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StanTheMan

[M-Space] Genetic Modifications

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To make a long story short, I am gearing up for a Shadow of the Beanstalk campaign, but using M-Space as the base (we tried the Genesys system itself and found it weirdly lacking in odd places; a different topic for a different day). Anyway, I thought this would be an easy conversion because almost all my players chose to play Normals (unmodified people); everything else we've already established in-game exists in M-Space, and the system even adds some stuff that's really handy (like Circles) that will be useful in our espionage cat and mouse game.

However, no cybernetics or, more germane, genetic modifications. Of my players, ONE, of course, has gene mods. I'd like to model this, and I've sort of decided to use the old Mutations rules from the BRP BGB. This will work, no worries, especially rules-wise, so, that part is no problem. The problem is, how to cost it? That is, I shouldn't just hand the player a new power or two that others don't get. The table REALLY likes the idea of balance (or at least, opportunity for balance) and so this is a real concern.

My initial thoughts are:

1. Give the other players like 50 extra skills points (in essence, making the mod cost 50 skill points).

2. Like other "special abilities" in Mythras, like Mysticism or Sorcery, tie using gene mods to one or two skills; in this case, the skills wouldn't be something the player rolls, but it would represent the threshold of what they could have. Like, have a Gene Mod Installed skill, and have each 25 points represent a minor Mutation, and 50 points a major one. Obviously, I'd use something similar for cybernetics (say, based on the superpowers in the BGB). 

3. Some other cost, like Pow or something (I actually kinda detest this in BRP games, but maybe...)

4. Give it to him and hope nobody gripes (fat chance!).

Of course, it's also possible since we're switching over, that someone will decide to change their character and go, say, with a cyborg. This is a side reason for the change, by the way; no one seemed interested in engaging with Genesys beyond the surface; no one found the cybernetics interesting, simply, based on the cost (which is Strain in that system) at character generation.

Thoughts?

Also, may I call out to Clarence Redd to PLEASE make cybernetic/genetic mod rules and release a Companion or something? Pretty please? I'd buy the hell out of it.

Edited by StanTheMan
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Being unfamiliar with the setting, I am a bit afloat as to what kind of benefits (and possibly cost) a gene-mod would have.

As a first approximation, I'd look to the ancestor of Mythras, RuneQuest, for something like this, and lo and behold, there are gifts and geases e.g. for the Yelmalio Cult which seem to be rather similar, but demand a (usually behavioral) reciprocation or three to compensate.

Any physiological augmentation - higher agility, explosive or long term strength, improved immune answer - comes with a physiological cost, possibly in energy uptake (which may be a problem for the have-nots of the setting) or in respiration and shedding heat. There will be additional gene mods to deal with any of these issues, but that just means additional point expenditure.

When and how are these gene-mods induced?

  • At conception? The easiest way, but a one-time choice made by your creators.
  • In the course of a CRISPR telomer therapy (anti-aging application, spend a while in a coma or at least massive suspension - compare Peter F. Hamilton's rejuvenation process in the Pandora's Star series and its prequel) as an added feature?
  • Via implant of a cloned (and modified) organ based on your own cells?
  • Via induced growth of new, modified organs using modified pluripotent stem cells from the recipient?
  • Via alteration to your bone marrow, modifying your leucocytes or adding new types (a possibility for immune system improvements), or your erythrocytes to have more efficient or longer lasting oxygenation (or CO2 scrubbing)? Or to have better and less risky blood clotting?

If you want to introduce e.g. tetrachromatic vision, you don't need a full body treatment, but you will need to modify your retina and then train the visual cortex what to do with the new sensorial data. For an absolute directional sense or a magnetic sense, you could work with an implant (or even a technological solution) which can be adapted to within a matter of weeks.

Rather than rolling for geases, such additional abilities may come with side effects - let's get creative a bit. Synesthesia, pigmentation changes, special nutrition requirements or cravings...

There may be FDA-approved standard kits with known (and reproducable) side effects, and then there will be backstreet or experimental kits with less predictable side effects. (Using the Chaos Feature lists from RQ or Stormbringer might give some inspiration here.

 

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Or you could go simpler, and use the traits system from Luther Arkwright, allowing each character to have a trait. These are low level abilities that can easily be explained as genetic or cybernetic modifications. 

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1 hour ago, lawrence.whitaker said:

Or you could go simpler, and use the traits system from Luther Arkwright, allowing each character to have a trait. These are low level abilities that can easily be explained as genetic or cybernetic modifications. 

The question was what would such abilities be worth in terms of character points to compensate those who did take normies rather than modded characters.

On the other hand, if the almost entire party decides to play ducks or trollkin, does the character playing a human deserve a downgrade in previous experience because of his superior stats?

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1 hour ago, lawrence.whitaker said:

Or you could go simpler, and use the traits system from Luther Arkwright, allowing each character to have a trait. These are low level abilities that can easily be explained as genetic or cybernetic modifications. 

Maybe! Except I would have to own it...

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I would suggest the system put forth in After the Vampire Wars and Worlds United. Essentially, two minor abilities is a point, and 20 skill points is a point. It works quite well for this sort of thing. 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/designmechanism/adapting-shadowrun-to-mythras-using-after-the-vamp-t2342.html?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app has some cybernetics rules that I’ve been working with. Essentially, treat gene modification like they are half-fae  from after the vampire wars or traits from Luther Arkwright or Worlds United. People who don’t want that get more skilled (20 points) or get something else like sorcery or folk magic. 

Edited by Raleel
Autocorrect hates me
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1 hour ago, StanTheMan said:

Maybe! Except I would have to own it...

Your life won't be complete until you do...

 

And in answer to Joerg's question, as this is an SF setting, I would let every character have a trait - chosen or rolled randomly. They're not game breaking, and ensure that there's parity across the party.

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Realize that enough genetic modification eventually means you have a different species...which is handled quite naturally by the rules as written.  You would roll different numbers of dice for characteristics, and assign Creature Abilities as desired.

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5 minutes ago, Matt_E said:

Realize that enough genetic modification eventually means you have a different species...which is handled quite naturally by the rules as written.  You would roll different numbers of dice for characteristics, and assign Creature Abilities as desired.

The particular player only went for a little power; makes me almost not want to bother...

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Do you have the Big Gold Book?  If so, you could assign the mutant PC a minor Failing to offset the benefit of his subtle powers.  Rules in the super powers section, although you could do this sort of thing without game mechanics.  For example, the character was spotted using his unusual ability by a nosey neighbor/classmate/co-worker.  Mr. Curious now occasionally spies on the PC or follows him around trying to figure out what is going on.  Enough to be annoying or embarrassing but not too much.

Edited by seneschal
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On 7/31/2019 at 8:47 AM, StanTheMan said:

Also, may I call out to Clarence Redd to PLEASE make cybernetic/genetic mod rules and release a Companion or something? Pretty please? I'd buy the hell out of it.

It’s on the drawing table! Cybernetics will be included in the M-SPACE Companion.

In the meantime, Luther Arkwright, Worlds United and After the Vampire Wars - as already mentioned - are probably the easiest to use/convert.

Let us know how you resolve it!

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While we're waiting for the M-SPACE companion (anxiously, I might add), you could check out the River of Heaven setting from d101 games. It's based on OpenQuest but still a member of the broader BRP family. It has a section on augments (bio, cyber, and even nano) that use a point system based off your other stats. 

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