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body switching

Willy Elektrix

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I am creating a sci-fi game with psychic powers. I want to have a psi-power where the psi-user can transplant her mind in another creature's body and control him. Under these circumstances, the psi-user would use the physical attributes and skills of her host body, but her own mental attributes and skills.

I want to keep the rules for this power simple, but I keep encountering problems with it. For instance, ranged attack modifiers (dexterity + perception) and armor class (strength + dexterity + perception) are derived from both physical and mental attributes. I don't want the GM to mess with recalculating these whenever the psi-user takes control of another body.

Does anyone know of any other games with powers like this? If so, how does this power work in those games?
 

AnEristic Principle

Formerly 'AnEristicPrinciple'
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I am creating a sci-fi game with psychic powers. I want to have a psi-power where the psi-user can transplant her mind in another creature's body and control him. Under these circumstances, the psi-user would use the physical attributes and skills of her host body, but her own mental attributes and skills.

I want to keep the rules for this power simple, but I keep encountering problems with it. For instance, ranged attack modifiers (dexterity + perception) and armor class (strength + dexterity + perception) are derived from both physical and mental attributes. I don't want the GM to mess with recalculating these whenever the psi-user takes control of another body.

Does anyone know of any other games with powers like this? If so, how does this power work in those games?
Eclipse Phase has this mechanic when you resleeve into different morphs (bodies) and... 1e at least (I've not seen the 2e rules) separates out the physical and mental/emotional attributes and expects you to recalculate. Not much help, I know. I personally never found this a problem during a game, nor did my players, as it's as much about prepping as anything else. I guess if mind-hopping is a freeform thing in your game then the GM will have less time to prepare the attributes for the next body.

If it's a core element of your game and you can't work around it, I'd strongly recommend working the mechanic into, for example, the design of the character sheet in order to make the process simpler and smoother. Eclipse Phase does this by separating morph stats from other ego (mind) stats and having a "mini sheet" for morphs to make the transition a little easier.

On which note... as an aside, do you intend on having rules to handle the "psychic shock" of jumping into another body? Jumping minds from an athletic, 20-something body into one of the opposite gender, thirtry years older, with a heroin addiction is something that is going to shock the psi-user's mind.
 

kenco

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Validated User
I am creating a sci-fi game with psychic powers. I want to have a psi-power where the psi-user can transplant her mind in another creature's body and control him. Under these circumstances, the psi-user would use the physical attributes and skills of her host body, but her own mental attributes and skills.

I want to keep the rules for this power simple, but I keep encountering problems with it. For instance, ranged attack modifiers (dexterity + perception) and armor class (strength + dexterity + perception) are derived from both physical and mental attributes. I don't want the GM to mess with recalculating these whenever the psi-user takes control of another body.

Does anyone know of any other games with powers like this? If so, how does this power work in those games?
Um. D&D's old Polymorph spell had a similar effect - mind transplanted into another body. If I recall, the wizard got the physical stats (including all physical abilities) of the form adopted, (except for Hit Points, which remained the same as the caster's?). But he retained his own 'mind' (which I think most DMs would have played as INT and WIS scores). D&D doesn't have the same problem as you because it doesn't regard AC etc. as having an explicit 'mental' component.

Couldn't you just say that the psi-user retains the creature's 'perception' score, rather than using his own? This avoids recalculation, and it's pretty plausible, given that 'perception' must surely be strongly conditioned by the body's sensory organs and brain structure. You could easily argue that 'perception' in this context is primarily physical.

Cheers
 

Willy Elektrix

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Validated User
Thanks so much for your help folks!

Eclipse Phase has this mechanic when you resleeve into different morphs (bodies) and... 1e at least (I've not seen the 2e rules) separates out the physical and mental/emotional attributes and expects you to recalculate. Not much help, I know. I personally never found this a problem during a game, nor did my players, as it's as much about prepping as anything else. I guess if mind-hopping is a freeform thing in your game then the GM will have less time to prepare the attributes for the next body.

If it's a core element of your game and you can't work around it, I'd strongly recommend working the mechanic into, for example, the design of the character sheet in order to make the process simpler and smoother. Eclipse Phase does this by separating morph stats from other ego (mind) stats and having a "mini sheet" for morphs to make the transition a little easier.

On which note... as an aside, do you intend on having rules to handle the "psychic shock" of jumping into another body? Jumping minds from an athletic, 20-something body into one of the opposite gender, thirtry years older, with a heroin addiction is something that is going to shock the psi-user's mind.
Yeah. Referencing Eclipse Phase is a good starting place, although since resleeving in EC is an important part of the setting, their treatment of it is much more in depth than I want my version to be. In my game, body switching is one of many psi-powers. It is not an important part of the game. In fact, if I can't get it to work well, I'll just get rid of it.

Concerning "psychic shock", I probably won't worry about it. My game is weird, wacky, and not especially realistic. The PCs will mostly be very strange aliens. Character's can change their genders, transform into energy, or have two minds sharing one body. Switching bodies is not especially shocking in the setting.

