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The Essence effect scale?

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Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #15 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Are the character's mods especially freakish looking, outdated or otherwise asthetically unappealing or just intimidating to these particular individuals?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.

Irian

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« Reply #16 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.
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Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #17 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. :)

Irian

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« Reply #18 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.
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Medicineman

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« Reply #19 on: <10-27-10/0726:38> »
Essence is more  Fluff   and no Crunch 

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The Cat

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« Reply #20 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.

Critias

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« Reply #21 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.

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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.

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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.  
« Last Edit: <10-27-10/1420:21> by Critias »

Medicineman

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« Reply #22 on: <10-27-10/1414:00> »
Well said,Critias. Well said

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voydangel

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« Reply #23 on: <10-27-10/1530:06> »
Spot on Critias.
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The_Gun_Nut

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« Reply #24 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.
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Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #25 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

« Last Edit: <10-27-10/1631:16> by Pure Mongrel »

Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #26 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 ;)

Angelone

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« Reply #27 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
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Medicineman

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« Reply #28 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)

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Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #29 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.