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Author Topic: Posessors and hosts taking damage  (Read 1607 times)
John Adams
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« on: March 06, 2009, 01:52:52 PM »

A posessor demon with hop takes it's host to the roof of a 10-story building and jumps off. Assuming the demon doesn't leave the host before he splats, what happens? How would you handle it?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 05:16:36 PM »

Hi John,

More information needed.

First, does the demon fly, does it have Armor, is it really durable, whatever - forget the dice and rolling for just a second, and think strictly in terms of cinema or horror/pulp literature. What I'm asking is whether it's reasonable for the demon's abilities (actually, concept), which it confers to the host by definition, to deal with this kind of impact in the first place.

Second, is there a conflict at hand, and with whom? See, right now, the way you phrased it, the answer is "no." It's the classic "what do I roll if I want to jump a fence," question, which always gets the same response in Sorcerer - what is the current conflict of interest and with whom? So given the answer is "no," and assuming the answer to the first is "yes," then no roll is needed.

I know that is unsatisfying. I can turn your question in a satisfying direction by choosing "yes" to the second question. However, before doing that, I'll be a little scary and point out that if the answer is "no" to the first question, then the demon just killed its host and committed suicide with a single splat. Again, no roll necessary.

OK - I'm willing now to discuss the situation when the answers are "yes" and "yes." But first, let me know that you understand and are good with the reply so far, and ask any questions. Remember, all rolls in Sorcerer are bounded by two "don't roll" parameters, outside of which no discussion of rolls is meaningful.

And for the next step, please take a moment to consider the second question carefully, don't just brush by it. There's a demon, a host it's in, and someone else that entails some kind of conflict of interest. Please let me know what that would be.

Also, for a rules brush-up, check the Currency section and read the bit that references the protagonist in Ghost in the Shell, which is directly relevant to this thread, and which I'll be using as a basis for the next round of posts.

Best, Ron
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John Adams
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Posts: 90


« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2009, 07:36:23 AM »

Thanks Ron! I dashed that post off at the end of a hectic Friday, so I'm amazed you followed my gist as well as you did. Here are the details I should have included:

We have a PC sorcerer trying to destroy a shadowy organization. Whether he can pull that off is another matter, but he will probably try to assassinate some if its members. He has a possessor with Hop (Cloaked, Ranged), Link and Cover.

This hasn't come up yet, but it might and I want to know how to handle it. Say he orders the Demon to possess Bob. The sorcerer can host the Demon and just walk within a few meters of his intended victim, then the Demon hops (cloaked) into its new host, Bob. If Bob isn't killed outright, the demon could write a suicide note in Bob's own hand, walk him up to the roof of a building and jump off.

Questions:

* How would you handle falling damage from a survivable height? GM sets dice vs. Stamina and use a fairly lethal damage table?

* How is damage handled between a possessor and its host? My guess is the demon/host takes damage normally and if it was carrying around 3 lasting penalties and left the host, both demon and host have 3 lasting penalties.

* Is it possible for the host to take lethal damage (4 x Stamina) and yet the demon (with a higher Stamina) lives?

This demon's desire is extreme sensation, so I could see it doing the "Groundhog Day" thing and killing its hosts over and over just for the experience.

I reviewed the Ghost in the Shell rule but I don't see how to apply it here. The demon wants the host to die so it would be using the hosts lower Stamina if possible.
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John Adams
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Posts: 90


« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2009, 09:46:10 AM »


Another scenario in my head is this:

Possessor with Hop, host is Charlie. The demon makes Charlie attack Bob. Bob never liked Charlie anyway and shoots him with a big, nasty gun for 4 lasting penalties. Charlie's Stamina is a 2, Demon has a 6, Bob 3. The demon hops into Bob.

Charlie has 4 lasting penalties and is incapacitated?
The demon caries 4 lasting penalties with him when he leaves Charlie?
If the demon succeeds and possesses Bob, demon/Bob has 4 lasting penalties and can still act under the demon's 6 Stamina? (which may very well cause additional damage to demon/Bob)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2009, 11:23:33 AM »

Hi John,

Sorry about the crazy delay.

Quote
We have a PC sorcerer trying to destroy a shadowy organization. Whether he can pull that off is another matter, but he will probably try to assassinate some if its members. He has a possessor with Hop (Cloaked, Ranged), Link and Cover.

OK, he's trying to kill a guy, using the Possessor as an assassin! I get it. There are two questions on the table.

1. How does Bob die? If it's not a survivable height, then Bob dies without any dice being rolled. If it is survivable (as you asked), then your suggestion is exactly right: The GM sets dice vs. Stamina and uses a fairly lethal damage table. Although I suspect that this will not be an issue if the demon is being compliant and does its best to kill Bob ... it merely rides the elevator pretty high up in the building, after all.

