FV's chargen guide

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FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
FV's chargen guide

I've seen a lot of posts with new players asking for the ins and outs of character creation. I have also noticed there are some... subpar example characters. So this is an excellent opportunity to help new players and air some old laundry.

Now, you're trying to make a character. The first thing you should always keep in mind is their function. Have an archetype in mind, and the blueprint becomes that much easier. The most effective characters I have seen are your Muscle, Hacker, Investigator, Socialite, and Requisitions Officer. Just remember that a well made character can do this and other things, so making a drone hacker is both easy and highly functional; a Requisition Officer/Async/Muscle was one of my most highly successful characters.

The second major point is you want to make sure that you can participate in the three major functions of gameplay: Social, Combat, and Legwork. You don't have to be a world class debutante, private eye, or combat monster, but these three things are the parts of the game session that invariably take the longest and are the most important. My goal in every game is to make sure that I am participating and having fun. The easiest way to guarantee this is to have a skill spread that reflects this.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
So on to the meat

Firstly, the hardest part of chargen is being economical in your choices. I always build my characters with the assumption that they are never going to level up again, because you start with over 1000 points to build with, and after 6 months in a Play-By-Post, you will earn 10. This puts you in the proper mindset to make cuts where you can. So the order of this will seem odd, but it works for me and cuts down character creation time.

First and foremost, look at the skill list. Think carefully about what skills your character archetype needs. More than anything else, the skills you have (and to a lesser extent your traits) define your character. Pick out the most important skills that define your character, and organize them by their linked attribute.
For ideal skill economy, you want to emphasize attributes that are linked to the most skills while dropping any less-important stat to 10 or lower. There are very very few exceptions where having an attribute above 30 is useful. It is also perfectly ok to set your character up in the mid-20's range.

Attributes around:
5 are generally pretty stunted. If you are playing an AGI with absolutely no sense of social propriety, this is where your SAV can be.
10 is low-average. A researcher who isn't expected to move mountains (there's drones for that) can easily get away with a SOM of 10 if they want to.
15 is average.
20 is high average. The advantage of keeping your attributes here is there are literally no morphs who will cap out your attributes below this point (there are penalties, but I'm not counting those for now). Not only that, but a value of 15-20 can usually take full advantage of morph bonuses and mods that can easily boost your character straight to the morph's cap.
25 is high. This is the point where you start pulling the most economy for the skills that you need the most. There are going to be a few morphs that you want to avoid, but you can still take advantage of most of the bodies the system has to offer.
30 is the highest I would *recommend* players go. Beyond that the economy drops drastically. This is also the stat cap for the majority of morphs, and the highest you can go before you will routinely be kneecapped in your core abilities.
30+ costs considerably more than it benefits a player. Most morphs have a cap below this point, and you also have to spend an additional 20 CP (Exceptional Aptitude trait) just to be able to buy your way up an attribute - one that you are unlikely to ever use.

The things to keep in mind:
1 - If you are using a high attribute to set your skills, any time you sleeve into a morph that has an aptitude maximum below your attribute value, you will take a penalty to both the attribute and the skills that are linked to it.
2 - There are some attributes that are important on their own merits. WIL is important because physical damage is cheap. You can literally be killed as many times as you want, but once you run out of your Lucidity your character is dead. INT and REF are what set your Initiative, which is useful for taking charge or running away. SOM is actually the easiest attribute to improve with implants, so my characters tend to keep around 10-15 in their base values - even the melee combatants.
3 - Until you are really comfortable with character creation, I encourage you to build your characters with attribute values between 10-20. If you're a little more comfortable, open that range up to 05-25/30. Shuffle your free starting attributes as well as you can, and then consider buying another 5-10 points to flesh yourself out.
4 - Keep your attributes in base 5 as much as possible. I'm sure there's some issues and you can't always fit everything you want that way, but it makes the math so much easier, and you are about to do a lot of it.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Skills, glorious skills!

Now remember how I had said that skills are what define your character the most? I was being serious. Your attributes can be highly variable, but your skills are going to be what you count on most. And remember the mantra - YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO LEVEL UP AGAIN.

There are, generally speaking, 2 major schools of thought on point expenditures overall in EP. There are players who take full advantage of the gear list, front-load their reapers with all the SOTA hardware they can get their claws on, and leave the character with the barest of core competency. The opposing school of thought is the "nude skydiver" (I prefer Rapid Insertion or Guerrilla Warfare expert) - you spend absolutely nothing on your gear and instead opt to build up the ego as much as possible. There's an additional "Clanking Mass" school of thought which buys a morph that is as cheap as possible (Case or Flat) and burdens it with every Negative Morph Trait possible to the point where the body actually has a negative CP value so that when they inevitably die, they can get a body that isn't made of recycled materials (these are the players I force to keep the morph for every mission, so be forewarned).

I tend to keep to the middle of the (first) two schools. You want to emphasize your ego as much as possible, but unless your GM is a git about constant egocasting, you will want to spend enough on gear to give your skills the best chance of success. A note to GMs, if you are planning on making the players egocast everywhere, tell them ahead of time so they can strip to the skins and put on parachutes.

Now, as for actual skill values, here's the rubric I usually keep in mind:
40 is useful for background skills that you use infrequently. This is mostly for knowledge skills or things you know you can take extra time on (like Hardware). You can't use them when your butt is on the line, but they can still be useful to have. In the case of Knowledge skills, you can use these as complimentary on active skill tests.

60 is where you should aim for with your ancillary skills - the ones that are useful, but not *critical* to your character concept.

Your core competencies should be in the neighborhood of 70-80. If you budget carefully, you can get 3-5 skills in that range, and routinely use them in the worst situations with some expectation of success.

90+ are, conversely, not incredibly useful unless you absolutely have to have it that high. I've had a lot of success with a hacker who had Infosec and Interfacing at 90 because then I could take negative penalties to get the job done considerably faster. With things like ranged combat or stealth, you either can't rush the job or don't want to, hence 90 is meh.

Also important to note, buy skill specializations where you can. That's 5 points spent for 10-20 (even, rarely, 30) points of value. Seriously, players never seem to take advantage of them and it's the easiest way to push up the economy.

My usual chargen rules:
1 - you are in a party, so talk to each other. You *should not* be making characters that do all the same things the same way. Yes, cross-training is useful, but jack of all trades is master of none.
2 - Networking is powerful. It is very, very powerful. You don't have to make a Jack of All Trades (see 1). Make your character competent. Broadly competent is ok, but focus on competent. You can call on others (in or out of your party) to cover your blind spots. Usually. But always make sure that when you are dumped naked in the middle of nowhere, you can reasonably expect to survive.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Traits & Gear!

Traits help flesh out a character even further. There's a few GMs who will not allow you to buy traits during gameplay, and let's be honest, you can't afford them for a long time anyway.
Say it with me, everyone: "You are never going to level up again".
Good.
Now, there are some archetypes (Asyncs) you cannot play without buying traits. There are some archetypes (Investigators, Requisitions Officers) who strongly benefit from the right traits. Read through them all and figure out whether there are some useful ones for your character idea. You have your skills ready, so you should now easily be able to tell what is important and what isn't.

As a general rule, Situational Awareness is the most useful trait in any of the books. Trust me. Ambidexterity looks cool, but melee combat doesn't require ambidexterity (more on that later) and in the grand scheme it's usually better (and more cost effective) to just get a bigger gun.

So overall, what should you be looking for?

Mostly, you want to look for ego traits. Morph traits soak up your points pool, are basically just high cost implants, and will disappear the first time you egocast or die.

As far as negative traits, go with the ones you can live with. There's a phrase running around in Shadowrun where "a flaw that isn't a flaw, shouldn't be counted as a flaw". At the same time, a player should remember: "a flaw that kills me is not a smart investment".

What about traits like Hyper Linguist? Remember the mantra. Also remember that the implant that mirrors Linguist is one of the cheapest ones in the book. You can spend 10 points now to level up later (cue laughter), or you can spend .25 points (or 250 credits) in the next section.

Take all the flaws *that you can live with*, up to cap. This gives you extra points to play around with. Whether you turn around and immediately spend them on positive traits is up to you.

Now Gear is the difficult section to go through. There's a lot of gear in the book, and all of it looks sooo gooood.
My advice? Spend no more than 1/4-1/3 of your points on morph, gear, etc. EP is the only game I've heard of where you can literally be dropped in the middle of nowhere without even your body to count on. Take a look at how useful the Mercurial Scavenger is when they're alone in a Spare in the Martian TQZ.
you and everything around you is disposable. It sure is tempting to invest all of your cash into a SOTA seeker rifle, or drop a bajillion credits into that slick sniper rifle. A few good high-quality purchases can keep you alive, but remember that you can get gear far more easily than you can change your character. And you can burn through your gear even faster. Focus on getting the job done economically with the smallest investment of capital and risk (on your part, anyway).

How do I do gear? I go through all of the books, and write down absolutely everything that works. I'm serious. Now organize everything by cost. Cut the fat. This usually takes up to 5 passes for me.

Expensive items. My cap is between 1-3. Expensive is, well, expensive and it doesn't help much when it's a puddle of goo. They are, however, game changers so this is a useful way to get a leg up on all those nude skydivers (while still keeping more points than the guy hauling toasters).
High items - I tend to keep this in around 3-5 - this is the top of the economy vs utility scale, where the majority of High items are worth more than they cost.
Moderate items - This is where you can usually pig out a bit (no offense to our Uplift readers). You can drop a reasonable amount of money here, and not expect to break the bank.
Low and Trivial items - These are those items that can easily become a matter of "it's easier to get them now than find them later". Try to group your Trivial items in base 5 so you don't waste money. This is also where most of the Senseware is. Remember - you can't fight what you can't see. So see EVERYTHING.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Pretty nice write up. But ya

Pretty nice write up. But ya the never going to level up again mantra does not work well for real life play sessions since the RAW would have us hand out RP like candy and the players can level up whenever they wish if they can justify a large enough time gap story wise.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
By all means

I'll admit I have less experience in the IRL play, so candy is fewer and farther between. But at the same time, it's still a useful thing to keep in mind - trim the fat when and wherever possible. One character starts play with a healing vat. I can't think of a single legitimate reason why someone would be carrying one around instead of just renting one.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
A gatecrashing campaign comes

A gatecrashing campaign comes to mind (I'm pretty sure my players have around 4 healing vats/sacs across vehicles and such.

