Apocalyptic Projects

   Here we have the current “Things to do” and “Things to investigate” list for the Federation-Apocalypse Campaign. Yes, this is fairly massive. Hopefully we can start checking some of it off…

   First up is checking on that Praetorian who was going off to capture his (ex-)boss accomplished back in the Linear Realms. Hopefully there will be some information available there.

The list of groups and individuals to investigate includes:

   The Neanderthals: There have been some indications that the Neanderthals have been assaulting Homo Sapiens and the Core Worlds with plagues, disasters, and destructive beliefs for centuries, harvesting souls, and importing them into their own species to expand their now nearly-fixed population. At least by implication, these may be our major villains. Unfortunately, at his point, the characters have yet to actually confirm their existence – much less find any clue to stopping them. Current goals: (1) Confirm their existence, (2) Determine if they really are hostile, (3) Find out where they live, and (4) Make as much trouble as seems necessary if no agreement can be reached. It’s not like they can actually be eliminated in the Manifold, so learning to live with the neighbors seems advisable.

   Vekxin: A soulless pacter, who tricks his victims into accepting an addictive infusion of positive energy that enhances them and renders them nearly unkillable. Sadly, it also binds them to him and slowly destroys their minds. Was once reported to be cornered, although the House of Roses is apparently still attempting to pin him down completely and break through his defenses. Of course, he could be pulling the same bilocation stunt that Arxus is. One of the groups major targets, although – once again – one that they’ve never actually seen. If the group ever finds out where he is, or gets a chance to go after him, he’s definitely on the list. Unfortunately, the group has yet to find a way to make him come to them or to find out who is backing him – and it seems almost certain that somebody is.

   Merlin: A nasty twist on the original legends. Possibly a backer of Vekxin’s and Arxus’s captor. Suspected to be involved in the creation of “The Outsider”, in the unethical experiments and mass murder of children carried out by the Baelarian Mages Guild, and in the theft of the vast reserves of magical power and life energy that they had accumulated. Suspected to be responsible for the “timeslip” problem through the manipulation of minor, underpopulated, dimensions. Possibly a major target, since Kevin is definitely out to get whoever was behind the TimeSlips; he found them REALLY annoying.

   The Hellstorm: A Sith battleship, also possessed of archdemon-level infernal powers. Currently on the loose, although driven back after an attack on the Core fleet and Ryan O’Malley. The characters still have most of a year to go on it’s contract to not attack them. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, however, it’s also on the “unable to find it” list.

   King Arthur: Another nasty twist on the original legend, this version of Arthur is apparently a barbaric brawling warlord. While not particularly one of the groups concerns at the moment, he is a major concern for King Arthur II and his Arrancar (creatures made up of thousands of fused souls) – none of whom have been seen since they were released from the Negative Energy Plane. It would be kind of nice to find out what they were up to, and perhaps to get involved. Sadly, no one in the group has any idea where they are.

   The Power-Armor Goons: These have popped up several times – possibly a lot of times if the various combat cyborg thugs that have put in appearances count as extensions of the theme – and seem to be generally after chaos, mass death, and general destruction. They also seem to be linked to the Meme-Assaults and to Singular-style technologies. Unfortunately, they seem to simply be disposable thugs, and attempts to trace them back have so far failed; they just seem to appear from nowhere. Still, we should be able to tell by this time if they were using Singular technology or something else.

   Adrian Marcati, A.K.A “Spellweaver”, is a powerful mage and renegade from the Baelarian Mages Guild. Of course, given the behavior of the Guild, that may well make him one of the good guys. He was killed in a brief – and rather confused – battle with the group, but has almost certainly returned by now, since he apparently had clones or some other method of returning. Currently the group wants to pin him down and find out what he was up to. Unfortunately, they have no idea of where he might be, how to find him, or which side he’s on.

