Realization And Repression

Repressed Thoughts and Personal Conflict

Repressed Thoughts

At its core, Persona is as much an exploration of the inner wants and nature of human beings as it is a journey to defeat Shadows. Even the Shadows themselves represent a facet of this same exploration of the self.

At the start of the game, all characters start with Repressed Thoughts, one for each of their Arcanae. The actual nature of the Repressed Thought does not have to be intrinsically linked to the nature of the Arcana; for example, not all Repressed Thought tied to the Lovers arcana do not need to revolve around love. However, it is highly recommended that the nature of the Arcana nevertheless have some level of influence on the nature of the Thought.

Repressed Thoughts are by nature imprecise things, and it can be difficult to come up with appropriate concepts. However, here are a few guidelines.

1) Repressed Thoughts should be something the character doesn't want to acknowledge, either through shame, fear of reproach, disgust of the Thought, hatred or cowardice. They should be something that even acknowledging internally brings discomfort, let alone saying out loud.

1a) For example: a character whose Repressed Thought is 'I secretly feel absolutely overshadowed and jealous of my best friend' is not something most people would be willing to mention, especially about someone as close as a best friend. This makes it an appropriate Repressed Thought.
1b) However, a character whose Repressed Thought is 'I feel lonely' is something that many people would quickly acknowledge without shame. This makes it an inappropriate Repressed Thought. At best, thoughts like that are germs of ideas for more appropriate Thoughts. What if they felt lonely because they secretly, deeply felt they were superior to everyone else- but know that it's wrong to think like that and hide it?

2) Repressed Thoughts shouldn't be something that can be addressed easily. They are an ever present element to a character that can at best be acknowledged and understood, but never removed.

2a) For example, that character whose Repressed Thought centres around the seething jealousy they possess towards their best friend shouldn't suddenly lose their jealousy just because they speak to their friend about it. Instead it should play a constant part in their actions. Even if that character eventually becomes more well-liked, wealthier, etc than their friend, the Repressed Thought will still play a role as a driving force behind sustaining that new status.

3) Take the time to see how the requisite Arcana might influence your Repressed Thought. As noted above, Repressed Thoughts do not need to be completely born from Arcana; the Arcana should have some presence, however, even a small one.

3a) For example, the jealous character has her Jealousy linked to one of her Arcanae, Emperor. An interesting way to influence that would be to incorporate traditional Emperor interpretations, such as authority, power or control. Now, the jealous character is jealous of her friend because her friend is more popular and more well-liked and no one listens to the character herself, which hurts because that same character knows (or thinks she knows) that she is far worthier of being listened to than her friend.

4) Repressed Thoughts should be difficult to gratify- or if they are gratified, should grow more complex beyond that simple gratification. For example, a character who is obsessively desirous of a particular person may in fact end up earning that person's affections- therefore, it might be natural to extend that Thought into keeping that person. For example, becoming worried that they may lose that affection, or alternatively, becoming extremely overprotective.

Personal Conflict

Ultimately, there will come times when the issue or issues that make a particular Repressed Thought so important come to the fore, and the character is conflicted between doing the 'right' thing and submitting to what their Repressed Thoughts want. These are called Personal Conflicts.

Personal Conflicts are resolved by rolling a Willpower Test+10. On a success, the character finds some way to keep themselves in check without harm. On a failure, one of two things happen- either the character forcibly represses the desire, suffering a point of Identity Erosion per degree of failure (plus one for failing at all), or they perform some action that immediately gratifies the Repressed Thought for a short period of time (but most likely leaves the character yet unhappier than before and may have other repercussions).

For example: let's take our jealous character from above. It's the end of the school day and the class is crowding around, talking to and fawning over her friend. The character's jealousy flares, and she rolls a Willpower test- she fails by 3 degrees. She could pay 4 Identity to suppress the thought- instead she decides to act on it somehow. The action doesn't have to be overly dramatic or complex- for example, here she intervenes in the conversation and hurriedly tells her friend that they have to go, otherwise they'll get home late, and noting that there's no way for her friend to get home without her help. In one fell swoop the conversation is over and the character feels a little gratified that she's put her friend in her 'place', but she leaves behind a disgruntled group and may even irritate her friend as well.

