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[Demon: The Descent] Concept Critique: Security Expert Psychopomp?

leetsepeak

Registered User
Validated User
Reposting this here. Still working on the formal write-up, I just want to get checked on some of the points I've raised here before committing anything to paper.

Okay so when I've finished a formal write-up for the character I'm gonna post it here, but in the meantime I wanted to discuss the basics and get some thoughts on it.

So they're a Psychopomp that was created as an expert security consultant for businesses in Seattle. His job was to create sophisticated security systems at those businesses the God-Machine needed modified in order to create back doors and weaknesses in the systems. His back doors and security serve a variety of effects, from enabling particular groups to access information (and misinformation) they shouldn't have, to getting a certain hacker caught and jailed so he could be murdered in the prison yard at exactly 26:00 in the afternoon, etcetera.

I haven't nailed down if it's part of a particular project or if he just serves a more general purpose, I'm wondering if you guys think one or the other would be more compelling? I'm also trying to unpack what being a "security consultant" should mean. I'm thinking he designs both physical security systems as well as doing the computer stuff. Does that make sense? Is it a bit too TV profession-like? Do you think it'd be an acceptable concession to have his job be that?

I'm not sure why he fell, but I'm thinking it has something to do with him being dissatisfied with the God-Machine requiring him to build systems with artificial weaknesses. He's a perfectionist by nature, and he wants his works to be flawless. He doesn't understand the need for the flaws, any more than he might understand the plans behind their being exploited. That lack of communication was upsetting and frustrating, until eventually he disobeyed the order and made it flawless to see what would happen if he did. At that point, he probably fell.

So I'm thinking he's an Inquisitor, and the Embed I've currently got picked for him as his First Key is Download Knowledge. My ST likes it as a first pick, and I just want to see what you guys think. Thematically, the idea I have is that his think is about exponential self-improvement. He's obsessed with executing things with maximum efficiency and doing them as perfectly as possible. Abstractly, I think he things figuring out how to improve himself is how he can learn to understand the God-Machine and achieve Hell. Though he's probably not thought about it that way exactly.

What do you guys think of that justification, or the schtick of being a Demonic perfectionist? Do you think that jives with what else I've explained about his background? What about with his Fall?

One of the other merits I've been looking at has been the merit "Alternate Identity" Here, I was looking at the part of Inquisitors which discusses how paranoid they are, and I'm thinking of ways to incorporate that into a guy who does security stuff for a living. I figure he knows a lot of tricks that people might use to falsify their identities, and is probably pretty good at it himself. After his fall, he might've set up an alternate identity which comes with a disguise, which he might use to meet his Demonic compatriots.

Do you guys think that's good, or does it sound a bit dumb? I'm trying to figure out how to slot his paranoia and desire to remain "hidden" with the perfectionist in him and his desire for self improvement. I don't think they necessarily conflict, but I'm having a hard time wrapping them up with a bow.

Any other thoughts you guys might have would be appreciated. Does all of this sound like a fun Demon to interact with? Do you have any other questions you think I should be asking myself? Should I post a truncated character sheet?

Any help is appreciated. I feel like my character game hasn't been on point recently, and I want to tighten it up.
While a fair amount of this applies to Demon in particular, there's the wider question of whether being a "Security Expert" is too broad a career to be meaningful. If you guys have suggestions for the skillset of that type of person, I'd definitely appreciate any help.

Some additional details I've brainstormed with my ST: The company he works for is called Ayers Risk Control Services, they provide private security throughout the world, he works in their Seattle office. They install systems and set up infrastructure, they also train security guards and people like that.
 
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Juvenalian.Satyr

A Beast Who Can Talk
Validated User
A lot of people who work consultancy for security have backgrounds in other fields. Ex-cops, former military, even so-called intelligence experts. It's not a career that has a lot of people go into it individually on their own. Surveillance and security work generally outside of consultancy is menial and low-paying. There's a lot of ways you can go with it, because of that, as "security expert" is a bit broad.