IMO its generally better to boost complementary skills (once you know how much will be complementary from the GM) than go for skills above 60, it works out much cheaper.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Fair point

But at the same time, it's so much easier to just build your character, and if they decide they need it after the fact they can just buy one. It's like spending CP to buy your own ship and then the GM decides that the game should be in Europa.
Unless your GM has a very specific campaign in mind, and brings you in on it during character creation, it is smarter to make a character who is broadly competent and then build a shopping list for your Networking/Requisitions Officer in-game.

And I did note that your characters have access to vehicles. I usually assume that the healing vat looks like a bacta tank from Star Wars. In most cases, your characters could make better use of a Healing Pod (Gatcrashing p159) as these are specifically man-portable.

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
So rule #1 is "ask the GM

So rule #1 is "ask the GM what they have in mind for the story" before you build your character.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
That's one way to do it

(shrug) I like having pregens around. It means I have a wide array of characters to choose from, and I don't have to be present when my party is making their characters, I just have to talk to them about what their character can do so whichever one I choose doesn't have excessive overlap.

My experience says GMs like to change what the missions are going to cover. One day it's a viral outbreak on Parvati, another you wake up from cold storage on a desolate space station. Unless the GM explicitly states "we are gatecrashing and only gatecrashing", I'm not going to make a character who can only do one thing (though there will be something they can all do *particularly well*). And even then, one day you might be stepping onto a myconid planet to meet the king of the mushroom people, another you are investigating the inauspiciously named "Croatoan" colony.

And for the record, I have been burned by GM's before where I've had an entire character approved, and then the very first mission my GM says that I can't bring along my combat exo. So that's 20 CP down the tube. Within almost the same breath my character managed to tap into her rep networks to give another party member a new morph, a couple of deep dive suits and the High Pressure Adaptation mod - all ready to go before the mission even started. As I said above, gear comes and goes very very quickly (if you know how to work it); skill points and stats not so much.

So the easiest way I'd rephrase your statement, jKaiser, is "consult your GM directly before you make the *big* purchases".

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
Something I press on my players:

"When in doubt, buy the blueprints rather than the thing itself." Or I guess, if you're worried about gear, buy skills that let you find/make blueprints.

In fairness, it sounds like our experiences and playstyles are very different (optimization is something that my friends and I often outright avoid in favor of more unusual, possibly flawed builds that seem interesting or different) but I am appreciating the breakdown of how the stat economy works in practice.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
My dice hate me

I optimize because I have the worst luck with dice. In D&D I had friends who would routinely be rolling 20's. I count it as a win if I roll over a 10 (my first roll of the night last night was a 3). So my usual gimmick is to make a character who is utterly incredible at one thing, and then they try to do something completely different. So it's actually a very similar vein to what your group does, I just took the time to pack a parachute.

Also, for the record, EP would actually work a lot better if the gear and the blueprints were the same price. Then all of my "egocast naked" argument would go out the window, and more than a few character builds would become invalid.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Trappedinwikipedia wrote:IMO

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
IMO its generally better to boost complementary skills (once you know how much will be complementary from the GM) than go for skills above 60, it works out much cheaper.

I'm still leery of complimentary skills. It's very much like spending 20-40 points (I'm running under the assumption that you have an INT and COG of 20) on a specialization. When I run games, usually the active skill also covers any knowledge skill it encompasses - so, for example, Kinetic Weapons can cover the Physics necessary to make an accurate sniper shot (it is, after all, weaponized mathematics); Infosec could be used in place of Computer Science when looking into issues of data security - that's what it is; Kinesics could be used in place of Gambling in games of poker (or could even be a rare instance of an active skill being complimentary to a Knowledge one!).

For the most part, I place an intrinsic value on not allowing my GM to tell me when some aspect of my character does not apply. He might say that my knowledge of Cryptography doesn't help me to crack a Fabber, but he'll never be able to say that my Demolitions skill can't keep a building from going boom even if I don't have the background in chemistry.
I should also point out that you do have a slew of knowledge skill points to play with, so you *should* invest in complimentary background skills where you can - I'm just vehemently opposed to *relying* on them. Example: My character Frivolous Vector has an Infosec and Interfacing of 90. He also has 61 in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Cryptography. Why have I done this? because when those three background skills apply, I can tap them for a +30, take a -30 Rush penalty, hammer down the digital defenses, and crack open that reaper before it squishes a teammate 90% of the time. But at the same time, if my GM says that those KS's don't apply, I'm still working at 90 and even have the option of rushing the job *anyway*.

So yes, stack those bonuses. That's (mechanically) what EP's all about. But at the same time, the GM is going to be stacking penalties against you well. FV might be rocking a 90 with +30 from skills, +10 Teamwork, and +30 programs, but he's also going to be fighting against sanity penalties, rushing, injury modifiers, active jamming, that suspiciously placed hydraulics leak...

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
Quote:Also, for the record,

Quote:
Also, for the record, EP would actually work a lot better if the gear and the blueprints were the same price. Then all of my "egocast naked" argument would go out the window, and more than a few character builds would become invalid.

Better for the consumer, sure, but as someone who has to negotiate sale of copyright and contracts as part of my career, that would be a bad idea as a provider. I could see the 'prints costing less than the arbitrary Category+1, which I've never much liked, but you're still looking at a licencing fee of +50% or more, just to pull a simple example number out of the air. If one of my clients wants to buy the copyright for an image or image set I create, that's typically going to cost them that much or more, depending on the terms set in the contract. And I draw pretty pictures, not 3D-printable handguns.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:Also,

FrivolousVector wrote:
Also, for the record, EP would actually work a lot better if the gear and the blueprints were the same price. Then all of my "egocast naked" argument would go out the window, and more than a few character builds would become invalid.

Remember: as long as you're not somewhere with censored mesh traffic, or if you can bypass the censored mesh traffic, you can download all the cracked/open source blueprints you want. For free.

Skype and AIM names: Exactly the same as my forum name.

My EP Character Questionnaire
Thread for my Questionnaire
The Five Orange Pips

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Game time!

When I make characters for EP, I run under one big overarching assumption - EP is a game, and games are meant to be fun. The corollary to this is participation is more fun than not participating. Ergo, you should make an effort such that you can participate in most (if not all) aspects of any given game. At the same time, there's very different ways of participating in a given scenario.

EP games tend to spend the most game time in 3 places: Combat, Legwork, and Social.

As far as I'm concerned, combat is inevitable. Make sure that you can participate. There are different ways to participate, though, so choose one that's fun for you.

1 the easiest is direct combat. Boot+butt. Fray, and at least 1-2 weapon skills (I usually go for one melee and one ranged). Get some decent guns, a few mods to back you up, and you're golden. If you want to make it easier on yourself, get a decent Synthmorph, back it up with some Infosec (defensive specialization) and you can dish it out.
No matter how many times I hear it, "ambush predator" is not a good go-to strategy. You know what's a good ambush predator? Land mines. You know what's a better ambush predator? That horrible thing you just chased into its lair on your bug hunt. Ambush predation is a tactical option, but it's a fallback - you should never assume that you have the advantage. You *make* the advantage, and then *use* it.

2 Drones. With the right combination of Infosec, Interfacing, Pilot, and Gunnery you can bring the hurt to people with an absolute minimum of danger to yourself (with Hardware: Robotics if you want to control the loadout or repair damage). This is also a really useful backup to hackers, since they only need to invest in ~2 skills they don't already have (less, if you can spring for a decent pilot A.I.). The biggest advantage that drones have is that Gunnery covers all types of mounted weapons, even if they require different skills when hand-held. A drone can mount a sniper rifle and, with a little elbow grease, can swap that out for a laser pistol or Shredder with no change in skills.

3 Hackers - It's harder because the rules are a little weirder, but hackers can trample tacnets, jam drones (they really need a better word for piloting or remote control, because jamming is a thing already), and lock down synthmorphs. Hackers change the scope of the battlefield. In the world of RPG Rock-Paper-Wizard, hackers tend to trump combat monsters who lack Infosec.

4 Asyncs are the hardest to bring into direct conflict because they have a Shadowrun style feedback, and it doesn't work for long. Your muscle will be plugging away long after your brains are runny. Also, offensive asyncs are always going to be outclassed by major threats. Well, unless you're hunting other asyncs.
The quick and dirty is, asyncs either have fun abilities that back up another archetype, or are really good at messing with other asyncs specifically.

Social
Every game will have some social aspects. Even the meatfist is going to have to figure out who to put his prodigious knuckles through. Unlike combat, social participation is easier to manage. As far as social skills are concerned, non-negotiators can benefit from a little Deception and either Intimidation or Persuasion (or even Kinesics). Unless you are planning on playing a socially daft A.I. who pleads the fifth or really doesn't care (and we all know those can be fun), it's good to be able to split up and do a little talking. The extra benefit is that you can then assist anyone more well trained than you!
Hackers can participate in the social aspect by running overwatch, running Kinesics programs (if they don't have the skill already), and monitoring communications while you talk to people - nothing quite like knowing your stoolie is planning on getting you mugged afterwards!

Legwork
this is the research, the prep, and the tactical analysis. Knowledge skills are most useful here. You also are going to make good use of Stealth, Perception, Kinesics, and Networking during this phase. Legwork takes a long time out-of-game because it takes a long time in-game. Even if you are not the covert ops wizard or spymaster, make sure there is something you can be doing to pass the time and benefit the party. Identifying chemical samples can be just as critically useful as shadowing the exsurgent drug-trafficker if you know what you're doing.

Networking is incredibly powerful if you know what you are doing (and what to ask for). Your Requisitions Officer should be busy tracking down intel, blueprints, and fabber time so that your party has plenty of antidote for that hallucinogen sprayer the target put in his office - the one that the installing contractor told the RO about because you got them a good coffee. A good Face makes a de facto good RO if they invest wisely. Additionally, the right rep network can cover a blank spot in the party - if the party doesn't have Interest: Exsurgents, they can tap the Eye for help. Guangxi contacts could identify local muscle or drug samples. It's not as reliable as having the knowledge itself, but it's a better backup than trying to cover literally everything.

Hackers are immensely useful by running information, scanning spimes, and establishing network security in the teams Tacnet. They can also use legwork time to tweak their intrusion programs so they are more effective in the field.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
jKaiser wrote:I could see the

jKaiser wrote:
I could see the 'prints costing less than the arbitrary Category+1, which I've never much liked, but you're still looking at a licencing fee of +50% or more, just to pull a simple example number out of the air. If one of my clients wants to buy the copyright for an image or image set I create, that's typically going to cost them that much or more, depending on the terms set in the contract. And I draw pretty pictures, not 3D-printable handguns.

