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Homunculi: Revenant-Equivalents for Prometheans

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  • Arcanist
    started a topic Homunculi: Revenant-Equivalents for Prometheans

    Homunculi: Revenant-Equivalents for Prometheans

    Inspired by Dataweaver's thread about things that were dropped heading into 2E, including clones, I decided to write this up. I'm not entirely sure how good any of this material is, so I could really use some feedback. Some of the mechanics might not, strictly, fit Promethean fluff, but I tried to adhere to it as best I could.

    Homunculi

    It is a miraculous thing, creating life, but all living things do it on a fairly regular basis in order to propagate the species. The creation of life from inanimate of dead matter, on the other hand, abiogenesis, is something far more rare- something only the Divine Fire is capable of achieving with its life-giving flames.

    Generally, Demiurges are far more likely to create a Promethean than an Alchemist, but either way, the two types of mortals meddling with the fires of creation aren’t quite so different as you would first suspect. When an Alchemist creates a Promethean, they use their Magnitude as the cap for the base dice pool, much as Azoth serves as the cap for a Promethean. A Demiurge is considered to have a Magnitude equal to the number of years they have been attempting to create life and is always considered to have a full Pyros pool to spend on creating a Promethean.

    In addition, there are several ways to improve your chances of creating a Promethean. The Obsession Condition grants the 9-again quality to the roll, while the Madness Condition applies its potential penalty as a bonus to the roll. Having the notes of a known Demiurge grants the rote action quality to the roll.

    However, without the purity and overwhelming concentrated Pyros present in Azoth, it is a rare thing for a mortal Demiurge or Alchemist to produce a true Promethean. It takes an Exceptional Success on the Creation roll to make a true Promethean (as per a success for a Promethean’s Creation roll), while a regular success on the roll produces the hollowed out servile husks known as Homunculi.

    New Firestorm Aspect: Life-Giving
    • Firestorms burn their way through built-up Pyros in an environment, burning away Flux in the process. This, occasionally, produces unexpected side effects in the form of Homunculi, or even Extempore Prometheans. Roll the Firestorm’s Strength as a Creation dice pool. Apply a -1 penalty to the roll for every Pandoran, active or dormant, in the Firestorm’s range, and a -1 for every unspent Vitriol point in the Firestorm’s range. On a success, it creates a Homunculus. On an Exceptional Success, it creates an Extempore. There needn’t be a corpse in the area- it could be that the Created being tears its way, fully formed, from the earth, steps out of a dream, coalesces from the ash, or potentially anything else.
      • On a Failure or Dramatic Failure (leading to Pandoran creation) consider the number of points of Pyros spent equal to double the Firestorm’s Strength. Much like Homunculi and Extempore, these Pandorans do not need to rip themselves from a dead body, but could step out of nightmares, clump together from debris, or congeal from rains of blood.
    Rules

    A Homunculus is designed exactly like any normal Promethean character, with some significant differences. They still possess a Lineage, as suitable for their generative rite, and thus a Bestowment. They do not, however, possess Elpis, Torment, Azoth, or Refinement, or Pilgrimage. Like a mortal, they possess Virtue, Vice, and Integrity instead, with one significant difference. A Homunculus begins play with the Soulless Condition. They don’t have Azoth to burn with a soul will be, and they are not yet on the Pilgrimage. They are aimless creatures, looking for direction and purpose.

