FV's chargen guide

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Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
To be fair, people today don

To be fair, people today don't have a skilled psychiatrist riding shotgun in their head, and easy access to molecularly precise medicines tailored for someone's precise neurochemistry. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Lost don't have their muses front for them fairly often as well.

That said, the mental disorder rules in EP are much better than the way they're generally treated in RPGs, (in my experience) good enough to be properly criticized. I think the rules are a little sparse, but a GM can keep things working pretty well with a little thought.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Psychology Hurray!

(waves) Major Depression or Type-2 Bipolar. Also, meant no offense, I got my BA in Psych and a lot of my terms and heuristics are tailored to that perspective. It should also be noted that I still haven't even bothered to check if the DSM-V has even been released yet (I was trained to the -IV). So things like "Multiple Personality Disorder" (Transhuman p154) bug me because I was taught to "Dissassociative Identity Disorder".
For purposes of discussion, I was taught that a disorder can be classified as such when it has a "measurable negative impact on the subject's quality of life". So I can be perfectly neurotic about lighting torches in Dark Souls, checking the front door is locked, and checking the oven is off, but it hasn't developed into any form of OCD. Meanwhile spending months on end with crippling low self esteem and contemplating suicide *does* have a measurable negative impact. Therapeutically we are supposed to acknowledge a subject (or "person in recovery") as "someone who has this mental disorder", but there are many times when the patient can have trouble separating their "ego" from the disorder itself. From personal experience, it can get very hard - I'd even say that what I've gone through did substantial ego-rewriting on par with major psychosurgery, but I'd still file my psych experience as "relatively minor" and "liveable".

And I certainly agree with a weighting system, especially since some disorders are simply easier to live with than others. A character with Schizophrenia is going to have a tougher time than an arachnophobe, but one with Arachnophobia+Triskadecaphobia could hit a similar level of trouble more... evenly?
Omega brings up an excellent point, though: the WM-Exsurgent strain is rewriting core code of your ego. Which brings up another excellent idea - why select full disorders when you can select for symptoms? That would (more or less) eliminate the need for a psychological "weighting" system and plays up the mystery of diagnosis. It also means that "simpler" disorders (like phobias) are somewhat easier to catalogue. It also means that temporary derangements can be selected from a pool of related symptoms - it follows standard doctrine that high stress can evoke worse responses than a low-stress/controlled environment (and means other "nice" things like a character you've developed a deep understanding for gets neuroses along your lines of thinking instead of, say, becoming a pyromaniac out of the blue).
So, for example, a character who starts with impulse control symptoms (say OCD) when exposed to sufficient stress to cause a derangement, takes on exholalia (mirrored speech) as a symptom. If they continue to accumulate stress, they begin demonstrating echopraxia (mirrored movement). Then, when they've had the chance to cool off for a while, the symptoms fade and they know a little more what disorder they've got.

Also Body Dismorphic Disorder is pretty much my favorite choice for an Async (inasmuch as that can be counted as "fun") since it really props up the cthuloid horror.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Anyway, this has gotten the

Anyway, this has gotten the psych-er all worked up, so I'll get back to my Async re-reading so I don't weird you out further.
Still trying to work out a quality post on reviewing/reworking Asyncs that meets my standards. That involves more reading ^_^

Sudo drop your weapon.

Kojak Kojak's picture
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:Asyncs

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.

Which ones do you consider to be the OP ones, out of curiosity, and why? I have a player who's planning to run an async character for my upcoming campaign and I'd like to know which powers are most advantageous for her to take.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Asyncs!

Ok, gents and ladies, now onto the subject I have been pondering the last week: Asyncs and how to use them.
Why they work:
Making an Async is an excellent way to guarantee character utility even in a new morph with a stripped inventory - it's a little more kit in your parachute. Some of the best sleights are passive utilities that mirror high-end mods that are either restricted or expensive. The tradeoff is that you can no longer make use of (unmodified) synthetic morphs.

Why they don't:
Asyncs are more vulnerable to some of the most dangerous (and exciting) threats in EP: other Asyncs, exhumans, and good old fashioned insanity. While some powers (like Downtime and Psi Shield) or traits (Dominant Strain or Morph Fever Resistance) can mitigate this risk, you are still going to have to spend a little more to get back to where other characters can comfortably sit. Additionally, many of the most overtly powerful sleights require significant investment in a new skill (stripping points from elsewhere), and are less effective (against pods, critters, and alien species), or simply do not work (on synthmorphs and infomorphs). In fact, there are very few active psi sleights that are worth the CP cost except in a very narrow focus that is best discussed with your GM.
Tack on the mind boggling insanity, and you have quite a heaping pile of disadvantage.

So first, let's focus on how to get them to work; how to get the most out of your investment so that you can spend less time grumbling over lost points, and more time screaming in unmitigated terror over the seething black infinity that swallows your insignificant, pink, squishy psyche.

First, we focus on your stat spread. All powers and skills benefit in one way or another from a good WIL stat. Any power that is labeled "temporary" lasts for 1 minute per 5 points of WIL you have (round up). Infection from the Watts-MacLeod strain reduces your Trauma Threshold by 1, so you should aim for a WIL that is high enough to compensate (your TT = WIL/2.5, so 2-3 points is enough). You also take a -20 to saves vs Exsurgent Infection - against the organic strain that is a simple DURx2 test, but all others (when you *can* resist them) are based off of COG+INT+SAV. A good spread in those stats can mitigate some of the risk, but don't forget to invest in Medichines & Toxin Filters (for organic strains), Nanophages & Guardians (for nano-based strains), and good infosec/Firewall programs (for digital ones). With some strong mental stats backing you up and some extra implants, you can make your async a little more survivable.

For Traits, I am very much in favor of the Dominant Strain 10 point trait (Transhuman p83) - this counters the vulnerability to further infection by +30 (becoming a flat +10), making you *more* resistant than any of your other party members. For an async on a cleanup squad, this can very easily make you a linchpin in the party. Morph Fever Resistance can open new avenues for your character - most useful of all of them is the ability to make use of a Pod biomorph (more on that later). If you absolutely insist on getting the active sleights, consider Zoosemiotics (for controller/sensor asyncs) or Potent Mind (for Psychic Stab specifically).

As far as powers are concerned, the most useful low-tier abilities are all in the core rulebook: Ambience Sense (p223), Downtime (p224), Predictive Boost (p225), and Unconscious Lead (p225). By pulling those abilities, you grant yourself better initiative, fray, passive perception, and a stable +1 Speed bonus as long as you are in a biological brain along with other fun benefits (like gambling expertise). Of all of these, Downtime is the most useful as it is the single simplest and fastest way to cure SAN damage buildup - this power alone can compensate for most of the weaknesses of being an Async. If you decide to use Psi-II, pick up Static (p228) and Psi Shield (p228) - Asyncs are weak to other asyncs*, and these two powers can make you tougher to crack. Psi Shield can again make you tough enough to make up for your TT loss, while Static can actively shield your allies against powerful exsurgents. Combine Static and Dominant Strain for an excellent barrier character in cleanup crews.
Other lower priority powers (but still useful enough to flag) are Emotive Control (p224), Filter (p224), and Sensory Boost (p225). Hacker/Asyncs can also benefit from Instinct (p224), Multitasking (p224), and Time Sense (p225) for obscenely high-speed net-cracking at little to no penalty.
*most psi sleights only work close up - touch range, or within 5-10 meters. From Async to Async, though, all ranges are staged up - even touch only attacks function in 5-10 meters, and longer ranged ones can reach out 10-20m!

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Builds

Titanbuster - Titans, exsurgent minions, and the Lost have psi almost as a matter of course. One of the most effective psi-busting builds focuses almost entirely on the defensive. The gear I've laid out above (medichines, toxin filters, nanophages, guardians, and a firewall) are a useful baseline. If you can fit it, take on the Dominant Strain and Morph Fever Resistance traits - the former is obvious, the latter means that you can use a pod morph. Pods are useful because they force a -30 penalty to all incoming psi usage, but still allow you to use your own sleights (at a -30 but *only for sleights that require rolls*). By taking on the traits Ambience Sense, Downtime, Predictive Boost, Unconscious Lead, Psi Shield, and Static you can wreak havoc on your enemies without taking the pod's penalty to async sleights - meanwhile incoming psi usage takes a -60 penalty for as long as you can hold Static up, and that's before your mental armor! If you can afford it, tack on a Multiple Personalities mod and load in a second copy of yourself - you can now alternate which ego takes the worst of the SAN damage and have one ego maintain Static (or use Downtime) while the other manages the curbstomp.

