Natural Selection & Psychology in the decline of "humanity"

Hi all,

First, let me start off by saying that I’m new to BW & BE, just ordered a bunch of books earlier today after stumbling across the system yesterday… I can’t wait to get the books, this system looks awesome. In the meantime I’ve been reading over all the free downloads, in fact, these are what pushed be to jump into the system… very cool & imaginative, can’t wait to play!

Anyway, I read the Psychology chapter and was wondering… What exactly is it, it game terms? A mutation and/or an inheritable trait, or something else? Can a child be born with the ability if the parents lack it?

The BE is a rich one, hats off to Mr. Moeller, I had no choice but to get BE after I read the intro chapter to the setting. Anyway, an interesting concept occured to me as I read about Psychology…

With the laws of “natural selection” in place, and the threat of the Worms becoming ever more prominent, won’t psychologists be selected for more and more over time because they have innate resistances to infection? Maybe, over time, the “glowing mark” of the psychologist will become a very desirable trait in a mate, and psychologists will eventually replace all humans without the capability, with the darwinian pressure of the worm infections knocking off the non-pschologists left & right. (just a thought)

Well, more to the point of relevancy in-game… About how rare are psychologists? (I already have 2 players interested, but I’m hesitant to allow so many in one group unless they are fairly common, partly because I also want to use NPCs with these powers too).

Thanks in advance for any input… and, I don’t have the books yet (should be arriving this week) so if this stuff is already covered in them let me know, I’ll just wait and see.



The proper question is not “how common are they” but to, after world burning, as the group for why those psychologists are there… and then see if it sounds good. Let the group decide.

BE is by far MORE group centric than anything else I’ve played; use that. As in, the GM operates under pretty much the same constraints as the other players except as noted.

There is the option to have a psychologist foundation of some form as a faction in of world burning. If they take that option, then there should be no reason to deny 1,2 or even 6 psychologists. If not, ask “Why is the head shrinker here?” and “Where did they come from?”

If the answers appease the group, run with it. You can always try to scrag them later…

I can’t remember exactly where I saw Chris talking about the origins of Psychology so I’m going off memory here.

According to Chris, the ability to tap into ones mental abilities is something that all humans have the potential to do, but only a small lucky few see it manifest during puberty. The bright mark is a genetic coding that triggers if psychology manifests in order to serve as a marker of honor (in the old Imperial days) or as a warning (now, everywhere but in the League).

Things I can’t remember are if Psychologist parents have a higher change of having Psychologist children. Iif this is the case, it’s something that would definitely make them desirable as mates in the League but quite the opposite in the other territories due to the higer chance of having your children be damned.

As for the rarity of Psychologiests, they are fairly rare but as Aramis said, the final decision as to the rarity of them in your game is up to your group. It might actually make more sense to have them banding together in some highly religious area (Comoran Worlds for instance) as to protect themselves from those who would purge them.

Further, natural selection doesn’t only select for uber-predators. (Witness the fact that Earth is covered in squirrels and cod rather than tigers and orca whales). Evolution, contrary to the common portrayal in SciFi Original Productions, does not have a direction or a goal. Even more to the point, having a worm in your head may make you MORE, rather than less, suited to your environment. It certainly doesn’t prevent you from passing on your genes.

In fact, the competitive advantage probably resides with traits that allow a human to survive a Vaylen invasion and continue to pass on its genes. Since the Vaylen would almost certainly kill any Psychologist they couldn’t subvert, that would tend to select AGAINST Psychologist traits.

(I’m using “trait” in the genetics sense, not the BE rules sense, obviously).

It seems like you’re really using “evolution” and “natural selection” as code-words to ask something more like “Wouldn’t people be smart enough to breed with the people most likely to keep their civilization intact?” And the answer is “Well, that’s the tragedy of the Iron Empires.”

::imagines a world of tigers and orcas::

Except for mutations, and the ancestors of people who fell through the cracks and didn’t get tagged, the bright mark gene is in every single human being. The gene for it was implanted not as an honor, but as a warning. People who practiced psychology wouldn’t be able to do it in the dark (literally). Some people are more liable to develop a talent for psychology than others, but the potential is in all of us, in the same way that a talent for mathematics is in all of us. And just like mathematics, it’s only of use if it’s taught. Organizations like the circle of 10,000 or the Mundus Inquisition are the places where likely candidates are selected and trained to a high level of capability. In the Karsan League, under pressure from the Vaylen, education in psychology is spread more broadly than in the rest of the Iron Empires, but even in that most egalitarian of cultures it’s limited to the nobility. The tragedy that Zabieru mentions: “we don’t dare give such a dangerous power to the common crowd, or they’d tear society apart.”

I have to say, it always makes me happy when the response to these “Wouldn’t it be more sensible if…” questions (in any arena, not just this forum) result in answer that amount to “Well, these people are just not sensible”.

I mean, other than in real life obviously. :expressionless: