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> Essence & Bio-Index in SR4, penny for your thoughts
GrinderTheTroll
post Apr 15 2005, 06:08 PM
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A small forward: So I really liked the whole Essence aspect of SR, the more stuff you put in your body, the more detacted from the rest of humanity you become. The part that kinda bugged me was the introduction of Bio-Index. It does introduce some neat ideas, but now you've got extra complexity to worry about and special rules, blah blah, bleh.

My thought: I am hoping in SR4, they restructure Bio/Cyberware costs (radios and commlinks oh my!) to use the same attribute and maybe up the Essence cap to 9 (Bio+Essence in pre-SR4). This means you could afford non-delta items costing over 7 essence (Move-by-wire anyone?) at some point aside from just running your fingers over them and dreaming.

I just don't see why it's that important to have 2 seperate but similar attributes for items that roughly do similar functions.

Maybe more inline with SR4 rules: Completely remove the cap on Bio-ware/Essence expenditures, and introduce penalties based how *how much* junk you got in your trunk passed a threshold. Maybe, "for each point (round up) over 9, remove two dice from all health and social related tests", for example.
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GunnerJ
post Apr 15 2005, 06:10 PM
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Make Bioware cost essense, but...
1) allow three points of it "free" of Essense cost (but it still reduces Magic rating as in SR3), and...
2) Essense loss from bioware can be recovered, and quickly.
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Eldritch
post Apr 15 2005, 06:33 PM
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Ya Grinder - I agree something should be done.

Hopefully the Devs already thought of that.

(MAybe you should head over to Kage's SR3R thread and suggest...)


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GrinderTheTroll
post Apr 15 2005, 07:09 PM
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QUOTE (Eldritch @ Apr 15 2005, 11:33 AM)
Ya Grinder - I agree something should be done. 

Hopefully the Devs already thought of that. 

(MAybe you should head over to Kage's SR3R thread and suggest...)

Problem is those threads are now spanning many pages and I don't have time to read them all. I thought perhaps presenting my ideas in a new thread might be a better approach to getting lost on page "X".

Also, I don't know if any one post is being more reviewed by browsing developers over another. I am sure they don't have time to blog through 10 pages worth of thoughts in one sitting either.
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Shalimar
post Apr 15 2005, 08:51 PM
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I would prefer characters getting 6 essence points, and then all Cyber and Bioware having 2 listed prices(2 per grade availible) The first being the 'Ware's initial cost. They pay that when they get it implanted.

The second essence cost would be roughly 75-80% of the initial cost. If a character goes through the effort of fully integrating the ware into his body, counseling, keeping it in tune, etc, and pay karma, then over a month or some other period of time, the difference between the initial cost and the fully integrated essence cost is refunded to the character.

Getting cyber implanted is a major shock to the system, and until and unless you make the effort to fully recover and integrate it with your body your body (and Psyche) will be less accepting of changes. This gives mundanes some way to keep improving themselves. It would also set up a mechanic that allows people to regain essence if the switched out alpha grade wired 3 for delta grade, etc.
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Vuron
post Apr 15 2005, 08:55 PM
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Having all augments cyber or bioware come from one pool like essence instead of two seperate but linked attributes would be a definite improvement.

If you scale back costs of most high essence cyber and high index bioware by 20-30% (more for stuff like the cellphone and radio) it's a pretty easy thing to accomplish.
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mfb
post Apr 15 2005, 08:58 PM
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i think that paying a certain karma cost to reduce the cost of an implant is an interesting idea. i don't think it should be a flat rate, though, and i think you should be able to do it only once per implant. maybe roll your Edge, and reduce the essence cost by 5% per hit, or something, at a cost of 5 karma per point or portion of a point of essence that the implant costs, base.
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GrinderTheTroll
post Apr 15 2005, 09:03 PM
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QUOTE (mfb)
i think that paying a certain karma cost to reduce the cost of an implant is an interesting idea. i don't think it should be a flat rate, though, and i think you should be able to do it only once per implant. maybe roll your Edge, and reduce the essence cost by 5% per hit, or something, at a cost of 5 karma per point or portion of a point of essence that the implant costs, base.

Random essence adjustments for Cyberware? That idea doesn't really fit into any SR mechanic. I don't like that.

Some things need to reamain fixed or logically adjustable (alpha, beta, delta, etc.) IMO.

