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Death to the Poncho!
I put on my robe and wizard hat.

In the guided discussion today, we brought up how ponchos were really a legacy disguise item that had little merit in storytelling due to them being a black hole of descriptive elements.

It was also brought up that without them non-combatants would suffer to abusers.

What are your concerns around this potential change? What would make it better? Should we? Shouldn't we? Discuss.

A good and themely alternative for the poncho would be metachrosis skin. You can see it discussed further here.

https://www.sindome.org/bgbb/game-discussion/game-problems/meh-metachrosis-skin--388/

I think this idea belongs to the joke ideas thread.
I think if there is a robust system of disguise that works as well as just slinging a disguise soft and a poncho on, ponchos will be needed and will be used.

I would LOVE to have meaningful alternatives that are as cost effective as a poncho but while there are other things to disguise with they have large draw backs that do not even put them close to how good a poncho is.

Rather than nuking poncho's boost other disguise items perhaps?

In regards to non-coms and poncho's in the Mix a poncho is basically the only defense you have because if anyone enters into combat with you, you are done. So you have to prevent that, and while there are other options nothing out there fits the same need a poncho will fulfil.

Ponchos are really a bandage, avoiding the whole issue of @name and shortdescs and appearances being something a player can instantly identify, in situations where a character probably wouldn't be able to.

I think that they've become the default tool for all characters in virtually every situation, regardless of their skills, is demonstration that they were really effective at patching this issue. However I think the problem with them is two-fold:

1. They're kind of silly. It's ridiculous that plurality (or even majority) of ambient and actual characters in the world are supposed to be wearing head to ground sheets that also cover their faces completely. How does anyone SEE?!

2. They limit the design space for all other disguise/stealth options because they're better than any other disguise object can be and all disguise (and stealth) items and mechanics have to work around the fact that ponchos are already so ubiquitous and powerful.

Removing ponchos with nothing in their wake would obviously cause problems because the game isn't really designed in a way to allow for pseudo-anonymity, but I think starting to plan for their removal and how other, better systems could replace them is a good idea.

There's a huge range of themely options for more cyberpunk disguise items like holographic chrome, scramble suits, and anti-facial recognition items, but also cutting ponchos out I think gives a lot more room for items that already exist like helmets and masks to become a bigger part of the day-to-day world while at the same time opening the design space for deep investment in disguise and stealth to become way better than it is now.

Ponchos invalidate most all of the other disguise items in the game, especially when you consider it's totally valid to wear them anywhere dome-wide now.

They also act to discourage the continuation of RP threads. I put on my wizard hat and robe, then shoot someone with my magic missiles and sneak away. The 11 witnesses saw a generic robe and unbranded wand. There's no follow-up. Congrats, you did a thing. You want cool rivals? You want to have an arch-nemesis? You want people to hate you for legitimate reasons other than smallworlding and assumptions? Take off the tarp and allow people to piece things together.

And for the love of god, don't perpetuate the nonsense that is "bwuh, you need tarps to do cwimes111!!!11" Literally just shoot person in face. Crime commit.

As some throwaway examples of the types of mechanics that could be implemented with disguise that could be possible if the design space opened up a bit (not saying any of these in particular could replace ponchos, they're just ideas):

+ High disguise skill allows for @disguise-x verbs usage even without additional bonus tools.

+ Moderate disguise checks can toggle conceal a character's @name on busy streets akin to pseudo-sneak, very high checks conceals it everywhere.

+ Very high disguise checks allow permanent changes to @name that aren't subject to degradation.

+ Advanced disguise abilities along with chrome/tools could allow characters to completely remake themselves down to a biometric level.

+ Very advanced disguise and additional several additional advanced tools could allow for characters to make use of unidentifiable and disposable flash clones for super high risk plots.

In the spirit of suggestions:

I make these suggestions with the declaration or assumption that disguise stacking as it exists today doesn't work that way in future state. Sure, you can wear contacts under a hood, but no wearing a scrambler over a hood, for example.

Choices: Pros vs. Cons, fundamentals of game design. My suggestion here is that you should have to choose between in-person visible light obfuscation and digital obfuscation. One protects you from people in your area. One protects you from digital observation (in theory.)

What do I mean by digital observation? Binoculars, cameras- both the photographic and video kinds. Thermal optics in some cases. Drone optics. Possibly cybernetic eyes, if someone had two of them installed. Anything that isn't a jelly meatball in your head, basically.

Cryo cyberpunk things that should/could exist:

+ Facial scrambling sunglasses. Hide your display name on cameras and digital optical devices.

+ Larger-scale digital scrambling devices. Either a wearable jammer object similar to a backpack with emitters on it, and arms over the shoulders for added coverage. Optionally, clothing or armors that innately scramble digital optics but don't actually do anything to hide your face-to-face identity. Larger scale devices hide your display name AND your sdesc details.

+ Thermal camo. We have devices in-game to help regulate body body temperature. It would probably be pretty easy to hack or modify these things to work at an ambient temperature, instead of ideal body temperature.

+ Cold-blooded nanogenic: needs to be mutually exclusive with other, similar nanogenics (they both change the skin, so handwave reason why they don't work together.) Allows you increase your ability to sneak around thermal optics. Maybe it has the downside of reducing your physical stats, or something instead of simply bumping up your CPI.

