Author Topic: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies  (Read 658 times)

Offline LeahO

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Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« on: November 17, 2015, 01:28:47 AM »
Howdy folks!

Good to be back after ... eek, that's a lot of years. I've been putting together some profiles for my Hospitaller-psychiatrist-and-patients-warband here, and I would love some feedback on them!

Basically, I've tried to go for a slightly odd-ball war band with some fun rules to play around with. As you can see in my (EXTREMELY TL;DR) backstories, I quite like exploring some of the weird philosophical questions and oddities that might be bouncing around the nooks and crannies of the Imperium. The notion of a Hospitaller focused on psychological issues rather than physical ones appealed to me, and theoretically must exist somewhere - there are a ton of references (especially in Dark Heresy) to monastic worlds where traumatised Imperial servants (who are only human after all, and must accumulate a ton of baggage no matter how hardened they are), and so someone in the Imperium must be offering therapy sessions. I was catching up with American Horror Story: Asylum (a bit unpleasant in parts, but lots of interesting ideas) as I came up with Die-Well's background, and actually reacted against the typical 'abusive mental institution official' stereotype (although there's a lot of Jessica Lange's 'Sister Jude' in my mental image of her). Instead, she's a zealot, of the infatigably optimistic, unsettlingly widely-smiling, love-bombing type - which is under-represented in 40k. She truly believes that the Em - er, He Who Sits Upon The Throne - is an all-powerful, incomprehensible deity in the St. Thomas Aquinas school, rather than one powerful force among many - which shifts her from the usual Ecclesiarchal outlook into questions of the Elect, divine plans, and aggressive MK-ULTRA-inflected 'redemption'. Her relationship with the Inquisition was something of a convenience to give her reason to get out and interact with the world, but makes sense IC and works well for game purposes.

Praise is a little less high-concept; beyond a whole lotta references to the 'Arts and Post-humanities Research Council' and JoJo's Bizarre Adventures, they're an excuse to have fun with the idea of lost and broken technology, cast-offs, and shapeshifting. There is also a pretty blatant trans narrative under all that, too - exploring the relationship between 40k's notion of the soul and the [bionic/artificial] body, and the relationship between the two. Write what you know, and all.

In both cases, I've aimed for a Conclave standard, or slightly lower. Both characters have the potential to be extremely good at their thing, but can't play aggressively - Die-Well is potentially very good at talking down threats and understanding whatever terrible thing is going on, but she's fragile, and a poor combatant - she'll have to play to her status and peculiar set of goals to slink about in the shadows to achieve her objective (hence the camera - sticking back and taking pictures/recordings of Inquisitorial agents in action provides her with a rules-based excuse for conflict and 'firefighting', but also hanging back). Praise can switch from being super-versatile to super-specialised as the situation requires (anything from an immoveable wall to a duellist to an infiltrator) - but powers the whole thing off a decidedly average stat-line, and non-existent equipment basis. On top of that, playing the 'nanomachines, son!' card too often will very quickly grind them down into unreliability with characteristic damage (especially relevant in a sequential set of games - how often can I afford to shift?). So, neither is helpless, but I certainly imagine them failing the majority of their ostensible missions (which is fine! fun, even!). My main question is will they give an opponent a good game - there's long-range 'combat' (surveillance) and a fun short-range attacker, but I don't want to put together a party that will roll or get rolled in an un-fun way.

Anyway, without further ado - the characters! I'll put the (extremely long - I lost one of them and had to re-write it in my typically circuitous and stream-of-consciousness way) stats in a second post.

Sister Die-Well Brandeis, Hospitaller of the Order of the Second Nativity

Sister Die-Well Brandeis is a Sister Hospitaller focusing on psychological and spiritual care for the servants of the Imperium. A long-time veteran of her Order, her deep faith, blind zeal, and understanding heart drew the attention of the Kamalian Conclave, many of whom took advantage of her political neutrality and relatively un-judging nature (judging is the prerogative of the Throne, after all; she is merely charged by Him to ready souls for judgement, by any means necessary) to gather confidential support. She's ageing, though, and has - with a handful of her more martial and lucid patients - decided to sally forth into the Imperium to spread His word and mercy, in the last two or three decades of her life.

Age: 82. Sprightly, but she's allergic to many juvenat components and so is ageing as naturally and gracefully as one can in M42.
Gender: female.
Fun facts: never says the big E word; it slips too easily off people's tongues, and constantly rephrasing it helps her in her devotions. Is a budding photographer, and, under a false name, has submitted architectural and landscape photos to several high-society and popular journals. She's not very good, though, and has never been published.

WS   BS   S   T   I   Wp   Sg   Nv   Ld   Spd
35   41   39   46   58   82   73   54   76   4

Abilities:

Die-Well Brandeis is left-handed.

Persuasive: Uses full Ld in persuasion attempts. [Lachesis Affair event pack: p8]

Medic: If assisting another character with a toughness check to heal, they gain +10 to the roll.

An Understanding Heart (modified from ‘Augury’): May spend up to five actions consulting augury, and then take a sagacity test. If passed, she may add +/- 10% to a percentile test that she makes. If failed, the GM may apply the same bonus to any roll of an enemy character in the next turn.
Unlike the normal Augury skill, this does not need to be used in the next turn, but the bonus does need to be added to a specific task, specified in advance, and requires her to interact with that task while spending actions concentrating; talking to herself and psyching herself up to improve an Nv role to leave cover, handling an old manuscript she wishes to make an SG test to comprehend, or talking to (but not necessarily getting a response from) someone she wants to coax down from their ritual platform. [Modified from Bloody Work is Its Own Reward, Fanatic 14, p7]


Equipment: 1 armour on all locations except chest/abdomen and head; 6 ablative on head (heavy silver mask) and chest/abdomen (silver fleur de lis, steel girder aquila grafted to back). Laspistol with one reload. Silver hexagrammic wards and litanies of spite (n.b. the latter only work against telepathic and similar intrusion, not direct attacks) etched into skin, comm-bead, average bionic right hand with implant twin-linked MIU-activated heavy KOD-i-AK pattern picter, with 700 and 2000 µm lenses and 2 reloads. Writ of status/holy texts.

Laspistol; pistol; range E; single; dam: 2d6; 30 shots; 2 actions reload; weight 15.

Twin-linked MIU-activated heavy KOD-i-AK pattern picter; heavy; I or J (may be changed with a reload action); single/semi 3/; acc +10; dam: you’ve taken a picture - congratulations!; 15 shots; 2 actions reload; weight 10.

The heavy KOD-i-AK-pattern picter is, of course, a fancy camera. It has a fairly high resolution and a pair of switchable lenses for long and short range work. It is statted as a weapon in order to represent the difficulty of snapping high-quality reconnaissance, surveillance, and wedding photos in a hostile combat situation (target moving, unsupported firing position). It does not cause pinning checks or other effects that trigger on being fired upon (unless the flashbulb is used), and may be dodged but not deflected. It does no damage, but note down the contents of each picture if relevant (for laughs if nothing else).

It also has a flash bulb (not strong enough to count as a photon flash grenade under normal circumstances, and an audio-capture capacity capable of storing up to ten hours of high-quality sound; the STC for shooting video, however, was irrevocably corrupted during the devastating Agfapostasy Wars of M.33.

