Psi - Open Discussion (Round Two)

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Dr. Maxwell Dr. Maxwell's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:RL

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
RL assignments are kicking my Chakras at the moment, so I apologise for my lackluster posting.

Taking a step back from Psi's creepy aspect, it's role in a character or group can be summarised as Narrative Convenience or 'Meeting Impossible Prerequisites'.
Asyncs are supposed to do things that are ostensibly impossible, but that can be functionally rephrased as 'Can perform tasks as though they possessed the required information, skills and/or tools'.

This allows us a second distinction – Sleights can function by creating opportunities for the character to use their other abilities (using social skills on otherwise Hostile or non-Solar intelligences, interact with technology despite lacking appropriate tools or previous experience, that sort of thing), or by allowing the Async to use their Psi abilities instead of more mundane methods to perform a role or task.

Whilst sterile, this does demonstrate why some Sleights and mechanics are problematic; Stab does not adequately perform either, Subliminal does both.
It also helps illustrate the issues of the current Infection mechanism – Sleights provide situational advantage at the (potential) cost of global disadvantage.

It's also as issue thematically, causing the Async to actively avoid the story/plot issues which should typify the character.

So let's flip it on it's head: in any given scenario, the Infection/Async gets an extra 'subtask', associated with their SubStrain and/or Mental Disorders. This need not be actively sinister or hostile, but pursuing that goal should disrupt other activities by eating up time or resources.
The character's base infection level is determined as written, and increases when Sleights are used, while Strain on the other hand works by adding kinks and details to the Subtask, whilst tactual disruptive effects are minimized.

The kicker comes when the Async tries to recharge their pools – they have to Fail an alienation roll to rest properly. If they succeed they don't recharge as much as normal, relative to their roll as determined by the 33/66 rule.
Essentially they've become too receptive to the infection, with it's compulsions and issues whirling around in their head (ever try to sleep and you can't stop thinking? That.)
If they want some peace, they have to Ease The Infection – they have to work towards their subplot, or at least give in to the lesser urges.

This should change the infection from an explicit threat into something more disruptive and eerie, whilst rewarding the Player for incorporating those aspects into the narrative.

I am in the same place as Eaton where I am getting my butt handed to me by work work and course work. However the idea of the async being ENCOURAGED to be neurodivergant, rather than punished by being compelled, is really really good, and both makes psi's lore downsides more mandatory without punching people already playing really hard to them, especially if you can 'sync up' with the infection through 'passive' actions, IE: A xeno strain psi can handle it just by remaining sleeved in a weird as hell morph.

Don't forget to check out my open source biomorph and medtech files!

ubik2 ubik2's picture
In the latest update,

In the latest update, Dominant Strain has been reintroduced, which does get you the infection resistance.

I have the feeling the devs want players to actually be playing out the Compulsions. It sounds like most of the players here want to avoid ever being subject to the Compulsions (and as a player, I think I would feel the same way). I'm not sure how to bring those two in line.

Maybe if there were a dynamic like the Enhanced Behavior trait, where the character has some penalty (say -10 per strain mod point) to actions until they satisfy the compulsion. This leaves them playing out the compulsion (which makes the async strange and alien), while still letting them feel in control. It lets the other party members feel like the async is a little dangerous, but not so much that you want them to stay out of the party.

I've talked about just using Moxie to avoid ever making the infection rolls, but that doesn't seem like it's enough for people (and it also doesn't achieve the dev goal of having players play out the alien infection). Just using sleights while you have Moxie to spend also means you have no reason to use the lower strain abilities over the higher strain version.

Dr. Maxwell Dr. Maxwell's picture
Behavior modifying disadvantages

The issue is actually pretty baked into the idea of a 'mental' disadvantage in RPGs. I think it is less that people don't want to play out strain effects and more the fact that strain effects are a really unnecesary nerf on asyncs they in no way needed without anything substantial swinging back in their favor, with the additional punch of it negatively affecting you in very serious ways even if you are already playing your async as someone neuroatypical, or even someone who is fully mentally disturbed.

