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As anyone run an Altered Carbon/ Sleeve based Cyberpunk game?

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  • As anyone run an Altered Carbon/ Sleeve based Cyberpunk game?

    I'm looking to take a stab at running a Cyberpunk game. I have been heavily inspired by Altered Carbon, but am having issues with how my players would get new sleeves or bodies. I have downloaded Savage Sleeves but the pretty much glossed over that part in their supplement just saying that Poor get this and Rich get this but not giving any real crunch to it. I like the edges and other aspects of it but. IZ0 3 eludes to Rich being able to download their minds into new bodies but it wasn't really described any were.

    Has anyone ran a multi body game like this and how did or would you guys deal with it getting new bodies? I do like how Savage Sleeves dealt with Sleeves as Race.

  • #2
    The closest game I've seen is Eclipse Phase, but that's more transhuman dystopia than cyberpunk. But it does have the character's body as a kind of equipment plucked off a shelf from among many options.

    Functionally, Sleeves are just a quick way to get a character's personality into a new body; either for transport, infiltration, longevity, or resurrection/reincarnation. This sets up a bunch of possible abuses by the powerful or wealthy that are simply not possible in other cyberpunk settings. For adventurers, including player characters, it means that physical death is not necessarily permanent, and that the sleeves of foes may be part of the loot.

    Thematically, the body-hopping of sleeves undercuts several assumptions and themes of cyberpunk while reinforcing others. It does make me wonder why the society would have invested in cyberneticts at all; cloning, gene editing, and bio modification would better compliment the sleeve technology.

    Destruction of the Stack is a permanent death, though the ultra-wealthy have backup systems to provide a recent copy of themselves, a new stack, and a new sleeve, granting functional immortality until the backup infrastructure is destroyed.
    Good luck!
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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    • #3
      I havn't run or played it, but really enjoyed reading Nova Praxis (SW Deluxe version). It is not cyberpunk, but a close relative to it. I see the main topic as "Transhumanism and individual freedom in a post-scarcity dystopia". There is crunch for sleeving and also for playing a bodyless AI. Tranferring the rules in another setting may be challing, though. Not recommended to use with power players!
      The topic is unfortunately niche and I would be happy to motivate a bunch of players for "good old standard cyberpunk". So I guess no Nova Praxis game in the foreseeable future...
      https://www.voidstarstudios.com/nova-praxis

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      • ValhallaGH
        ValhallaGH commented
        Editing a comment
        I totally forgot about NP. Good call.

    • #4
      How would you guys handle advancement in a setting with sleeves? I'm working on a transhumanist fantasy game and I'm trying to figure out how I want to do this.

      Say you've got a character whose initial physical body has a d4 Strength and a d6 Agility. They buy some relevant skills - Fighting up to a d6, Stealth d6, etc.

      Once they have enough money, they get a new sleeve. This one is an upgraded combat model with a d10 Strength and d10 Agility. It's environment-specific, so they can and do swap back and forth between their original body and the upgraded model pretty regularly depending on where the adventure takes them.

      How would you have advancement on their Agility-based skills work? At what point are they 2 points per rank? When they exceed the base body (d6) or when they exceed the upgraded model (d10)? Does it matter which they're in more often or which they're in when they get the advance?

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      • #5
        Originally posted by SteelDraco View Post
        How would you guys handle advancement in a setting with sleeves?
        ...
        How would you have advancement on their Agility-based skills work?
        I can think of two ways to handle this that feel fair.
        1. All advances apply to all sleeves. The understanding and trained reactions allow a skill advance to apply equally to all sleeves, though some sleeves have a higher base line than other. A combat sleeve might start with Fighting d8 and the political sleeve is untrained in Fighting; the character decides to upgrade Fighting with an Advance and that improves Fighting in both sleeves (d10 and d4, respectively).
        2. Each sleeve Advances separately, but all sleeves gain Advances at the same time. So the character gets an Advance and applies it to the combat sleeve to increase Vigor and to the political sleeve to take Connections. (This is simpler since each sleeve has its own Traits.)
        Personally, I prefer #2, but I would not complain if the GM wanted to use #1.

        The problem with a body-hopping transhuman setting is that it voids one of the unspoken fundamental assumptions of virtually all table top games: like the authors, the character is bound to a single body. Changing that assumption makes character progression significantly more complicated.
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          I can think of two ways to handle this that feel fair.
          1. All advances apply to all sleeves. The understanding and trained reactions allow a skill advance to apply equally to all sleeves, though some sleeves have a higher base line than other. A combat sleeve might start with Fighting d8 and the political sleeve is untrained in Fighting; the character decides to upgrade Fighting with an Advance and that improves Fighting in both sleeves (d10 and d4, respectively).
          2. Each sleeve Advances separately, but all sleeves gain Advances at the same time. So the character gets an Advance and applies it to the combat sleeve to increase Vigor and to the political sleeve to take Connections. (This is simpler since each sleeve has its own Traits.)
          Personally, I prefer #2, but I would not complain if the GM wanted to use #1.