Um. D&D's old Polymorph spell had a similar effect - mind transplanted into another body. If I recall, the wizard got the physical stats (including all physical abilities) of the form adopted, (except for Hit Points, which remained the same as the caster's?). But he retained his own 'mind' (which I think most DMs would have played as INT and WIS scores). D&D doesn't have the same problem as you because it doesn't regard AC etc. as having an explicit 'mental' component.

Couldn't you just say that the psi-user retains the creature's 'perception' score, rather than using his own? This avoids recalculation, and it's pretty plausible, given that 'perception' must surely be strongly conditioned by the body's sensory organs and brain structure. You could easily argue that 'perception' in this context is primarily physical.

Cheers
Hm. Perception is also tied to psi-points, which are a resource for using psi-powers. Although I could just say that the character keeps her own psi-points. It could work.

Here's the other problem I'm facing. The skills aren't all perfectly defined as physical or mental skills. "Acrobatics" is definitely physical. "Science" is definitely mental. However, "wrangling" could be both. DEX + wrangling might be used to stay on a bucking bull. INT + wrangling might be used to know how to breed a bull.

I'm thinking that a character should use all of her own skills when she body switches, regardless of whether those skills are physical or mental. The host body's skills would be irrelevant. Only its attributes and racial abilities (flight, x-ray vision, etc.) would matter.
 
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kenco

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Thanks so much for your help folks!
It's a pleasure. Hope you find what you need. :)
Here's the other problem I'm facing. The skills aren't all perfectly defined as physical or mental skills. "Acrobatics" is definitely physical. "Science" is definitely mental. However, "wrangling" could be both. DEX + wrangling might be used to stay on a bucking bull. INT + wrangling might be used to know how to breed a bull.


I gather from what you are saying that e.g. Acrobatics would always roll (say) DEX + Acrobatics, but other skills might add different attributes depending on how you use them.

There are varying views on this, and it might depend on your design objectives.

It's probably simpler for everybody if you have it either definitely one way or the other. I.e. either:

A) each time you use a skill, choose the attribute that best reflects the kind of task you are performing, regardless of what skill you are using (i.e. you might use INT + Acrobatics to recognise someone else's move, or assess their skill level, or estimate whether you can perform a given stunt; you might use STR + Acrobatics to do something like stand on your hands, or leap really high; you might use DEX + Acrobatics to walk a tightrope); or

B) every time you use a skill, you always use the same attribute, regardless of what you are doing (i.e. you always roll DEX + Acrobatics).

I guess the advantage of (A) is it can seem more realistic (is every move you make with Acrobatics truly DEX-dominated? probably not, STR and CON must matter a lot for some moves); encourages players to find creative uses of a skill (e.g. maybe you could use CON + Science to stay up all night monitoring an experiment) and makes each skill broader and possibly more interesting; the advantage of (B) is it is faster and simpler, because you can compute and record your 'attribute + skill' in advance, rather than doing it every time you use the skill.

It might depend on what your system regards a skill as representing: is it pure-and-simple the ability to do a particular task (e.g. ride a bucking bull)? Or does it also include the whole life-story/ explanation/ background/ incidental and supporting abilities that justifies you having that particular ability (e.g. I can ride a bucking bull because I also worked as a wrangler on a ranch, and trained for rodeos; and by the way, I also rode a horse; and I've judged rodeos and been to them; and I've camped outdoors; and tended sick livestock etc.)? The latter gives a much fuller description of a character, and will almost always yield a mixture of 'mental' (e.g. knowledge, judgement, experience) and 'physical' (e.g. motor skill) abilities.

In the first case it makes sense to define a skill as 'mental' or 'physical' (and it might be best to make sure that every skill is definitely one or the other, if you need that distinction for your body-switching problem); and this might encourage you to choose option (B) above. In the second case, most skills will have applications in both fields, and classifying them as one or the other doesn't make sense (but you have a problem with body-switching to solve); and this might work better with option (A).

Is 'perception' is a skill or an attribute in your game?

I'm thinking that a character should use all of her own skills when she body switches, regardless of whether those skills are physical or mental. The host body's skills would be irrelevant. Only its attributes and racial abilities (flight, x-ray vision, etc.) would matter.
What if I put it to you that every bird has a 'flight' skill (over and above the physical ability to flap its wings hard enough to stay aloft)? Does the psi-user get to use the bird's 'flight' skill, or not? :p

Actually, I'm inclined to agree with you. Maybe though, some skills might work differently (or more-or-less well) depending on the body in question. So Acrobatics performed in the body of an elephant seal or earthworm might be a bit harder than Acrobatics performed in the body of a gibbon or a squirrel. Will the variety in attribute scores be wide enough to cover off those differences for you?

Cheers
 

Shadow Captain

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White Wolf's World of Darkness, the Vampire game had a system for possession with the discipline of Dominate. You might check that out.
 
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