    Lineages
    • Igors (Wretched)
    • Graces (Galateids)
    • Shabti (Osirian)
    • Gala (Tammuz)
    • Karshit (Ulgan)
    • Automatons (Unfleshed)
    Advantages
    • Pyros: A Homunculus possesses a number of points of Pyros equal to their Stamina, and may only spend one point of Pyros per turn.
      • Transhuman Potential: As the Promethean ability
      • Shock Absorption: As the Promethean ability
    • Replenishing Pyros: A Homunculus doesn’t possess Azoth, and thus doesn’t gain Pyros from the rising of the sun, from interacting with humans, or from exposure to thunderstorms or electricity. They do, however, regain Pyros from sleeping near their Lineage’s element.
    • Superlative Endurance & Durability: As the Promethean ability
    • Unaging: As per the Promethean ability. If a Homunculus gets the opportunity to spark the flames of Azoth in the place where their soul should be, then their lifespan resets as though they had Returned.
    Drawbacks
    • Disfigurements: Without Azoth, a Homunculus’ unique disfigurements are constantly visible. This can cause… issues for them. Mechanically, other’s impressions during Social Maneuvering are one worse than they normally would be, and they lose the 10-again quality to Social rolls.
    What About the Rest?
    • Without Azoth, the Homunculus cannot benefit from Electroshock Therapy, the Constitution of the Created, or make the Journey to the River. However, they’re also free of the curses of Disquiet, Torment, and Wastelands.
    First Steps

    Without Azoth to shore up their sense of self, and without the Pilgrimage to drive them forwards, most Homunculi are doomed to a lifetime never leaving their creators or whatever Alchemist happens upon them, possibly because those are the only people mostly unaffected or undisturbed by their unsettling company. Some wander aimlessly, getting by on what little alchemy they can manage. Most try and find purpose. Some find it in servitude, either to a master or to a cause. A rare few find the Created (Homunculi are generally far more common than true Prometheans) and attempt to step on the Pilgrimage themselves.

    There are several methods by which a Homunculus can elevate themselves into a Promethean; the easiest is for another Promethean to perform the generative rite on the Homunculus, if it is successful, the flame of Azoth is ignited. A Homunculus could walk into a Life-Giving Firestorm, which is the only means of elevation for Extempore Homunculi, and come out a Promethean.

    While it is not, strictly speaking, the best path forwards, some Homunculi seek to master their own state and become Alchemists. It costs Five Experiences to purchase a dot of Magnitude, and individual Distillations can be purchased for an Experience apiece. If they ever become a true Promethean, Magnitude becomes Azoth, and Experiences spent on Distillations are refunded on Merits, Skills, or Attributes.

  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Well, Night Horrors: the Tormented is out. The Petrificati do indeed come close in terms of what I envision a Homunculus looking like, albeit coming from a different angle (instead of a not-quite-Promethean whose Azoth hasn't properly ignited and is basically running on embers, a Petrificatus is a failed Promethean whose Azoth has guttered out and is basically running on embers); a clone, not so much.

    In particular, creating a clone is rougher on a Promethean than how I've been envisioning the creation of a Homunculus: you need to maim the Promethean in the process of extracting a dot of Azoth, which is enough to give the clone a lifespan of a few years. As well, you don't “uplift” a clone to Promethean status; you use its corpse to create a new Promethean. The process is easier than using a regular human corpse; but it still includes “the person who was living in the body dies, and a new person is born”.

    Conceptually, both Petrificati and clones share with the Homunculus the notion of “running on autopilot” and not really having any free will or agency of their own. There are ideas in both write-ups that could be adapted for the Homunculi; but the latter are still very much a distinct concept.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    The recent spoiler of the Petrificati from Night Horrors: the Tormented covers a lot of this territory. Of course, we also have the Clones, which, from the hints given by the book's developer, might come even closer to the Homunculi.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Prince of the Night View Post
    would it be too ludicrous for a Homunculi to be a result of a Sublimati's Apotheosis? thought id ask.
    As an interim stage to full-Promethean? If you want (I was actually considering the same).

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  • Prince of the Night
    replied
    would it be too ludicrous for a Homunculi to be a result of a Sublimati's Apotheosis? thought id ask.

    Leave a comment:


  • Verge
    replied
    I was just thinking about this the other day, I would love to come back to this, and there might be a lot more to work with after the Night Horrors book comes out.

    BTW, Bernard on Westworld is a perfect Homunculus on the Workaholic Labor.