Mind Knife - Psychic Stab is the only direct-fire psychic attack, with the troublesome bits being it only works on organics, and it's touch ranged. If you know that you are fighting other asyncs, the range goes up to 5-10m but it's still easier to just rely on a gun (or when fighting synths, the Cauterizer program). if you absolutely insist on using it, take the Potent Mind & Zoosemiotics traits and the Penetration & Downtime sleights to back it up. With that build on hand, you can deal 2d10+(WIL/10) damage with variable AP. On a good roll with 30 WIL you can spike the damage to 2d10+3, or even double it on a crit (taking 1d10/2 SAN damage in the process). For frame of reference, your average NPC will have a Sanity of 30/60 with a Trauma Threshold of 5; a more willful character will have a Sanity of 60/120 with a TT of 12. With this setup you can usually inflict a minor derangement with every strike - an average character can even be struck with 2 or 3 derangements in a single attack.

Also remember, there is a lot of good to be said of synthmorphs now that the Brain Case mod is an option. I use a variant of the Titanbuster build with Multiple Personalities and it works very very well.

Sudo drop your weapon.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
Yay hindsight

(Realizing on re-reading that that I came across as a bit defensive. No offense taken at all, and fascinating discussion all around. ^^ )

Kojak Kojak's picture
Oh man, this is excellent

Oh man, this is excellent stuff, FV. Out of curiosity, do asyncs work well as face/investigator characters, and if so which sleights would you say work best with that?

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Friendship and Social Asyncs!

or: how I learned to stop fearing the chitinous presence in my psyche and mind-stomp my opponents.
*specifically* Social Async powers are somewhat challenging. The most useful passive abilities are Superior Kinesics (p225), along with Emotive Control, and Enhanced Creativity. A social character can also make good use of Ambience Sense for investigations, and Predictive Boost if you're a pazaak player in the market for a ship. The advantage here is that they are always on, and work against everybody without exception. (also, note: all page numbers are from the core rulebook)

A lot of the impressive social powers are active abilities, which means that synthmorphs are completely immune, pods are resistant, and usually you have to touch your target. Any power I have marked down as Sustained means that, while you are gaining a benefit, you are also taking a -10 penalty on the test for as long as you sustain the sleight (I'd recommend getting Filter to compensate). In addition, most of the social powers come from 2 pools, Control or Sense, which require investment in their related skill. I would advise your player to choose which powers interest them most, and choose which skill has the most powers they like attached to them. Personally, I am a fan of Control.

Control has the most obviously useful powers: Charisma, Cloud Memory, and Subliminal. Two other more limited use powers are Drive Emotion and Implant Memory.
Charisma (226) touch, temporary (minutes) - +30 on social skill tests v target. This is fairly obvious and simple - touch target, do Control test, get bonus.
Cloud Memory (226) touch, temporary (minutes) - cause retrograde amnesia. This is useful for interrogations where you want to leave no marks. Unfortunately, 3 minutes is a difficult turnaround for a full on interrogation. You can use it for other tasks, like helping your hacker crack open their mesh (I imagine forgetting everything every 3-7 seconds makes infosec a challenge).
Subliminal (228) touch, instant - implant posthypnotic suggestion into target. Personally, I'd start chanting "who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men" and demand "answer every question I ask you truthfully" of my targets.

Drive Emotion (226) touch, temporary (turns) - calm or rile up NPCs, possible social bonuses. I can see this being useful in situations where someone is emotionally compromised and you really need them to not shoot your party. It's harder to use and definitely more temporary, but you can easily use it to pull an asset into a back room or convince someone to back off.
Implant Memory (226) touch, instant - implant obvious false memories in target. This is more useful from an evidence standpoint, far as I'm concerned. Using this, you can easily brief your target with a single touch, or hand off dossiers with no outward signs.

Sense powers are a little harder to use, but also pretty nifty if used correctly.
Empathic Scan (226) close, sustained - emotive scan, which may result in social bonuses (but watch the -10 Sustain modifier!). Of course, if someone is being overt (KLINGON KLANG IS PISSED OFF) you might be as useful as Diana Troi. You may also be able to get the same bonus from a good Kinesics skill, so talk to your GM and YMMV.
Mimic (227) close, instant - +30 on impersonate tests. Very useful against targets who routinely use biomorphs, especially if you can nick their model (or something similar)
Deep Scan (226) touch, sustained - burrow into the target's mind for fun (and profit!)
Thought Browse (228) touch, sustained - Do a passive scan of the target, with an optional keyword search. Unfortunately, would be hard to do in poker.

Also worth remembering: not only are Synthmorphs immune to active psi, but they are also harder to read with Kinesics. Egos in a synthmorph impose a -30 to Kinesics tests (core p181, Kinesics) and an A.I. sleeved in a synthmorph is a -60!

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
beep boop

jKaiser - For lack of social cues, I like to make sure I didn't offend. I try very hard not to take things personally, but even I get riled up - I like to go the extra step to make sure the people around me are ok too.

Kojac - just glad my work is good ^_^. I hadn't noticed you said investigators *and* social, so here's the useful powers (in no particular order): Filter, Pattern Recognition, Predictive Boost, Sensory Boost, and Savant Calculation. Of these, I think Pattern, Predictive, and Savant are your most useful passives. I'm actually not too impressed with Sense Boost, since you mostly use Perception when you don't know something is coming, but YMMV. The active powers from my above social list can also be used by a smart investigator.

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Write-ins?

I'm trying to figure out what I should write out next. Hacking rules and how to make use of them?

Sudo drop your weapon.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
Something about how to choose

Something about how to choose backgrounds or factions perhaps?

I put on my slopes and wizard tracks.

Kojak Kojak's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:I'm

FrivolousVector wrote:
I'm trying to figure out what I should write out next. Hacking rules and how to make use of them?

That could be quite helpful, yes. Also, perhaps some stuff about bot-jamming?

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Backgrounds and Factions!

Factions are useful (though somewhat mechanically limited) components of any character creation. They give bonus skill points to an array of skills which somewhat regrettably are applied before (in lieu of after) skill point expenses. They are, however, an extremely useful boost to your starting CP and should not be thrown out the airlock with the bathwater.
The general purpose for Backgrounds and Factions is to give you +40 CP in skills. All of your average backgrounds (Drifter, Lunar, Martian, Indenture, Nomad, Hulder...) and Factions (Argonaut, Barsoomian, Brinker, Belter, Europan, Solarian...) give you +40 to an assortment of skills that are influenced by that faction's goals and personality. When choosing factions *by the numbers*, not all skills are created equal. The tricky part of choosing B&F is not wasting points wherever possible; Re-Instanced gives you a bonus to groundcraft, for example, which is not useful except in certain scenarios. As a general rule, the most useful skills are generic "+x to any skill", followed by "+x to any Networking skill". When the B&F break into specific skills, select based on the relevant skills you were planning on using, or skills that you want but aren't sure if you can afford with your starting CP. With +Networking, be sure to choose useful rep networks! The least useful skill bonuses, in my opinion, are the + Knowledge skills - generally speaking you will be fine if you make a character who adheres to the bare minimum of invested KS points, but it is very very easy to completely run out of Active Skill points.

As far as cherry-picking backgrounds:
Isolate is the single best "standard" background package - you gain +20 to 2 skills of your choice, and lose all of 1 CP (10 Rep) for the guarantee of not losing any skill points on poor investments. It's just good math. Meanwhile, Hyperelite gives subpar skill payoff, limits your morph option, and is only distinct because of bonus starting credits, which is effectively equivalent to a "+10 to any skill" bonus.