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
Remember: as long as you're not somewhere with censored mesh traffic, or if you can bypass the censored mesh traffic, you can download all the cracked/open source blueprints you want. For free.

This is a big part of why I respect both of you, because as far as this conversation is concerned you guys are perfectly covering my blank spots, so thank you for that.
Blueprints are one of those things that Requisition Officers are really useful for. If/when I run my games, I usually just say that the equipment the players buy is a blueprint with built in DRM - you can build a pistol, use it for a mission, feed it back into a fabber, and build another identical one after your egocast. The listed blueprint cost far as I'd care is DRM free unlimited manufacture ones. So you can either buy one armor jacket or functionally infinite ones. But again, it's always easier to get gear later (especially, as you point out, free gear).

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
And it's not hard to ad-hoc

And it's not hard to ad-hoc different fabber licences. Limited-use but cheaper blueprints certainly fill a niche, give the players a chance to explore a bit of depth, and allow a bit of GM control without being overbearing, for example

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Character archetypes

As I said before, a character is defined by their skills before all else. Admittedly, you do need to buy traits & powers to be an async, but the async nature is a means to an end - one that is defined by your skills. As far as the major (most effective) archetypes you can work off of, the big ones are Combat Monsters, Faces, Hackers, Investigators, and Tech Specialists. In practice, most players will find a lot of utility in choosing a primary and a secondary archetype for their characters - A Combat Monster/Tech Specialist is different from a Combat Monster/Investigator, and either is far more useful than an exclusively combative character.

Combat Monsters are, generally speaking, the simplest archetype. They are Boot+Butt. Combat Monsters will want a good REF & INT so their initiative is favorable. They will also want a decent WIL (doesn't have to be top, but they tend to see unpleasant things). Combat Monsters will want the skills to use all of their weapons (and/or drones) effectively at all times. An average character can get away with a skill of 60, you will want to invest higher (especially in melee skills). Melee combat is dangerous and difficult, but has the highest average damage with the right builds. At the same time, touching the oozing exhuman is usually patently unwise. As the saying goes, "anything that you can hit can hit you".

Faces are the source of human interaction, income, and cover stories for the party. Everyone should have a decent Networking skill, but a good Requisition Officer will have 60+ in 3-4, and use that to get all of that narrow function custom gear you cut from your character sheet during chargen. Faces help the Investigators by bringing in Humint (Human Intel), and can be very useful in getting the more aggressive members out of lockup if things go south. Even better, in the case of something truly horrible, a good Face can even rally military or militia assets to your cause. Instead of admitting defeat, a Face can ask for help - because more than any other game, EP is unique for having a population of competent personnel. Play your cards right and you can use a Corp cleaner squad or a group of Guangxi smugglers to save you a boatload of time and effort.

Hackers run defense for their party more often than not. They can protect the Combat Monster's cyberbrain so they don't stop splatting opponents, they can help the RO print out all the gear the party needs, they can vet the information Investigators track down. On the other side of the coin, in a technophilic society, Hackers can do a lot to change a battlefield. Cracking an airlock, tripping a bulkhead, or falsifying a work order can get the party into their operational area (or eject someone from it). Additionally, hackers can be very useful in subverting local resources. It's a lot easier to arrest a big hulking death machine when the Hacker cracks his cyberbrain and triggers the Puppet Sock. More than any other archetype (Asyncs being the second), hackers are the characters who can constantly hit the ground running. The lion's share of their gear is digital, and transmits with their ego. If there's a task that the hacker could accomplish fully kitted out, they can still do it naked in the TQZ.

Investigators are the most varied of the archetypes. Your morph broker, scavenger, private eye, police officer, scientist... these are all forms of investigators. They are the party members who acquire, process, and prioritize any information the party gets. To some degree you will always need someone in the party capable of covering this role with Investigation and/or Scrounging, Kinesics, Perception, and Stealth. Psychosurgery, Research, Networking and some Psi skills & abilities can make the Investigator even more effective; meanwhile social skills can improve their sources of intel if they want to conduct the interview themselves.

Tech Specialists are the characters who make sure that all of the gear that your party relies upon works and knows how to use it. While it's unwise to take it on as a primary archetype, a good Tech specialist (or a number of party members who cover all the skills) can make a huge difference. Medicine, Hardware, Pilot, and Demolitions are all useful skills to have when the party needs them. Techs can also draw on skills from other archetypes - like Scrounging from Investigators, or Interfacing/Programming from hackers - to draw out better gear, parts to repair it, and modifications to make sure The Incident never happens again.

Also, no matter what you do (even if you ignore everything else I've said), ALWAYS invest in Stealth, Perception, and Fray. Because that will get you out of trouble more than anything else. If you see them before they see you, you're already that much better off.
Additionally, it is usually useful to invest in Freerunning, Freefall, or Flight - they can be used to default to each other, and let you get out of trouble faster.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
FrivolousVector wrote

FrivolousVector wrote:
Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
IMO its generally better to boost complementary skills (once you know how much will be complementary from the GM) than go for skills above 60, it works out much cheaper.

I'm still leery of complimentary skills. It's very much like spending 20-40 points (I'm running under the assumption that you have an INT and COG of 20) on a specialization. When I run games, usually the active skill also covers any knowledge skill it encompasses - so, for example, Kinetic Weapons can cover the Physics necessary to make an accurate sniper shot (it is, after all, weaponized mathematics); Infosec could be used in place of Computer Science when looking into issues of data security - that's what it is; Kinesics could be used in place of Gambling in games of poker (or could even be a rare instance of an active skill being complimentary to a Knowledge one!).

For the most part, I place an intrinsic value on not allowing my GM to tell me when some aspect of my character does not apply. He might say that my knowledge of Cryptography doesn't help me to crack a Fabber, but he'll never be able to say that my Demolitions skill can't keep a building from going boom even if I don't have the background in chemistry.
I should also point out that you do have a slew of knowledge skill points to play with, so you *should* invest in complimentary background skills where you can - I'm just vehemently opposed to *relying* on them. Example: My character Frivolous Vector has an Infosec and Interfacing of 90. He also has 61 in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Cryptography. Why have I done this? because when those three background skills apply, I can tap them for a +30, take a -30 Rush penalty, hammer down the digital defenses, and crack open that reaper before it squishes a teammate 90% of the time. But at the same time, if my GM says that those KS's don't apply, I'm still working at 90 and even have the option of rushing the job *anyway*.

So yes, stack those bonuses. That's (mechanically) what EP's all about. But at the same time, the GM is going to be stacking penalties against you well. FV might be rocking a 90 with +30 from skills, +10 Teamwork, and +30 programs, but he's also going to be fighting against sanity penalties, rushing, injury modifiers, active jamming, that suspiciously placed hydraulics leak...

This hits on a really big difference between the ways we use skills. I generally run games, and when I do, active skills explicitly do not cover their nearby knowledge skills. I know people who are a really good shot, but have all kinds of interesting ideas about firearms such as "sawn off shotguns are inherently more powerful than regular shotguns and get more powerful the more is sawn off). I also don't see any restriction to complementary skills being only knowledge skills. I generally let kinetic and beam weapons complement each other, and default to one another for example. Same with Flight and Pilot (aircraft) and a lot of other skills which cover similar areas. With other GMs who are stingier with complementary bonuses you're right to go for fewer more powerful skills, but that may not be true all of the time, and when its not that kind of build eats through a ton of points.

On the other hand, if you don't boost a skill quite as high (say 80 instead of 90) that saves 30 CP, which is a whole new skill at a useful level. Its possible to build characters with a ludicrously broad skill set, who are somewhat less awesome at them, but with decent equipment you can have the action economy to use an entire skill set at once. A hybrid combat/hacker/face character with a ghostrider and multitasking can totally fulfill all three roles simultaneously, the utility of which is pretty self evident. You don't even need all of that gear if you don't mind the aptitude loss from just running an infomorph fork on your mesh inserts, but will need some of it for the trifecta.

A broader skill set can also make keeping gear around much easier, as its possible to design and modify your own blueprint supply, which makes keeping a lot of gear bonuses around much easier. A broad technical skill set can cover so much ground, especially in areas where skill alone won't help much, such as extreme environments.

This is probably just another philosophy for making EP characters, and which one is best probably comes down to the exact nature of the campaign and GM.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Fair points all around. This

Fair points all around. This actually answers a few questions I had about existing rules - dare I say, your interpretation is how the game is supposed to be run, just not how it usually is.
In any case, thanks for the back & forth.

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
This is totally beside the

This is totally beside the point, I realize, but this conversation's made me think about it. This is one of the things that've really frustrated me with Eclipse Phase's skill system, and one of the reasons my friends and I are working on expanding the WoD conversion. Not only are there, as far as I'm concerned, too many skills that result in very odd proficiency/incompetence implications in some combination (it's possible to be able to break into any computer with infosec and write top-level programs with programming, but have absolutely no skill at computer operations with interfacing. Likewise, I know a lot of people with martial arts and combat training, and the idea of one of them knowing how to use a knife and a gun but not having any hand-to-hand skill is...bizarre and nonsensical). How they interact is also, obviously, rather obscure.

I'm much more in favor of fewer skills that cover a broader area and can be specialized down. The numbers are also aggravating to me, especially that in practice, everything's in blocks of five or ten anyway. But I admit I'm a GM/Player who gleefully throws the mechanics under the story bus rather than the other way around. Got nothing against more rules-heavy games, but my personal preference is much more streamlined. My urge here is to cluster the related, complementary skills together under an umbrella for purchase at creation, so purchase all computer skills at 40 or 50 or whatever and then raise the specific ones you want to focus on, plus specialities and relevant knowledge skills. Problem is I can't really tell what Knowledge: Computer Science implies versus a high rank in Interfacing or Programming.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
The one that gets me is there

The one that gets me is there are 3 athletics skills - free running, free fall, and flight. Flight & free fall are the same thing - FF even covers parachuting and skydiving! Related note Scrounge, Investigate, Perception.

My usual interpretation is that related skills are used to default to each other. A Kinetics marksman can use a particle beam bolter at a penalty, but they still know which end to hold.

So yes, I agree wholeheartedly that there should be fewer skills. The only reason I feel the need to optimize this much is because it's impossible (to me) to cover *all the skills in the books*.

