Shadowrun

Shadowrun Play => Gamemasters' Lounge => Topic started by: Pure Mongrel on <10-26-10/1716:24>

Title: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-26-10/1716:24>
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: FoxBoy on <10-26-10/1815:01>
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.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Nomad Zophiel on <10-26-10/1833:40>
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.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: FastJack on <10-26-10/1919:12>
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...
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <10-26-10/2008:56>
Take a peek at Uncanny Valley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Glyph on <10-26-10/2332:09>
Personally, I think mundanes get screwed around enough.  And the sammie doesn't really need to either be locked out of the face role, or have his pitifully few social skill dice reduced even further.  There are social penalties for obvious 'ware in certain situations, and a plethora of negative qualities that players can choose to take if they want to play characters who have been adversely affected by their augmentations.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Critias on <10-26-10/2357:55>
Personally, I think mundanes get screwed around enough.  And the sammie doesn't really need to either be locked out of the face role, or have his pitifully few social skill dice reduced even further.  There are social penalties for obvious 'ware in certain situations, and a plethora of negative qualities that players can choose to take if they want to play characters who have been adversely affected by their augmentations.
Glyph's pretty much shared my opinion, word for word.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/0019:31>
I see what you guys are saying, but the nature of the Cyberpunk genre is to question "What makes us human", "How do we define Humanity" and "What are the ramifications of losing ones humanity"?

I am not looking for any hard and fast rules here, nor am I trying to "NURF" cyber users, but everything I read suggests that a metahuman is trading more than some Nuyen for the benefits of of Cyberware and as a GM I want to explore and reflect that in my games.

From a role playing perspective, paying for increased abilities with part of ones "soul", has side effects that go beyond forgetting to turn on the light, etc. The very institutions and norms a society holds to be true and dear directly reflects the spirit of that society. It is no accident that a world dominated by technology is much darker, crueler an colder than a society based on community and human endeavor.

Take the movie Bladerunner for instance. The main idea of that movie was "What does it really mean to be human?" The hero is a human, but has been forced to do things he considers inhuman just to keep his job. He falls in love with, what his reasoning mind tells him is, a machine but he sees humanity in her. The replicates are desperately seeking the "answer" to humanity in a vain attempt to understand their own existence / reason for being and a hope that this will lead them to a way to live beyond a technology based limit of a four year life span.

So if every point of essence is giving up one sixth of a characters metahumanity ... what in role playing terms do you guys think each point / stage of loss represents?

Assuming 6 is a spiritually centered  being ...

Does an essence at level 3 mean that  an NPC or PC  understands the norms of society on an intellectual level, but they personally do not feel anything in regards to them. Does strong emotional responses regarding love, happiness, anger, hate, etc. confuse them? (A mothers need to go back and save one child while she still has two others by her side would seem like an illogical choice for instance.)

Does an essence level of 1 mean that  an NPC or PC  feels... nothing? No remorse, no sorrow, no anger, no joy ... nothing? Do they have no emotional response to violence, beauty, sexuality, faith, justice, etc. Do they only act in "logical" ways? How does that make them respond in any given situation? It might be a good thing if they walk into a scene of dismembered bodies as they are not distracted and don't get attacked by surprise, but a bad thing if their team is negotiating a deal with a big client to rescuer his daughter and they stand up, state that in all probability she is already dead, their team would do better to go find a job that has a better chance of success and walks out.








Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <10-27-10/0023:01>
Personally, I think mundanes get screwed around enough.  And the sammie doesn't really need to either be locked out of the face role, or have his pitifully few social skill dice reduced even further.  There are social penalties for obvious 'ware in certain situations, and a plethora of negative qualities that players can choose to take if they want to play characters who have been adversely affected by their augmentations.
Glyph's pretty much shared my opinion, word for word.

Personally, I agree with Glyph (and Critias) here.

If you want to add more to the game mechanics wise, then I've already stated my suggestion, other than that, I'm not sure what to say other than good luck. ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Nomad Zophiel on <10-27-10/0214:32>

Take the movie Bladerunner for instance. The main idea of that movie was "What does it really mean to be human?" The hero is a human, but has been forced to do things he considers inhuman just to keep his job. He falls in love with, what his reasoning mind tells him is, a machine but he sees humanity in her. The replicates are desperately seeking the "answer" to humanity in a vain attempt to understand their own existence / reason for being and a hope that this will lead them to a way to live beyond a technology based limit of a four year life span.

OK, ignoring the question of Deckard's humanity or replica. . .nity for a second, you raise an interesting example. Your average SINner probably perceives someone with large amounts of optional prosthetics to be less than human. A veteran who lost an arm or their sight in the war probably doesn't share that stigma. Someone who's crazy enough to have perfectly good eyes dug out of their head in order to have an artificial upgrade, though, may seem a little unstable to a normal person. Are they still as human as they were before? Are they as human as a Troll? That's a very personal answer for every character, in the same way that the humanity of a Troll, Ghoul or AI is.

See the game Eclipse Phase for an example of humanity completely redefined in a hypertech society. There, most everyone is in a manufactured body, either robotic or biological, and has no qualms about sending their personality hurtling across the solar system as software to inhabit another body. Are they still human (or transhuman)? They think so but a minority population who avoids such things sees them as copies of dead people inhabiting machines. From that viewpoint the replicants have taken over the solar system and left the real humans with the scraps. So the question is, do you have an ultimate answer in mind? Is there a particular "what it means to be human" in your game or is it about letting the characters come up with their own answer?

I don't want to argue a point too much (or we can discuss by PM, because I think it would be fun) but keep in mind than non-technological collective endeavor societies also had their share of wars, cruelty and pointless suffering, too. Whether technology or a particular form of resource distribution is better than some other way largely depends on which metrics you choose to measure by.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The Cat on <10-27-10/0242:24>
Because what essence is has been played so fast and loose it's difficult to decide what, if any, penalties heavy cyber should carry beyond cultural ones.  Is essence biological integrity?  Neurological integrity?  Metaphysical integrity?  Spiritual integrity? A combination of two or more of these?  None of these?

Selecting any of them opens up a whole lot of questions.  If it is biological integrity why wouldn't a heart attack reduce it, or age naturally drop it as your body fails?  If it's neurological, do people with neurological disorders have less?   If it's metaphysical integrity wouldn't one be able to be raised merely by intense self awareness through meditation and self-enlightenment, even if mundane?  If it's spiritual integrity do non-theists have less and atheists have none?

For that reason most games I've been in, as GM or player, left cyberpsychosis and its effects up to the player with the exception of the one cyber-zombie I was in a game with.  The few times myself and some of the groups I've been with tried to work out something reasonable with cyberpsychosis the only thing we could really come up with that made sense to us was the general "life invasiveness" of the cyberware rather than the raw essence cost being tied loosely to the degree of psychosis.  It was (and still is if you work at it) possible to burn a load of essence on small mods that, even taken together, are not that big of a change to the body, mind, neurological system or even the outlook of the character, or you can shoot the essence to the moon with some major changes (cyberskulls, complete limb replacement, torsos, reflexes wired to hades and back and so on) that would be devastating the body to metal percentages or would so fundamentally change how a character viewed the world that they'd become so impatient with unmodified people's "limitations" they'd almost go mad with frustration.

For example, a character gets basic wired/boosted reflexes (Wired 1).  This is a fairly significant essence loss (2), and a significant alteration to the body (well, an invasive one, though the actual hardware may not be that large and bulky), but more importantly, it is also a significant change to how they interact with the world.  Pretty much everyone they meet is so damned slow to react to everything (ignoring the integral trigger for the moment).

"The guy at the stuffer shack told you the price a whole .5 seconds ago and you've STILL not gotten out your commlink to pay him?  Jeez!"
"My gods, I ordered my meal .25 seconds ago and the waiter STILL hasn't written it down...  The service here sucks!"
"My girlfriend dropped ANOTHER glass and couldn't catch it before it hit the ground!  What is her problem?"

Their outlook is utterly different from most of the population, and that skewed view puts them at slight odds with "normals."

But compare that to a guy who gets natural looking, top-of-the-line Cybereyes and ears -rating 4s- neither with any modifications beyond the basic package plus Aluminum Bone Lacing.  Yes he's more resilient to damage than the average person, but he's unlikely to notice that in his day to day life.  His vision and hearing are perfect, but a lot of other people have perfect vision and hearing as well.  He's down the same 2 essence, he's also had a very invasive surgery (possibly even more invasive than for the Wired Reflexes) but his outlook hasn't changed.  His day to day interactions are pretty much the same as they've always been.  He sees very few differences between himself and "normals" in his day to day life.

The first guy would, under what we could work out, be lined up for a little cyberpsychosis, the second nearly none at all.

We usually ended up dropping the whole matter since it was so subjective as to be difficult to reasonably rule on between a player and a GM in terms of severity.  However, you may be able to pull something useful out of the idea.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The Cat on <10-27-10/0259:45>

Take the movie Bladerunner for instance. The main idea of that movie was "What does it really mean to be human?" The hero is a human, but has been forced to do things he considers inhuman just to keep his job. He falls in love with, what his reasoning mind tells him is, a machine but he sees humanity in her. The replicates are desperately seeking the "answer" to humanity in a vain attempt to understand their own existence / reason for being and a hope that this will lead them to a way to live beyond a technology based limit of a four year life span.

OK, ignoring the question of Deckard's humanity or replica. . .nity for a second, you raise an interesting example. Your average SINner probably perceives someone with large amounts of optional prosthetics to be less than human. A veteran who lost an arm or their sight in the war probably doesn't share that stigma. Someone who's crazy enough to have perfectly good eyes dug out of their head in order to have an artificial upgrade, though, may seem a little unstable to a normal person. Are they still as human as they were before? Are they as human as a Troll? That's a very personal answer for every character, in the same way that the humanity of a Troll, Ghoul or AI is.

Well, yeah, but how much is the average SINner going to know?  How do they know you're not a vet from the 2065 Desert Wars?  How do they know your eyes were perfectly good when you removed them, maybe you were blind from birth?  How do they know that metal arm you have isn't there because you were in a massive car crash?

Most "optional prosthetics" of the less exotic varieties do have a medical function that would be at least as common as its optional function.  Of those that don't, many have a business function and would be fairly common.  It would be no more shocking in 2072 to see a guy at the mall with a pair of cyberlegs than it is today to see a guy in a wheelchair without any legs.  Cybereyes and ears would be even more common that that especially among the older crowd (Granny swears by her old Fuchi eyes but we've been trying to talk her into upgrading to the new Azzie 3000s with low light so she can still see when she gets out of bed at night).  SINners would likely even know at least a few people with things like wired reflexes and muscle replacements to combat various muscular and neurological condition.  While uncommon, it wouldn't be that shocking to find out Bob in accounting has a cybertorso from that time he flipped his car off the bridge and Mary in receiving has a cyberskull from that time she fell off the retaining wall at the beach a few years ago.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-27-10/0433:57>
More Sugarbread and less Whiplashes please.
I'd rather give Players who want to play a Char with emotional Problems due to 'ware some Karma for good Roleplaying instead of inventing a Table for reaction modifiers or  Emo Status.
Officially there are NO Rules for gettin emotional or lacking Emotions. only said social modifiers.
there is also a raised Trend for Chrome,Cybereyes or Datajacks are sooooo Standard(2072).

What about a Char who (by Background) was quadriplegig (unable to move)maybe due to an Accident.
Who got Cyberarms,Torso and Legs. Now he can move,dance,now he enjoys life,everything .He's the contrary to emotionally unstable or Callous (even with Essence of 0,25)!
One of own Chars (Cyb Ork) has an Essence of 0,01 and Yes he is callous, but out of my own Will, I gave him that Disadvantage.And to be honest, its not easy to play him that way !

He who dances with the Sugarbread and not with a Whip
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/0455:18>
Just so we are on the same page regarding this discussion. I get the feeling I have presented it wrong ... sorry for that  :o

I don't want to add or change any rules and I don't want to change anyone's game, playing style, etc.

What I am trying to get a grip on is how Cyber augmentation effects the person that has been augmented. How does losing personal essence effect the way they view their surrounding and social interactions.

I want to get your opinions on how that would pan out in role playing, so lets try it this way:

The PC goes into a cafe and, in an annoyed tone of voice, orders a Soyachino from a middle aged Orc male behind the counter, who takes his Nuyen, makes the drink and hands it too the PC. The PC then sits at a table that is next to an young Elf girl that is very attractive. The PC attempts to flirt with her.

Now, only focusing on the Orc and the Elf, how would they react in this scenario if their essence score was 6, 3 and 1?

Would 6 be?:
Orc - Takes offense at being spoken down to, maybe makes a smart comment, shows his emotion on his face, maybe sings "Customers suck" while making the drink?
Elf - Notices the PC's attempt to flirt and giggles then flirts back, or turns her nose up and turns her back to the PC, or tips her drink in the PC's lap and leaves?

Would 3 be?:
Orc - Acknowledges the PC's order, gives the standard company greeting and goodbye responses in a dull tone, makes the drink and hands it to the PC with a bored expression?
Elf - Acknowledges the PC's flirting with no more than a polite "hello", but appears disinterested, finished drink with out further discussion and leaves giving the PC a bland "goodbye" on the way out?

Would 1 be?:
Orc - Does not acknowledge PC as such, just states "Order?" and holds out hand for the credstick, makes drink with no noise and no facial expressions, hands over drink with no more response than "done" and returns to the front counter, all the while just staring at the wall, until the next customer to enters.
Elf - Does not acknowledge PC at all no matter what he does. Finished drink in an officiant manner (does not remove mouth until cup is empty), stands and walks out with an automated style of motion and no social expression of any kind.
   
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-27-10/0508:57>
I don't want to add or change any rules and I don't want to change anyone's game, playing style, etc.No offense taken :)

What I am trying to get a grip on is how Cyber augmentation effects the person that has been augmented. How does losing personal essence effect the way they view their surrounding and social interactions.

