Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

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Skimble Skimble's picture
Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Reading the section on backups, resleeving an Ego Bridges, I am a little unsure whether the default system requires synthmorphs to utilise an Ego Bridge in order to back up the cyberbrain's state.

The relevant passage is:

The ego bridge then builds a digital copy of the person’s brain, which is stored away in the service’s highly secure, off-the-mesh, hardwired data vaults. In the case of pods, the ego bridge scans the biological brain bits and also accesses the cyberbrain to copy the parts of the ego residing there. For synthmorphs, who have no biological brain, the process is much simpler, as it simply requires accessing and making a copy of their cyberbrain.

While the part about cyberbrains is in a paragraph beginning with mention of an ego bridge, it doesn't seem clear to me that one is or should be required in order to back up a cyberbrain.

This is further implied in the Resleeving section, which both allows for instantaneous evacuation of a cyberbrain and for instant uploading of a backup into a cyberbrain, apparently without the need for an Ego Bridge.

Ruling this myself I am inclined to allow backups and resleeving to be made on the fly from synthmorphs without the requirement for an ego bridge, but it would be good to get an official clarification.

puke puke's picture
well i dont have an official

well i dont have an official opinion, but the resleeving times for cyberbrains seem to back you up. the fluff suggests that theyre essentially "brain emulators" that run you in software, and that egos can be transfered to and from them directly over the mesh or through whatever data transfer mechanism you like.

i also get the impression that the rules-light nature of EP isnt so much about "official rulings" on every little topic, as much as its about GM interpretation. The Devs often post things along the lines of "this is what we were imagining when we wrote it, but do what you want."

Admini Admini's picture
i also get the impression


i also get the impression that the rules-light nature of EP isnt so much about "official rulings" on every little topic, as much as its about GM interpretation. The Devs often post things along the lines of "this is what we were imagining when we wrote it, but do what you want."

A decent answer to most questions on this board.

Skimble Skimble's picture
Re an official clarification

I quite agree that GM interpretation is fine, and as I said I am be inclined to rule it that one can change instantly.

However, this may not be what the designers intended, and it does have implications on game balance and player freedom because it allows synthmorphs a considerably higher degree of freedom when it comes to moving morph etc.


Obviously I haven't playtested the game extensively whilst the designers have and that is why I would value confirmation of whether it was intended for all backup and resleeving operations to require the use of an Ego Bridge.


I can of course try it this way first and change my mind later, but I'd rather have a consistent rule all the way along.

Admini Admini's picture
Game balance is a concern,


Game balance is a concern, to be sure, but a player is going to argue the realism angle. "Computer brain, just plug it in, no bridge needed." Heck, I'd accept that argument. ;-)

jackgraham jackgraham's picture
You don't need an ego bridge

You don't need an ego bridge to back up a synth. The function of an ego bridge is to deploy a specialized swarm of nanobots that can map out a biological brain (for backups), or to actually perform the transfer of consciousness (in the case of resleeving).

J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!
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Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

The last sentence says everything relevant. Ego bridges are only necessary for when a biological brain is involved, a cyberbrain simply requires a means to access it; a fiberoptic cable and a solid-state drive are all you require to back up your cyberbrain, and you can take out the drive if you're just transferring from morph to morph. It is intended to be this easy.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Ramidel Ramidel's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Yeah. It's also this easy for people to jack your brain and erase your ego, so there are tradeoffs.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Well, not easy per se, but significantly easier than to do so with a biological brain (which is impossible short of souping their head to erase their ego). There are still means of protecting your brain (hence the required tests for hacking cyberbrains).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

On the other hand, you're immune to psionics, so the whole biological<-> pod<->synth axis does balance out in the end.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Rasumichin wrote:
On the other hand, you're immune to psionics, so the whole biological<-> pod<->synth axis does balance out in the end.

A lot more than that. Synthmorphs don't need sleep, food, air, water, and can shut off their pain receptors. They can survive in vacuum and very hostile environments. They are far tougher than biomorphs in general and immune to shock weapons to boot. Their biggest weaknesses are their inability to have psi, the greater difficulty adjusting to them, the vulnerability to hacking, and their inability to heal (unless they have medichines).