Also not impressed with asyncs for the most part. The Eye has a good writeup for Mass Effect style biotics which made them more effective but also prohibitively expensive.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I'm not so sure we need fewer

I'm not so sure we need fewer skills as rather they need to be less esoteric.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Quote:

Quote:

Also not impressed with asyncs for the most part. The Eye has a good writeup for Mass Effect style biotics which made them more effective but also prohibitively expensive.

Aww, you reminded me of the stuff that I wrote, and now I'm a sad panda. I have learnt so much about game design since then, I really should take another crack at basically every single thing I submitted to The Eye.

-

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
That's the artist's curse

That's the artist's curse right there. Hindsight becomes ever more cruel.

I dunno. I've run into the problem several times now that friends of mine who love RPGs and absolutely love the ideas in Eclipse Phase have just lost interest when they start with the mechanics. That, to me as a designer, is an issue, when people who love these games just can't get into it because of convoluted mechanics. I don't think I suck at explaining things too much, wordiness and abuse of commas and parentheticals aside.

Eh, I'l stop bitching. This is FV's show and this has been educational so far.

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
I've run into the skill

I've run into the skill complexity issue before, but in more of a situation of my own making with my (undermotivated) attempts to make an ORE/Wild Talents hack for EP (for funsies). Due to how WT and ORE in general works, I rolled up a few skills either into new skills or renamed skills. (I kept Flight and Free Fall split though, those have different aptitude bases which tells me they're fundamentally different abilities. In fact, can you "fly" conventionally in micrograv?) However, a lot of this is to do with scaling.

EP is a very big scale game, in more wyas than one. There's a lot of individual points to spend at Chargen, or the numbers can get pretty high with packages. So there's a lot of potential diversity in the skill selection so you can fine tune to what your character is capable of. Having some skills high but others low might not make a lot of sense to people with normal, modern learning tools, but the way the future is, you never know. An expert hacker might have a piss-pour Interfacing because his Muse does all the conventional computer operation because that's too boring.

EP is also really diverse and big-scale in terms of setting. The setting has lots of elements and components, and an individual game or campaign can focus on any one of them. How many people here have actually rolled Swimming? It's probably not common, you'd think it can just be bundled into "athletics", but I think part of EP's goal in some of it's "horror" elements is that having appropriate skills, and if you don't have those skills, it's bad.

To actually pull this onto topic here at the end, this means there's an important step to generating any character for EP, you need to talk to the GM about what kind of game is being run, and the GM needs to discuss the game with the players. If you play a session then egocast to a new location, that guy who spent a lot of cash and CP on a good morph is SOL. You play a game on Ceres or Europa, and don't tell anyone about it, well, they better hope they have enough cash to buy a diving exoskeleton because none of them can swim or breathe underwater. If you're doing a very focused game or campaign though, you can easily allow people to not just specialize but get really specified with what skills they use, while there are some skills that everyone has at different levels, because that's the game being run.

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Wait, you wrote out the rules

Wait, you wrote out the rules for EP Biotics? Pardon me while I fanboy for a second!
I can also understand the game gen problems, I've been halfheartedly working on my own game for a while and it's pretty obvious that I can't do this on my own. Also, comma (and parenthesis) addiction is a real struggle.

Re: Flight v Freefall - Firstly, flight also covers Vector Thrust and rotor powered mobility systems in robotic shells, so you can use it in micrograv with the right gear. With conventional flight, it might be a little more uncomfortable, but it's basically redirected lift. My (basic) understanding of aeronautical mechanics is that the configuration of the wing reduces pressure above the wing and increases it below, so the air pushes you around. You might have to rotate your shoulder (h)awkwardly, but flight should still work for your ornithopter morphs.
As far as the attributes goes, one is rigged for efficient flight (SOM for Flight), the other is for accurate and precise flight (REF for freefall). This has been a standard "engineering" concern for birds everywhere. Haast's Eagle or Peregrine Falcons are all about precision flight, narrow cross sections, high agility, and high speed for very short bursts. Meanwhile Canadian Geese don't concern themselves overmuch with performance flight and are more caught up in distance and duration.

I also agree with you on the point that the wide array makes customization possible. At the same time, it's like a good editor in a long book. If you weigh yourself down with too much detail, you get either an overabundance of options, or an esoteric explanation of simple systems.

But please continue discussion. The more we talk, the better the talk and it saves me from having to write too much unbidden.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Freefall is also used when

Freefall is also used when you're derping around in microgravity without any means of controlling yourself beyond using your body and kicking off from things.

Flight, meanwhile, is used for everything from winged morphs to piloting a jetpack or a vector-thrust equipped morph.

Skype and AIM names: Exactly the same as my forum name.

My EP Character Questionnaire
Thread for my Questionnaire
The Five Orange Pips

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Economy and maths!

Now on to the elephants in the room. I keep talking about economies and not showing the math, so here goes:
Stat Economy comes out in three major flavors. Actual cost, simulated cost, and fringe benefits.
When you are buying an attribute, it costs 50CP:5AP from 0-30, but 70:5 for the first points over 30 thanks to the Exceptional Aptitude trait. Interestingly, this means that you can recoup some economy by hopping all the way up to 40 (becoming 60:5 vs 70:5 or 12 vs 14 to 1). However, as I've said before, there are few morphs that let you take advantage of that - in the core book there are only 3 (Remade, Reaper, and Infomorph). The second consideration is morph aptitude bonuses. Morph bonuses are added to your attribute and give a bonus to all linked skills, but they only kick in if your base attribute is below the morph's aptitude maximum already. Morph bonuses can be used to add a little extra skill economy when they are available.

The simulated cost is the price difference when you take into account the economy of buying skills without the raised attribute. For example, say that you are making a hacker character and have to decide between improving your COG attribute from 20 to 25. That costs a total of 50 CP. Since your core skills (Infosec, Interfacing, Programming, and Research) are all linked to COG, and you know they will be above 25, you save yourself 5 skill points per skill if you upgrade your attribute instead of purchasing them all individually. So the actual CP cost of improving your COG is 30; lower if you have more COG related skills (like all your Knowledge skills or any interesting technical ones). If you've chosen a certain skill set, it can become considerably cheaper to improve your attribute than buy each skill individually (possibly earning you points back!). The caveat being, as above, you have to be more careful about morph selection if you rely on attributes. If you sleeve into a morph that has lower maxima, you take a penalty on every single linked skill. If you create a character with a reasonable competence in these skills (60), and then sleeve into a morph that has a +05 bonus to that attribute, but you can't use it, you are effectively losing access to a 10 CP per skill boost; this can spike to 20 if you have a competence of 80!

The last thing to mind in attribute distribution is the fringe benefits. WIL has a pitifully small pool of skills to influence, but it also controls your Lucidity. You can die millions of times in Eclipse Phase, but if you go insane your character is either gone or loses all the progress they have earned so far. REF + INT determine your base initiative score. Some morphs and mods can alter your score, but worst to worst it is convenient to have a solid natural value to fall back on. Somatics determines the bonus damage that you deal in melee. All of these can be important, but they can really tip the scales in the long run. A gunbunny who has an effective INT cost of 20CP can still find a serious benefit to improving their initiative, even if the obvious math says it's uneconomical!

====
Skill costs are somewhat easier to deal with than attribute values. from 0-60, each skill costs 1 CP per rank; from 61-80 they cost 2 CP per rank; and from 81-90 they cost 12-3 CP per rank because of the Expert trait. Just like the Exceptional Aptitude quality, Expert becomes more economical the more you put into it. This also means that it is functionally more efficient to only buy Expert when you have the means (or at least the intention) to get the full 10 ranks. For most characters this is highly uneconomical. The only character I have made with the Expert Trait took full advantage of the Infolife background to buy up Interfacing and Infosec for the price of one skill. For the most part, Expert and the corresponding 90 is not inherently more valuable than buying the skill up to 80 and instead investing the 30 CP elsewhere.

Exceptional skill levels have fairly limited utility. For the most part, you will want to reserve high rated skills for those times when taking extra time is impractical or when taking less time is advantageous. The simplest modifier to a task is time put in. Now, in every skill test the maximum total modifiers you can have are -60 and +60. Taking the Time (or aiming) spends +50% of the base time (or 1 action resp) to add +10 to your modified skill level (to a maximum of 100). At the same time, you can rush certain tasks by taking a -10 penalty while reducing the task time by a similar amount. So as I said, ancillary skills that you can routinely take extra time on (most Networking, Hardware, Programming, Research, etc) do not have to be terribly highly rated. Meanwhile, there are certain skills where kicking it to the top is the best means of guaranteeing success. By having Interfacing at 90, I could stack modifiers such that FV would do a brain hack in 1/3rd the time and still succeed 90% of the time. In terms of combat, aiming is useful, but it also cuts into your rate of fire which by extension reduces your damage overall.

For example, an Attack action takes a complex action, and you can use your characters extra Quick Action to aim. This gives you a +10 to the attack, +20 with a smartlink (which most weapons have by default). Let's say Mr. Early the bounty hunter only invested 60 points in Kinetic Weapons to track down Matchsticks, a pyro in a Neotenic morph. On his first turn, Early spends a Quick Action to draw his weapon, and fire with only his Smartlink to assist (total 70) at the Small (-10) morph at Medium range (-10) who is behind cover (-10). In turn 1, Mr. Early has only a 40% chance to hit, and Matchsticks can still take advantage of his Fray (Ranged Combat specialization). Turn 2, Jubal takes aim (+10) but the circumstances are otherwise identical; Mr. Early hits only half the time. Early then decides to invest turn 3 in a Complex Aim action (+30); He now finally cancels out all the penalties and can hit 70% of the time. Looking over the turn order, you have 4 turns going, and he's unlikely to have hit more than once. Let's say Matchsticks has Kinetic Weapons 80, SMG specialization - that's 100% chance to hit if he bothers to aim (before penalties). So even if they are using the same brand of SMG, Matchsticks will average 56 damage over the entire encounter, while Early will be lucky if he manages 42 (if he survives to round 4; otherwise I'd bet on Early getting only 14 damage in and is dead by turn 3).
Speed can mitigate accuracy issues, but most noncombat characters only have a Speed of 1. So if Matchsticks had a speed of 3 thanks to combat augmentations, then there's a very good chance that Early would be dead before he even hit his mark. Remember, "ambush predator" is a tactical option, but if you have the time to set up an ambush you are better served setting up a high explosive kill zone. There is no substitute for skill in combat, and the first three turns of any conflict will set the pace more than any other.