They don't per se !
They can ,yes, but also your MAG (Magic Attribute) can influence social interactions also (some say they  should influence the Char in the same Way as lost Essence), or the Metarace,or Gender

Now, only focusing on the Orc and the Elf, how would they react in this scenario if their essence score was 6, 3 and 1?
Their Essence is Irellevant,it doesn't matter(or better said it shouldn't be all that matters)
Essence was a Gauge for a lack of Emotion in Cyberpunk 2020 it isn't for SR4 .Not by RAW .It can be made into a Gauge by taking Mental Disadvantages (or Physical ones)

He who dances to Utada Hikaru's "Apple & Cinnamon" right now
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Nomad Zophiel on <10-27-10/0516:40>
OK, now this is a more fun example. Everything else being equal except for Essence, they react based on Charisma. The very short answer out of the way. . .

The Essence loss itself wouldn't directly effect these interactions. However, the things that lead to the essence loss might effect reactions depending on a few things.
Are the character's mods especially freakish looking, outdated or otherwise asthetically unappealing or just intimidating to these particular individuals? This also applies to essence loss from near death situations. Perhaps the character has horrible scars from that.

Are these characters prejudiced against people with cyberware? Its an ugly truth that people in a wheelchair today often have problems with interactions because able bodied people are unsure of the "right" way to deal with the other person's disability. Also, some people just don't like people with obvious cyberware (or people of other metatypes for that matter).

What do you the GM and the player in question want to get out of your campaign? What does cyberwear mean to you? For some players its a way to exchange money for bonuses to whatever they're good at. For others it may be a complex moral decision about whether they need to modify/mutilate themselves in order to be competitive in a marred society.

One final thought, only semi-related. Cybermancy, essence loss from being near death and penalties for magical healing on low essence characters all seem to indicate that Essance is the degree to which the self (or soul) is tied to the body. The lower the essence, the less connection between the two. This isn't a tie that can be severed easily, but the less you have the easier it is. If you go with that idea, then buying cyberwear is a long, slow process of deliberately making your body a hostile environment for your soul.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Irian on <10-27-10/0519:54>
Agreed. Imho, the answer is "depends on the character". One character can be totaly human with essence < 1 while another one started becoming a socially dead automaton with essence 3. If you want to play a character without emotions, take the apropriate qualities. But there is no point where you can put your finger on and say "From this point on, flirting becomes non-enjoyable.". As nomad already pointed out, some of the circumstances will influence social life (having an obvious cyberskull WILL make problems here, no matter if you WOULD still enjoy flirting) but essence itself doesn't automatically.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/0527:04>
Hmmm ... so it would appear that I have misinterpreted what essence is in SR4.  ???

This is my first Cyberpunk style game, and it was the impression I got when reading about essence and cyberware.

I am not deterred though, I think I will keep this "mind set" in the short term and see if it adds a desired flavor to the game.

Thanks for your responses. :)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Irian on <10-27-10/0623:37>
The "problem" is, that "essence" is nothing else than a game-balancing issue that has been dragged into InGame... If essence really was a purely InGame-thing, than there should be much better rules how essence is affected, etc.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-27-10/0726:38>
Essence is more  Fluff   and no Crunch 

JahtaHey
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The Cat on <10-27-10/1323:09>
Hmmm ... so it would appear that I have misinterpreted what essence is in SR4.  ???

This is my first Cyberpunk style game, and it was the impression I got when reading about essence and cyberware.

I am not deterred though, I think I will keep this "mind set" in the short term and see if it adds a desired flavor to the game.

Thanks for your responses. :)

I honestly don't think you CAN misinterpret what essence is in the game because it's never really well defined.  While it is an OOC balance thing it is also recognized in IC text with the phrases "essence" and "essence-friendly" used IC in a number of places.

IMHO, you first need to figure out what essence is in your games (even if a just a loose idea) and then, if you really want to put together a psychosis chart do it based on that or completely divorce essence from the psychosis chart except as a rough guide.  As I stated earlier, most people just ignore it because of the ill defined nature and the logical consequences of defining it outside of cyber and bio enhancement and leave it up to the players.  In my case I encourage players in my games to think about how differently their characters view the world from a normal person and act on it, but I don't require them to by any stretch of the imagination except in rare, extreme cases that are pretty much already laid out in the books.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Critias on <10-27-10/1347:55>
I had a big awesome post typed up last night, and then my internet crapped out on me and wouldn't come back, so I lost it.  I'm going to be trying to hit all my big points from that reply, and hopefully it all still makes sense to me after a good night's sleep.

For the record, I'm not snipping out chunks of your post to be dismissive of them, but rather to save some space, and to only reply to certain high points that really caught my eye.  I'm not out to come off as arguing, here, just discussing and sharing my own opinions.

I see what you guys are saying, but the nature of the Cyberpunk genre is to question "What makes us human", "How do we define Humanity" and "What are the ramifications of losing ones humanity"?
An important thing to remember is that Shadowrun isn't a Cyberpunk game.  Or not only a Cyberpunk game, at least.  It's also got magic, which throws two monkeywrenches into this opening statement/question of yours.

First and foremost, magic thematically changes the nature of a "what is human" question.  Who has lost more humanity?  The dedicated Lone Star patrol officer who's gotten some microchips put into his eyes so he can see in the dark and do his job better, or the guy who goblinized into a nine foot tall monster with horns and chalky dermal plating?  Who's farther away from being human, the everyday cubicle jockey office worker with a little plug behind his ear that lets him interface with the corporate internet more efficiently, or the kid who'll live for three hundred years and never look a day over twenty, and can break the laws of physics with his will and imagination?  Magic changes the game, by setting wildly different bars for "human" in the first place.  Humanity isn't just a sliding scale -- like in CP: 2020 or other dedicated games where cyberware is the only Nth factor -- that changes based on how much chrome you've got, "humanity" has become a three dimensional idea, factoring in the HMVV infected, Pixies, Sasquatch, Dragons, and who knows what else.

In addition to those thematic changes, though, magic also brings balance, or rules, changes to the game.  In CP:2020, where everyone's a human and all that changes that humanity is a varying Empathy attribute (bought or rolled like other attributes, and then lowered by cybernetics or raised by counseling), you've got a simple enough picture.  Empathy high means more human, Empathy low means going cyberpsycho.  Because cyberware is the only way to boost a character's abilities, cyberware affecting the Empathy score is the only check and balance that's needed.  In Shadowrun, though, you've got magic.  A physical Adept can be every bit as inhumanly fast as a Street Samurai, but only the Street Sam takes an Essence hit for being that fast, or social penalties for being that fast.  See the issue?  Game balance is -- nominally -- restored by the fact that being an Adept has its own downsides, costs its own points, etc...which is what leads to the comments you've received on this thread, where folks have expressed concern at further "nerfing" mundanes.  

Because the rules already handle Essence loss -- with difficulty modifiers for friendly spellcasters, with social test modifiers, with Qualities that players can choose to take, in a balanced fashion, to represent other Essence loss issues -- it feels like your introduction of some sort of Sliding Scale o' Essence Loss is further penalizing characters in a way that feels needlessly harsh.