Continuing from my previous, some rough ideas for things or concepts that could replace ponchos entirely might be:

+ Characters are by default 'disguised' on public streets, and don't show @name.

+ Helmets and masks of all kinds are made much more common and attractive to use, so they become the replacement to ponchos where everyone's face is almost always hidden in a themely way. Examples of features could be bonuses to wearing, face-concealing tint toggles, passive chemical/biological protection, additional features like thermographic displays or visual overlays.

+ Stealth is made way more important and useful. No feedback on coming out of stealth, stealth passively conceals @name for a certain period after ending, stealth can remain active even in combat like disguise, more stealth tools and tech to render characters all but invisible even for very complex scenarios.

+ Stealth and/or disguise can make characters blend passively into crowded-flagged spaces. This has the bonus of giving the watch/address system more practical purpose. Something like having someone with the right skills not showing up in a crowded room until they decide to address you, while they can still roleplay with other characters.

Since it came up elsewhere, I'll bring up here that I don't think the small stat penalties applied to ponchos had any noticeable effect on the overall state of their use and they continue to be the only disguise that really matters and remain completely ubiquitous.

I maintain just deleting them completely would be highly beneficial to the game in the long run, in multiple regards.

Ponchos remain the most used disguise because if you wear a hoodie and have on clothing that's even the slightest bit recognizable people will metagame who you are. A poncho is a lot easier than stripping off what you have on, replacing it with immy clothes, changing nakeds and wearing additional accessories to conceal marks that might give you away. If you have tattoos then anything but a poncho is less than ideal for example.

I think the staff debuff can actually get you killed in a fight if you're too encumbered so that's also a factor. If you wear them you take on a lot of risk especially if you have armor on beneath it.

Stat debuff, not staff. Flying fingers make for frequent typos.
I don't think it's metagaming to recognize someone in a hoodie because they're wearing the specially-tailored, custom pants that only they own. If you want to wear a hoodie and not get recognized, wear pants that are more generic.
Baguette proving my point. You don't always have time to go through all of that and if wearing generic clothing is your norm that also becomes an indication of who you might be.
Other disguises all having fatal drawbacks are a symptom of the existence of the poncho as an item, not a reason for its necessity. The development ceiling for disguises ever being improved or adapted is capped because ponchos were introduced as a bandage solution on the problem of identification. They do everything and they do it completely, and that leaves a problem because what is the purpose of other disguise tools then?

I agree removing the poncho introduces issues for identification but I believe those are actually beneficial growing pains that will result in the game getting to a better place eventually once players adapt to the differences and new tools can be brought in with the newly opened designed space (in the long run).

I feel like the debuff from ponchos is pretty minor, and could be increased by like double, or even triple for an extreme. Other people might feel differently though.
So this is less an issue of metagaming, and more one of not wanting to spend time making sure nobody can recognize you? This is like saying we should remove all lower-tier weapons because the top-tier ones are the only ones "worth using".
If there was a weapon that was literally better than the rest, and cost less and required less time and skill to use then yes I'd very much argue for its removal as well.

Advanced disguises still retain fatal tells, no matter how expertly and devotedly a player develops it, but a major complaint whenever disguise strength comes up is players not wanting it to have improvements because it would buff shrouds.

These items are too generic and effective and available, and they're limiting the design space of what could be a much more interesting set of skills and items.

Even while using a poncho there are assumptions made of who's doing what just because of maybe what weapon someone is using or other similar factors. When the disguise system was changed it was made so that ponchos are no longer "invisibility blankets" so you're allowed to guess who someone is if you have reason to. The stat debuff came after that and made it so it's not smart to fight in them unless you really know what you're doing and what you're doing is trying to end up in a vat.

Stat sheets still come into play there so results may vary but I think the system is good where it's at right now. If you have the time to tailor your disguise to a specific situation you will be better off than someone in a poncho especially if violence has to happen.

I feel like the goal of disguises should be to make it harder to immediately identify someone, but to give some slight hints to make it not impossible. Ponchos kinda fall short on giving hints, and can sometimes just kill roleplay.
Stat sheets still come into play there so results may vary but I think the system is good where it's at right now.

Ponchos are one of the core causes of dysfunction in conflicts now because they're zero effort, low skill investment, very cheap and work almost perfectly. That players can be metagamed through them is not highly relevant to their balancing because that is true of every disguise and even the perfect "disguises" of identity changes which have been historically pierced almost immediately (in one major plot case literally instantly). I agree there would be a brief drop in player willingness to do certain things if they were eliminated, but I think it would be brief and ultimately beneficial.

I also agree that metagaming is a strong factor that is not going to be easy, or even possible, to full eliminate, but I don't think it follows at all that ponchos are therefore a necessity. Rather I think players have gotten comfortable with them, they've gotten lazy. They'd prefer not to have to do more than briefly debate between a minor stat penalty and a helmet, but at some level the eternal cries against No-RP Shroudkill Murderhoboing is caused by these items rather than actual player behaviour.

There's some irony in seeing a player that's complained about how PCs don't die nearly enough petitioning for complete removal of the only item in the game that gives you a chance at avoiding being identified. If they get removed, there will be significantly less crime and PvP. It might also encourage more apartment squatters since anyone with a mark on their head will be even less inclined to step outside if they know someone will jump on them because they aren't completely covered and more protected from smallworlding.

