What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

The current popular standard of the Cyberpunk Franchise.
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What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

Postby Malcadon » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:26 am

This is a topic for anyone who is not interested in the Humanity Loss rule. Such a rule feels like it was shoehorned in to maintain game-balance so players would no layer chrome on the characters, but the cyberpunk genre is about enhancing characters with cybernetic upgrades, and they should be able to modify themselves with any number of cosmetic enhancements as easy as one gets piercings and tattoos today.* After all, should anyone with piercings, tattoos, cosmetic surgery, prosthetic limbs and medical implants loose their humanity over them? Hell no!

The only way I can rationalize Humanity Loss is that some powerful enhancements can make someone feel like they are all-powerful and go on an ego-trip. But that is hardly a reason to to go outright insane, and an ego-trip falls apart when someone else puts them in their place. I seen an anime were drugs are used to provide a means to better interface with cybernetics, but there were big holes with that method too.

My alternative is to burden players with upkeep costs. Much like the normal cost of living, any character with cybernetic enhancements needs to put time and money in to keeping his systems charged and running, with regular check-ups. One of the Chrome Books make note about stuff braking down, but I would rather have a simple, abstract system for that. Such a rule (that I have yet to develop) would require the players into allocating money into different forms of upkeep. You would put money into Lifestyle (food, shelter, utilities, style, etc.) so the PC can be happy and healthy. You would put money into Resources (allies, contacts, property, investments, etc.) so you would not loose them. And you would put money into Cybernetics and into Equipment to keep everything in working order. You can let the costs slide or put less money into them, but that would risk something bad happening down the line (typically as a random mishap). You can put more money into them to lower risk of mishaps.

OK, that is my idea. Do anyone have their own ideas on allowing more cyberware with limitations?

*Seriously, the game treats the Mr. Studd™ implant like the tramp stamp of cyberware! That implant should be so common, it should default, and if you want anything bigger, you'll end up with something that could satisfy a frustrated mare!
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Re: What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

Postby Nomad Xenon » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:11 am

Although I feel pretty comfortable with the Humanity Loss rule, what I don´t like is the cyberpsycosis. One thing is turning into a cold machine and another very different being a murderous psycho just for having prosthetic limbs.

The HL may not be realistic but IMO suits well in a Cyberpunk game, or at least the kind of game I prefer, since it develops one of the main themes of the genre: the sometimes blurry line between man and machine.

Fashionware have such a low Humanity costs that I don't really care much about it's impact, for cyberlimbs or other major body alterations I would only take into account the psychical and metal trauma of chopping a body part, willingly or unwillingly. (Since I don't give too much thought I can go with HL).
The real deal may come with the use of processors and other "smart-implants" that may alter your brainily functions in an inhuman manner making them work more like as a computer (reflex boosters, skill chips, neural processors…) That IMO will turn you or at lest make you think/behave like an empathy-deprived machine. Basically what I'm advocating is using the same system but with different approach, instead of punishing the players with a psychosis we can turn his character in a cold machine oblivious of relationships and maybe some bodily functions. (Maybe a Pain Editor can work so well that blocks the signals of hunger, thirst, micturition.. with the consequences it could bring).

That may seem more like an story opportunity and a chance to develop Cyberpunk themes instead of just a game balancing factor.
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Re: What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

Postby Kathara_Khan » Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:22 am

I hate Humanity Loss. I dislike it as a player, obviously some would say, but also equally much as a GM.

I consider it a tacked-on, artificial, heavy-handed, and boring, mechanic, which serves no purpose beside being a balancing mechanism.
I recognize my experience with the cyberpunk "source material" is fairly limited, but personally I can recall only one non-RPG cyberpunk setting, among the two-dozen-odd I"ve seen, that such a concept actually appeared in. So I disagree that Humanity Loss as a theme is somehow essential to cyberpunk stories, or that it's somehow a traditional, required element for cyberpunk settings, both of which I've seen sometimes tauted as a justification for it's inclusion in some form in basically every cyberpunk RPG game I've seen.

