Deviant: The Renegades
|Deviant: The Renegades|
|Role-playing game published by
|Rule System||Storyteller System|
|First Publication||2021 (estimate)|
|Essential Books||Deviant: The Renegades|
"And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself."
- – Granny Weatherwax, Carpe Jugulum
Deviant: The Renegades is the 11th game set in White Wolf's New World of Darkness and the second after the introduction of Chronicles of Darkness. Having run out of the standard monsters at this point, White Wolf decided to mix things up with a body horror RPG.
You play one of the Remade, a person who has been the subject of a mad (or at least amoral) science experiment, was turned into some kind of weapon, had cultists summon an ancient being into you, or was otherwise fucked up by possibly supernatural but still human means. Occasionally, a Remade eventually manages to somehow escape into the outside world, becoming a Renegade. Those Progenitors, the people who created the Remade, really want their rogue creations back and the Conspiracies they serve will stop at nothing to recover them. To this purpose Renegades and the small handful of people they can trust band together to face off against their enemies.
As one of the side effects of what happened to them, Remade don't have much of a sense of self; their souls are damaged by the changes their bodies are forced to undergo. Rather than having a coherent sense of self-identity, they instead define themselves by their relationships with other people. Without someone to show loyalty to or an enemy to oppose, they undergo Instability- a process akin to the spiritual equivalent of organ rejection in which they become increasingly inhuman. Left unchecked, Instability will cause their unnatural abilities to go out of control and eventually kill them in horrifying ways. Between that and the Conspiracies hunting them at every turn, it should not be surprising that the average Deviant lasts about six months post-Divergence before they either kill themselves or turn into inhuman abominations.
As is common in the nWoD games you have X and Y axis splats that determine what you are. Your Origin is how you ended up being changed. Did you volunteer for something that ended up being more than what you bargained for, did you do it to yourself, were you affected in utero, or were you just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Your rough class of powers is determined by your Clade. Are you a psychic? Cyborg? Something straight outta Cronenberg? Or something else? A third category, Forms, covers even more exotic modifications to the basic Remade template that would require rules more complex than could be covered by Clade or Origin (e.g. if you became the host of some kind of symbiotic entity). As part of your change, you are given Variations, which is the game's power system. The more potent your Variations are, however, the more obvious and severe your Scars are: the physical and mental ways the changes have messed you up.
Deviant takes an interesting route in that you don't start off at the lowest level and work your way up with XP. Instead, you determine how powerful your starting Variations are upon character creation and then use that as your starting point. Having lots of Variations or a few powerful ones not only makes your Scars more debilitating, it also changes how powerful the people who made you are. With a few weak Variations your opponents won't be much more than a few dedicated cultists living in the boonies and your Scars will be subtle enough to let you pass for human, but at high power you're going to have to deal with a black ops division of the US military, a world-spanning cult, or a corrupt megacorporation like the Cheiron Group, and your Scars will leave both your body and mind warped beyond recognition. Not only do the people who made you have their own agents and resources to hunt you down, you might also face off against a Devoted, one of the loyal Remade that didn't reject its purpose like you did. Many of them also employ Manticores, nonsapient animals that were Remade to act as expendable muscle; while dangerous, it is still possible for a Renegade to earn their trust and turn them against their makers.
And even if the Conspiracy that created you isn't that strong, there's always the informal web of alliances and relationships between Conspiracies to deal with. Renegades call it "the Web of Pain", and it ensures that even if a Conspiracy is totally destroyed there will always be another one eager to take its place: in fact, sometimes one Conspiracy proves to be just a subordinate organization within a larger, more powerful Conspiracy. This also means that a Conspiracy that (for example) might not have government connections can compensate by calling in a favor from one that does. And God help you if you end up caught in the crossfire when two Conspiracies go to war against each other.
Deviants have a secondary health track called Stability, which represents how badly their isolation has worsened their changes. Deviants gain Instability over time and with failed Variation uses (or any Variation use, with the wrong Scar), but it can be reduced by the use of Conviction and Loyalty, their combined Integrity equivalent and Anchors. Conviction represents the Renegades' drive to destroy the targets of their hate, whether it's the Progenitor that forced the Divergence upon them or the lab where they were experimented on. Loyalty embodies the people and relationships the Renegade seeks to protect and safeguard, both from themselves and their enemies. Both Loyalty and Conviction function using Touchstones, which a Deviant will either seek to safeguard or destroy. All too often, the Remade find themselves in double binds where they must either pursue a Conviction Touchstone or aid a Loyalty Touchstone, risking their connection to one in order to reaffirm the other. The measures a Renegade will take in the name of revenge doesn't help matters there, as their bloody single-mindedness is prone to pushing others away from them- to say nothing of the risk of a Conspiracy threatening or subverting a Loyalty Touchstone.
