Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?

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sombranox sombranox's picture
Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
Hey all, lately I've been giving some thought to one of the issues I've noticed that sort of plagues newcomers to EP and whether there'd be a way to get around it. Namely, the attachment to the initial morph that leads to people just really not getting the idea that bodies are equipment and as disposable as a gun or armor. Talking with some of my friends about EP, we came to the conclusion that the biggest cause of this is that hefty CP surcharge we have to pay for a body up front. These bodies range from 3-33% (10-100 CP) of the 300 CP we get as customization, when the most expensive bodies only cost 16% (50ish CP worth of resources). Silly number crunching though it may be, losing out on that amount of CP to a randomly nasty GM roll or whatnot feels worse than losing a few CP on a gun you bought and just makes bodies feel _too_ important, when half the fun of EP in my opinion is being a able to bounce from body to body as needed. I can understand vaguely why initial morphs have CP cost, but I think it _does_ foster the idea that losing them is a much bigger waste than that gun you tricked out. So here's the questions finally. Has anyone ever tried running a house rule where people buy their starting morphs with resources instead of CP to fully emphasize that they are just equipment? If not, does anyone think it might be a feasible alternative with some tweaks? Obviously, doing this would impact those backgrounds that limit starting morphs. Do you keep the limitations and force poor Lost to spend 50CP for a body that's not really worth that much (or 15 CP and a additional cost for the positive trait + other body) or do you say that everyone is experienced enough a character that they could have resleeved long ago for what they wanted and just ignore the background restrictions? Also, this could impact resources by forcing people to spend large chunks of the possible 100 CP max resources. Do you increase the amount of CP they can spent on money to account for the cost of bodies, or do you perhaps give a little boost of money to help defray costs, like 5-10K? Finally, this also could tweak with morph traits. A character who buys up cash and starts as an infomorph can (with GM allowance and time) build a pretty tweaked out custom morph with all sorts of nice morph traits at only 500 per CP in resources above the base price. Should the player have to pay for those morph traits in CP or in resources? Should starting morphs be limited to the 50 CP max in traits including morph traits even if they can buy them with money or should morph traits not count toward the limit? Another small impact I could see would be someone trying to buy multiple morphs, but it's easily handled by GM arbitration if undesirable for some reason. So anyways, there it is. Give your input if you have any. tl;dr version: How feasible is it to turn starting morphs purely into equipment bought with resources like a gun and how do you get around the things that change impacts like background morph restrictions, 100CP resource limit, and morph traits being buyable?
Wyldknight Wyldknight's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
Well, have you ever thought of just treating it more like a traditional game and not having them killed for no reason outside of their own failures? When they must egocast to far away places and in doing so are forced to change bodies you can either give them a new body thats good enough compared to their original so they won't complain or allow them to use their contacts to find a better one then what you provide. Bodies don't have to be treated like gear. It's a table preference and not a hard written rule. For example at my table we don't treat our bodies as so disposable because of how expensive they can be but when we need to be sent somewhere to far for our bodies to go with us we're given a chance to either use what Firewall can get us (usually nothing to fancy) or use the groups contacts to find better ones.
C-rep +1
sombranox sombranox's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
It's not just about having them killed off "for no reason". I've had newcomers to EP get hugely upset even in the situation you mentioned of farcasting and getting stuck with what firewall offers or what you can scramble favors for, because it isn't what they spent their CP on. Gear, implants, even morph traits they didn't twitch about for some reason because it was just money and they grokked blowing money temporarily, even money bought with CP, but tell the Remade user he's going to have to settle for an Olympian with a few less bonuses because of a bad Networking roll and he started thowing down how much CP he'd spent on it and so on. Yeah, this can be handled by GM either being easygoing about letting people get what they want on every farcast or just running plots only around a central area where the initial morphs are always in use, but making bodies equipment paid for from the very beginning that can be traded over for same cost just seems with my group at least like it'll foster better flexibility. Anyways, maybe it's just my group. As a short term solution in the new group I'm going to be starting, I suppose I'll just increase the amount of CP that can be spent on initial resources to 150 and all players will start with fresh bodies bought off camera after chargen to whatever can be networked. tl;dr version: It's more about any body switching (including farcasting), not just random death and I and my players apparently like things post-chargen to match up better to what's in chargen, and paying CP higher than proper resources (CP or RP bought) cost in chargen doesn't jive well with us.