Adept Praise-His-Works

Adept Praise-His-Works is a former Mechanicum scribe, turned test-subject for an aggressive parasitic technology from before the Great Crusade that proved ... well, neither to be a powerhouse of the Dark Age of Technology, nor
a conduit for dark power, but merely a discarded, erratically functioning prototype that tears at their soul, with severe long-term psychospiritual impacts. Die-Well's intervention has at least stabilised its harmful effects, and Praise has resolved to use what few capabilities were salvageable from the archaeotech Congregation to defend their saviour.

Age: 31.
Gender: non-binary (they/them).
Build: emaciated, dark skin pulled tightly over bone, crawling patches of bleached bone-like skin.

WS   BS   S   T   I   Wp   Sg   Nv   Ld   Spd
58   49   51   60   70   66   58   47   53   5

Abilities:

Word of the Emperor-Omnissiah - Curse of Undoing. A combined product of Praise’s desperate faith that His plan has a place for them, and the psycho-disruptive impact of the Congregation, they may recite the Curse of Undoing to nullify a persistent psychic power in the same manner as a psyker.

Mechanicum Adept [ret.]. Praise receives +20% to any checks relating to using or disabling machinery, locks, etc.

Ontological vulnerability: Praise counts as both psychic and augmetic for the purposes of all negative effects affecting them; they will suffer double damage from being his by a psycannon, will quail from a pariah, and be severely incapacitated by haywire weaponry, and so on. The one exception to this is techniques used to detect psychic phenomena; Praise is not a psyker, and so psyniscience, psy-trackers, and other similar practices are unable to pick out the diffuse and distributed consciousness flowing through the Congregation.

Equipment: mechadendrites (+20% to interacting with machinery, may make a free improvised attack action once per turn), implanted comm-bead, the Congregation.

The Congregation: Praise is inhabited and parasitised by a colony of familiar-mites; tens of thousands of automata the size of ants, each one a tiny micro-etched psycho-conductive skull ambling about on eight delicate legs, suffused by the distributed Empyrean presence of its user. While lacking the precision, replicability, and versatility of the true nano-machines possessed by the Glavian Cult of the Micro-Omnissiah and (so it is rumoured, certain Xenos races), the Congregation represent an reconfigurable bionic system capable of producing a range of exotic effects usable in and out of combat. At least, that’s the pitch. While the Congregation does function as advertised, the impact of letting one’s immortal soul seep into and control several thousand familiars has a catastrophic impact on the integrity of one’s sense of self and spiritual wholeness. Viewed under psyniscient scanning, Praise’s soul burns brightly and as cleanly as any Inquisitorial agent, but is disturbingly ‘ragged’ around the edges.

Praise may spend an action to employ the Congregation and shape it into a combat-capable form. When they do so, they takes a willpower test. Whether they succeed or fail, they take d3 damage (roll once for all) to I, Sg, Wp, Nv, and Ld (that recovers at a rate of 10 per day, as per the usual campaign rules). Choose three Alien Abilities or Mutations; these represent the ability of the Congregation to form itself into a dense tessellating barrier that restricts movement (Iron Hard Skin), precision cutting tools (Beweaponed Extremities), or adopt dimensionally exotic and displaced patterns (Dimensional Shifting). Once changed in this way, this shaping is permanent until Praise loses consciousness or is stunned, at which point the Congregation goes into hibernation and becomes inactive until reactivated.

Each time Praise spends an action using the Congregation, they make take a toughness test to reduce injury total and location injury as if spending actions on recovery (Inq. LRB p41).
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 01:42:53 AM by LeahO »

Offline LeahO

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Re: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2015, 01:31:48 AM »
Sister Die-Well Brandeis

'As I write these words, it is the dawning of the 42nd Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries He has Sat immobile upon the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of humanity in defiance will of gods and master of a million worlds by the labour of his inexhaustible servants. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. A crore souls are sacrificed each day so that he may never truly die, and if only they could see, they'd do so gladly. For even in his deathless state, He continues his eternal vigilance, and bestows upon us his love and care – and how could we not respond in kind?

To be human in such times is to be, humbled, one amongst untold billions, but nonetheless be held close to his bosom for our part in his Plan. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable, but even in the depths of suffering, it is to live in hope that we are of Purpose and that every gasp of pain or tear of sorrow means something, is part of something greater.  Forget the allure of wanton bloodshed and meaningless indulgence, for in His service there's a kind of peace, a deep tranquillity from which the faithful and those they serve cannot be moved. Forget the promise of infinite untamed flux, and the easy defeat of meek, self-pitying acceptance, for there is only what we will, and what He wills – nothing more, nothing less. There is no peace amongst the stars – but that's OK. We were never made for peace. There is only an eternity of struggle and tears, and spitting in the eye of thirsting gods.

My name is Sister Die-Well Brandeis, of the Order of the Second Nativity, and this might be the last missive I write in my life. I’m old - I can feel it in every creak of my limbs, and every shed grey hair on the pillow in the morning - and it seems like the best time to record who I am, and where I came from. In setting down this account, this message in a bottle, this is not vanity - a place to record my acts and life’s work - but a place to record his. If I don’t make it through this voyage, or if the ship is dashed on Empyrean reefs on its first attempt to enter the warp, then I pray that my testimony will endure.

I was born on Pardeskult, a garden world in the Kamalian sector. I recited my first Hieratic Gothic lessons beneath its blue, blue, blue skies, and preached to my first congregation on the rolling prairies of saints’ bones; and as I’m a child of the Skull Orchards through and through. Forget about the fires of faith, the splendour and glory of cathedral hive-spires a mile high - in the sere wilderness of that place, there’s the root of a faith that’s deeper and purer than anything we can make. The empty silence itself proclaims His glory, and immersing myself in it as a young girl, I felt that I was at peace - secure in the knowledge that, in that infinite placidity, all things proceeded according to the plan of He Who Sits Upon The Throne.

Garden worlds do not produce skilled contributions to the Imperial Guard, nor are their mineral riches tapped to feed the engines of galactic industry, but they’re not exempt from the tithe. Most of my childhood friends went on to serve the Ministorum in neighbouring monasteries, chapels, and retreats, or spent their days tending the ossuary-terraces and cultivating the fruit that they brought forth, but perhaps one in ten - the wilful ones, too rowdy and touched with wanderlust and disturbed from their lives of quiet contemplation and years of waking meditation to fit in easily among the other Pardeskultai,

We were Ecclesiarchal brats, one and all. Many entered the priesthood proper, others beginning on the long hard path on which Drill Abbots and members of the Missionaria Galaxia are forged. Some were assigned as confessors - languid, coolly zealous servants and advisors to still the disordered appetites of hot-headed nobles too attached to the pleasures that each day brings to see the joy of the eternal. And the rest - the small crop of young women left over - we were turned over to the Sororitas, to see what the Sisterhood could make of Pardeskultai.

It was a shock, I’ll admit that, being thrown into the midst of a fiercely disciplined and drilled flock of Schola veterans, and they made us very aware of what they thought of us. But we endured, drawing down that serenity He gifts us all with to make it through their hazing and closed ranks intact. Their faith is steely, blade-like, finely honed, and that is exactly what the Imperium needs; but ours, the gift that the Throne gave to us is like rock; unyielding, impeturbable, capable of blunting all that would assail it and remaining unchanged, a willing and eager base for others to build on. Unfortunately, our faith was like a rock in one other respect - to get the ore, that of value and practical use, out of it, it had to be shattered apart, melted down, the dross smelted off it.