Skill Synergies are another excellent way to bump those ancillary skills you didn't invest in as much. A Tech Specialist with Hardware Robotics 60, Interest: Morph Design 61, a +10 toolkit and a little extra time can get the job done perfectly. Skill synergies are useful because your character design has to incorporate Knowledge Skill expenditures. If you have a good COG and/or INT, you already have all the points you need to help yourself along. It will look a little weird on your character sheet (and might make your GM suspicious), but having a 61 in related knowledge skills gives you a +30 to any active skill test to which it applies. I've repeatedly stated that synergies and modifiers are not a smart way to make up for not investing in a skill; that said, it can be a useful crutch when you need it. When you are battling wound penalties, it's coming down to the wire, and you absolutely have to get that test done, a synergy can really pull you through. At the same time, it's a bad idea to rely on the crutch instead of making careful investments in your character, because you never know when your GM will take it away from you.

Skill Specializations have an absolutely incredible skill economy if you have one facet that you can really make use of. Specializations only ever cost 5 CP, but they can give back an absolute minimum 10 CP. What isn't necessarily obvious, though, is that you can use those 5CP to take advantage of what would take you 20 or even 30 CP otherwise! Especially with peripheral skills (such as Kinetic Weapons for a noncombat character), this is the most efficient way to earn participation while not investing too heavily in a non-essential skill. This is the simplest way to reach Expert level competence for 1/6th the price, or even exceed the maximum (to a skill level of 100) for peanuts.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
weapons breakdown

"Armies equip themselves to fight the enemy they expect to face". Your character should do the same, but that means dedicating not only credits, but skill points to the task. With 7 weapon skills, it can be a little daunting for early players. So here's the breakdown:
Kinetic Weapons - Kinetic Weapons are very definitely the jack of all trades weapons in EP. They have among the highest ranges, respectable magazine sizes, high damage, good rate of fire, and tend to have higher base DV than AP. In DV vs AP, it's easiest to consider AP an extra little bit of "sometimes damage" where it's basically extra damage that is only applied against targets who are wearing armor. If you are using a tank cannon on a rat, it will still splat the rat, but it is more efficient to use your pistol on the rat and save the cannon for the TITAN death machine. The biggest advantages that KW's have over others is they are omnipresent, cheaper, and highly customizeable. With access to nanotech, a lower-skilled character can easily trick out their SMG with an extended smart mag so they can alternate between Homing-Reactive-Armor-Piercing rounds for synthmorph targets and AccuShot-Regular ammo for those long distance soft targets without even switching the magazine. If any character has to invest in only one weapon skill, KW's are the most consistent weapons no matter what.

Beam Weapons - Beam weapons tend to have a wider variety in response, higher base accuracy, but lower overall damage than the other classes. The biggest advantage they have is their high base magazine size. They also have the most long-range nonlethal weapons compared to their main competitor - Spray Weapons.

Spray Weapons - Spray Weapons are extremely effective short-range weapons. Freezers, Flamers, and Sprayers can easily be used to set choke points and (for two of them) make effective nonlethal combat options. Shard Pistols & Shredders are excellent painting accessories, and have top-tier Armor Penetration. Shredders have the added benefit of being favorably comparable to SMGs, with a magazine size of "hilarious". If your character has access or the means to make chemicals and narcoalgorithms, you can tip your diamond shrapnel or freeze foam in BTX for extra damage, status effects, or other diabolical ends.

Seekers - Seekers are expensive to maintain, but they hold the title for longest range, highest damage, and boast the best Area of Effect damage anywhere. Their major disadvantage is a technological vulnerability. If any weapon can be subverted or abused, it's Seekers. At the same time, the Seeker Rifle is just a rip-roaring, hull-punching good time. With a wide variety of specialized loads, any combat specialist can very easily tailor their loadout to most any situation.

=== Melee!
In matters of melee vs ranged, Melee deals even more damage per hit with some exceptional synergy between implants and weapons. The tradeoff is that enemies can use Fray against every attack, and anything you can hit can also hit you. Thusly, no matter how awesome you are, perhaps don't get into fisticuffs with an infested Fenrir (or t-rex).

Blades - As melee weapons go, Blades have the advantage of consistent damage. If you have a sword, chances are you will be dealing around the same damage in a Neotenic as a Ruster, with variances based on your SOM. There are very few modifications that can be made to Blades, but they are economical, omnipresent, and pretty easy to conceal or craft. When you are trapped naked in an abandoned (hostile) station, you can make a shiv and are then that much better off.

Clubs - much like Blades' less cool younger brother, clubs are consistent and cheap. That said, though, clubs deal consistently less damage, have no AP value, and are generally less cool than your space katana. So while being able to turn any piece of rebar into a beat stick is handy, they don't really stand up to scrutiny in a fair fight.

Unarmed - Unarmed is the best competitor to Blades for sheer damage. If you stack up the mods, Unarmed deals more damage than Blades hands down. However, if you are trapped in an unfamiliar morph with none of your usual gear, it can be a nightmare. A synthmorph with Hydraulic Limbs, Cyberclaws, Eelware, Poison Glands and Implanted Nanotoxins while wearing a Combat Exo and filling their other three hands with any sort of weapon can deal patently ludicrous damage while simply disabling some opponents in a single hit. At the same time, if your GM decides to mess with you, you could go to suddenly dealing all of 1d10+2 AP 0 damage.

when all else fails, grenades make excellent party favors, improvised land mines, early warning systems, and all manner of fun pastimes.

Ambidexterity is one of the more interesting traits for players who like to crunch numbers. Effectively, you have rank 1 of Ambi free (this is your main hand), and every weapon adds another attack test with a cumulative -20 (ambidexterity) penalty per extra weapon. Each rank of Ambidexterity, therefore, adds another weapon your character can conceivably use (given enough hands). For argument's sake, let's say that one person is dual wielding heavy pistols, and the other is using a single rifle. That is AP-4 DV2d10+4 for each pistol (meaning up to AP-4 DV4d10+8 with 2 pistols) vs an AR's AP-6 DV2d10+6. If that seems clear cut, remember that range is also important - the pistols cap out at 80m and took an extra 10CP to be able to wield effectively. Meanwhile the AR is accurate out to 900m. Additionally, you have to make separate attack tests against the same target for each ranged weapon. So consider carefully whether you want to have high burst damage in close range, or would rather pay a fraction of the price in favor of having the advantage in range. As far as I'm concerned, range is it's own reward, but then again you can have some morphs dual wield Light Machine Guns!

In melee, ambidexterity is (mostly) unnecessary. Even without ambidex, characters dual/polywielding gain +1d10 (max +3d10) damage per weapon added to the primary, and can use all of them as a function of a single attack (for that modified damage). They also gain +10 per additional weapon (max +30) to Fray tests against melee attacks. The only time that Ambidexterity comes into play in melee is when your character attacks multiple targets in the same turn, in which case they lose all of the bonus damage and Fray.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
I think that's all for today,

I think that's all for today, if you all have something you want me to look into, please pipe up. Otherwise I'm going to take a crack at Fray, Networking, Asyncs (and how to use them), and my methods for choosing an ideal morph.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Epsilon Rose Epsilon Rose's picture
Point ratios

Do you have a summary of recommended point ratios for each type of thing (skill, ability, rep, talent, gear) and/or a target number of skill for each level (you said you could get 3-5 really good ones, but you didn't mention how many tertiary or ancillary skills to shoot for)?

Also, does the gear/morph economy change if you're planning to go with an info-morph or are looking at a bunch of software?

Edit: Also, on a tangentally related note, any tips for playing info-morphs or cyber-brain characters? One of the books made it sound really dangerous once you factor in the exsurgent virus, to the point of it sounding like an always bad idea.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:Wait,

FrivolousVector wrote:
Wait, you wrote out the rules for EP Biotics? Pardon me while I fanboy for a second!
I can also understand the game gen problems, I've been halfheartedly working on my own game for a while and it's pretty obvious that I can't do this on my own. Also, comma (and parenthesis) addiction is a real struggle.

Yeah, I used to write a *lot* of homebrew stuff for Eclipse Phase. Only half of anything I ever sketched out in my old notebook actually made it to the forums. Personally, I have just gotten more and more comfortable with the notion that I use a lot of commas in my work. Would my english teacher get upset with me if they knew my sins? Probably. But I'm going to continue dropping a comma in whenever I would take a half breath while reading a sentence.

I might actually go over everything I did for the Eye, cringe away at it all, and then rewrite it. That would actually be a fun little exercise.

-

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
CodeBreaker wrote:I might

CodeBreaker wrote:
I might actually go over everything I did for the Eye, cringe away at it all, and then rewrite it. That would actually be a fun little exercise.

If you need a second set of eyes, it would be my pleasure to assist.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Write-ins!

Epsilon Rose wrote:
Do you have a summary of recommended point ratios for each type of thing (skill, ability, rep, talent, gear) and/or a target number of skill for each level (you said you could get 3-5 really good ones, but you didn't mention how many tertiary or ancillary skills to shoot for)?

The fast & dirty of it is that every point you don't invest elsewhere is points you should invest in skills. Or to rephrase, skills should be your priority one - everything else takes away points from those skills.

Looking over all my finished characters, here's the common theme:
For active skills, invest between 400-450 skill points with ~5-25 CP in specializations tacked on (my absolute max was 55, or 11 specializations). The absolute highest I invested in this category was 505 with specializations rolled in, and my 3 most effective characters tended towards 440-450 (the latter with a load of specializations).

For Knowledge Skills I pretty much stuck exclusively to the bare bones 300 CP. My highest investment was 350. If you have good INT and/or COG, you can actually make the 300 go a long way - once you have 10+ skills linked to that attribute it becomes more efficient to boost the attribute than the skill.

When I spent points on attributes, it tended to wander between 50-150 points, never higher. It should be noted that only one used Exceptional Attribute, and he was a dedicated hacker who I later went back and clipped back to 30.

With Traits, I tended to break even whenever possible, pushing +50/-50. For those rare instances where I didn't, one character spent 10 points more on Edges than they gained in flaws, one did the opposite and earned an extra 5 points.

If you are interested in playing an async, I tended to use exclusively passive powers. You can get all of the best ones for 35 points (though one character splurged for 50).

Morphs tended to settle in around 60-65 CP. For your ideal economy, aim for something that gives you the most bang for your buck and is between ~30-60. Remades are the most cost effective morph, especially if you are not the socialite. While cool, Reapers are a little too expensive (and illegal) to make frequent use.