The disguise skill needs some love for sure, but I don't know that essentially making it mandatory to dabble in mischief and murder will be beneficial to the game. I don't know that forcing people to take the time to carefully construct a disguise and change their clothes just to walk from A to B would be either.

As a last note, No-RP Shroudkill Murderhoboing is a cultural issue and a matter of people- again- fearing identification, or being dogpiled by the victim's friends. I do agree that this style of PvP is a problem but I don't think ponchos are the root of all that is wrong with Sindome's murders.

I agree there would be a decrease in certain types of combat in the short term, but I see the poncho as a bandage solution that causes other issues and ultimately prevents examination and proper solutions of the problems of ID and consequences for action from coming in. Players would be reasonably concerned removing a bandage would be painful, but I just think the short term pain of such a change would allow for better growth and better solutions in the long run.
Metagaming is not going to be eliminated at all and before the change to the disguise system staff was so frequently inundated with complaints of metagaming that allowing players to guess through disguises freed up a lot of GM time to do other things. On Sindome things move fast and your unconscious bias is always going to call up the first people who come to mind when something happens. When a hood is out doing violent things the assumption is not that it's one of the millions of people you don't know, but one of the dozen that you know might be responsible.

Getting rid of shrouds would be a strange decision when it's already so easy to figure out which one of two people who use a specific weapon are the ones who just killed Sally Snakefan.

'Murderhoboing' is a different argument and you don't need shrouds in the game to have those claims. Anytime someone doesn't understand why they died there's a chance they'll say they were murderhobo'd, shroud or not.

0x1mm's idea about giving 'inivisiblity' in crowded spaces is an an interesting idea. But it'd kill some player interaction, seeing your friends in public. Maybe give that ability to disguise skill. I think taking some real life insperation would be fine. Look at what people do at protests and riots. A mask, some non-descript clothing, and stuff would serve just fine. I think the meta aspect is what's the real issue. People who are being hunted feel like the poncho is a safety blanket. The real issue is that you can pick out NPCS and PCS from the ambient population even when dressed non-descriptly, and from there, pick out PCs pretty easy. I wasn't even trying, and I'm kinda new, and I couldn't tell you exactly the signs of a PC vs NPC, but I know one when I see it. A replacement for ponchos would be nice, even if it's just a 'pallete swap' ie, same debateable functionality, but with less boring tarp. But it at baseline needs to have the ability to anonymize the name and really cover up things. Otherwise won't get used. Player culture, as much as we sometimes wish it otherwise, is unlikely to change. As much as we'd like it to out of the desire for better RP, people are not gonna put old characters on the line on those principles usually, if they think they're going to get punished for it because of some little thing about how it does not provide the same exact type of meta protection, or in character protection. If people do, good on them, but many, myself included, are risk averse. Shrouds do put a damper on a lotta RP, more security stuff would be interesting way to address it, at least, biometric stuff.
0x1mm's idea about giving 'inivisiblity' in crowded spaces is an an interesting idea. But it'd kill some player interaction, seeing your friends in public. Maybe give that ability to disguise skill. I think taking some real life insperation would be fine. Look at what people do at protests and riots. A mask, some non-descript clothing, and stuff would serve just fine. I think the meta aspect is what's the real issue. People who are being hunted feel like the poncho is a safety blanket. The real issue is that you can pick out NPCS and PCS from the ambient population even when dressed non-descriptly, and from there, pick out PCs pretty easy. I wasn't even trying, and I'm kinda new, and I couldn't tell you exactly the signs of a PC vs NPC, but I know one when I see it. A replacement for ponchos would be nice, even if it's just a 'pallete swap' ie, same debateable functionality, but with less boring tarp. But it at baseline needs to have the ability to anonymize the name and really cover up things. Otherwise won't get used. Player culture, as much as we sometimes wish it otherwise, is unlikely to change. As much as we'd like it to out of the desire for better RP, people are not gonna put old characters on the line on those principles usually, if they think they're going to get punished for it because of some little thing about how it does not provide the same exact type of meta protection, or in character protection. If people do, good on them, but many, myself included, are risk averse. Shrouds do put a damper on a lotta RP, more security stuff would be interesting way to address it, at least, biometric stuff.
Did that post twice? Shoot, can someone delete the extra?
You're good, NL. Doubleclicking the reply button is an ancient BGBB tradition.
I vote keep as is. They work fine. They aren't cost-free, you suffer stats for wearing them, and they aren't something you can just throw on without any skills. They will fail without skills/stats, so they're working fine there.
Certain disguise items also make it possible to be someone whom is marked for a bounty to move around and still attempt to avoid said bounty. Shrouds are one of these things. You would be taking a survival tool from those whom are at the mercy of combat players.
I'm not very well versed in the uses of disguise nor ponchos, so I'm just asking...

Is there a limit to what you can fit under a poncho? Such as can you be in full Xo5 armor and still be underneath a poncho?

If there is no limit to what can fit under a poncho, how would it affect the shroud lifestyle if you couldn't fit it over anything thicker than say, Du-Wear?

How would the necessity to forsake armor for the sake of disguise change things?

