Conviction and Loyalty [Deviant: The Renegades]

Deviant: The Renegades

Eric here. Today, I’m posting a fair chunk of the current Conviction and Loyalty section of Deviant. If conspiracies drive the actions of the entire cohort, Conviction and Loyalty Touchstones provide specific motivation to each individual Remade. Ready? Here we go:

Divergence damages the part of the Remade’s soul that once guided her senses of self and identity, replacing Virtue and Vice with the twin Anchors of Loyalty and Conviction. She defines herself by her interactions with others — specifically those actions driven by love and hate and directed toward a specific person, group, cause, or location.

A Remade’s Conviction can run white hot or blisteringly cold. It compels the transformed to do what needs to be done, often forcing her to make hard choices in the pursuit of her designated enemies. It dictates her need to confront anyone who would keep her from pursuing her goals. Conviction is the churning, seething anger that always lurks at the edges of her emotions. It is what makes a Renegade fight, what gives her the courage to escape, and what pushes her to determine her own fate. Conviction serves as a source of Willpower based on her actions.

Where anger and hate guide Conviction, Loyalty represents the Remade’s ties to those she cares about deeply and strives to protect — both from herself and from the sinister forces she tangles with. These are those few people who have stood by her since her Divergence, who accepted her how she was before and how she is now. They’re the friends and family who refuse to be scared off even when she insists they ought to run, that it’s for their own good. They’re also the new friends she’s made since everything changed. It’s hard for a Deviant to maintain relationships, but these ones approach the sacred for her. She’ll do anything it takes to protect the people who have earned her trust to this degree. Loyalty restores the Broken’s Willpower when she acts to uphold it.

Touchstones

Touchstones invoke strong feelings of hate or love in the Remade, anchoring her to her remaining humanity. Acting for or against a Touchstone helps the Deviant keep her Instabilities from growing worse, while falling short of these obligations shakes her confidence and can trigger disastrous complications.

Whether Conviction or Loyalty, most Touchstones are individual people. Some Broken forge ties with an object, place, or organization, but these are always concrete and localized – something that can be threatened or destroyed by a single actor in a single time and place, whether with a gun or an explosive.

A Deviant hates her Conviction Touchstones with a limitless rage. She recalls them with a passion so deep it always seethes just beneath the surface, ready to boil over. Most are members of the conspiracy that stalks her or created her: her Progenitor, the school administrator who nominated her for the experimental program, the lab tech who injected her with the serum, or the old roommate who invited her along to participate in an obscure ritual. She might even wish to see the lab where she was experimented on destroyed, or the ritual altar smashed Others have earned her enmity in other ways, such as by threatening a Loyalty Touchstone, standing in the way of the Remade’s revenge, or inconveniencing her in other ways: the police officer who keeps hauling her in for questioning, or the neighborhood gang that’s always making trouble for the cohort and their allies.

If causing a Conviction Touchstone to suffer is satisfying, killing one outright offers a moment of catharsis. However, resolving a Conviction Touchstone by destroying it does not extinguish the yawning chasm of the Deviant’s need to protect or exact vengeance. The Remade who destroys one Conviction Touchstone almost always replaces it with another as soon as possible – or with a Loyalty Touchstone.

The focus of a Loyalty Touchstone is often someone the Deviant knew before her Divergence. This may be an old friend or lover, a partner in crime, or even a former enemy whose past sins now pale in comparison to what her Progenitor did to her. Some Touchstones form after the Renegade goes through her ordeal: the lab assistant who helped her escape, or the member of her cohort who bears an uncanny resemblance to her little sister. They are people who remind her that even though being Remade took away a piece of her humanity, it didn’t take all of it. They show the transformed kindness even when — especially when — she’s incapable of showing it to herself, and they have her back even if they don’t always agree with her choices.

