Stability [Deviant: The Renegades]

Deviant: The Renegades

This is our last preview post before the Deviant Kickstarter launches on Thursday. Watch this blog Thursady for the link!

Eric here. Today, I’m sharing most of the current mechanics for Stability. The Stability track works much like the health track, with damage to it being the result of minor, medium, or major Instability (marked with slashes, X’s, and asterisks just like bashing, lethal, and aggravated damage). Without further ado:

Stability measures the extent and progression of a Deviant’s mutations as she retreats farther from human society and loses control of her powers. After her Divergence, a Remade must relearn who she is and what she stands for. Her world has fundamentally changed — not only due to those alterations brought about by her Variations and Scars, but by that part of her soul they’ve broken as they anchored in.

She also works to control her Variations. Getting a grasp on her powers is essential: she needs to keep them in check to avoid harming innocents and be able to unleash them on the conspiracies that hunt her. When a Variation fails or responds in an erratic manner, the results can be catastrophic. The Deviant’s body reacts, her Scars intensifying in response to the power fluctuation or to the Renegade’s own panicked reaction. Sometimes, she can get them back under control, by focusing on the things that ground her. She protects her loved ones. She pours her rage into dismantling the conspiracy. If a Deviant is unable to rein in her Instabilities, she risks a horrifying spiral that leads to further mutation, madness, and possibly, death.

When the character neglects her Touchstones or feels her carefully constructed sense of self shaken, her Stability is wounded and she gains an Instability. Instabilities are measured in three degrees of severity: minor, medium, and major.

When the character has taken sufficient levels of Instability, her Scars begin to increase in Magnitude, potentially also activating her Variations — some of them involuntarily. Minor Instabilities aren’t always immediately obvious. The Renegade might be able to shrug off the increased frequency of memories glitching on him as simply being distracted. He can hide smaller wounds and subtle changes to his body by dressing carefully to conceal any unusual growths. He mutters about having to change the bulb in every lamp he’s touched today, knowing that it’s his own Variation overloading them.

Medium Instabilities get harder to overlook, as the Broken’s mannerisms or the way she moves make it clear to onlookers that something is inherently wrong. She’s no longer simply distracted; now she’s staring off into space, responding to conversations no one else can hear. Now his bones are brittle enough to warrant three trips to the emergency room in the space of a week. He walks into a room and all the lights go out, all the breakers tripped.

Major Instabilities are extremely difficult to conceal. The Deviant is no longer sure where reality ends and her hallucinations begin. Her body is one large open wound or has mutated in a way that can’t be missed. Her very flesh roils with the changes, bones snapping and reforming into new shapes, her skin sloughing off to reveal a layer of scales beneath. His powers betray him as well, firing off without his control: he walks down the street and transformers spark and explode as he drinks in the electricity.

Marking Instability

The character’s Stability track contains a number of boxes equal to 5 + his Acclimation.

Instabilities are marked off from left to right, with the most severe injuries in the leftmost box, pushing the least severe further to the right as injuries accrue. When healing Instabilities, the rightmost boxes are healed first, progressing to the left.

At the start of a story, the character marks off a number of minor Instabilities equal to the Magnitude of her highest Variation.

When a character suffers a minor Instability, mark it with a slash () in the empty box farthest to the left on her Stability track.

When a character suffers a medium Instability, mark it with an X in the box farthest to the left that doesn’t already contain a medium or major Instability. If this marks over a minor Instability, that minor Instability moves one box to the right.

When a character suffers a major Instability, mark it with a large asterisk (*) in the box farthest to the left that doesn’t already contain a major Instability. If this marks over a medium or minor Instability, those shift to the right.

Consequences

Unlike Health (p. XX) Stability has no wound penalties. However, the number of Instabilities marked off does have mechanical effects:

  • Every minor, medium, or major Instability in the last (rightmost) five boxes imposes a 1-die penalty on Scar Resistance rolls (p. XX).
  • Every medium or major Instability in the last five boxes adds one Magnitude to a Scar. This cannot create new Scars.
  • For every major Instability in the last five boxes, the player must choose a new, unentangled Scar. This Scar’s Magnitude must adhere to the rules for new unentangled Scars (p. XX).
  • If the rightmost box is filled with a major Instability, the characters’ mutations have progressed too far beyond his ability to adapt or heal, and he gains the End Stage Condition (p. XX).