Identity: Erosion and Knowing your True Self

Identity is the new system that replaces Dark Heresy's insanity and corruption. Simply put, it measures a character's sense of their own personality, dreams, goals, awareness of their inner natures, their ability to coexist with their repressed self, and their potential to realize the true power of oneself: that of Persona.

One's Identity is sustained and strengthened through Realization- an understanding of your true self, in harmony with your desires and goals. It is weakened, in turn, by Erosion- loss of understanding via doubt, pain and conflict. A fully realized Persona user is a force to be reckoned with, unleashing their abilities with full confidence and conviction. On the other hand, a Persona user whose identity is eroding is in danger of being consumed by the force of their self doubt, which hinders their ability to tame and control this projection of their inner thoughts- ultimately becoming a Shadow- and a fallen Persona user is a terrifying opponent.

At the start of the game, everyone starts at an Identity Level of 50. This represents 'neutrality'; that is, your sense of identity is nebulous to you and your definition of it is tenuous at best; however, it is not yet truly succumbing to an inability to control your inner thoughts. In essence, Identity is a sliding scale, from 0 (Full Erosion) to 100 (Full Realisation).

Unlike Corruption in Dark Heresy, Identity is not a struggle to stem a losing battle. There is nothing preventing a person at Identity 20 from eventually climbing back up to Identity 50 or even 100. However, the farther towards one end of the scale a person becomes, the harder it is for them to push themselves back to the other side.

Erosion effects begin at 40 Identity and below; meanwhile, Realisation begins at 60 and above. Therefore, 41 to 59 count as the 'Neutral' area.

Erosion Effects

Erosion effects begin when you hit 40 Identity, and trigger whenever your Identity drops below another tens digit for the first time (so the first time you fall below 40, 30, 20 and 10 you trigger Erosion Effects). Upon triggering an Erosion Effect, roll a 1d100 and compare your result to the chart below. Record the Erosion Effect as well as the level upon which it was achieved. Should your Identity rise above this level, the effect deactivates, but you retain it in case you fall below again. If you roll the same effect twice, reroll.

You take Erosion from a number of sources. However, in a situation where you would incur more than one Erosion effects per round, you only ever take the highest die and ignore the others.
1) Exposure to the Sea of Encroaching Chaos without an Active Persona (1d5 per round)
2) Exposure to a Greater Shadow without an Active Persona (1d5 per round)
3) Certain Shadow attacks (Varies)
4) Certain Critical Damage effects (varies)
5) Paying to stem a failed Personal Conflict test (1 per degree of failure)

Should your Erosion hit zero, you are in immense danger. Unless you find some way to increase it above 10 points, every week that passes you must test Willpower-10. Should you fail, your character vanishes, only to reappear later as a Greater Shadow with all of your powers and the powers of your Personae. Should this Shadow go undefeated for a number of days equal your natural, unaltered Willpower characteristic, you are unrecoverable and are lost forever to the Sea of Encroaching Chaos. Should your character's Shadow be defeated during this time, however, your body returns, unconscious for 1d30-WPB number of days. At the end of these days, burn a Fate Point and wake up, your Identity reset to 50 as you come back from the brink of a terrible ordeal.