    Dataweaver's got a point: homunculi aren't really suited to playable characters. I'd diverge and say they aren't suited to long-term play. I think that they should be looking at the end of that arc in the time it takes a Promethean to complete three Roles. Which suggests to me that the splat could be reconstructed on a three-part narrative arc, which then could slot in a surviving Homunculus on a "regularly scheduled" Pilgrimage. There's a lot of humanity in the homunculus, and the Azothic bond could impart quite a bit more, giving them a headstart. The trick is to keep it from eclipsing other players' Pilgrimages.

    With respect to DW's differences, NPC homunculi should probably be described in Horror/Pandoran frameworks with an alchemy flavor. What's gone before here is better suited to PC homuncul.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
    Sorry, I missed this.
    Likewise.

    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
    So, would Homunculi in this model be able to become Alchemists and acquire individual Distillations, should there be a need/desire for it?
    In theory, yes.

    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
    Possessing Pyros and Servitude, it seems like Homunculi might serve as batteries for their Pyros needing creator/masters.
    They could, yes; that's been discussed from the start.

    Concerning a Servility Anchor vs. the “Refinement of Ore” concept: the Homunculus is not on the Pilgrimage; and Elpis strikes me as being thematically linked to the Pilgrimage: it's the hope that draws you toward the New Dawn. So Homunculi shouldn't have Elpis. But what should they have? My inclination is to replace it with a Purpose: what was the Homunculus created to do? Using my Automaton touchstone, the Purpose would be the robot's “programming”. It probably includes an element of “obey your master”, but not necessarily; and even if the master disappears for some reason, the homunculus will still be driven by its Purpose. (The Purpose can also potentially be fairly complex; Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics would be a perfectly appropriate Purpose for an Automaton.)

    I could see the Torment Condition being associated with both the Purpose and Torment Anchors, but in opposite ways: encountering your Torment risks triggering the Torment Condition, and violating your Purpose risks triggering it. Other than that, Purpose works just like Elpis.

    With this in mind, I'd go without a Refinement (not even a pseudo-Refinement) and without Labors or Roles. Keep It Simple.

    So with that in mind:

    • Azoth 1
    • Pyros capacity as per Azoth.
    • Pilgrimage 0
    • Refinement: none.
    • Transmutations: none; Pandoran-like Dread Powers instead.
    • Bestowment: any Promethean.
    • Disquiet: normal; but note that Azoth 1 means that it's inherently weak.
    • Virtue/Vice: Purpose/Torment.
    • Lifespan: special.

    Pilgrimage 0: the Homunculus is not on the Pilgrimage; but neither does it interact with the world the way a mortal does. Pilgrimage 0 (one step before the first rung) captures their status the best. This is also why they don't have Promethean Refinements: the ten Refinements are the landscape of the Pilgrimage, and you don't get to start exploring then until you start the Pilgrimage. And no Refinements means no Transmutations. As well, whatever Dread Powers the Homunculus has were probably “installed” in it by someone else, probably his creator: the Homunculus does not have the means to spontaneously develop them. In fact, the Dread Powers are more like additional Bestowments.

    Azoth, Pyros, Bestowment, and Disquiet: this is where a homunculus is most Promethean-like; though their alchemical engines have yet to fire up. They're stuck in a ground state until they get uplifted to Promethean status. Note that without Transmutations, there's not much for a homunculus to spend Pyros on. But “not much” isn't “nothing”.

    Lifespan: same as a regular Promethean if the Homunculus was a unique creation; short-lived if it was mass-produced. Mass- production also makes it harder to upgrade from Homunculus to Promethean; but once Promethean status is achieved, so is a Promethean lifespan.