There are reasons wearing heavy armor and a poncho together might be a horrible idea but I can't go into specifics, something to figure out ingame.
I think the point ox1mm is calling out is that shrouds are by far the best disguise item because they require little skill, benefit from unlimited uses, and are more ambitious than any other disguise item. Yet they are cheaper and more affluent.

This is a pretty straightforward balance issue.

Ambiguous* not ambitious. :-)
Yes that's bang on. They're the best and the cheapest and the most durable. Almost every disguise item, including very expensive custom niche ones that require special everything, has more downsides than ponchos do in practical use. How disguises grade and how they're revealed and many other things are based around and balanced on, ponchos. They're too much the Alpha and Omega.

Like I feel like this discussion is difficult because ponchos are disguise to most players, who largely have no idea what's out there otherwise.

Maybe there could be some sort of system where you can like inspect a disguised person and if some skill check is successful, you get some slight hints at who they might be. Maybe there can be a player-written description that hints at who the character is from that inspection or something. Just kinda throwing ideas out.
Kinda downplaying how detrimental to a character's health the poncho debuff can be as Slither recently made the debuff even more noticeable. Other disguises do not suffer nearly as much when it comes to combat but they do have other weaknesses. Ponchos are also not cheap and they are require appropriate skill and stat investment if you want to stay disguised, though it could be argued this applies to all disguises.

There are situations where it is better to not wear a poncho and there are situations where it is better to wear one. I wish I could give examples but that's also something that should be figured out ingame.

Honestly I find the poncho debuff almost negligible. Maybe it matters a lot for the max level PVP where everyone is similar stats, but from what I've tested it's not even enough to lower a stat by a whole level.
It's not negligible at all. Maybe if it's the only piece of stat lowering clothing that you're wearing and there are obvious downsides to that being the case as well.
I wasn't aware there were other clothes that lower stats, lol.
@Emily

It's enough that if you're a combat character in a full kit of gear and also wearing a poncho, the debuff is not negligible. Doubly so if you're actually trying to combat other PCs in your weight class.

I don't fully agree there. Armor may knock some stats but you gain... Well. Armor. If anything I would make the stat hit on armor worse so it was a harder choice for combat characters to decide if the mobility or toughness was a better choice. More of a real trade off.

Regarding ponchos however, I'm very open to removing ponchos from the game. Yes, hoods masks and similar might take more effort to use effectively but I think that's a GOOD thing. You would then have to decide if it's worth the time and effort to go for your A+ disguise or if it's not worth it and go without or with one that isn't going to be as effective.

I think it might also encourage greater investment in disguise. Both in the skill and system and the RP of it. If it sounds like this would all make that level of anonymity harder, more costly and take more character investment - I think that's a good thing.

I don't mean to just toss out a blanket statement but it could be argued that enough aspects of the game require investment, effort and time as is. Personally I would not find it immersive or enjoyable to juggle several outfits and items just to leave and walk to work to then change back again (because some of us like to wear our tailored outfits, which already lack use due to most combat or conflict driven characters living in armor 24/7) if my character prefers to be low key or has gotten some heat coming their way.

Argue for the overpowered aspects of ponchos all you want but at the end of the day they're a godsend for QOL and time-saving purposes on top of the other reasons I highlighted in my first post. We don't all want an A+ disguise, those who do have the tools to achieve and utilize that already.

Again; give the disguise skill more practical use, buff it, what ever. What I'm against is removing ponchos from the game entirely.

"I don't fully agree there. Armor may knock some stats but you gain... Well. Armor. If anything I would make the stat hit on armor worse so it was a harder choice for combat characters to decide if the mobility or toughness was a better choice. More of a real trade off."

It already works exactly like this.

In regards to people metagaming disguise, I'm pretty sure you're not discouraged to do so, based on the lines in help disguise.

Disguises & appearance changes & ambient populations are not cloaks of invisibility or get out of jail free cards. They are each tools in an arsenal used when attempting to obscure your identity. They are useful for planting a seed of doubt about who you are or giving a measure of plausible deniability for your actions. To be useful you must convince the other person you are not who you say you are.

Other characters are under no obligation to believe your character is someone different than who they assume they are.

Characters have disguises, stealth, appearance, @describe, @holdback, @voice, clothing, weapons, pose, and emote that can all be used together to craft a 'different' appearance. If a PC notices your PC they can assume you are whoever they want to assume you are. They do not need to justify it. You need to use the tools to make it hard to guess. Again, that's assuming that you are noticed at all and not lost in the crowd.

Just like you, the player can CHOOSE to have your character eat when it is not REQUIRED, your character can CHOOSE to not recognize someone if you the player think you know who it is, but you think it makes sense for your character not to recognize them. This is great for roleplay, and we encourage it. However, staff will not be the roleplay police on this. You have the tools at your disposal to completely obfuscate your identity. Use them.

Too much time goes into the GMs arbitrating if someone 'would really know it was person X' and in the end, the decision is still entirely subjective. If you truly want to convince someone you are not who you say you are, you have to be thorough and plant the seeds of doubts through role play, actions, inactions, and in any number of other ways both codedly possible and those that are role play specific.

Again, if a player chooses to ignore these and make assumptions about who your character is, through a

disguise, a disguised name, an appearance change, their voice, their description, their nakeds, their clothing, their attitude, the slang they use, the actions they take, the actions they fail to take, or anything else, that it fair game.