One of my favorite PCs, The Artist, a socialite async obsessed with control and violence masquerading as a normal biosculptor and VR designer in the upper of the upper crust, wouldn't be able to function with this new rules-set, even though he very clearly is riding the "asyncs have really screwed up brains" train hard, simply because his aytpical behavior no longer is something that can manifest in a cunning way. He would lose control. He would go nuts if he browsed someone's brain for the worst most hurtful thing he could say to them that would still be polite, or saying whatever it took to get the mark the party wanted to kill alone with him so he could kill them with his freakishly deadly custom close combat morph because he is a fucked up social predator who works with firewall because it gives him interesting people to hunt.

That character, who very clearly embodies everything terrifying about asyncs, just doesn't work anymore. Despite the fact he is inclined to the Stranger Substrain, basically a compulsion to ennact deceptive behavior or test limits wouldn't seem out of character, the loss of control means he loses his cunning and edge and becomes a mere pawn rather than this very dangerous sociopath that put their services at Firewall's disposal, because despite acting out on an async strain effect at a low key level most of the time, the character doesn't work if he totally loses control and it isn't fun for the table if when the chips are down your async consistently fails to act in a manner becoming of a Firewall agent. The Artist rose above being a scary Async Villain because, when the chips were down, he stopped indulging himself. The modifications that the infection made to his brain destroyed his moral code, not his rationality or self control.

Forget about the more mildly nice Dr. Maxwell who just doesn't (Verbally) speak and just wants to be allowed to hang out in a freaky only semi-humanoid morph and be allowed to work on interesting problems that risk destroying transhumanity in between helping people out with open sourced medicine.

RPGs are an exercise in group storytelling, so any sort of mechanic that takes control away from a PC is a really tricky one to balance. Good mental disadvantages tend to either crop up in consistent ways while being extremely minor (Say... shyness from GURPs that just makes your character fade to the background a bit in social situations with a lot of people), are something either you or the GM has control over so that it will always happen at a 'fun' time anyway (a lot of rules light games do this), or are random, relatively uncommon, and significant but are things you can just ignore if you personally feel like the story is more interesting if you eat a penalty or something at a given time and usually are things you are inclined to do anyway, like SR compulsions.

The problem is Strain is frequent, significant, and random. Those 3 things combining leads to a really unfun time at an RPG as you spend most of your time being told what you do, rather than playing out your character. It also makes Asyncs resemble very severe mental illnesses that borderline incapacitate you, which tends to make for a bad roleplaying character because good roleplaying characters need enough agency to understand the situation they are in and react to them. There is very little horror to being an async and going on a strain induced series of behaviors if your already seriously mentally ill to the point you may not even be aware what is happening 99% of the time anyway, and there is no suspense or dread when strain and infection is so constant that your either planning to moxie literally every roll or, less likely, assume you will strain every roll and just play like a 40k Daemonhost letting your party keep you restrained via puppetsock as you go hog wild.

Asyncs need to function as a character, a member of the party, and a compitent firewall agent first, and weird second. While this second draft is a massive improvement over the first, having the interesting idea of sub-strains and, more importantly, not having strain results that essentially bellitle people with mental illness in a game that has attracted a lot of good attention for portraying people with mental illnesses as awesome people with just a sucky thing in their life and serious societal PTSD and depression as a theme.

However it doesn't really solve the problem that constant control over your character being removed causes, which is to make you sorta feel like a second class citizen of the party and a tool or burden to them rather than as a charater in a narrative with their own agency and ideas and personality. 40k RPGs get away with it because there isn't a lore expectation at all that the party Psyker is an equal, and more importantly psykers are so insanely powerful that having them be heavily punished and made unstable any time they use powers makes sense. The 40k equivalent of stab as the signature 'I am gunna kill someone power' isn't "Lightly slap someone" it is "Discharge a bunch of explosions equal to a multiple missile barrage" or "I literally just snuff your soul out like a candle and your dead now."