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Ellery
post Apr 15 2005, 09:27 PM
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I think it's possible to have both cyberware and bioware take essence, but the half the point of bioware is supposed to be that it's more magic-friendly. So how does one keep it balanced?

If you wanted to simplify to using a single system, and didn't want to bother with X points for free or anything complicated like that, there is a way to do it.

Cyberware is cheap (at standard grade).
Bioware is expensive (maybe beta-grade pricing?).

Cyberware does, for the most part, different things than bioware.

Where bioware and cyberware do the same thing, cyberware can do it better (if you're willing to pay essence).

Bioware and cyberware do not stack when they do the same thing.

Essence lost to bioware can be regenerated after removal; not so with cyberware (or it's much harder).

This would mostly retain the flavor of bioware vs. cyberware for awakened vs. unawakened (and "natural" vs. "heavily augmented") characters, as long as it was okay with game balance to make standard cyberware a lot cheaper.

And you could then have interesting hybrid technology that need not clearly appear to be either cyberware or bioware. (Having something cost 0.25 essence plus 0.4 body index is rather messy--better if it just costs 0.35 essence.)
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GrinderTheTroll
post Apr 15 2005, 10:01 PM
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I like the idea of regenrating Essence taking longer with Cyberware (devices) vs. Bioware (organics). I think the line between these two needs to vanish aside from this type of mechanic (organic vs. device), and the Essence/Cash cost should be a reflection of usefullness/balance.

I am leaning towards a threshold idea for magic and Cyber/Bioware, where for each point (round up) over threshold "X", you would withhold a die or two from the various Magical test.

Guess it really depends on how Magic gets defined in SR4 and how bonuses and penalties to the various "dice pools" are handled.
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mfb
post Apr 15 2005, 11:18 PM
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i'm pretty much in agreement with ell. i think that if bioware and cyberware can both use essence if you greatly reduce the essence cost of bioware, greatly reduce the nuyen cost of cyberware, and either leave the nuyen cost of bioware alone or raise it. that way, cyber will be what all the street punk use, and bioware will be what the high-end killers and mages use.
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Ellery
post Apr 16 2005, 12:18 AM
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Also, to prevent someone from having every bioware gadget known to man, you should have plenty of mutually exclusive pieces of bioware. For example, with bioware you might have thermally augmented eyes (a new IR color pigment, maybe), and you might have low-light eyes (more rods, fewer cones), but not both because you can only fit so many photoreceptors in your eyes. Each one would be as good or better than the best cybereye modification--but if you want both mods, you have to go to cybereyes and a completely different technology.
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mfb
post Apr 16 2005, 12:49 AM
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to keep things simple, i'd simply state that only the highest augmentation applies, in the case of bioware that affects stats.
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Fortune
post Apr 16 2005, 01:13 AM
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QUOTE (mfb @ Apr 16 2005, 09:18 AM)
i think that if bioware and cyberware can both use essence if you greatly reduce the essence cost of bioware, greatly reduce the nuyen cost of cyberware, and either leave the nuyen cost of bioware alone or raise it. that way, cyber will be what all the street punk use, and bioware will be what the high-end killers and mages use.

This is something I can definitely agree with.
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Wireknight
post Apr 16 2005, 05:59 PM
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I would like to go on record as saying that I am in favor of the retention of seperate but inter-related Essence and Bio Index scores to keep track of cybernetic versus biological augmentations. This allows for characters to remain "whole", in an essence-sense, while still being sufficiently different from their natural physical template and possessed of certain biosystem-stressing add-ons and augmentations.

I'm all about the two statistics being linked to one-another, and I believe that there should be repercussions of augmentation-reduced Essence just like there are repercussions for increased Bio Index for non-healing/toxin resisting/etc... types of bioware. Things like increased difficulty of magical healing (since, now, magical healing would not necessarily be impacted by low essence, as TN# is uniform) and increased susceptibility to toxins and pathogens would be nice. Why would you suffer more immune system woes for having some vat-tissue in your joints than you would for having metal laced throughout your skeleton, or synthetic flex-polymers surgically grafted into your muscular system?

I've always liked the conceptual distinction that the two statistics permit; that the integration of machinery and other "dead" parts into the body, as well as things like life-force draining, reduced the Essence statistic, while the alteration of the body with more subtle and organic means, to maintain the "letter of the law" as far as wholeness of flesh went, was still not without repercussion (i.e. the accruement of Bio Index).