   Michelle Wingates, a youthful Praetorian, was first encountered on Greenweld, where she was the only surviving creature found in a broadcast station. The group still doesn’t know what shape her mind is in or what side she was on – but given the signs of a massive battle and massacre of the local human colonists by unknown foes, the fact that she was an obvious inhuman outsider with no identification standing in a pool of blood, and her refusal to communicate, the attempt at restraining her was understandable. For good or ill, she’s now on the “attempt to collect” list thanks to a later encounter with some of her relatives who want her back.

   Shayn at least apparently believes himself to be a representative of some elder race or civilization or something: he is busy “guiding people of power to the places where they must make decisions” and “hopes that humanity will survive, so few species make it beyond the first stage”. He might be involved with whatever is going on with the computers in Core – which seem very reluctant to explain what basis they make ethical decisions on or what coordinates them. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that he’s just crazy. The fact that he sometimes goes by the alias “Dementor” isn’t particularly reassuring.

   The Mirage – an ensouled AI war machine – traveled with the group for some time, along with its pilot Jarvain. Unfortunately, Jarvain had a nervous breakdown, and is currently undergoing treatment for overstress, reality lag, and alcohol abuse. With the Mirage’s memories of its past lives as a human restored by the Rosary of Memory, it was taking up the study of magic, shapeshifting, and other special abilities under the tutelage of Jarvain’s Thralls (a present from Kevin) since they had nothing much else to do while Jarvain was in treatment. It’s currently unknown whether Jarvain is being treated by the House of Roses in Core (most likely) or by the Singularites on Ealor.

   Yoda was left behind on Thriss – an abandoned Core colony world which had been abandoned to the Ouratha – where a group of “diplomats” were attempting to negotiate a settlement. He was given a number to call for a Gatekeeper if he needed one (he might well not), but it’s working would depend on the local computer systems claim of possessing FTL communications links that didn’t depend on the Manifold OR there still being working Manifold links available. That information was suspect, so it may be time to check on Yoda again.

   Dumbledore is apparently well-acquainted with the Manifold, and seems to more-or-less approve of Kevin’s contract – at least for those students who are venturesome enough to take it, and thus are at serious risk otherwise. Given that quite a few youngsters may currently be interested, that a new class of Slythern’s should be along fairly soon, and that Kevin has once again upgraded the powers he bestows, he may be wanting to talk to Kevin fairly urgently.

   Lloth and her Priestesses – and the entire Godswar in the Underdark – is currently a fairly minor affair, but the group has taken a modest personal interest in Presnell (apparently a powerful mage on the Drow side), Dhoul (a magical type who’s trying to redeem the Drow), and the Reformed Dark Elves. The Mind Flayer Archives are also of interest, but will dealt with later. In any case, this was just a bit more urgent because someone on the Drow side was intentionally collecting everyone in the attacking army who had souls and wasn’t quite powerful already.

   The House of Roses; Apparently the “good guys” and, in theory, the groups employers. On the other hand, the appear to be at least somewhat ruthless and it is really hard to tell what their ultimate goal is.

   The Core Earth Military is more or less not a concern, and is fairly well understood: they want to protect Core and its people from the Ouratha and the Manifold. They’re included here simply because they are about the ONLY group encountered so far that has a clear motivation, strategy, set of goals, and established location.

Minor individuals and groups include:

   Isane; The remaining Meme-Researcher from the Linear Realms, and apparently the one who the Praetorian associated with the group trying to wipe out the other meme-researchers was reporting to. She was supposed to be in the underground levels of the assassin’s base, but all that led to was the Five Worlds – and unless she’d assumed the role of the Machine Master (quite possible: research on weaponized memes is all too likely to drive you quite mad), that was more or less a dead end.

   The Men in Black. This bunch seems to have some interest in either preventing manifold travel in general or in exterminating the survivors of Singular. They may or may not have ties with the American Shadow Government. In practice, they’re both just another entry on the list of dozens of odd groups that might or might not be up to something.

