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Simulacre: An Alternative Morality Stat for Prometheans

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  • Simulacre: An Alternative Morality Stat for Prometheans

    I haven't looked at Simulacre for a while and haven't even updated it for GMC content, so I thought now would be a good time to post what I have and encourage feedback for GMC compatibility. Also, here's a link to the Google Docs version, which I'll get around to posting in my sig soon.

    SIMULACRE
    “We are what we pretend to be,
    so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    - Kurt Vonnegut, “Mother Night”
    As Azoth distills a Promethean’s proto-soul, it casts a corona around their form. This corona manifests in the material world as Simulacre, the literal and metaphysical simulation of humanity to the outside world and, with time and effort, to the Promethean itself. The more human they act, the more the enamel-esque coating of Simulacre hides their Disfigurements and guards them against the reality that rejects them. Also, the closer to the New Dawn it get the more its body manifests human frailties.

    The inverse is also true: Prometheans that behave monstrously discover their Disfigurements are more difficult to mask, Disquiet accrues more rapidly, and what few human qualities they possess evaporate. Then again, Prometheans who deny the Pilgrimage in this way are increasingly unlikely to care.

    Simulacre manifests as a modification of the Morality trait found on pages 91-94 of the World of Darkness rulebook. A Promethean’s Morality is their Simulacre, and it represents their understanding of and proximity to the New Dawn. When a Promethean is first created they awaken in great pain and in the throes of Torment with an effective Simulacre of 0. This havok can be avoided, thankfully, if their creator rolls an exceptional success on the Generative Act--in which case the Promethean begins its existence at the delicate rank of Simulacre 1 and does not start it’s Pilgrimage Tormented. Regardless, after about their first hour of existence (or one scene), its humours balance somewhat and its Azoth cools, allowing Simulacre to form around their corpus at an effective rating of 3.

    Starting-play Prometheans begin at Simulacre 3, but Storytellers may allow players to exchange dots of Simulacre for experience points at character creation if they so choose. Each dot sacrificed in this way yields five experience points, and players can drop their Simulacre scores to as low as 1.

    Simulacre mimics mortal Morality in a unique way within the World of Darkness: if a Promethean performs acts that exemplify the very best of humanity, they may find their Simulacre strengthens as mortal Morality does. As such Prometheans can regain lost Simulacre at the end of a story by performing great deeds of atonement, charity, or self-sacrifice in the manner described on page 94 of the World of Darkness Rulebook. If the deed is epic enough, it may even save a Simulacre 0 Promethean from its inevitable descent into Sublimation. Simulacre can also be raised during play by spending experience points or Vitriol.

    Simulacre holds Prometheans to a higher standard than Morality does mortals. Performing acts mortals are incapable of weakens it, and thus Prometheans have an additional set of Threshold Sins as listed below. This judgement even extends through Torment, despite the fact that the Promethean isn’t in full control of its faculties. Once the Promethean exits Torment, its player makes a single degeneration roll based on the most offensive sin performed during its rampage. A newly created Promethean does not make this roll when they exit Torment.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SINS

    Simulacre Threshold Sin (In addition to those listed on page 91 of the World of Darkness Rulebook).
    Dice Rolled
    10 Failure to interact with humanity daily. Using Pyros.
    5
    9 Failure to interact with humanity for more than a week. Using any Transmutation, whether it costs Pyros or not.
    5
    8 Failure to interact with humanity for more than a month. Healing or recovering Pyros via Electroshock Therapy/Recharge.
    5
    7 Failure to bathe, sleep, or otherwise maintain a human-like standard of living.
    4
    6 Sustaining oneself on garbage, waste or other substances not normally fit for human consumption.
    4
    5 Reverting to Stannum by declaring it instead of by study and reflection, as described on p49 of P:tC. Deliberately entering Torment for any reason.
    3
    4 Learning a Pandoran Transmutation, whether it requires activation or is a permanent change (this replaces all Humanity related rules for Pandoran Transmutations on p236 of P:tC).
    3
    3 Embracing the Refinement of Flux.
    3
    2 Deliberately creating Pandorans or Sublimati through the Generative Act.
    2
    1 Purposefully feeding, commanding, or otherwise encouraging the growth and propagation of Pandorans or Sublimati.
    2
    Performing Lacunae results in an automatic loss of a Simulacre dot.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Simulacre physically masks a Promethean’s Disfigurements from the world and thus shields it from always spreading Disquiet, but it can only endure for so long against the raw, transformative power of Pyros. In each scene, Prometheans can spend up to their Simulacre rating in Pyros before the illusion of humanity dissolves. With their Disfigurements laid bare, the first time any mortal perceives the Promethean’s true form in a scene they make an immediate Disquiet roll (this is made in addition to the “introductory” Disquiet roll if there was one). Once the scene ends and the Promethean’s humours rebalance, its Simulacre reforms around its corpus.