          The problem with a body-hopping transhuman setting is that it voids one of the unspoken fundamental assumptions of virtually all table top games: like the authors, the character is bound to a single body. Changing that assumption makes character progression significantly more complicated.
          Interesting! Neither of those was the approach I had been planning to go with. My basic plan was that most mechanics outside of physical attributes and physical Hindrances followed the soul/POV of the character. You'd have the same skills, Edges, non-physical Hindrances, and mental attributes from sleeve to sleeve, but your physical attributes and physical Hindrances were determined by the body you moved into. A body you weren't using at the time would be inert - in this setting there would be a physical thing that was moved back and forth as you swapped bodies around, and without that it's just an empty shell.

          I could see #1 pretty well if you're assuming that each sleeve has its own skills effectively pre-trained to a certain level, like the cyberware slotted skills from the Deluxe SFC. I would probably have that as an option, but not something that was included by default for all sleeves - a combat model might have a slotted d10 Fighting as an add-on, but you just take the better Fighting of your innate skill or the slotted skill, with advances just adjusting your innate skill.

          I definitely don't think I would do #2 - the sleeves aren't out doing stuff on their own without the soul, so they don't advance or change over time on their own, and it feels like it would be double-dipping for a character to be able to buy, say, social advances for their social sleeve and combat advances for their combat sleeve, so they get the benefit of multiple advances depending on what role they're in.

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          • #7
            Originally posted by SteelDraco View Post
            I definitely don't think I would do #2 - the sleeves aren't out doing stuff on their own without the soul, so they don't advance or change over time on their own, and it feels like it would be double-dipping for a character to be able to buy, say, social advances for their social sleeve and combat advances for their combat sleeve, so they get the benefit of multiple advances depending on what role they're in.
            It is less that the sleeves are doing stuff than that the character has improved, which results is an improvement regardless of sleeve being used. It truly sucks to spend an Advance on something and then have the campaign shift so that you can never use that ability - like taking Connections just before you get launched to a different galaxy, taking Shooting just before ranged weapons are rendered irrelevant, or investing in an Arcane Background just before magic gets killed. (Yes, those examples are experience based. ) I expect the same would be true if you spent an Advance to improve one sleeve and then had to spend the next three adventures using a different sleeve.
            It means that a player would need a new character sheet for each sleeve but that would be true in any multi-body game, excluding something (like Paranoia) where each body is a character life.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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            • #8
              #1 is interesting. I'm enjoying the conversation.

              When I think of Altered Carbon, the protagonist didn't get to pick his next sleeve and it seems many others may not have the luxury either. Certainly those with more resources are going to have options.
              I think to address this, I would handle it two ways:
              1. Spend enough money, or have enough political pull, and you build your sleeve however you like, as a new character up to your current Advancement/Rank. This could even be some sort of Edge in the vein of Very Rich. It could even be a clone, if that's what you want.
              2. Otherwise, as a GM, I would make a handful of different advancement 0 characters and allow the players to pick whichever "base" they want, and then Advance those up to their current Advancement/Rank. This limits their initial choices and speeds up play a bit, but grants them some agency as a player to decide their next character.
              Mechanically, this is an abstraction of the players advancement through the game, the character's narrative and intellectual advancement ("I know Kung Fu!" if you will), and the randomness of the various Traits, Hindrances, and Edges a strange new Sleeve may possess.

              I personally wouldn't take the idea of Sleeves advancing while on the shelf too seriously at my table and would hand wave the reasoning in the spirit of Fast, Furious, and Fun for my players. But that's just me.

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              • #9
                In Nova Praxis sleeves have fixed physical attributes, a certain number of points to increase (customize) them, and potentially some free augmentations (Edges granted by cyberware/bioware) or Hindrances. Additional Augmentations can be purchased, as for unsleeved characters. Advances are ONLY done for the natural, unsleeved character. However, if the sleeve's attribute is higher than that of the natural character, all linked skills are increased one die step. If sleeve attributes are lower, all linked skills decrease one step. I think this is elegant in the way that a player sticks to the skills of their character, but can get better or worse. It circumvents the issue of increasing skills, linked to changing attribute dice.
                I can think of some potential issue with this approach, in the moment mainly with the Edges Attractive and Menacing. The setting is however pre-SWADE, maybe in Deluxe everything was jsut fine.
                Which sleeve you can afford depends on the ressources (reputation and assets, there is no money) . If there is too much sleeve-hopping, the character can gain psychosis (Hindrances) depending on their mental states (cohesion and fragmentation). Characters can potentially totally loose their minds in the process, but there seems to be enough warning signs before that. Also, psychosis can be healed.

                In a nutshell, character development is done for the natural body. Only physical Attributes can be changed through sleeving and the linked skills are affected. Which also means, sleeves can be outdated with advancement. Sleeving is dangerous for the mind and characters can gain serious mental illness from it. So I guess the author read their Richard Morgan novelles ;-)
                Last edited by Corax; 08-03-2021, 09:20 AM.

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