Loyalty Touchstones are the source of both comfort and concern for the Deviant. The Touchstone is the person he goes to when he’s troubled, but that means if his enemies are watching, and he’s not careful enough, he’s putting his friend in the conspiracy’s crosshairs. Ruthless conspirators often threaten to harm the Touchstone, following her to work, watching her children on the playground. They make her life difficult, sometimes using bureaucratic frustrations to mask their involvement. Police show up on her doorstep, following up on a tip that she’s harboring the fugitive Renegade. Child services pays a visit based on an anonymous call from a concerned party. Some conspirators contact the Touchstone directly, attempting to turn her against the Remade or suggesting they can protect her from him if he grows violent. They try their best to sow seeds of doubt between them.

Upsetting the Broken’s loved ones is a combination of a taunt and a threat. The conspiracy wants the Renegade to know they’re watching, to know they’re keeping tabs on where he goes and who he values. Anything they can do to throw their target off-balance is just fine by the conspiracy. In extreme cases, the Deviant’s enemies kidnap his Touchstones or put them in physical danger. While this can draw the Remade out of hiding or make him come to the table and negotiate, it also serves to fuel his hate and determination against the conspirators involved. Overtly threatening a Touchstone can backfire — a Touchstone is much less likely to be off the grid, and therefore will be missed by other people in her life if she suddenly stops showing up for work or her children don’t come to school. Conspirators usually deploy these extreme tactics sparingly, and only when they’re certain they can minimize the fallout.

Systems

  • Starting Renegade characters begin with at least three dots in Conviction and one in Loyalty, which Origin then modifies (see Chapter One). The sum of Loyalty and Conviction is never more than five. Each dot has one associated Touchstone, a character toward whom the Renegade feels a particularly strong hatred or protectiveness.
  • After a scene in which the Renegade makes progress toward one of her Conviction Touchstones, she gains one Willpower and takes a Beat. Once per session, when she risks danger or suffers for her Loyalty Touchstone, she regains all Willpower.
  • If a Touchstone is destroyed or killed, or when a Touchstone falls to Wavering, the Broken’s Loyalty or Conviction falls by one (depending on which Trait the Touchstone was attached to). If both Loyalty and Conviction reach 0, the Deviant goes Feral (p. XX).
  • Once per chapter, the Remade may declare a new Touchstone to fill an open Touchstone slot. This Touchstone begins at Wavering, and therefore doesn’t increase the character’s Loyalty or Conviction, unless it is successfully affirmed (p. XX).
  • A Touchstone may switch from Loyalty to Conviction (or vice versa) without Wavering first, as long as the Touchstone itself remains the same. When the Broken’s best friend betrays her, for example, her rage is so instantaneous she doesn’t pause to consider why her friend might have done such a thing.
  • Abandoning an existing Touchstone and replacing it with a new one is a two-step process. First, the Remade must cut ties with the old Touchstone, therefore losing a point of Loyalty or Conviction. This counts the same as his declaring a new Touchstone action for the chapter. Once the next chapter begins, he may name his new Touchstone, which begins at Wavering.
  • Acting counter to his Touchstone — failing to pursue the subject of a Conviction Touchstone or abandoning a Loyalty Touchstone in a time of need — means the Renegade has Faltered. The player rolls his current trait rating as a dice pool to determine the severity of the damage to the relationship:

Roll Results

Success: The character believes he made the right choice. Both trait and Touchstone remain in place.

Exceptional Success: The character heals a minor Instability.

Failure: Remove a dot of the trait. The Touchstone remains in place but becomes Wavering.

Dramatic Failure: The character loses both a dot in the trait and the Touchstone and suffers a medium Instability.

When a character acts against a Wavering Touchstone, he rolls his current trait as above, but on a failed roll, the Touchstone is lost, in addition to the dot.

The Renegade can also attempt to affirm a Wavering Touchstone, strengthening his friendship or rekindling his hatred for a conspirator. When he acts in support of a Wavering Touchstone, he rolls the trait (Conviction or Loyalty) as a dice pool.