I did terribly in the drills. I couldn’t shoot straight, I was ungainly and uncoordinated in sparring bouts, and I came last in every footrace against the other novitiates; all dross. I endured more punishment beatings and disciplinary shrivings than most. But He Who Sits Upon the Throne does not only want warm bodies in cold ceramite, carrying bolters and purging the witch in His name. In his service I brought an understanding heart, a reassuring bedside manner, dextrous fingers, and a strong stomach when it came to blood and exposed bones. I became a Hospitaller.

The Order of the Second Nativity became my new home, and I was fortunate (of course I was not - He guided me) to find my way there. Though many of the Hospitaller serve on the front line, diving through muddy trenches to patch up wounded Cadians and Warhawks in the worst battlefields in the Imperium - they are not the only way in which the Sisterhood can serve the needs of humanity. The Imperium bleeds - each day is soaked through in sorrow and pain and anguish - and even long after battle’s end, the wounds remain. I learned to heal - learned the arts of the chirurgeon - but learned soon that not all the wounds are physical. Our bodies wither naturally, falling apart in time, like all gross matter - but our Souls endure, go to Him and His oblivion. Just as He Who Sits Upon The Throne is so much more than that poor withered thing on Terra, so too is mercy to the mind and soul so much greater than mercy to the body. Slowly - under the guidance and tutelage of my elder Sisters - I directed the gifts He gave me to new pastures, moving from a bedside manner to a confessional one. In alienism - the provision of succour and the relief of trauma - I found my vocation.
The Arbiter, haunted by the spectres of all those she couldn’t save, who sought reassurance and a relief from the racing fears and regrets that stood between her and sleep. The Inquisitorial stormtrooper who saw something impossible, torn from his darkest and most shameful dreams, barrelling down on him down his gunsights, and found that pulling the trigger was able to banish it from this world but not from the corner of his eye. The Administratum Adept ground down to a nervous exhaustion and collapse by a century of work. Some say that this was wasteful - that the Imperium lacks not for bodies, for loyal servants who could have stepped into the ceramite-plated combat boots of their weaker predecessors - but I believe that such a worldly and secular viewpoint misses the point, and is a sad indictment of who we are. The Throne saves - He loved us so much that he accepted death to deliver us from evil - and I believe that it’s to spit on that image to do anything but try to redeem each and every one. We minister to the righteous and wicked alike, knowing that all things - even the witch, even the Alien, even the Warp - will, in the end, bend the knee before the Throne, and in their rejection of Him cannot but exalt and affirm His power. For those who need simply a listening ear and show of sympathy, we offer that; when austere prayer and penitence are required to purify the soul, we’ll drop to our knees right beside them and pray through the night with them; and when the trauma of the grim darkness of the forty-first millennium has broken them nearly entirely, we’ll help put them back together. You can’t salvage something - or someone - who is nearly broken - and so I was trained in how to break someone all the way, to push them over the edge - but that only frees up the pieces to be reforged stronger, purer, cleaner, a more perfect vessel for His infinite love and light. It’s not torture, although I’d forgive you for thinking as much - it sometimes looks a little like it - but we act only out of compassion. If lovebombing and intensive psychological interventions are what’s necessary to heal someone, and return them to the side of He Who Sits Upon The Throne - then that is what we will do, and make them into an example of His benevolence and power.

I rose in the ranks of the Order, the better to carry out my work. While all human lives are equally insignificant - and thus equally equal before the Throne - I was increasingly assigned to the recovery of senior Imperial agents from across the Kamalian Sector - loyal (and occasionally disloyal) servants of the Throne whose minds and souls were too valuable to be lost to summary execution or the ineffective mind-scrubbing that leaves a thin patina of the old self smeared all over their immortal inner selves. With them, I would dive deep into their subconscious minds, eyes wide open to all the horror and heart-ache they had witness, and then surface gasping for air, life-guard-like, their limp spirits coughing and spluttering over my shoulder. Not mine, exactly - for it was not me saving them. I merely opened myself up, letting a little of His  loving void through, and in quiet walks through ornamental gardens and evening prayers let the Throne’s grace and oblivion strip away all their fears and worries, leaving behind only faith.

When I hear stories about people joining the Inquisition, or entering its service, they are typically dramatic. Inquisitorial lives are saved by the dramatic intervention of local hivers or Deathworlders; a low-ranking Mechanicum adept provides just the scrap of knowledge and expertise to crack an investigation right open; heretofore unimagined psychic powers blossom into kineshields that stop fated bullets or will-bending that turn aside attackers with equal facility. Investigating members of the Arbites or enforcers have their investigations suborned by shadow figures who only later are revealed to be carrying Inquisitorial seals. And once this is over, bloodstained Inquisitorial seals and rosettes are handed over by in deathbed or battlefield promotions, with a charge to the fresh-faced young Inquisitor to pursue their master’s work.  My contact with His left hand was far less dramatic. I was brought on to save on travel time.

The staff of one Grand Inquisitor Belisarius Reliquitus, Ordo Malleus Hellseeker and Exorcist of some notoriety, were, as with all servants of that Ordo, in need of a remarkable amount of medical, psychological, and spiritual attention. The Inquisitor believed it a waste to have them completely mind-wiped each time - especially as he noted that, palimpsest-like, such procedures are seldom infallible (an entirely correct and pragmatic observation, I might add, and one far more enlightened that of many of his colleagues) - and was too attached to them to let them retire to either a mausoleum or a paradise world. And so he brought them to the Convent of the Second Nativity for a regular psychospiritual evaluation. It reached the point that I was seeing his acolytes - and occasionally the Inquisitor himself - on a six-monthly basis - and rather than continue to accrue favours owed to various Rogue Traders (not to mention the Convent itself), he merely decided to abscond with the service provider herself. With a small - but at least symbolic - dowry to the Convent, I now served as healer and confessor exclusively to the Grand Inquisitor’s acolyte cell.

I was not a combatant - that much should be obvious. I went on my fair share of covert expeditions, accompanied by the Inquisitor’s wetworks team, and was sent to carry out field profiling of high-value targets (they even took my hand, and grafted this recording device in its place, to improve my capacity in this role). Perhaps inevitably, this and my broader role in the Grand Inquisitor’s employ also saw me put in the requisite amount of time cowering behind hastily flipped tables, blindly snapping off las-bolts at ambushers and attackers while the martially-trained members of the team carried out their work more effectively.

I was not a combatant - but I did serve in the struggle.

When my charges struggled across transuranic dunes beneath suns that had not yet escaped their ten-year eclipse of radioactive dust and the thunderheads of cyclonic detonations, in search of that one who got away, I was waiting in orbit, anti-radiation medicines and telomeric therapy baths at the ready. When they returned from desperate fighting against a being conjured from their sins, that sought to paralyse them with guilt and sorrow over every way in which they had been less than perfect - I was waiting to debrief them, both to castigate them for their weaknesses and to help reassure them and coax them back into faith in themselves and their faith in He Who Sits Upon The Throne. And when they were ground down from innumerable missions, wracked by war-shock, doubt, and sheer psychospiritual trauma born from an eternity of war? I would offer comfort, succour, reassurance - put their minds and souls back together again. Stronger than before, if necessary.

