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[FATE] Hacking Diaspora: Transhuman Fate

Reaganstorme

Licenced in Electrickery
There's been a few threads recently about Eclipse Phase and Transhumanisim, and it got me thinking. I liked the ideas behind Eclipse Fate, and have been checking the Strands of Fate for Eclipse Phase thread occasionally, so I've decided to muck around with Diaspora again.

I'd definitely like some feedback on what follows seeing as I dismantle the core mechanics of Diaspora a bit (a lot?), so here goes:

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The Transhuman FATE of Diaspora
Diaspora talks a little on how T4 societies are at the cusp of their own destruction, or salvation, and that they often have strange ideas compared to the rest of the cluster. OK, so sticking your consciousness into purpose vat grown bio-morphs, or synthetic cybershells for that matter, certainly counts as "a little out there". As in Eclipse Phase, I wanted a way to separate the character from the body they were in at the time, leading to the Ego. That means their bodies would be separate, thus a set of ideas for Morphs. For characters, Attributes, Knowledges (Skills) and Stunts are all purchased with points, rather than selected from a list or placed in a pyramid. Pretty standard though are the Aspects and Stress Tracks that complete the character design, although even Stress Tracks get a tweak. Characters created with this method are technically compatible with base Diaspora characters, although the higher technology does grant an advantage to the T4 character in many circumstances, such as backup and restoration of the Ego, attribute + skill rolls able to surpass base skill rolls of non-transhuman characters, even an improved calculation of stress track length. But these differences are by design to showcase how the T4 society is diverging from humanity at large.

The Ego
When a biological mind is uploaded to a cortical stack, it brings with it some of the elemental nature of the individual that gets encoded. There are five Attributes defining a character's Ego: Charisma, the force of their nature and their ability to communicate ideas; Resolve, a skill that impacts on the Composure stress track; Intuition and Logic, two attributes to describe a character's thinking processes; Lastly, Co-Ordination, an attribute to describe how comfortable the character is at acting through a morph. Characters gain 7 points to distribute amongst these five attributes at character creation, with no one attribute higher than 3.

Morphs
Cortical stacks are limited in how much storage space they possess, and are relatively useless without being plugged into a morph or data network. As with the Ego, there are five Attributes for defining a morph: Appearance, a combination of how aesthetically pleasing and well designed a morph looks; All morphs have a base Structure rating describing the strength and how well designed a morph IS (rather than looks); being vat grown tissue, or cybernetic in nature, all morphs possess a Response attribute that refers to the neural connection speeds which affect reaction times and movement; Integration is a measure of how well the parts of the morph react to each other, including any integrated weaponry; Lastly, there is the manner in which information is brought to the Ego through Sensors audio, visual, tactile, kinaesthetic response, and so on. Again, players can spend 7 points on these attributes at character creation, with no attribute higher than 3.

Knowledges
Due to separation of the Ego and Morph, some new Knowledge skills become desirable.
  • Implanted Weaponry is a skill determining a character's proficiency with using such items implanted or installed in the morph they are using.
  • The Agility skill, compared to the Response attribute, is how well the Ego can use the abilities of the morph for movement.
  • Morph Fabrication can be used in place of repair checks specific to morphs, as well as for determining weak points or assessment checks of other character's morphs.
  • Both synthetic morphs and bio-morphs become vulnerable to software attacks with appropriate use of the Override skill, as even bio-morphs must contain some circuitry for interfacing with the digital consciousness of the Ego.
  • Stealth is a different measure of movement ability compared to agility, and relates more to the interaction of the morph with the surroundings than pure ability to move.
  • Lastly, Reputation is a replacement for the base Assets skill, and modifies the Standing Track, itself a replacement for the Wealth track.
All characters get 20 points to spend on Knowledge skills at creation, with no skill over the maximum rating of 4. A suggested distribution of skills are one skill at rating 4, two at rating 3, three at rating 2, and four skills at rating 1 (ie, a 4-cap pyramid), although this is not required. Skills do not change when you download into a new morph, they are inherent to the Ego, although some morphs may grant access to additional skill points whilst an Ego is in that Morph.
  • Cluster/System skills
    Art/Culture/Tech
    Brokerage
    Bureaucracy
    Profession (any)
    Reputation (Track)
    Languages (optional)

  • Manipulation skills
    Animal Handling
    Intimidation
    Oratory
    Persuasion

  • Combat skills
    Brawling
    Close Combat
    Energy Weapons
    Implanted Weaponry
    Kinetic Weaponry
    MicroG

  • Space based skills
    Communication
    Computer
    Engineering
    EVA
    Gunnery
    Navigation
    Pilot

  • Morph specific skills
    Agility
    Morph Fabrication
    Override
    Stealth

  • Other technical skills
    Archaeology
    Demolitions
    Medicine
    Repair
    Science
    Tactics
    Vehicle

Attribute and Skill Rolls
Most rolls in Transhuman Fate should be 4dF plus a combination of two attributes, or an attribute and one skill, against a standard fixed difficulty or opposed roll. A character may potentially be rolling 4dF+7 for their best combination of skills and attributes, and this will skew interactions with non-transhuman characters.