This approach means that the onus is on players to attempt to deceive others in game and out and it does not require a GM to arbitrate if someone should have been able to 'guess' who you were. This results in fewer situations where people felt that they were treated unfairly by another player or didn't like the result of a GM investigation, where a GM was unable to give them the full view of what happened because it would reveal IC information.

The responsibility is on the players to hide their identity successfully.

The existence of many different disguise functions and tools doesn't change the fact that the skill overall, the very inherent mechanic of disguises applying, degrading and revealing, is balanced around poncho use. They are disguise, de facto, and this limits how the rest of the skill can be used, can be developed, or ever be improved.

Players have gotten comfortable with them now because it's easy and they don't want things to change too much, but I maintain this is a indication of a problem of settling into a comfortable rut that might have higher gameplay highs that were possible eventually if the game was pushed out of it.

"Players have gotten comfortable with them now because it's easy and they don't want things to change too much"

It's perfectly okay, imo, for some parts of the game to not require several items, several skills or several people to be accessible. Yes, ponchos are easy, and they therefore make it less of an absolute headache to DO things in the game- like drive conflict, like PvP, which so many players have noted or complained about there being a lack of as is.

Not everything in the game has to be difficult or require several steps to see through. Nor should it.

I'd argue it's not okay when a small amount of UE invested in a skill becomes as effectively useful as a massive amount, because the high ends is scaled around and limited by the low end use of ponchos. Players would obviously prefer they only have to spend 20 or 40 or 80 UE in a skill to be as effective as anyone else so they can dump the rest in combat stats, but there are good reason to want to encourage advantages for specialists at the cost of generalism.
Imagine for a moment that the person you've been contracted to kill and have been hunting/camping for x amount of time is finally in y location and someone tips you off. Which is the better option?

A) Throw on poncho, rush over to engage.

B) Take 10-15 minutes to dig your other outfit and disguise items out of something, slap them all on, ready a disguise and THEN head out hoping that person hasn't already left.

Nobody is arguing against the fact that the Disguise skill is underused, but frankly I don't think combat/PvP is where it is meant to shine in the first place and the solution is making it more applicable in other scenarios rather than REMOVING the only item that grants any level of anonymity. Disguise should be about social and political subterfuge if anything, for shady deals and espionage and pulling data from people. Trying to turn it into a necessity for PvP would likely do more harm than good.

How do you know how much UE someone invests in disguise? In my experience of you don't invest enough, your disguise doesn't hold long.

This indicates that if someone is running around doing things and the disguise holds, a pretty good investment has gone into it.

Instead of arguing for the removal of ponchos other disguise items could be buffed, and I think their effectiveness was already increased in a relatively recent update. I was going to put this in an idea thread but I think metachrosis skin or a similar mod allowing you to change skin color on the fly like how digi-ponchos can shift from color to color would go a long way toward giving players more options. Right now unless all of your skin is covered wearing anything but a poncho is a bad idea.
I don't think I really agree with the binary option of that scenario. Helmets are right there.

I'd see players feeling like it's poncho or might as well nothing as a problem for the ponchos rather than the rest of it being the culprit. I'd just as soon see some other disguise options come in that work in different ways (for example disguises that don't degrade but have other limitations) to benefit different scenarios, but none of that is really possible with how disguise is built at the moment which boils down to 'poncho is on/off, poncho strength is X'.

I don't think ponchos have to be the only choice, and I feel like without them the game's possibilities open up more so players will consider things they won't now because they don't have to.

How do you know how much UE someone invests in disguise? In my experience of you don't invest enough, your disguise doesn't hold long.

Because players will enough disguise investment use disguises differently, and the amount of UE required for a poncho to stay up for a useful amount of time is pretty negligible over the span of 21 ranks of the skill and their associated substats.

I don't think it's fair to pretend you know how all players with adequate disguise investments employ items that disguise you.

Without going into detail, I think it would be fair to state 0x1mm has ample experience in this arena which allowed them visibility not only into how players with adequate disguise used said items, but how common such usage was.
Yeah helmets are right there, just like hoodies and masks are right there, but since it's already been touched on that a person can be identified for something as simple as what weapon they use or what pants they have on, it's still a significant risk of identification.

If staff are willing to explore and implement new possibilities then yeah, sure, retiring ponchos would be a subject to revisit once those tools are at players' disposal.

Until then? I maintain that removing them would be see a lot less PvP and a lot more sitting in the safety of one's apartment.

It's a lot easier to change what pants, shoe, and glove combination you wear than weapon you use. Hoodies and masks are a perfect entry-point without the all-powerful umbrella of poncho.
Yeah, it's a lot easier to do that than change what armor you use too. Hence the desire to not impose this kind of necessity on combat characters in particular.
To touch on your point Nymph, ponchos would both dissuade PvP because they would be identified, wouldn't that cause more people to feel less concerned about getting randomly attacked? I feel like at least murder -should- be meticulous and definitely harder to pull off. I'm very against the idea of anonyomity solely for the reason that it stifles RP. You get killed seemingly randomly by a shroud, now it's on the shroud to choose whether they want to engage you in meaningful post-death RP or not. Sometimes they won't, because they prefer having a 'clean' rep and not wanting to risk any repurcussions. Repercussions is what drives RP, and I think having people be able to escape from that easily is just not that great.
I am not trying to get into a who has more time in the game sidebar, I am just stating not everyone who has the ability has the access to more things or plays in the style you are implying. It's just, in my opinion, a bad take to make those generalizations.