It couldn’t last. Over time - over the years, it must have been - they peeled off one by one. Sloane died, unable to give his all to Him and surrender to faith - his caution was his undoing. Ofélia made Inquisitor herself, I hear, but she quickly became embroiled in some obscure Thorian controversy and was last seen making space for Terra - we don’t talk much. And conversation with Abel has been particularly limited - he has since left active Inquisitorial service to inherit his former Master’s death cult and bend it towards the training of priest-killers and killer-priests for the Ordos - a vow of silence is, I hear, mandatory for the Provostship. In time, even Belisarius’ own days as an active, front-line, getting-stuck-into-it-with-the-silver-stakes Inquisitor were numbered - the traumas and stresses of fighting took their toll on him just as much as them, he was just too strong and proud to show it. In the end, I was left, alone, my purpose taken from me - no patients, no charges, no flock.

But I wasn’t done. I was six months into my sabbatical - rebuilding an old church on Pardeskult - when I was recalled by members of the Kamalian Conclave. My skills were requested in treating and supporting first one, then two, then a small coterie of servants of the Left Hand of the Throne.

Inquisitors are some of the most secretive and autarkic men and women of the Imperium - pillars of solitude and iron will - but they are, in the end, only men and women, made by His hand with all of the frailties and fears that serve to exalt the perfection of their maker. Though loath to reveal their weaknesses to anyone - or admit that they have weaknesses at all - they, like all . To open your weaknesses up to another Inquisitor - that would be grounds to be politically undercut, to be removed from duty to incipient mental weakness, or to be politically undercut by the threat of revealing one’s mental weakness - and there are few other organisations that most Inquisitors would trust to listen to them and take their confession. But in my role as a healer - an alienist, a Sister Superior with a relatively small and backwater convent, a neutral, sympathetic, receptive ear and confidant, who had literally no political ambition and whose adoring eyes rose above their inter-Ordo squabbles to meet His gaze, and would offer to lift up their sights too, for a time - I was someone they could talk to. Nobody’s agent save His, I did a brisk trade as confessor for a large moiety of Kamal’s Inquisitors, not judging them (judgement is coming, make no mistake about that, but I’d not impinge upon the Throne’s prerogative) but offering confidential care and support. To be sure, there was more than a little mistrust from some of the Inquisitors too arrogant to believe they were only human and as need of spiritual care as any child of humanity - but if many in the Kamalian Conclave wanted spiritual succour and unconditional compassion, then who better to offer it than a sworn Sister, from one of the more spiritually inviolable orders of the whole Imperium - especially one who, though sworn by the Throne to secrecy, knows enough secrets to function as a device of mutually assured destruction? To seal my role, I was encouraged - in the strongest terms possible - to submit to the work of one extremely talented Theosophamist, who was, to put it lightly, extremely adept at the creation of Hexagrammic wards. The less said about the following weeks the better, but when the bandages came off, I was covered from head-to-toe in a net of micro-etched silver wards that sealed my secrets and psychic confidentiality in tight.

I was valuable to the Kamalian Conclave as a support service - but to be valuable is also to be a commodity, tradeable, fungible, transferrable. When news of the disaster in the neighbouring Carthaxian Conclave reached the Kamalian Ordos, they decided that it was time to turn their investment in me into political capital. They phrased it in kindly, benevolent ways - I would be doing them a service over in Carthax, I would be joining an extensive and carefully chosen staff, specially selected in order to support and console the Carthaxian Inquisition in its time of grief and tumult - but I’ve spent my life reading people, and I can tell that wasn’t it. Even if they can’t - wouldn’t, for reasons of self-preservation - force me to break my oath and spy on them, then giving them a gift that could be recalled at any time was but another move in the endless, eternal game of covert war and politics that is the Inquisition. The game - or one much like it - had been played before, even in the patients that I was assigned by my new Inquisitorial friends. I was sent the Mechanicum Adept with ontological dysphoria not solely to heal them, but because they could be kept more easily that way as a reservoir of forgotten technology to be tapped when it would make a Magos’ career; the disgraced war-shocked Astartes not to help him return, like a prodigal son, to the feet of the Emperor, and locate the fault-line on which his hypno-indoctrination had shattered, but because he represented a potentially useful bargaining chip and piece of blackmail material for the Ordo Astartes to use when they chose. I was being played, part of their politics, even as they confessed their secret doubts and weaknesses to me; baring their necks to my knife in exquisite vulnerability, even as they know I’d never be a threat.

But all in all - that’s OK. Though they may have me on contract from time to time, I do not serve them - I serve He Who Sits Upon The Throne. I have ministered to those that I dislike, to the Xanthite and the crypto-traitor, to those who exalt their own virtues above His; if I did not, what kind of faith would I have? He - who gave so much for us - rises above all other concerns. In His service, I’ll play their politics - I’ll go to Carthax, and spread His word, and heal - one way or another - those who err. Let me be a channel for your peace, O Throne, even if that peace levels hab blocks.

Warp-bell’s tolling - Praise is at the door to accompany me to the ship’s chapel. I go.

Adept Praise-His-Works

Slime moulds.

Slime moulds!

No, perhaps that's not the best way of proving that I'm psychologically stable. But that's how this all started. Each individual part of the whole is nothing – a blind, dumb, barely mobile sack of protoplasm barely recognisable as life itself, let alone something worthy of consciousness and soul. But together – something changes. When they surrender their individuality, their distinction, into a common whole, though, something changes – they become a quasi-conscious being, capable of solving problems, of cogitation, or ratiocination, of thought. Out of so much dross rises something directed, something of Purpose, something capable of achieving something in the world. And so too, by the grace of He-and-Terra-and-Mars, may something wondrous emerge from a hundred thousand simple automata, or from the pieces of a psychologically broken forge-serf.

Adept Praise-His-Works – not my birth name – at your service. I was once an Amanuensis Second-Class of the Divisio Biologis Kamalia, and now … well, like so many things, I'm not so sure any more. Perhaps I'm still of the Mechanicum, perhaps I am a lay-servant of the Ecclesiarchy, of the Ordos, of whichever organisation my ownership deed is traded when there's value to be exchanged. But I know this – I was changed, and now owe allegiance to the only person who's ever been able to help me make sense of it – to help the processes both of changing me back and helping me to embrace my new form.

I was born to a relatively middle-ranking tribe of hereditary research assistants and menials on Caer Meröe-IV, a sleepy but relatively prosperous forge world. My parents served the Magoi of that world as scribes and (when the occasion merited, test subjects), as did their parents before them, and so on and so on, amen. I'm not sure what relevance they still have to my life – they gave me a different name when they birthed me from the one I answer to now, and I don't look like the child they raised – but insofar as I'm explaining where I am now, it is worth fixing out where I came from.

I was a distinctly average child, neither dull enough to be rendered down into a servile automaton, nor one of those rare few whom the Magoi above snatched up to be educated on their crag, nor aggressive and callous enough to make the grade for induction into the service of the Taghmata. The one gift I did possess was a quick mind, if not a very clever one – I was sensitive enough to know where my betters wanted me, to notice what those more intelligent than me would have me notice when their attention was better directed elsewhere, and to anticipate their requests – 'hand me that combi-tool', 'record the time it took to expire', 'cauterise that hazardous fungal growth' – to a satisfactory level. In short, I was the product of what my caste's millennia-old geno-engineering made me – a talented amanuensis to be attached to a talented Magos, and in so doing reflect his glory back onto him. It was enough for me, really – something about me had always felt heavy, sluggish, not-quite-right, and I was happy to be directed by another who knew better.

