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The Essence effect scale?

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Critias

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« Reply #30 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.

Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #31 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?)

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« Reply #32 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.
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« Reply #33 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
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voydangel

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« Reply #34 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. ;)
« Last Edit: <10-28-10/1606:19> by voydangel »
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Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #35 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.
 

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« Reply #36 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". ;)
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The Cat

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« Reply #37 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.

Pure Mongrel

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« Reply #38 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.
« Last Edit: <10-29-10/0023:12> by Pure Mongrel »

Critias

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« Reply #39 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
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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.
« Last Edit: <10-29-10/0038:03> by Critias »

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« Reply #40 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.

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The Cat

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« Reply #41 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.
« Last Edit: <10-29-10/0216:21> by The Cat »

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« Reply #42 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.

Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #43 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.

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« Reply #44 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...
« Last Edit: <11-04-10/0036:54> by voydangel »
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