Considering you have a company in mind, likely he is either a specialist in a particular field (communications, surveillance, tactical), a consultancy type who has a background but now mostly rides a desk, or a grunt. With a specialist, your Cover would have a bit more difficulty justifying going too far out of their specialty but you could justify easily within that field any tradecraft or ops you're doing as a demon as sticking with it. As a consultant, you'd be able to have the Skills, and also a lot of opportunity to build Contacts and Allies, but it's harder to justify being caught out doing field work and you'd mostly be attending the higher end stuff. As a grunt, you don't necessarily have the same access, but it's lower cost buy in with regards to Status and the like, and it also is lower end on the spectrum of attracting notice.

I was thinking one outside the box option would be, going off of the consultant thing and his Psychopomp incarnation, but what about a trainer? A consultant with, let's say, an ex-Federal job that he spun into being larger than it was. To key into the obsession with efficiency, he goes to these other smaller firms or places, or can use his profession to justify access to areas of operation and target by using the company he's associated with and its services to talk to the guards there, see their systems, and the like.

It's "hands-on" which a lot of Psychopomps like to be, and immediately lets him reorganize and be involved in making systems better, and maybe sometimes he does it a bit more extreme than he intends to especially when his intent is infiltration, not sublimation.
 

leetsepeak

Registered User
Validated User
I like the approach you're taking to it. He's particularly good at setting up security systems, computer systems and surveillance, so that's his thing. He'd come into their employer's buildings and survey their own infrastructure, then alter it and modify it as necessary. I'm imagining his job is mostly a desk job with every once in awhile requiring him to actively check up on things by performing on sight inspections, emergency drills, etc.

He has the Alibi Embed, and I imagine he makes use of it frequently for this sort of thing. He's extremely efficient but extremely unfriendly, so he likely has the alibi Cover sitting in his office if he needs to go out during working hours. Surprise inspections and drills also allow him to get out of the office and investigate any systems he's created.

I think I can fold in the trainer aspect with the inspections, undoubtedly he has to school the ARCS employees on-site to make sure they know what they're doing. His expertise may lie with the machinery, but mortals are a component of the system that can't be dismissed.

Keeping in mind that his Cover was fabricated by the God-Machine, he's most likely got a background with an intelligence agency focused around electronic warfare/surveillance which makes him good at that in particular. To sort of justify mechanics, he has poor Stamina (Stamina 1) and I like to think it's supposed to be reflective of an injury he supposedly sustained during his days as an alphabet soup agency man.

Does all of that sound good?
 

Juvenalian.Satyr

A Beast Who Can Talk
Validated User
Being an inspector is really just as good an idea in that way. With the extremely unfriendly bit, it helps fit in that he acts as something as an antagonist to the clients, which might complicate the mission sometimes but also reflects his nature. Could make for the basis of a good Vice.

Thinking about alphabet soup agencies that would work well, the DEA is involved in a lot of surveillance work and requires a little less clearance and specific background than say the NSA or FBI might require, it's a bit closer to being "on the ground" though still definitely a federal agency.

Regarding that the Cover was fabricated by the God-Machine, the core book kind of lacks material I feel on describing specifically how that works. The opening fiction seems to indicate that in a way the Cover manifests during the Fall, and to be fair this is represented in the mechanics as only demons have Cover per se, angels work completely different. Yet when describing angel-jacking and the like, there is still ideas that Cover exists and is created by the God-Machine.

The way I've interpreted it for my game is that Cover is a specialized form of Concealment Infrastructure so can be created and used by angels as well as demons, but only demons really use it with any regularity. When a demon Falls, they had to either patch it together or jack it, usually based on their mission, or they might have already had it. The only issue with God-Machine granted Cover is that they Know Who You Are and that's bad.

To bring a game example, one of my players has a character who is still in the Cover he used as an angel, but he used a patchjob to switch which location and company he worked for, though constantly is looking for a way to get a new Cover or patch out of that one as the rest of the details have not significantly changed, only enough that he's not "plugged in" in his immediate place. Plus, he left a trail with the human he had to make a pact with to switch that part of their identity within reality.

How about this: Your demon might have been a high-end surveillance expert with say, the NSA, and was tasked with one of their agencies to increase its efficiency until you realized the gross inefficiency within the system due to all of the conflicting directives and seemingly arbitrary nature of the God-Machine. The injury you suffered "on the job" is actually from the angels who tried to kill you when you fell. You switched the acronyms in your history through a patchjob with a retired DEA agent who always wanted to be a big shot, so he took your place as a scapegoat while you became a retired DEA agent with an injury and a more middling background, but using your expertise in an interview made yourself an asset to ARCS.
 

leetsepeak

Registered User
Validated User
First of all, thank you so much for your replies. You've really helped me work through this concept with everything you've said so far, and I'm thinking about where to incorporate things exactly.