Magos-Ryuu Heddh was a relatively young Magos, especially for a quiet backwater Martian colony like Caer Meröe, and with his youth came ambition. He had grown up on our world, railed not against its orthodoxy so much as its sleepiness, and booked passage as the Mechanicum liaison on a Rogue Trader vessel at the first possible opportunity. His tour of duty lasted thirty years, deep into the Halo Stars beyond the galactic ecliptic - and when he returned, he wasn't empty handed. He returned gleaming of eye and overloaded of datastack, with the knowledge he was sure would make his career in the Meröese Adeptus Mechanicus – perhaps even the Kamalian sector as a whole.

I assisted in the drafting of his proposal to the Caer Meröe's ruling Arts and Post-Humanities Research Council, and only saw that of it that he translated from the old Frankish fragments of the Dark Age manuscripts her recovered up there, and saw fit to share in his funding requests, but it's given me a rough idea about what it was. 'The Congregation', it was called. Not a branch of new endeavour on its own, but the speculative grafting of two disciplines that hadn't overlapped before. On the one hand, nanotechnology – the manufacture of engines and automata at the molecular level, capable of producing miniaturised devices of great sophistication and complexity. On the other, the study of autonomous psychoactive relays, capable of expanding thought and consciousness out of the fleshy body and into the mechanical. Mind-impulse units, psyber-eagles, psychically powered bionics. The former was limited by the fact that, no matter how complex and intricate, it only produced machines, little unthinking crystals of carbon and silicon and hydrogen that could fulfill a given purpose fine, but lacked the ability to do anything beyond that. The former was limited by the fact that it was boutique – no mass production – and stuck in a form that tended to rot and stink the place up over time as overloaded flesh began to fail under the pressure of conducting psychic energy. But the Congregation, so the notes suggested, represented a fusing of the two disciplines. Hundreds of thousands of minute microcrystalline mites could be manufactured that each possessed rudimentary spiritual antennae capable of picking up conscious thought and emotion. Each one a tiny familiar that, though individually weak and fragile, could together form something greater than the sum of their parts; a gestalt sheath of technological wonders that functioned as an extension of one's very soul.

Then, the tone changed a little – in his proposal, it seemed that Ryuu-Heddh had stopped adapting old project notes and begun instead basing his text on 15,000 year old advertising copy. Polymorphine would be obsolete, when by thought alone, an agent could reshape their skin and flesh into a new form! Stronger than power armour, and subtle as cameoline! Capable of artificially inducing a null aura by precisely modulating the minute psychic presences of thousands of psy-mites into exotic counter-psychic frequencies! Establishing universal interfaces with machine spirits of any kind! Adaptive poisons! Limited regeneration! Ryuu-Heddh did perhaps get a bit carried away with himself, but everything that he said was attested to by scraps of data from before the Great Crusade – and it drew the interest of the otherwise slothful and luxuriant Prime Magoi of Caer Meröe. They – greedy about the prospects of even one of Ryuu-Heddh's promises coming true – agreed to authorise the use of materials and serf labour to construct a working prototype of the psychoactive mites that made up the Congregation.

Two years of preparation. Two years of exhaustively hand-crafting hundreds of thousands of tiny automata, ranging in size from 'mustard seed' to small 'molecule'. Each one a chip of saint's bone, carved into the likeness of a skull (some aesthetic tastes never change, even over fifteen thousand years), engraved with psychoactive circuitry, and capable of ambling about, chaining together with each other, and  broadcasting  and receiving soul energy. It all went successfully, and initial tests with partially-lobotomised servitors suggested that the micro-ised psyber-familiar concept was at least workable, even if they didn't yet have a sufficient critical density to reproduce some of the more impressive effects that had been promised. Eventually, though, the time came when we had to organise a full test of the technology – to implant it into a living, thinking, being, whose consciousness could seep out into each and every mite and transform them into something more, to do what a non-human, non-thinking servitor couldn't. Magos Ryuu-Heddh would not try it on himself – he would be the second successful trial of Congregation-derived technology, naturally – but for the first trial, he wanted someone who could faithfully document its effects, capabilities, psychological stresses, and unforseen interactions. Enter his faithful research assistant  and Amanuensis Second-Class, who – despite their misgivings – was willing to assist.

I fasted for a month, attended chapel thrice daily, and made offerings and devotions to the Omnissiah. I prepared myself in every way I could, donned the ceremonial copper-woven robe of Caer Meröe, and put myself on the slab, ready to be the first host to the Congregation; the living hive for a technology lost fifteen millennia ago, that could possibly revolutionise the Mechanicum's approach to warfare.

Except – except that it didn't work. Not really.

There's a great tendency among the Mechanicum – I can speak more freely now that I have been seconded to other duty – to imagine that all the devices of the Dark Age of Technology were things of great, wondrous power. Entangled quantum communicators! Zero-point 「spin」 energy! Personal shields powered by one's Kirlian aura, capable of deflecting any blow!

This school of thought makes gods and monsters purely out of the age of what it venerates. Even those who do not secretly venerate the past as a Golden Age at least cast it as the converse – not just a Dark Age, but an Age of Blackest Night, where humanity was stalked by Men of Iron, gestalt artificial consciousnesses, and the toxic effluvia of our own consumption that would see our civilisation snuffed out as much as any Black Crusade.

In their imaginings, there is no room for the mediocre – the broken – the discarded. For every technological wonder produced between humankind's first wandering steps and slow from Terra, there a hundred – ten-hundred – schematics and prototypes for devices that didn't work, or came with unintended consequences that made them unworkable, or were simply not quite as effective as their designers had hoped. Standard Templates Constructors across the forbidden glyptatekna of the Imperium gather dust with the folly of artificers and wrights who were neither inspired enough to create work worth of the Omnissiah's beloved spiritus anima, nor foolish enough to create engines that summon a warp-thing, then crash,  every time you turn them on.

It was with one of those misfiring cast-offs with which they impregnated me.

At first – for perhaps the first five minutes or so – it worked. It was glorious to feel – like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in my life, I was free, comfortable in my own skin and truly alive. My consciousness slipped beyond my skin, filling, inhabiting the congregation, and such an elated state of being went beyond anything I had known – could ever know – before. To truly be who and what you want, to feel your very being diffuse out and be reflected back by a hundred thousand tiny stars. People talk about Communion with god-machines of the Adeptus Titanicus as a traumatic, fierce, and hard-fought experience that nearly costs you your soul, but this was something different, something better – a sense of elation, ecstasy in the original sense of the word – stepping outside myself into something greater. My hands were blades as sharp as a Magos' mind, and my skin was as inviolable as a Sororitas' faith – I was invincible.

As I said – for about five minutes. Communion with the Congregation doesn't work – it never did. As your soul expands into it, into each mite, takes part in soul-to-soul communion with a hundred thousand tiny psyber-creatures to create a super-conscious gestalt, it takes its toll – runs the edges of your soul ragged. I was right – it's nothing like communion with a titan's war spirit. That's a fight, a struggle, metaphorical fight against a metaphorical beast or predator. With this – masked beneath the joy and the ecstasy (or, I suspect, part of it) – it's less a struggle than plunging your bare soul into a nest of rippers. After five minutes, the edges of my soul were ragged; after ten, I barely continued to exist as a coherent psycho-spiritual entity. Nothing corrupt, nothing of the Ruinous or Xenos powers about it; the process of diffusing your soul across so many tiny anchor-points is just lethal  The Congregation functioned as advised, but there was a reason that we're not all using Congregation-imbued technology today is that it doesn't last for more than a few minutes without destroying you. I collapsed, entered a coma from which I only briefly woke in a state of severe psychosis, and was ferried out to secure observation elsewhere.