I did not, however, like Bio Index being related to any particular mental or statistic (as it was in its Body Index manifestation), as it encouraged, in my games, characters with a higher rating of that particular attribute (Body, for Body Index) than they ordinarily would have tried to get, in order to permit them to cram in more bioware. With the Essence-related statistic, it still impacts and relates to health (through increased difficulty with healing and reduced immunity), but doesn't encourage spindly deckers with Body of 6 so they can cram in all that good neural bioware.

By making both cost Essence, it eliminates what I believe should be an important distinction. If genetech, bioware, and the like all cost Essence, it then introduces problems of consequence. Suddenly, if bioware costs Essence, does that mean that vat-grown organ replacements, vat-grown limbs, and the like, now cost Essence commensurate with cyberlimbs? What about genetically engineered beings, who are essentially "biozombies", their entire bodies made up of essence-reducing bioengineered tissues?

Do they have Essence of 0, like a drone or a corpse-cadavre? If so, how do they stay alive, still being living beings with a metabolism (living beings tend to require some major mojo to keep up the whole "being alive" thing when Essence is 0 or less)? If not, why do characters with sufficiently large amounts of cyberware, enough to bring them to 0 Essence, die? If they don't have Essence of 0, why are they getting a free ticket on the cultured tissue train? Is there some way that my character can take advantage of this to get consequence-free bioware and genetech? If there isn't, why?

What it all boils down to is considering the implications. Sort of like the whole "make otaku magical" drive, the moment you indicate that you can do a certain thing, it puts the foot in the door for all manner of things that can be built upon that one basic premise. You have to really consider just how an idea, and its consequent derivations by later developers, possibly years down the line (when you no longer have a say in the direction of the game), will evolve and influence other aspects of the game at large.

Oh, and please do not ask me to expound on the foot-in-the-door potential of making otaku (or whatever they end up being called in the new edition) a magical or pseudo-magical character type will be. I think there's a thread with a poll that'd be much more appropriate for discourse on that subject, and I'll probably post my feelings on that matter in that thread, to avoid hijacking the topic of this one.
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RunnerPaul
post Apr 16 2005, 09:55 PM
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Speaking about other threads, about a week or two back there was another thread about the basics of essence that may make for good reading to anyone actively particpating in this thread.
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Ellery
post Apr 16 2005, 10:00 PM
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I like the distinction, but I think it is contrary to the "keep it simple, stupid" philosophy of SR4.

And I think that the worst drawbacks of making bioware take essence can be avoided.

For example, bioware that simply replaces an existing limb, organ, tissue, or whatever with a cloned copy, should have no essence cost at all (or at least no permanent essence cost), just like you have no essence cost when you're badly wounded and then put back together again using all your own parts. Properly cloned tissue is your own parts.

Bioware that provides an enhancement, however, would have a small essence cost: it slightly upsets the regulatory systems of the body and it provides a slight mismatch between the natural aura of the person and their body; between the two of these things, essence decreases.

If you could find enough places to stick in bioware to reduce essence to zero (which I wouldn't recommend allowing), the person would die from regulatory imbalances and aura conflict, just like with too much cyber. If they went through cybermantic rituals, they'd be biozombies, perhaps like Frankenstein's monster.

There's a bit of bioware/cyberware subtlety lost here, but not much. And it is simpler to have one statistic to measure how much peculiar stuff you've jammed into yourself.


Oh, and I wouldn't touch magical Otaku with a ten-foot pole, or look at them in my polished iron mirror.
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RunnerPaul
post Apr 17 2005, 02:43 AM
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QUOTE (Ellery @ Apr 16 2005, 05:00 PM)
Bioware that provides an enhancement, however, would have a small essence cost: it slightly upsets the regulatory systems of the body and it provides a slight mismatch between the natural aura of the person and their body; between the two of these things, essence decreases.

Ah, but bioware, even bioware that provides an enhancement, has an aura of it's own, due to the fact that it's living tissue. And the physical capabilities of that piece of bioware matches exactly what the bioware's astral template suggests that it should be capable of, and no more.

Of course, you could always say that by implanting a piece of living tissue into a living organism, you're creating a whole new organism, and the implantation process is not capable of creating a new aura that completely matches.

