Forking and Indentures - Draft 1 - Playtest Q. Responses Only

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RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Forking and Indentures - Draft 1 - Playtest Q. Responses Only

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

Castlereagh Castlereagh's picture
Q. 1 – How did you review the

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?
The document was mostly just descriptive text for the setting. I read through it, thought about it, and then wrote this.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?
The new option for Improved Merging simply doesn't expand enough beyond the corebook's rules. They both have the problem that after 7 days the rules simply suggest to the players "It's hard and bad stuff probably happens."One week is a very short narrative interval, it can be narrated within the span of one or two sessions at the table.

What's sorely needed here is for Transhuman to describe for us the permutations of desperate merges performed on a timescale from 1 month, to 3 months to 1 year or several years. Describe the consequences of ill advised merges based on the time spent apart. The Botched Merge trait was a good start, but give us more. Do 3-month merges sometimes enter fugue states for days at a time? Have 6 month merges been shown to exhibit Alien Hand Syndrome like Dr. Strangelove?

It's just unsatisfying that the chart ends at 1-week+

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?
I loved the rules for merging two distinctly different Egos. It's just the right amount of crazy.

Q. 4 – Were the new forking and merging rules satisfactory?
Nothing upsets game-balance as written. Even so, perhaps the results should have even more unpredictable surprises embedded in them, just for the dramatic mileage you could get out of it.

Q. 5 -- Is there anything else you’d like to see in regards to forking or indentures in this book?
I'd honestly like to have a little bit more that is written experientially from the perspective of an infolife indenture. What is their life like? Are they literally drowning in a dissociated flood of code and images, or are they drones in a simulated workspace with cubicles rendered in excruciatingly boring detail?

The lonely fox chases after the one eyed hound.

ScienceGuy ScienceGuy's picture
Responses about Forking/Merging

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?<\em>

With a critical eye.

My EP character is a psychosurgeon, so I've mainly focused on the new Forking material. I've tried to consider it both as a player (what would be cool) and a GM (what would be balanced).

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules? <\em>

I think great care has to be taken to balance the rules for merging Forks and different Egos. I really love these as ideas, but I'm very edgy about anything that would allow a character to gain points in skills without having to spend the rez. I know this is kind of balanced by the stress hit and the chance of failure, but as a GM I would want to think very carefully about this before allowing it.

Don't get me wrong - I love the idea of this and I would love for my character to have a go at this. It's also a great way to tweak one's character, if you want to go in a slightly different direction, but it needs to avoid being a cheeky way to get extra skill points (more or less) for free.

One thought: maybe the PC has to spend some rez points if they have a net gain of skill points? (kind of a no-free-lunch theorem for psychosurgery)

I guess this depends on how much of a negative one considers the stress hit from Fork merging.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?<\em>

Having mentioned my game balance concerns, I *love* the idea of being able to merge Forks and Egos.
This feels like a very Eclipse Phase thing to be able to do, and I'm really looking forward to my character being
able to have a go with these.

I also really like that you've been giving some new traits like Ego Plasticity and Natural Teamwork. I think
these really add something.

In general, more detail on Forking/Merging and Psychosurgery is a really welcome addition. It's an area of the game
that will really benefit from being expanded a bit.

Q. 4 – Were the new forking and merging rules satisfactory? <\em>

I really like the table for merging with improved memory retention. It should, however, extend much further in time. For example, we have at least 2 PCs in our group who are potentially interested in merging Forks or partial Forks (eg. sets of extracted memories) that have been separate since the Fall!

I really like the rules for merging Forks with different skills. Maybe it needs a bit of thought about game balance, though, to avoid it being a cheeky way to get skill points for free?

I like the Ego Merging rules a lot. They could result in a *very* powerful Ego, but said Ego would likely also be crazy.
Very Exhuman :-) Not sure how much PCs would use this (?), but it would be great for NPC villains.

Personally, I don't think the rules are too complex (but I'm pretty happy with crunchy systems)

One thing I might clarify about Ego Merging is whether it's possible to buy-off or fix (via psychotherapy etc) the Multiple Personality Disorder. I feel like this should be hard/impossible to remove. It need to be a *big* downside.