For Renegades, Conviction is easy to obtain but does not last very long, while Devoted have a more difficult time obtaining it yet it will do a lot more good for them. Loyalty meanwhile is difficult to obtain but has a lot of effects for a Renegade, but the Devoted can obtain it easily without it doing much for them. It is possible, albeit difficult, for both Renegades and Devoted to reach a state of equilibrium between Loyalty and Conviction, becoming either a Guardian (for Renegades) or a Nemesis (for Devoted). If Renegades or Devoted go too long without indulging their Conviction and/or Loyalty and let Instability build up, their Scars will get worse and they will get new Variations, which will make their creators fight all the harder to get them back or attract the attention of other Conspiracies looking to use them as tools. More importantly, they risk losing control of their powers to the point that their broken soul undergoes the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown.
Generally, a Remade is a little bit more powerful than a Hunter with a supernatural Merit or a Ghoul, but the very strongest ones are practically walking time bombs waiting to explode. (For example, the Rapid Regeneration Variation can be as weak as a doubled natural healing rate or powerful enough to allow its user to survive shit even a werewolf's regeneration wouldn't save them from- like complete dismemberment). A Deviant's full power is devastating, but when it's unleashed it'll do a number on their Scars, cause said power to become impossible to control, drive them insane, and possibly even kill them, and if they're really lucky it'll be in that order. Sure, you can go and transform into a horrific cathedral of flesh and destroy Neo-Tokyo if you're really set on it, but don't expect to live through the experience.
So if you ever wanted to play a nWoD game that consisted of a teamup of Jarod from The Pretender, Eleven from Stranger Things, Tetsuo from AKIRA, Brundlefly from The Fly, Lucy from Elfen Lied, Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, and the first Kamen Rider or Kamen Rider Amazons, then this might end up being the game for you.
A Deviant's Origin is how they ended up undergoing the Divergence. In crunch, they each get a single extra dot in a Scar-free Variation and a bonus point of either Loyalty or Conviction.
- Autourgics (the Elect): The Remade who knew what they were getting into and genuinely wished to become Remade, whether it was for power, a cause, or its own sake; whether their new state is actually what they hoped for is another story. As the majority of them are deeply connected to the Conspiracies that made them (or indeed acted as their own Progenitors), Autourgic Renegades are rare and greatly mistrusted. Autourgics gain a free Overt Variation and bonus Loyalty.
- Epimorphs (the Volunteers): People who also agreed to undergo the Divergence, but unlike the Autourgics they didn't know what exactly would happen to them in the end. Maybe they were lied to, maybe they needed the money, or maybe they had to do it to keep their loved ones safe. But regardless of their reasons, the bonds they form with their caregivers and their Conspiracy play a strong role in their lives. Epimorphs gain a free Subtle Variation and bonus Loyalty.
- Exomorphs (the Unwilling): The unlucky bastards who were Remade against their will. Kidnapping is of course the most obvious route in this case, but it is not unheard of for them to be snatched out of a prison or secretly exposed to the thing that transforms them and not realize what's happening until it's too late. Obviously, they are the textbook Renegades. Exomorphs gain a free Overt Variation and bonus Conviction.
- Genotypal (the Born): Some Remade were quite literally born that way, through heritage, prophecy, or some really fucked up stuff happening while they were in the womb. Usually the first signs of the Divergence don't show up until adolescence, but a few Born have an innate sense they're somehow different. Depending on the circumstances, they may even be seen as a form of twisted nobility. Genotypals get a free Subtle Variation and bonus Conviction.
- Pathological (the Accidents): The oddballs among Deviants, who were changed by some bizarre circumstance rather than by deliberate action. Rather than being made by Conspiracies, a Conspiracy might form around them when the curious and ambitious get wind of their existence. Think Seth Brundle/Brundlefly's teleportation mishap. Pathologicals gain a free Variation of any type and their choice of extra Loyalty or Conviction, but they also start with more Instability than usual.