Gear was more fluid. My absolute lowest was 53 (because he came with a Reaper), my absolute highest was 114. Generally, though, I stuck between 65-80

Rep is cheap, and it's best to get rep now - if you're careful about not burning it, know what you're doing, and are careful you can very easily turn 5 CP of rep into a hundred thousand credits over time. Most of my characters went between 6-9 CP on rep (lowest being 0 and 3, highest is a requisition officer with 25). The big rule for rep is only buy the rep that you have the Networking skill to use, but max it out now. A lot of the sample characters blew rep on a smattering of networks, at the expense of the ones they actually use. Do not make that mistake.

For the full price breakdown, here's the number of purchases made by cost category across 5 characters
Trivial 2-5
Low 7-19
Moderate 6, 12-19
High 6, 7
Expensive 1-3

My favorite example characters are Frivolous Vector and Catarina & Katja.
FV: 10 Knowledge Skills (mostly 60, 1 80), and 13 Active Skills (most were in the 40-60 range, with 4 in the 80-90 range because he made use of the Infolife background)
C&K: 7 Knowledge Skills (2 48's, 1 60, 2 61's, an 80, and her native language), 17 Active Skills (most were in the neighborhood of 30-40 with highs of 60, but she made extensive use of Specializations).
The biggest difference between Vector and Katja was their major purpose. Vector made less use of complimentary skills, and needed higher levels of competence in a narrower field - he was an electronic warfare specialist, and not much else. Meanwhile Catarina was a requisition officer (smuggler) and socialite - she was less directly useful, but she was hugely effective across 4 social networks thanks to careful use of specializations, rep, and traits.
However, they were both able to participate in all parts of a mission. Socially Vector was grossly (often comically) incompetent, but he had good insight and a hammer when he really needed intel. Any time he couldn't actually do something on his own, he rented an accelerated simulspace and tweaked his programs. They were both proficient at stealth, combat, and had all the senseware they could fit.
Your mileage will also vary based on the background and faction that you choose. Some factions are more focused on what your character does and can shave off the unnecessary bits. Catarina was Reinstantiated which gave her extra Moxie (awesome), but also blew some free skill points on Groundcraft.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Write-ins!

Epsilon Rose wrote:
Also, does the gear/morph economy change if you're planning to go with an info-morph or are looking at a bunch of software?
Edit: Also, on a tangentally related note, any tips for playing info-morphs or cyber-brain characters? One of the books made it sound really dangerous once you factor in the exsurgent virus, to the point of it sounding like an always bad idea.

Fortunately, you played straight into one of the topics I wanted to talk about. Morph selection is quite important - while you can (relatively) easily get a replacement body, you are still never quite in the position to make the perfect body as when you're in chargen. The first thing you should always look into is what your GM is interested in running. If you're gatecrashing, you're going to kit up very differently from a Jovian espionage campaign, a run & gun Direct Action campaign, or an egocasting "problem solver" scooby doo crew. So it's important to talk to your GM about what gear and morph you're thinking of getting so that they can vet it before you blow a pile of credits on something you have to leave in a closet.

So, the way the game plays out, there are 4 major morph options - Organic, Pod, Synth, and Infomorph/Swarmanoid.
Organic morphs are among the most frail, but most socially acceptable morphs. For a socialite, there's not much better than getting a biomorph (unless you want to spring for a Galatea or Steel synth). The Remade is one of the best, most cost-effective morphs in the book and one of the only morphs that can make full use of an attribute of 40. They are immune to cyberbrain hacks, and are also immune to a number of synthetic-only exsurgent virii. Asyncs pretty much require a biomorph if you're going stock. The tradeoff is pretty steep, though. First of all, biomorphs are vulnerable to electric shock, chemicals, biowarfare attacks, and organic exsurgent attacks. They exist, and they can be some of the nastiest of the bunch. You also have to breathe, eat, defecate, and all those other fun things. So while a Fury is a good combat morph, a Synth can take so much more punishment and can get spaced with little to no problems (location aside) while completely nude. If you are playing a biomorph, invest in a good pressure suit - the hardsuit is actually some of the best armor in the game.

Pods are pretty much the least useful morphs in a straight-up fight. They combine the organic needs of a biomorph with the brainhacking vulnerability of a synth. Tack on the puppet sock and you're basically just waving a flag saying "eat me!" Of course, there is always a flip side to the coin. Pods are the most anonymous of the morph types. Pods are the invisible, like children, beggars and servants - because that's what they are. They occupy that nebulous middle ground between the clanking masses and the organic elite. If you want to blend into the background and the crowd, a pod can be a useful infiltration tool. They also tend to be a little cheaper. That said, if you want to use a pod make sure that you have the mods, gear, and skill to back it up.

Synths are my personal favorite. They pack a punch (extra melee damage), they are highly durable (with some of the best implant armor in the game), and have access to some of the best implants - robotics. One of the least used advantages that Synths have is their ability to implant more mobility systems. My Galatea has a built in rocket pack because you never know when it will be useful. They are vulnerable to cyberbrain hacks, true, but you can compensate for that by investing in Infosec and a good firewall (your Muse can also run infosec for you, but I like being hands on). Their biggest advantage is their lack of organic frailties - they are by default vacuum sealed, and can survive in extreme conditions without the Environmental Adaptation mod. While the rest of your party has to use Alvin to hit the bottom of Europa, you can buy one mod and sit on top of the sub! One of the trickiest things you can now pull is getting the organic Brain Case mod. This not only makes you immune to brainhacking, but makes you immune to exsurgent attacks that target the brain, and means that you can play a perfectly comfortable Async in a near indestructible body. There are other drawbacks and restrictions that Synths face (and they can be slightly more expensive), but synths are my go-to morphs for combative characters and hackers.

I lump Swarmanoids and Infomorphs into the same category because they face the same in-game issues. You can never quite appreciate how useful arms are until you don't have them. So with the understanding of my above stated "participation=fun", you can see where it can get a little dubious. After all, it's frustrating to get all the way to the end of a mission only to be defeated by a mason jar. So make sure that, if you do decide to go with either of these, you have the skills necessary to participate in combat and some means of opening doors. My go-to method is drones - if you have a drone pilot with 3-6 Guardian Angels, you might just outperform the combat specialist for a fraction of the price. The added advantage being, you can put a cyberbrain into a drone and host yourself in your own gear. The biggest advantage to playing an Infomorph is the improved Speed. By default you get a speed that costs instanced characters 30-40CP to get, at the cost of not having attribute bonuses. So if you go Infomorph, spring for an Eidolon - it's a data morph. If you are a hacker, then also spring for any programs that can be useful - I tend to go with the full array of passive programs, and then only take Spasm as my attack prog. The advantage here is that you can really gut the gear list in favor of your ego. If you only purchase an eidolon and programs, there is little to nothing that can take them away from you.

I should also note that running forks of yourself in simulation is a very useful little trick. Vector regularly made use of 3 forks so that he could teamwork hack. Catarina & Katja are Async forks who use the Multiple Personalities mod to alternate who takes sanity damage (and for a little company when she's spending a few months riding a comet). You can do some very clever stuff if you're careful.

====
Now for the in-depth examination. Usually when I choose a morph, I am aiming for most bang for buck. With every morph, the most important parts are their Aptitude Maximum, bonus attribute points, cost, and mods in that order. If you can, find a morph that gives you an attribute bonus that you can use to benefit your primary skills (failing that, boost your secondary skills or cover a weakness). Remember that Somatics is the *easiest* attribute to boost, so a lot of the morphs that give +SOM are only going to save you ~10CP while not giving you a bonus elsewhere. As far as cost and off-the-rack mods are concerned, any morph that uses High or Expensive mods that you must have can reduce their effective cost by the value of the mod.
So for example, the Reaper has a slew of mods, but most of them are in the Low/Moderate range. The Reflex booster (Expensive), though, can drop the cost from 100CP to 80 if Speed is important to your character concept.

Generally speaking, though, I tailor my morph choices to whatever I expect my character to be doing. If I think there's a very high chance of egocasting, I'll either grab an Eidolon, or keep my morph choices on the low end of the scale. A Kyte (30CP) is a very effective morph, even if its attribute max is low - FV compensated by nabbing a ghostrider and running a fork. If you expect to die a lot, then having a low-cost morph can be an acceptable middle ground - you tend to get a decent morph that will probably survive, but if you don't it doesn't break the bank. For characters that you expect to keep their bodies, go a little higher - I usually stick around 60-65 because that's about where the cost/benefit starts to fall off. Ghosts are more efficient to upgrade into Furies (in some ways) than just buying an off-the-rack Fury.

One thing to keep in mind: Every morph mod that you can't make use of is not itself an advantage for the morph. If you can get the same attribute performance out of a cheaper morph, it's probably smarter to just buy the cheaper one and upgrade than to overreach your means and have useless add-ons. The extra benefit to this is that a low-tier morph can be a surprise against anyone who has the resources to identify them - nobody expects a Splicer to fight like a Fury.

As far as infomorph economy, there's a lot to praise in going full data. In the long run, you are basically only paying for your eidolon and programs, which means you don't need all the mods and gear that instanced players get. It's very much like buying a cheap morph and nothing else - you can instead invest the CP elsewhere in your character. Even if you end up buying a small fleet of Guardian Angels, you are still not going to have to deal with the in-depth customization and high-end mods that a more focused character will need. So by the numbers, an infomorph is drastically more efficient - you lose almost nothing in an egocast, and will have a leg up on the rest of the party if everyone dies. That said, it can get a little boring if you don't have a workaround.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Nearly forgot

The biggest disadvantage that Synths have over the more organic morphs is that they do not heal naturally. So a stock morph means that you need at least passing familiarity with Infosec and Hardware: Robotics. That said, if you can get Medichines and/or a robotics toolkit you are going to have a slightly easier time. With Medichines there is no functional difference in recovery time for a synth or biomorph.

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
Out of curiosity, where does

Out of curiosity, where does the Guard morph fit in to your estimation? It seems at first glance to be the best of both biomorph and synthmorph worlds, like potential, if expensive, workhorse, but I've not yet had much of a chance to employ them.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
With Flexbots getting a

With Flexbots getting a section all to themselves in Transhuman they're practically a morph class of their own. Flexbots can get really pricy with high end versions or many modules, but offer a ton of versatility which isn't easily replaced. There aren't any other morphs which can dynamically change their mobility systems as the situation demands. They can fit into all kinds of interesting tight spaces (most) other morphs can't, and can even tank explosions better than most other morphs. Apiaries and Beekeepers add some tricks, as well as the tricks which can be done with forking and separating on the fly. The value of built in fractal digits and nanoscopic vision shouldn't be ignored either. As they can copy the looks of practically any synthmorph or bot, Flexbots can be really effective infiltration morphs.