Stabilizer
A character with the Stabilizer Merit (p. XX) possesses an item or receives a treatment that blunts some of the impact of Instability and helps keep certain Scars under control.

As Instabilities only carry consequences when adding Magnitude to Scars in the last five boxes, dots in Acclimation give the character additional Stability boxes she can fill with no consequences attached.

Causes

Instability rears its head when the Remade feels her grasp on her humanity slip. It stems from a loss of control, either over her powers or in her ability to navigate her relationships with her Touchstones. The following situations create Instability:

  • At the start of a story, the character marks off a number of minor Instabilities equal to the Magnitude of her highest Variation.
  • A Dramatic Failure on a Scar Finesse or Scar Resistance roll (p. XX) causes a minor Instability.
  • Testing for Faltering on Conviction or Loyalty (p. XX) causes a minor Instability.
  • A Dramatic Failure on a Faltering roll causes a medium Instability.
  • The death (or permanent destruction) or a Loyalty Touchstone causes a medium Instability. This is instead a major Instability if the loss occurred during the same scene in which she Faltered in her service to the lost Loyalty Touchstone.

Additionally, some Scars, Variations, and Adaptations may inflict Instability, leading the Deviant toward a dangerous spiral of Instability and mutation unless she finds a way to halt its progress.

Healing Instability

Instabilities do not simply heal with time. The blows to a Remade’s psyche require more than just thinking about what she did, or giving herself some distance from the act. In fact, withdrawing from human contact only exacerbates her Instability. Instead, the transformed must actively work to shore up her relationships with and her approaches to her Touchstones. By acting in support of her Loyalty Touchstones or pursuing her Conviction Touchstones, she pulls herself back toward more stable spiritual ground, and her mind and body respond in kind. The mutations she’s suffered recede, and her control over her Variations returns.

  • Once per scene, acting in concert with her Conviction Touchstone heals one minor Instability or downgrades a medium Instability to minor.
  • Once per scene, acting in support of her Loyalty Touchstone heals one medium or minor Instability.
  • Affirming a Wavering Touchstone heals one medium or minor Instability.
  • Killing or otherwise permanently destroying a Conviction Touchstone heals one major, medium, or minor Instability.
  • By gaining a new permanent Scar, the Deviant may downgrade one major Instability to medium, or heal one medium Instability (p. XX). This is limited to once per chapter.

In addition to the Renegade working to uphold his Touchstones, some Variations, Scars,
Conditions, and Merits may also grant him the ability to heal an Instability.

Normally, when Instability heals, the increased Magnitude of Scars and any new Scars go away. However, a player may choose to permanently increase the Magnitude of one, some, or all Variations entangled with that Scar (which does not cost Experiences), or to spend Experiences to choose a new Variation to entangle it with (see p. XX). This purchase can be made mid-scene, when the Instability first occurs, or after the dust has settled. In either case, once the Instability heals, the Scar’s Magnitude remains at its new rating.

New Condition: End Stage

The Divergence has reached a terminal stage, as new mutations proliferate and existing ones worsen beyond the capacity of the human mind and body to compensate for them. Any of the Deviant’s Magnitude 5 Variations (as well as those of lower Magnitude that represent the maximum Magnitude for that Variation) exceed their usual capabilities and activate immediately.

A character with Gigantic 5 might grow to Size 30, for example, or a per-scene, per-chapter, or per-story limit might not apply to a Variation that normally has one. Although this can be potent, it is primarily a narrative effect – the explosive power of a supernova that will leave only a dead star behind.

Unless the character resolves this Condition by the end of the current chapter, he dies. No medical intervention, Variation, or supernatural influence can prevent or reverse this death. The forces at work are too much for the human body to bear, and the Deviant’s cracked soul shatters beyond repair.

Possible Sources: Suffering a major Instability in the character’s rightmost Stability box.
Resolution: Heal a major Instability by destroying a Conviction Touchstone.

  11 comments for “Stability [Deviant: The Renegades]

  1. SSmith
    September 17, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Reading this, I am a little confused. I was sure it had been said early on that Deviant was being designed as a good entry point for players new to this system, but this post in particular introduces a *lot* of unfamiliar keywords and mechanics. This actually sounds extremely complicated so far.