    Finally, I don't consider Homunculi to be viable player characters: their role in the game is either as minions or as backstory for a former Homunculus who has started the Pilgrimage.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 06-23-2018, 12:37 PM.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Reviewing notes, and I'm thinking Role might/should play an important element in Homunculi. They don't pick their own - it is assigned at their creation and they are stuck in that Role. Any Milestone achievements instead grant Pyros or Willpower. To break free, they need to actually provoke the Breaking Point clause. Possibly get a single Alembic. Still ruminating on it.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Jacob View Post
    [bump] Anything more ever happen with this idea?
    Nothing concrete. I've still got a couple different takes on the concept in my notes, but never settled on anything thus far. Maybe someone else finished their take, though.

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  • Jacob
    replied
    [bump] Anything more ever happen with this idea?

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    My take:
    · Azoth 1
    · Pyros capacity as per Azoth.
    · Pilgrimage 0
    · Refinement: none, or Homunculus-only.
    · Transmutations: none; Pandoran-like Dread Powers instead.
    · Bestowment: any Promethean.
    · Disquiet: normal
    · Virtue/Vice: Service/Torment, or Elpis/Torment

    Refinement and Virtue/Vice are synced: it we go with no Refinement, it's because we're replacing the Virtue-equivalent with Service; if we're not replacing Elpis with Service, then we're using the “Refinement” entry to define the servitude aspect of homunculus existence. My gut instinct is to go for the former.

    Pilgrimage 0: the Homunculus is not on the Pilgrimage; but neither does it interact with the world the way a mortal does. Pilgrimage 0 (one step before the first rung) captures their status the best. This is also why they don't have Promethean Refinements: the ten Refinements are the landscape of the Pilgrimage, and you don't get to start exploring then until you start the Pilgrimage. And no Refinements means no Transmutations.

    Azoth, Pyros, Bestowment, and Disquiet: this is where a homunculus is most Promethean-like; though their alchemical engines have yet to fire up. They're stuck in a ground state until they get uplifted to Promethean status. Note that without Transmutations, there's not much for a homunculus to spend Pyros on. But “not much” isn't “nothing”.
    Sorry, I missed this.

    So, would Homunculi in this model be able to become Alchemists and acquire individual Distillations, should there be a need/desire for it?

    Possessing Pyros and Servitude, it seems like Homunculi might serve as batteries for their Pyros needing creator/masters.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dataweaver
    replied
    My take:
    · Azoth 1
    · Pyros capacity as per Azoth.
    · Pilgrimage 0
    · Refinement: none, or Homunculus-only.
    · Transmutations: none; Pandoran-like Dread Powers instead.
    · Bestowment: any Promethean.
    · Disquiet: normal
    · Virtue/Vice: Service/Torment, or Elpis/Torment

    Refinement and Virtue/Vice are synced: it we go with no Refinement, it's because we're replacing the Virtue-equivalent with Service; if we're not replacing Elpis with Service, then we're using the “Refinement” entry to define the servitude aspect of homunculus existence. My gut instinct is to go for the former.

    Pilgrimage 0: the Homunculus is not on the Pilgrimage; but neither does it interact with the world the way a mortal does. Pilgrimage 0 (one step before the first rung) captures their status the best. This is also why they don't have Promethean Refinements: the ten Refinements are the landscape of the Pilgrimage, and you don't get to start exploring then until you start the Pilgrimage. And no Refinements means no Transmutations.

    Azoth, Pyros, Bestowment, and Disquiet: this is where a homunculus is most Promethean-like; though their alchemical engines have yet to fire up. They're stuck in a ground state until they get uplifted to Promethean status. Note that without Transmutations, there's not much for a homunculus to spend Pyros on. But “not much” isn't “nothing”.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    So, how does the Homunculous template look mechanically so far?
    • Azoth: 0*, 1, or N/A?
    • Pyros Capacity?
    • Pilgrimage or Integrity?
    • Refinement: none, Any Promethean, or Homunculi-only?
    • Transmutations: none, by-Alembic, piecemeal Distillations (like Alchemists), and/or Pandoran?
    • Bestowment: none, any-Promethean, or special?
    • Disquiet: none, normal (as per Azoth), or special?
    • Virtue/Vice: none, replaced, or retained?
    • Any special Conditions applied?
    Personally, I'm in favor of making the least amount of changes necessary to have it functional and distinct.
    Last edited by Vent0; 12-22-2016, 01:10 PM.