The best "general use" backgrounds appear to be Fall Evacuee and Re-Instantiated. Fall Evacuee can count its +10 Pilot: Ground as a loss, but you still gain +10 Networking and +15 CP from a bonus +1 Moxie, at the expense of 2.5 CP in credits - unfortunately, this does not stand up to scrutiny. Almost every other Background gives +40, and Fall Evacuee gives only 32.5/40 CP. Meanwhile Re-Instanced gives you +10 Groundcraft, +10 Networking, +30 (+2 Moxie), -5 Credits, & -10 from Edited Memories. Technically, this gives RE a wobbly +35/40 even if you can find a use for Groundcraft, but I am actually a fan of the Edited Memories trait and count Credits as a disadvantage that can easily be taken in stride. As such, I still consider RE to be conceptually viable even if it is not mechanically ideal.

The base Uplift background is a fairly strong background not strictly on its own merits (+10 to Fray and Perception is nice, and +20 to 2 Knowledge skills - a default value of +60 CP) but mostly because of the Uplift- Only traits, like Heightened Instinct (THp84), Predator (THp86), and Social Animal (THp86). If you are determined to play an Uplift, I would strongly encourage you to look at the Transhuman examples for specific Uplifts as well. Their average CP value is +50, and some throw in extremely useful Edges as well (Cetacean is actually the most bang for your buck as far as point values are concerned, while Feral Uplift would be the most challenging to use).

As far as AGIs, there are really two ways to approach the issue. If you want to have a generalist who is competent in social interactions, the Humanities infolife is really the best way to go (+60 with only the Real World Naivete and Stigma (AGI) traits to compete with). Emergent AGI and Machine Infolife are both very high point value, but they also take serious flaws that reduce their value. Instead, consider the Infolife background - there are no other backgrounds that give a better point-economy than Infolife, if you are willing to make sacrifices. The short and sweet: If you make a character with the Infolife background, you can easily get 3 (even 4) skills up to 80 or higher for the price of one (or two); you can then use a good rep-network faction to gain social skill points for no increase in cost. Simply put, there are ways to make other factions good (or even great) hackers, but none can make an excellent one quite as easily as an Infolife.

Lost is one of the trickiest backgrounds to pin down. Their biggest advantage is the free Psi-1 trait, but they suffer by gaining +20 to 2 Knowledge skills, a bonus mental disorder, social stigma, and being forced to start with the Futura morph. They are tricky because being Lost means that you can make an Async with an additional +20 CP of traits, at the cost of beng hunted while also being buggier than a bag of crickets. As someone with a strong Psychology background, it's tough selecting not just 2, but 3 mental disorders to inflict on my character. On top of that, if you really wanted to play a different morph, you'd need to burn 15 of those 20 CP on the Second Skin trait, which is useless after character creation. Some GMs may allow you to burn 40 CP to have a "backup" Futura in a body bank somewhere while you rampage around in your killbot, but that's still 40 CP in the hole. So Lost is really most useful if you want to play a very traits-intensive Async who is sleeved into a Futura for the foreseeable future.

======

As far as factions are concerned, strongly consider what Networking skills you want. Criminal and Anarchist are very good backgrounds because they give +30 Networking to one group (especially useful for the Infolife background). Extropians, Hypercorps, and Lunars can directly gain a notable bonus to 2 separate networks for your more Requisitions Officer-oriented characters. Mercurials and Ultimates are very good general purpose Factions.

Out'ster is most useful for non-social characters, especially pilots. Both the Pilot: Space and Interfacing play very well into shuttles and such. Unfortunately, just like Fall Evacuee, your +15 points from Moxie are countered by -15 for Shut-In. As far as the Shut-In trait is concerned, the actual CP value is -10 per rep network below 60, and -20 for every rep network below 80. So unless you are planning on sticking to lower-grade favors or putting in a little extra time (or cash) into every interaction, do not use this faction in conjunction with someone who has to spend a lot of face time.

If you want to play a combat oriented character, Mercurials are good because many of them gain bonuses to Fray and some gain combat skill bonuses as well. The best 2, however, are Jovians & Exhumans if you can deal with limited morph choices or being battier than a belfry.

Singularity Seeker is an extremely high value Faction for highly intelligent characters, especially for those of hacker or other technical backgrounds.

=======

A final note, since I found it while running through research: Phoenix is nominally a good cost-to-payoff trait. 10-20 points for a +20>+30 on WILx2 tests for Continuity. However, you can also invest 25 CP (total) to get the Hardening trait and become totally immune to the entire concept. Hurray!

Sudo drop your weapon.

Retrokinesis Retrokinesis's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:

FrivolousVector wrote:

A final note, since I found it while running through research: Phoenix is nominally a good cost-to-payoff trait. 10-20 points for a +20>+30 on WILx2 tests for Continuity. However, you can also invest 25 CP (total) to get the Hardening trait and become totally immune to the entire concept. Hurray!

Mind explaining this part? It sounds like an interesting concept, but I can't quite figure out how you're making it work.
FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Continuity test

Preface: I'm re-re-reading the rules on this, so... yeah.
A continuity test is a WILx3 test. Phoenix has 2 levels, 10CP (+20) and 20CP (+30).
Hardening costs 10CP, but also lowers your Moxie by 1. Moxie takes 15CP to buy back.

So Able with 20 WIL has a base 60 TN. If you buy Phoenix-2, your TN goes up to 90, and if you roll 91-98 you can spend Moxie to swap the rolls to make them 19, 29, 39... and it costs (ignoring the base WIL) 20 CP.
Baker with 15 WIL (TN 45) doesn't want to deal with that - best he can get is a 75% chance of successs. Instead he buys Hardening (10CP), and his Moxie drops by 1. He then buys +1 Moxie for 15 CP.
With the benefit of Moxie, Able has a 2% chance (rolling 9,9 or 0,0) of taking SAN damage without modifiers for +20CP. Baker never has to roll, and spent 25CP.

Modifiers are the odd part here (this is where re-re-reading the rules comes in). Modifiers on the Continuity test only change the damage value of the Lack. The standard damage is 1d10/2 to 1d10, with the absolute minimum of 2 & absolute maximum of 1d10+2.
I suppose you could say that "under standard rules" where modifiers alter your TN instead of the damage, it's *considerably* safer to just take Hardening, but in terms of probability you can make either work with a WIL of 20 or higher.

Of course, if you roll in an Alienation test, the damage goes up (unfortunately Hardening does not help with this). A bad Alienation test for an average character (INT 15, TN 45) can hit +10 SAN damage, and with the absolute max penalty (not knowing if/how you died, with a gap greater than 1 day) that's a base 1d10+2 SV. So all told, the average SAN loss for the most painful input is 17.5 (5.5+2+10) which Hardening can cut to 10.

Finally, because I feel like writing numbers, here's the chance of failure of Phoenix for different WIL base values with the assumption that you can use Moxie to swap the digits of your original roll. If your GM doesn't let you spend moxie this way, then you are basically stuck on rerolls which is easier to plot, and linear to boot.
40 (TN 120+0) 1% (0,0).
35 (TN 105+0) 1% (as above).
30 (TN 90) 2% (9,9;0,0) with Phoenix 1 (TN110) 1% (0,0).
25 (TN 75) 10% (7,7; 7,8; 8,7; 7,9; 9,7; 8,8; 8,9; 9,8 9,9; 0,0) with Phoenix 2 (105), 1%.
20 (TN 60) 16% (6,7; 7,6; 6,8; 8,6; 6,9; 9,6; 7,7; 7,8; 8,7; 7,9; 9,7; 8,8; 8,9; 9,8 9,9; 0,0); w Phoenix 2 (90), 2%
I'm.... not going to plot out the lower numbers, you get the idea.

