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Crafting and brewing diseases - how to make biological weapons in Exalted?

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  • Crafting and brewing diseases - how to make biological weapons in Exalted?

    Ok, I've been playing plague Inc. And I've thought of a new demon, one that's making diseases and transmitting them, causing havoc until they pray to the yozis for forgiveness.

    Question.

    Problem, there are no systems for this. Now, I'm a fan of Revlid's mutations system:

    How many points should we put it, so that they have increased morbidity (drug resistance). Should we be allowed to transform leprosy into something that moves from skin contact to something that can spread via sneezing? Is it mechanically viable to make the duration shift, so that people die from disease within weeks instead of days?

  • #2
    Exalted has the option of interacting with disease spirits; your best bet might be charms that let you modify gods, and/or sorcerous workings?


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    • #3
      On the face of it, enhancing diseases would be the result of a sorcerous working. You don't need heavy intricacy to it, just that the degree to which the disease is improved determines the ambition of the working.

      I'm not sure how to approach a demon or other spirit that has a dedication to continuously developing new diseases. It feels like a thing that should be viable, but simply saying the demon has sorcery and letting it go through that feels a bit unsatisfying if it's supposed to actually have surrounding powers.

      Spirit Charms can run off of mechanics unique to them, sure, but I feel as though the crafting rules might be a poor fit for something like diseases, even if it's being utilised in a unique Charm or Merit.

      Hmm...

      I would propose giving the demon a Charm that is said to be able to propagate new diseases, that has variable mote costs; say, 10, 20, 30. Each cost gives a general description of the effectiveness and impact of the resulting disease: the 10 mote version generates something that will usually only kill weakened people (only a low or severely reduced dice pool will fail to shake it off), and transmits under specific circumstances, not highly lethal but can persist in a population for some time, up to the higher cost for things intended to create lethal plagues sufficient to depopulate cities. The Charm has limited uses, possibly with longer reset periods for the higher cost and lethality; it's easier for the demon to continuously introduce a new syphilis than Spanish Flu.

      If you wanted something with a bit more flexibility, say having an option to create the likes of Ebola (really nasty and unpleasant to see, transmits poorly), perhaps assign a value to each quality for an even more adjustable mote cost. I'd still say uses over time should be limited.

      Perhaps in either case, the spirit gets some kind of relief or discount if it follows the logic of improving an already existing sample, although possibly limited to one carried in the body of somebody in the final stages. For the purposes of mythic weight and a bit of balance, I would be inclined to limiting such an interaction only to diseases that are already ravaging a person; culturing an organism in broth or jelly would not be hugely out of sorts for the setting (although the kind of precise glasswork you'd want is going to be highly uncommon), but I think it can make things too easy if they're able to work with such things.

      Even with Exalted Charms, I wouldn't be inclined to model affecting and improving pathogens with Craft in this setting, largely from an aesthetic sense of what Craft covers and how characters might operate with diseases even if one assigns germs to the setting. Not directly, at least; minor projects would probably be sufficient to produce tubes, plates and culture media for any Exalt that wants to culture an organism outside of a host prior to working sorcery on it, and to have the samples to reintroduce to a population. Same with the aforementioned demon. For the Exalted (and any other human savants, really), maybe a bit of Lore to have some sense of the makeup of a culture that might specify an organism. Even then, I would picture a resulting culture to be rather messy, Creation on the whole (even with the aid of gods) lacking a lot of sophistication in knowing precise culture formulae or other purification techniques to getting a sample down to a singular organism; I'm picturing the Exalt who's working on such things as only being able to purify samples so far before they start harnessing things with magic.


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
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      • #4
        ... I guess rules are different for exalted modern?

        I mean, can't craftsmen needs no tools bypass most problems with the low tech of exalted?

        I mean, it ain't impossible for a craft specced exalt to handcraft circuits. Why is crafting diseases so impossible? Like, treat it like a particular weird form of animal husbandry

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
          ... I guess rules are different for exalted modern?
          They would presumably be, although The Modern Age of Shards of the Exalted Dream would have lacked the space to go into all of the ways in which the system would have to be different for a setting that incorporates things like modern mechanical engineering, chemistry and electrical physics. It had to limit itself to dramatic systems of shooting, car chases and hacking.

          Originally posted by Accelerator
          I mean, can't craftsmen needs no tools bypass most problems with the low tech of exalted?
          Craftsman Needs no Tools ought to be viewed less in terms of maximizing mechanical extrapolation from the precise meaning of its words and more about the genre it exists within and to facilitate.

          Its function is not to say that an Exalt can put together anything (within the bounds of a simple or major crafting project) that the player can envision.

          If it really must be rooted in something logical, it helps that nobody in Creation knows what a modern electrical circuit is, nor do they have the frame of reference to independently imagine one.

          Originally posted by Accelerator
          I mean, it ain't impossible for a craft specced exalt to handcraft circuits.
          Presuming somebody with the power of Craftsman Needs no Tools operating in our world, where such a thing can be presumed to be functional at all, rather than in Creation where it is not necessarily the case, and make that person from somewhere like 1500 years ago:

          What are their handcrafted circuits made out of?

          Originally posted by Accelerator
          Why is crafting diseases so impossible? Like, treat it like a particular weird form of animal husbandry
          Why not treat engineering diseases like animal husbandry? Partially because they're nothing alike, partially because the impact of creating a new disease is much bigger than breeding a slightly larger or faster horse, partially because of genre conceit.

