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Cultural Ramifications of Serum of Appearance Change.


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Has anyone addressed what it's like to live in a culture where having your idea of a perfect body is only 75 credits away?

What would life be like for the very poor? Would there be charities to offer the serum for free? Would a person's looks become less important when they are so easily obtained? Would cosmetics only be useful for obtaining unnatural effects like blue hair or golden skin? Would people be judged on having non-standard bodies, because they could easily choose to look like what the rest of society finds attractive? Would people in relationships feel constantly pressured to change their bodies for their significant other? Would sexual dimorphism become more or less pronounced?

Liberty's Edge

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You can make 22 credits a week with 10s in all abilities and one rank in Profession.

You can eat on 1 credit a week if willing to subsist on field rations, and sleep for 7 if willing to use a sleep pod. Less if willing to live in a tent.

That's 14 credits a week to spare, and enough for a serum in 6 weeks for even very poor people. Now, that's living very badly for that time, but it's certainly achievable.

And what I suspect it would mean culturally, is indeed that most people would look conventionally attractive, and that those who did not would be considered eccentric and odd. It would also make changing one's appearance fairly radically a common occurrence under certain circumstances (at least for the relatively well off). A marriage or divorce might be signaled by a new look, as might a promotion at work or the birth of a child.

Sexual dimorphism would probably be more pronounced in most individuals, but androgyny would be a common third option. People in relationships might well feel some pressure to change their look for those they were in a relationship with, but overtly pressuring someone that way would probably be seen as inappropriate in most social milieus.

Speaking of which, let's bear in mind that the Pact Worlds aren't one culture, but dozens of them. All the stuff I list above is for 'mainstream Pact Worlds culture' for lack of a better term. The standard likely to be practiced on Absalom Station and mimicked elsewhere due to media and the like. Things are likely quite different in different places.

I mean, lets look at the Drow. If still even slightly matriarchal, I'd imagine that even those born biologically male who stayed that way (probably most of them) who desired power and respect might take pains to look more 'feminine' since that's the appearance associated with power in the minds of other Drow.

And that's just one possible example of the dozens of different ways this seems likely to effect the lives of the various peoples of the Pact Worlds.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That's only the tip of the iceberg - with the Serum of Sex Shift only a couple hundred more credits, in strongly patriarchal or matriarchal societies (like the Drow) you could have a very real problem of species extinction, as the majority of people who don't want to be downtrodden and marginalized could actually shift their gender, not just "look more feminine." You'd have to have government lockdown of the serum of sex shift just to avoid a population collapse. Or government- and societal-forced polygamy.

Liberty's Edge

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ENHenry wrote:
That's only the tip of the iceberg - with the Serum of Sex Shift only a couple hundred more credits, in strongly patriarchal or matriarchal societies (like the Drow) you could have a very real problem of species extinction, as the majority of people who don't want to be downtrodden and marginalized could actually shift their gender, not just "look more feminine." You'd have to have government lockdown of the serum of sex shift just to avoid a population collapse. Or government- and societal-forced polygamy.

Given how awful gender dysphoria is this scenario is about as vanishingly unlikely as everyone chopping off their legs to get handicapped parking.

Some people would certainly do this, but enough to risk the extinction of the species? No.


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ENHenry wrote:

That's only the tip of the iceberg - with the Serum of Sex Shift only a couple hundred more credits, in strongly patriarchal or matriarchal societies (like the Drow) you could have a very real problem of species extinction, as the majority of people who don't want to be downtrodden and marginalized could actually shift their gender, not just "look more feminine." You'd have to have government lockdown of the serum of sex shift just to avoid a population collapse. Or government- and societal-forced polygamy.

For most species, going all female shouldn't cause an extinction, because one male could fertilize many times more females. But what I see as maybe more likely is "day changers". Wealthy females would use a serum to switch and impregnate their lovers and then use another to change back.

A society going all male has a lot more problems. I wouldn't be surprised at government incentives to force people to go female. And the poor would be the ones most likely to be forced to switch, which would lead to being female being seen as even less desirable than it was before.