Many in my position would have been disposed of without question – a failed experiment, an entirely understandable and predictable loose end that should be snuffed out and extirpated. But my masters didn't do that. Magos Ryuu-Heddh was greedy, as were his colleagues and contacts in the other forges, and within the Ordos. In the Congregation, they had seen potential that they coveted – that they wanted to keep on tap, saved away for a rainy day, or a day of political judgement when the only ones to survive would be they who hold a face card or two up their voluminous, oil-stained sleeves. They couldn't 'open' me, for want of a better word – attempts to extract or replicate individual members of the Congregation have ended disappointingly – and neither have they been able to restore me to how I once was.

That's not to say they haven't expressed a definite interest in giving it a go. Ryuu-Heddh's solution – all cogitator-and-thurible-assisted debugging – was a drastic failure, nearly shutting down the Congregation entirely and killing me in turn. The cabal of cloaked fingers of the Omnissiah's left hand didn't have much success either – mechanomancy sent the invidual mites into uncoordinated spasms, and I think I may have lost a few hundred that went scuttling off Throne-knows-where that day. The most success they've had has been working on the interface – the intermediary by which the Congregation draw their sustenance and ability to interact with the world. Yeah, me – and my soul.

Ryuu-Heddh, after a frustrating week of failure, finally had me sent off to a small order of the Blessed Sisterhood near the sector capital – Hospitallers of the Order of the Second Nativitiy. I began having regular sessions – prayer, guided meditation, walks in the chapel's garden – with one of their Sisters Superior, an older woman named Die-Well Brandeis.

She healed me. Oh, I'm not back where I was, not by a long shot, but I can manage my degeneration, now. Before, my ministry to the Congregation was uncontrolled, instinctual, all shuddering electric rapture, allowing me to escape myself and draw upon its raw energy with no regard to the fact that I was tearing myself apart and that when I crashed, I crashed hard. For months, I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that she'd helped me find, or how she'd done it. I thought it was something about her stillness, her sense of calm. Being around her, talking to her, it helped me to just be myself, to allow me to allow myself to gain a mastery of who I am, and not fling my soul into a cold psychoactive bone shell. But while that's helped, it's by no means the cure that she offered. She simply doesn't care. She is absolutely convinced of His plan for humanity, so absolutely sure that He will make it all come right in the end, if she just goes with the flow, that she seems ready to die for it – to submit to the complete abnegation of self in pursuit of the Throne's plan for us all. It's not her calm that I've inherited – it's that lack of self. Communing with the Congregation hurts me less, now, less in here – because there's less of me left to hurt. Just as the Congregation changed what I was, so I changed my name to honour His salvation of me.

For a time, then, with the Order of the Second Nativity, I was stable. Of course, I was crippled and broken by my experience, but in that sublime state where you're not getting any worse – you think you might just be getting better, and that time is on your side. All good things come to an end, though, and my healer was called away, sent packing by the Ordos Kamalia with marching orders to Carthax, to render what assistance she could there. I panicked – like I was trapped underwater in a cave, and saw my last pocket of air bubbling away above me. I came very near to ending it all there – better that broken tool to be completely discarded than kept in this slowly degenerating condition – but something stopped me. I sent a message to Die-Well, just as she was preparing to leave – and she came back for me, writ of custody in hand, to take me with her. If she hadn't made me better, then she wouldn't release me from her care. I suspect that, beneath all her piety and devotion, there's a tiny bit of professional pride in there too – the idea of breaking off one of her little projects of reforging midway through, just because she's been given her marching orders, rankled with her, and so, much as one might take one's knitting on an in-system shuttle journey, she took me with her.

Ryuu-Heddh was not best pleased with the prospect of losing ready access to his investment – but less than you might think. To be sure, he was losing a hive of millennia-old nano-familiars that promised incredible power, nested in the body of one of his more loyal and long-standing servants – but he was also ridding himself of a swarm of intermittently functioning techno-arcana and a psychologically damaged servant, handing them over to the trust of someone who he could trust to do her best to fix them and had no interest in doing anything other than handing them back once restored or stabilised. I was his investment, but like any good investor, he'd diversified his investments – I was but one of several dozen projects operating in the parallel tracks of his enhanced cortex. The fact that Die-Well can name-drop members of the Ordos Kamalia (not that she would – client confidentiality and all – didn't hurt her case when taking custody of her.

And so, I've followed her, her disciple, her patient, her scribe, her protector, if need be. To the world I may simply be a gracile, somewhat emaciated technomancer and scribe haunting her shadow, sheathed in grainy bone-coloured and -textured flesh, but more than once in her travels and service to the Ordos she's had use of someone capable of dealing out quick, sudden violence; she's getting old, and I'd like to take the responsibility of caring for her own safety in gunfights from her as much as I can. The Congregation may be barely tested, it may be functioning at less than a thousandth of its promised capacity, it may rend my soul apart to use it – but I'm not sure how much any of that matters when it's mono-molecular sharp, envenomed, and shoved through the heart of someone who'd impede her work.



Anyway, if you made it through that, I owe you a drink if you're at the Lachesis event this Saturday! Any C&C is welcome!  :D

Online MarcoSkoll

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Re: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 04:42:42 AM »
(I will apologise in advance - I have tried to get Praise's pronouns right, but I'll also admit to screwing up several times while typing and I may not have fixed all of them. The best I can offer as a lame excuse is just not being used to the individual "they").

my (EXTREMELY TL;DR) backstories
I won't comment them on them point by point, partly because it seems unnecessary, partly because that'd take ages (although I know I've posted longer backgrounds for some of my characters), but I like the concepts involved.

The natural inclination would be to think that there aren't therapists in the dystopian grimdark, but the idea that the immortal soul is more important than the mortal body is actually a very solid justification (and particularly for why the Ecclesiarchy might involve themselves).

Praise's posthuman mindset also seems very interesting - I think you undersell yourself a bit on that one. Posthumanism is often glossed over within the AdMech in favour of... well, what I guess could be called inhumanism, losing their humanity rather than transcending it.

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In both cases, I've aimed for a Conclave standard, or slightly lower. Both characters have the potential to be extremely good at their thing, but can't play aggressively
While admirable in spirit, it's worth being cautious about this kind of conservative strategy.

Character balance is about a median in which it's interesting for both sides: having a chance to "win", but also a challenge in doing so.

In other words, playing against easily defeated characters can be as unsatisfying as playing against complete monsters, if just in a different way. (As an aside, this is why I tend to advise against "glass cannon" characters; while they may theoretically balance overall, they have the potential to be either "easily defeated" or "complete monster", and tend to go one or other in any given game).

That said, I don't think there's necessarily such a problem here.

Die-Well:
I'm a little uncertain about how well her fragility will work on the table, as any actual combat is quite likely to put her into system shock. I think the answer to that one though is "see how it goes" - I'm not going to pretend I can guess exactly how her potential for avoiding and averting combat is going to work alongside Praise's exceptional versatility.