As far as what it's like when you Fall, my ST and I have been working under the impression that the Cover comes with you when you Fall, disconnecting both it and you from the God-Machine. Given the God-Machine is vast and doesn't think on the human scale, we think that the knowledge of the Cover/Fall comes with the Demon when it happens, which is why the G-M doesn't immediately obliterate that cover and dispatch Angels to take you apart the moment you Fall.

His Vice right now is Curious, since what I've been writing has been that his fall had a lot to do with how he just has to know why he's doing something. Whatever he was doing, it was deliberately inefficient and the Machine didn't give him information to explain why, and he couldn't tolerate that. One day he decides to not follow the orders he's being given, and bam, he Fell. I'm torn between putting emphasis on his being unfriendly and his being curious though, I'll admit I'd prefer the latter, if nothing else than because I've played the unfriendly guy a bit too much in the past.

I still like that sort of precaution though, I think it really suits this guy. I also wanted ARCS to not just be some sort of Infrastructure God-Machine puppet company, so that does work for that nicely. I still want to be able to tie his Fall into a more local project, which I fear might be a bit wonky if he actually works for say, the NSA.

If it isn't too much trouble, I'm gonna post his stats, if it's not too much trouble, do you think they look good?

Mr. Wise, the Security Singularity
Virtue: Methodical
Vice: Curious
Incarnation: Psychopomp
Agenda: Inquisitor
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 3, Resolve 2
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 1
Social Attributes: Presence 1, Manipulation 3, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Academics 2, *Computer (Hacking) 4, Crafts 2, Investigation 2, Science (Chemistry) 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 1, Firearms 2, *Larceny (Infiltration, Security Systems) 3, Stealth 1
Social Skills: Persuasion 1, *Subterfuge (Disguise, Lies) 3
Merits: Professional Training (Security Expert) 4, Contacts (Corporate Sector, Hackers) 2, Alternate Identity 3, Resources (Upper Middle Class) 3
Health: 6
Primum: 1
Demonic Form: Rivet Arm, Electrical Sight, Inhuman Intelligence, Clairvoyant Sight, Mirrored Skin, Phasing, Memory Theft
Embeds: Download Knowledge, Raw Materials, Alibi
Exploits: Deep Pockets
Aether/per turn: 10/1
Willpower: 5
Aspirations: Fill out Roman's Life, Investigate the Ring, Find local Infrastructure
Cover: 7
Size: 5
Speed: 10
Defense: 4
Initiative: 6

*Asset Skills (Security Expert): Computer, Larceny, Subterfuge

Not gonna lie, sort of on the fence about his name. It's derived from the Theophory Chakel, which means "Wisdom of God." I considered just using his Cover's name (Roman Cassini) but I thought, given the emphasis on his being paranoid that he'd definitely use a pseudonym when dealing with Demons, since he's usually wearing a disguise when he meets them anyway. :p Also considering Mr. Witness, since that deals with his whole surveillance aspect, but I'm having a hard time finding something that works right.

Right now, I feel like I'm juggling two sorts of concepts with the idea of his being a perfectionist and achieving his own little "singularity" of self improvement, juxtaposed with this element about surveillance and protecting himself from it while engaging in it. I want to make sure these elements come together nicely, it's just tough finding the balance in little things like his name, or his First Key (currently it's Download Knowledge) Should his Cipher be focused on improving himself to the point of perfection or on perfecting his escape from the God-Machine's Surveillance? I'm not sure which angle to pursue.
 
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Robert Mason

R. Donald James Gauvreau
I want to make sure these elements come together nicely, it's just tough finding the balance in little things like his name, or his First Key (currently it's Download Knowledge) Should his Cipher be focused on improving himself to the point of perfection or on perfecting his escape from the God-Machine's Surveillance? I'm not sure which angle to pursue.
The name seems find.

I'm not sure why you're worrying about the Cipher. It's the Storyteller who figures out your Cipher, Keys, and Interlocks.
 
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