AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

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Treebore Treebore's picture
AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

So how many of you think AI's and Muses, etc... are "Characters" as defined in Eclipse Phase?

Personally I think the use of the word "Characters" clearly refers to those which are played by players as their "Character".

However we are having some disagreement on this definition, so I was wondering how many others think AI's and Muses, which are not played by a player as their "Character" but as part of their characters gear/resources, qualifies as a "character" within the context of the rules?

Like I said, I think if your playing it, it is a "character", as meant and referred to within the rules.

So who disagrees? Who thinks a "character" is anything you want to call a character? Such as any AI or Muse? So even within the rules, anything that says "character" would also mean such things as Muses and AI's?

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Does this question have bearing on anything except the narrow reading of the Teamwork rules? (I'm not being snide, I'm curious about where else 'character' is operative in the rules.)

I would assume that it *must* at least refer to NPCs as well as PCs. For it to mean only PCs requires some funky metagaming. We already know that AIs are not PCs, because the chargen rules don't include them.That leaves us, as you said, to decide if an AI (which category contains 'muses') is an NPC.

AGIs are definitely characters (at least, both PCs and NPCs). What about beta forks (they're not qualitatively different from alphas, which are PCs and NPCs)? While AIs *are* qualitatively different, I don't think we can rule them out. They possess their own 'general purpose' Actions and turns, which seems like a strong argument that they *are*. They certainly have personalities and are 'agents' (independent self-aware actors).

Treebore Treebore's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

The question is, "What counts as characters?" Are characters what we play, or is it anything with a personality, whether we play it or not?

With regards to the rules I think the definition of "character" is important. I think that, for example, in Teamwork, they say characters for a very specific reason.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

You think that it's a case of 'players are special', then? Can an NPC 'real person'—as opposed to a mere AI—not do Teamwork (with a PC or another NPC)? In most RPGs, I feel like it's a very strange thing when PCs can do something that NPCs can't, purely by virtue of not having a human player behind them. That's what I meant by 'metagaming weirdness', or whatever I said. :)

Treebore Treebore's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

I don't know if it is "meta gaming wierdness" or not. I just think Muses and AI's are "gear" for players to use like any other gear resource. So I think they used the term "characters" in order to reinforce the idea that Muses and AI's count as gear/equipment.

Granted they can be turned into a quasi NPC through role play and developing a personality for them, but fundamentally they are gear to be bought, sold, deleted, uploaded, traded, and thrown away when a better Muse or AI comes along. You don't do that to "characters".

Tallai Tallai's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

While technically Muses and AI are not characters, it is up to the GM to judge just how far away from character-dom they are. For instance, it makes no sense for a surgeon to operate without the assistance of, say, a DoctorBot (which for the sake of simplicity probably isn't being jammed). However, while I love smart clothing, I don't want it telling me that my clothing is a fashion disaster. I -like- my clothes. And don't get me started on AI in personal computers ("Don't you think a terabyte of porn is enough?").

Personally, I believe that Muses have basic character functionality. They can assist in some situations, however outside of doing things _for_ the player (research, hacking, etc while the player is working on something else) the muse should have reduced capabilities. It is, of course, just an intangible piece of software attached to your ecto/mesh inserts. A DoctorBot can assist because it is physically there, a muse with medicine skill is mostly limited to assisting in diagnosis or jamming you to do it in your stead (again, doing things for the player instead of with the player). You see the point I'm bringing here.

If it is in a morph, or is capable of assisting in a very real sense, let it assist. That's what robots do in this day and age, its not like we suddenly snapped post-Fall and started screaming "NO WE CAN DO IT OURSELVES LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"



Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

I would say yes, for the actions that a Muse or AI is capable of performing, it can work as part of a team. How is having an NPC research assistant different than having an AI research assistant? They're normally only going to be capable of assisting you with mental actions, but if you're hacking a system, I see no reason why your muse and your KAOS AI can't be backing you up in the attempt. If a KAOS AI (or a security AI) could only work alone, they'd be far less effective.