They all have advantages and disadvantages, but I think it fair to note that this game is rather roleplay intensive, and many advantages and disadvantages are more roleplay-oriented than mechanical in nature.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Hm, more roleplay-oriented?
Yes, but roleplay as i see it isn't separated from mechanics, it is just more flexible about them and assigns modifiers on a situational basis instead of attempting to stat everything out in advance.
Roleplay isn't just portraying your character and telling stories, it's also a method to handle mechanical effects, making ad hoc judgements using common sense, using creative problem solving and so on.
I'm not completely through the core book yet, but by now, i get the impression that EP is very good at facilitating that kind of gameplay.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Rasumichin wrote:
Hm, more roleplay-oriented?
Yes, but roleplay as i see it isn't separated from mechanics, it is just more flexible about them and assigns modifiers on a situational basis instead of attempting to stat everything out in advance.
Roleplay isn't just portraying your character and telling stories, it's also a method to handle mechanical effects, making ad hoc judgements using common sense, using creative problem solving and so on.
I'm not completely through the core book yet, but by now, i get the impression that EP is very good at facilitating that kind of gameplay.

What I mean by roleplay-oriented is that some disadvantages may not have any numerical values at all. For instance, synthmorphs are considered to be low-class, and many of those who are only capable of getting synthmorphs are quite ashamed of being in them. Moreover, many people feel that reality doesn't "feel as real" while in a synthmorph, which plays a major part in the continued popularity of biomorphs. How exactly could those equate into values in the game?

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

fimbulwinter fimbulwinter's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Seconded-there's always something to be said for mechanical balance, but I'm getting the impression that EP is more about telling stories in the setting than in characters competing mechanically. There's lots of elements that could be abused (I dread the argument I'm going to have with my munchkin players) but I don't think I'd want to play an EP story that could incorporate those abusable elements in the first place. Sure you could spend your points in a pain-in-the-ass fashion, make a character that outclasses your fellow players in some (even several) ways. But I'll bet your char's not going to be as interesting, as playable, as functional in the story as your fellows, because you're an infolife/ultimate in a reaper synthmorph, and no one likes you.

I am a feminist, a nominalist,a pacifist, a meritocrat, a 10th level greengrocer, and as full of shit as 50 horses. I cannot be killed. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or num

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Decivre wrote:

What I mean by roleplay-oriented is that some disadvantages may not have any numerical values at all. For instance, synthmorphs are considered to be low-class, and many of those who are only capable of getting synthmorphs are quite ashamed of being in them. Moreover, many people feel that reality doesn't "feel as real" while in a synthmorph, which plays a major part in the continued popularity of biomorphs. How exactly could those equate into values in the game?

The first one would certainly have a numerical effect when it comes to social skill tests.
Walking into an upper-class lounge located on a Venusian resort for the rich and famous while sleeved into an arachnoid is a bit like wearing grease-stained coveralls at a formal occasion, only much more so, as you -are- the grease-stained coveralls.
Actually, this -is- covered by hard numerical effects in some cases, hence the clanking masses trait.
The trait seems to be included only with the synth and case morphs, as they are the cheapest synthmorphs (i suddenly get the idea of someone who is sleeved into a swarmanoid or reaper ridiculing those who only can afford a case), but it's there.

The alienation aspect is partially covered by the difficulties with sleeving into a synthmorph, as well as the morph fever rules for asyncs, though this one -does- factor more into how you portray your character than how he actuallly performs mechanics wise.

Of course, there's things that don't have a numerical effect- but this doesn't mean that not having to sleep, eat or breathe doesn't have a measurable effect on how your character performs in certain situations.

One should, however, always keep in mind that choosing a morph is _not_ like choosing a race in a fantasy setting.
Morphs aren't races, they are gear.
The game assumes that players change morphs frequently, not only when their old morph dies, but also when they're travelling.
On a full-blown combat mission, the entire team may be sleeved into reapers, remades, furies or other combat-capable morphs.
Whereas egocasting to a Venusian aerostat to infiltrate a hypercorp conspiracy may involve sleeving into sylphs, exalts and mentons (in fact, such habitats may offer a disproportionate amount of these morphs for rental purposes).
When you visit a habitat without life support, you'll most likely sleeve into a synthmorph, while an underwater or microgravity habitat requires other choices.

As far as "munchkinism" is concerned, i've been crunching the chargen rules for some time now and after closer consideration of some things that at first glance struck me as interesting exploits, the rules actually seem pretty solid (when you try to fix imbalances, always ask a powergamer- we know what to look for).

You can certainly create mechanical imbalances, but the fact that you have to buy at least 700 skill points almost automatically leads to much more well-rounded and versatile characters than in other pointbuy systems.