I can intellectually understand the need of some game masters for a balancing mechanism for cyberware, even if I don't fully agree - certainly, I have never personally felt much of such a need in my games. Humanity Loss, however, goes about providing that balancing mechanism in the, for me, worst, most sensibility-offending way possible - by interfering with a character's, PC's or NPC's, personality. This is something that should never, ever, be done. The player should be able to play a character as human or inhuman, social or anti-social, emphatic or cold, as they want (and the GM allows), regardless of how much metal they did or didn't implant in their body.
Certainly, a character who truly is, or even only feels, alienated and dehumanized because of their cyberware could be an interesting theme to explore. But it should be done how and when the player wants it, not as dictated by some dice rolls.
Even more so, because the default rules for HL have it always result in the same, identical, behaviour - homicidal hate of humanity. The human mind is an incredibly complicated system. It can break in a million different ways, dependant on a million combinations of triggers and circumstances. And yet everyone over-implanted with cyberware, regardless of their base personality, age, life experiences, social circumstances, type of cyverware installed, etc. goes crazy in exactly the same, identical, predictable way? I call bullshit, plain and simple. It completely breaks my suspension of disbelief (and yes, I am yet still able to suspend my disbelief of people cutting off perfectly healthy limbs to replace with machines, so sue me).

Of course, if you like HL, it's perfectly fine for you to have it in your game, this should really go without saying. But show the same courtesy to me, and don't try to tell me that I'm "doing cyberpunk wrong" when I remove it from mine.

So, now that I've ranted at length about how and why I dislike Humanity Loss, what would I do instead?
I usually enforce some kind of maintenance rules for cyberware. Not particularly harsh ones, but enough to make their presence known. You may want to skimp on routine meaintenance for your car, for example, but when it's your heart, you tend not to be as cavalier about it. I don't even really consider this a "control" or "balancing mechanism" for cyberware - it's just basic world logic and versimilitude. Machines need maintenance, or they wear down and eventually break down.
Similiarly, the world itself reacts to characters with cyberware in the appropriate, logical ways. High security locales have ways of detecting implants, the police will become interested if you display potentailly dangerous 'ware in public, some people may react negatively to you simply because of your implants, just like some do today because of piercings, things like that. Again, I don't consider this "balancing" anymore than the real world has a "balancing mechanic" for guns, for example.

If I felt like going beyond the above and introducing some true balancing mechanic (that would still be setting and theme appropriate), I'd go with something like what they had (in story, though not in gameplay) in "Deus Ex: Human Revolution": cyberware (beyond maybe the simplest things, like dental implants) requires the user to regularly take special (expensive, may be in limited supply) medicine, or else it begins to get rejected by the body, especially the nervous sytem. Which, of course, would cause the user rather big health problems. Something like that.

That's my stance on the subject, anyway.
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Re: What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

Postby Dimuscul » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:05 am

In my case, I simply ignore them for short adventures or I use a modified version I created for my own purposes that let the player personalize the drawback.

I think I uploaded the rules here (if you want to take a look):
http://dimusrpg.blogspot.com.es/2012/09 ... es-on.html

Nothing new under the sun I guess :P
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Re: What Alternatives do You Use For Humanity Loss?

Postby Zednark » Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:13 pm

I quite like Cyberpsychosis as a concept. I may originally been a game balance concept (like essence in Shadowrun) but it feels much less tacked on than essence. While I won't totally take my players' characters away if they go over the edge, they will have blackouts where they do very psychotic things that tend to attract MAX-TAC's attention very quickly, as well as impede them on long term jobs.

The main thing is that I love MAX-TAC as a concept. It has an almost Blade Runner feel to it, which was doubtless intentional. If my players roleplay well, the gradual loss of humanity is an excellent concept.

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