   Arxus has never been fully analyzed, although the presumption that he’s a psychic energy nexus – and thus a potential psychic godling (who might eventually transcend and join the Rosary of Memory) seems tolerably well-supported. The group believes the Merlin was using him as a focus to try to generate Mana – or some equivalent energy – artificially. Of course, they also believe that this is doomed to failure. Currently he’s partially in Kadia and partially in some cell somewhere – a division possible because he has no soul to force him to exist in one place at a time. Still, the group would like to get the rest of him back and restore his soul. Of course, to start with, the group would like to be entirely sure of who had him.

   The Singularites as people – that is, as a group of refugees – seem to be essentially unimportant. Now that their technologies – including the praetorian conversion technology, wellstone, and their other systems – are loose, their catalytic effect seems to be essentially complete. They may really want to talk to Kevin at the moment though; he’s once again upgraded his thrall-bargain and some of their kids were kind of interested in Kevin’s pact thanks to hanging around with the Thralls he’d assigned to help out the colony.

  • Hutchins: A partially burned-out mage from Baelaria, now working for the House of Roses.
  • Ilthulsin; A Mind Flayer turned Drow, now working for the House of Roses.
  • John Jack; An ex-House of Roses agent, now probably out doing weird things.
  • Dr Vu; Engineer, insane supervillian (after a positive-energy overload), and possible prototype for Vekxin’s troops. Now recovering from his overload and mental problems.
  • Darth Plageous; A dark Jedi who – once safely ensconced in a living body – opted to leave the New Imperium behind.
  • The Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Supernatural pains in the neck. They want to kill everyone. They need to take a number.
  • The Ourathan Robots; Technological pains in the neck. They want to baby-sit humanity and keep them from getting into fights with the other galactic children.
  • The Singular Robots; These seem to basically be the Core Computers little brothers, and want to help. They may not be very good at judging what is actually helpful though.
  • A strange Kobold and Minotaur from the Underdark. These have been waiting for someone to get around to investigating them for the last forty sessions or so.
  • M“; The House of Roses special-agents liaison. Apparently some sort of enhanced perceptions and analytical abilities, but there’s basically no data on him available.
  • Dr Walkins; A “religious leader” in the Linear Realms who’s using the Neural-Programming Meme technology. Either a front or overly ambitious.
  • Mr Leland; Evidently an outsider in Battling Business World, Mr Leland is Marty’s boss – and thus (especially given the current attitude of general paranoia) well worth looking into.
  • The House of Roses Backup Team; The group discovered the existence of this team, but never did manage to get any further details.
  • Kids who sent back for money; One of Kevin’s recruiting drives turned up quite a few new slave-children who believed that their relatives or friends would buy them out on request. Kevin let them send for money – that was their privilege – but never heard about how it turned out. He did give the messengers instructions to check; if their prospective “rescuers” simply wanted to make sure that they were permanently disposed of, they would not be sold back.
  • The Balrog; Not a major figure, but the group must remember to check and see how he’s doing one of these days.
  • Kelseru Ana’Nasu; A young but fairly powerful psychic dragoness, now attached to Kevin’s Dragonworlds entourage.

Projects that are already running include:

  • An analysis of the data from the Tomb Archives. While most of that can be presumed to be local, the presence of a Manifold-Map and a Silmaril indicates at least some off-realm contact over the last five centuries – and thus possibly some useful information.
  • An analysis of the data from the Illithid Archives. Since they were natural dimensional travelers, there may be quite a lot of data there from the last five centuries – even if they are mostly limited to realms that permit their psychic abilities and to information drawn from other travelers.
  • An analysis of the records from the Baelarian Mages Guild – both as to useful results and as to any information about Spellweaver and Michelle Wingate.
  • An investigation of the tunnels under the Illithid City and Archives.
  • A Thrall-search of the Rosary of Memory for other useful artifacts (Kevin was especially interested in finding the third Silmaril belonging to his set).
  • An analysis and search for possible countermeasures to the Weaponized Neural-Programming Memes, under the direction of a pair of their inventors from the Linear Realms. The project is being conducted in Kadia, since it bestows immunity to the things (which should make them a LOT easier to research) among its other benefits.
  • The Conway Contract in the Dragonrealms. Conway is apparently a fairly powerful mage there and is looking for high-tech gear and technicians for a special project; he wanted high level computers (with some detailed specifics on their basic operating principles), rare radioisotopes, chemical processing equipment, and various other items. Currently Kelseru Ana’Nasu and her servants are handling this, since the profits from it are mostly available for her projects.
  • Stripping the Five Worlds of ensouled individuals. Statistical estimates suggest a total of 10,000-50,000 individuals, of whom an unknown (but hopefully high) percentage will be extractable. The NeoDogs are currently handling this operation. In any case, the youngsters are possible recruits for Kevin, and Marty is recruiting older individuals as office staff – albeit militarily-competent office staff.
  • A recruiting/rescue sweep of the Linear Realms – once again, using the NeoDogs and a gateway to “fairyland” to draw in as many of the illegal youngsters as possible. Marty is recruiting some adult combatant-types there as well.
  • The Roman Imperium is currently undergoing a massive expansion, and is conquering it’s way across several of the more primitive areas of the Manifold. Perhaps fortunately, Kevin has a sizable slave-acquisition network set up there to extract any ensouled individuals who get caught up in it. Kevin normally acquired about 60 a year from this realm; he’s now getting both a larger percentage and is drawing on a considerably larger pool. He’s primarily concentrating on very young children (to be returned home if practicable and safe, to be raised otherwise), those of age to be Thrall-Candidates (to be recruited as possible, to work off a modest indenture to pay for their purchase prices otherwise, or to be resold if they absolutely refuse to behave themselves). Ensouled recruits for Marty will be sought here as well.
  • The Madness-Memes treatment project is still expanding, so the group needs to know how it’s going and what kind of backlash has appeared – or seems likely. The computers reported up to 30 million youngsters and adults in Core who had been exposed to weaponized memes, although the number who were badly enough affected to have been taken into custody awaiting magical or psychic treatment was only about two million (the system was having a hard time catching partial exposures, although the computers had been getting more aggressive about psychological screening of those suspected of being infected).
  • Kadia now has gatelinks to somewhat more than two-thirds of the Core Population – The Solar System (15 billion), the Hyerdahl System (12), Gutahbend (10), Mu (9.5), and Seilichspeur (8.5). Below that, Anbetsu, Gelderlich, Ksahko, Daimi, Adama, Rifaan, Curmac, Vriksha, Tellus, Uhran, and Kurk have some 45 billion between them. [Of the 204 officially colonized worlds, 11 had been abandoned (save for a few holdouts) to the Ouratha or bad conditions, and the other 52 billion people are scattered across the remaining 177 worlds of the Federation, ranging from a few worlds on the border of major world status on to a dozen or two which have only a few hundred thousand each].This can be further expanded at need, or as personnel become available to keep things under control.