Rhyx Rhyx's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
I'm with Sombranox on that one. Especially with a game where you might be going on covert ops often or just do a lot of traveling the current system as is, basically makes you dumber and less skilled because you have a pretty body. To be brutally honest paying good CP for a morph only advantage is a sucker's game while Ego Advantages will follow you forever. So let's say I buy a remade. for 60 CP, my Infomorph Buddy spends 0 on his body (he doesn't have one!) and he puts his 60 CP in getting his Infosec skill. We get brought on a mission to the Jovian Republic and have to sleeve in Flats. He just magically gets 60 more points than me in his skill, which is exactly the same as having a 60 rez advantage which take quite a bit of gaming to get... In specific this part of the game has never really worked and is fundamentally unbalanced just because of the pure nature of travel in the game. But how to fix it is anyone's guess. As for making the CP prices into money prices: easy , take the CP prices and add 000 on the end of them. Remade becomes 60 000 creds, Reaver 100,000 creds, Case 5000. There's really no difference when you convert them to a 1CP to 1000 cred ratio just like any CP for cred transaction.
sombranox sombranox's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
The problem with just adding 0's is that your infomorph buddy who spent 0 CP on a body in CG could have bought 40ish CP of resources set aside and the first thing on grid arrange to get the same body you paid 60 CP for, which is a bit...eh. Yeah, the GM could smack them, but if the problem didn't exist in the system, it wouldn't be an issue. High cost morphs are only about 5 CP of resources, normal expensives 10 CP, and the most expensive sort around 50-60 CP, but inevitably those are a hell of a lot more than that in base CP and would be as well if you just added 0's.
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
I think you're underestimating just how attached players get to their gear when you talk about it like that. If a player has spent CP or Rez points on a gun, taking it away from them makes them feel like they lost something. Even with a replacement, something they carefully planned out being taken from them will naturally upset them. What you'll find is, players are far less upset losing things they didn't have to pay for in "earned" points, even if it's something better than the gear they paid for. It's not something they created or crafted with loving care. Remember that a morph, like a customized gun or a special Muse or something along those lines, is a part of a character's identity as much as it is gear, especially if they start off with it. NOW... That said, you can get around this by having every character start off as an infomorph and have them get bodies based on situations when they start the game. That way, players won't be too attached to their starting morph and won't feel bad about giving it up; they didn't have to pay for it. Morphs become more transitory, and characters are more comfortable disposing of them, when they don't feel like they're losing something when they give them up.
panda00x panda00x's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
The morphs section has moderate-high-expensive-expensive(50k etc) credit prices for buying morphs with credits. Why not use the average credit costs (or the expensive+ price if applicable) at generation, and raise the cap on cp->credits by say, 50 points? Use CP for buying the morph only if it's required by background (jovian, lost), as those are bodies that through philosophy or circumstance, you've grown up in and are probably legitimately pretty attached to and loosing that body [i]should[/i] be traumatic and life shattering. Also makes obtaining a specialized body (ie. fury) a little more feasible at the start, as 75+ cp does represent a pretty significant investment into a temporary body. I do agree with Sombranox that using credits to buy bodies at the beginning would help enforce the idea that your body is a transitory element, more enduring than a trusted sidearm or a personalized and upgraded ecto but still something that is ultimately replaceable.
CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
If it is the high CP cost that is an issue could you not just halve the CP costs of every morph? Maintains the internal balance of the game, it works for any custom morphs, and it makes morphs less expensive at CC.
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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
I don't think it's the cost, per se, that's the problem, and more the fact that the CP a player pays for their morph at the beginning could go to skill points or positive traits. When you lose that morph, you're losing with it the potential that it could've been. A player who starts as an infomorph, who sleeves after the game begins, loses very little if they die, whereas other players who die lose a considerable investment. Same goes for any form of resleeving, really, even if it's a trade-up. I like the idea of having every player start without choosing a body, and then giving them a free set of morphs (either as appropriate to the situation or, if that doesn't apply, giving them a random pool to split between themselves).
sombranox sombranox's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
I'm not sure about giving them a totally free morph on start. Unless you do the same for all their starting equipment (or at least a pool of free equipment and make them buy specialty stuff above and beyond that). Could be one way to handle it though. Offer them some free stuff, including morphs and then let the individuals either set aside cash for toys or network for use of them. As to Codebreaker's suggestion of halving the cost. That might work too, though I think it might cause some wonky results potentially with some of the synths that don't balance out as well as the biomorphs. For instance, getting an arachnoid for 10 CP instead of 50K. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Either way, thanks for the varied ideas all. Keep them coming. P.S. As it stands with my new group, I went with pretty much just with increasing the resources cap to 150 and letting people set aside cash for the morph of their choice. No one in the group that had morph restrictions (the Lost and an Uplift) wanted a different starting morph, so I didn't have to take into account how to get around that, but I did give the Lost theirs for 40K instead of 50 just because they had the one morph that has a higher money cost than it's chargen CG cost. Everyone seemed fairly content with this and no one was upset at the idea they'd probably be switching bodies fairly often in the future.
nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
This is future shock, plain and simple. Ideally, the GM should talk with his players and inform them that there will be a lot of travel, or a little in the early missions, so buying a nicer morph is a good idea or a bad idea. My first character I totally played the system and got a Case with all the worst flaws I could find. First mission I grabbed the head off an Olympian and brought it back for 'repair'. Second mission I was now on par with everyone else. So yes, this sword cuts both ways.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
It is quite fun to mess with characters by having limited morph choices. In one of my games the characters had to make do with what existed on a crummy outpost in the middle of Nowhere Planum on Mars. The tough mercenary ended up as a sex pod. The former werewolf was sleeved into a retrofitted mining machine. At smaller outposts the availability of bodies for "drop in patients" tends to be limited. I suggest making a little table of the morphs that could be available, give each a score denoting how common they are and then randomly generate how many exist in the store. A simple system is to place 20 dots among the available morphs, each dot corresponding to 5% probability. Roll a D20 and count down the dots. "We have this lovely ruster morph, two months since last upgrade. Look at her gorgeous skin - the previous owner was very careful and mostly kept to her room. Then we have a slightly scuffed bouncer... yeah, he didn't land very well, but he was nicely patched up. In the discount section we got these synths - might need a paint job, but the joints are dust free - and that pile of cases... A menton?! Hahahahaha! Sorry, sir, but that is so funny. The last menton we had here was the tax officer who arrested our branch manager last June."