Quote
Assuming 6 is a spiritually centered being...
Which is a big, and in my opinion misplaced, assumption.  Essence is -- at heart -- purely a game balance conceit.  It's been called the purity of someone's soul, the balance of their karma, the nature of their living aura, and yadda yadda yadda.  But consider this:  right now, in the world today, pretty much everyone has a 6 Essence.

How spiritually centered do you think the everyday schmuck on the street is?  How spiritually centered are the folks on Jersey Shore or in C Block of your nearest federal prison?  How spiritually centered are the guys slinging dope down on the corner, the corporate sharks screwing up everyone's retirement, or the politicians who'll say anything to win a vote?  

"Spiritually centered" gives folks a little too much credit, I think.  An Essence of 6 doesn't make you zen balanced or morally straight, that's for sure.

Quote
Does an essence at level 3 mean that...Does an essence level of 1 mean that...Do they...Do they...How does...
And this gets to the nuts and bolts of the matter, to me.  

Does an essence of 6 mean anything?  Does it mean we both react the same way to a dirty joke?  To a picture of a pretty girl?  Do we both have the same idea of what "dirty" is, or "pretty" is?  Do we like the same movies, feel the same emotional tug at a Hallmark commercial, do we both stand up for the national anthem and do we both mean it when we sing along?  Does everyone in the world today -- all of us with the same boring, vanilla, Essence of 6 -- react the same to relationship troubles, feel the same way when we hear a song on the radio, have the same reaction to a newspaper headline, or handle it the same when we stub our toe, wake up on the wrong side of the bed, get laid, or smoke a cigarette?

There's nothing automatic about emotional responses to anything, for anyone, ever.  Essence 6, Essence 3, or Essence 0.06 (more on that later), nothing is guaranteed to work a certain way with any two people...in game, or out of it.

The questions you ask are all valid.  They're all important.  I'm not dismissing them, or brushing them aside, or sweeping them under the rug.  But they're not all general.  They'll vary based on the personality of the character involved, the background of that character, the social skills and Charisma score of that character, or even the mood that character's in on a given day -- do you always react the same to a coffee shop employee and a pretty girl (Ork and Elf or not), or does it change sometimes based on whether, say, your girlfriend is standing there, whether you're running late that day, or whether you just suffered a bad break up?

That's all where role playing comes in, and role playing is always about individual characters, not hard and fast rules.  

I mentioned 0.06 Essence earlier because it's what my longest running, most popular, Shadowrun character had.  For a 250+ karma career, he was hovering right at the razor's edge of just outright dying from too many implants.  But he wasn't emotionally detached.  Connor was emotionally unstable, instead.  He changed faces based on who was around him (his long running partner, his little girl, his girlfriend, strangers), but he never appeared outright inhuman about it.  He was, at heart, a high functioning sociopath.  He had terribly little value for human life (the ones that didn't matter to him, personally), he killed more men before breakfast than some Street Sammies do their whole career, he butted heads with Deus and Tir Princes and Red Samurai without batting an eyelash...but he did so all with no chrome showing but cyberspur ports and smartlink induction pads (and dermal plating, which was admittedly easy to see because he took his shirt off alot for my now-wife's then-character).  He had a 7 Charisma score, he had 5-6 in all the social stats, and he acted like it.  His Essence loss didn't make him obviously inhuman or cold, it made him...mercurial.

Conversely, I had another character with a superficially quite similar background.  Both were from the Tir, both were in the Peace Force, both had a similar blend of stealth and shooting skills.  This other character, though?  He lost less than one of Essence, ever.  He got an arm taken off to a Troll street-gang ambush, he had a cyberlimb installed to replace it, and he had an Essence of 5.2 (because it was an Alpha grade arm).  He did turn emotionally cold, uncaring, brooding, and almost PTSD-like because of it, though.  Why?  He had a Charisma of 3 (as an Elf, mind you!), he had shitty social skills, and he just reacted differently to his different circumstances.  Jace took his little 0.8 bit of chrome harder than Connor took his 5.94, because they were two different characters, who'd gotten implants in two wildly different circumstances (one voluntarily to keep up with the Adepts around him, one an Adept who'd been blown the hell up), and of wildly different types (one didn't have much obvious chrome at all, one was stuck with a big ugly cyberarm that he hated) and so they reacted in wildly different ways.  Two different characters, two different circumstances, two very different amounts of Essence lost.

You ask valid questions -- you do! -- but they're questions best answered by one character at a time, at one game at a time.  The last thing we need are more hard and fast rules about how a character must act, based on what enhancements they've received.  
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-27-10/1414:00>
Well said,Critias. Well said

HougH!
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <10-27-10/1530:06>
Spot on Critias.
+1 Street Cred ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The_Gun_Nut on <10-27-10/1608:35>
From my experience, Essence doesn't represent spirituality, or some such drek.  It represents how well your "spirit" (call it a "ghost" if you want) is bonded to your meat body.  How well you are sticking to the bag of flesh that lets you interact with the world of the living.

An Essence of 6 just means you have 6 points to lose before your body gives up the ghost.  An Essence of 5 means you have 5 points left etc., etc.  Essence isn't a sliding bar or dimmer switch for your life force.  It is a threshold below which (Essence of zero) your character is dead.  There are a few rules in Augmentation that may be used, depending on both the player and the GM, that simulates the beginnings of disconnect of the psyche that comes from having a large amount of enhancements, but those don't become prominent until the character's Essence drops below 1.  I would say it is more of a psychological factor than a metaphysical one (I'm stronger, faster, BETTER, than the rest of you meatbags), but the rules don't even suggest the option of it untill Essence drops frighteningly low.

One could argue that low Essence might have some effect on the psyche all by itself, but that is more up to particular gaming groups than the game as a whole.  As the only thing I've seen is options for character qualities, I'd suggest getting with your GM and hashing out how you want to play your character.  This sort of thing would have a distinct effect on the gaming group as a whole, and would work better if someone were there working with you.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/1615:27>
Some very interesting points Critias, which seems to be the general view of most GM's here.

The very ambiguous nature of what essence is in this game is what led me to posting this thread. My posts reflect what this means to me and was an endeavor to find out what it meant to other GM's.

For me, Shadowrun is a Cyberpunk game. Cyberpunk is it's foundation stone and what everything in the setting is anchored too.

What I have been questioning is what are the effect of putting various degrees of artificial technology into an organic being. Being a troll, orc, elf, etc is irrelevant. The Shadowrun games makes no distinction between metahumans on a spiritual level. The game infers that the more tech a being has inserted into her or replacing parts of it's body with, effects and ultimately harms the spirit / soul / true self of the being. (Again a central (but not only) theme to the Cyberpunk genre).

I would argue that technology (even the stuff we use today) has a huge effect on how beings view the world and how they interact with it. The basis for how we act in an environment comes from within a being (instinct, upbringing, experiences, morality, conscious thought, etc.) Technology is at "odds" with our inner being. It is unnatural and allows beings to do things that is not possible in a natural state of life.

The symbiosis we share with our technology and it's effect on the way we eat, sleep, communicate, cultivate, manufacture, fight etc. has changed (and will continue to change) the way humans of today interact with each other and the natural world. The tech and concepts in SR allow players (at least those that are interested in such a thing ;))  an ability to explore what might happen as (meta)humanity integrates technology with their own flesh. It gives us an opportunity to explore the social aspects, the cultural aspects, the spiritual aspects, etc.