When an archtype's main drawback is a total loss of control, that archtype needs to put all of its 'narrative weight' in the moment of the power, it needs a power usage to be as high stakes and impactful as the entire efforts of another type of character over the story. And psi doesn't do that.

And it shouldn't do that.

Psi works better as a mellow flavor to a PC, something that comes out of left field on an otherwise seemingly normal, if quirky person. That doesn't mean it has to be weak mind, part of the fun of being an async is that depending on context you may be the scariest person in a room just because it happens to be a social scenario and everyone is unarmed or blowing up someone's head with a handshake and mental powers rather than being boring and poisoning them with a nanotoxin claw scratch for a handshake assassination, it is just that it shouldn't be as out of proportion character defining as it is. The reason people didn't tend to RP their asyncs like the absolute loons that sometimes showed up in anectodotes and stuck to being the more rational asyncs who would do clever stuff like mask their mental illnesses with therapists when seeking treatment and send secret messages around was because in a spy game that is the kind of async that is more fun to both play with and play as.

The idea of strains being a light, constant series of low level compulsions that require you to find ways to stay in sync with the virus honestly sounds delightful, and does what good mental disadvantages do: They noticeably affect character behavior in a negative way without taking agency away from the player. Instead of having the outcome of the struggle of will with your downside be random, it lets you CHOOSE if the character succumbs and associates a cost to 'using the willpower' to resist, meaning that when its really important to the player, they will always get to act as they want, without getting off the hook for playing a character who is meant to have weird urges. This system would work even better if the compulsions were vague and open ended and could be resolved at different 'levels' to maintain normalcy for different lengths of time, allowing the async to blend but forcing either bursts of horrific behavior or to be obviously neuro-atypical or at least quirky but harmless and otherwise completely in controls of their own faculties.

It also fits the lore better, as asyncs are supposed to be good at hiding their condition, they are supposed to be potentially anyone, even someone who in public seems normal even as they use their powers to gather influence for personal gain and use that influence to indulge in their dark obsessions behind closed doors, and as of this document they really aren't. And that sucks because it both hurts the ability of asyncs to be good spies (Which is what a Firewall PC is) and good villains.

If we were to compare "Artist" vs "Maxwell" in that hypothetical, you would end up with interesting results either way that still play up how strange and disturbing asyncs can be, where Artist would occasionally do very dark things as a "proto-stranger" (Seriously, the dude was essentially under an eternal strain compulsion of 'test limits' any time he could get away with it without obviously causing total disaster, no mechanical enforcement needed for that async to make life... 'interesting' and deceptive behavior basically was on full blast all the time) whenever he could get away with it, but otherwise blend completely, where as Dr. Maxwell never would go full "Ima try to lay eggs in your chest" xemomorph and instead just displays a completely constant level of dysphoria with normal transhuman forms that causes social problems but is considered acceptable enough for most people to look past after a bit. And, most importantly, both get to remain badass X-threat fighting spies rather than regressing into mere tools the party wields like a weapon.

Don't forget to check out my open source biomorph and medtech files!

ubik2 ubik2's picture
As described, it sounds like

As described, it sounds like the Artist and Maxwell should be able to just run off Moxie (and never roll strain), but Maxwell may be low on Moxie, preventing him from using as many gamma sleights (though I would expect he's an Architect strain, and mostly uses chi sleights).

I also mixed up Impulse and Compulsion in my discussion about strain. Impulse requires you to make a WIL check to avoid doing the act, while Compulsion generally lets you choose. Both will cause some stress if you avoid doing the act, but only Impulse has the problematic loss of control. Only Haunter and Predator include the Impulse option.

There's also the Breaking Point, which triggers your mental disorder, so that may be the thing people have the hardest time with.