I'd suggest using a slightly more lively version of Medic though, as I find the LRB's version to be a bit limp. Normally, I use a version that gives a +20 Toughness bonus (applies to both the test and their Toughness bonus).

Praise-His-Works
The Congregation is interesting, although there are perhaps a few changes I would consider.

Perhaps allowing a choice other than just three abilities, so choosing one or two might make for an easier Wp test or lesser mental degeneration, but in extreme cases, four might be an option, but at a greater cost to their will and soul.
My instinct there would be +/- 10 on the Wp test for each ability fewer or more, and +/- 1 on the degeneration (although perhaps changing the base roll to something like D6-2, that way picking only one ability won't always result in just 0 or 1).

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Once changed in this way, this shaping is permanent until Praise loses consciousness or is stunned, at which point the Congregation goes into hibernation and becomes inactive until reactivated.
Stunning is reasonably common in game, so you may well find that they're constantly losing the shaping.

I'd suggest perhaps letting them take Wp tests while stunned to see if they can keep the shape or switching to another possibility entirely; I suspect being a posthuman distributed consciousness, they probably don't suffer the same kind of disorientation a normal human would.

On that, I'm thinking perhaps:

- Give them True Grit. That'll help keep the group in a scrap if they get in one, and if anyone has a claim to existing beyond normal limits on consciousness, they do.
- Make it so that it's unconsciousness or system shock (but not stunning) causes the loss of shape.
- And perhaps have them take (most) toughness tests on their Wp instead.

They may even merit Regeneration of a greater or lesser degree too. (One solution that sometimes comes up is Partial Regeneration - which gives the free healing, but doesn't remove the cap on how much a location can be healed).

I'd possibly also boost their Initiative a few points so that the Congregation isn't automatically going to knock them below the I70 threshold for Speed 5.

S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline LeahO

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Re: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 11:37:03 AM »
First of all, thanks thanks thanks for reading through all that - you are a star Marco for slogging through it.

It’s a bit rude of me vis a vis netiquette, but I’ll break up your post and respond to each bit …

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(I will apologise in advance - I have tried to get Praise's pronouns right, but I'll also admit to screwing up several times while typing and I may not have fixed all of them. The best I can offer as a lame excuse is just not being used to the individual "they”).

That’s fine! I don’t see any errors on your part. Singular they is a bit tricky to get consciously used to, but I think it’s pretty fitting here, and it’s actually something we do quite a lot. Praise’s model is fairly neutral, too (quasi-mummified quasi-corpses don’t really look like healthy men or women), which helps.

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I won't comment them on them point by point, partly because it seems unnecessary, partly because that'd take ages (although I know I've posted longer backgrounds for some of my characters), but I like the concepts involved.

The natural inclination would be to think that there aren't therapists in the dystopian grimdark, but the idea that the immortal soul is more important than the mortal body is actually a very solid justification (and particularly for why the Ecclesiarchy might involve themselves).

Yeah, it’s likely that there’s no-one offering CBT in the grim darkness of the far future, but it struck me while playing Dark Heresy that there must be someone somewhere offering some support - in the section about buying off insanity points it lists ‘long-term palliative care, prayer, fasting, penance, recuperation in quiet and pleasant surroundings, etc.’, and I guess there must be someone overseeing all that. Between that, the ‘immortal soul is more important than the mortal body’ thing, and a wee bit of MKULTRA/love-bombing psychological manipulation, there’s room in the 42nd Millennium for that kind of thing.

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Praise's posthuman mindset also seems very interesting - I think you undersell yourself a bit on that one. Posthumanism is often glossed over within the AdMech in favour of... well, what I guess could be called inhumanism, losing their humanity rather than transcending it.

Thanks! :) I’m glad it worked. A lot of the writing on it developed out from the idea of escaping one’s body and the relationship between consciousness and physical form (again, the trans narrative), and I think it develops out laterally away from the regular Ad Mech approach in quite a nice way.

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I’m a little uncertain about how well her fragility will work on the table, as any actual combat is quite likely to put her into system shock. I think the answer to that one though is "see how it goes" - I'm not going to pretend I can guess exactly how her potential for avoiding and averting combat is going to work alongside Praise's exceptional versatility.

Definitely understand re:this and survivability more generally - the system shock issue is a big risk, and I could see how that might negatively affect a game for the opponent. I was initially thinking of giving Praise the bodyguard talent - they can tank shots for her - but while it fits with their devotion to their protector, it’s a bit too martial. Hmm … does system shock round to a cardinal number, or does it stay as an integer? Currently, her system shock number is 9.4 - meaning that she’d take system shock at 10pts of damage if it is rounded, and 9 if it isn’t - but if I boosted her T by just one or two points, she’d have a system shock threshold of 10, which isn’t enormously fragile. Alternatively, she’s a relatively high-ranking Ministorum agent … maybe drop the armour and swap it for a rosarius instead (given as a going-away present, perhaps …). Would make her a bit more survivable - she’s definitely at risk once in melee combat, but that’s inevitable, I think - but more book-keeping, and it’s a fancy bit of kit …

Re: her role. I can see her as being pretty handy at the kinds of mission where slug-fests aren’t the prime goal, and once it comes to combat, I guess she’ll be a fun liability to keep alive while ineffectually trying to talk people down. Might not be good for winning games, but I’d find it fun.

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I’d suggest using a slightly more lively version of Medic though, as I find the LRB's version to be a bit limp. Normally, I use a version that gives a +20 Toughness bonus (applies to both the test and their Toughness bonus).

Yeah, it is a bit ‘eh’, isn’t it. I might take your suggestion - the only thing I’d worry about is that it continues to proliferate ‘custom rules’ on the character, which isn’t so bad for things that are entirely new, but might be confusing since it has the same name as an existing ability but a different effect. Maybe call it ‘Hospitaller’, instead, for clarity? It raises a broader point, actually - obviously we share our sheets with the GM, but is it customary among Conclavites to share your sheet (purely OoC of course) with the other player, so they know what’s going on with each ability?

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Perhaps allowing a choice other than just three abilities, so choosing one or two might make for an easier Wp test or lesser mental degeneration, but in extreme cases, four might be an option, but at a greater cost to their will and soul.

My instinct there would be +/- 10 on the Wp test for each ability fewer or more, and +/- 1 on the degeneration (although perhaps changing the base roll to something like D6-2, that way picking only one ability won't always result in just 0 or 1).

Hmm, this is a good way of adding some variability to the Congregation - I was initially having it as a ‘pick two, randomly generate one’ deal, which was a bit less same-y, but required a ton more book-keeping (either lots of charts, or shuffling a deck of ability cards each time.

Maybe:
1 ability - +20% on the Wp test, d6-3 degeneration (0-3, avg. 0.5 lost)
2 abilities - +10% on the Wp test, d6-2 degeneration (0-4, avg. 1.5 lost)
3 abilities - +0% on the Wp test, d6-1 degeneration (0-5, avg. 2.5 lost)
4 abilities - -10% on the Wp test, d6 degeneration (1-6, avg. 3.5 lost).