I am not trying to change the game in any form as I feel this theme is already a component of the game. Like any component, if it does not fit your play style or need, don't use it. I for one think it is a fascinating concept and want to make it a backdrop of my games so that our group can explore what it means and have it add flavor to the role playing experience. 

When I asked about an essence scale, I was asking what other GM's thought of the effect of "tech on the soul" is to them. Not so we could herald any rule or setting changes, just to expand on what I think is already there.

For me Charisma is an ability, not a measure of a beings ability to love, hate, feel joy, etc. Your "classic" vampire (not sure about SR vamps) can have a huge charisma, but I would argue it is no longer "human" and would have a 0 essence (due to it being undead and all ;))

I would argue that the majority of "humans" do respond to stimuli in the same way. If they didn't, we would have no advertising, organized religion, cultural groups, etc. Our "humanity" is the basis for how we respond to a violent act, a dead body, an injured child, a cute puppy, an attractive person, a deformed person, an act of kindness, etc.

Anyone that reacts to these scenarios in a way that most people find unusual (enjoying a violent act, hurting the puppy, ignoring the injured child, not responding to an act of kindness, etc.) would be described as cold, detached or even "inhuman, etc.)

@ The_Gun_Nut (Who posted while I was typing :)) Isn't how well your "spirit" is bonded to your "meat bag", there by how you interact with the world of the living, the essence of spirituality? (pun intended)  ... Especially in the context of this game?

To me essence is a sliding bar, the more degrees of humanity you lose, the less human you are and the more your actions / responses become inhuman.

I am not stating you have to do the same in your games, play it the way you want. I just think it is a fascinating concept to explore. :D

Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/1626:38>
Oh and in regards to the loss of limbs etc. I don't feel the loss of a limb effects a characters essence. It may effect their emotions and how they perceive themselves (and others) but this is still based on their beliefs and their humanity.

It is only when foreign technology is implanted that essence is effected. If a soldier who losses his legs does not get cyber legs, he may feel miserable (that's being human), but his spirit is not destroyed. If the same soldier gets cyber legs, he feels happier (maybe) but part of him is now a machine. He can do things now he could not with his real legs. The sensations he feels from the legs are "alien" to his brain, etc. His essence reduction is low, but I would argue that his humanity has been effected to a degree.

He still functions "normally" at this level, but if he gets more cyber, he will start to change on an emotional and spiritual level ... in my game anyway ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Angelone on <10-27-10/1645:08>
I think what you are looking for can be best described by an old book. If you can find an old copy of Cybertechnology, in it you hear a narrative of Hatchetman(the best Street Sam ever, and my favorite shadowtalker) it describes how he feels as he's getting his various implants. How he feels he's watching TV after he gets his cybereyes and how it's easier for him to be "hard" and how eventually people with less implants than him (even his brother) seem small. It ends with him becoming a cyberzombie and his feelings about that. It's a great chilling read.

There are some copies available on amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Cybertechnology-Shadowrun-Sourcebook-Tom-Dowd/dp/1555602673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288212247&sr=8-1
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-27-10/1647:51>
It represents how well your "spirit" (call it a "ghost" if you want) is bonded to your meat body. 
I'd call it Chi (or Lifeforce)

HokaHey
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-27-10/1747:14>
I think what you are looking for can be best described by an old book. If you can find an old copy of Cybertechnology, in it you hear a narrative of Hatchetman(the best Street Sam ever, and my favorite shadowtalker) it describes how he feels as he's getting his various implants. How he feels he's watching TV after he gets his cybereyes and how it's easier for him to be "hard" and how eventually people with less implants than him (even his brother) seem small. It ends with him becoming a cyberzombie and his feelings about that. It's a great chilling read.

There are some copies available on amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Cybertechnology-Shadowrun-Sourcebook-Tom-Dowd/dp/1555602673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288212247&sr=8-1

Many thanks mate. +1  ;D This looks like what I am looking for.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Critias on <10-27-10/2347:18>
I think what you are looking for can be best described by an old book. If you can find an old copy of Cybertechnology, in it you hear a narrative of Hatchetman(the best Street Sam ever, and my favorite shadowtalker) it describes how he feels as he's getting his various implants. How he feels he's watching TV after he gets his cybereyes and how it's easier for him to be "hard" and how eventually people with less implants than him (even his brother) seem small. It ends with him becoming a cyberzombie and his feelings about that. It's a great chilling read.

There are some copies available on amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Cybertechnology-Shadowrun-Sourcebook-Tom-Dowd/dp/1555602673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288212247&sr=8-1

Many thanks mate. +1  ;D This looks like what I am looking for.
The important thing to remember -- and the main point of my own posts, which hopefully didn't get lost in my own signal:noise ratio -- is that that's just how Hatchetman felt.  That's just how Hatchetman saw it, and that's just how Hatchetman reacted to his implants.  It's fluff, not rules, and it's very specific fluff detailing a single character. 

Other folks've gotten the exact same implants, and no doubt reacted quite differently.  It's a remarkably personalized issue, to me, that is going to affect every PC and NPC differently.  It's good to think in advance how it'll affect Character X, but there's no reason to assume it will do the same to Character Y.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-28-10/0025:01>
The important thing to remember -- and the main point of my own posts, which hopefully didn't get lost in my own signal:noise ratio -- is that that's just how Hatchetman felt.  That's just how Hatchetman saw it, and that's just how Hatchetman reacted to his implants.  It's fluff, not rules, and it's very specific fluff detailing a single character. 

Other folks've gotten the exact same implants, and no doubt reacted quite differently.  It's a remarkably personalized issue, to me, that is going to affect every PC and NPC differently.  It's good to think in advance how it'll affect Character X, but there's no reason to assume it will do the same to Character Y.

Interesting point mate.

Focusing only on essence would assume that everyone would react in the same way as all characters have a base of 6. So that would bring other things into play then, but what? Willpower maybe?

So assuming I stick with the concept that losing a portion of essence = losing a portion of humanity, I should give some thought as to how "individuals" would react to the same degree of loss.

If the spirit (or essence) is a guide to acting human, than it being diminished does not automatically make an NPC or a PC act non human. There personality, experience and willpower could play a part in this. After all many humans do "non human" things without cyber in their system, while a Cyber character can still be a hero or at least act in a socially acceptable way.

So if I was inclined to expand the essence idea for my games, would you guys suggest a list of possible effects per essence point loss and then a test to resist each stage? (Body + Willpower maybe?)

Each stage of essence loss would have a number of possible effects. For role playing value, if a test failed, the player or GM could pick one effect maybe? (glitch = 2 effects, critical glitch = 3 effects?)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Irian on <10-28-10/0229:18>
I don't like the idea of introducing random tests for character development. If someone wants to play a cool samurai who slowly drifts into the emotionless machine thing, then don't ruin it by letting the dice decide that he become a nervous wreck who's afreid of bunnies. This is why I would always let the player decide how he wants his (or her) character to develop. For the same reason I prefer building point systems over dice-based character generation.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Medicineman on <10-28-10/0245:34>
So that would bring other things into play then, but what? Willpower maybe?