To break down the results:

  • Compulsion: If you don't act to satisfy the compulsion within 1d6 hours, you get hit with some stress - I'm fine with this (There is a mention of GM discretion to force your actions that I think should go away)

  • Impulse: If you don't make your WIL check, you need to either run or attack (depending on impulse) - I wouldn't want this for my character, but I'm not really interested in those two strains

  • Physical Damage: take some physical damage - I'm fine with this

  • Breaking Point: One of your mental disorders is triggered - Not a fan, but I can live with it

There's also the critical success variants
  • Checkout Time: next long recharge, your infection redecorates your house - I'm ok with this on a failure. It's sorta taking control of my PC, but it's all off camera, and mostly mood building

  • Interference: make a WIL save or have a critical failure later - I'm ok with this, since it's essentially the result of a critical failure in the first place, and you still get a chance to avoid it with WIL

Is the mental disorder the main issue? Eaton mentioned the number of rolls, which is certainly a bit of an issue too. Is the stress the issue? It didn't seem too bad to me, but if the player doesn't play out the compulsion, and they rack up a few of them, it will take a while to heal from that.

I think the dominant strain trait addresses the mental vulnerability, so asyncs aren't particularly vulnerable to infection. Without knowing how infection works in the new system, it's hard to say how important this is. I'm only aware of one sample, and in that case, both the basilisk attack and the subsequent infection are resisted with INT, which means mental vulnerability doesn't come into play, while dominant strain makes it less likely for the async to get infected than other party members.

Edit: It looks like Maxwell may have chosen the Xenomorph sub-strain, in which case, the Atavism result sucks. It makes you a poor party member for 1d6 hours. Your muse will probably snap you out of it in an hour or so, but that's still pretty crippling.

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:Is the mental disorder

Is the mental disorder the main issue? Eaton mentioned the number of rolls, which is certainly a bit of an issue too. Is the stress the issue? It didn't seem too bad to me, but if the player doesn't play out the compulsion, and they rack up a few of them, it will take a while to heal from that.

So, I think the idea of "lots of rolls" is less troubling to me than what triggers the rolls. It feels like the Psi system as it stands ties the complexities to using the skills rather than being an async. That means that an async who "lays low" and plays like a normal, non-async character never really faces infection rolls. However, that... kind of sucks from a gameplay perspective.

Tying infection rolls to the accumulation of stress makes actually using powerful sleights less dangerous… but also makes it more important for asyncs to manage their stress with drugs, psychotherapy, or careful use of MOX before fights rather than just burning pool points to avoid the infection rolls at the time of sleight usage.

Might just be a matter of taste, and i think there are definitely some interactions with the infection effects that I need to think through to make sure they don't spiral (stress triggers an infection roll, failing it deals stress, rinse, repeat, etc). But in general it feels like it makes the trait work better for both gameplay and fluff.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture


1. PSI fuel is Lucidity.
Similar to 1ed, but Asyncs suffer Stress instead of Damage.

2. Asyncs accumulate Traumas when they reach multiplies of TT in stress rather than when they reach TT from one instance of stress.
Being an Async should indicate difference in functioning of their minds compared to "normal" transhumans.

3. They can suppress modifiers from traumas by roleplaying their minor Substrain consequences and alien behaviours.

4. They can remove Traumas normally or by giving in to the infection and relinquishing control to the GM (or player that controls the infection).


5. When you reach Lucidity instead of going catatonic you lose ability to do any complex mental tasks, communicate and reason in abstract ways. You have to roll WILL checks to stay operational and not lose control like in point 4.

6. I'm not sure about disorders, but maybe instead of getting new ones you simply activate dormant ones from the Exovirus Substrain. And only when they're fully activated you get new ones. This gives a degree of predictability to alien behaviours.
"Don't mind Johnny there he always hisses at people when he gets nervous"

It also allows Asyncs to be relatively normal when encountered in normal situations, only when they peruse their powers or get into stressful situations they get strange.

