[Tekumel] 5 selves character creation

edited March 2012 in Make Stuff!
I was kicking around a few ideas in my head about embedding more of the Tekumel setting into rules, and stumbled across an idea.

The Tsolyani see the human being as being composed of five "selves" each having a certain amount of autonomy from each other, but together comprising an entire being. These selves are:

The body - the physical body in this plane. At death, it rots.
The mind - the intellect, ratiocination. At death, it goes to sleep, and hovers near the body.
The shadow - the dreamer, and traveler in astral projection. Intuition. At death, this dissolves
The "enemy" - the raw emotions, passions. The id in Freudian terms. At death, this goes back where it came from, to "the spaces between the planes". It's also the source for magical power, in part, but not the ability to use it.
The spirit - the ever living part, can be wounded by things like dishonor, in some versions, and this part is what journeys on after death, to eventually be reincarnated, or take up residence on some other plane.

So I got to thinking about how these could be used as stats, traditionally speaking. A few are reasonably easy to figure out. Body relates to the nexus of physicality, strength, agility, endurance, etc. Mind likewise ends up being the general intellect sort of stat. The "enemy" is already well defined as the source of magical power, and I think would also relate to things like bezerker behavior, as well as charisma and drive.

What I'm struggling with is how the shadow and the spirit fit into this.



  • The idea is cool, but I'm having a hard time seeing how all of these selves have an impact on play. But then, I haven't played EPT.

    Do you see all of these elements of character impacting the game as people play?
  • Posted By: Hans c-oThe idea is cool, but I'm having a hard time seeing how all of these selves have an impact on play. But then, I haven't played EPT.

    Do you see all of these elements of character impacting the game as people play?
    As a matter of fact I do. This might take some explaining, and moreover, should be seen as thinking out loud, so advice, criticism, and so forth are all welcome.

    Tsolyani society is very risk averse, in many ways, and that's often been an issue with people being able to get into doing anything with it. You're supposed to know your place, do the "right" thing, and follow the societal rules - and there are rules for everything, including behavior that we moderns would consider quite aberrant. So long as you're doing what you do in a particular pre-defined slot, all is well, as far as the culture is concerned.

    That makes for a pretty boring sort of life. So, how to bring the drama?

    It occurs to me that in a risk averse society, it's risk itself that's the exciting thing. And there's plenty out there. The world is a dangerous place, as I've noted previously. This can take a lot of different forms of course - from doing something as strange as wandering around outside after dark and encountering one of the many predators who think humans make a tasty snack, to exploring the underworlds (usually on a specific mission for your temple, or clan, since otherwise, it's incredibly stupid to go underground, it's so dangerous), to being in the legions and fighting, getting into status contests in high society, etc.

    Essentially, what we have here is "societal pressure to conform to reduce risk as a whole to the society" and "societal pressure (usually via a group) to do things that generate personal risk for the greater good", and finally "risking things despite societal pressure not to, in order to gain (for yourself, or your group) something you want or need"

    So, summing up, it's about risk, and how you engage with risk.

    The selves can be used to address this. Risk your body, by putting it in harms way. Risk your Spirit, by putting it on the line; this could be done in a contest of status, for example. Risk your shadow, by opening it up to the influence of religion, spirits, ghosts, demons. Risk your Mind, via intellectual challenge, puzzles, even CoC sorts of "encounters with the unthinkable". Risk your enemy - either via allowing it too much influence, or having too little, and drying up and burning out.

    I'm imagining using these selves as statistics, as a means of conflict resolution - the character gets stats (in some numeric range), and descriptors (if desired):

    Body - 5 (lithe, athletic)
    Mind - 3 (logical, plodding)
    Spirit - 4 (confident, self-aware)
    Shadow - 2 (unimaginative)
    Enemy - 3 (middling, dispassionate)

    In a situation that requires some sort of conflict resolution (which implies risks being taken on), the player will allocate a certain number of points from one or more stats to risk. This could be a straight number, or if more randomness was desired, used to form a dice pool, or something like that. During conflict resolution, these would then be compared to the opponent, and if lower-than, lost, or if higher-than, lost by the opponent. There could even be some form of gain (temporary or permanent) accomplished due to success (in some situations). Self-stats going to 0 implies bad things. In fact any loss has negative effects, which may or may not recover over time. A couple of points lost from Body might require healing, rest, etc. A larger number of points lost may imply permanent damage (maiming) or even death. Likewise, a large number of points risked and lost from, say, shadow, would scar the character psychically - loss of the ability to dream, loss of the ability to intuit, perhaps even madness. I need to work out the positives and negatives for each. But I think it's about how much you initially risk.

    Of course, some selves are more apropos to various situations. Clearly, for physical combat, body is the primary, but mind can play a role, as can the others (spirit in terms of intimidation, shadow for intuitively understanding the opponents strategy, Enemy for being a psycho, powerful due to force of emotion).

    Some sort of very basic skill system provides "free" points to risk, lessening the risk to the core stats. Spells can work similarly, upping or downing the stats temporarily, or permanently. Drugs and poisons likewise, encounters with ancient evils and the Gods likewise. Armor (either physical, or otherwise) can also work the same way.

    I am also seeing this more as "players decide how much to risk, and then play out the entirety of the encounter, with perhaps agreed upon points where additional risk allocations can be made (escalations)" rather than a turn-based combat system or something like that. I want to keep this very, very light, and focus on RP, and descriptive narration, rather than something more mechanical and war-gamey.
  • In some ways couldn't these already be interpreted as stats under the original EPT rules?

    Body = HBS (height-build-strength)
    Mind = Intelligence
    Spirit = Charisma
    Shadow = Psychic Ability
    Enemy = Pedhetl = Psychic Power
  • Posted By: AlbatrossIn some ways couldn't these already be interpreted as stats under the original EPT rules?

    Body = HBS (height-build-strength)
    Mind = Intelligence
    Spirit = Charisma
    Shadow = Psychic Ability
    Enemy = Pedhetl = Psychic Power
    Yes, no, and maybe.

    Yes: these could be EPT stats. In a descriptive sense, that's totally cool. You're of course left with the other ones to figure out, but if you want to use EPT rules, sure.

    No: what I was going for, I think, was some way to make the rules (in this case, stats) be on some level proscriptive. In other words, structure chargen in this case to support (or even limit to) a particular way of seeing the world, namely, through the lens of "5 selves".

    Maybe: I certainly was intending to figure out a way to leverage existing materials, which would mean some sort of attachment of these selves to existing concepts in previous games, and conversion, in some sense, from existing materials.

    So, for example, figuring out a way to convert H/B/S into some sort of Body stat was totally my intention. Likewise for Shadow being attached to Psychic ability, and probably Mind (or Intelligence in EPT stat form) attached to Ritual Magic ability.

    But, I was also interested in how, say, a warrior might be able to use Enemy/Pedhétl as a factor in combat, cause, you know, they do. Especially the Flame worshipers. And also interested in how Spirit might be brought into play in Magic use, maybe.
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