That puts 2 abilities as being as dangerous as 3 was, but slightly easier to shape; 1 ability can be deployed without much risk, 3 is a bit more risky, and 4 allows them to really hulk out (the ability to put permanent resources on the line, a la fate points in Dark Heresy, is something Inquisitor’s lacking) at a severe risk. Obviously this also makes them quite a bit more risky in a longer-term campaign - I’m guessing not much time’s elapsing between each event at Lachesis ;)? - but that just means that each change needs to be more carefully considered, and Praise may be a drooling wreck at the end of a long engagement. Sounds fine for me!

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Stunning is reasonably common in game, so you may well find that they're constantly losing the shaping.

I'd suggest perhaps letting them take Wp tests while stunned to see if they can keep the shape or switching to another possibility entirely; I suspect being a posthuman distributed consciousness, they probably don't suffer the same kind of disorientation a normal human would.

Sounds good - probably a willpower test (as per the initial shaping) to maintain the shape, or the form shatters and goes back into hibernation.

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On that, I'm thinking perhaps:

- Give them True Grit. That'll help keep the group in a scrap if they get in one, and if anyone has a claim to existing beyond normal limits on consciousness, they do.
- Make it so that it's unconsciousness or system shock (but not stunning) causes the loss of shape.
- And perhaps have them take (most) toughness tests on their Wp instead.

They may even merit Regeneration of a greater or lesser degree too. (One solution that sometimes comes up is Partial Regeneration - which gives the free healing, but doesn't remove the cap on how much a location can be healed).

Hmm, all very good suggestions. One of the things I wanted to stress is that Praise very much isn’t the terrifying posthuman ur-being that the Congregation is meant to make them - the tech is a horribly buggy beta that never got updated, and doesn’t really work - but I think some of these suggestions work very well from the perspective of what it might have done. The fact that (in DH at least) the daemonic mutation does a similar thing wrt. taking tests off Wp is suggestive, to say the least.

For a purely gameplay perspective, I think that True Grit might be worth it - at least to help keep a fragile group relatively awake (and as you say, it fits thematically) - and limited regeneration is surprisingly fitting as an expansion of what the Congregation already allows them to do. The psychoactive mites can reshape themselves fairly readily to seal wounds and trauma, and even if a power weapon graze fries a few hundred of them, then there’s a lot more where that came from* - but once a blow cuts deep into Praise’s original biological vitals, then that’s a serious blow that can’t be fixed with the application of thousands of tiny psychoactive automata, and needs long-term medical attention.

* though this does raise the interesting question of how they’re reshaped. I imagine that, to replace ones knocked out by cosmic background radiation and wear & tear, they mites could probably manufacture more of themselves … but out of what substrate? If Praise needs to find and ‘eat’ the bones of holy men and women every so often, then that could make them a bit darker and more ambiguous.

Thanks again for all the feedback - will post an updated version here in a bit.

Online MarcoSkoll

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Re: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 10:12:38 PM »
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Hmm … does system shock round to a cardinal number, or does it stay as an integer?
By default, fractions are rounded to the nearest whole number ("Other conventions", pg 20 in the print copy), although there are a few exceptions.

The ones that immediately come to mind are:

- Damage is effectively divided by base injury value and then rounded up to get the number of injury levels caused (although, to be fair, the rulebook doesn't strictly word it that way).
- The occasional "each 10% or part of 10%"* type wording that some times comes up is also effectively asking you to  round up.
- And I know I overrode it a couple times with Revised Armoury rules. (My armour piercing rules round the remainder up).

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Alternatively, she’s a relatively high-ranking Ministorum agent … maybe drop the armour and swap it for a rosarius instead (given as a going-away present, perhaps …).
That sounds like a fair call. It'll give her some survivability in a background appropriate way - it's definitely fitting for the Ministorum and the Kamalian conclave to protect her and, by extension, the bizarre investments they're leaving in her care.

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the only thing I’d worry about is that it continues to proliferate ‘custom rules’ on the character
In a word, meh. Usually, if the player knows that they expect the ability to do and don't seem like they're taking the piss, I don't have problems with custom rules, even custom variations of official rules.

(On a related note on the last point, I do tend to house rule the conversion field, as I don't like the default photon flash rules, but it's probably not worth the confusion at this stage).

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It raises a broader point, actually - obviously we share our sheets with the GM, but is it customary among Conclavites to share your sheet (purely OoC of course) with the other player, so they know what’s going on with each ability?
Not normally, no. In fact, in a lot of cases, unless the GM actually specifically asks questions (like "Are there any telepaths?"), it's often just played by ear.

I tend to point out anything that should be obvious to other characters (even if less so to players seeing miniatures) at the start, such as whether a character is Fearsome* ("Ah, take a Nv test!" "Why?" "You're scared of the guy you're about to charge." "Right, and I've only suddenly realised that now, hmm?"), has unusual hit modifiers* (For example, my Lord Karlmunn is a seven foot tall feudal worlder, and is therefore a +10 large target) or unusual visibility (such as having a refractor field).

* I tend to do both for Astartes, who are both a terrible idea to get within arm's reach of and also bulky targets (which helps offset their resilience a little).

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Hmm, this is a good way of adding some variability to the Congregation
That draft looks good to me. Just make sure you have a practical list of the abilities/mutations to work from (and that you actually have a fair idea of what's on the list, you want to be able to know what you want to pick without having to reread the list every time).

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I’m guessing not much time’s elapsing between each event at Lachesis ;)?
There's not an exact timeline, but a rough ball-park is the whole thing is a few tens of hours. Facility S4d-5 is quite expansive, but it is ultimately a finite area.

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Hmm, all very good suggestions. One of the things I wanted to stress is that Praise very much isn’t the terrifying posthuman ur-being that the Congregation is meant to make them - the tech is a horribly buggy beta that never got updated, and doesn’t really work - but I think some of these suggestions work very well from the perspective of what it might have done.
Well, if that's your intention, that's fine, but the background does tell a slightly contradictory tale: "The Congregation functioned as advised, but there was a reason that we're not all using Congregation-imbued technology today is that it doesn't last for more than a few minutes without destroying you".

From that, I felt that they should perhaps enjoy some of the benefits of being something other than human, albeit at the cost of their soul and the many troubles that come from tying your physical well-being quite so directly to a shattered mind.
S.Sgt Silva Birgen: "Good evening, we're here from the Adeptus Defenestratus."
Captain L. Rollin: "Nonsense. Never heard of it."
Birgen: "Pick a window. I'll demonstrate".

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Offline jediknight129

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Re: Sister Die-Well Brandeis and her patients/buddies
« Reply #5 on: Today at 08:03:08 AM »
I know this is an old old old thread but im fascinated by the trans aspect of this, the importance of Identity and the questions it brings up in ithe inq universe. The idea of what is human. Im really looking forward to reports of this character in play.

I never expected to find any discussion of trans/ identity issues. within a character in 40k and really like the way that its been done its a really well written character. Iv always wondered if i could portray the kind o issues I experience in a character and had never thought of the mechanicum as a way to do that.

Have you thought about if/how a ranged ability could be done with Praise? Just... It does feel that there needs to be something there just not sure what to suggest.

I also really do like the way that this caring supportive psychologist sister is at the same time just ever so slightly 'wromg' its hard to put my finger on it I guess but the use of concepts like lovebombing and casually admitting to breaking people as a healing technique. Is there some way to reflect that in her on table stuff. Maybe something like The Silvertongued rule in one of the DM issues where she can use her understanding and caring to manipulate someone into taking a desired action?