Less rolls in general. Infection rating can be dropped because alien behaviour no longer punishment, but a way for a player to get rid of those trauma modifiers. In essence player wants to roleplay being alien to be rewarded.

With current system it is: "Use PSI, get punished and agency taken away if you fail the Infection roll."
With this it hopefully changes to: "Use PSI, spend resource, roleplay to mitigate the resource loss consequences"

If you so love the Infection roll mechanic as expression of Virus autonomy then I don't know. Maybe remove Psi skill replace it with infection rating and make contested will rolls vs it to use sleights.

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Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Feedback from friends

Pitched the 2nd Edition playtest to some friends to see what they thought, and they had a few comments:

  • To newcomers to the system, Psi feels like it has few, if any advantages for use and is always represented in the negative - with no real incentive to play an Async.
  • The current Infection system feels restrictive and discourages actually using Gamma sleights - enforcing odd and disruptive RP behaviors on failure. "I've done my thing, now I have to go lick a pole."
  • Use-cases for Gamma sleights reminded one of my friends of the D&D 4th edition system of 'At will/Encounter/Daily' powers - with Psi powers being more like Daily things, at least by their description.
  • My friends felt the up-front risk of a successful Infection test wasn't appealing - I pitched my idea where high Psi skill grants reductions to the Infection test at certain milestones, and they liked it - More skilled Psi characters have better control over the infection, etc.

In all it felt like there was little appeal for my friends to try Psi out, as there was too much negativity in lore, and no stated benefits of what an Async could do to cope or do to leverage their powers for even a minor advantage in their daily life.

I will also point out that the friends I pitched the system to are newcomers to EP in any form - If they're making these connections or drawing such bad connotations from what's written about Psi already, it's likely anyone else new to the system might make similar conclusions as well.

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ubik2 ubik2's picture
The mechanical benefits of

The mechanical benefits of being an async are pretty huge.

For a face, it's easy to get +10-20 to your four key skills for a minor investment, as well as extra pool points, so you're better than normal characters sleeved in the same morph. The Expert advantage (to increase skill over 80) and 20 points of skill for 4 skills would cost 24 CP (though you can't do this, since you can only take Expert once). Psi 2 grants access to game changing abilities, like the ability to read minds, wipe memory, and mind control others. If you want that assault rifle that the guard has, Cloud Memory and Subliminal means he hands it to you, and doesn't remember what he did with it later (you'll need your hacker to deal with the panopticon). These are justifiably on par with Daily abilities.

Psi is decent for a hacker, but your bonuses aren't as good, and hackers often want to be in infomorphs or synthmorphs, where psi isn't available.

For a combat character, Heightened Awareness, High Pain Threshold, Self Control, and Somatic Control are pretty big. Unfortunately, seriously combat focused characters tend to prefer synthmorphs. The Ultimates' attachment to the human part of transhuman makes them more likely to use a biomorph. Ego Sense and Short Circuit are both also pretty handy, though I'm not sure they justify Psi 2.

For a scientist, Enhanced Creativity, Instinct, Pattern Recognition, Qualia, and Self Control are all useful. Eco-Empathy, Grok, and Xeno-Empathy can be pretty useful too. Illusion is a solid option as a combat skill to replace a weapon skill (can't use weapons when you don't have them, can't use Illusion vs. synths/bots), if you're already planning on Psi 2. This can take someone that was on the other side, and make them effectively on your side, shooting at their buddy that just "transformed" into some horrific alien monster.

If the EP1 short stories are retained, I think that lore is pretty effective in pitching psi, but perhaps the tone and presentation in EP2 don't capture that.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Even good roleplayers do this...

Vulnerability to infection makes a kind of sense - if EP was a haunted-house game, the Async would be the mildly psychic one: they can give insight into the plot, but is inevitably the one hit hardest by the Spooky Happenings.