I can already see the kind of gameplay this facilitates, the diversity, creativity and ingenuity this sparks.
EP characters can be proficient at so many different tasks, this is really a game ideally suited to planning, plotting, scheming, networking and actually having an impact on the gameworld that goes so far beyond killing things and looting their stuff, yet offers as much -no, much more- room for strategy and tactics.
EP is an ideal game for GMs who like to run games where the players take things into their own hands and get involved in the setting in a vast variety of ways, instead of slashing their way along an adventure path railroad.

Moreover, it's important to note that the easy ways to number-crunching in EP (pricy morphs and tons of implants) aren't always available, as the game seems to assume that you do a lot of egocasting and have to work with the morphs you can get on-site.
For example, many morphs give cheaper aptitude boosts than actually buying up the aptitude itself and have the additional incentive of breaking the 60 point price cap on skills, as their bonus is calculated after buying up the skill.
But this boost only works out if you can actually use this morph.
When you have to egocast to the other end of the solar system, the player who sunk points into the aptitudes themselves is better off.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Quote:
the game seems to assume that you do a lot of egocasting and have to work with the morphs you can get on-site

It's not so much that the game assumes this as it is an assumption some GMs and players have when they believe that their characters will be hitting the whole solar system at random. It's just as likely that a high-quality game could be played entirely on (or in orbit around) Mars or Luna. In such a case, egocasting becomes far less necessary or only an occasional need.

If you start a game off somewhat 'grounded' in a location, players that invest heavily in morphs and equipment can start planning ahead and arranging for back-up morph and gear in other locations so they are less dependent on off-the-self morphs. As Firewall sees that they are entrenched in one area, this is where they will likely be employed, and when they demonstrate that they are able to branch out their own resources to other sites, their range of operations expands too.

Firewall can even start suggesting areas that other Firewall cells are weak so that the characters can be steered to prep themselves for operating in those areas. This is the model I'd recommend since it allows in-play time to prep for those that want to hold on to their signature morph and gear - and if they don't choose to prep - they are less likely to accuse the GM of dickery since it was their own lack of foresight that bit them.

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Yes, one should make such premises clear before the game starts.
And if a player sinks tons of points into a customized morph, it's a pretty obvious sign to me that he'll enjoy playing with this morph instead of some heavily used synth he has to rent at a location somewhere in the Kuiper Belt.

However, one should always keep in mind that EP's setting includes locations which are heavily interconnected in spite of being seperated by vast expanses of space.
So even in a localized campaign, it can always happen that players have to egocast to a remote location or would at least profit from being able to do so- or that they face circumstances where switching morphs would be advantageous.
Investing in points that stay with you regardles of morph will always be a viable option in a sufficiently variable game.

You can of course play a specialist, but the skill system will guide you towards building a PC who appears as a well-rounded personality.
Even -if- you play a specialized character.

When someone wants to build a dedicated combat monster in SR, he'll often end up with a guy who can shoot people with his preferred type of gun, punch people, dodge bullets and do a little scouting.

When someone wants to build a dedicated combat monster in EP, he'll end up with a guy who can shoot people with various weapon systems, punch people, dodge bullets, infiltrate an enemy base, survive in hostile environments, do surveilance work, maintain his gear, drive an APC through hazardous terrain, build a military encampment, do social networking among his background, faction and military organizations, lecture you about ballistics, small unit tactics and military history, knows inside information about merc units, stare down an opponent, conduct first aid, set up a tactical mesh network and do some synchronized plasma rifle spinning on a parade.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Synthmorphs, Backups and Ego Bridges

Rasumichin wrote:
The first one would certainly have a numerical effect when it comes to social skill tests.
Walking into an upper-class lounge located on a Venusian resort for the rich and famous while sleeved into an arachnoid is a bit like wearing grease-stained coveralls at a formal occasion, only much more so, as you -are- the grease-stained coveralls.
Actually, this -is- covered by hard numerical effects in some cases, hence the clanking masses trait.
The trait seems to be included only with the synth and case morphs, as they are the cheapest synthmorphs (i suddenly get the idea of someone who is sleeved into a swarmanoid or reaper ridiculing those who only can afford a case), but it's there.

Again, you're missing the point; I wasn't talking about social situations, but rather the feeling of shame that people might feel if forced to wear a synthmorph. You find me the shame mechanics in the book, and we'll talk.

Rasumichin wrote:
The alienation aspect is partially covered by the difficulties with sleeving into a synthmorph, as well as the morph fever rules for asyncs, though this one -does- factor more into how you portray your character than how he actuallly performs mechanics wise.