A Deviant's Clade defines how their bodies reacted to the changes. While the Conspiracies note that certain Clades are more likely to arise from specific procedures, the physical, mental, and spiritual state of the Deviant is what ultimately decided their Clade. Crunch-wise, this grants a couple of abilities that allow for the reuse of once-per-chapter/once-per-scene abilities at a price or other secondary effects and also dictate the nature of the starting Variations available to you. That being said, no Variation is exclusive to one Clade so your choice of powers is up to you.
- Cephalist (Psychic): Your mind reacted violently to the trauma of your broken soul, granting you psychic powers. Many Cephalists let their power go to their head (so to speak), believing that it was their sheer willpower that guided their Divergence. They can put this willpower to good use by channeling it to amplify the effects of their Variations.
- Chimeric (Hybrid): You've been hybridized with a nonhuman organism (animal, plant, or something more unusual) somehow- it might have been genetic modification, organ transplants, grafted limbs, or maybe even becoming the host of a sentient parasite. While they frequently struggle with the instincts and behaviors derived from their non-human parts, their ability to endure pain and suffering is unmatched.
- Coactive (Infused): Your body is a bridge between our world and immaterial energies, such as lightning, radiation, or something weirder and probably much more unpleasant. And you can only keep those energies contained for so long before they start to break loose. Coactives find that they need to learn how to release their power safely, lest it destroy everything around them.
- Invasive (Cyborg): You became a cyborg or had something inserted into your body that really shouldn't be in there. While machinery is the most obvious candidate for what's been melded into an Invasive's flesh, magical artifacts and other exotic inorganic materials work just as well. Invasives learn the hard way that their additions are impossible to remove without killing them in the process, but the robustness of the foreign material within them grants increased resistance to injury.
- Mutant (Grotesque): Your body changed from the inside after being exposed to any of the previously mentioned stimuli (or possibly something else entirely), in what could only be described as a sort of immune response to the Divergence. Mutants are highly adaptable and can endure even the most extreme environments, but are prone to succumbing to Instability.
An optional third on the splat axis, a Deviant's Form provides some flavor as to how the Remade functions. These are all optional and not mutually exclusive, but it's difficult to pick more than two of them, if only to avoid becoming a special snowflake. Each of the Forms grant a special bonus of some kind. The currently known Forms are:
- Amalgam: The character in question was actually two or more entities whose minds have been merged into one "person" during the Divergence- maybe they were people who were fused together somehow, or maybe the Remade was a human that was joined to a supernatural being, but either way their memories and personalities have blended together into a single being. The Amalgams can opt to start with fewer skill points upon character creation (can't do this to more than six dots) and turn them into "floating" skill points: at will, an Amalgam can assign these points to a skill which they will stick to for the rest of the scene. This cannot put a skill above its normal limit, and once assigned a point cannot be moved.
- Self-Made: A Self-Made Remade is their own Progenitor. This means that the Conspiracy targeting them was formed in response to their Divergence unless they were a member of a Conspiracy to begin with, so a Self-Made is less likely to understand who they're up against. A Self-Made has more flexibility when it comes to their Touchstones: they can assign them more freely and can keep all but one of them in escrow to be assigned later.
- Super Soldier: This form turns the character into a soldier whose variation makes them a challenge in combat. Their physical abilities can be boosted, but at the expense of their mental and social abilities. In addition, they can trade some of the willpower they start with to obtain additional powers whenever they act in support of a loyalty touchstone- but these extra powers work only when used in support of a Loyalty Touchstone and they still come with Scars.
- Symbiote: Basically turns your Remade into Eddie Brock/Venom from Spider-Man. This means that the character's Variations have a mind of their own, including Aspirations like a normal character has. This nets the Remade bonus dice whenever trying to accomplish something that furthers these Aspirations or penalties if it hinders them, which can be an interesting challenge if the symbiote can't communicate its desires or if its wishes are at odds with those of the Remade.
- Transmissible: This turns your Divergence into something contagious. Ranging from zombie plagues to self-replicating nanomachine colonies, anything that meets the requirements for transmission has to roll or suffer Divergence themselves, becoming a Remade just like the character in question (meaning that this character is now a Progenitor in their own right, albeit unintentionally). The player can pick the infection's vector, virulence and the pool that rolls against the infection. This can be either any two from Stamina, Resolve or Composure in which case the roll is extended, or it's one of those Attributes which turns it into a Save Or Divergence situation.
Future supplements will feature even more exotic Forms, such as uplifted animals, intelligent magic artifacts, ephemeral beings forced into mortal bodies, exiles from alternate dimensions, and clone lines whose members inherit one another's memories.