Additionally, from a balance perspective, you can have a fork of yourself instead of a muse, and you can certainly engage in teamwork with that. Do you really want to make a standard muse a significantly inferior option?

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Those arguments aside, it still sounds like Treebore is saying that a PC splicer dude can engage in Teamwork, while an NPC splicer dude *can't*… he's not a 'character' because he's not played by a player. I think if you *disagree* with that, it logically follows that you have to let AIs into the club as well.

ssfsx17 ssfsx17's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

The real problem is all the bonuses that end up being added together, effectively causing a total character skill of 100 in all situations. Or, at a minimum, a character being able to have 3 muses to get a total of +30% to all checks all the time.

Although this is theoretically sound in a super-advanced transhuman future, it does not translate to good percentile dice mechanics.


@-rep: 2 | x-rep: 1 | y-rep: 1

Treebore Treebore's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Yep, that is my point. I think the definition of "character" is important because allowing Muses and AI's do allow bonus' to get too high too easily, making the system even easier to "break". I think the writers use the word "character" for precisely these kind of reasons.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

I certainly support game balance, and the idea that you get Teamwork from your muse to literally any action (I know CodeBreaker has said this, among others) is insane.

However, I don't agree that the way to fix this is to impose a metagame distinction between two otherwise identical beings (one a player-controlled character, PC, and the other not, NPC). It just seems so arbitrary, and it means that 'real people' NPCs can't assist you (nor you them), and that 'enemies' can't use Teamwork at all against you. This just seems wrong; whenever possible, the game world should work the same for players and non-players. I've heard other fixes (in the many threads about this precise issue), and I simply prefer some of them. :)

I'm happy to limited teamwork from AIs (as opposed to 'real people', like AGIs, alpha/beta, etc.); I just think that the 'character' line of reasoning is the wrong way to limit teamwork from *AIs*. NPCs that aren't AIs get caught up in it, and that's undesirable.

That's just my position, not my interpretation of the rules. I can't guess whether the writers intentionally used 'character' in order to make this distinction, or indeed if the rules mean that there even is such a distinction.

Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Not allowing AIs to provide the teamwork bonus also creates some issues, though, at least in my mind. It just doesn't make sense to me that if someone's trying to hack my PAN, I can defend myself or I can leave my muse to do it for me, but there's no advantage to both of us working together on defense. Or a worse situation -- my infomorph buddy with minimal infosec who's in my ghostrider module and I can defend my PAN together, but if I happen to have a security AI in the module instead, I'm out of luck and it's back to one of us or the other.

As for the abuse potential, that's something I'd just talk to my players about if I saw it becoming a problem, personally.

Tallai Tallai's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

"So, you start performing the surgery."
"Okay, I want my muse to assist me."
"Okay. It looks at the tools and then back at you. 'I can't pick any of these things up,' it says."
"Um... ****".

A common sense option is treating muses and AIs as characters, however, remembering that most of them lack the means to properly assist. A muse isn't much use to you when it lacks hands.
Also keep in mind that AIs are hilariously weak. They aren't programmed to handle anything outside of their original skillset (think Clippy the paperclip). Just because the ship has an AI doesn't mean the AI can do much beyond send specialised drones to assist or turn on the power for you.

Another idea is allowing AI/Muses to assist normally, but limit their bonus to +5 instead of +10 to reflect the shortcomings of things like not having hands, or not being programmed to actually deal with this sort of thing. Muses are only able to assist with mental or mesh actions. Y'know, cause they aren't actually there

It doesn't seem to make sense to allow PCs to assist one another but disallowing it for NPC-type characters, AI or no. I can see teams of repair drones working together, and I prefer the idea of people making sure my cyberware is implanted properly with a second (or third) set of hands.

I use actors and characters interchangeably, and specify players as Player Characters. Guess D&D has left a strong mark. However, it is a good way to make the distinction between Cs and PCs.



Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Just a couple points:

Assisting can mean many things, even for 'purely physical' actions. I agree that there need to be limits, which the GM can adjudicate: Teamwork pushing a boulder, probably not; Teamwork doing auto repair, almost certainly. There's much precedent for this, such as the smartlink system (and the augmented reality assistance for my ancient auto repair example exists today, IIRC).

AIs aren't hilariously weak. They're limited and a fair bit inflexible, but their skills go up to 40; that's pretty decent. They're not superlative, but they're not trivial.
--

I certainly agree that balance is critical. The GM should always decide if a given use is reasonable. One issue that I see often is that helpers don't require any relevant skill to get that +10. There are cases when this is reasonable, but it's probably a solid house rule to require a certain level (low, but fair) of a relevant skill, or at least the ability to usefully default. (IIRC, AIs can't default, so that's handy.)

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

From a mechanics standpoint, the term is completely nebulous. Sometimes an AI is a character, and sometimes not. For instance, a muse doesn't roll initiative - unless the muse is put in a robot body and ordered to kill an enemy. And really, thematically, is part of the setting; where do you draw the line between 'people' and 'equipment'?

From a roleplaying standpoint, I consider them equipment (but partially because if I did otherwise, life would be much more difficult for me), but play them as characters.

Azlinea Azlinea's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Treebore wrote:
With regards to the rules I think the definition of "character" is important. I think that, for example, in Teamwork, they say characters for a very specific reason.

Instead of getting into a debate centred around mercurial ideas (Does an AI have sufficient personality to warrant civil rights -is it a character?- or are they, as a group, simply intangible products and goods -or are they equipment?-) lets attack the rules logic itself. You say the writers used 'character' to specifically mean players. I say it is more encompassing, the writers use character as a generic term for both npc and pc. "Success tests are called for whenever a character is acting without direct opposition." (p 117) As well as every other use of the word 'character' in that chapter point to this. If the people at Posthuman wanted it to mean non-AIs they would have said, if they wanted to to be PCs only the same thing applies.

This being said there is an issue of abuse here but really you can't let the players win simply by doing something clever, most non-newb infosec people would know the 3 muses trick too and almost certainly use them.

If skill checks are becoming too easy for the group you could also house rule that the second character that is a copy of another only provides half the normal bonus (+5) but still counts as providing +10 for the purposes of the maximum. The third copy provides no bonus but still counts as the third +10 for purposes of gaining a bonus from further help. Flavour justification is that because the copies think similar to the 'original' helping you they aren't nearly as much help, and in ways they are even less than helpful.

This solves a few possible abuses; creating forks of yourself to aid you, using all the same (unmodified) ai and the possibility of another player and their forks helping you. At the same time I don't really think its in the spirit of the rules as creating three alpha or beta forks and having them help you just seems like a transhuman thing to do if you can hold them all.

Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Gatecrashing answers the question about AIs and teamwork. Check page 160:

"An adaptive interface can be set up to analyze on its own (use the AI’s skills) or a character can take advantage of it to conduct their own study (with the AI providing teamwork)."

So we can safely say no, the use of "character" in the teamwork section was not meant to exclude AIs, even ones that are just there to run your equipment.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

That could be a unique case, but still a good catch. :)

Azlinea Azlinea's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Huh, Don't remember seeing that but cool. It makes it pretty clear. Thanks.

Treebore Treebore's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

I think that is a bad call on the game designers part, but if they want Teamwork to be so easy, then so be it.

LostProxy LostProxy's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Eh, not really. To me AI assistance with anything they can assist with is standard procedure with everyone. Every research/infosec/many other rolls done by the PCs and NPCs (both friendly and unfriendly) in the game I run have had AIs giving team work. It doesn't make it unfair in anyway. All it does is increase the standard by which all other equivalent rolls are compared.

Skimble Skimble's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Those of you who are worried about player characters having three muses to assist them in all actions are perhaps missing one of the built-in limitations in the system that makes this kind of thing at least marginally inconvenient.