Anyway, the lesson here is that if you are willing to spend Moxie on the opening rolls of the game, then they can mathematically break even with the right build. Hardening is conceptually identical to using Moxie to buy an automatic success on all relevant rolls, while the above math is you spending moxie to buy a higher chance of success on the same.
After doing the math, I'd probably advocate Phoenix for WIL of 20+, and Hardening for 19-

Sudo drop your weapon.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Alienation & Integration

While I'm at this section of the book, might as well yammer about Integration & Alienation. I&A are somewhat problematic and pose a hurdle to characters who resleeve frequently, especially your skydivers from before. The tricky part is that these are SOM and INT x3 rolls, and unless the GM is lenient, you can expect at least a constant -10 penalty (that'd be the penalty for playing a nonhuman, using a synth, getting gender-swapped, or getting a "heavily modified" morph). Realistically, I would expect GM's to inflict about a -30 on average for you - the really bizarre morphs or being a fork are particularly painful. So a character with 20 INT & 20 SOM goes in with a base TN 60, and can easily expect the TN to drop as low as 50~10 and you are then expected to go all "space-marine".
Unfortunately, this means that realistically you can always expect a -10 to all physical actions for the first 2 days of action (possibly up to a week), and gods help you if you get slapped with the -30, on top of some serious (10) SAN damage. Note, this is a perfect example of why I always say to invest heavily in a narrow range of skills, especially combat ones - if you are grossly incompetent (base 40) and you are slapped with that -10, your damage potential is going to get crushed under a boot even *before* wound penalties and everything else!

What you can do to fix this in your favor:
Adaptability applies to both of the A&I tests. This is +10/+20 CP for the same bonus on both tests.
The riskier option is to buy the Right At Home trait. That's 10CP to always succeed no matter what. Don't bother buying it for Reapers; go for something cheap, omnipresent, and useful like the Kyte.
Also, consider buying the Hardening trait for Alienation. Admittedly it's 25 CP in total, but it severely limits the damage that morph swapping does to you, and can prevent morph penalties from getting further burdened by Lucidity loss.

Unfortunately, as far as I can find, there are no better ways to beat this system - which is bizarre to me, since this is the aspect of EP that makes it most unique. As a note to GM's out there, I would encourage you all to bump that table up by +10 at the least, or just toss the rules altogether and play it by ear instead. I have the strong inkling that, at least in this section (of this printing), the rules weren't exhaustively playtested before they were published.

Sudo drop your weapon.

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
Quote:Each time it is taken,

Quote:
Each time it is taken, the character’s maximum Moxie score is reduced by 1

I thought it meant your Maximum moxie possible (normally 10) is reduced, not your character's Moxie score (MOX versus Current Moxie). Vague wording in the trait or am I the only one who read it differently?

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
I'm pretty sure its max

I'm pretty sure its max current MOX, rather than the cap of ten. I think this because its the hardening rule from the mental health section of the book, but allowed at chargen.

Its worth noting that getting hardened against alienation is probably a waste, as its for a specific morph type, and right at home is cheaper for better bonuses. (No penalties or stress rather than just the no stress from hardening)

I also think that Phoenix is stronger than hardening because hardening only applies to a single entry on the continuity table, so you want want to be immune to both Day+ lack and violent death its 50 CP.

The big advantage for Hardening is that it doesn't cost CP if you pick it up after game start, which is pretty unique among positive traits.

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
Trappedinwikipedia wrote:I'm

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
I'm pretty sure its max current MOX, rather than the cap of ten. I think this because its the hardening rule from the mental health section of the book, but allowed at chargen.

Sure but that says something exactly the same:

Quote:
Each time you harden yourself to one source of stress, your maximum Moxie stat is reduced by 1.

Which again, can't that be read as the Maximum 10 possible? Or the character's fully refreshed MOX stat which is anything from 1 to 10? I mean, if they meant character's Moxie stat, not the maximum possible, cool, but I can't tell if they meant one way or the other.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Moxie

My reading was your current Moxie cap (the soft cap), not the absolute maximum (hard cap). Think Speed. All morphs start with Speed 1. Add a mod, get Speed 2. Remove the mod, drop back to Speed 1. The hard cap of Speed is 3, which means you cannot exceed it, but things can alter your current Speed stat one way or the other.
The Hard Cap of Moxie is 10. A Re-Instanced character begins play with a Moxie of 3 (Soft Cap). If they take Hardening, their soft cap drops to 2 (hard cap is still 10).

Unsure re: Hardening applications. The rules are really vague. If I had a player who took "Hardening: Continuity Tests" then that would cover violent death, Lack, etc. In the book, things like violent death are actually a component of the Continuity Test, but only serve to alter the damage. But this is definitely up to your GM because vague.

Far as Alienation, I agree that it's very much up for debate. That's also why I had noted "choose the right morph for Right At Home", because this is one of the easiest ways for your GM to... surprise you. I love GM's, I really do, but it's their job to make your life difficult.
Meanwhile, I would advocate using RAH on the Kyte, Lunar Steel (Masked), or Arachnoid. I love me some Synths.

But honestly, yes hardening for Alienation is probably a huge waste. The largest damage I could find was ~10, which is pretty big, but not insurmountable. Instead of RAH, I'd honestly just shell out for the Adaptability, try to keep my SOM to ~20, and use Moxie for that test. Meanwhile I'd talk to my GM about tweaking the rules, 'cause this is somewhat overly harsh.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
transhuman wrote:The player

transhuman wrote:
The player may choose one entry from the Stressful Experiences table (p. 215, EP), the Continuity Stress table (p. 233, EP), or any other specific experience that causes stress, such as specific psychosurgery procedures or Alienation Tests with a particular type of morph, with game- master approval.

The Hardening rules aren't terribly vague at all IMO, in the case of continuity it seems limited to a single part of the table, rather than the whole thing. Similar for alienation, where it specifically mentions a single type of morph. I suppose what "type" means in this context is still kind of vague though.

I agree that adaptability is probably best, unless you know you're going to be rolling integration extremely often and want to save moxie, such as when sleeved into a flexbot which trades out modules often.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
oh ye gods

Right At Home + Flexbot advanced rules.
I hadn't even thought of that!
Wow... that's an amazing idea. Sorry, now I have to stare at a wall until my brain stops contemplating the possibilities. Right back.
This... this actually makes one of my more ludicrous campaign ideas work *really well*.
wow.
We'll... we'll be back to your articulate thread host soon. Too busy scheming.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Hope I'm not overstepping my bounds.

I've avoided posting here because the advice doesn't gel too well with my GM style, but I feel I can safely weigh in here.
I rule that Hardening decreases the Hard Cap of 10, as reducing the actual amount of moxie a character has is just too expensive for what it does, and the cap reduction can hurt all by itself.

FrivolousVector wrote:
Think Speed. All morphs start with Speed 1. Add a mod, get Speed 2. Remove the mod, drop back to Speed 1. The hard cap of Speed is 3, which means you cannot exceed it, but things can alter your current Speed stat one way or the other.

Just to be clear, the speed cap is 4, not 3.

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

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Brain! Why do you fail me?!

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

And you can feel free to weigh in wherever. I'm trying not to get too defensive, and new players should get the benefit of multiple perspectives. My goal in all of this is to be as impartial and correct as possible, so you could help me do that.

Sudo drop your weapon.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Rule Zero

Well, Rule Zero of Pen and Paper, "The GM is God", does have a very strong presence in Eclipse Phase. A lot of mechanics are left entirely up to the whim of the GM, some of which can drastically alter the approach you take to the game. Complementary skills for instance.

So just about any kind of procedural or strategic advice in EP probably does come with fine print that says "Depends on how your GM feels about it".

Overall though this thread does seem to do a pretty good job of tackling the rules as written and what seems to be the most common interpretation to the extent that I am aware. Carry on.

End of line.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Nother fuzzy aspect is active

Nother fuzzy aspect is active skills and knowledge skills. I got into a soft debate with a GM over that.

The Profession: X and Hardware: X and Medicine: X, all must have implied academics to make the application work. So I argued you can use them, in part, for knowledge, but you couldn't get really do the same for just the knowledge. Or there was much mechanical use for having the academic of X and then the Profession of X.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Active v Knowledge

The rule of thumb I stick to is one my older brother taught me for Shadowrun. An Active skill focuses on the knowledge of how to implement what you know off hand in the most effective way. A Knowledge skill encompasses the background understanding and most up-to-date theories on the subject. So you can technically use one in place of the other, but it takes a penalty (so someone with book-learning of first aid is still better off than someone who's never even heard of CPR, but training helps). Having *both* means that you have the necessary skill and the active study to apply new techniques even if they are not common practice.