While the seasoned Sindome veteran may be bored with the poncho, it is something that works both ways. It is an equalizer for the downtrodden player who isn't a combat character but wants to evade those who are. That's my take, as someone who engages in zero combat and makes use of them and other disguise items.

I don't see a higher UE requirement for anonymity being a bad tax to place on combat characters though, in fact I see it as a huge benefit. Players pushing extreme specialization in their attacks will be taking a knowing penalty in their ability to act in concealment, whereas characters who take those skills and balance out their investments gain more tactical and strategic advantages at the cost of their attack rolls.

You could as easily say everyone should be able to make stealth checks easily because it would penalize pure solos too much, but that's the point.

If arguably most meaningful plots start and end with combat, do we really need to worry about what impositions are placed on combat characters? And in doing so, is it acceptable to invalidate the UE investment of disguise with an all-powerful item?

On the other side of the equation, if one weapon existed in the game which was more powerful and easier to use than all the others - would that be tolerable?

@FunkyMango

I can promise you there are already plenty of things in place to risk being identified, poncho or no, both in terms of game mechanics, circumstances and whether or not people choose to smallworld. The poncho is the only defense against that, really.

Murder is already difficult in Sindome due to various factors that I will not list, and those factors can often make it, honestly, undesirable to engage in because the effort tends to vastly outweigh the payout/risk. You do it to drive conflict, and push plot where and when you can. If you choose to play a PC that likes to operate in secrecy and be a wolf in sheep's clothing you should have every opportunity to keep up that facade for as long as you can- because one way or another you will get discovered eventually.

Yeah, getting killed by a shroud with zero RP before or after absolutely sucks and I firmly believe in there always being something RP-related to give to the victim after the fact, but I don't think strong-arming a change like this is going to encourage better RP standards on players that simply don't want to bother.

Not all combat characters are max UE combat characters who can take on the burden of being under the scrutiny of each and every single one of their actions. If you catch them in the act that's one thing but an escape should mean that they have possibly gotten away with their crime. Consider that lowbies and midbies need to be able to avoid identification more than anyone else.

The removal of the poncho would disproportionately negatively affect those characters who are still at the beginner to intermediate level and not those who have more resources and UE.

@Reefer

I mean, there kind of is a weapon like that already.

The meta around weapons vs the reality is quite different if you ever get a chance to look at the attack tables, but I get the point.

Maybe to Necronex's point, the cost of actions and consequences is just too high, but that's a much bigger issue than just ponchos.

I think at the end of the day, the low effort involved in using a poncho hurts the game more than it helps, but I'm happy to be the outlier in this train of thoughts. The disguise system is one of the more developed aspects of Sindome, and I think it could benefit from rewarding, and encouraging exploration vs a one-size-fits-all poncho.

I also feel like it's heavily a player culture thing where also, ironically, repercussions can be -too- much. If mugger 'X' ends up mugging the wrong person, they get a whole murdersquad after them after being called out. Or if a newbie solo 'Y' carries out a hit and is heavily punished just for trying to carry out their archetypes. But that's probably for a different discussion.

I mean when you look at cyberpunk media, you never really see solos throw on ponchos to do their hits.

I personally feel that disguise should -not- be anonyomity, but it should be used to do things like pretend to be other people, pretend to be a rival faction member, pretend to be a junior corpie. Not maintain a faceless, unidentifiable mass.

I do agree there is a segment of players who are in the non-combatant but also not disguise oriented type archetypes who get sort of hit from both sides on a change like this and it would strongly encourage them to go deeper into either combat skills, stealth skills, or disguise skills, but I just see those three as basically essential tools and not an issue to encourage.
Be advised, essay posting ahead.

It's reasonable to ask what would come in place if something was taken out. I often take it for granted that past discussions aren't sometimes distant and forgotten about. When I say ponchos limit the design space for disguise, and that being the essential problem their removal could address, what I'm really talking about is that how disguise works at all in terms of disguise durability and degradation through actions and revealing faces, is basically all derived from and balanced on hoodies and ponchos and similar hooded clothes. Even if you're wearing something, or encased in something, that couldn't possibly reveal your character's face through moving around all herky-jerky, that's still how they work because all disguises are essentially different flavours of poncho; the assumed default.

This absolutely need not be the case. This skill needn't function like some kind of consumable buff applied at varying durations with a failure always a floppy hood come away, there is a universe of other mechanics available once hooded clothing is no longer the rule.

For example, and these should not be assumed to be what I'm suggesting must replace them, and I'm riffing on ideas of balance off the top of my head so give me some rope here, but for example if I was to do away with ponchos (and hoodies if I could) how I would personally wish to see develop go is have disguises broken into several groups, say hypothetically Appearance Mods (simple makeup, simple hair styling, appear, cosmetic wigs, cosmetic contacts), Concealment (masks, helmets, full body armor, mechanized suits), and True Disguises (specialty wigs, specialty contacts, advanced makeup application, advanced hair styling, transformative nanos and biomods, cosmetic surgery).

