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 The Ends of the Matrix

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PostSubject: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:18 pm

passing out a heads-up to any of those deck-heads that think something is odd with the SR4 Matrix processes.. You know the feeling: It works, but there's ~something~ that just doesn't jive with you?

A friend found this. I'm passing it on.

The Ends of the Matrix
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:08 am

LOL! This brings up some good questions I've always wondered about! Especially this line:
Quote :
And finally we have to ask ourselves why someone who breaks into and alters computers belonging to secure and powerful installations as his actual job gives an entire rat's dreck about being paid in electronic currency and still lives in a leaky apartment next to some dwarven prostitutes.
That's never made much sense to me either. I think I'll read more of this!

Edit: Moar stuff that makes WAY too much sense:

Quote :
Bone Lacing is the classic example of a piece of cyberware that costs essence for no reason. Not only does it not interact with your nervous system in any way, it doesn't even replace a single cell. Your Calcium Phosphate matrix isn't "alive" in any meaningful fashion, it's just a dead mineral scaffold that your body happens to hang on like a fleshy coat. Even more damning, Bone Lacing actually costs more essence when it's made out of something that is more awesome.

Quote :
Having computer gibberish inserted into your brain is not always completely useless. Indeed, if that computer gibberish has already been specifically formatted to interact properly with your brain's informational retrieval system (as is the case with a Know Soft), then you can in fact proceed as if you had gained useful information from the impulses coming up your datajack. But that sort of formatting is apparently so difficult that chips with Linguasofts and Knowsofts cost thousands of nuyen and people are OK with that.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:34 am

Actually, from an RL perspective, I do not agree with his musings about Bone Lacing. The fact is that there is almost no point on a bone which is not connected to active living flesh... be that muscle, tendon, ligament, etc. That being said, installing bone lacing would be a more involved surgery, and a more involved incorporation process for the body, than installing reflex enhancements. The truth is that the skeleton is more central to the structure and movement of a human than the central nervous system.
So, Bone Lacing, in my opinion, is cheaper on the essense than it should be.

As far as costs go to improve it, think on this: is it easier to convince a muscle to re-attach itself to plastic, or Titanium. If your answer was Titanium, then you shouldn't be posting in this forum... Wink
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:36 am

Okay yeah, true, but there shouldn't be any difference at all from aluminum to titanium for essence loss. Razz

Er, maybe because of weight? Is being heavier enough of a traumatizing event to make you lose essence? Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:43 am

I dunno... I am not a surgeon, but I certainly can imagine. Relative to having to write rules, etc. for a gaming system, the obvious answer would be yes, weight would have an impact. Also hardness. Titanium is a lot harder than Aluminum; so the process for reattaching flesh to the metal would likely be a lot more involved, difficult, and require more skill and time. More time opened up, likely means more essense loss too.

But, those are just my thoughts...
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:49 am

Hmm, well, okay. I guess it's pretty easy to find answers when the subject is so darn abstract. What is essence? Well, it's your... humanity! But what is it in scientific terms? Shut up, it's your humanity! Oh, okay. So how do you lose it? By making yourself more awesome! What? But how is it actually lowered? Shut up, or do you not want to be more awesome?! Erm... okay...

It's like some sort of mental health level plus spiritual wellness and physical wellbeing...? It's all confoundingly abstract. Neutral
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:59 am

Yeah... I never really questioned essense itself... to me it was just sort of "the cost of doing business" in terms of acquiring 'ware. But yeah, the idea that has always stuck with me is fairly well summed by what you wrote below:

"It's like some sort of mental health level plus spiritual wellness and physical wellbeing..."

That does bring to mind a question though: If you lose a limb, and live without it, that doesn't cost essense. But if you decide to replace it, that does... Interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:03 am

Exactly! And that's why it's always been like, 'wait, wut?' for me. That's why it seems like Essence loss is related to tampering with the nervous system. You could wear a robotic arm (like the Gyro Stabilization Arm gun accessory) without any Essence loss, but as soon as you 'plug it in'... BAM! Essence loss.