Roll Results

Success: The character has gone above and beyond for his friend, or done a job that reminded him just how deeply his hatred toward his enemy burns. The Touchstone is no longer Wavering, and the Renegade gains a dot in that trait.

Exceptional Success: In affirming his dedication to the Touchstone, the character discovers a new reservoir of rage or devotion within himself. The character successfully affirms the Touchstone as above. In addition, if the character has an open Touchstone slot, he may immediately assign a new Touchstone, even if he has already done so during the current chapter. This new Touchstone is initially Wavering, as normal.

Failure: Nothing changes. The character has done the bare minimum his friend expects a decent person to do, or has chased down a lead against his enemy without any tangible results. The character does not regain the dot in the trait, and the Touchstone remains Wavering.

Dramatic Failure: The character finds he cannot rekindle his love or hate of the Touchstone. The character loses the Wavering Touchstone.

Sometimes the Renegade is caught between pursuing a Conviction Touchstone and aiding a Loyalty one. He gains the benefits for the one he follows, and rolls Faltering for the one he failed.

  11 comments for “Conviction and Loyalty [Deviant: The Renegades]

  1. NICOLAS MILIONI GRAVINA ABDU
    September 10, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Eric,you are officially a loyalty touchstone of mine. I’m so grateful

    • Eric Zawadzki
      September 12, 2019 at 11:44 pm

      I’m glad you approve. Just don’t go all Phantom of the Opera on me, okay? *smirk*

  2. RobertD
    September 11, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I love the plot points this will lead to :)!

    • SunlessNick
      September 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

      It makes me want a scientist who created a Remade as a loyalty touchstone – so overcome with horror at what they did to her that they helped her go on the run and are tirelessly working on a way to cure her.

  3. Jean-Vincent PICARD
    September 11, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Hi, Just one question: is Alex Mercer/James Heller (Prototype videogame characters) is possible To make as a Renegade with all their powers and capabilities?
    I’m totally fond of this game and it seems To me Deviant would be the best CofD gabarit To give them flesh^^

    • Eric Zawadzki
      September 12, 2019 at 11:52 pm

      Deviant can do a lot of different character concepts, but I’m not familiar with that series (beyond skimming a Wikipedia article). It probably won’t be an exact fit (TTRPGs aren’t video games), although the individual capabilities (superhuman strength, climbing/jumping, variable methods of supernatural attack, and acquiring power through cannibalism) seem to be within the range of what Variations can achieve.

  4. Zen_Hydra
    September 12, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Is there an in-universe explanation for why deviants break in the same way? Conviction and Loyalty are certainly thematic with the sub-genre, but it would be a strange coincidence that a cohort of deviants (with very different origins) all became monomaniacally fixated on revenge and trust in the same ways.

    • SunlessNick
      September 12, 2019 at 11:56 am

      It could be a symptom of a cracked open soul, which is something deviants have in common.

      • Zen_Hydra
        September 12, 2019 at 12:54 pm

        I understand that. I’m curious about if we’ll get an explanation of how the soul is being damaged in a manner which is expressed the same way by cyborgs, Moreau’s beast-men, and assorted Cronenbergs. If the source and manner of the deviation is different, what about the process of deviating is the same? Mage’s Banishers have damaged souls, but they express that damage in a different way.

      • Eric Zawadzki
        September 13, 2019 at 12:01 am

        The cracked soul is indeed the cause and the unifying fact of every Deviant’s existence (regardless of Origin or Clade). It’s a bit of a chicken and egg question as to whether the occult power cracks the soul or whether the cracked soul unleashes the occult power, but most Deviants (and conspiracies, for that matter) don’t have a way way of observing or measuring the soul.

        The core isn’t going to get deep into the metaphysics of the soul – and certainly not how it fits into the cosmology of other game lines – but I would like to devote some space to both topics in a possible Storytellers Guide.

  5. B
    September 15, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Did the TV show Dark Angel influence Remade animals being called Manticores?

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