  • Amarant Solutions is currently in the process of expanding throughout the Underdark, as well as to the other Core Worlds linked bythe Kadia gates. At the moment, Kevin has some 180 unassigned human Thralls – most of them from the Manifold – to distribute among them, although the office staff and other functionaries will be selected from among Marty’s adult recruits.
  • The NeoDog Purchase Project – when last heard from – had purchased close to 180,000 of the 6,000,000 out there (about 3%), and several thousand of the (few) free Neodogs had signed up for work. On the other hand, the House of Roses (and possibly the Military) was going to start helping him buy them and the total percentage that will eventually be available for purchase was never determined.
  • Marty was trying to sort out his new memories, determine if there was any actual advantage to be had in obtaining such vicarious experiences, and – possibly – investigate some of his deaths and not-deaths a little more. He’s going to need a little more information on that.
  • Of the 220 kids who were recovered from Vekxin, 100 were the remainder of the 125 from Hogwarts, 72 were from Baelaria, 11 were from Core, and 37 were from a variety of locations. All 245 of them (including the 25 from Hogwarts who were recovered earlier) were offered the hospitality of Kadia (rooms, allowances, identities, amusements, etc, as well as travel privileges and – if they wanted them – jobs, and they all knew that Kevin could offer them Enthrallment; how many are taking advantage of any of those offers?
  • Core was discussing Manifold Control, Training, and Search-and-Rescue organizations: Kevin and Amarant Solutions were trying to get in on that, since they were already offering Search-and-Rescue operations and various manifold services: can they get computer funding and work towards agent-recruiting approval? Are they actually getting a significant fraction of the business in such fields? If not, what kind of competition is there? Are they economically powerful enough to have any substantial influence?
  • Is Kadia becoming a popular spot to visit? And how is the limited-issuing of visiting-permission to youngsters going? That will require parental permission of course, but hopefully the guarantee of meme-safety and treatment, as well as the fact that they can’t get killed or age here is worth a few approvals anyway.
  • The group started with the Anti-Vekxin warning (also a bid for good publicity for Kevin and company). This is going to be expanded to cover “public service announcements” and “news from the Manifold today”, and will be made available as a regular service and news-spot.
  • The Thralls – and any other “devoted followers”, such as loyal apprentices, would-be priests (who can get clerical spells of up to level three and the negative energy domain), and would-be Thralls – currently get a 20 CP bonus package (which may be a powerful recruiting tool in its own right; offering money and privileges is the traditional way to recruit people), including:
    • Dimensional Adaption (1 CP): Enthusiast, Specialized: Only for the “Identities” skill, Corrupted: only changes in new realm, reduces the cost of Identities by 1 SP. For wannabes in the Manifold, this will usually provide +8 CP worth of local privileges, wealth, and so on.
    • Relic Mastery (4 CP): Enthusiast x2, Specialized in Relics for double effect the first time, to half the cost on the second time. This lets them have 3 CP worth of relics of their choice.
    • Immunity to Sensory-Based Mind Control (4 CP). Immunity (Uncommon / Major / Minor, blocks effects of up to L3 and provides a +4 on saves against more powerful effects)
    • +1d6 Power (2 CP): Personal Mana converted to Power (for a total of 3d6+20)
    • Create Relic (2 CP): Specialized (2 Point Relics Maximum), Corrupted; only points from Enthusiast.
    • Wealth +18 for Thralls (1 SP +3 Charisma, +4 Intelligence, Dangerous part-Time Job +5, +10 Wealth-Producing Powers), and possibly more with a local ID.
    • Non-Thralls simply get the 1 SP bonus on their Wealth skill – although this may still be a substantial improvement for them, since they may also get the “trained” modifier for it and can invest points from any local ID they develop.
    • Reflex Action (6 CP): 3 bonus actions as required per day.

