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Explain like I'm 12: Deviant (What we know so far)

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  • Explain like I'm 12: Deviant (What we know so far)

    Let me start with: I want to like this splat. I love the enthusiasm I see in the posts about it, I'm just having trouble understanding it. To me, it seems a hodgepodge of bits and bobs from other templates without a real direction; it's a choose your own monster story, like Beast, but seems to take the lack of direction Primordial started with (or at least, directions other than being at least partially a dick) and amp it up to eleven. I've read some 3-400 comments about it, but it's all getting a bit overwhelming for the segment of my brain I'm allotting to this.

    I'm asking for some help understanding what's come out so far, so I can have a foundation where I can parse my issues and possible gaps in knowledge about what's coming.

    Currently, Deviant seems like a theme and loose mechanic structure from Demon (on the lam hiding among normies being chased by organizations and individuals of variable power and interest that made you) coupled with mechanics from Demon and Promethean (Glitch/Scar/Wasteland/Disquiet, Axis Splats via Promethean, Variation via Bestowment+). The 'ingenuitive' integrity mechanic seems ripped from the Leviathan fansplat, the overdrive mechanic is Going Loud, even some of the concepts of Creator Organizations™ just seem like M:tC cults turned sour.

    This clearly isn't nuanced, and probably isn't accurate, it's just what my girlfriend and gaming groups are currently explaining to me seen through the lens of someone who doesn't have much else to go on.

    I want to like this splat. I see people getting excited for it, coming up with ideas, thinking of potential that I'm just not seeing.

    So, what am I missing? What am I getting wrong?

  • #2
    I haven't been following the development of Deviant that closely so take my information with a grain of salt. That having been said, here is what I feel are key points to Deviant:

    -Conceptually, Deviants are the "experiments" that you would see in a low Sci-Fi piece; they are people who have been altered by SCIENCE! and hate it. They managed to escape from the laboratory that made them but are still suffering from the side-effects of their experience: namely that they aren't really human anymore and need to cope. To list a few examples that I feel would EXACTLY fit into Deviants, Alma from the game F.E.A.R, Bucky as the Winter Soldier from Captain America, and Mewtwo from Pokemon.

    -Thematically, it kinda has some points from Changeling in that it's dealing with trauma. However, it kinda leans on the other side of it by focusing on anger and resentment as well as encouraging vengeance (which is significantly more possible in Deviant as they are attempting to destroy their [presumably] mortal experimenters while Changelings would [probably] not stand a change against their True Fae captors). I personally feel that it has a shade of "Even with all this potential power, you can do nothing" feel to it, as you will still carry the Scars from the experiments and will eventually die when you inevitably lose control. However, considering that a Deviant is encouraged to keep emotional bonds for their Loyalty, it seems to also add a sense of "Our time on this Earth is limited so let's make the most of it".

    -Mechanically, Deviants have a list of passive abilities that are constantly offering "benefits" and active abilities that are probably more overt. Apparently, Deviants by default always look somewhat monstrous and need to use an ability to look more normal. As said before, Deviants are encouraged to keep relationships strong, almost even moreso than any other splat, because that influences their Loyalty and allows them to keep a hold down on their powers as to presumably not die. They are also encouraged to chase after the people who did them wrong, influencing their Conviction.

    -Importantly, there is close to zero solid information that we have about Deviant aside from bits and pieces collected from official accounts. As of February 28, Richard Thomas stated in the Whoah, Nelly Monday Meeting Notes comments that Dave Brookshaw had finished the writing guidelines for Deviant, presumably meaning that any actual crunch for Deviant has yet to be officially finished. If anything, there should be a significant boost in available information and a possible preview of the actual crunch sometime in Summer (being optimistic) or late Fall (being realistic).