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  • Verge
    replied
    Refinement of Ore Ideas
    • No Transmutations. Rather, so long as a homunculus isn't out of "sync" with zir labor, zie can claim a Labor-specific benefit. This benefit is (at brainstorm time) an Exceptional-on-3 to a Power attribute. Slaves gain the benefit to Strength, Sycophants to Presence, and Workaholics to Intelligence.
    • A homunculus who breaks with the Labor gains a negative Condition until such time as zie can get back into good graces with the Labor.
    • Homunculi rarely change Labors. The few who manage cannot return to an abandoned Labor, should they do it twice.
    • Labors
      • The Slave was made for physical work. He is an extra body, valued for his hands and back, and little else.
        • Pillar of Strength: The Slave achieves an exceptional success on Strength-based rolls with three or more successes.
        • Feet of Clay: If the Slave is offered payment or reward for his services, he must accept the Leveraged Condition to take it.
        • Breaking Point: Damaging or thwarting the master's desires through direct action.
      • The Sycophant serves to stroke the the ego of the master. Her flattery and fawning soothe the madness bubbling behind the master's face.
        • Silver Tongue: The Sycophant achieves an exceptional success on Presence-based rolls with three or more successes.
        • False Heart: If the Sycophant receives praise, she must either credit her master, or accept a Swooning Condition towards the character praising her.
        • Breaking Point: Telling your master something he does not want to hear.
      • The Workaholic obsesses over the minutiae. Time spent resting is time lost.
        • Mind Like A Trap: The Workaholic achieves an exceptional success on Intelligence-based rolls with three or more successes.
        • Work-Life Balance: If the Workaholic is offered an opportunity to hand off a burden, zie can only do so by accepting the Guilty Condition.
        • Breaking Point: Abandoning a task.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Another way to look at Homunculi and how they relate to Prometheans: a Promethean is in a state of transition from Lead to Gold, with humanity being the Gold. In this view, Homunculi could be viewed as the Lead. This is why I tend to view Homunculi as essentially static beings which have at best Azothic embers keeping them animate but doing little else, and why I don't think they should have Transmutations; the latter are a consequence the fact that Prometheans are walking alchemical factories, with an active Azoth constantly trying to remake them. In contrast, homunculi are alchemically inert.

    I recently reviewed 1e's Clone rules. A couple things that might be useful here:
    • 1e assumed that making clones involve stealing Azoth from a Promethean. For 2e, that's less a homunculus thing and more of an Alchemist thing; if there are homunculi that aren't made by alchemists (such as Extemporaneous homunculi), you may not need to destroy a Promethean to create them.
    • the relationship between how much Azoth you need and how many clones you could make was left up to the Storyteller in 1e, with options including multiple Azoth for one clone, a dozen clones for one Azoth, and clone equal to the square of the Azoth.
    • most of the other mechanics are things that we've already covered in this thread. There's a bit about clones needing to make a roll to resist an order from their master, something about not having Morality but still having Virtue and Vice (1e, remember), and a section on how clones tend to be short-lived. I prefer the Servility bit we've come up with to 1e's forced obedience, Virtue, and Vice. That leaves the short lifespan thing, which I'm not sure I want to port into the Homunculus rules. Maybe it could be tied to the degree of mass-production involved: you can make cheap homunculi that will fall apart within days or months with little trouble, possibly in batches, leading to the ability to create a (temporary) army of them, or you could concentrate on quality over quantity, only being able to make one at a time but ending up with a creation that's going to last for years.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 06-23-2018, 11:41 AM.

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