But oh well. I get why it's needed for balance so it's all good! Cool
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:30 pm

I'll take a step into the magical with this one, and try to approach the "limb" topic from an Adept's point of view.

Now, it is accepted that magic works as simply "channeling" and "shaping" an effect utilizing the ambient mana, (now that the sixth world has come)

However, one does have to take into account the.. "Circuit"? "Channel"? that is the body. If an intact (full essence) body is a complete "circuit" for lack of an appropriate analogy at the moment, then removing some of the circuit's integrity and replacing it with cyberware effectively impedes the flow due to a "resistance?" "dampener?" "presence of a foreign component" that is now part of the "Circuit". Hence the issue with "Overchanneling", which effectively exceeds the minimum safe "voltage" for the circuit, and causes damage to the "housing".

It could be said that unconsciously, anything living channels a small amount of ambient mana by simply living, which establishes the "flow" of magic from birth. Whether able to actively manipulate the flow (hence Mages and Adepts), the flow is simply passive, and has no appreciable impact, save for the humanity issue-- which is another post entirely.

The same can be said for Bioware, which, while organic, is not of the same origin. Anyone that would say that cloned Bioware should bypass this, and not count in the same manner, it was mentioned in.. "Man & Machine", I believe. While not directly affecting Essence, it does put the body under Stress that it normally would not have. Said "stress" impedes the flow of magic, or the "channeling" effect, hence the same result (mechanically).

So Magic functions as a rather simplistic version manner of "absolutes", if you will. A "5.56" is most certainly less than a "6", and while skill in manipulation can account for a lot, a "6" cannot be reached without overchanneling, and the closest "absolute" that is not "6" is "5". Not to mention that the rating could actually have a .56, but any bodily resistance automatically resists and ignores any application of energy that is "incomplete", which is to say, not a "whole" number -- thus rolling back around into the "integrity" aspect.

How'd that come out? Make sense?
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:35 pm

It makes great sense to me, and I suspect a lot of other people will be able to follow that logic well as well. In general, I would agree with you. However, how do we manage the specific application of that rule to the difference between someone who lives without a limb, and someone who replaces it? Magic is not impeded by a missing limb, only by a replaced one.
(I do have some ways that I would answer that question... it will be interesting to see how your answer matches my own)
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:02 pm

Makes sense to me, Line!

But yeah, that still doesn't explain why an amputee mage is A-OK so long as they don't get a replacement limb. Although... I guess it sorta does in those electronics terms you put it in. If a cybernetic arm is like a resistor, then an amputated arm without a cybernetic replacement would be like cutting out a section of a circuit and closing it off to create a smaller but still pure loop. I have no idea how to translate that to metaphysical terms, but considering that the nervous system is basically routed into new arm, it could be seen as spiritually "rooting" it...?

But that returns to the question of how bone lacing impacts Essence since it doesn't do anything to the nervous system and just what is Essence anyway?!?! Razz

Can you lose Essence from having surgery to like, set a broken bone or something?
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:23 pm

And here I was thinking that I had logically answered the bone-lacing question... It DOES do a HUGE amount of change-damage to the system. And, Line's discussion was not nervous-system specific, but more a question of whether or not the normal pathways of energy movement within the body would be affected by the addition of a new element, in terms of a resistor. Bone lacing, in that sense, still would significantly impede any normal energy flow, even without opposing nervous-system flow.

As for the Amputee: a smaller loop should be translated in to a smaller pool... losing an arm, in that respect, would translate into losing essense, replacement or no.
I think that question is still open.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:35 pm

Well, not in electrical terms! A voltage drop is the same regardless of the amount of wire (for a hypothetical zero resistance wire, that is). You suddenly changed the metaphor on me to something with pools. Razz

In the electrical metaphor the current is only reduced because of the introduction of the new element in the circuit, which increases resistance. I = V/R.