The biggest problems with flexbots is that they're not terribly great morphs besides their flexbility, and they have a ton of rules, which can bog things down. A lot of the things they're good at apply to any other morphs which have shape adjusting by RAW, so those can also be really strong.

Epsilon Rose Epsilon Rose's picture
What about smart swarm?

You grouped swarmnoids in the same category as infomorphs, because they have a hard time interacting with things, but what about smart swarms? Aren't they supposed to be better at that? From their description, I was picturing them like the micro-bots from Big Hero 6, minus the crazy fabrication abilities.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Infomorphs

This thread actually reminds me of an infomorph concept I've been tinkering with for a while but haven't gotten a chance to deploy into an actual game.

The basic idea is a combination hacker/drone-jockey that uses either a Hot Shot or Wirehead eidolon depending if I want an extra 5 Ref, or 15 extra CP after I've bought up the wares to bring the Hot Shot up to speed. The Ref is worth 50 CP by itself of course so that obviously makes the Wirehead a good deal in point value (150 total CP worth of stat bonuses and about 40 CP worth of wares for 60 CP), the question of course is whether I actually need all the bling it brings to the table.

For now I'm going with "yes", because Ref is kind of an awesome stat for drone jockeys, and rolling Wirehead.

Hacker side of the skill set is pretty standard fare. Infolife background and good COG score (boosted by the Eidolon) for cheap 80's in Infosec, Programming, Research. Ludicrously high speed stat and built-in multitasking from Mental Speed lets him really cheese it up. The Specialization is a bit fuzzy though.

"Brute Force" would be a safe bet, likely to be accepted due to being name-dropped in the core rulebook, and useful for commandeering other people's drones on short notice. "Intrusion" would be a little fuzzier, potentially more flexible, possibly could be rejected as too broad, may or may not be considered to exclude brute force attacks. An argument in favor of its specificity is that it only applies to rolls during the first phase of a digital attack (gaining access in the first place), but remains broadly useful because arguably that is the most critical phase. Relevant knowledge skills provide bonuses of course.

Drone side of the table is where the shenanigans get complicated. The intent is to use the high speed stat and mental speed to teleoperate a large number of drones simultaneously via Direct Remote Control. The choice of DRC over Jamming is deliberate: it allows switching between drones without a Complex Action, and allows me to replace roughly twelve shooting and moving skills with just five skills: Gunnery plus the four most common Pilot skills (aircraft, groundcraft, anthroform, spacecraft). The skill penalties are an acceptable tradeoff, quantity has a quality of its own.

It's very much along the lines of how FV described a "naked skydiver" build. All its gear is software, but the character is built to rapidly obtain blueprints (either via open source channels or hacking, the Infolife background naturally restricts its potential for rep-wrangling) and use Nanofab+Hardware skills to turn them into reality. Or, of course, simply hijack whatever bots happen to be nearby and networked.

Obviously a completely useless character if thrown into a campaign that happens to be completely devoid of nanofabs and mesh access. Say, a gate crash on an uninhabited/feudal/Jurassic world with no prep time to build the drone army or acquire a cornucopia machine. But I think that falls under "talk to your GM about the campaign so you know not to bring a hacker to Gilligan's Island". Other potential risks are, well, a hack-happy AGI is just the thing to give people TITAN-related PTSD flashbacks.

I did invest a few points in standard combat/movement skills for the unlikely event the character somehow finds himself in meatspace. I'm not sure if that's just unfounded paranoia since his core design isn't ever intended to leave infoland, but it does stand to reason that anyone who would go through the trouble of forcing him into meatspace probably doesn't have his best intentions at heart. The character is also definitely no Face, but hopefully some Psychology and Social Engineering in the knowledge skills help him hide his complete lack of social skills. Ideally intended to team up with a Face who can do the talking for him though. It's the cost the Infolife background pays for its steep discount on computer skills.

End of line.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
jKaiser wrote:Out of

jKaiser wrote:
Out of curiosity, where does the Guard morph fit in to your estimation? It seems at first glance to be the best of both biomorph and synthmorph worlds, like potential, if expensive, workhorse, but I've not yet had much of a chance to employ them.

When it comes down to comparing synths, usually I use the Lunar Steel (Sunward p163) morph as a high-end baseline. For those of you playing along at home, the Guard morph is in Transhuman p192.
So for the full breakdown, the Steel is cheaper by 10 CP (and half price in cred). The Guard has better armor off-the-shelf, but the Steel has it beat in attributes (though SOM is still the easiest to upgrade, it's hard to beat +05 to 3 stats). As for augments, the Guard has the benefit of Neurachem; the rest of those augments are rather low-cost, but it certainly is convenient not having to buy them individually. Finally, they are equal in DUR, and share the same attribute maxima.
My final verdict: off the shelf it's not a bad morph. If you are looking at equipping a number of people without having to write down all their gear (say, NPC mooks) it does simplify things. If you want to compare the deluxe models, compare it to the Liquid Steel morph (both examples are on the next page of the above). I don't mean to damn with faint praise, it's a good morph and a pretty solid choice.

Note: the hand laser is EP's answer to the holdout pistol. It's not terribly useful, and I'd probably just end up using the thing as a spot welder.

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
With Flexbots getting a section all to themselves in Transhuman they're practically a morph class of their own.

For those of you playing along, the relevant entries are in the core rulebook on p144, and in Transhuman starting on p200.

As you mention, the biggest drawbacks on Flexbots are the cost and rules. It's a fantastic class of morph (and I feel bad for forgetting them), but they can very quickly become prohibitively expensive and complex in a game where you aren't always going to be in the same body forever. I would argue that while flexbots can change a lot about themselves, if you have access to the same resources you'd need to buy a number of flexbots, you'd be able to mimic most of them by robotic implants in a cheaper morph (like a Steel) or by simply going for a smaller one (like a Kite). As to nanoscopic vision and fractal digits, those aren't insanely costly augmentations on their own, and they aren't *routinely* useful.

I totally agree with you on their potential as infiltration morphs. However, it's not impossible to just sleeve into a similar morph (spider, case, etc) or to install a cyberbrain or ghostrider in the correct model and use that instead. Their real advantage is the Apiary, as they can bridge the gap between a swarm morph and a (for lack of a better word) functional one. I don't mean to sound overly negative, but in the simplest terms they are not economical simply because each unit is priced like a morph instead of the incomplete components *of* a morph. I haven't run the numbers to see if a Flexbot makes a good morph on its own merits, which may be the case, but again - simplest terms says that the flexbot is not a good choice for starting characters, and especially not for starting players.

So with all of that said, here's where Flexbots are at their most useful - in times where durability and high flexibility are critical. Titanbusting, Gatecrashing, and "hostile hab reclamation". Their flexibility makes using terrain and tight accessways very easy and tactically sound. Generally speaking, on these missions you have the funding to back up all of these purchases, which means you should have access to at least 3 flexbot modules. Once you have multiple modules you can also start setting up a moment-to-moment backup of your ego in case the worst should happen. The Firewall book places a lot of emphasis on getting intel to extraction even in the case of a TPK (Total Party Kill). Having a Flexbot along means that you can disengage one bot, hide it somewhere, and then come back every so often to keep it updated. The biggest advantage there is the bot is fully equipped and not as helpless as a Spare (or a lone cortical stack). You're also going to be one of the tougher morphs, and are not going to take on quite as many questions as a Reaper. As you start taking damage, you can also slough off solitary components to run at near-full capacity - a trick that no other morph can pull off. So if you do use flexbots, be careful not to buy into the goofy ones that are only special because of off-the-shelf augments. If there's a price difference because of (for example) Mental Speed Implants, just buy a standard version and the mod you need.

Epsilon Rose wrote:
You grouped swarmnoids in the same category as infomorphs, because they have a hard time interacting with things, but what about smart swarms?

Transhuman p198
Amusingly, you found one of the notes that I helped behind the scenes. My older brother is a regular contributor, and we got into lengthy debates about how to make Swarmanoids better than they were in the core rulebook. Smart Swarm does mean that you aren't defeated by the mason jar, but you still have some issues participating in certain tasks (like combat). So I would still recommend that the swarmanoid be used exclusively by hackers or drone jockeys, because there isn't a good way for other archetypes to participate in one of the most time-consuming activities of gameplay.

But, by your response, I realize I gave the swarm a bad rep unduly. Swarmanoids are the ultimate infiltration bot. It's one thing to disguise yourself as a dock worker in a Flexbot, it's another thing entirely to hide inside of an electrical outlet. The biggest advantage swarms have over conventional morphs is their damage resistance (they are both harder to hit and harder to damage), their low profile (as above, they are so small sneaking is considerably easier), and their natural panopticon. I subscribe to the "queen bees" morphology in which multiple redundant cortical stack drones share control over the swarm as a whole - you can tap into this disseminated consciousness to physically spread your morph - and now it can pull tricks no other morph can manage. I've used them to create custom transmission lines across a split party, you can set up microdrone early warning systems, and can get into just about anywhere. So this is actually an amazingly efficient morph, you just have to guarantee that you can interact fully with the world around you. My bottom line is that I don't want players to be bored.

The downside of swarm morphs is their difficulty in interaction, and the ease of forknapping. Physically, all someone has to do to get a (variably complete) fork is to cause sufficient damage to your swarm such that individial drones are damaged. They can then come back, comb through the area, and pick up the pieces to recreate your damaged ego. From the perspective of opsec, your morph is extremely high-risk high-reward. On the one hand, your best missions are the ones you never have to fire a shot, but on the other hand the last thing we need is for Ozma to get a copy of you.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Drones!

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
The basic idea is a combination hacker/drone-jockey that uses either a Hot Shot or Wirehead eidolon depending if I want an extra 5 Ref, or 15 extra CP after I've bought up the wares to bring the Hot Shot up to speed. The Ref is worth 50 CP by itself of course so that obviously makes the Wirehead a good deal in point value (150 total CP worth of stat bonuses and about 40 CP worth of wares for 60 CP), the question of course is whether I actually need all the bling it brings to the table.

Of all the things, you found the only morph I couldn't find a page number for. Well done!

