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The Essence effect scale?

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Pure Mongrel:
Hi guys,

I was wondering if there is a scale for the effects and ways characters acted / responded in regards to loss of essence. If not, has anyone considered one?

I keep reading that the more essence a character loses, the more disconnected from humanity they become ... but at what stage, or essence loss, does "X" happen?

What are types of "X"?

For instance could "X" be ...

No longer "gets" funny jokes?
No longer reacts to a love song or movie?
No longer thinks puppies or kittens are cute?
No longer has love, comfort or warmth as a "need"?
No longer understands facial expressions?
No longer subscribes to "Women and Children first!"?
No longer stops to help an injured bystander or team mate?
No longer has a sex drive?
No longer feels faith or understands the concept of religion?
No longer considers the loss of a real limb an issue?
No longer sees themselves as an ego, but more of an "it"?
No longer gets hidden meaning or reads between the lines?
No longer gets gut feelings?
No longer thinks in "maybe", every thing "is" or "isn't"?
No longer considers personal hygiene? (Bathe, do hair, brush teeth, etc.)
No longer does actions governed by social norms? (Pick nose, go to the "toilet" when needed as opposed to where expected, interrupt someone already talking? etc.)
No longer performs actions at appropriate times? (Eat and drink right in the middle of a gun fight because the hunger and thirst registered right then, Answer a phone and talk at normal level during a funeral, etc?)

What else and where would that sit on the scale?

At what stage of the scale do dice modifiers apply and to what?

I guess one way to look at it is what are the extremes?

6 essence = functional (meta)human being.
0 essence = dead.

So really, one reasonable interpretation is to say someone at 2 essence is only paying attention a third of the time (2/6 = 1/3). But that doesn't really pan out for gameplay's sake. You have characters fully active even on .05 essence left.

I guess one way cyberpsychosis could manifest in is as a growing fear of the reaper. Drop to 0, your dead.. if your sitting at .05, well... it won't take much to push you over. That can feed a growing paranoia. That means your always looking over your shoulder, and even sometimes pulling your gun on people because for a moment, that guy walking down the street looked so much like the reaper... best known as a paranoid mental flaw.

But honestly, I don't think there is any hard and fast rules on how someone should behave when they're losing essence, as that's largely a RP consideration. It certainly can provide justification for some of those mental flaws, that's for sure.

Nomad Zophiel:
Shadowrun seems to handle Essence as more a metaphysical thing than a social one. You can take psychological Negative Qualities to represent a growing disconnect from normal people but its not required. What you're talking about is more like Cyberpunk 2020's rules where having cyberware deducts from your Empathy (effectively Charisma and the ability to Judge Intention). Its entirely possibly to have .05 Essence and still be quite Charismatic and aware of others' feelings. In fact there are several modifications that make those things easier. He doesn't necessarily share the concerns of others anymore but he is aware of them and can react accordingly. Other people, though, will tend to react badly to someone with a lot of obvious 'ware. I would say that odd behavior would be based on the type of 'ware someone is carrying around. Some Runners RP this just fine on their own but here are a few examples:

Someone with tricked out cybereyes rarely thinks to turn the lights on when its dark.
A Hacker with an internal commlink may grow frustrated when other people don't answer his messages fast enough. He tends to forget that not everyone is wired in all the time and able to reply with a thought. (Although if he has a good Charisma, his frustration won't show)
A rigger might be surprised when the door to his friend's car doesn't open automatically as he approaches and have to spend a second fumbling for the door handle.
Someone with an implant weapon in their normal looking cyberarm is acutely aware that anyone else might have one. He really doesn't like people pointing at him, they could be taking aim.
Wired Reflexes already has its own examples built in. By its very nature it makes you look high strung.

You could always have the players roll a chance that they pick-up an negative quality from Augmentation (p. 21) anytime they lose a full point of essence...

Take a peek at Uncanny Valley (it's a wiki-link). It's pretty much the flip side of what you're talking about, but I think it's right there spot on in terms of the game effect you're looking for.

Taking the uncanny valley effect into account, it becomes rather easy to calculate an "appropriate" social skill modifier based on essence.

Add up the total essence cost/loss from any and all cyberware that would be "obvious" to someone having a conversation with the character or a casual observer. This includes non-natural looking cyber-eyes, obvious cyber limbs (obviously), and Wired reflexes - but only if they are "on" at the time. Most bio/nano/gene-ware wouldn't count, but some might.

Once you have this "total obvious essence loss" number, round up. Poof - there's your modifier. So if you had 1.2 essence worth of obvious cyber, then your modifier would be 2. Apply that as a negative modifier to all face to face social tests made by the character due to the other person/people not feeling quite comfortable around the character, and/or their lack of ability to read his body language and facial expressions correctly, or just plain being distracted by all his chrome.

Alternatively, you could also give them that same modifier as a bonus to intimidation, but that would only work on people who might actually be intimidated by lots of cyber. aka, not other runners, etc.


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