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Gender dysphoria affects a vanishingly small percentage of a population (if we're going to go by human norms).

For Drow, I would think their society would outright ban sex changes, since sex is tied to power/caste. I'd expect it to be a "punishable by death on sight" issue.

For non-extremists like the Drow, I'd expect to see varieties of group dynamics concerning fluid sexual identities. You'd have those that change their sex on whim. You'd have those that believe it immoral to ever change your sex. You'd have those with gender dysphoria who'd bless the day they could afford the serum.

I bet orgies in Starfinder get crazy.

Liberty's Edge

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Pfhoenix wrote:
Gender dysphoria affects a vanishingly small percentage of a population (if we're going to go by human norms).

Gender dysphoria is caused by being in a body that does not synch up with your self image and brain structure. This is a rare condition to be born with.

However, it seems almost assured that someone who is comfortable in the body they've got (on a gut level), then takes an Elixir of Sex Change will often then experience gender dysphoria. Making doing so for tactical reasons deeply unpleasant and horrific...and thus uncommon.

Now, some people might be comfortable in various body types, or more comfortable in the one that's strategically most useful than their original body type...but they are, as you note, not a majority at all.


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Pfhoenix wrote:
For Drow, I would think their society would outright ban sex changes, since sex is tied to power/caste. I'd expect it to be a "punishable by death on sight" issue.

I would expect them to be done in secret during early childhood. "Do you want to be like mama? Here drink this."


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If you can cause gender dysphoria just by taking the serum, I would argue there's a better term for that, as the two root causes are very different. Gender Assimilation Disorder? Gender or Neutral Assimilation Disorder maybe.

Liberty's Edge

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Pfhoenix wrote:
If you can cause gender dysphoria just by taking the serum, I would argue there's a better term for that, as the two root causes are very different. Gender Assimilation Disorder? Gender or Neutral Assimilation Disorder maybe.

Whatever you call it, I'd imagine it's a fairly common reaction to people who take the serum for reasons other than really wanting to. And an unpleasant one.


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Doesn't the serum require willingness in order to work?


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Corollary thought, what happens to cosmetic modifications like piercings, tattoos, and other body mods if you take a serum? Like a full-back tattoo on a wiry little guy who takes one to give himself a heavyweight's build. Does the tattoo stretch and deform, centre itself, or straight vanish? Or a corset piercing set on a human woman who goes for a serum to just give herself an hourglass figure?

Further, can a male Vesk give himself the vibrant patterns of a female or is he limited to the more muted scales unless he uses the more expensive sex shift serum? (And would he be considered an oddball for doing so?)

Can a Ysoki induce a calico pattern? Can she arrange spots into the shape of a Pharasman spiral?

I feel like Vesk and Ysoki could have a thriving fashion based on playing with their markings to make them into interesting shapes and colourations.


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Since souls stay the same, soul identification system.
Your ID is made of your Soul Number
Should be easy since god runs the market.


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Pfhoenix wrote:
Doesn't the serum require willingness in order to work?

It's not that hard to get someone to be willing to do something. You just need to offer up a worse alternative.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

One cultural ramification of this item is that plastic surgery would be a far less lucrative field in the Starfinder universe than in our own. People would get that type of surgery only to rebuild body parts damaged in an accident, not for the purpose of modifying their appearances (which this serum can do relatively cheaply).

I must admit that I failed to notice that this serum has a permanent duration -- so anyone using it as a temporary disguise (to fit into a group, obviously -- not to look like a particular person) would need to purchase two serums.


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The permanency had me wondering if it also age locks your looks. If I permanently give myself dark hair and clear, unwrinkled skin, then how would I ever show age?

Can I change the length of my hair and have it stay that way? If I never need to shave or get my haircut again, then the serum would eventually pay for itself.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I doubt that this serum would stop hair growth unless you make the serum remove the hair completely by making you bald. Presumably, your new appearance would be subject to all of the same natural processes as your old appearance was.