In general, I think the mechanic of balancing gains of skill/aptitude points with a loss elsewhere is an excellent one.

Q. 5 -- Is there anything else you’d like to see in regards to forking or indentures in this book?<\em>

Intermediate rules for merging a beta-fork (of someone else) into an Ego. Say for gaining access to new skills, but without the full benefits (or downsides) of an Ego Merge.

Similarly, could one neurally prune a fork down to being basically a single skill, and them merge it into an Ego? (a bit like hardwiring in a skillsoft)

Intermediate rules for merging two beta-forks?

More detail on how a Hive Mind might work, mechanically. I guess this can be pieced together from existing bits and pieces (eg. multitasking implant, hypermesh technology, the Natural Teamwork trait), but it would be nice to have it discussed explicitly.

nick012000 nick012000's picture
Q. 1 – I read them, and

Q. 1 – I read them, and thought about it.
Q. 2 – Not, really, no. Getting a small bonus to a few skills/attributes in exchange for penalties to others seems fine to me.
Q. 3 – Rules for merging different egos.
Q. 4 – They look fine to me. Maybe a little more explanation of the benefits of being a Hive Personality, even if it's just "take a look at the Parallel Processor implant".
Q. 5 -- I'd like to see rules on the creation of Tulpas, both through the traditional meditation-based methods and possibly through Psychosurgery, if the technology to do so exists in Eclipse Phase.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Decivre Decivre's picture
Q. 1 – How did you review the

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?
By eye. And discussing it with players.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?
The new merging rules address forks with different skillsets, but don't address forks that might have new traits. It also still hasn't addressed what the terms "seamless ego" or "solid bond" contextually mean. Does that means that egos which don't have either are fragmented? What's the difference between the two?

Lastly, the Indenture Holder trait seems overpriced, and has a fixed value. I think its price should vary based on the length of contract, or degree to which the PC can trust them (not the degree the PC actually trusts them, but to what degree they actually honor that trust; indentures bought with a cheaper trait should be less loyal and obedient, or have a briefer contract).

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?
The fact that we've finally addressed different skillsets, and merging completely different egos. I also like experimental forking, as it allows complete memory unification no matter the length of time.

Q. 4 – Were the new forking and merging rules satisfactory?
Mostly. I would still like to know what "solid bond" and "seamless ego" mean in a slightly more specific sense. Also, while the rules tell us what MoS helps with when merging different egos, we didn't get any info about what a critical success might result in. Does the ego then get all benefits from both egos? 100% memories from both? That kind of info is necessary.

Q. 5 -- Is there anything else you’d like to see in regards to forking or indentures in this book?
I'd actually like to see info on contracts themselves. Lengths, common rewards, terms and expectations based on faction... these things are essential so that players can create believable contracts. Hey, maybe one of your later stretchgoals for Transhuman could be a contract-building minibook? :D

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

LatwPIAT LatwPIAT's picture
Q. 1 – How did you review the

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?
Critical eye.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?
I think most of the new Traits are not balanced. For example, Dopplegänger should probably just be a variation upon Enemy with no extra point bonus; the exact nature and power-level of an Enemy isn't specified by Enemy's text, so there's nothing in particular that says that a dopplegänger is always worth more than any given enemy. Maybe your dopplegänger is really terrible at stealing your identity, while your enemy is an expert at fooling you?

Lost Fork is 10 CP for a rather small roleplaying disadvantage. In general, getting points up front for a disadvantage is a bad model mechanically, and non-mechanical disadvantages just exuberates the problems. Having a lost fork is more a plot hook than an actual disadvantage.

If Co-Dependant is combined with Established Fork (which is must be; anything else is suicide, which is a bit awkward, mechanically speaking), it's, again, 5 free CP since the disadvantage is instantly gone.

Natural Teamwork combined with Established Fork (which, if you pick Natural Teamwork, you're off course going to have) gives a +10 bonus to the majority of knowledge and technical skills, for just 15 CP. That's rather much too powerful, I think.