The Player !!
I would ask the Player in which direction his Char goes with less Essence, how he wants to portray it, maybe giving him  disadvantages as "play goes by" and then, if the Player is displaying his chosen Development right, give him extra Karma for good Roleplaying
(Sugerbread and Whiplashes ;) )

HokaHey
Medicineman
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <10-28-10/1559:59>
The important thing to remember -- and the main point of my own posts, which hopefully didn't get lost in my own signal:noise ratio -- is that that's just how Hatchetman felt.  That's just how Hatchetman saw it, and that's just how Hatchetman reacted to his implants.  It's fluff, not rules, and it's very specific fluff detailing a single character.  

Other folks've gotten the exact same implants, and no doubt reacted quite differently.  It's a remarkably personalized issue, to me, that is going to affect every PC and NPC differently.  It's good to think in advance how it'll affect Character X, but there's no reason to assume it will do the same to Character Y.

Interesting point mate.

Focusing only on essence would assume that everyone would react in the same way as all characters have a base of 6. So that would bring other things into play then, but what? Willpower maybe?

I would say it would depend on all of a persons other stats. Body, Agility, Reaction, Strength, Charisma, Intuition, Logic, Willpower, Edge, Magic/Resonance. A solid argument could be made for each and every one of those about how having higher or lower values would dramatically affect how a person would react to being augmented. Furthermore, one could even argue that once you get an enhancement, it will modify how you react to having others.

An analogy: Think of essence as a large pond. Your physical attributes are the physical characteristics of the ponds structure, they determine its depth, what the banks of the pond are made of, the shape of the banks, and therefor the pond itself, and all the rocks, gravel and sand that fill up the bottom of it. Some rocks may even jut past the surface of the pond. Now, your mental attributes, they determine the basics of the composition of the pond, it's water and inhabitants. How silty, slimy or thick the water is based on the algae content, how many plants are growing under the surface, frogs, maybe even fish, and a fallen log from long ago sink into it from the west shore. Edge could be seen as the location of the pond, is it in a small park, in the middle of nowhere in the forest, or on the edge of a dumping site. Magic or resonance are the vibe it gives off... is it a creepy pond, a serene pond, or perhaps even a boring pond.

Now, on the surface, we all look the same, the water is flat, calm and still (we all have 6 essence). But when you drop a rock (cyberware) into the pond, ripples (how you react to the augmentation) form on the surface. In a vacuum, all ponds would have the same ripples. But this isn't a vacuum. Your pond is different than my pond. I have more seaweed and rocks, whereas you have more silt and fish, I'm more square, you're more round. The ripples are different. Then, we drop a second rock. Ripples interact differently. Sometimes they cancel each other out, sometimes the reinforce each other to make bigger ripples. You never know exactly what any given ponds ripples are going to do because every pond is unique.

But that's just one take on it. The other take, you address thusly:

So assuming I stick with the concept that losing a portion of essence = losing a portion of humanity, I should give some thought as to how "individuals" would react to the same degree of loss.

If the spirit (or essence) is a guide to acting human, than it being diminished does not automatically make an NPC or a PC act non human. There personality, experience and willpower could play a part in this. After all many humans do "non human" things without cyber in their system, while a Cyber character can still be a hero or at least act in a socially acceptable way.

So if I was inclined to expand the essence idea for my games, would you guys suggest a list of possible effects per essence point loss and then a test to resist each stage? (Body + Willpower maybe?)

Each stage of essence loss would have a number of possible effects. For role playing value, if a test failed, the player or GM could pick one effect maybe? (glitch = 2 effects, critical glitch = 3 effects?)

In this model of essence, you are giving essence loss a roll-playing mechanic and pseudo-predictable in game effect rather than making essence loss effects a purely character driven and role-playing opportunity. Both ways are equally valid. However I would posit that what you are looking for is really going to up to you to discover what works best for you - both mechanically, and also to fit your vision. That being said, which I'm sure we all already knew, I do have one really good resource for you to look into. World of Darkness. They have made an art out of turning "role-playing" into "roll-playing", which, if I am understanding you correctly, is essentially what you're looking at doing here, and if done well, can be a beautiful thing to behold.

WoD is my 2nd love after Shadowrun, particularly Changeling. So I feel I can give a bit of insight here, and I will do my best. Nearly the entirety of the WoD system and setting has revolved around the concept of "what happens when you become "less human", or even in some cases "less than human". They've been working this angle for years. Countless books for each of their major "races". depending on the flavor of inhumanity you want, you wold look at a different book of theirs. I highly recommend picking up a few books and reading the sections on each of their "special trait". I will attempt a quick (and arbitrarily biased) summary of the few i think you might be interested in.

Vampire (old WoD revised): Special Trait: "Humanity". This is a measurement of how close the man has come to becoming the monster. On one end of the spectrum is an innocent, law abiding, and naive person, the other end is a beastial, primal killing machine with no regard for culture, society or propriety.

Werewold (old WoD revised): Special Trait: "Rage". This was a scale of how much anger (and other strong emotions) the werewolf had 'stored up', and how close he was to his breaking point. While maintaining a balance of rage, he could function normally, too little and he would become a shell of a creature, too much and he would snap, evoking "flight or fight" and would either do anything to get away, or would fly into a bloodthirsty berserk, killing anything and anyone around him.

Changeling (new WoD): Special Trait: "Wyrd". A scale of how connected the character is to reality. The lower the Wyrd, the more mundane and "normal" the character is, the more seated in real life they are. As Wyrd increases, they slowly loose touch with reality, becoming more and more distant and in another world. At the far end of the spectrum the character looses touch with other humans and can't tell reality from fantasy, they hallucinate, become delusional and sometimes deranged. Wyrd might be synonymous with Madness in most cases.

Mage (new WoD): Special Trait: "Gnosis". A measurement of how aware of the supernatural nature of all things the character really is.

I think that looking over these, you would be best served by reading up on the mechanics behind and effects of Vampires Humanity and Changelings Wyrd. By taking a combination of those two scales, effects and mechanics, I feel you will most likely find everything you're looking for. And I hope you do. Personally, I prefer the "pond" method for my Shadowrun games and would much rather let the player determine how their character develops. However, once you come up with your essence scale, I really hope you post a breakdown here, cause I'm very interested in seeing what you come up with. ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-28-10/2104:45>
I would say it would depend on all of a persons other stats. Body, Agility, Reaction, Strength, Charisma, Intuition, Logic, Willpower, Edge, Magic/Resonance. A solid argument could be made for each and every one of those about how having higher or lower values would dramatically affect how a person would react to being augmented. Furthermore, one could even argue that once you get an enhancement, it will modify how you react to having others.

An analogy: Think of essence as a large pond. Your physical attributes are the physical characteristics of the ponds structure, they determine its depth, what the banks of the pond are made of, the shape of the banks, and therefor the pond itself, and all the rocks, gravel and sand that fill up the bottom of it. Some rocks may even jut past the surface of the pond. Now, your mental attributes, they determine the basics of the composition of the pond, it's water and inhabitants. How silty, slimy or thick the water is based on the algae content, how many plants are growing under the surface, frogs, maybe even fish, and a fallen log from long ago sink into it from the west shore. Edge could be seen as the location of the pond, is it in a small park, in the middle of nowhere in the forest, or on the edge of a dumping site. Magic or resonance are the vibe it gives off... is it a creepy pond, a serene pond, or perhaps even a boring pond.