For examples, let's go with engineering and medicine.
In the modern day, I would count an Engineer (say, mechanical or civil) as someone who has the theoretical knowledge of how to build things and make them work, even optimize existing designs. However, engineers still depend on electricians, mechanics, and carpenters to make their ideas work better. Older days, there was less theory and limited skill, someone could be reasonably expected to know how to design a castle and then stack rocks. Nowadays there is an understanding of materials science that makes doing both impractical a lot of the time. Interestingly, this marks one of the only cases where someone with the Profession or Academics [Engineering] skill is more expensive than someone with Hardware [Industrial]. At the same time, it's pretty obvious which one can be most *useful*.

The example I was taught on was Shadowrun's Biotech (EP's Medicine skill) vs the knowledge (EP's Academics or Profession) skills Medicine, Triage, Epidemiology, Chemistry (pharmaceuticals)...
Someone with only Biotech is by nature a good field medic or trauma doctor. They patch holes, stabilize the patient, and pass them on to specialists. They aren't general practitioners because they lack the background knowledge, but that doesn't make them less valuable (especially to mercenaries in either game), and it does mean that they still have basic medical academic training (like knowing nomenclature or very basic drug interactions). A diagnostician is more like a detective - they aren't the quick-fingered rugged field types that you would want to have patching holes, but their background in Academics: Epidemeology, Medicine, Drugs & Toxins means that they can identify the symptoms for more rare or atypical cases and pass them on to the people who have the skills to treat them. Again, someone with academic knowledge is still going to be able to do limited emergency work but it's going to be untrained and messy (I know from research how to do a tracheotomy with a knife and a pen, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't rather have a doctor do it instead - same time, if someone would die without it, I'd still have a chance of saving them). The big picture, though, is the background knowledge both helps the active skill, and shapes the expression of their medical knowledge. Someone with Medicine [Trauma Doctor] and Profession: Coroner is invaluable to a detective, but I'd be leery if they tried to tell me to turn and cough.

Mechanically, any character with an Active or Knowledge skill can use that skill *at a penalty* to fill in for one they do not have (so using Medicine to fill in for Epidemeology is harder than using it for Pharmacology), and this works in either direction. At the same time, neither skill can fill in for an absent Chemistry skill to know how to make the drug in the first place.

From the personal/practical perspective: I have a BA in Psychology. That is equivalent to Academics: Psychology. My mother has her masters in Counseling. That is equivalent to Medicine [Psychology]. My uncle has his doctorate in psych, he has both and Profession [Psychology].

Sudo drop your weapon.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
A whole family of psychologists?

I bet that makes for interesting dinner table conversation. "And how does that make you feel?"

Ironically, in terms of mechanics the question "which skill is a knowledge skill?" is not fuzzy at all in EP: the game book sets them aside and strictly defines them, so that it can force you to spend 300 points on them.

"What do knowledge skills do?" is quite a bit more fuzzy of course. They act as complementary skills in appropriate situations, but it's entirely up to the GM what "appropriate situation" means. Some GMs might even allow you to default to them in certain situations, some might instead have you default to your aptitude and take the knowledge skill as a complementary bonus. In practice there usually isn't much difference, you'll end up rolling against a skill somewhere around the 30's in either default scenario, though finding out how your GM likes to handle it can allow you to optimize to squeeze a few extra points out of their method.

They also operate in the vague realm of character knowledge, where the line between what you know IC and what you know OOC is often hard to establish. Much like many other pen and paper games, if a GM deems a tidbit of information to be sufficiently obscure, he can call for a knowledge check against the relevant field to determine if your character knows it off the top of their head. If you fail, your character doesn't know it. Even if you do. Just because you have a Ph.D. doesn't mean your character does. Of course he can always then turn to his Research skill to find out, and I would think most GMs would allow knowledge skills to complement relevant Research rolls (even if you don't know a particular piece of information, being knowledgeable in the field helps you search more efficiently).

Players can also initiate knowledge checks in situations where they think it might be relevant to fish for information. Just like you can know things your character is not supposed to know, your character can know things that you don't. Since you're the one who makes your character's decisions, a knowledge check can extract that info from them.

You may not know enough about theoretical quantum physics to know what the equation you found etched under that desk means, but if your character has the relevant Knowledge skill he probably does, and if you pass the roll the GM has to tell you. Of course, if it's something so out-there that nobody can possibly know, the GM won't allow the roll in the first place.

End of line.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
I get that having Knowledge X

I get that having Knowledge X and having Application X do mean two different things. What I was trying to convey, that efficiency build wise, there isn't much bang for the buck.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Return on Investment

As far as RoI on point investment, I suppose it mostly depends on what kind of game you're in. In a game that's heavy on investigation and mystery, knowledge skills can be invaluable. Especially when you can roll them to make your character solve a puzzle IC that has you stumped OOC. This is actually a common mistake a lot of new players make: you don't have to solve every puzzle the GM throws at you yourself! If you're stumped, try to use a knowledge roll to make the GM solve it for you!

Or in general, their ability to facilitate transfer between IC knowledge and OOC knowledge is hugely valuable in investigative games. You can't act on something that your character knows and you don't. Acting on something that you know and your character doesn't tends to be frowned upon, so it goes both ways.

However, there's also not very many knowledge skills and generally not a need to load up on a huge variety of them, especially in a decently sized party. The mandatory 300 points is more than enough to cover all the knowledge skills you could possibly need (as long as you're picking categories that are appropriate to your build and suitably broad to cover a lot of bases with a single skill) in the vast majority of characters, so there's not much reason to spend a single point above that.

And of course, in a more action-oriented game the RoI isn't very high at all. But as per the rules you've got to sink those points, so might as well try to squeeze a bit out of them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

End of line.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:I bet that

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
I bet that makes for interesting dinner table conversation. "And how does that make you feel?"

It gets really weird when they start asking "*why* does that make you feel?"

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Some GMs might even allow you to default to them in certain situations, some might instead have you default to your aptitude and take the knowledge skill as a complementary bonus.

In practice, it's probably easier to just roll the skill as is at a (hefty) penalty. Now I need to look if the max bonus you can get from complimentary skills is capped by your base skill modifier... (scuttle scuttle)
Nope! So anyway, if the GM says you have a KS that applies to the test, the SOP in the book is roll it at a -30 penalty. Since this will rarely be more beneficial instead of buying the skill, I'd encourage GM's to use that instead (but still recognize when the KS is not applicable).

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Of course, if it's something so out-there that nobody can possibly know, the GM won't allow the roll in the first place.

Go on, read the book. Sure the letters hurt your mind, but it's really interesting!

MrWigggles wrote:
I get that having Knowledge X and having Application X do mean two different things. What I was trying to convey, that efficiency build wise, there isn't much bang for the buck.

Well the intent is that having the Active is always better than the Knowledge when it comes to straight tests. Academics: Medicine or Interest: Firearms can never really trump Medicine or Kinetic Weapons (resp). Same time, it fleshes your character out a bit and can be used for useful bonuses. Deception + Profession (miner) can get you through checkpoints if you can prepare. Networking (G) + Interest (Firearms) can get you that *exact* gun you wanted down to the grip. Investigation + Medicine can help you read defensive wounds. As my "Fashion Souls" buddy mentioned yesterday, it's not always about the math, it's how you play it.
This is why I was really emphasizing your skill spread in earlier posts. Active skills perfectly sum up what your character can do. Knowledge skills should (at the very least) cover weaknesses or expand on the base skills your character relies on.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
If you're sure it's okay.

FrivolousVector wrote:
And you can feel free to weigh in wherever. I'm trying not to get too defensive, and new players should get the benefit of multiple perspectives. My goal in all of this is to be as impartial and correct as possible, so you could help me do that.