    When Simulacre weakens from degeneration, it sometimes forms a metaphysical “crack” in the enamel that coats the Promethean’s form and its Azoth. This flaw becomes ingrained upon its proto-soul, throwing off the balance of bodily humours and manifesting itself mechanically as derangements. Promethean derangements are very real (unlike the Promethean itself), and like humans they must struggle against these derangements whether they are conscious of the problem or not. And while psychiatric drugs generally do not make it through a Promethean’s supernatural constitution, they are able to cure derangements if they regain the Simulacre layer that caused the derangement to manifest, effectively mending the flaw in their proto-soul.

  • Ben Quo
    replied
    I am reading this whole thread. Does it count as re-reading since it's on a new forum?
    Might I propose collaboration?
    Also, thank you for the kind words about Beacons
    That was very team-effort and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

    Burdens still drive me batty. I fielded them like Aspirations initially, but like them more as a replacement for Milestones. Honestly, if we *did* have an Obsessions-equivalent (the Arcane Aspirations DaveB wrote up for the stop-gap Mage stuff), they'd honestly be best served as replacing Milestones anyway. Both fill the the "Second Supernatural XP" bar, and both tie directly into that supernatural type, so like.
    It's all about what they look like. I like them being closer to Banes (obviously).
    Last edited by Ben Quo; 12-02-2013, 08:21 PM.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    Yeah; Athanors that grant social merits would take a hit in this setup; but even as written, they’d still be useful in that they’d allow you to spend those successes on other rewards. That said, my own inclination would be to rewrite those Athanors to grant ongoing benefits above and beyond their social merits.
    I think some of them would simply not work as being rewritten. Unicorn for example, there's not really any way to do beauty except striking looks and with the role beauty plays in modern culture it is an exceptionally appropriate athanor concept.

    I'm also not really sold on the magically building a social life. Athanors are really limited and based heavily on who you want to be so that makes sense, but I kind of feel that when you feel you start getting close you should actually be making plans to settle down not having it handed to you on a magical platter.

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    As for the idea that Redemption ought to be an unblemished positive
    That's not what I said. I said that high Simulacre should give no drawbacks to becoming human. It can give drawbacks elsewhere of course. It does have huge drawbacks.

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    As with your opinion that Alchemy should be an absolute positive
    When did I ever say that?

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    and that no Pilgrimage should ever be impossible
    I said that no pilgrimage should never start as impossible. I'm ok with a Promethean screwing up so badly they loose their chance for good, but on the day a Promethian is born always it has a chance. The Pilgrimage is the core of the game, and failing to become human only means anything if you had a chance to fail.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 11-19-2013, 07:08 PM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Yeah; Athanors that grant social merits would take a hit in this setup; but even as written, they’d still be useful in that they’d allow you to spend those successes on other rewards. That said, my own inclination would be to rewrite those Athanors to grant ongoing benefits above and beyond their social merits.

    As for the idea that Redemption ought to be an unblemished positive, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this point. As with your opinion that Alchemy should be an absolute positive and that no Pilgrimage should ever be impossible, I’m not fond of anything in the World of Darkness being an unqualified good thing.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    I could accept either of those bottom options (though I wouldn't want to make Athanors that offer social merits redundant. Maybe say you can trade successes for memories or XP for social merits that you can justify in play) but I really don't want to give Simulacre a downside when it comes to the final roll.