It'd be easier to talk about if it was ever explained how magic/mana worked. I was assuming energy 'flowed' along a person's nerves. It seems like a reasonable assumption. It can't be blood vessels or muscles or bones because an amputation would impact it too, and a cybernetic limb doesn't connect to any of those! But a cybernetic limb connects to nerves so......

I dunno, it makes sense to me but it's all speculation. So yes, if Essence isn't just nervous system then sure, bone lacing would cause Essence loss, I guess. But we haven't managed to explain how Essence is lost. It's all so circular my head is spinning! Arrow
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PostSubject: Here's one for you   Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:06 pm

If essence was your nerves, then wired reflexes would take up all of your essence seeing it is a replacement of your nervous system. The way essence was explained best was in SR2's Cybertechnology. Essence is what holds your soul inside your body. It is your humanity. By adding cyberware inside your body, you are loosing a little bit of the anchor that holds your soul in place. That is why cyberzombies need magic to hold their souls inside their metal monstrosities.

Now, if there was a way...

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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:08 pm

Well, if we are willing to return to the SR2 definition, then the missing arm question is irrelevant. Being a paraplegic is unrelated to your capacity to retain your soul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:14 pm

Digital Doom wrote:
If essence was your nerves, then wired reflexes would take up all of your essence seeing it is a replacement of your nervous system.

Um, have you seen those Essence costs? It practically does! Razz The higher the rating of the Wired Reflexes, the more of your nervous system it replaces, and the larger the hit to your Essence. Makes sense to me! Very Happy

But yeah... souls... I guess that's where the magic comes in. I don't know how they quantify one's soul loss... but there ya go.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 4:51 pm

Durandana wrote:
It'd be easier to talk about if it was ever explained how magic/mana worked. I was assuming energy 'flowed' along a person's nerves. It seems like a reasonable assumption. It can't be blood vessels or muscles or bones because an amputation would impact it too, and a cybernetic limb doesn't connect to any of those! But a cybernetic limb connects to nerves so......

Magic/Mana is... Ambient energy. (Again, I'm speaking from an Adept's point of view, and SR3, at that) Let's see if I can give you a few page numbers for reference here.. SR4 p25 (I'm citing from a .pdf, so my numbers may be off slightly), second column, second paragraph of "Dunkelzahn explains it all". The notable quote here is that "..magic returned to the world."

Now, this isn't an all-of-a-sudden-POOF! sort of thing, if we are to apply some sort of naturalistic law to this. Here is where I may deviate slightly from the core books, as I may have to reference the novels at one point or another. I don't remember precisely where, but a mention was made of "ambient mana levels". I'm corroborating this with another mention in an explanation of UGE --which I can't find as a quick reference-- that stated that the genetics for UGE were in human DNA all along, just that the level of ambient magical energy was not high enough to trip those "triggers" that caused expression. Another item in support of the magical energy being "ambient", is the lack of mana in space. A third reason that may link Magic/Mana to life energy is the astral plane. Living things glow brighter on the astral, while manufactured (re: not naturally occurring) items are not as vibrant (and do not impede astral forms, but that's another discussion as well).

You are not wrong in thinking that energy "flows" along a person's nerves. However, I do think that you may be too focused in that interpretation. "Energy" as you state it is biochemically generated. "Magical Energy" is some ineffable combination of Life, Thought, Emotion (see Background Count for what concentrations of such can do), and that nebulous "soul" concept that altogether gives off "ambient energy" that can be manipulated.

The cybernetic limb, while functioning and connecting to the human body, is not "Alive", and uses the energy generated by the body to power itself with no "return". While it does cost essence and does become a part of "you" for the intents and purposes of magic, as your life energy powers it. Disconnected, it remains as is, with no "life" to give, where as a disconnected (severed or otherwise) human arm will die, or give up the "life" it possesses, decaying and re-entering the life cycle.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:27 pm

Ahh, I think I see. Although very well written, that last paragraph was especially helpful in understanding it. It's still all very metaphysical but at least it makes sense in that context.