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I imagine those things are mostly fire and forget more than one and done. It sets you up with perfect skin, clean teeth, a jawline for days, and a perfect coif. You then need to maintain all of that through proper skincare, brushing and flossing every day, limiting your fat and sugar intake, and regular salon appointments. Or just buy another serum a day or so before your next social event.

ETA: I wonder what the legal age of consent for these is, come to that. I can imagine having a teenager trying to keep up with social trends would get taxing on the credstick, but can they buy it on their own or do they need a responsible adult to do it for them like piercings and tattoos do in the USA.


I would gladly pay $75 every month for a potion that magically made me look and feel as perfectly healthy as I wanted to be.

Aerotan : Without any life-long consequence to the potion (you can always drink another to undo what you did), there'd be no reason to have an age of consent.

On age, could a child take the potion to appear to be an adult? That'd seriously mess with hormonal balance and developmental issues.


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Still no serum of species change tho. I guess that would make the Reincarnate spell a little too good compared to Raise Dead, but it could offer a ton of worldbuilding possibilities.

Would changing species be seen as mundane as changing your look ? Or would the "native" members see it as an imposture ? Maybe the law would enforce a "cooldown" between each change, as the admnistration would need that time to modify your ID (not to mention that heavy changers would be targeted for identity theft by con artists).

There's a ton of possibilities there, and no RAW rules to explore them. Sad.


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My assumption is that a change of species serum would either be too easily abused, or would have to limited to only appearance without any change of abilities or stats. It sounds like a design nightmare.


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Melkiador wrote:
My assumption is that a change of species serum would either be too easily abused, or would have to limited to only appearance without any change of abilities or stats. It sounds like a design nightmare.

Could simply use the reincarnate rules. You keep everything the same, except you recalculate your stats as member of the new race, and swap your racial abilities and powers with those of the new race.

It's not like changing race is impossible right now, it's just that you have to die first. Or pay a fat stack of credits for a Wish. Pretty inconvenient.

And since the means to change your race are so limited, you're kinda screwed in the rare case it does happen to you and you don't like it. Goes both ways.


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Pfhoenix wrote:
For Drow, I would think their society would outright ban sex changes, since sex is tied to power/caste. I'd expect it to be a "punishable by death on sight" issue.

Actually we are making an assumption that the Drow are a matriarchy. After the Gap? Who knows anymore. The Drow could have literally been like:

Males: "Wait, why are women in charge?"

Females: "Because we are?"

Males: "But? Why? That doesn't make any sense."

Females: "Uh... I don't know?"

Males: "So why can't I be in charge?"

Females: "Well, I mean, it doesn't really make sense to discriminate based on physical sex when physical sex is easily mutable... Huh... Yeah that doesn't make sense."

Males: "Who are you again?"

Female: "I mean, to be honest, I don't remember anything that happened longer than a few days ago..."


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That seems remarkably unlikely. I think it would more likely go:

Males: "Wait, why are women in charge?"

Females: "Because we are?"

Males: "But? Why? That doesn't make any sense."

Females: [thwack] "Back to work! Less questions! More production! These factories won't run themselves!"

Those in power don't tend to give that power up easily. Especially in predominantly-evil societies.


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Ouachitonian wrote:

That seems remarkably unlikely. I think it would more likely go:

Males: "Wait, why are women in charge?"

Females: "Because we are?"

Males: "But? Why? That doesn't make any sense."

Females: [thwack] "Back to work! Less questions! More production! These factories won't run themselves!"

Those in power don't tend to give that power up easily. Especially in predominantly-evil societies.

That's just it. That wouldn't necessarily be the outcome. Those males are evil too, and they have no reason to give up to the women because they are no longer indoctrinated to that culture due to the gap amnesia.

So here is what happens:

Females: [thwack] "Back to work! Less questions! More production! These factories won't..."

Males: [thwack] "You aren't the boss of me!"

Then you would have some women, who weren't high on the totem pole of power, taking advantage of this fact too. You cut out all of the indoctrination, and then you also remember that these women (and men) no longer know who they can trust as they don't have personal knowledge of people anymore...