Well alright then, but it really is 90% subjective.
I'll try to avoid anything relating to my houserules where possible.

General Skills:
I mentioned this in another thread, but I find a level of 40 is fine for secondary skills, whilst character central skills needn't go above 60.
In part this is because I tend to treat knowledge skills as “broad” specialisations, but mostly that I'm pretty free with granting “circumstance” bonuses for cunning plans or environmental effects.

The reason for this is I find that in pretty much all RPGs making non-combat abilities and environmental elements stack with combat skills encourages players to play up aspects of a character which may be ignored, and helps immersion.
I'd much rather have a player give me a reason why his Interest; Uplifts should give him a bonus on his Persuasion roll than just test from a higher baseline.

Weapon Skills:
Kinetics is the best weapons skill in general, in part because skill bonuses are built in; a character with a bog standard kinetic weapon can depend on a bonus of +50 (Smartlink +10, Quick Aim +10, Full Auto +30) without any other considerations, and [Low] cost Homing ammo will bump that to +60.
Range is theoretically an issue, but I find that the maximum range in combat will rarely exceed 50 meters, and will usually be around 10m to 20m, due to broken lines of sight.
Really, this depends on the nature of the campaign.

Melee skills are, for the most part, wasted points beyond a handful in unarmed for emergencies, as it will always be better to use a ranged weapon; the target only gets half fray, you get +10 to hit at at point blank range, and ranged weapons usually doequal or greater damage than melee weapons when Firing Modes are factored in.

Gear:
The main thing here is that characters will rarely “lose” CP/Cash spent on gear and morphs.
If they they simply resleeve, then they get the Cash/Cp value back as Credits (or Rep).
If the gear is damaged, or the Morph is dead (but the head is intact), they get about 90% back.
If the gear or is irreparably damaged or destroyed, they get 50% to 80% back, depending on the campaign and how it was lost; in a Firewall campaign, if a player looses their morph on a Kamikaze run against an exsurgent nest, then they'll be comped most of the value, but not if they fell down a fire escape and cracked their head open.

In other words, a given character will have a set amount of credits that they can spend on gear/services at any one time.

Blueprints are therefore less vital than they otherwise would be, but still useful as they mean fewer rolls or tests need to be made to acquire the item – except in specific circumstances a character will always have the items they acquire as blueprints.
Contrary to ShadowDragon8685 however, I do [/b]not[/b] allow blueprints to be acquired for free; getting a blueprint will always entail either burning rep, spending credits or performing an appropriately levelled favour; if you want that Rail-Assault Rifle Blueprint, you better be prepared to perform Mass Murder.
Unless of course the character's willing to settle for a cheaper version, which will have some... “drawbacks” :D.

Character Progression:
I'm usually pretty generous with character progression regardless of RPG, but I agree with the philosophy that you should create a character as though they'll never level out of personal preference; I find characters who progress by acquiring new traits or skills more interesting than those who simply become better at what they can already do.

I have two house rules here which I feel are worth mentioning.
The first is simply that during downtime between scenarios the characters will gain a few CP worth of skills, credits or Rep to represent their actions “off screen”.
More importantly, during downtime I will almost always allow Credits or Rep to be converted into CP and skill ranks to be traded out, thematically by using simulspace training, undergoing time-dilated training or getting Psychosurgery.
This is almost purely for thematic reasons; nothing quite says “Transhumanist Future” like the ability to rewrite your skillset and abilities, and

And if the character/player starts getting issues about their sense of self, all the better :D

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

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
Rule Zero in action

The above is a perfect example of why just about anything has a big "but ask your GM first" attached to it. RAW, there's nothing that says your GM *has* to compensate you for gear lost due to death/damage/egocasting, and free blueprints are very much a thing in EP (whether open-sourced, or made yourself with Programming and Hardware checks). But if TWNW happens to be your GM, you're going to have to take his house rules into account when building your character, and be prepared to buy more of your hardware upfront.

Where as if Shadowdragon is your GM, you might want to go light on the hardware at first and sink some points into Research/Infosec/Networking (or make sure your party has a dedicated hacker/downloader) so you can nab those delicious free blueprints.

Speaking of parties, keep in mind that an EP character almost never plays alone. Most of the time you'll have at least one other person in your party, so talk to each other about how you're going to work together.

End of line.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
There's 2 of my favorite lessons:

I keep meaning to point out that down-time should also give points, so I'm glad someone else agrees with me (even preemptively). That's something I'd love to see more GM's running across more games. Every other tweak hadn't occurred to me, but it's solid concept and I'd start running that too.

Still disagree on capping 60's in the Active skills, but at least we can agree on Knowledges. All comes down to preferences.

And ROSS, that's a very good point that I've seen people forget time and time again with every RPG. Talk to your GM and talk to the other players. I've been in a Pathfinder campaign for the last few months where no-one was playing a healer. The difficulty has spiked dramatically. It's *harder* but it's *worth the effort* of tailoring your character to fit both the GM's plot and the other members of your team.

Sudo drop your weapon.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Woo! Time to push my luck!

FrivolousVector wrote:
I keep meaning to point out that down-time should also give points, so I'm glad someone else agrees with me (even preemptively). That's something I'd love to see more GM's running across more games. Every other tweak hadn't occurred to me, but it's solid concept and I'd start running that too.

Glad you approve - I hope they work out well for you if you decide to use them :D

One quick thing I forgot to put in;
If you're in a Synthmorph then you're very vulnerable to cyberbrain hacking and the digital variant of the Exsurgent virus, but there's a way to effectively remove that vulnerability that is often overlocked;
Use An Ecto.
If you do, there's no direct way to attack the cyberbrain directly, and the Exsurgent virus can only influence you through Basilisks, as if you were in a meatbrain.

There are drawbacks, but they're surmountable; the -10 to rushed actions is a perfect example of where a specialisation can be used, and the increase to Task Action times can be countered by using extra time or through +speed augmentations.
Even without these, it's still better than exsurgent infection.

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

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
Processing...

Ok, thinking hard to make sure we are on exactly the same page re: synthmorphs.
In the event of a cyberbrain hack, you can have your ecto set up as a buffer between you and the attacker. If you have your mesh implants turned off, and are working through a datajack you can smoke the ecto, toss it, and work offline. So yes, you can use it as a shield against hostile hackers and the *digital* strain of the virus.

However, there are physical strains that also target synthmorphs (just like there are physical strains that also target organics). If you are physically compromised, your ecto is just more feedstock.

On its own, an ecto cannot protect you from a Basilisk Hack. However, running an ecto to control external suit sensors (say a Faraday suit, a modified Combat Exo, or Hardsuit) with downgraded sensors could give you even more protection from them. If you want to be really tricky (but aren't in combat), you could get a beta fork on a live feed to your sensors hosted from an ecto, and give yourself a time-delayed feed from the same cameras. With the right psychoanalysis software, you could get an alert of an incoming hack (and a warning from your canary about incoming hostiles) and shut down your feeds if you need to, long before the hack itself takes effect.
You'll just have to deal with the morality of turning a human mind into a meatshield on your own time. You will also have to learn to move really really slowly or else you are going to have the worst barfstravaganza ever.

Sudo drop your weapon.

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
If I don't build a Portable

If I don't build a Portable Server forkhive, then I build biomorph w/cyberbrain with alphas in ghostrider-ectos wired in. Probably look ridiculous but cyberbrains are too useful.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
So how much shenanigans can

So how much shenanigans can you get up to with simluspace time accel? I was thinking for an AGI, with the 'right at home' trait for their body, they can use it burn off stress.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
*theoretically*

simspaces would be useful for psychosurgery, but you'd also have to deal with SAN damage from isolation if you're spending a month alone.
If you really wanted to give your GM a headache, invest in the Psychosurgery skill & some Profession [Psychology], load up an Alpha in cold a storage server, and hop in when the need arises. Technically, you could easily use this as the therapist-inna-box for the entire party (especially cyberbrain-to-cyberbrain). Might have to wipe it every once in a while so it doesn't go batty, which leaves its own moral/ethical conundrums but conceptually it should work.
At the same time, you now have a vulnerable copy of yourself that knows everything you (and your party) do if it ever gets forknapped. Guard with your life.