Also not what I was talking about. I'm talking about the fact that biomorphs simply feel better than synthmorphs. In other words, even long after alienation and integration are no longer a factor, people still consider biomorphs to be a more comfortable fit... XP purists often disregard anything recorded while not in a biomorph as being "low quality". It's like the difference between imitation fur and real fur... it may be real, but it's often simply the sense of it being fake that makes people dislike it.

This doesn't translate into mechanics.

Rasumichin wrote:
Of course, there's things that don't have a numerical effect- but this doesn't mean that not having to sleep, eat or breathe doesn't have a measurable effect on how your character performs in certain situations.

Not needing to eat, sleep or breathe does have a numerical effect... no need for checks or issues involving starvation, sleep deprivation or suffocation. Combine that with their immunity to shock weaponry, and you have a slew of abilities which can have great advantages in the setting as presented.

Rasumichin wrote:
One should, however, always keep in mind that choosing a morph is _not_ like choosing a race in a fantasy setting.
Morphs aren't races, they are gear.
The game assumes that players change morphs frequently, not only when their old morph dies, but also when they're travelling.
On a full-blown combat mission, the entire team may be sleeved into reapers, remades, furies or other combat-capable morphs.
Whereas egocasting to a Venusian aerostat to infiltrate a hypercorp conspiracy may involve sleeving into sylphs, exalts and mentons (in fact, such habitats may offer a disproportionate amount of these morphs for rental purposes).
When you visit a habitat without life support, you'll most likely sleeve into a synthmorph, while an underwater or microgravity habitat requires other choices.

That is solely reliant on the style of game you are invoking... something that will vary wildly from playgroup to playgroup. In my group, for example, the largest majority of missions they run are not for Firewall at all... so they almost always have to provide their own sleeves for their various tasks.

Rasumichin wrote:
As far as "munchkinism" is concerned, i've been crunching the chargen rules for some time now and after closer consideration of some things that at first glance struck me as interesting exploits, the rules actually seem pretty solid (when you try to fix imbalances, always ask a powergamer- we know what to look for).

You can certainly create mechanical imbalances, but the fact that you have to buy at least 700 skill points almost automatically leads to much more well-rounded and versatile characters than in other pointbuy systems.

Not particularly. As an example, creating an infolife character almost guarantees that you'll be creating a hacker of some sort, considering that you get 2 skill points for every CP spent up to 60 on computer skills, and get the usual point-for-point exchange up to 80 from there. It also creates a skill disparity in comparison to other character types, without punishing the infolife character when players actually enter the game (the social skill penalty only applies to CP purchasing). To that end, the huge disparity between morph purchasing and CP costs has its issues as well, and I don't even want to talk about the reputation system's holes.

Granted, it's definitely better balanced than some of the other point-buy systems I've played over the years, but it definitely also needs work. I'd say it was a great effort for the first edition of a brand new game brand and rule system.

Rasumichin wrote:
I can already see the kind of gameplay this facilitates, the diversity, creativity and ingenuity this sparks.
EP characters can be proficient at so many different tasks, this is really a game ideally suited to planning, plotting, scheming, networking and actually having an impact on the gameworld that goes so far beyond killing things and looting their stuff, yet offers as much -no, much more- room for strategy and tactics.
EP is an ideal game for GMs who like to run games where the players take things into their own hands and get involved in the setting in a vast variety of ways, instead of slashing their way along an adventure path railroad.

Indeed, and one of the reasons I love it. I think this game has some of the best potential I've seen out of a sci-fi (and especially transhuman sci-fi) RPG in a long time. It pushes the boundaries of the concept, and deals with the idea of immortal characters in a way that I actually enjoy without making them either completely unkillable or unusually easy to kill.

Rasumichin wrote:
Moreover, it's important to note that the easy ways to number-crunching in EP (pricy morphs and tons of implants) aren't always available, as the game seems to assume that you do a lot of egocasting and have to work with the morphs you can get on-site.
For example, many morphs give cheaper aptitude boosts than actually buying up the aptitude itself and have the additional incentive of breaking the 60 point price cap on skills, as their bonus is calculated after buying up the skill.
But this boost only works out if you can actually use this morph.
When you have to egocast to the other end of the solar system, the player who sunk points into the aptitudes themselves is better off.

Again, this is more about playstyle than any actual permanent aspect of the game. Ego-casting may be the most common mode of personal transport, but that doesn't necessarily make it a recommended mode of travel for the players. It assumes they are going to a trusted receiver, whom they trust has a prepared body, which they are trusting is good enough for the job, all the while trusting that they will also receive needed equipment when they get there in a post-apocalyptic cosmic horror setting. Some might be okay with that, but not all will.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.