However, I doubt they'd drop Bio-index, even with the push for "streamlining". As someone pointed out, streamlining isn't blindly chopping things away, it's making sure that what is there has good flow. If having less attributes always resulted in better flow, we wouldn't have Intuition/Logic, they would have stayed with Intelligence.
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Ellery
post Apr 17 2005, 04:18 AM
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QUOTE
Ah, but bioware, even bioware that provides an enhancement, has an aura of it's own, due to the fact that it's living tissue. And the physical capabilities of that piece of bioware matches exactly what the bioware's astral template suggests that it should be capable of, and no more.


Er, right, that was my point. The bioware doesn't match the aura of its owner.
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RunnerPaul
post Apr 17 2005, 06:41 AM
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QUOTE (Ellery)
Er, right, that was my point. The bioware doesn't match the aura of its owner.

And my point is that the bioware has it's own aura, which matches it perfectly. At what point would you have this living thing start ignoring its own astral aura?

Let me throw an example out here. Joe Shadowrunner likes meals of real food and can't stand soyproducts. One day though, he gets ahold of a bad batch of ham and ends up getting a tapeworm. This tapeworm lives in his intestines, getting it's nutrients from the food Joe eats. In fact, because the parasite is competing with Joe's body for nutrients, Joe gets the "benefit" of being able to consume more food without becoming obese.

So the question is, does having having that tapeworm mean Joe counts as having a body that's been enhanced away from what his astral template suggests he should be, thus loosing essence under your proposal, or is he just some guy with an aura, and a tapeworm that has it's own aura, and the two auras, while co-existing in the same space, don't interact with each other to the point of causing pattern damage? Of course, if you answer the latter, my next question would be what specific things differentiate implanted bioware from any other parasitic life form?
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blakkie
post Apr 17 2005, 02:22 PM
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QUOTE (RunnerPaul)
Of course, if you answer the latter, my next question would be what specific things differentiate implanted bioware from any other parasitic life form?

No, no, no. Your next question should have been; if the tapeworm is a awakened can he group cast with the host. ;)

Seriously though, remember that cultured bioware used the owner's own tissues as a source. So it's going to be a lot closer than, for example a parasite.
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Ellery
post Apr 17 2005, 05:20 PM
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QUOTE
And my point is that the bioware has it's own aura, which matches it perfectly. At what point would you have this living thing start ignoring its own astral aura?

I got the impression that the aura of a living being was a cohesive thing--you didn't look at someone and see a patchwork quilt of the aura of their eyes, and the aura of their forehead, and the aura of their left tricep, etc.. You need that cohesion.

QUOTE
So the question is, does having having that tapeworm mean Joe counts as having a body that's been enhanced away from what his astral template suggests he should be, thus loosing essence under your proposal

Tapeworms actually live outside the body (the gut is epithelial), so I wouldn't give essence cost for them. But for nastier parasites that actually live in your flesh--yes, I think it would be appropriate to give essence costs for them.
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Westiex
post Apr 17 2005, 06:38 PM
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By either reasoning, getting the flu costs essence ...

Which would, mind you, be a great way to piss off those 'pure' awakened types - "Oh, you just lost .01 points of bioware. Loose a magic point."

"What?!?!?"

"And by the way, your character has the flu. Congratulations."

What about tumors? Cancer?
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blakkie
post Apr 17 2005, 06:55 PM
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QUOTE (Westiex @ Apr 17 2005, 12:38 PM)
By either reasoning, getting the flu costs essence ...

Which would, mind you, be a great way to piss off those 'pure' awakened types - "Oh, you just lost .01 points of bioware. Loose a magic point."

"What?!?!?"

"And by the way, your character has the flu. Congratulations."

What about tumors? Cancer?

Cancer is pretty damn close to cultured bioware. The bodies own cells altered genetically by external agents.

All in all though this thread looks like an arguement about a Batman vs. Superman fight. Trying to layer logic over a base of illogical.
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Ellery
post Apr 17 2005, 10:16 PM
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Sure, having the flu take off a little bit of essence, transiently, seems okay too. It's
temporary essence loss--you fight the flu off and you're fine again. This works fine
with the "bioware essence loss heals easily" idea. And cancer, again, why not?

The worst that could happen is that a bad flu plus cancer would kill some people chock full of cyberware. But...if they're not vulnerable to things like this, what's the big deal about being close to zero essence? As it is now, it's not risky ("Gee, if I get cancer, I'm a goner with the way all this metal is weighing my immune system down")--if anything, it will boost your body until you keel over, mysteriously dead, in the peak of health.
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