Roll Name Effect
1-10 Clamp Down You feel your repressed desires rising to the fore more often and clamp down hard. The cost of identity to repress a desire after a failed Personal Conflict test increases by one.
11-20 Losing Sight You find it harder to keep yourself in check, and it sends you deeper into a rut. Whenever you regain Identity from any source, you now gain 1 less to a minimum of 1.
21-30 Outlet You've found a way to exercise those desires you keep so desperately repressed. Design a specific and noteworthy habit or action for your character- one that ties in with their character and ties into a Repressed Thought somehow (discuss it with the GM). Whenever your PC fails a Personal Conflict test, they can only pay the Identity cost to repress the desires by performing this action.
31-45 Disorder The stress of repressing your desires has led to overt problems on your part. You gain a disorder, as per the DH rules.
56-70 Proximity Alert The natural distortions of the Sea of Encroaching Chaos take their toll on you. You now take 1d10 Erosion from being exposed to the Sea of Encroaching Chaos without an Active Persona.
71-75 Renegade The next time you enter the Sea of Encroaching Chaos you'll encounter a Shadow that has strange similarities to you physically and power-wise, but is completely hostile and will immediately try to kill you. It does not talk except for a handful of words laced with special meaning. Defeating it seems to send it away until the next time you return to the Sea…
76-85 Uncontrollable Choose a Repressed Thought. You now automatically fail all Personal Conflict rolls when these thoughts manifest.
86-90 Feast Choose a Repressed Thought. Once a day, if you encounter Shadows possessing the same Arcana as your Repressed Thought, test Toughness or take 1d5 Identity Erosion.
91-95 Power Struggle You struggle to control the power of Persona, to keep it from bursting free. Swapping or Activating Personae is now a full action and you tire from Persona use 5 rounds quicker.
96-100 Dark Persona The repressed desires within have tainted the power you wield, turning it into something less than a full Persona but not quite an uncontrolled Shadow either. One of your Persona, chosen at random, becomes a Dark Persona. All of its Characteristic boosts increase by 5 and it now deals +20% damage with every attack, but every time it Manifests you lose 1 Identity. Furthermore, from now on whenever you fuse a new Persona, there is a 20% chance that it, too, will become a Dark Persona.

Realization Effects

Realization effects begin when you hit 60 Identity, and trigger whenever your Identity rises above another tens digit for the first time (so the first time you rise above 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 you trigger Realization Effects). Upon triggering a Realization Effect, roll a 1d100 and compare your result to the chart below. Record the Realization Effect as well as the level upon which it was achieved. Should your Identity fall below this level, the effect deactivates, but you retain it in case you rise above again. If you roll the same effect twice, reroll.

Realization can be gained from a number of sources. However, in a situation where you gain more than one Realization Effects per round, you simply take the one with the highest die and ignore the others.

As a note: you cannot increase your Identity above 50 until you unlock it with a True Self event, which will be explained when it happens.

Upon hitting 100 Identity, you can, by spending a fate point, enter a state of great power that allows you to manifest new powers with your Persona- your conscious and subconscious in perfect harmony. So long as your Persona is active, it is also Manifest at the same time, allowing you to draw on its powers without cost for a number of rounds equal to your Fate Point pool.

Roll Name Effect
1-10 Inner peace You rest easy with the realization that you're growing to control your emotions and your desires, and to moderate them with logic. You reroll any failed Personal Conflict roll.
11-20 Restraint You find it easier to rein in your inner thoughts- allowing you to act the way you want to, not how they dictate. Whenever you lose Identity from any source, you now lose 1 less to a minimum of 1.
21-30 Spiritual Fortitude Your Persona is easier to control and the change leads to less stress on your part. Your Active Mode Threshold increases by 5.
31-45 Signs of Love Your growing acceptance and ability to manage your inner thoughts and desires is reflected in the growing strength you can draw upon from your friends. Increase all XP benefits from S-Links by another step.
56-70 Coaxing Mastery of oneself brings mastery of the power one wields. Persona fusion inheritance rolls now take a +20 bonus.
71-75 Ease of Recall It is less difficult to draw faded Persona out of your Tome Compendium. Whenever you recall a Persona from your Tome Compendium, you do so with a 50% discount to macca cost.
76-85 Come to Terms Choose a Repressed Thought. You now take a +20 bonus to passing Personal Conflict rolls against it.
86-90 I'll Show You my True Power Your connection to your Persona grants you intense power when your fire's up. Once per day, you can spend a fate point to immediately set any damage die to inflict full damage to a Shadow.
91-99 Revealed Depths Your Persona grows stronger far quicker now that you understand it properly. Whenever you fuse a Persona, you may choose any one ability it possesses but has not yet unlocked. It unlocks for free, even if it's not in order.
100 Victory Cry Once a day, upon slaying a Shadow and ending a battle, you may spend a fate point to immediately heal all Wounds and SP to you.
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