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The Drow would be in such chaos.

Remember their spymasters are all out of business too. Nobody has personal information on anyone else anymore. This means they don't know who is vulnerable where. Then you add to the fact that the women are outnumbered by the men (if I remember correctly) 3 to 1? Also bear in mind the men are raised to be subservient via abuse, which relies on learned behavior and memory of consequences, which no longer exist.

Basically - We shouldn't assume anything about societies we knew from Pathfinder in Starfinder. Lashunta used to be sexually diamorphic and a pure matriarchy. They aren't anymore.


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I think we have different understandings of the Gap. It isn't like everyone woke up one day not remembering anything. The Core Rulebook says:

"Modern history begins with accounts of worlds
across the multiverse erupting in riots and panic as those living
through this transition found their memories suddenly blank
or unreliable. While these people retained all the knowledge,
skills, and interpersonal connections from their lives, specific
memories became difficult or impossible to retrieve—a woman
might have instinctively known a million tiny details about her
spouse but have had no concept of how they met or how long
they’d been married. Nations forgot why they were at war."

Drow might not recall why they're a matriarchy, they might not remember who was the Queen fifty years ago even if they recall attending the coronation, but there's a pretty good chance that they retain the lessons of their childhood. Pilots didn't suddenly forget how to fly, accountants didn't wake up with no memory of Algebra, and males as a group probably didn't lose their indoctrination. Now, some may have, the nice thing about the Gap is that it's vague enough that both things can be true. But if even large chunks of society retained knowledge of Drow Civics, that makes sudden changes less likely. They very well might have needed to put down rebellions from males that forgot, but since their society was already equipped to viciously suppress dissent...


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Ouachitonian wrote:

I think we have different understandings of the Gap. It isn't like everyone woke up one day not remembering anything. The Core Rulebook says:

"Modern history begins with accounts of worlds
across the multiverse erupting in riots and panic as those living
through this transition found their memories suddenly blank
or unreliable. While these people retained all the knowledge,
skills, and interpersonal connections from their lives, specific
memories became difficult or impossible to retrieve—a woman
might have instinctively known a million tiny details about her
spouse but have had no concept of how they met or how long
they’d been married. Nations forgot why they were at war."

Drow might not recall why they're a matriarchy, they might not remember who was the Queen fifty years ago even if they recall attending the coronation, but there's a pretty good chance that they retain the lessons of their childhood. Pilots didn't suddenly forget how to fly, accountants didn't wake up with no memory of Algebra, and males as a group probably didn't lose their indoctrination. Now, some may have, the nice thing about the Gap is that it's vague enough that both things can be true. But if even large chunks of society retained knowledge of Drow Civics, that makes sudden changes less likely. They very well might have needed to put down rebellions from males that forgot, but since their society was already equipped to viciously suppress dissent...

The thing is the Drow aren't equipped to handle such dissent. This is a society of the most backstabbing people to ever exist. A rebellion of the men would bring the society to its knees and women wouldn't stand against them if they thought that they could direct it for their own benefit.

I'm not saying the Drow aren't still a matriarchy. I'm saying we don't know that they are specifically.

In mine they aren't anymore, for example.

Dark Archive

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If you would like to sanitize the inputs on this topic, I suggest checking out two works: first is Eclipse Phase which I seem to remember had a great deal of fluff on this matter because body swapping was such a major component of the game; second is the Neil Gaiman short story "Changes", which explored the social effects a drug what was almost exactly like the Serum of Sex Shift. Personally, my suspicious is that when using either of these products, it would most likely rewire your brain as to alleviate any dysphoria since the brain would be, implicitly, part of an overall biological change but that's just my suspicion.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Pfhoenix wrote:
Gender dysphoria affects a vanishingly small percentage of a population (if we're going to go by human norms).
Gender dysphoria is caused by being in a body that does not synch up with your self image and brain structure. This is a rare condition to be born with.