          The same goes for the implicit question of using Craftsman Needs No Tools to create anthrax. Leaving aside the question of genre consistency, or of what application of a crafting action could be used to engage in such a thing, that is a fairly basic Charm, it is not suited to a function of such heavy purpose.

          I've got other arguments, but I think they're unnecessary to elaborate on the central point of system integrity and genre consistency.

          Do you have any thoughts on my suggestion for a demon?


          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
          Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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          • #6
            Actually, I need to amend one of my points about the culturing of diseases in media, because I forgot one rather significant element; incubation temperature. It can be hard to culture a lot of organisms unless you replicate some of the conditions in which they thrive in their natural habitats, and that can include body temperature.

            In Creation, that's going to require sorcery; other sources of heat are liable to lack the precision to not inadvertently kill off your sample.

            Mind (and this is something I've said before in response to somebody carrying impulses from having played Plague Inc. into questions about Exalted), in most of Creation, biological warfare doesn't really need to be so sophisticated, because most people don't have good protections or protocols against it. Toss a few dozen rotting corpses over a town wall, and you're liable to cause an epidemic soon enough.

            Really, aping modern mundane methods for developing particularly virulent or resistant strains of pathogens is somewhere between extreme overkill (people generally aren't going to effectively stop the basic versions) and ultimately a wasted effort (Exalted medicinal magic doesn't really care about it).

            So part of what my proposed demon needs to make their schtick work is some reinforcement against medicinal magic.


            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
            Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
            https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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            • #7
              Wait. When I said demon, I meant a first circle.

              2nd circles get stuff like neurax worms

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
                Wait. When I said demon, I meant a first circle.
                If it's a spirit intended to spread diseases, I would distinguish it from a plague god with the idea that the demon is actually afflicted with what it spreads (and an idea that any given one is carrying numerous diseases), and in addition to the downsides might have a Charm or two following from that.

                For a demon of that level, I feel as though any sense of it cooking up new diseases shouldn't really produce results better than if they're producing metalwork. That is, they do end up making new diseases, but they're not especially different ones.

                Except insofar as each new one can get around immunity to an old one.

                It would probably get a dice pool to cover what it's doing, maybe a Merit describing the general activity as it might resolve in play, but I'd say that it shouldn't be very complicated (demon takes an extended action with so and so parameters, and at the end you've got a phial of medium in which a disease will stay alive for a few days), and being a quick character dice pool doesn't need to state what Ability it's made up of.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
                  Problem, there are no systems for this.
                  I don't think a system would be desirable here.

                  These are demons using an affliction to extort worship on behalf of their patrons. As such this concept wants a disease with an obvious Malfean taint to it both as a show of power and something that demonologists can spot in the early stages. Now instead of tailoring the disease itself the demon hangs around the infected area with charms that target the infected like putting penalties on recovery/treatment rolls and making social unreset worse etc. Again, in-part so that someone with their shit together can identify the demon as the cause and go kill it.


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                  • #10
                    very very carefully

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                      I don't think a system would be desirable here.

                      These are demons using an affliction to extort worship on behalf of their patrons. As such this concept wants a disease with an obvious Malfean taint to it both as a show of power and something that demonologists can spot in the early stages. Now instead of tailoring the disease itself the demon hangs around the infected area with charms that target the infected like putting penalties on recovery/treatment rolls and making social unreset worse etc. Again, in-part so that someone with their shit together can identify the demon as the cause and go kill it.
                      So... Like a cluster of three dots?

                      Problem is, I'm inspired by plague Inc. I want... Something that can be taken on by several mortals, but can also be cool. And also interesting. I want it to be adaptable, like how you can choose symptoms or modes of transmission.

                      Maybe a demon that is actually a disease, and is summoned as an infected demon or mortal? It is... Diffused. But gets stronger the more concentrated it is. One person in one city? Barely sentient. A hundred people in a city? Much stronger. One thousand? Call in the dragon blooded.

                      It dies when the last infected fellow dies.

                      Thousands of different breeds. All with their little quirks, symptoms, weaknesses, strengths, and forms.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post

                        So... Like a cluster of three dots?
                        Yes, though in Creation that's House Ragara's symbol.


                        Originally posted by Accelerator
                        Maybe a demon that is actually a disease, and is summoned as an infected demon or mortal? It is... Diffused. But gets stronger the more concentrated it is. One person in one city? Barely sentient. A hundred people in a city? Much stronger. One thousand? Call in the dragon blooded.
                        If we're talking about a First Circle species there need to be appropriate limitations to its scope.



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                        Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                          Yes, though in Creation that's House Ragara's symbol.


                          If we're talking about a First Circle species there need to be appropriate limitations to its scope.
                          Goddamn it, that was supposed to be a 40k reference.

                          I was referring to this:



                          This is unfortunate.

                          I personally believe that there's not much difference between a plague rampaging through a city, and a blood ape. Both kill lots of people, near unstoppable or avoidable, and are taken down with much sacrifice.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
                            Goddamn it, that was supposed to be a 40k reference.
                            I know, I just like pointing out House Ragara might secretly be aligned with Nurgle.

                            Originally posted by Accelerator
                            I personally believe that there's not much difference between a plague rampaging through a city, and a blood ape. Both kill lots of people, near unstoppable or avoidable, and are taken down with much sacrifice.
                            A blood ape dies pretty easily if a bunch of mortals get their shit together, even in 2nd edition.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lioness View Post
                              I know, I just like pointing out House Ragara might secretly be aligned with Nurgle.


                              A blood ape dies pretty easily if a bunch of mortals get their shit together, even in 2nd edition.
                              So too powerful, then?

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