So it's sort of like a measure of your consciousness, and when you plug in that cybernetic arm you have to 'expend' some of your consciousness in order to connect to it and manipulate it, to make it part of who you are. Which would explain why all other implants cost Essence, as your soul has to stretch itself a bit thinner to accommodate the new being you have become.

Well that's a cool way of looking at it (assuming I've got it right)! Thanks for taking the time to explain. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:39 pm

Line, I like your discussion there... so, the 2 real differences between someone who loses an arm, and chooses to live without it, and someone who replaces it are the following:
First, the cyberlimb has a net-cost on the body's energy.
Second, the cyberlimb physically incorporates itself into the life-energy of the body, while still remaining non-living.

You can find those UGE references on pages 26 and 27 of SR4-20AE (which stands for SR4- 20th Anniversary Edition).
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:15 pm

More or less right, there. There is a longer explanation involving more metaphysics and the perception of the consciousness as claiming that arm as "mine", with possible reactions of the aura, ghost limb syndrome as a partial explanation, as well as some touching on the base theory of ritual links as a way to explain why the part counts as part of the character.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:31 pm

OOH!! Some really interesting things for me to think about in there! I am going to have to look into it. I never really considered Phantom Limb Syndrome as it pertains to essence... but it DOES, more or less, fit into that realm! Also, you are definitely right about claiming the new arm as "mine" and how that would affect the aura. And, the arm wouldn't be able to work properly if you were unwilling to mentally reconcile it's existence... so yeah, that definitely offers up some good food for thought. Score one BIG for Line!
Where do I find these longer explanations?
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:25 am

Aheh.. i'd have to type them.. *thinks*

Phantom Limb Syndrome you can look up, the info doesn't change, since SR was built on a VERY SOLID foundation.. If you look at when the book came out, and some of the technological advances predicted by the book as compared to what is out now.. the WMI, DNI, etc.. They did their homework. The whole "Sixth World" bit.. *shrug* we're not there yet, we'll see.

The explanation for claiming the arm as "mine" and the metaphysical ramifications... Hmm. Well, the idea of Background Count establishes (in SR) the effects that strong emotion can have on an area over time. If you're looking for "real world" equivalents, I don't have anything solid offhand that has been published. You could look into some of the theories behind ghosts (yes, I know), or the more fundamental part of "hauntings", and their relation to EM fields, as well as human sensitivity to them. As magic is purported to not exist (I'm pretty open-minded), documentation is rather sparse, but there have been some unexplained oddities in regards to ESP... Not my field of study, but base theories are always simple, and not hard to find. Auras have been somewhat documented, if not concretely, while bio-electricity or even simpler, radiation is a proven fact.

The relation to ritual links (in SR) does tend to build off of the idea of "mine", or even simpler "proximity", or "significance". Again, I haven't found documentation to this effect, but have you ever noticed that things you work with all the time somehow seem to work better than another object of the same type that you haven't worked with as much? "Attuning" is what I'm trying to get at (for other surprisingly plausible explanations, look into the old World of Darkness' "Mage: The Ascension" book, and the "Prime" Sphere. Yet another company that had a very solid basis for things, mechanics reconciliation aside). For another example, have you ever found yourself unconsciously humming when you're near something that is making audible noise? Ever notice that you sometimes tend to hum in the same tone (oscillation?) with it?

I'm probably deviating, so I'll drag myself back on track and cite the saying "like calls to like", as well as "Resonance" (not the SR version). Ritual links and cell samples are a given, though I do recall a mention of some story (either the SR3 or SR4 magic sourcebook about a vaudun and his girlfriend), where a link was established through something not strongly associated with the target. Anything that a character has emotionally invested in is viable as a ritual link. I would most definitely say that "an Arm" would certainly have some almost immediate and significant amount of investment, whether it is a replacement or improvement, since it is vital to normal (or accustomed) function. Anything of yours that is not shared (or not shared as often) picks up the moniker of "mine" by association, thus the investment, thus the link, if somewhat tenuous.