Which again reflects on a big part of the problem; no matter how powerful or useful the benefits of Psi are, players will always try and avoid or mitigate disadvantages or negative effects. The only people who don't are those who see them as a benefit, for the most part those who think screwing the party over is Hilarious.
This is simply an issue with Negative Traits in general - players (again with few exceptions) will by definition try to mitigate or avoid them coming up in play. Even if the GM forces it into the game, the player in question will try to get away from it as fast as possible.
Good negative traits make the character worse at actions they 'have' to perform or make them more vulnerable to the things the GM throws at them (again, see the Sensitive above).

If you want to actually encourage specific behaviors, then it needs to be directly tied to some kind of advantage so the player is rewarded for it's introduction, even if it's simply a way of avoiding a different disadvantage.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:Vulnerability to

Vulnerability to infection makes a kind of sense - if EP was a haunted-house game, the Async would be the mildly psychic one: they can give insight into the plot, but is inevitably the one hit hardest by the Spooky Happenings.

So, after a couple of very quick test runs I think I agree. Leaving vulnerability to infection as-is and making Dominant Strain an optional trait, feels like it's closer to "well balanced" if the stress-based homebrew tweaks are also in place. Making Psi a neutral rather than a positive or negative trait might also shift things a bit. All of the significant downsides make it radically different than most positive traits; it's as if Resources 4 also game with a set of mandatory stress rolls whenever meeting new NPCs. On the other hand it really isn't like most of the other negative traits in the game, since it comes with its own powers and so on.

Surly Surly's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:If

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
If you want to actually encourage specific behaviors, then it needs to be directly tied to some kind of advantage so the player is rewarded for it's introduction, even if it's simply a way of avoiding a different disadvantage.

One approach: let the character recover a pool point by indulging in a substrain's behavior. This approach works well for negative aspects in FATE, and my group's really enjoyed how NWoD 2E lets you choose to take a dramatic failure instead of a normal failure in exchange for xp.

Could then require spending pool points to activate sleights, including to activate a chi sleight for a day.

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
Something I've been thinking

Something I've been thinking about is the earlier analogies to Call of Cthulhu's magic system, and the "mildly psychic person in a haunted house adventure" type deals. In both of those circumstances though, the individual brings two unique things to the party: Knowledge about an unknowable foe, and the ability to do things nobody else can which may prove key to fighting foes that can likewise do impossible things.

I think part of the problem with asyncs is that the penalties are all set up to create this kind of character, but the advantages are sorely lacking. The route I'm thinking it should go is to explore its connection to the exsurgent virus: An async could be played as your best shot at understanding and combating them. Unfortunately, as it is asyncs seem best used for messing with normies a bit, and then when the weird stuff comes out they're best locked in a cupboard.

I have a few ideas on how to help with this, but I'm still fleshing them out a fair bit. Mostly centered around having free bonuses to things like planning against an exurgent (Not via a psi-chi sleight, just a perk of being an async), and possibly psi-gamma sleights to help defend against them or assault them. Also possibly removing the drawback of increased exsurgent infection chances and replacing it with raising your infection rating when you receive stress from an exsurgent source.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
I like that: Exurgent

I like that: Exurgent infection attacks that get into your system then start to work with the Watts-McLeod, or they piggyback off each other. Taking damage to your Infection track instead of your Stress track seems like a way to be both worse and better at the same time.

Also means that an Async in an outbreak scenario might tend to "light up" with their powers acting out more.

I could see some types of infection doing things like adding new behaviors to your "stress relief" set or otherwise manipulating how your PSI trait works, but still playing inside the rules for most situations.

A slight smell of ions....

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
Well, I was more thinking

Well, I was more thinking that, going with the idea of Watts - McLeod being fairly benevolent that it probably wouldn't be working with the other exsurgent virus... more that it's trying to protect its host, and what better way to do that to take over! Or proximity strengthens it's control, or any other such stuff... basically it's not an added penalty to infection, it's a risk when being around exsurgent in general. Buuuut tempered with stuff to make fighting exsurgents something you excel at... and hey, not all the infection rating failure stuff are that bad. Could even save your life with some compulsions!