Now, on the surface, we all look the same, the water is flat, calm and still (we all have 6 essence). But when you drop a rock (cyberware) into the pond, ripples (how you react to the augmentation) form on the surface. In a vacuum, all ponds would have the same ripples. But this isn't a vacuum. Your pond is different than my pond. I have more seaweed and rocks, whereas you have more silt and fish, I'm more square, you're more round. The ripples are different. Then, we drop a second rock. Ripples interact differently. Sometimes they cancel each other out, sometimes the reinforce each other to make bigger ripples. You never know exactly what any given ponds ripples are going to do because every pond is unique.

That is the best analogy I have read. (+1 mate)This gives an analogy for why essence is lost as well. A finite volume. Each "stone" displaces and equal volume of "water"

I am not a rule player, and reading some of my posts I can see how I may have given the wrong impression.  All I am really looking for is a way to gauge what "X" amount of Essence loss may  cause to a metahuman. (Player or NPC). Not so I can arbitrarily inflict it on players, but to explore the possibilities and  give the players a different perspective on their characters. My questions about "What would you roll to avoid the effects of humanity loss" was just another possible way of adding a random chance to the role playing (if you get my rambling? :))

As my experience with this game is limited so far, I thought members of this forum might have some suggestions about various types of effect adding more and more Cyber could inflict on a metahuman. Some do ... and some seem afraid of looking at any concepts that might unbalance or alter the game in any way ... and I can respect that.

I have ordered some of the books mentioned already (many thanks :D) and I will look to get some more older Shadowrun books as I think they will hold a lot of the flavor of the game I seem to be missing.
 
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <10-28-10/2352:02>
Yea, sorry, didn't mean to imply any negative connotations to the "rule player" bit, was just trying to explain the difference between the way WoD and SR handle their "humanity system mechanics". ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The Cat on <10-28-10/2353:40>
While the story of Hatchetman in Cybertechnology is one take, another is to look over notable NPCs we do have numbers for in the official material.

Case in point, Mercurial.  Essence 1.3, Top-of-the-Line cyber (well before "Deltaware" became a word players regularly uttered) in every way including custom "body sheath" of chrome armor on her legs and head.  No notable Essence related problems (but some other problems not related to the cyber).

And then there's the Prime Runners sourcebook.  Some really low essence folks, a sizable number on the razor's edge (under .5 essence) in there who are portrayed as perfectly "normal" people in the shadowrun world, many in somewhat "power positions" outside the shadows.  Some are killers, some are artists, some are businesspeople.

In a completely random sampling, I can find little to back the idea of essence being tied in any way to humanity as a general rule.  In fact, Hatchetman stands out as the weird one for having reacted that way.  Sure, there's some real psychos, schizos and nutters, but why they're that way is covered in their backgrounds rather than attributed to lower essence.

On the other hand, there's a lot of Essence 6 people who are described as cold, inhuman, psychotic, paranoid, antisocial and such.

From the source material, it appears the various developers had the idea that character is what's happened to you, not what you have mounted in you with the exception of Hatchetman, who's story is there primarily to introduce and illustrate becoming a cyberzombie.  Importantly, even after taking the last step to being one, he is still relatively coherent and his writing human in scope and presentation.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Pure Mongrel on <10-29-10/0003:00>
Yea, sorry, didn't mean to imply any negative connotations to the "rule player" bit, was just trying to explain the difference between the way WoD and SR handle their "humanity system mechanics". ;)

None taken. I had not even thought you had implied it :D

While the story of Hatchetman in Cybertechnology is one take, another is to look over notable NPCs we do have numbers for in the official material.

Case in point, Mercurial.  Essence 1.3, Top-of-the-Line cyber (well before "Deltaware" became a word players regularly uttered) in every way including custom "body sheath" of chrome armor on her legs and head.  No notable Essence related problems (but some other problems not related to the cyber).

And then there's the Prime Runners sourcebook.  Some really low essence folks, a sizable number on the razor's edge (under .5 essence) in there who are portrayed as perfectly "normal" people in the shadowrun world, many in somewhat "power positions" outside the shadows.  Some are killers, some are artists, some are businesspeople.

In a completely random sampling, I can find little to back the idea of essence being tied in any way to humanity as a general rule.  In fact, Hatchetman stands out as the weird one for having reacted that way.  Sure, there's some real psychos, schizos and nutters, but why they're that way is covered in their backgrounds rather than attributed to lower essence.

On the other hand, there's a lot of Essence 6 people who are described as cold, inhuman, psychotic, paranoid, antisocial and such.

From the source material, it appears the various developers had the idea that character is what's happened to you, not what you have mounted in you with the exception of Hatchetman, who's story is there primarily to introduce and illustrate becoming a cyberzombie.  Importantly, even after taking the last step to being one, he is still relatively coherent and his writing human in scope and presentation.

While I have not read any of what you have exampled Cat, here in lies the ambiguity of it all.

From reading the SR4 core book, I got the impression that Essence loss had an effect ... after all it effects magic users quite dramatically. Other things I have read elude to essence loss effecting humanity ... but there are no guidelines for this.

Part of this I think may be based on the fear that it will "GIMP" cyber users and detract from the game as a whole, so it has generally been left in the hands of the players to decide what (if any) effects there are. This has been highlighted by the post stating in no uncertain terms ;)

In regards to not making it a rule, I wholeheartedly agree!

I will be adding it to my games. Not as a way of making my players act in a particular way, but to give them another perspective on their characters (if they want it) and so that when they interact with Cyber NPC's it will add to the individuality of the "supporting cast" of the story.

From various responses here, my original idea about what Essence means to a character has changed quite considerably. I have gone from it being the sum total of a metahumans "spirit", to it being a base for a characters humanity that is influenced by many other factors.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Critias on <10-29-10/0019:48>
In fact, Hatchetman stands out as the weird one for having reacted that way.  
Well, in Hatchet's defense, remember that he wrote/dictated the whole thing while floating in a vat and undergoing cybermancy.  I think he got a little maudlin even prior to his Essence dipping into the negatives, but (a) that was the literary direction of the book, and (b) he had a good reason to be taking a long, introspective, look at himself and his implants.  I whole-heartedly agree with the idea that every character is affected differently by implantation and Essence loss (obviously), but let's not be too hard on Hatchetman for it.   ;D
Quote

While I have not read any of what you have exampled Cat, here in lies the ambiguity of it all.