Ego Plasticity (Level 2) and above seem too powerful; keeping psychosurgery as something that is actually dangerous and stressful maintains that slippery-slope characteristic where doing like exhumans and singularity seekers causes you to become as mad as the exhumans and singularity seekers; with Ego Plasticity (Level 3), for example, an Improved Memory integration test after 13 days deals less damage than backing up from a heart attack (successful merger deals 2.5 SV - which it doesn't say which way to round - vs. 2.75 SV average), and on a bad day scantly more than backing up from a violent death (failure deals 5.75 SV vs. 5.5 SV average). Given that this is the on the near extremes of what you can do, even a highly plastic Ego should probably take more damage from this.

Buying an indenture out of cold storage also seems way too cheap for what they're used for in the setting; their price should probably be much closer to the cost of... well... indentured labour in the setting, and probably closer to the cost of buying an AI, based on what it can do for you. In fact, since the average indenture probably has stats similar to the Kaos AI (70 pt. of Aptitudes and 500 CP of skills, a little more powerful than your average BRP character), why not simply make it cost Expensive (20,000)?

As I'm already on a roll here, merging two different Egos, while the penalties are already harsh even in the case of a success, seems rather too easy; you're literally attempting the impossible, but you're only getting a meager -30 and you can take time? Why not increase the difficult to -60 (the difficulty of hitting something you can't actually see)?

The Alpha Fork background is a) underpowered, since 20 Rep is only worth 2 CP - the total value of it comes to less than 32 CP - and b) somewhat weird; why does being an alpha fork grant you a bonus to impersonating any given random person. In general, it's not a very intuitive background, and should probably just be handled as an expansion of the Stolen Identity Trait - if you're an alpha fork of an Isolate, why do they have less Rep than you do when you, ostensibly, share the same background?

The Indenture background is already largely modeled by the Reinstated background, and more importantly, it doesn't make any sense for Real World Naivete to be part of that background; as someone who has been employed in, for example, the service sector and deals with the day-to-day dealings of keeping the Inner System actually running, indentures probably know rather much about how the world works.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?
The forking and merging rules. They are beautifully harsh and really encourage players to think about whether they want to go through the necessary sacrifices to take advantage of the opportunities of merging and forking - and as a GM, they provide me with plot-hooks about what happens when you take forking and merging too far; especially with the rules for merging two different Egos.

Q. 4 – Were the new forking and merging rules satisfactory?
Largely, yes. Merging two different Egos needs to be more difficult, and there should be formalized rules for long-term separation. Currently, it seems that the penalty roughly averages -10*log_{3}([12-hour intervals]), so a formalized rule for this would be nice.

Q. 5 -- Is there anything else you’d like to see in regards to forking or indentures in this book?
As already mentioned, long-term forging and merging rules. Additionally, rules for merging the following, since they might come up in play, would be good to have: Traits (addictions and behavioural modifications, for example), Specialties and Aptitude increases.

The book mentions the "0.1% rule", but I couldn't seem to find any suggestion of how long it takes the average Ego to diverge that far.

(From a moral POV, I'd like to see less covering up of what is obviously and legally slavery; debt bondage is considered slavery in the now, and I don't see why a book describing the situation should try to cushion this fact.)

@-rep +2
C-rep +1

nostromo1a1 nostromo1a1's picture
Additions to rules

A suggestion,
For one I would suggest perhaps non fork able ego. On the grounds of too many copy/ download transfers or fragmented personality, or some other equitable notion. Maybe you have some kind of personality lock to protect hyper crop interests so you can't be copied and rat them out to the competition.
Also non clone able for the body, given no reserve gene samples and radiation damage or too much gene splicing or just copyright management on your custom body DNA.
Remember corporations, governments, there is no real difference. They all like to cover their profits and collective butts. Rights managements is something both will try to apply to everything that comes along. Corps have already patented human DNA, including DNA modification and therapy applied to people. In a few cases specific people's DNA because they found something interesting about it.