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Exsurgent is still Exsurgent

One way I've been thinking of for Watts-Macleod strain and the (until most recently) Mental Vulnerability it caused:

The Watts-Macleod infection basically bulldozes it's way through the neural paths and so forth to create the connections it needs to foster in order to survive and embed itself in the Ego of it's host.

It is then sensible for Mental Vulnerability to apply, as the Watts-Macleod virus has already paved a metaphorical highway into the neural structures of it's host - follow on infections (regardless of source) would be able to exploit those existing weaknesses to have an easier time of infecting the Async in question.

While I am glad to see Dominant Strain make a come-back, I was actually hoping it would be optional to represent the oddity or rarity of the Async infection to behave in that manner. At the end of the day, Watts Macleod is still debated as to whether it is actually benign within the circles that know of it, and most are making the (rather sensible) assumption of 'hostile until proven otherwise'.

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Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
That's true... but I am

That's true... but I am partly working backwards on this from a gameplay perspective. It's common in stories like this for the character with the weird supernatural powers to be the best/only option for dealing with supernatural horrors, and stressing that "fight fire with fire" could be a way to make psi more useful especially considering its considerable costs. As it is though, supernatural horrors are precisely the thing you need to shelter an async from, so at best they're just moderately useful against normal folks.

I do think it makes sense for them to have some sort of drawback when fighting exsurgents for lore reasons, but I think vulnerability to further infections and basilisk hacks is probably not the right route. As has been mentioned earlier, players tend to be risk averse, and taking a penalty to what is basically a save versus instant death is a pretty big drawback. Hence why I believe it would likely be better to have increased strain or infection rating. Still penalties for facing the source of your own power, but a little less likely to just instantly kill you.

eaton eaton's picture
Quote: As has been mentioned

As has been mentioned earlier, players tend to be risk averse, and taking a penalty to what is basically a save versus instant death is a pretty big drawback. Hence why I believe it would likely be better to have increased strain or infection rating. Still penalties for facing the source of your own power, but a little less likely to just instantly kill you.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is why I think tying it back around to stress makes a lot of sense — simplifying the mechanics by using something players are already used to, and doing some extra lifting thematically. Because players already have to roll for stress (and occasionally take it without the opportunity to avoid it) whenever they encounter exsurgents OR witness unfamiliar Psi sleights, the "your crazy drawbacks might trigger when you most want to avoid them" factor is a threat, but not an overwhelming one. (As it will be if they simply take penalties to avoid basilisk hacks and infections).
Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Quick thoughts

The big issue right now, to me at least, seems to be the mechanics taking control away from the player. The afor-mentioned issue of “I did a thing, now I have to go lick a post”.

If, in a system where Psi use simply revolves around using/losing stress, I feel the consiquences of setting off a trigger should be an ‘either/or’ situation: Whenever a stress/trauma threshold is reached and the infection kicks in, the player can choose to have their character take yet more stress, OR take no stress, but have to play out one of the impulses/compulsions/etc.

Basically the idea of the character working themselves up even more as they actively use their powers, and resist the infection (thus stressing themselves out even more - yes it’s a cycle, and one the player would have to manage to prevent it from spiralling out of control), or giving in to the infection and acting a bit wonky, now that they’ve mind-nuked everything in the room and are safe to go lick posts at their leisure.

Another idea I had was more fluff based for Chi sleights: Mostly following the idea that Mental Speed wares slow down the experience of time for the user, perhaps the +insight sleight could have a similar, less pronounced effect which is always on, and thus giving a little bit of a fluff reason for asyncs with that sleight to seem a bit more ‘out there’ than normal.

Daemon-Dynamics Projects:
2nd Edition Morph Creation Rules