2. Does the demon die, or have a chance to get hurt? Yes. In fact, the demon will take damage from the same roll that Bob encounters. Much as if they were being attacked by the same machine gun burst. The best bet is for the demon to have some ability that completely negates the "falling" problem, such as an appropriate Travel of some kind. Vitality might do it if the demon's Stamina is nice and high, although I'd review the numbers carefully - the demon should have a very clear understanding of the risks involved.

3. How are the demon's and host's damage related? Not at all. One offensive roll, two defensive rolls (one for each entity), and treat them independently. Technically, both might live, one might die and the other live, or both might die. I think this addresses your question about the three penalties, but follow up if it's not making sense to you.

Quote
Possessor with Hop, host is Charlie. The demon makes Charlie attack Bob. Bob never liked Charlie anyway and shoots him with a big, nasty gun for 4 lasting penalties. Charlie's Stamina is a 2, Demon has a 6, Bob 3. The demon hops into Bob.

Yes, Charlie has four lasting penalties and, for the moment, is incapacitated. If the fight is over (which depends on what Charlie does next, now that he's not possessed), this reduces down to 2, so he lives.
No, the demon does not have those penalties. The demon had to make its own defensive roll and might be fully unharmed, harmed but better off than Charlie, or outright destroyed and therefore not Hopping anywhere.

If the demon succeeds and possesses Bob, then the demon carries whatever penalties it brought with it.

Answering these questions helps me understand your basic issue much better. Again, deal with the demon and host separately, even if they face the same incoming attack/damage roll.

Context matters too. Use the above comments as the default, but it's always good to think of possessors and parasites in raw in-game physical terms. I've seen them defined as whole physical entities nestled inside hosts, or as more diffuse entities, e.g. a blood agent. Chat about this sort of thing with the player. Is the blood agent basically immune to such damage because it doesn't rely on a particular amount or arrangement of blood? Or does the blood loss and spattering disrupt it? Wait - one important point: in this paragraph, I am discussing only "incidental" damage incurred because the host was targeted and hurt. If the demon itself was targeted by someone trying to hurt or kill it specifically, than it's a fair target and gets no free pass regardless of verbal definition or how "deep" it's buried in the host.

So assuming that's the case, as in your example (Charlie is the target of Bob's shot), and let's say that the demon is physically vulnerable (as a useful default), then arguably, you could still consider the victory dice against Charlie to "shield" the interior demon. Let's say that Bob's roll was with seven dice, and as you say, he wins with four victories. Leave the seven dice on the table and give the demon four bonus dice to its defensive roll, figuring that Charlie's poor body is slowing the attack down by that amount.

So give a little bit of thought about the assassin possessor in this regard. If it doesn't have a fall-proof ability, then I think it's not unreasonable that this "host splats first" logic might apply, giving it a better chance to walk away.

Best, Ron
edited 'cause I forgot to make your first quote into a quote - RE
« Last Edit: March 16, 2009, 05:15:44 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
John Adams
Member

Posts: 90


« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 05:41:20 AM »

Thanks Ron! Clear and consistent as always.

This demon's not suicidal, though it might enjoy the terror and pain of the host dying horribly. It does have a "travel" power of sorts, Hop! So let's put a bystander down below shouting "don't jump!" (or if you're cynical, "Jump!"). As long as someone is within (Power) meters the demon can Hop out at the last minute. Now we have a complex conflict:

The Ground is rushing up to say hello, using GM dice
Bob is trying to ... ummm ... land gracefully? rolls Stamina +2 dice for full defense
The Demon's action is to Hop into a new victim and rolls Power
The Bystander is watching in horror and rolls Will to watch/not watch from the front row

If The Ground goes before the Demon, I get to suck it up for 1 die or abort and roll the Demon's Stamina to defend.

Now technically speaking, I see no need for the Bystander to roll up front, she's not doing anything in this case. But she will probably be rolling to defend so we roll for her "action" anyway, right?

Likewise, Bob is just rolling to get the 2-die bonus. If The Ground wins the first roll he aborts and gets to re-roll his Stamina for defense. (Not a bad deal for Bob!) Come to think of it, I might only allow Bob to get the full defense bonus if his Stamina descriptor or Cover included the idea of "landing well". Martial Arts, military training, that sort of thing. Otherwise, he'd be at 1 die on the roll for his action.

I think I'm starting to grok how all of this fits together.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 01:44:41 PM »

You got it!

I think that the bystander wouldn't roll except as simple defense when and if the demon makes its Hop attempt. In many cases, I'd have that person roll just to discover, cinematically, when and if the spoken phrase was delivered, but in this case, given the distance and the total disconnection between the bystander's actions and the actions of the rolls, I think that the words would appear during the pre-roll phase. No real big deal to do it otherwise, though.

Best, Ron
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