    I feel that most of the hype is because people are really interested in the concept of Deviant. To make a sweeping statement, I feel that people are more attracted to the concepts of each of CofD's gamelines than the mechanics of the gamelines; I feel like that's the reason why there are so many fansplats for so many different creatures. The other thing is that, out of all of the gamelines, Deviant touches on the idea of biological manipulation, something that hasn't really been touched by other splats. Like, you could make a mock-up of Deviant out of Changeling, Demon, or Beast and call it a day; however, Deviant offers something that doesn't really require additional cosmology. Deviants are created in some sort of underground laboratory by a large corporation that is capable of creating several leagues of genetically-modified humanoids, covering their tracks from prying eyes, and holding your leash by threatening anyone that you hold dear to yourself. It's sort of a pre-dystopian horror, like the prologue to the apocalypse as created by humans.

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    • #3
      So, Deviant may seem like a build-your-own-monster hodgepodge at a glance, but the truth is it's a highly focused theme. Deviant is CofD's take on Cronenberg horror. It's Mutant: the Changed. A Deviant is a person who has been bodily transformed into a monster by other people. Sci-fi is an obvious go-to here, but it can also be by way of magic ritual or what have you. Of course, this being CofD, what kind of monster a splat represents is only the superficial details. Much like Changeling is as much about people who have been abused as it is about fairies, Mage is as much about the super-privelaged as it is about wizards, Deviant is as much about people who have lost their sense of self as it is about people who have been mutated by weird experiments.

      Mechanically speaking, we won't know how well it works or doesn't work until we see the system working as a whole. All we have been shown right now are vague bits and pieces of ideas. Frankly though, I wouldn't worry so much about whether or not the mechanics resemble mechanics from other game lines. The important thing is, do they support the narrative, and is the narrative fun to play out. If the idea of playing people who have been experimented on and changed by other humans, seeking revenge against those who changed you, and self-actualization in the people you use your mutations to protect appeals to you, you should be excited about Deviant. If it doesn't, that's fine. Not every CofD gameline is for everyone.


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      • #4
        A more general statement, as I don't think I should talk about Deviant much, being largely uninformed (by choice, to enjoy that sweet sense of discovery when I get the book into my paws) other than what has already been mentioned.
        Reaper Verse's statement regarding the themes being more important than the mechanics would immediately get another like from me if I could do so. I wholeheartedly agree.
        Same with Charalquin's comment on the narrative and themes.
        I have often seen posts like "It looks like it takes mechanic x from a, y from b and z from c, how is it anything new?" I do not think mix-matching different mechanics is necessarily bad or uninspired: like in a kitchen, by mixing certain things, you can end up with something wonderful, and refreshingly different because of its combination (e.g. the Cuba Libre or most every Cuisine nowadays), and getting those things to seamlessly work together takes skill. I also get the feeling that those mechanics seem similar, but that doesn't mean they will actually be similar in execution.

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        • #5
          Personally, when I think Alma I would still err towards Promethean or Unchained, but that's a stylistic choice rather than a mechanical one.

          Again though, I see a lot of Demon in general in the concepts put forward as 'ideal Deviant scenarios'. That trauma is very much there for a demon who forms emotional attachments to their covers, even going into the whole 'defines self by surroundings' spiel. Their Scars are very much like Glitches, little rips in their person suit which hint at the esoteric truth beneath. A lot of the 'secret organization that makes living things' tends to fall into Promethean territory again, though I can see it's a little more about people coming to terms with what was and what is: Promethean a la Changeling, with a dash of Cover from Demon and a morality that still mirrors Phronesis/Eunoia from Leviathan pretty well.

          All in all, I agree that finding a blend of themes and mechanics from other games can make an excellent experience. I wouldn't dream of playing a Vampire game without the occasional werewolf or changeling, and I blend my rules as much as possible to find a balance where I feel I can provide the support framework for as much choice and freedom as I can while having an answer to the grit of hard rules when it comes up: and therein might be the problem.