I would see Appearance Mods as essentially taking the place of ponchos on the bottom end of the scale for common use, these I would say could retain the current mechanisms of the disguise skill in terms of application strength and wear and degradation (though I would see Artistry now give an equal weight as Disguise itself for them), but be made overall much more lasting through casual use (movement, communication, simple actions) but always fail quickly under advanced use (combat, grappling, advanced movement).

For Concealment I would see helmets and other types of body armor and full body suits/mechs no longer being available for meeting the requirements of advanced disguise techniques, but also not revealing faces through typical use. Not ever. You're not going to move around too much and show your face in your Xo5, that shit is vacuum sealed on and doesn't open, never mind the power armor. Instead I would see helmets and similar, in exchange for essentially unlimited typical disguise endurance, have other drawbacks such as no functioning whatsoever with appear, no stacking functions with any other disguise items, and made so that sufficiently critical attacks and damage against them trigger the @see-thru flag on the damaged item until repaired. Because they would still be much stronger overall as concealment tools in this design, I would see them take on a vastly greater stat penalty for making and defending attacks; I think it should be a common choice for characters to decide between blocking head shots and making their best possible attack rolls and the current penalties on helmets don't achieve that.

For True Disguises this is where I would see the design space really come alive with potential for characters to be really creative and committed in a way that isn't possible now. I would see all true disguise items require a decently high skill to begin to apply properly (say at the curve) but starting there have no wear on casual use (movement, communication, simple actions) and on degrade against advanced use, then as breakpoints in skill and stats are met also have no wear through advanced use (combat, grappling, advanced movement, although still coming off from direct strong attacks to the head akin to helmets above or skillsofts), and then finally and eventually at the maximum theoretical grade of investment and the most advanced tools never break, ever, under any circumstances or reveal anything about whatever the original character was; this akin to getting a new identity through staff plots but done by the player themselves.

Now again, these are just examples about how the design space could be opened up, please don't jump in with 'well if you think ponchos are strong think about infinite helmet'. I don't have a problem with strong disguise options, I just want them to all have interesting mechanics of their own, there not be one default do-it-all choice, and there be a strong advantage to deep specialization of the skill and better support for creative use of disguises in long term situations.

Speaking as someone who has participated in endgame PVP before and after the poncho change, I have actually seen reduced poncho usage among endbies because those extra penalties absolutely matter in rocket tag. If that justifies ponchos existing is another matter, but I do think the idea that the penalties don't matter is not true.

The penalties don't matter to most people because most people aren't combatants. I see people with no or hobbyist combat ability using ponchos far more than the supersolos everyone complains about when ponchos are discussed. Maybe something that penalizes noncombatants using ponchos needs to be looked at to reduce poncho usage overall, not just more beatings for the combat players.

Yes in fairness that is true, small penalties can start to matter when two closely matched players are looking to roll their best attacks against each others Xo5. When I say it hasn't affected usage much I'm really talking the broader sense and in terms of how these penalties don't matter at all for just moving around so they're still as good as ever as long as the shrouds come off against the absolute hardest opponents.

However I think even that is a temporary overcorrection based around the perception of the penalty being more relevant than it actually is, because even expert players sometimes overvalue the extreme top curve of stats, and the functionality of ponchos will eventually win out and they'll return to being ubiquitous as they ever were.

I think, bottom line, super solos should not be walking around in fucking bedsheets for any reason or to any gameplay purpose. It's completely ridiculous and aesthetically disastrous as a rule of cool concept. The top end combatants should be characters slugging it out in super cool battle armour and mechanized suits and cybernina gear, always, no exceptions. Work backwards from that end goal if we have to, is my view on it.

After reading all this and thinking it through I almost completely agree with Funky Mango, Reefer and 0x1mm. If it was a vote, I'd vote to remove ponchos. Perhaps my mind could be changed but that's where I stand right now.

Without a doubt, it would make identity concealment harder. It would become something that a character would have to learn and specialize in to a larger degree than ponchos necessitate. And I don't just mean in terms of skill and stats. I also realize that this would force some characters/players who decide they don't want to put the work in necessary to more effectively conceal their identity to accept the greater risk of character exposure. I think both are fine.

I have played a disguise oriented character before who never used ponchos before. They used hoodies and masks. Collected a variety of common clothing items. Used appear extensively. You can even create in game macros for this that include poses to RP out putting on your identity concealing disguise. It's very doable. Yes, more work than throwing on a poncho but I've personally had great success withou tponchos in the past..

And maybe there would be a phase where some characters who relied on a poncho to not get dogpiled get dogpiled. But I honestly think that the community and staff will see this and correct in a positive way. Players might be forced to focus more on cultivating an enemy than getting those cheap and easy wins that often remove the fun of having an enemy. I am certain the community and staff would encourage this as it's been a core concept of the game for a very long time and isn't new: Cooperative Competition.

Finally, it's my opinion that players who have invested in disguise should be offered a free respec should something as major as removing the poncho from the game should occur. So they can make minor adjustments to their character to better cope with the change in a way that isn't just a full on negative hit to the player's enjoyment of the game.

This isn't about, "not being willing to put in the work." It's about your character who usually wears fancy tailored clothing or armored being called out to work because their target who they haven't seen outside in two weeks is taking a leisurely stroll down the street and they don't have the time to do anything but just throw a poncho on if they want to act in that moment.