Morph Stunts
All stunts are particular to the current Morph inhabited by the Ego. In the digital world inhabited by the Ego, there is still a limit on how much information a cortical stack can store. Morphs give Egos a way to interact with the world, often in unique ways. Even though characters may only start with a max attribute rating of 3, and max skill rating of 4, these limits may be modified by stunts provided by the morph they inhabit. Some morphs have the ability to unlock higher potentials in the Ego, others may grant additional skill points that broaden or enhance a characters Knowledge access. In another departure from the base Diaspora rules, a character may have more than three Stunts as they are bought with points instead. Players may spend 7 points on the Stunts listed below, although I have retained much of the free-form nature of the stunt system as a whole rather than building a comprehensive list of things to choose from. Listed after the benefit of the particular stunt is the (cost) of the stunt in the brackets.

Stunts
  • +2 extra Ego Attribute points (3)
  • +2 extra Morph Attribute points (3)
  • Extra Knowledge Skill points (1 + 1 per skill)
    +1 extra Knowledge skill point (2); +2 extra Knowledge skill points (3); +3 extra Knowledge skill points (4); etc
  • Military Grade Knowledge (1)
  • Implanted Weapon (2 per rating in Harm + 1 per rating of Penetration)
  • Integral Equipment (2)
  • Swap-a-Skill [Use X for Y up to rating 3] (1)
  • Use My Skill [up to rating 3] Instead (1)
  • Take a bonus [from a skill of 3 or more] for a +1 to your roll (2)
  • Increase a Maxed Attribute from 3 to 4 (2)
  • Increase a Maxed Knowledge from 4 to 5 (2)
  • Resilient [4 consequences] (1)
  • Lucky [consequence progression 2/3/4] (1)
  • Extra Stress Box (1 + 1 per extra box; limits apply)
    Extra boxes purchased are for one track only; Must be purchased again to increase another track; Maximum of +3 boxes for any one track.
  • Skill Replacement [change modifying skill for Reputation Stress Track] (2)
  • Attribute Replacement [change modifying attribute for Composure or Integrity Stress Tracks] (3)
  • Destiny [+1 FP refresh] (4)

Stress Tracks
All characters start with 3 ranks in each stress track. These tracks are:
  • Composure, how mentally stable the Ego is, and is modified by the Resolve attribute;
  • Integrity, a measure of the "health" of the morph, and is modified by the Structure attribute;
  • Standing, a way to show the character's social and economic access, which is modified by their Reputation skill.
Integrity replaces the Health track from the base Diaspora characters, and Standing replaces the Wealth track. Otherwise, these tracks work like any other but are calculated differently. Characters gain +1 to a track if they have a rating of 1 in the linked attribute or skill, +2 if they have a rating of 2 or 3, and +3 if they have a rating 4 or 5 in the linked attribute or skill.

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Aaaaand that's it.

I'm curious to know what the Fate regulars on this board think of this hack, as well as those more versed in the transhuman genre than I, so please don't hesitate to comment.
 

Isenhertz

"For Arthur and Camelot!"
Great stuff, as always! Personally, I find it a bit heavy on the crunch side, and the reintroduction of attributes into FATE's slim skillset doesn't sit right with me, but I can't deny the craftsmanship. ;)

I wonder if there is an easier way to do this, though -- perhaps by leveraging an approach like DFRPG's shapeshifting, which is modelled by allowing the character with the corresponding Power to switch between different skillsets (limited shapeshifting, or a fixed set of two morphs in our transhuman context) or to completely redo the entire skillset (true shapeshifting/free morph-hopping).
 

Victor Eremita

New member
Banned
I like the knowledge skills (I have the experience, from both EP and Shadowrun, that giving players bonus points to something that gives their character more character but do not compete with main function is a good thing), but I can't stand attributes in FATE, so I can't help you much.
 

Reaganstorme

Licenced in Electrickery
Great stuff, as always! Personally, I find it a bit heavy on the crunch side, and the reintroduction of attributes into FATE's slim skillset doesn't sit right with me, but I can't deny the craftsmanship. ;)
Thanks! :) This idea also borrowed from Strands of Fate for the terminology of some of the content, so attributes are really just skills repainted a bit. Even in Diaspora there's a section which states that "Sometimes it makes sense for two skills to interact to form the basis of a check" (page 10). Granted, its talking about skills limiting others, or skills amplified by others, but it's only a little step further to set it as skills work together always. If you count them, there are 10 attributes and 34 skills, compared to Diaspora's 36 base skills, excluding any of the Psionics skills listed in chapter 9. Characters in Diaspora select 25 of those skills for their pyramid, and Characters in this variation have 34 points (7/7/20) to spend on attributes and knowledges. There are just a LOT more ways for 10 attributes and 34 knowledges to interact, than 36 base skills. Of course once you throw Military Grade stunts and Swap-a-Skill stunts into the mix, the options expand MUCH further again in both rulesets!