And so on, and so forth. I believe I've explained enough that you can take the idea one or two or three steps away (with increasing difficulty modifiers per step, of course) that the idea has been conveyed?
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:14 am

Oh, but we did. He pointed it out in his 12:15am post, and I responded to the same tune in my 12:31am post. Our conclusions, while not quite as succinctly put as yours, were quite the same.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:38 pm

I'm not buying that Ou. I wasn't going to say anything, but if you're gonna make a big deal of it... Razz

Essence loss is incurred for things that don't require any power or energy at all. See dermal plating, bone lacing, smuggling compartment, cyber melee weapons, etc. So that can't be a reason for Essence loss. However, I'm now curious as to how cyberware is actually powered. Augmentation seems to give two opposite answers. Read this segment from the optional rules in Augmentation (page 22 in my pdf):
Quote :
Power Supplies
As noted in A Note On Power (p. 33), SR4 makes the assumption that technical advances allow for almost unlimited power supplies for cybernetics and cyberware accessories. For a grittier campaign, you could limit certain high-power -consumption devices (ie, hydraulic jacks, certain cyberlimb plug-ins, etc.) to a set number of uses or set period of battery life, before time must be taken to recharge the batteries.

This would seem to indicate cyberware runs on batteries. But now read this excerpt from just a little bit later (page 33):
Quote :
A Note on Power
Thanks to modern technology, the need to use battery packs or external power sources to operate cyberware is a thing of the past. With the exception of energy weapons and (at the gamemaster’s discretion) certain high-energy-consumption devices, augmented characters do not need to worry about powering their implants, including such ’wares as cyberlimbs and reaction enhancers. Many implants simply use the body’s own natural neural bioelectricity, sometimes storing and redistributing this power using superconductive and macroconductive materials. Other implants use micropower technologies such as thermoelectric generators that rely on the temperature differences between the body and its environment and nanoscale generators that convert power from the mechanical energy of movement.

So the first one seems to indicate that there are batteries but that they don't need to be recharged and the second one explicitly states 'there are no batteries.' I guess the real thing to take away is that machines have become so efficient that they don't take much electricity to run at all. That doesn't mean a cyberlimb saps you of power though... according to A Note on Power, the cyberware just stores up energy when you're not using it, like when you're sleeping or whatever. Or it might not even draw from your body at all, and use other methods of stealthily gathering power. So... if I had a conclusion here, it would be that Essence loss is not caused by stealing electricity from the body, considering the amount is so small as to be negligible. I mean, the human body wastes tons of energy anyway, and that doesn't make you any less human...


Researching this got me reading through Augmentation, and I came across the segment that gives the reason for Essence loss (pages 28-30)... and it completely cuts out the metaphysical aspect. It says it is a combination of psychological and neurological factors. According to Augmentation, Essence loss is because the input from cyberware, the information transmitted is just different. The sense information from a cyberlimb or the visual information from cybereyes is 'wrong' from the brain's point of view, in comparison with natural organs. This makes the person experience a sense of detachment and separation from the outside world.

I guess that explanation kinda gives a reason why bone lacing still lowers Essence, seeing as how you (and your brain) would know you were different thanks to your heavier, stronger bones. I was thinking, 'well, wouldn't knowing you were better than other people just make you feel smug and not detached?' but Augmentation answered that too by pointing out that people experience Essence loss differently. Some become arrogant to the point of sociopathic delusions of their own superiority thanks to their cybernetically enhanced bodies. So... still detachment, just not in the normal depression way.


That's why I was saying earlier, Essence seems to be a combination of magical/spiritual, psychological/mental, and neurological/physical wellness.
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PostSubject: Re: The Ends of the Matrix   Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:58 pm

Durandana wrote:
I mean, the human body wastes tons of energy anyway, and that doesn't make you any less human...

Which neatly punctuates my explanation of "Ambient Mana".
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