    It can have drawbacks for a Promethian, but for the transformation to humanity. Never.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Originally posted by Metamurpho View Post
    As for the extended roll bit, I'm wondering instead of trying to regain your memories as a Promethean you're trying not to lose them. Maybe something like "you must accumulate your previous Simulacre in successes by rolling your former Azoth score once a week with a cumulative -1 penalty." The tragedy of your old life slipping away from you feels like something that could be worth playing, especially if the rest of the Throng is still trying to continue their Pilgrimage.
    As long as the net result is that most but not all Redeemed end up forgetting their former lives, I’m not going to quibble over the details. I will note, though, that the current system amounts to an extended roll at a cumulative -1 per weekly roll, with a target of a single success needed to regain your memories. My thought was to formalize it as such, except with a target number that’s unlikely to be hit unless you had a high Azoth when you Redeemed. For reference purposes, here’s a rundown of how many successes you can expect to accumulate with a given Azoth score:
    •• 1
    ••• 2
    •••• 3⅓
    ••••• 5
    ••••• • 7
    ••••• •• 9⅓
    ••••• ••• 12
    ••••• •••• 15
    ••••• ••••• 18⅓
    With that in mind, setting the target number in the 5-to-10 range means that you’d need to start with five to eight dots of Azoth to be reasonably sure of recovering your memories. Since most Redeemed will have had a high Simulacre in order to successfully Redeem, using it as the target number of successes seems reasonable to me: if you start with Azoth 8+, you’re pretty much guaranteed to regain your memories, and the only question is how long it will take to get them back; if you have Azoth 5 and Simulacre 7, the odds are stacked against you; but there’s a significant chance that your memories will return. Conceptually, it means that Simulacre purges you of your Promethean memories while Azoth seeks to restore them, which may or may not be appropriate.

    ​Another possibility would be to establish a fixed target number for all Redemptions; say, five. Or, for a more radical option, let the Redeemed spend the successes accumulated on “Redemption rewards”: something like a permanent, one-sided version of Demon: the Descent’s demonic pacts, where the Redeemed mortal transmutes his Azoth into assets, skills, and/or memories as the player sees fit. By this theory, the rarety of Redeemed who remember their time as Prometheans is more a function of having better things to spend your “reward points” on than memories.

    Or perhaps you could do both: an exceptional success during the Azoth extended roll restores your memories; and the accumulated successes can be transmuted into Merits, Skills, and what amounts to “Cover” that integrates you into your new life. (It would not actually be a Cover; that’s just a shorthand for how well-established your new life becomes. The idea is that when you Redeem, you don’t find yourself as a penniless hobo trying to worm your way into mortal society; a big part of your reward is that you become an integral part of human society.)
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 11-19-2013, 02:11 PM.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Technically you couldn't make a Galateid out of anyone with a physical imperfection so for them I'd focus on either Burdens reminiscent of being made of marble (e.g. slow to walk, weighs tons) or more general Promethean Burdens such as a tendency to build up a charge of Flux in certain circumstances because the Azoth wasn't created right. Or something like major depression if not in a romantic relationship, I always imagined that a Galataid's pilgrimage would involve a lot of trying to see yourself as an independent person instead a lover or sex object.

    Anyway that's just a nitpick that grew out of hand.

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  • Metamurpho
    replied
    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
    I like the idea of an extended roll to keep your memories, however I'd have a flat success target.
    Yeah... setting it at Simulacre is prolly too high and/or too much bookkeeping.

    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
    I just noticed something else in the original write up, where you said Burdens can't be physical. I disagree with that; I think that Burdens reflecting the Promethian's inhuman body - A Frankenstein's stitching being badly done, a Golem having to keep a scroll inside their mouth - make great burdens. Playing to the physical flaws of the Promethian form helps capture the idea that a Promethian is literally becoming more human as they advance on the Pilgrimage; and since unlike Simulacre there's no drawback it helps give Milestones a special niche. Plus playing to the origonal myths is never a bad idea.
    I've been thinking a lot about this particular bit, I've come around to physical-style Burdens too. A Galateid could be missing an arm, for instance, and have to figure out a way to replace it. Did she lose it in the car accident that took her first life? Will she learn the Spare Parts Bestowment just to get a replacement? Was her first life an amputee? All questions that lead to interesting, dramatic scenes.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    I like the idea of an extended roll to keep your memories, however I'd have a flat success target.


    I just noticed something else in the original write up, where you said Burdens can't be physical. I disagree with that; I think that Burdens reflecting the Promethian's inhuman body - A Frankenstein's stitching being badly done, a Golem having to keep a scroll inside their mouth - make great burdens. Playing to the physical flaws of the Promethian form helps capture the idea that a Promethian is literally becoming more human as they advance on the Pilgrimage; and since unlike Simulacre there's no drawback it helps give Milestones a special niche. Plus playing to the origonal myths is never a bad idea.