nostromo1a1 nostromo1a1's picture
Think morphs with

Think morphs with degenerative neurons that nanotech under a subscription maintains. Let it expire and poof no more ego. Like that designer body how about a specific enzyme defiency that you need to take a designer drug for or gross biological failure.
Even more nasty say a biological explosive that grows into the body thanks to gene tech like an organ but without a drug that inhibits or promotes the natural neutralization or the biochemical production it can develope to critical mass and boom brain or heart goes bye bye.
Like car company's designed to break down, say 5 to 7 year organ function limits.
Patents and copyrights are a nice control for a slave population. Freedom is an illusion as long as you believe you have a choice.
Maybe a psychotropic biological program that makes you go nuts if you don't get regular psychosurgery treatments, it's just a side effect or mind transfer that some people get you know!!!
Some of those conspiracy theories can be true you know after all something started the rumor.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Q. 1 – How did you review the

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?

Critical Eye.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?

Merging fork with different skills (rules) - I do not like how the merging process leads to a loss of skill ranks (even though you probably end up with more than what you started with). My suggestion instead is to have a rez dept system in place, where such merging can be successful without skill loss, but the more rez dept you incur, the greater the SV damage the ego suffers. This would imply less data loss, but more difficulty in keeping the ego in one piece. The neural wiring would need time to adapt otherwise it would break completely under the strain of all the changes. This natural mental healing occurs as the ego learns to adapt to its changes (as the character gains rez points to pay off this dept). However I may be trying to hard to keep things *too* balanced.

Also, if you are merging 2 forks to preserve a skill one had developed, should the skill replaced be one that the other doesn't have? I'm assuming that 2 forks learning 2 different skills would have such knowledge be stuffed into the same region(s) of their brains. Therefore, I reason that when merging those said forks, those 2 skills learned would be the most likely skills to suffer some loss.

Merging 2 different egos (rules) - I think that something similar (rez dept) should be done with merging egos form 2 different people. I'm aiming for a system to keep characters balanced. I'm going to think about this more before I comment further though.

Ego Plasticity (positive trait) - This trait provides a +10 bonus to all psychosurgical tests. Does that bonus apply when used against the character to do something that the character does not want to happen? For instance torture, editing memories, deleting skills, etc.

Doppelganger (negative trait) - Perhaps the person created by this trait shouldn't need to be an exact copy of the PC. If the fork was made a while ago, it might have some differences in its skills, aptitudes, traits, and other stuff. The extent of the differences might be dependent on how long ago the alpha fork was created, but it should aim to have roughly the same cp as the character. Mind you they should be similar, as the more different they become, the harder it becomes (on some level) for the doppelganger to claim to be the "real" one.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?

I like more psychosurgical techniques, new stuff like merging different egos. I still think such rules need more work.

I also like having information on indentureship. Before I was forced to guess as to how much it could cost to get an ego out of cold storage and put them to work. Its also nice to get an overview of the entire process, such as people checking to see if you have some place for the workers to reside while they work, how much it would cost to reserve room on a habitat for a new resident, watchdogs, etc.

Q. 4 – Were the new forking and merging rules satisfactory?

As stated above, I don't like skill losses. Instead I think it makes more sense that during merging forks to preserve or gain skills, there would be a rez dept as the extremely altered ego has to learn and adapt to changed neuralogy. Pushing things too far without paying back this rez dept should lead to increased SV damage.

I think that skill loss should be the domain of someone screwing up the merging process.

This idea however, is based upon my current assumptions of what should be possible (which might differ from what is possible at the time).

I think that that some attempt should be made to make the merging process to create balanced characters... though that may be my problem. My sense of fairness might be interfering with the advantages of the system. Seed AIs are overpowered when compared to normal transhuman egos, but such dangerous technologies is a selling point of this gameline.

Q. 5 -- Is there anything else you’d like to see in regards to forking or indentures in this book?

Uplifting someone to seed AI status? Trying to turn yourself into a posthuman or exhuman?

Using psychosurgery to turn yourself into an async, or improving your psi powers?

Fixing negative traits with psychosurgery?

Adding new positive traits with psychosurgery?

My overall impression is that psychosurgery is good for adding or removing just about anything a character might have on a character sheet and then some. I would like further support for people who rather improve by adding some neural code than to actually bother to read a text book or pick up some tools to practice.