          I think without some of that crunch to play with, I'm stuck with a little of the same bitter taste as Beast.
          Rather than being given a lego set, I'm being shown a picture of a lego case and told that what's inside can totally be made to make something cool. I need to get my hands on it, rip it apart, and start building with the new toy; my first Beast player is helping me come up with so many ideas that just weren't concrete in the purposely-vague source material.

          Thanks for the responses, they helped more than anything in realizing that I need the tools to exist before I can plan with them :P Who would ever have guessed that as logic?
          Moreover it was good to have a couple of the problems of I had reframed for me.
          Thanks, talk to you guys later.
          Last edited by Necrophear; 03-13-2017, 06:17 PM.

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          • #6
            Neither Demons nor Prometheans are people made into monsters by people. Both come into existence as monsters, with Demons being created by a singular monstrous entity, and Prometheans being created by individual people. As well, what they each do with their lives are completely different. A Demon hides among humanity, using their Covers to blend in, with the goal of eventually finding more permanent security from their creator. A Promethean hides from humanity, pursuing their Pilgrimage, with the goal of eventually becoming human. A Deviant protects humans from the people who changed them, and pursue those who changed them, with the goal of getting revenge so they can die of their mutilation in peace. I fail to see the connection you are seeing.


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            • #7
              People” is subjective. Demons are created by a vast infrastructure, then escape and are hunted by agents of that infrastructure. Replace Demon with Deviant, and infrastructure with 'organization/cult', and you've got that tie-in alongside the similarities of powers/banes for both D:tD and P:tC. If you also take into mind the rarity of Prometheans who suddenly find a group of fellows, alongside a want to tie people's stories together, it's pretty easy to see individual creators being members of cells of a larger group: there's their connection to that piece.
              There's also been an emphasis by a lot of people with Deviants hiding amongst the humans and communities from their pursuers: Demon Covers front and center, with less proactive Prometheans (you know, the ones for whom Wasteland is more than an annoyance) who want to connect to humanity rather than be ascetics coming in close behind. If you wanna tie another concept and template: the True Fae start to take an interest in higher Wyrd Changelings, just like BADGUYGROUP! is apparently supposed to get more interested if a Deviant's power starts to flex too much.

              It's not a new concept. That's not the issue, this whole trope set is a good chunk of World/Chronicles backstory in every template. I wasn't seeing much difference, but the responses have given me some idea of at least the negative space behind the new takes on the concepts. I've been affirmed in a faith that Deviant seems to at least be able to deliver a fresh perspective on that kind of story.

              If you want a short version that I think sums it up: a less pulpy, crossover-oriented game will have the similarities start to strengthen, and I'm personally hoping that's a good thing. It seems things will be complementary, rather than rehashing the same material.
              Last edited by Necrophear; 03-13-2017, 06:39 PM.

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              • #8
                I disagree on a few things. Some differences that are quite important to see in my opinion:
                - A glitch is dangerous to Demons because it shows a bit of who you really are - this is not the case with Deviants - remember, their disfigurements etc if they have any are always visible and need a special power to cover it up. If they don't have that, you could well end up playing the invisible man trying to fit in by wearing lots of clothes.
                - Also, a Demon can usually get rid of a Glitch in a variety of ways. A Scar is more of a permanent downside, a harmful empowering sideeffect so to speak, that gets stronger by not interacting with your 'touchstones', which means this can actually make your Char more powerful - at the cost of permanently becoming less human. Oh, did I mention that their Scars will most likely ultimately kill them? As in, directly kill them, not through some proxy-'now the angels will find and hunt you'-way that might give you a chance to escape, but in the 'the cancer is killing you, it's untreatable'-way?
                - Going loud? Well, a Demon going loud has a way back - get a new Cover.
                Deviants aren't so lucky. Going all out is going to be their last scene in 99 out of 100 cases.

                I guess that would be one extreme thematical differences to other gamelines: Your char's time is limited (except for very rare cases that might get lucky enough to become sort of stable), and the endgame is going out in a blaze of glory and/or satisfaction in the knowledge that you took care of those who did this to you.