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  • Metamurpho
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    On the penalty-per-Milestone, I’m not grasping the nature of your concern. Could you elaborate, please?
    It tells the player how many Milestones they missed, and since they don't necessarily get to decide when they make a Crucible roll it sort of feels like the teacher not telling you what assignments count toward your grade. I prefer penalizing the Burdens instead because they player is at least aware of how many they have left to go (though I might bump it up to -3). Does that make sense?

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    EDIT: I think I’d also like to see the final Simulacre roll be more than just a pass/fail thing, to encourage Promethean players to strive for the Exceptional Success — which currently does nothing for you that a normal success doesn’t also do. I’m thinking of moving the “Immunity to Supernatural Suppression” thing from the “final Azoth roll” to the final Simulacre roll, and revising the final Azoth roll to instead be an extended roll (rolled weekly) where the goal is to accumulate enough successes to recover your memories of your former life as a Promethean. This would do two things: it would encourage players to go for the Exceptional Success on the Simulacre roll; and it would bring the mechanics of the final Azoth roll in line with the fluff: per the fluff, Redeemed who recall their previous lives are rare; per the mechanics, amnesia is unlikely unless you have Azoth • or ••; and even then, it probably won’t last more than a week or two.
    Great point about the Crucible. I haven't really given it much thought but it certainly would apply to that roll. Encouraging a high score of Simulacre is definitely a good idea, as it creates that supernatural vs. normal thing that Memory and Sekhem have in Mummy, making players and characters decide what is more important to them at the time.

    As for the extended roll bit, I'm wondering instead of trying to regain your memories as a Promethean you're trying not to lose them. Maybe something like "you must accumulate your previous Simulacre in successes by rolling your former Azoth score once a week with a cumulative -1 penalty." The tragedy of your old life slipping away from you feels like something that could be worth playing, especially if the rest of the Throng is still trying to continue their Pilgrimage.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Yeah, I’d keep Stannum as the “default” Refinement for most Prometheans (excluding “HazMat Prometheans”, such as the Zeka).

    On the penalty-per-Milestone, I’m not grasping the nature of your concern. Could you elaborate, please?

    EDIT: I think I’d also like to see the final Simulacre roll be more than just a pass/fail thing, to encourage Promethean players to strive for the Exceptional Success — which currently does nothing for you that a normal success doesn’t also do. I’m thinking of moving the “Immunity to Supernatural Suppression” thing from the “final Azoth roll” to the final Simulacre roll, and revising the final Azoth roll to instead be an extended roll (rolled weekly) where the goal is to accumulate enough successes to recover your memories of your former life as a Promethean. This would do two things: it would encourage players to go for the Exceptional Success on the Simulacre roll; and it would bring the mechanics of the final Azoth roll in line with the fluff: per the fluff, Redeemed who recall their previous lives are rare; per the mechanics, amnesia is unlikely unless you have Azoth • or ••; and even then, it probably won’t last more than a week or two.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 11-15-2013, 06:52 PM.

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  • Metamurpho
    replied
    Originally posted by Verge View Post
    So, Integrity and Cover now use Att+Skill expressions for degeneration rolls (I forget what Blood & Smoke has done). If the same were to be adapted for this, I might suggest Resolve plus Empathy, or Resolve plus Subterfuge.
    Actually Integrity and Cover use Attr + Attr, but B&S uses a dice pool based off the severity of the sin/breaking point (similar to Mummy's Memory). I'm inclined to keep Simulacre's dicepool the same, since there's really no way to "train" for breaking points.

    Originally posted by Verge View Post
    Did you look at the stuff Ben Quo put together?
    I did, and thanks for archiving it! I love love love Beacons. He's also right that there should be negative conditions associated with the Simulacre roll. There's a lot of other really cool stuff in there too--like how Centimani gain immunity to certain breaking points--but I haven't internalized it yet.

    Originally posted by The Kings Raven
    I'd suggest that Burden's are tied to Milestones rather than ranks of Simulacre; and you maximum Simularcre is 10 - (Burdens * 1.5). Annoying numbers I know, but 10 - Burdens means the limitation doesn't matter and 6 Burdens is just too many.
    Yeah, I'm liking the "Burdens as Aspirations" thing too. The idea of having them be free-floating makes them more ephemeral, and thus there isn't a rush to get your Morality high as fast as you can. I was also thinking that if you do manage to life one you could get a free Simulacre dot (or perhaps a Vitriol Experience).