Disguises which are specific to a job take a lot of time to apply if your character isn't some anti-social creature who basically lives in immy clothing and never wears armor. Nymphali has already mentioned similar though, I'm only repeating what they said in this post.

There is also the factor of having to switch disguises rapidly which is something a poncho might allow for that another highly specific disguise would not. Leave the latter for situations where it's possible and beneficial to do so and the former for situations that exemplify how fast things can happen on Sindome. I would liken the arguments for the removal of the poncho to the questions sometimes asked about why people don't write ten lines of emotes before they attack someone.

I can only express my thoughts and opinions. I think removing ponchos would make the game into something I personally would enjoy more. But every shift would have it's fans and detractors. It's likely I'm going to convince anyone to changer their minds. As a whole, my goal is to present my views - not say yours are invalid. With that in mind, I see some things a little different.

It's about your character who usually wears fancy tailored clothing or armored being called out to work because their target who they haven't seen outside in two weeks is taking a leisurely stroll down the street and they don't have the time to do anything but just throw a poncho on if they want to act in that moment.

This presumes that the only options are to have a quick and easy poncho-level identity concealing disguise or not participating. In my opinion those are just the two easiest options given a player's play style, investment level, IC situation and/or character build.

To me the above sounds more like, "This is how I like to play best." Or, "This is how I was taught and what has proven optimal for me." These are very valid things but they don't equate to, "This is the only way someone can do this." Not in my opinion. There are other ways. I've seen it done and done it myself though others tend to do it better than me.

Years and years ago, I played a fairly well known ganger who went on to do some solo work. They never used disguises and still had to respond to a target popping and rushing over. As a player I even enjoyed letting my character's identity leak. I do admit that this was with a well developed character with few to fear but there were plenty more efficient and skilled operators, including Necronex666 if my memory serves.

I've also seen several other characters do solo work and commit crimes without ponchos or even disguises. They became legends of their time. There is more than one way to do a thing. It's not, in my opinion, "If I don't have ponchos, I can't do this job/role."

Disguises which are specific to a job take a lot of time to apply if your character isn't some anti-social creature who basically lives in immy clothing and never wears armor.

You have developed your methods of surviving and succeeding in this game. Others have developed theirs. I strongly believe that you have worked out very successful blueprints for the kind of characters you like to play. But that doesn't invalidate other approaches or character concepts.

One could just as easily call characters that wear fancy clothes and refuse to engage in anything risky without a poncho as a pretentious and cowardly creature that only cares about low risk victories.

I personally think there's room for both kinds of characters and more besides.

There is also the factor of having to switch disguises rapidly which is something a poncho might allow for that another highly specific disguise would not. Leave the latter for situations where it's possible and beneficial to do so and the former for situations that exemplify how fast things can happen on Sindome. I would liken the arguments for the removal of the poncho to the questions sometimes asked about why people don't write ten lines of emotes before they attack someone.

Yes. You couldn't use the exact same strategies and approaches as before. They would have to be adjusted to fit the new environment. The game would change. And I think that's the point. And I think all the above and other similar objections are all very valid points to consider. I don't, however, think they are blockers that will severely hinder conflict. I think they will change the shape of conflict and how one navigates it.

There are three major stages of combat character on SD:

1) The lowbie with nothing who can do whatever they want because people might give them a pass

2) The midbie who has gear they want to hold onto and is at serious risk of losing it all and being unable to perform at peak capability

3) The oldbie who has enough UE/resources/allies to bounce back and get right back on the horse again after a fall

There's some crossover between 2 and 3 but I'm writing very generally right now.

You mentioned you played a ganger and I'm not going to assume what your specific situation was but gangers have the potential to make a lot of chy very quickly and that means a lot when it comes to what you can do and what you can recover from. While you're in a gang if you're a blood or above you're also under the protection of the faction if things become too much for you to handle. We've seen the result of this several times.

Consider the characters who are just trying to get by and not in a faction. There are often complaints that there isn't enough PvP and that nobody is willing to take risks but it's items like the poncho that allow for entry level risk taking with the possibility of not ending up on the wanted list of everybody who might end up pissed off at you. Higher investment in disguise that allows you to do stuff like @disguise-name comes later and that should not be the standard because then it takes longer to be able to utilize the skill.

An oldbie can weather this change fine because as mentioned by batko a lot of them are already choosing to not use the poncho during fights anymore because of the increased hit to your stats due to Slither's recent update. Another character who relies on it to avoid being targeted by those oldbies is going to have a much bigger problem.

It's not that you should never give anyone the opportunity to figure out who you are, I do this all the time. It's that the risk needs to be calculated unless you want to end up in a recovery period that can last weeks or months. And that's if you're fortunate enough to not be hit by several different parties in a row or GMs forbid, the same party multiple times.

No one's even brought up the fact that ponchos are what allow people to blend in with the ambient NPC population of Red sector, which is especially crucial if you're a solo needing to camp their target.

So yeah, no. Replacing them with the need for meticulous disguises is not the vibe.

The character I referred to did solo work after their gang time. Not much support there. But, as I said, more of an oldbie so certainly had less to fear. But they did their solo work using stealth and other tactics. No ponchos. They were NOT the best solo ever but managed often enough that I do feel other approaches can work.