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I'm playing a two-ego hive-mind, where I basically keep two alpha forks active in two morphs with access jacks and mnemonic augmentations so they can sync up whenever they have free time.

The biggest issue I've had with this character is how to handle stress and merging. The rules are rather ambiguous on this point, and almost make it seem like merging a fork into your primary ego only inflicts the stress of merging on you're primary ego without copying over existing stress from the fork. That obviously doesn't translate well to my character where I have two primary egos that are constantly merging with each other.

It seems reasonable to assume that any stress, trauma, and derangements from events that only one ego experiences gets copied over to the other ego when they merge. The real problem comes from events that both egos experience together.

A few approaches I've considered:

  1. Any stressful events that both egos experience effects both egos equally. One roll to resist stress is made, and the stress, trauma and derangements inflicted on the character is applied to both egos. When merging, the stress, trauma and derangements from these events is left as-is. The argument being that they're effectively one ego, that the few hours of experience separating them isn't enough to cause them to react to the same stressful event differently.
  2. Both egos resist stress independently, and when merging, give both egos the higher stress from events that both egos experienced. If only one ego gained a trauma and derangement from the event, it would be copied to the other ego.
  3. Both egos resist stress independently, and when merging, average the stress from each event that both egos experienced. If this reduces the stress from that event below the trauma threshold for one of the egos the trauma and its derangement is erased, and if it increases the stress for one ego above the trauma threshold the trauma and derangement are copied to the other ego. Essentially, one ego's more mellow reaction could reduce the other ego's stress, while that first ego's stress is increased slightly by the stronger reaction of the second ego.
  4. Both egos resist stress independently, and when merging, all stress, traumas, and derangements are cumulative. This seems really harsh, and kind of makes playing a hive-mind infeasible, in my opinion.

I also have a follow-up question relating to this and resleeving. I would think the stress from alienation and integration of two separate morphs would be cumulative, as merging means you now have memories of the stress of sleeving and adapting to both morphs. But what about continuity? If both morphs share the same continuity gap and the only difference is which morph they wake up in (especially if they merge right before resleeving), would the continuity stress be considered a shared event, or an independent one? I lean towards the former, not least because I'm already essentially going to have doubled stress from integration and alienation tests (I may have to invest in some ego traits to make resleeving less stressful...).

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It's assumed in the normal merging process you are trying to integrate the fork well. This means you aren't actually getting everything from the fork, just the important parts. Now, the important parts include all of the memories, experiences, knowledge, character growth, etc, but all of that is filtered by you when you reabsorb the fork so that, for example, you don't automatically go insane when absorbing a fork that harbors significant mental damage. In fact, one of the most common undesirable consequences of merging is memory loss, since merging is, basically, psychosurgery (and even uses that skill).

In your case, when you merge, you should suffer worse consequences than normal because you are treating your alpha-fork as an equal in the truest sense-- not 'a part' of you but a full person. In doing such (unless you feel otherwise) you (or it, whoever's doing the psychosurgery) are presumably taking care to retain its experiences, personality, etc even at the price of your own; instead of re-integrating it into you-ness and losing whatever it-ness is necessary to preserve your essential state, you are both lost as you integrate into a fundamentally new gestalt being before again separating. I think it would thus be appropriate to increase your memory loss from the 'normal' results. I would also decrease your incurred stress, but that is more of a character-based thing than a general principle I think is inherent in the method.

As for stress in particular, any damage done to the fork or yourself before merging, as well as myriad other factors, should be handled as a modifier to the psychosurgery test involved in the merging process. The table on page 275 notes temporal modifiers and consequences; if you feel it necessary, similar tables could be constructed based off of incured stress, etc. A good baseline would be that, if failed, the merging process adds from half to all of the stress carried by the fork to the character that the fork did not have when it was created, even experiences both forks went through together afterwards, as the experience was felt differently by each of them. A successful fork should add from 0 to half of that stress.

Alternatively, you may find it better to convert such stress into an equivalent amount of memory loss, representing your removing the stress as part of the merge, and just have additional memory loss in non-stressful areas on a failed test.

Of the two options here presented, I have GMed both. I have found the latter to be a far superior option, though it makes forks an invaluable tool for almost every character, because it makes a lot more sense to me, is easier to explain in-game, and works well with the rest of the rules.

In no case should you suffer consequences from merging that are not heavily mitigated by the psychosurgery test involved, except for the moral and cultural consequences, of course.

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