I wonder if there is an easier way to do this, though -- perhaps by leveraging an approach like DFRPG's shapeshifting, which is modelled by allowing the character with the corresponding Power to switch between different skillsets (limited shapeshifting, or a fixed set of two morphs in our transhuman context) or to completely redo the entire skillset (true shapeshifting/free morph-hopping).
I am not at all familiar with Dresden Files, but its on my list of things to check out when I get the cash.

I like the knowledge skills (I have the experience, from both EP and Shadowrun, that giving players bonus points to something that gives their character more character but do not compete with main function is a good thing), but I can't stand attributes in FATE, so I can't help you much.
By design, 7 points spent on Ego attributes won't differentiate characters too much at all. It's where they spend their other points on Morphs (7 attribute points and 7 Stunt points), and Knowledges (20 points) that really lets players define their niche role and specialities. This is the purpose of the skill pyramid design in Diaspora after all, to give characters a way to excel in their chosen skills whilst not being able to be good at everything, and also allowing other characters a chance to shine in the spotlight.
 

DennisDDuquette

Retired User
I've just the core of an idea from thinking about Transhuman Fate. Employ the Fate Fractal in the other direction, making "characters" that are bodies, minds, equipment, etc. Then players play "organizations" composed of a few of these characters. One could then have one player's bioshell run by a committee of 3 minds, while another plays a shadowrun-like rigger with one mind controlling 1/2 a dozen drones and one meat body, and the third could play a vanilla space adapted hominid. Heck, even identities could be shifted around under this paradigm, with zeroed hermit characters having no relationships at all (and thus no identity) while another player has his relationships also being used by his identity thief nemesis. Borrowing a page from Saturn's Children, Resources or corporations could also be a separate component, with only wealthy characters wholly owning the corporation that owns their body or bodies, their mind(s), or more.
 
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Reaganstorme

Licenced in Electrickery
I've just the core of an idea from thinking about Transhuman Fate. Employ the Fate Fractal in the other direction, making "characters" that are bodies, minds, equipment, etc. Then players play "organizations" composed of a few of these characters. One could then have one player's bioshell run by a committee of 3 minds, while another plays a shadowrun-like rigger with one mind controlling 1/2 a dozen drones and one meat body, and the third could play a vanilla space adapted hominid. Heck, even identities could be shifted around under this paradigm, with zeroed hermit characters having no relationships at all (and thus no identity) while another player has his relationships also being used by his identity thief nemesis. Borrowing a page from Saturn's Children, Resources or corporations could also be a separate component, with only wealthy characters wholly owning the corporation that owns their body or bodies, their mind(s), or more.
Building a relationship map Smallville style would probably be a good way to organise such an idea.
 

Reaganstorme

Licenced in Electrickery
I know nothing about Smallville so how would you model reputation in FATE?

C.
That's kind of two questions in one. Standing just becomes another stress track, just like the Wealth track it replaces. Players want gear? No problem, they using their linked skill "reputation" instead their "wealth" and roll to see if they take any consequences. Simple! Consequences would then describe the negative feelings the character has generated by being insulting, uncouth, or some other reputation damaging description that could be tagged like other aspects.

Smallville on the other hand would be a good way to organise the different character relationships. The process links each character to a number of minor characters (extras), locations, and each other, until the web of who knows what, done what to whom and where, and what so-and-so thinks of them creates a set of preconditions for the characters that can inspire plots and intrigues. Smallville obviously has its own stat generation system linked as part of the process, but that can be ignored obviously as its incompatible with Fate.

So, using DennisDDuquette's example, one player would describe their character as a "Bioshell run by a committee of 3 minds", another as a "Rigger with one mind controlling 1/2 a dozen drones and one meat body", with the third as a "vanilla space adapted hominid". The process would then introduce other peripheral characters like an "identity thief nemesis", locations or entities such as the "Saturn Bioshell Consortium" having relationships to characters like "Owns my ass three ways from Saturnday", and so on and so on.

This process wouldn't replace cluster or character generation, and in fact could easily amplify them, by using some of the relationship descriptions as aspects for the cluster or characters. Win-Win-Win!

-EDIT- Hmmm... I think I sense another Diaspora hack in this somewhere. :D

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I've put the first post into PDF form for those who want a quick 4-page file with character sheet (tres useful! :D) to take home with them.
It's available here: The Transhuman FATE of Diaspora.
 
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Tophocles

Last Guy in the Airlock
Validated User
As always, Reagsansotrme, I am thrilled by the things you produce for Diaspora. Thanks.
 
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