Personal computers in Eclipse Phase (e.g. cranial computers and ectos) are only capable of running a single ego at a time. That ego can be an AI, an AGI or a digitised human ego.

In order to gain the maximum 30% bonus for teamwork using muses, therefore, a player must have at least three computing devices on his person and all of them would need to be linked together.

While this is eminently possibly given the small size of personal computers, multiple computers all networked together provides multiple points of vulnerability.

That aside, a +30 bonus isn't a big deal in the kind of tasks where AI assistance is useful; These tend to be mental or mesh actions that help to progress the story. In hacking attempts it can allow players to take a penalty to their action in order to speed up a careful hack attempt. And of course NPC hackers are likely to use similar strategies anyway, both defensively and offensively.

I do think it's not a bad idea to require the supporting characters to be useful with the skill at hand in order to be able to assist. If you wanted to do this mechanically you could borrow a trick from the new World of Darkness. You would have the supporting characters roll as well and they would provide a teamwork bonus if they succeeded on their roll. Exceptional success might give a small bonus, exceptional failure might actually hamper the work of the primary actor.

The disadvantage of this, of course, would be the additional rolling required.

Another option would be to treat the skills of supporting characters as limited support skills, providing half the bonus usually allowed by support skills to the primary actor's rolls.

By the way, in my experience, players tend to use forks rather than muses for teamwork purposes anyway.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Some people think it's not just research and hacking. :) Like, every roll to shoot, run, dodge, etc. :(

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Yerameyahu wrote:
Some people think it's not just research and hacking. :) Like, every roll to shoot, run, dodge, etc. :(

He means me. Hello *waves* :D

-

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Hehe. :) I figured I'd only name-check you once per thread, but your position deserves representation whether or not it's my favorite.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Treebore wrote:
So how many of you think AI's and Muses, etc... are "Characters" as defined in Eclipse Phase?

We play them as such. In my gaming group, each of us plays another character's muse to keep their interactions interesting. Muses are supposed to be unique.

Quote:
However we are having some disagreement on this definition, so I was wondering how many others think AI's and Muses, which are not played by a player as their "Character" but as part of their characters gear/resources, qualifies as a "character" within the context of the rules?

The argument could be made that, due to the fact that muses can be given orders and can carry out tasks largely independent of their owner they could be played as characters. Also, full AGIs and ego images can be used by characters as muses.



mack2028 mack2028's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

also remember that a professional will not fail at what he does except under extraordinary circumstances. a good example is; I am the best baker in the solar system, with the expert trait and a huge number of skill and attribute points I have a skill of 90. I get hired to make the cake for a big wedding It is so bit they need 20 cakes, so i need to make around 24 cakes because 10% of the time I forget my years of training and make soup instead of cake.

so, limiting an muse to assisting at mental tasks like hacking is fine, so is just letting them give you the bonus for research. Remember though that the player has to pay for a muses skills past research and psychotherapy.



BOMherren BOMherren's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

Treebore wrote:
I think that is a bad call on the game designers part, but if they want Teamwork to be so easy, then so be it.

This would be consistent with how modifiers work in other parts of the system, and with the game world as a whole.

IIRC, the total modifiers applied to any roll range from -60 to +60. And in general, under moderately favorable conditions and with a little bit of preparation and investment, that +60 is within reach to most player characters. Just add in some special equipment, some complementary skills (that's what Skillsofts and those 300 points of mandatory Knowledge skills are for), an Augmentation or two, get your friend Vinny to help you, and you're all set. A teamworking AI is just one more way to do that (and kind of expensive, at that), and as such is not really a game breaker.



puke puke's picture
Re: AI's/Muses are "Characters"?

mack2028 wrote:
i need to make around 24 cakes because 10% of the time I forget my years of training and make soup instead of cake.

I think this is what "simple success tests" are for. There isnt pressure for routine tasks, and it is assumed you can succeed. you are only rolling to see how well you succeed.

This would even more likely be one of the times when you just dont roll, as described in the "when to roll the dice" section.