From reading the SR4 core book, I got the impression that Essence loss had an effect ... after all it effects magic users quite dramatically. Other things I have read elude to essence loss effecting humanity ... but there are no guidelines for this.
Some guidelines exist in Augmentation, for instance, which has several new Qualities that players can opt to take if they and their GM want to handle someone's humanity slipping away, instead of only accepting Essence as a game balance conceit.  If you want being full of bioware to affect your immune system, it can do so, but you'll get points for it to keep the playing field level.  If you want being full of cyberware to be socially detached from the people around you and take a penalty on Social Skill tests from being the creepy cyberpsycho, you can do so, but you'll get points for it.  If you want to be on the slippery slope/downward spiral of being addicted to new cyberware, falling into the dark pit of needing to constantly "improve" yourself, you can do so, but you'll get points for it.

There are rules there, if you choose to use them and want to introduce them into your campaign.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Nomad Zophiel on <10-29-10/0025:26>
Mainly it seems to be a matter of where you and your players want to go with the themes of technology and society. Some folks feel that technology has caused more harm than good and will see cyberware as a devil's deal. More transhumanist types might prefer to focus on the problems technology solves and the disadvantages of the back to nature mentality of Shadowrun shamans. Essence loss could be played as a dehumanising process. Initiation could be as well, as characters become more attuned to the Astral and Metaplanes and less understanding of the problems of Mundanes. Technomancers have their own set of other than metahuman concerns to explore that are similar to the potential pitfalls of mages but based on a technological system. For some players, all of the above are just different ways to deal with the same world and they'd rather not worry too much about the moral implications behind their abilities.

Its just a matter of finding a player interested in exploring those moral issues. You don't want your Street Sammie to feel like he's being punished for playing a classic Cyberpunk trope. Between bunraku parlors, wage slaves, SINless, inhabitants of feral cities, immortal elves and dragons who see everyone as pieces in a game played over millennia, etc. there's plenty of dehumanization going on in Shadowrun already. On the other hand, you may have someone who likes the extra depth in the idea that they sell a little piece of their soul every time they get an implant. If so you won't need a system for it. They'll work with you to play it up.

"I am not a number. I am a free man!"
Patrick McGoohan, The Prisoner
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The Cat on <10-29-10/0212:19>
Some guidelines exist in Augmentation, for instance, which has several new Qualities that players can opt to take if they and their GM want to handle someone's humanity slipping away, instead of only accepting Essence as a game balance conceit.  If you want being full of bioware to affect your immune system, it can do so, but you'll get points for it to keep the playing field level.  If you want being full of cyberware to be socially detached from the people around you and take a penalty on Social Skill tests from being the creepy cyberpsycho, you can do so, but you'll get points for it.  If you want to be on the slippery slope/downward spiral of being addicted to new cyberware, falling into the dark pit of needing to constantly "improve" yourself, you can do so, but you'll get points for it.

There are rules there, if you choose to use them and want to introduce them into your campaign.

I think, and mind you, I have no access to my books at the moment, one of the books did take on a concept of essence.  IIR, it was in relation to cybermancy so that puts it at Cybertechnology or later (so, that one, Man and Machine, maybe one of the SOTA books, possibly Awakenings).  In it, the concept of cybermancy led to people believing "essence" was sort of like a non-biological astral "forcefield" that surrounded every living thing.  The addition of cyberware (and I suppose Bioware and Genetech in 4th Edition) disrupted the field.  More accurately, the removal of the "natural" meat body disrupted the field, since removing the cyber wouldn't grant essence back, even if the parts they replaced were subsequently replaced with cloned parts.  This was further backed by the non-cyber "enhancements" in Cyberpirates (a simple wooden peg leg or hook hand cost essence indicating that removal of parts without electronic cyber replacement also cost essence).

As the physical body was altered from its "original bodyplan"  the "astral plan" was disrupted and weakened.  Since magic was about channeling mana through the "astral body" and syncing it with the target, disruption of the astral body effected magic on a "one for one" basis.  That's also why some spells (notable healing) was more difficult to perform on the heavily cybered, there was less of an astral form to synch the spell to.

Once the physical body had varied from the astral one far enough, the "forcefield" collapsed (essence 0) and the "spirit" escaped or dissipated.

Under such a system, it's reasonable that there wouldn't be any effects at all from cyber-implantation until zero was reached.  That was also where cybermancy came into it.  Cybermancy basically magically fooled the spirit into thinking there was still a "forcefield" holding it in the body even though the spirit knew better, hence the loss of empathy, occasional detachment from reality and the "creepy" effect cyberzombies radiated, plus their dual nature.

SR4 may have altered that view or added optional procedures for those who don't wish to adhere to it in exchange for points on the build.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: FastJack on <10-29-10/0228:42>
A lot of what The Cat is talking about has been updated in the Augmentation section on Cybermancy. In fact, that's were a lot of the negative qualities come into play, since once you start dipping below zero (true cybermancy), you can start racking up negative qualities pretty quickly since you need to make regular Willpower + Intuition (1) checks. You make the check once a month, and the threshold goes up 1 every week without you medical "cocktail" and every year you're in service.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Nomad Zophiel on <10-29-10/0235:22>
I was just reading the Cybermancy section myself. It describes it pretty much as Cat does. I guess that's why they call them Cyberzombies. Above Essence 0 your soul stays in your living body without any help, although it gets more tenuous as Essence gets lower. That's reflected in the increased difficulty of magical healing and the fact that one good near death experience can push you below 0 Essence.

Below Essence 0, your soul tries to leave. Some very black magic can potentially keep it trapped. Your body is alive only in the most technical sense and your soul knows it. The cyberzombie's soul is bound to this corpse on life support in the same way a Haitian Voodoo zombie's soul is trapped in their own corpse. Yeah, that'd mess with your mental health.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: voydangel on <11-03-10/2228:29>
Speaking of mental health, I know we have a handful of mental disorders available to us, but it would be really cool to see some sort of a rule for sanity/insanity/madness. Just for those few of us who sorely wish there was a clean and (relatively) simple way to combine our love of Shadowrun with our love of all things lovecraftian...
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Coldbringer on <11-05-10/1027:54>
I have always handled essence loss effects in game as a strictly RP sort of thing, and rewarded it with Karma.  I like the idea that it is more the effects the cybernetics have on you that guides you to the RP, if you are built to be a hammer every thing starts to look like a nail. All these normal people are so slow why don't they talk faster I have had six conversation via IM in my head before this guy sputtered out a sentence or two.

 I also like the notion that the more power a magical type gets they also feel a sort of a disconnect from the rest of (meta)humanity. If you can kill someone with a thought then maybe bring them back from the brink of death there is bound to be some sort of a disconnect, if you can shift into a large animal or fly or what ever just by thinking it or talk to beings that are not from this plane there is bound to be some disconnect.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Bradd on <11-05-10/1442:58>
I also like the notion that the more power a magical type gets they also feel a sort of a disconnect from the rest of (meta)humanity. If you can kill someone with a thought then maybe bring them back from the brink of death there is bound to be some sort of a disconnect ....

No more so than a surgeon. ;)
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: Wayfinder on <11-06-10/0044:10>
I've known surgeons there is a huge disconnect there already.
Title: Re: The Essence effect scale?
Post by: The_Gun_Nut on <11-06-10/1008:21>
Some people can handle this kind of thing, and some people can't.  It's the same with anyone who has an advanced skillset (or perceived one).  Just take a look at all the starlets and pro sports folks who overindulge in stupidity.