Gender Dysphoria is serious, I agree, but I think for many people, enough desperation would overcome the desire against self-harm in order to escape punishment and near-enslavement. Every time I've seen them portrayed in D&D of any stripe, Dark Elves are just damned nasty folk.

However, given that the majority of such a society would be raised with the concept of inherent inferiority of one gender, you're right in that it would probably be less common than I at first thought, just on the sheer inertia of believing that "that's the way it should be."


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While use of the serums may or may not be explicitly verboten on Apostae, I'd imagine the accusation of having used such a serum to be a powerful, if common, political tactic. Spread a rumor that a rival matriarch started her life as a slave-male whose familial history was falsified in a bid to seize/solidify power, then demand loudly that she respond to those rumors and when it inevitably takes time to produce the records just claim they were being forged while the delay was ongoing.


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"It is common knowledge that the [name] Clan struggled with infertility and produced only male children for a period of more than a half-century. But then, just when it looked they might be in danger of extinction, a lone female is born to the family. Ask yourselves: is this mere luck? Or could it be that something more insidious is afoot?"

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

"The shareholders are concerned about the decrease in revenue in the Transitions Department, and are seeking answers. Could it be that the head of the Department is obfuscating the facts of Transitions for their own personal gain, rather than the corporate bottom line?"


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just tossing it out there, but speaking as a trans woman working in fields with significantly higher than average levels of rampant sexism, I'm in as close a position as one can find in the real world to being in the shoes of a drow man with access to a sex-shift serum, and "I'd rather be dead than take that option" is the general stance taken under such conditions.

Dysphoria is, in fact, that bad, and there's this innate sense of solidarity that comes from marginalization and general solidarity with one's gender that shouldn't really be taken lightly.

Plus honestly, this whole conversation hinges on the notion of drow men being a slave-caste plotting rebellion, which really doesn't mesh at all with how they're depicted in Second Darkness. It's much more real-world-patriarichal-stuff-flipped-around, with drow men owning their own businesses, exercising some political influence via their masculine wiles, etc.


If sexuality is a spectrum, then a trans person would need to be on the far end of a side of that spectrum to endure the hardships that go with being trans. So of course a trans person would find the idea distasteful. But the average person is probably more in the middle of that spectrum, and thus much more open to the process. Combine that with the idea that a chaotic evil race is more likely to thirst after power, and do anything to get it.

Liberty's Edge

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Melkiador wrote:
If sexuality is a spectrum, then a trans person would need to be on the far end of a side of that spectrum to endure the hardships that go with being trans. So of course a trans person would find the idea distasteful.

Huh? I'm...honestly not quite sure what you're saying here, to be honest. Being transgender isn't a sexuality, and I'm not at all sure the gender dysphoria they feel is any worse than most cisgender people would feel if they suddenly found themselves in a body that was wrong for them.

I know that, being very comfortable in my body, trying to adapt to one that was radically different, especially with different hormones effecting my body and mind differently would be deeply upsetting to me personally, and I'm certainly cisgender.

Melkiador wrote:
But the average person is probably more in the middle of that spectrum, and thus much more open to the process.

How in the world do you know or even hypothesize this? We have no evidence of this in the real world, and the mechanisms that seem to result in the gender dysphoria experienced by trans people (actual structural differences in the brain) strongly argues that unless the Serum changes the brain (which would be weird and inconsistent with how it works otherwise) cisgender people would almost certainly experience the same degree of, well, awfulness. Genderqueer people are a different case entirely, of course, but they're in the minority.

The vague horror a lot of people feel at the idea of being forcibly transformed into, well, just about anything radically other than their own body (see: body horror in general) also strongly argues against most people being okay with this sort of thing.

Yeah, there are tattoos and piercings, plus plastic surgery and the like but those all tend to be pretty small changes when examined. Complete radical body redesign is quite rare. Some of that's logistical, sure, but some is also people freaking out about that kind of thing.

Melkiador wrote:
Combine that with the idea that a chaotic evil race is more likely to thirst after power, and do anything to get it.