    Originally posted by The Kings Raven
    I'd also suggest a rule to spend Pyros to reduce your Simulacre for a scene; say if you eat something really toxic. Naturally this will require a roll to resist damaging it permanently.
    This is a pretty sweet idea. I love the idea of tempting players to take two steps back after on step forward.

    Originally posted by The Kings Raven
    Apart from that, great system.
    Aw, thanks.

    Originally posted by Dataweaver
    Every Promethean starts out with three Burdens, each of which defines some shortcoming the Promethean has when compared to humans. For the typical Promethean, each Burden generates Vitriol in a manner similar to how Conditions give you Experience (making them sort of like “Vitriol Aspirations”); Centimani replace this with immunity to one kind of Breaking Point per Burden. Keep track of which kind of Breaking Point is associated with each Burden: while non-Centimani don’t have that immunity, they do have the option of abandoning their current Refinement and switching to Centimanus whenever they lose a point of Simulacre due to that Breaking Point.

    Each Burden is also thematically tied to a Milestone; resolving that Milestone removes the associated Burden. This is the only way to remove a Burden. Note that while every Burden has an associated Milestone, most Milestones do not have associated Burdens. Burdens can also be acquired later on: whenever you lose a point of Simulacre, you can choose to acquire a Burden. When a Promethean acquires a new Burden, the Storyteller should devise a new Milestone to associate it with: do not simply link it to one of the Promethean’s existing Milestones.

    Thanks for this writeup. I really like the "embrace the monster to harden your heart" part about switching to Centimanus. I imagine you would keep Stannum the "reflexive" Refinement in all other situations, though?

    Originally posted by Dataweaver
    I would also revise the rules for the New Dawn such that every unresolved Milestone applies a -1 penalty to your Simulacre roll to become human. Since every Burden has an associated Milestone, this means that a Promethean who hasn’t shed any Burdens has at least a -3 penalty to that roll; and since acquiring a Burden means gaining a new Milestone, the penalty increases whenever you pick up a new Burden.

    I like the idea behind this, but I could see it as a "a-ha!" moment for players when they realize how many Milestones they had left. Perhaps it should be a -2 penalty for each Burden yet to be lifted instead, since the player is aware of those (even if their character is not).

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    I didn't think of making Burdens like Aspirations, but I like it.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Note that the notion of attaching bothersome traits to specific levels of Morality got tossed out when Morality was replaced by Integrity. As such, the concept of Burdens is in need of serious re-evaluation. The following was loosely inspired by Vampire’s Banes and the “Arcane Aspirations” that Dave Brookshaw has proposed for his stopgap Mage patch:
    Every Promethean starts out with three Burdens, each of which defines some shortcoming the Promethean has when compared to humans. For the typical Promethean, each Burden generates Vitriol in a manner similar to how Conditions give you Experience (making them sort of like “Vitriol Aspirations”); Centimani replace this with immunity to one kind of Breaking Point per Burden. Keep track of which kind of Breaking Point is associated with each Burden: while non-Centimani don’t have that immunity, they do have the option of abandoning their current Refinement and switching to Centimanus whenever they lose a point of Simulacre due to that Breaking Point.

    Each Burden is also thematically tied to a Milestone; resolving that Milestone removes the associated Burden. This is the only way to remove a Burden. Note that while every Burden has an associated Milestone, most Milestones do not have associated Burdens. Burdens can also be acquired later on: whenever you lose a point of Simulacre, you can choose to acquire a Burden. When a Promethean acquires a new Burden, the Storyteller should devise a new Milestone to associate it with: do not simply link it to one of the Promethean’s existing Milestones.

    I would also revise the rules for the New Dawn such that every unresolved Milestone applies a -1 penalty to your Simulacre roll to become human. Since every Burden has an associated Milestone, this means that a Promethean who hasn’t shed any Burdens has at least a -3 penalty to that roll; and since acquiring a Burden means gaining a new Milestone, the penalty increases whenever you pick up a new Burden.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    I'd suggest that Burden's are tied to Milestones rather than ranks of Simulacre; and you maximum Simularcre is 10 - (Burdens * 1.5). Annoying numbers I know, but 10 - Burdens means the limitation doesn't matter and 6 Burdens is just too many.

    I'd also suggest a rule to spend Pyros to reduce your Simulacre for a scene; say if you eat something really toxic. Naturally this will require a roll to resist damaging it permanently.

    Apart from that, great system.

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