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
"Brute Force" would be a safe bet, likely to be accepted due to being name-dropped in the core rulebook, and useful for commandeering other people's drones on short notice. "Intrusion" would be a little fuzzier, potentially more flexible, possibly could be rejected as too broad, may or may not be considered to exclude brute force attacks. An argument in favor of its specificity is that it only applies to rolls during the first phase of a digital attack (gaining access in the first place), but remains broadly useful because arguably that is the most critical phase.

I'm working under the assumption that this is Interfacing specializations. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of brute force. If you can crack any system that much quicker in an emergency, you're pretty well off. I don't know that you can get an "intrusion" specialization, since the other accepted specialties are based off of the program (like Exploit and Spoof, AKA consider these instead).

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Drone side of the table is where the shenanigans get complicated. The intent is to use the high speed stat and mental speed to teleoperate a large number of drones simultaneously via Direct Remote Control. The choice of DRC over Jamming is deliberate: it allows switching between drones without a Complex Action, and allows me to replace roughly twelve shooting and moving skills with just five skills: Gunnery plus the four most common Pilot skills (aircraft, groundcraft, anthroform, spacecraft). The skill penalties are an acceptable tradeoff, quantity has a quality of its own.

Teleoperation really is the best way to do it. Jamming means the absolute max number of drones you can directly control is 3, teleoperation caps out at 6 (without forking). Jamming also puts your morph in danger (though as an Eidolon that isn't an issue), and causes SAN damage on drone's destruction. Since Mental Stress is the hardest damage to heal, reserve that for the slobbering goober monster.
Also, Mental Speed gives you 2 extra Complex (Mesh) Actions, which would allow you to control an additional 2-4 drones (depending on how much your GM hates your character concept after the first fight).
My input: Specialize in teleoperation to cancel out the inherent -10 penalty. Teleoperation requires only a Quick Action, which means you can command two drones per speed pass. If you need/want to control more, consider taking a macro approach to the Swarmanoid "queen bees" configuration - install a cyberbrain in each "queen" drone, and give them sniper rifles. You fork, implant yourself in each queen, and control 5 (7-9) other drones per queen. Also, talk to your GM about upgrading the Guardian Angel from Rotor to Vector Thrust. This makes them function in vacuum.

Note to self: make a drone hacker named "DEEZ NUTS" (D33/Z_Nutkin) who has modified a squirrel Creepy drone with a cyberbrain and has taken it a little too seriously. I imagine he's going to turn out a little like Muggy in Fallout New Vegas OWB.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
(the Infolife background naturally restricts its potential for rep-wrangling) and use Nanofab+Hardware skills to turn them into reality.

Take a Faction that gives you good bonuses to your Networking skill. If you keep your SAV at least 10, you should be able to get 30-40 for one faction. Then drop a little extra CP to spike that rep to cap (80), and you are now on the taking end of a stable positive bonus for every level of favor below your absolute max. If your Eidolon gives you a SAV bonus, more's the better. If you take extra time, and have complimentary knowledge skills you'll be very well off.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Obviously a completely useless character if thrown into a campaign that happens to be completely devoid of nanofabs and mesh access... But I think that falls under "talk to your GM about the campaign so you know not to bring a hacker to Gilligan's Island".

This is now my favorite "archetype hazards" quote.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
I did invest a few points in standard combat/movement skills for the unlikely event the character somehow finds himself in meatspace. I'm not sure if that's just unfounded paranoia since his core design isn't ever intended to leave infoland, but it does stand to reason that anyone who would go through the trouble of forcing him into meatspace probably doesn't have his best intentions at heart. The character is also definitely no Face, but hopefully some Psychology and Social Engineering in the knowledge skills help him hide his complete lack of social skills. Ideally intended to team up with a Face who can do the talking for him though. It's the cost the Infolife background pays for its steep discount on computer skills.

I would call that points well spent. As for physical skills, still drop a fair amount in Infiltration & Fray since you can use them through your drones. I would consider investing in Flight and Freerunning.
As for social aspects, I had a lot of fun playing 32.5 Frivolous Vector like HK-47, the Geth, and the worst parts of 343 Guilty Spark all at the same time. His idea of a gift was brute forcing into someone's mesh implant and forcibly updating all of their hacking suite.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Skill focus: Fray & Networking

Fray is one of the most useful and easily forgotten skills listed in the book.
In all combat, every time a character is attacked they can roll Fray (or 1/2 their Fray in ranged combat) in an opposed test versus the attacker. This is part of the reason why melee combat is less efficient than ranged - it deals higher damage but it is also harder to land a hit. This defense is a free action, and in half of the outcomes (for *each* attack) the character takes no damage from an attack. With a decent investment in skill, proper use of cover, concealment, and camouflage you can take considerably less damage than you otherwise would.
How to maximize your outcomes: Take a specialization (I like Ranged, which only gives an effective +05 but it helps), take advantage of REF boosts, cover, multiweapon fighting (each weapon after the first adds +10 Fray in melee), and use your Speed stat - you can spend a complex action to gain a +30 on this test for the entire turn. This is also why smaller morphs are a solid tactical choice - they are harder to hit, which by extension gives you a better chance to dodge and thereby take less damage than the Reaper.

Networking is the single most powerful skill in the game, bar none. It is literally your "get paid" skill, but more than that it is also your "rent that submarine", "buy that mod for (a given definition of) free", Favors Paid, Palms Greased. A socialite and a Requisitions Specialist can get anything, anywhere, any time with enough rep and patience. Since a lot of missions pay you back in +Rep instead of cold hard creds, you want Networking to take advantage of this. The funny thing is, "cold hard cred" only counts for one purchase - +Rep can help with *dozens*.
How to use it: Firstly, invest wisely (heavily, early, and often) in the rep networks you use. Every 20 points of Rep you have sets your baseline favors one category (of five) higher. For each category below your max, you gain a +10 on Networking tests. Secondly, when making a Requisitions Officer (AKA anyone who can pull from several rep networks), consider the Social Butterfly trait (Panopticon p145)- 15 CP for 20 (or 30) CP savings on every rep network above 60! The Tenure trait (Transhuman p86, 10 CP) gives the character an effective +30 to all Networking tests through your linked university, at the low low price of needing a background knowledge skill to pontificate on. Always remember to specialize when you can. Like Social Butterfly, that's 5 CP for 10-30 CP payout. My RO (C&K) is a smuggler by trade, so almost all of her specializations are smugglers too - this means she has access to black/red market guns, ammo, mods, etc pretty much anywhere, and can use legal channels for the cheaper stuff. Otherwise be willing to drop extra cash (+10), take extra time, and have a background knowledge skill (like Social Engineering) to call on. Networking is insanely powerful, and you can easily get the full +60 bonus constantly if you know what you are doing.
Catarina & Katja have 60 Networking (R) (specialization TAU), 61 Academics: Social Engineering (that's their doctorate ^_^), the Social Butterfly and Tenure traits, and an R-Rep of 80. Working through TAU, they can request a level 5 favor from TAU with an effective skill level of (60+10s+30se+10sb+20t) 130 and treating the favor as one level lower (so it refreshes faster). In comparison, they have 60 Networking (@) (specialization smugglers), 61 Academics: Social Engineering, Social Butterfly, and an @-rep of 80. She only has access to @-rep favors of level 4 or lower, but she can still poke her underworld buddies for (60+10s+30se+10) 110 at level 4 favors (this actually means that she has access to level 5 favors and still has room for other penalties). Compared to someone with two Networking skills at 80 with specializations (absolute value of 210 CP), she spent 145 and is considerably more effective.

Also note: a lot of morphs run one type or another of penalties to your SAV or your social skills. If you are sleeved in those morphs, spin off a fork in a ghostrider and have *them* run the wheel and deal. The biggest advantage of phone calls is they can't see your face!

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Update

So I've spent the last week mulling over Asyncs and how to break them down for new players. I should have the final script up and running. In the meantime, please give me more things to respond to because I'll run out of ideas soon!

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ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:So I've

FrivolousVector wrote:
So I've spent the last week mulling over Asyncs and how to break them down for new players. I should have the final script up and running.

Asyncs in a nutshell:
The Psi traits are huge drawbacks you have to pay CP to take, that enable a few powers, a rare few of which are hilariously OP and most of which are a complete and total waste of Rez, and heap you down with drawback after drawback.

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jKaiser jKaiser's picture
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:

Asyncs in a nutshell:
The Psi traits are huge drawbacks you have to pay CP to take, that enable a few powers, a rare few of which are hilariously OP and most of which are a complete and total waste of Rez, and heap you down with drawback after drawback.

Sounds about right for having a landline to not!Azathoth in your brain. Damn fun to play, though.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
My biggest beef with them is

My biggest beef with them is that they've consistently been written by someone with only the most passing understanding of psychology (Biotics rules included, sorry bud). Someone with the Lost background and Psi-II has 3 mental disorders - if you actually tried to find that in present-day humanity, these are the people who can barely dress themselves. Comorbidity is no fun.

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
I think you're overstating

I think you're overstating what a "mental disorder" is, though you're not doing any worse than the books do by lumping them all together. Hard to blame either, since the DSV gets rewritten every fucking week, but for frame of reference, I actually have three separate mental disorders as defined by the book (GAD, Depression, and...well, by strict reading, arachnophobia counts) and I get along okay.

The problem is that mental disorders are amorphous and exist on gradients and shift with circumstances to a degree, but they're treated here like a plug-and-play exactitudes. Again, it makes perfect sense from a gameplay perspective, especially since the rules as written have lots of in-built fiat.

As for a fix, establishing levels of the disorders would go a long way toward explaining how they relate to the Psi trait, and avoid the uncomfortable implications that you can just manifest an entirely different mental disorder that you showed no signs of previously. Sure, that happens (PTSD, phobias, certain strains of anxiety, etc.) but a much more realistic method would be to deepen the effects of one disorder to show the psyche is under more and more strain from the async's unnatural abilities. Body Dysmorphia leads to Species Dysmorphia, for instance.

But yeah, the mental disorders need a serious reworking.

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Well, part of the sudden

Well, part of the sudden strike of Mental Disorders for Asyncs is there's literally an alien virus rewriting some of your core brain functions. And in the Ego-related areas, too, hence why Psi transfers when you resleeve. This is also why some Asyncs have unique disorders. If you accumulate Mental Disorders from being stressed, I believe they're supposed to follow from relevant Derangement and Traumas. You start at having a panic attack and if the negative stimuli keeps damaging your sanity you end up at an Anxiety Disorder or a Phobia disorder. But yes, Mental Disorders could use a little more improvement.

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