Chaotic Evil tends to be pretty heavy on the self indulgence. Hurting oneself for greater power is much more typical of Lawful Alignments, really.


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What I'm saying is that for every person who is living as trans, there must be many more people who feel almost the same, but not strongly enough to do anything about it. And I'd have to assume that the serum can change your brain structure, because brain structure is a "sexual characteristic".

But you need to remember that we aren't talking about our current version of sexual reassignment surgery. We are talking about a cheap, fast, 100%-effective drink, who's effects can be completely reversed by taking another cheap, fast drink. There would certainly not be any horror in doing this for most people as it's functionally non-permanent.

Now, if you want to argue that some Drow who took the serum may later begin to experience dysphoria, then yes, that would be certain to happen for some percentage, but then they would just convert back with no harm done other being 700 credits poorer.

Liberty's Edge

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Melkiador wrote:
What I'm saying is that for every person who is living as trans, there must be many more people who feel almost the same, but not strongly enough to do anything about it.

Many more? I'm not sure we have the data to say that one way or the other, but even if true, I'm not sure why it changes much of anything. Most cisgender people will still not be comfortable in a body radically different their own.

Melkiador wrote:
And I'd have to assume that the serum can change your brain structure, because brain structure is a "sexual characteristic".

I'm not at all convinced that's the way it works, but even if it did, self image is also a factor.

Melkiador wrote:
But you need to remember that we aren't talking about our current version of sexual reassignment surgery. We are talking about a cheap, fast, 100%-effective drink, who's effects can be completely reversed by taking another cheap, fast drink. There would certainly not be any horror in doing this for most people as it's functionally non-permanent.

Horror? No, for the reasons you state. Deep discomfort and unpleasantness are another matter.

Melkiador wrote:
Now, if you want to argue that some Drow who took the serum may later begin to experience dysphoria, then yes, that would be certain to happen for some percentage, but then they would just convert back with no harm done other being 700 credits poorer.

My argument is basically that the percentage who did this would be very large, and that an even larger percentage wouldn't even be inclined to try. That's pretty much all I'm arguing, from a functional perspective: That the number of drow who did this and stuck with it would be, as a population percentage, quite small.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
My argument is basically that the percentage who did this would be very large, and that an even larger percentage wouldn't even be inclined to try. That's pretty much all I'm arguing, from a functional perspective: That the number of drow who did this and stuck with it would be, as a population percentage, quite small.

Being that we are dealing with how an alien race would react to a magical potion, then it's impossible to say what the percentage would be for any given game. You've decided it's going to be high in your games, but that conclusion is no more arbitrary than saying it will be very low in some other game.

But most of us also have the advantage of living in a society where the genders are generally considered equal. I don't think you are properly accounting for the horror of living in a world where your gender is treated as worthless and how that may sour you on your own gender and build up the idea of how great it would be to be the other gender.


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It's an assumption to assume most people are strongly their gender even if most people consider performing their gender "well" a virtue.

Part of that virtue value would motivate a person not to change, but once the change has occurred it may not be the case that they will want to kill themselves. That assumes a strong biologically driven mental gender identity in ALL people.


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In my opinion the serum of appearance change is just a magical replacement for plastic surgery which does not allow you to take the appearance of others. Thus most people will use it for the same reasons people go to a plastic surgeon in real life: to remove scars, to fix their appearance, etc.

I think that the serum of sex shift is only used in two cases. The most obvious case is as a cure for gender dysphoria, thus allowing a transgendered person to get the right body. The other case would be to allow homosexual couples to get children, although in this case the one take the serum will most likely suffer from gender dysphoria (and both from having awkward sex). It is unclear if the serum allows partial transformations (e.g. female appearance but male genitals) but it clearly does not allow some one to become a hermaphrodite or sexless. And it is also unclear if it also alters the DNA.

That's my opinion to this topic.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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The real horror of the serum of sex shift is the effect it has on societies that perceive one gender as superior. Your parents might give you the serum when you are a baby if you don't have the "correct" sex. Otherwise, you might be peer pressured or outcast.