Meanwhile, I need to stop being a lazy ass (more specifically writing my own RPG, playing Destiny and restarting Fallout 3) and actually write a rulehack for hacking post.... soon... The Wasteland needs me!

Sudo drop your weapon.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
60x acceleration = Mental Speed + Speed 4.

FrivolousVector wrote:
Ok, thinking hard to make sure we are on exactly the same page re: synthmorphs.
- Snip for Legibility -
You'll just have to deal with the morality of turning a human mind into a meatshield on your own time. You will also have to learn to move really really slowly or else you are going to have the worst barfstravaganza ever.

Pretty much. Iirc the method of connection for ectos isn't explicitly stated, so I'm not sure about needing access jacks, but otherwise we agree.
Each exsurgent vector has ways it can be avoided or negated but doing so comes with costs, so it boils down to deciding how much combat effectiveness a character is willing to sacrifice to avoid infection; you can make yourself effectively immune, but the first beastie you run across will turn you into moist confetti.

FrivolousVector wrote:
If you really wanted to give your GM a headache, invest in the Psychosurgery skill & some Profession [Psychology], load up an Alpha in cold a storage server, and hop in when the need arises. Technically, you could easily use this as the therapist-inna-box for the entire party (especially cyberbrain-to-cyberbrain). Might have to wipe it every once in a while so it doesn't go batty, which leaves its own moral/ethical conundrums but conceptually it should work.

...Yes! That would be a bad thing to do to your GM!
They certainly wouldn't laugh maniacally for 10 minutes because they no longer have to hold back, nor would they consider it a personal challenge!
You should do this! It will in no way backfire horribly!

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

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

And then it turns out your GM has read The Devotees. Your fork gets bored and does a little self-improvement while you leave him in simulspace, and it turns out you just accidentally created an analogue to AWE. Oops. :p

End of line.

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
MUAHAHAHAHA!!

I went for access jacks connection because it makes very little sense to be utterly paranoid about infection and then keep using the wifi.

Remember, kids: RPGs are an arms race. You figure out one way around the GM, and he bludgeons you with it until you find another solution! It's fun for the whole family!

Sudo drop your weapon.

Benny89 Benny89's picture
So Synth Combat Build

Hi, FrivolousVector - I read through all your posts here and learnt ton of things. I know its quite old now, so sorry for Necro :) However, I would like to kindly ask you if you could give me tips to build strong Combat character in Synth morph (probably Steel Morph or Fighting Kite). I have just began my adventure with EP, our GM is also new in system. Especially I am lost with CP distriubtion on char creation.

Could you please give me some details tips/breakdown of good Combat character in Synth shell? Thanks!

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
I HAVE AWOKEN

As far as direct action combat morphs are concerned, synths are pretty much exactly what you want to use. I have even turned a Galatea into a frighteningly effective combat mech. They are immune to biological contamination, they can be spaced, frozen, irradiated, and roasted with very few problems. They even have access jacks free, so you can turn off your mesh implants and not have to worry about braincracking... as much, anyway.
The simplest rules for synths in combat are to always invest in Infosec, at least a little. A synth's greatest vulnerability is cyberbrain hacking, which a minmaxed hacker can do in less than 3 turns. No matter how many missile launchers and battleship plates you have bolted to you, the brain is always a weak point - use an ecto through your jacks, keep your muse tied to your feeds, watch for cyber attacks, and be careful of Basilisk hacks.
Buy medichines (EP2 Core). You don't heal naturally in a synth, Now you do. Without this, you are either going to have to invest in repair skills or be a slave to someone who has.

After that point, what you get out of them is very much a question of what you *want* out of them.
From a mechanics perspective, I always advocate one melee skill and at least one ranged skill. Synth pugilists have an automatic advantage over the orgo ones, because not only do they automatically deal more damage unarmed, but they can add pneumatics to seriously increase their damage. In the long run, using your mean-averages, a fully kitted out unarmed combatant can deal more damage than any melee attacker except an octomorph with a katana and 7 knives. Armor penetration is sometimes an issue (but I'm always of the opinion that you need ~3-4 more points of AP for it to be more valuable than 1 point of straight damage).

High Gravity Adaptation (Gatecrashing), Hardened Skeleton, Muscle Augmentation give you +15 SOM off the bat, before morph mods. Add in Pneumatic Limbs for +1d10 unarmed damage, and Telescoping Limbs to give you extra reach. Ask your GM, mine allowed me to treat cyberclaws as unarmed weapons, which gave me another 1d10+3 damage, and some extra AP. Synths automatically add +2 to their Unarmed damage, and if you really want to drop the money on it, a battle suit adds +10 SOM (not capped at 40, either), +1d10 and extra -2 AP - with armor that stacks with whatever you have implanted.
On top of that, status effects are a massive boost in melee. You can buy Eelskin, Poison Gland, and a nanotoxin hive (Neuropath) for one-hit KO capacity. It's a heavy investment, but you can get a lot of mileage out of it.

On the defensive, buy at least the industrial plate, a Guardian hive, and Nanophages if you are allowed to. You are most vulnerable to nanite infections, and Guardians & Nanophages give you a leg up. The plate will automatically give you a leg up on all the nudie pinkskins, and it only gets better when you add armor mods. Chameleon, laser reflective, and fireproof can all come in handy; reactive is dangerous, but if you are going into heavy combat it should help more than it hurts. Lotus coat is mostly only going to be useful for deflecting acids and the low-end exsurgent chemicals.

Neurachem I (+1 speed, EP2 Core) is usually a given for combat morphs. If you have the money to spare, a Reflex Booster (+10 REF, +1 SPD) and Mental Speed implants (+3 initiative and lots of nifties) will mean you *generally* go first, second, and third in initiative. Any build can benefit from high speed, and a combatant benefits the most from straight speed boosts.

As far as ranged weapons are concerned, I usually divide it this way:
Kinetics are king. They have the most mods, the most things you can do with bullets, and they are EVERYWHERE. If you are dropped naked on a station, chances are you will find a pistol about the same time you find your first pipe wrench.
Seekers do metric drektons of damage. They are expensive as balls, hard to find, hard to replenish. They make A+MAZING backup weapons, but using them as a primary is not tactically viable. They are also the weapon your GM is most likely to take away from you.
Energy weapons are... well, they aren't terrible, but by comparison to Kinetics, they still are pretty awful. Mostly they are good for nonlethal (which Spray weapons can do), and armor penetration (which Kinetics can match, and Seekers can beat). For the amount that you would spend on the plasma bolter, you could buy a tricked out sniper rifle that will always work at twice the range and comparable damage.
Spray Weapons are my personal favorite for "what the hell did you just do" category. Look at Shredders. Just look. Try not to giggle too much. Basically, Shredders are comparable to a good SMG, but it has a fluid reservoir that you can pour all those nasty chemicals I put up under Unarmed, and spread the hurt at range. It also covers flamethrowers. So if you have a good ranged backup, I can actually recommend Spray as a good primary weapon, since 9 times in 10 you are in CQC if you are fighting people at all.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Benny89 Benny89's picture
NICE

Thanks! Few questions from me:

1. What is EP2 Core? I have Eclipse Phase Corebook, is this what you mean?
2. So with Synth skip blades and invest in unarmed?
3. What gear I should invest for Synth at character creation
4. Should I cap at 30 Aptitudes? What are core Aptitudes I should focu on in character creation for Combat character? From what I read it is not worth getting more than 30.
5. So should I just focus on always buying medichines or invest anyaway in Robotics etc + MultiTool to repair myself just in case?
6. What specializations would you recommend for combat synth? And what traits?

Thank you very much for sharing your experience :)

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
MOAR WORDS

So, with the purchases out of the way:
Traits!
I always advocate Situational Awareness. Never a bad thing.
Ambidextrous can come in handy - if you buy extra limbs, you can dual wield assault rifles which is super cool (but you don't need it for dual wielding melee weapons!).
Toughness is great when you are making a synthmorph, especially with Hardened Skeleton, High G Adaptation, and Structural Enhancement. You have Heavy Security Armor on top of that, and you are a tank.
If you are playing an Uplift, look at Transhuman for the traits "Heightened Instinct" and "Killer Instinct".

