be had if you can coo over the latest gadget with a fellow techie - certainly a good icebreaker or bribe in some circumstances.
  • Disappointed early adopters might tank your new product with a review bomb. Their scathing reviews mention a flaw that never came up during development or beta. Is this a legit flaw the PCs need to look into? Or is it actually covert corporate espionage/sabotage by a rival company using a sockpuppet (internet).
  • There are also those early adopters who end up going down the wrong trouser leg - minidiscs? BetaMax? DC mains supply? Some may be embittered or jaded by the experience, others may become lost cause fanatics, forever insisting on the superiority of "their" alternate technology.
    • Of course, if you can work around the compatibility issues, this sort of ghost tech may have a niche advantage one day - in a time of universal, super virulent computer viruses, the fact that you are working on an Acorn Archimedes may mean you have the only truly safe data in the country. Shame you can't do anything with it…
      • Those who were still working with non-Microsoft software (such as Pegasus Mailer) in the early computer pandemics may recall what this was like…
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