                I don't think Alma (that makes me think Sin-Eater ghosts, really), I think Stranger Things' Eleven, Akira, Hollow Man, the Fly.

                Somehow, X-Men's Weapon Program (when they pulled Numbers like Wolverine, X-23, Deadpool, not Stuff like Captain America) also comes to mind.

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                • #9
                  As most human-like Deviants, DaveB pointed Clones Club from Orphan Black - they are genetically engineered people with constant sickness from imperfect genetic modifications. And they fight evil corporation.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wormwood View Post
                    SNIP
                    Deviants aren't so lucky. Going all out is going to be their last scene in 99 out of 100 cases.
                    Seems like those similarities are all more detrimental versions of what we've got.
                    See, to me, that's just a bunch of "Here's a bunch of concepts similar to what we've got, but let's fluff it differently and make it more inimical to a character's survival". It's not something, from your explanations, that I'd ever want to play because I value longevity over power.

                    However, from a development perspective, I've already said that I see some of the benefits people are talking about, and have adequately been given reason to think that this new game line should be given my support if only for being able to integrate concepts and mechanics* into a world for my players.

                    *that 'crunch' that hasn't been released, so people claiming hard knowledge and interpretations of mechanics fall a little in value

                    Since people are citing media examples, my current interpretation includes things like Dark Angel.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Necrophear View Post
                      See, to me, that's just a bunch of "Here's a bunch of concepts similar to what we've got, but let's fluff it differently and make it more inimical to a character's survival".
                      Context matters. A little girl playing on a swing in a bustling kindergarten is normal. The same in an abandoned town is a horror story. Same thing - different fluff.

                      Originally posted by Necrophear View Post
                      It's not something, from your explanations, that I'd ever want to play because I value longevity over power.
                      This is absolutely fair. Such titles as Vampire or Mummy might be more up your alley.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                        Context matters. A little girl playing on a swing in a bustling kindergarten is normal. The same in an abandoned town is a horror story. Same thing - different fluff.
                        Agreed completely, but I wouldn't create two different handouts for my players. Context and fluff only matter so much without mechanics to back them up, so I'm now just going to wait for those mechanics to see what I can work with.

                        Deviant is attractive to me, at this point, as something I can use to strengthen and complement some parts of my current unified settings,

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                        • #13
                          I can understand the longevity part, but in the end, what matters to me most is a good story. There are many different ways to reach that. And a Tragic one, where maybe one Player decides to sacrifice himself to save his friends and or family by going absolutely monstrous after running and Hiding for some time... sounds like that will involve some feels. Stranger Things finale, anyone?

                          I guess I can see where youre coming from. But glad to hear you are willing to give it a shot!

                          Sorry for typos, random capitalization etc: written from ny mobile, to lazy to correct.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wormwood View Post
                            ...what matters to me most is a good story... maybe one Player decides to sacrifice himself to save his friends and or family by going absolutely monstrous after running and Hiding for some time... sounds like that will involve some feels. Stranger Things finale, anyone?
                            That's part of why I like the longevity. It lets people spend more time investing in the characters, so when there's loss there's more of an impact. 'Destined to die' often has ended up meaning 'destined to not have people care' at my table, whether I'm moderating or playing. We need those episodes/chapters to really feel the emptiness of a presence now gone. Case in point, we're hit in the gut by the finale of Stranger Things, but however nice we remember him as: do you off-the-cuff remember the diner owner's name?

                            Nameless or one-off characters are, whenever I can help it, absent from my games. So too are characters with rails set to them, whether those rails lead to destruction, salvation, or even just conflict.
                            Last edited by Necrophear; 03-15-2017, 01:18 PM.

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                            • #15
                              I have bad news for you. Literally every single person ever is destined to die. Even fictional characters who are "immortal" can usually be killed, and it's very hard work to make characters who are completely impervious to death interesting.


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