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Cyrad wrote:
The real horror of the serum of sex shift is the effect it has on societies that perceive one gender as superior. Your parents might give you the serum when you are a baby if you don't have the "correct" sex. Otherwise, you might be peer pressured or outcast.

That doesn't work though. The person has to willingly want the change.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Cyrad wrote:
The real horror of the serum of sex shift is the effect it has on societies that perceive one gender as superior. Your parents might give you the serum when you are a baby if you don't have the "correct" sex. Otherwise, you might be peer pressured or outcast.

This serum won't work on a baby.

"Upon drinking this elixir, your biology instantly transforms to take on a set of sexual characteristics of your choice, changing both your appearance and physiology accordingly."

A baby cannot make the necessary choice.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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David knott 242 wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
The real horror of the serum of sex shift is the effect it has on societies that perceive one gender as superior. Your parents might give you the serum when you are a baby if you don't have the "correct" sex. Otherwise, you might be peer pressured or outcast.

This serum won't work on a baby.

"Upon drinking this elixir, your biology instantly transforms to take on a set of sexual characteristics of your choice, changing both your appearance and physiology accordingly."

A baby cannot make the necessary choice.

I'd say that's somewhat debatable. Many would argue a baby can make a decision. Especially when we're dealing with alien creatures and science fiction.


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No one actually makes any choices. Some just think they do.


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The fact that fertility itself is not impacted is actually kinda interesting. Even if absolutely nothing else changed it means that, although expensive, recovery time for hysterectomies and ovariectomies (4-6+ weeks) would be sharply reduced, since recovery time for vasectomies is much shorter (bed rest for ~48 hours, light physical activity for ~1 week). I wonder (again) what happens to implants and piercings in areas that no longer exist, though.

Unrelated, my reading of the serum of sex shift is that it doesn't give a flying feather what your race thinks of as 'normal' when choosing sexual characteristics, when you drink it, you choose what anatomy develops, atrophies, appears, or vanishes, provided your race has that anatomy to begin with.

I don't think you can make yourself into a shirren host unless you're a shirren. I do think you can select a vibrant coat of scales ladies would kill for and chin spikes to make all those same ladies swoon as a vesk (of either sex). The theoretical same-sex couple in the example above could take one serum to give one partner a viable block and tackle but otherwise retain her other assets, then a second one to switch back when everything was said and done. (Though that might be prohibitively expensive, I've seen maths elsewhere that suggest that average monthly income is probably around 176cr/person, which means that one dose of it costs about 2 months of gross income for an entry level position. For your average commoner it'd likely take about 6 months to afford a dose on spartan living, assuming we hold to about 1/3rd of gross income being a good starting point for personal spending, with half going to necessities and another 1/6th to savings and retirement.)


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Cyrad wrote:
The real horror of the serum of sex shift is the effect it has on societies that perceive one gender as superior. Your parents might give you the serum when you are a baby if you don't have the "correct" sex. Otherwise, you might be peer pressured or outcast.

As already said by others, the person drinking it, must be able to make a choice and want to change. A baby is not able to make this choice, a child however is. There are cases of five, six years olds declaring themselves transgender.

So you cannot force someone to drink this serum and expect the serum to work. The example of the drow matron giving her newborn the serum to get a baby girl instead of a baby boy will never work. But a young drow boy deciding to become a girl and drinking the serum to achieve this, will always work.

I can imagine that in some societies both serums are prohibited. For different reasons. But as far as I know they are completely legal in the Pact Worlds, even if some uses might be illegal (using them to change your appearance so completely that you cannot be recognized).

BTW, do they work on androids?


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The Drow Matron obviously casts Dominate Person on her own baby, if she hasn't already. :)

As for fertility, I'd think there'd be technology for using DNA from both parents. Hmm...haven't seen any, but haven't read everything either and it's not like much extrapolation has been done in Starfinder into social technology.


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Forcing children to willingly do things is colloquially called parenting.

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