    • Eric Zawadzki
      September 18, 2019 at 1:07 am

      I’m sorry to hear you are finding it confusing. Although Deviant has fewer moving parts and weird inherent powers than, say, Mage, Demon, or Geist, it is not without its nuances. As well, it is usually much easier to make sense of these things when they are placed in the context of the manuscript. You might try thumbing through the previews during the Kickstarter to see whether or not it’s something you want to try at your table.

      Is there anything specific you’d like me to clarify? There’s also a pretty lengthy Deviant thread over on the Onyx Path forums where I’ve been answering questions and putting some of the concepts in the spoilers into context.

  2. Ryu
    September 17, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    What baffles me a bit is that the death is not reversible. Some splats like mages and demons have quite strong powers in these regards that even alter reality and that seems to try to counter those? That confuses me as a soul is usually replaceable and reality changesble Oo

    • reseru
      September 17, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Mechanics work to support a game’s themes, and the themes of this game are different than Demon’s.

      • Leliel
        September 17, 2019 at 8:31 pm

        And really, if anything’s going to cause you to perma-die, it’s your soul undergoing nuclear meltdown. Every facet of your existence explodes from overuse. It’s as spectacular as it is final.

      • Eric Zawadzki
        September 18, 2019 at 12:50 am

        Quite so. We don’t get into the metaphysics of the soul to nearly the same degree as Mage does, in no small part because Deviants don’t have Mage Sight. Few Remade know *why* they are Broken or that the soul exists. Most *conspiracies* don’t have a complete understanding of this. I want to provide a bit more discussion on exactly what is wrong with the Deviant’s soul and how it works in crossover in a later supplement.

        From a thematic perspective, however, it would destroy the tragic tone of the game (and the purpose of Instability as a mechanical threat) if the Divergence could be cured by any Apprentice of Death. Whatever Instability is, too much of it is invariably fatal, and such death is irreversible. Any exceptions are left to individual Storytellers and chronicles.

        • RYu
          September 18, 2019 at 1:38 am

          So to set it a bit into perspective for me. This final death scenario is the conparesble to a vampire drinking the soul of another vampire. In terms of fatality. Then i get the rule there (without context as you mentioned it will be given with other supplements latest) it just stood out.

          And thus i wanted to point it out. Aside from that it looks quite interesting.

  3. Geomancer
    September 18, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    It’s interesting to see that in order to heal a Major Instability, you can’t be peaceful. You have to destroy, to wreak havoc with your rage, in order to heal yourself. I mean, you could gain a new Scar but that’s not going to keep working.

    Also, I really like that in this game at least you have a chance to go out in a blaze of horrific glory. You might not even leave a ghost (although given the state of the Underworld, that’s not necessarily a bad thing) but as you said, you are at a state of supernova.

  4. A. M.
    September 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    These last two previews make this game seem more convoluted than I originally thought it would be. Then again, I’m used to VtR which was likely the most simple CofD line.

    I’ll have to wait until I see a character sheet to see how these touchstone, stability and other mechanics fit together.

  5. GaggikClaw
    September 22, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Really thrilled about the Deviant: Renegade game, but absolutely downed by the shipping cost. I’m in Canada and the shipping cost is almost as much as the book itself.I’m hesitant to back only for the pdf because I don’t know when I will be able to get the group to play the game. A physical copy in my bookshelf is always acting as a good reminder and has an aesthetic aspect to it, especially when it is a prestige edition. I’ve followed & backed multiple Onyx Path KS for many years and I’ve almost backed-off of the Exalted Lunar pledge because of this cost increase. I understand the reason behind this, and I know you know this is affecting a lot of your backers, but still wanted to bring this feedback to your team. I think I will not back the game for the moment and fetch it in sale on driverhrurpg in some months\years if my group gets to want and experience the game.

    • richt
      September 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, we really hate the difference in shipping rates for anything going out from the US to International backers, too. We had to choose between including those costs overtly or dropping the International backing option entirely – as so many of our fellow TTRPG publishers have chosen to do. I preferred to give you folks the choice of backing or not, or just backing the PDF, or whatever works for you. After all, the point of us doing this KS is to get the book traditionally printed and then into retail stores – so if you don’t feel right backing it, you can buy it when it’s in stores. thanks!

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