As far as skills are concerned
2 or more (I'd say 3 is good, but no more than 4) combat skills are useful. Kinetics/Spray Weapons + Seekers and either Unarmed/Blades is pretty much ideal. If you're specializing in 2, I would go Unarmed+Kinetics for simplicity.
Infosec, as above, keeps your butt out the fire. The squad's hacker *should* help you, but you never know. Consider asking them for an alpha fork especially if they are in an Eidolon or just straight infomorph *anyway* - If they are running all digital, then it's mutually beneficial to house their ego in the toughest member of the party anyway. Offer to buy a Ghostrider, and that should sweeten the pot.
Hardware: Robotics is useful, I would advocate getting around a 40 and some decent tools. Never know when you'll need it.
Fray is a must. A 60 is good, especially if you're going to mix it up. Consider getting a specialization in Ranged, since that means you can also have a 35 when dodging bullets.
Perception is very useful to you, since your character will need to respond to ambushes and make threat assessments on the fly. I am always in favor of buying most senseware - as a Synth, you can mount ALL of them.

Also, in the interest of fairness:
Unarmed has a very high damage cap, but it requires a heavy investment to be truly viable. If you are dropped naked in a pleasure pod, you don't need to find a shiv, but you aren't going to be well off.
Blades are the next best melee skill for damage purposes. For one thing, it means that you don't have to actually TOUCH the horrible posthuman squishy thing what eats synths for breakfast. For two, it's a lot easier to dual wield for sweet, sweet bonuses. Also blades tend to have higher AP than unarmed builds do.
The Monofilament sword and the plasma cutter are roughly equal for damage potential. A katana can potentially deal more damage than the plasma cutter. The lightsaber doesn't require strength to use, but it also doesn't gain any benefit from high strength. Its AP is amazing. Blades also automatically gain damage bonuses for dual-quad wielding (EP2 CORE p206):
Each weapon after the first gives your primary weapon +1d10 damage per weapon after the first (max 3d10), and +10 to melee skill defense rolls per weapon (max +30). So if you have 4 arms, a monofilament sword (2d10+2 + SOM/10, AP4), and 3 knives, you're going to rock 5d10+6 AP4, with a +30 on defense rolls.

When selecting your morph, you will have 3 things to really look for:
Durability, Attribute cap, and Attribute spread.
When making your ego I've learned that most times it is best to cap your attributes around 20 (there are exceptions, I have named my profile after one of them). For a morph, a 30 cap is good, 40 is better.
You can EASILY get a SOM of 40, and it is *possible* to get a REF of 40 if you invest carefully. With that in mind, I usually emphasize bonuses to Coordination, Reflexes, Intelligence, and Willpower in that order. A morph bonus of +10 does mean that you can skip a High cost implant, but a +5 means you roll in 3 mods, drop a 20 SOM onto it, and you have a 40 right there.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Benny89 Benny89's picture
But there is not a lot of

But there is not a lot of good combat synth moprhs with 40 Attribute cap, that a at the same time have high Durability and Armor. So I was thinking about Steel Morph or Fighting Kite but they both are 30 max.

Which Synth morph would recommend the most for Synth Combat (excluding habitat unfriendly ones like Reaper or Fenrir)?

FrivolousVector FrivolousVector's picture
EVEN MOAR WORDS

I always love answering these things.

Benny89 wrote:
1. What is EP2 Core? I have Eclipse Phase Corebook, is this what you mean?

Yes. By force of habit, I usually abbreviate the game (Shadowrun to SR)+ the edition, and then the book title, so SR3 Core is the core rulebook for Shadowrun 3rd ed. EP2 Gatecrashing is... you get the idea.

Benny89 wrote:
2. So with Synth skip blades and invest in unarmed?

I won't tell you what you *should* do, because let's face it - cutlass wielding space pirate synth sounds pretty cool. Actual explanation above.

Benny89 wrote:
3. What gear I should invest for Synth at character creation

Gear is usually pretty simple to pick up, so usually you only want to buy what you don't want to be without for too long. Focus on cheap things with a lot of utility. An extra ecto is good. Mobility frames (EP2 Gatecrashing) increase your movement speed, and the Survival Belt (same) has a ton of useful little tools for a third of the price of all the parts. Consider investing in a good firewall. A few of the nanite hives come in handy (Guardians and repair bots in particular). Otherwise, remember that your gear will come and go constantly. A couple weapons (maybe some grenades), the bare basics, and then just rent what specialized gear you need.

Benny89 wrote:
4. Should I cap at 30 Aptitudes? What are core Aptitudes I should focu on in character creation for Combat character?

It depends on your build. One of my favorites was a "paratrooper" build. He specialized in being able to drop into any morph, any time, and get going. No stats over 20 meant he didn't lose points or take penalties to skills because of a bad morph.
On the other hand, having a higher base attribute is very economical if you have a lot of skills that fall under that umbrella. If I remember right, after 5-7 skills it's cheaper to up the stat than buy each skill individually. Hackers almost by default need a COG of 30. It is, however, usually a bad idea to get higher than a 30 in any stat, since there's a lot of morphs that won't support higher than 30, and that's a skill penalty to all linked skills.
Combat characters should always have a good Coordination. Reflexes and Intuition help out your Initiative. Somatics directly affects your melee damage. Of the remaining ones, Willpower is useful because this can easily turn into a horror survival game.

Also, remember: if your morph gives you a bonus to a stat, that is also added to your skill. This means if you have a +5 COO on Kinetics 60, that is the same as 10 free points invested in that skill. If you have Kinetics 80, and a +10 COO that is the same as getting 30 points FREE.

Benny89 wrote:
5. So should I just focus on always buying medichines or invest anyaway in Robotics etc + MultiTool to repair myself just in case?

I am always in favor of backups, especially in matters of personal health. One of my worst EP experiences was when I was dropped into a Spare, got cored in the first moments of the game, and was unable to do anything because I didn't have the stats to be able to resleeve in under a week. If I had access to Robotics, I could have fixed myself at least enough to move again.
Benny89 wrote:
6. What specializations would you recommend for combat synth? And what traits?)

Traits I mentioned above. Specializations are mostly a function of what skills you choose for yourself, and how you need them.
1: If you have a skill you can't afford to boost, but you know you'll need it (like say Hardware: Robotics), you get 10 points for 5 if you can figure out how you'll use it the most (say, Repair).
2: If you have a weapon that you really like, you can get really good at it on the cheap.
3: If you have a skill that you've already invested in heavily, specializations are a fantastic bang-for-your-buck upgrade.
60 skill points, you get a +10, that's 20 skill point payoff for 5 actually spent.
80 skill points, you get a +10, that's a 30 skill point payoff for 5 actually spent.
If you took the Expert trait, and then specialized, you *cannot physically fail in the skill without negative modifiers*.

So, usually, I spend my specializations on combat skills (by the weapon), Perception (Visual), Fray (Ranged). You could also use Hardware Robotics (Repair).
It's mostly an economy question, though sometimes it's just a "I want to do this, but ran out of points :c" question.

Sudo drop your weapon.

Benny89 Benny89's picture
FrivolousVector wrote:

FrivolousVector wrote:

Yes. By force of habit, I usually abbreviate the game (Shadowrun to SR)+ the edition, and then the book title, so SR3 Core is the core rulebook for Shadowrun 3rd ed. EP2 Gatecrashing is... you get the idea.

Ow, ok, I bought EP Core that has Release Date: October 13, 2009. Is that a problem if I don't have 2 edition?? I didn't know there is even one. There is no other editions in The Releases on this site.

Back to topic- thank you very much for this. I have better overview for my synth now :).

Also since I can install bunch of mods to my snyth- I think Flight would be sligthly better than Freefall? And Free running is always useful I think.

But if I take the Brain Case inside my Synth Morph- I can avoid highest synth risk which is cyberbrain hacking, no?

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