Extropian
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
Playing the system is something most GMs try to discourage. That's why I propose the idea of giving players free morphs (and possibly a free set of gear, with provisions that they can buy more on their own, as long as they're okay with the possibility of losing it). Your idea of stealing the head of an Olympian to make yourself a new morph is an awesome concept. It's also something that should be seen as rewarding a player's cleverness, rather than gaming the system to get some improvement.
theshadow99 theshadow99's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
I've experimented with variations of this to balance initial morph (& CP investment) versus after-play morph investments (and their lack of CP cost). My personal setting I've been working on right now, and it's fantasy offspring doesn't have this since switching bodies is rare in both settings. But I have played some in normal EP setting and have noticed this issue as well... So far I've gotten away with what I call a buyback program... You get to spend CP usually used to buy an initial starting morph on other things instead and payback that CP in accrued 'rez/xp/whatever term you'd like to call it by' over time, even infomorphs do this the first time they take physical morphs. Or as an alternate, this is the 'body back home', it's rarely if ever used on missions but it's their 'public' face. And that face is paid for. Neither of those probably made any sense, because I'm writing this at 11 pm and I really need some sleep... But maybe someone will find it useful...
sombranox sombranox's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
The buy back thing could be interesting. When do they get those points to respend? After they lose that first body either in combat or because of a move or...? Also, could you give more on how it works with infomorphs getting their first bodies after chargen? The 'body back home' thing I think would irritate me even worse than the base system. Paying for something that's never going to see game play (and requiring people to buy body banks for those bodies to sit on ice constantly) is just...yeah. I'd pretty much make every char of mine an infomorph.
theshadow99 theshadow99's picture
Re: Starting Morphs by Cost: Is it possible?
in general buyback starts at creation, you can use the points just like an infomorph can with the idea that you pay it off overtime like a loan. Their are 2 catches to doing this: to even things out infomorphs have to pay to if they take on a body & the maximum morph cost is used to set the overall cost. The upside is with this the 'first body is free' for everyone and I don't worry at all about price in currency as it's paid in CP. Another way to look at it is as a pool of CP set aside to handle morphs. Where the amount is set at character creation (or first use of a morph), but points aren't taken from starting CP. Instead it's taken in small portions over time in Rez. This can actually be transparent to the player by reducing Rez rewards. In effect you get to use your full CP any way you choose at the start for a diminished reward. Though you could also handle it in CP that is spent, even by infomorphs, where this pool is required if they will ever take a morph. In this variant you decide to say... Take 40 CP to form a morph pool. Then you can use any morph that costs 40 CP or less. With the option of spending Rez to 'buy up' the amount in the pool (adding 1 or 2 rez per adventure with the idea of reaching 50 CP for instance). If you didn't buy one at origin (pure infomorph), then you are forced to buy a pool if you need a physical morph and this has to be paid back over time. With this variation is actually in your own best interest to buy a pool on creation even for an infomorph. The 'Body back home' take on the other hand is harder, my group I tried this with had alot of social adventures with little or no combat in their 'home station' and lots of combat farcasted to other places. They only paid the costs for farcasted bodies as normal, the CP cost was for their body 'back home'. Sadly the experiment failed for reasons not related to the bodies back home, but more because the group was extremely task focused. Giving them open ended problems meant they would get upset that they had 'no idea what to do' and so I'd eventually have to give them a list of things they could do... And that became a giant pain in my ass. Example: Me - "You are tasked with discovering where this new nanoagent is coming from and you know X, Y, and Z about it." Them - "So what do we do?" Me - "Well you could trace down a lead at X, or try to get a meeting with Y, or search on the mesh for more about Z." etc. It was my first time dealing with those players and they said they wanted less combatish adventures... I hate railroading players though and they effective needed railroaded to get anything done... And then they complained about being railroaded... x.X However, with the right group the 'body back home' would probably work, though it requires low risk of death adventures 'at home' to work right. So there is a need for the bodies to be used, but seldom lost. So the investment at creation makes sense. For me the CP morph pool has worked much better, I did an experiment where they bought their bodies in currency to... But it didn't go so well. Players got pissed they just spent 'X' currency on body 'Y' and then had a bad dice roll because of something stupid they decided to do in the first place and lose "all that currency I spent". Using the pool system the always have a benefit from the CP spent and it never goes away, this makes the players feel much better about it. The 'first body is free' is just a side benefit.