Projects to launch include:

  • Kevin wants to pick an abandoned Core colony world – probably in Ouratha-controlled space – on which to establish a pre-spaceflight and low- or non-industrial (and thus not within the takeover-programming of the Ouratha) pastoral Thrall-colony, albeit with access to Core-style educational systems via Kadia (tweaked to include Thrall-recruitment information and full acceptance of that status). The overall goals include making sure that humanity retains a presence in Core indefinitely and experimenting in creating a society where the kids see signing up with Kevin for a few centuries as the normal, expected, and highly-desirable end of dependent childhood – with a goal of as near to 100% recruitment as possible. Those who don’t sign up can leave for the Manifold of course, although that won’t be a problem for another twenty years or so anyway.
  • The Drow apparently saw Thralldom as just another apprenticeship, and better than the vast majority of other magical apprenticeships in their culture since the Amarant Solutions offices in the Underdark were drawing a modest number of Thrall-recruits from among young drow volunteers. The Amarant Solutions offices in the Underdark, Baelaria, the Dragonworlds, and similar realms will begin offering Thralldom as an apprenticeship on that basis, as well as making offers on young ensouled drow who get into serious trouble (sadly, kids with Souls tend to get into trouble a lot more often than Phantasmal kids).
  • Recruiting sweeps into the anthropomorphic worlds – as well as providing a selection of other animals with intelligence-upgrades and obedience-programming. While more staff is always useful, the primary purpose here is to be able to make computer-recognized ownership of human-like creatures an unremarkable thing in Core. To this end, Kevin will also be having some of the NeoDog Thralls take anthropomorphic but obviously-canine forms and work in Core, albeit NOT displaying their abilities as Gatekeepers or magicians: they can serve as staff for a bit without displaying any powers at all and their psychic talents should be enough if they do need some.
  • Integrating the information network is pretty well required at this point: Kevin will be setting up an indirect reporting-scheme and an analysis team (with really really good computer support) to process the resulting information. With better than five hundred Thralls scattered around, hopefully the group can begin getting some idea of what’s going on out there – or at least of spotting some of the major players and building up profiles. Unless we can start predicting where our various surveillance targets are likely to appear finding out anything much about them in the Manifold is likely to be impossible.
  • A bit-by-bit breakdown on a Core computer nexus – although it will first be necessary to steal one. We really need to know what the computer systems have been up to and the nature of their “Central Authority” (if there actually is one and they don’t just survey human attitudes).
  • Finding out what, if anything, useful can be done with past-life-regression. Secondarily, to find out if we can draw information from the Rosary of Memory by attempting to probe it – or draw from it – specific information and memories.
  • Kevin will be deploying more Thralls to Core to provide examples of happy, useful, youngsters who have signed up with him. That way he can explain to parents and such that they signed up just like those youngsters did, thus calming immediate and irrational fears and leaving the details of his contract out of the initial reaction. Once they calm down, they can probably evaluate things on a more rational basis.
  • Try to find out why the group was having so much trouble recruiting people to commute to Kadia for day jobs. They were perfectly normal jobs – albeit requiring a quick commute through a gate if you didn’t want to take an apartment in Kadia – and they offered lots of benefits, good pay, and a (gross) recruiting pool of a hundred billion to draw on. Yet there were very few applicants, and Kevin wound up filling most of the positions with NeoDogs. He’d like to know why the response was so poor.
  • Try to find out what – if anything – the NeoDolphins are up to. That’s more out of curiosity than anything else, but the group would kind of like to know.
  • Send some Thralls out to take a look at the various “Disease and Disaster” or “Plagueworld” realms, to look for common factors, and to report the information back for central analysis. So far the only connections seem to be that they’re noted in both the Tomb Archive and Illithid archives and that they received massive infusions of souls at some point. The two we’ve personally visited are relatively modern; what are the others like?
  • Start collecting information on the Timeslips: are they still going on? Is there any pattern, or are they still simply confined to “people who are chasing Vekxin”? Are they indeed – as theorized – limited to low soul-population realms?
  • The return of all those kids to core, not to mention the groups involvement in moving Pictisome, and the fact that any investigation of Kevin will show that he’s returned a steady supply of missing children to Core, will almost certainly have attracted a fair amount of attention (as noted in the Remaining Anonymous post) and the group is probably making an impression. We need to hire a public-relations firm of some sort to help manage that. What sort of reaction is there to our activities at the moment?
  • Send another twenty or so Manifold-origin Thralls to work for McAndrew and the Core Military.
  • Kevin still has family visits to make, but they’re awaiting further background information from the game master.

   Places to visit include: Rifts, Exalted, the Silmaril Wars, Anime Worlds, the World of Darkness, Faerie, a Zombie World, Pirates of the Carribean, a historical Robber-Baron world, Classic Star Wars, and – possibly – Benedict’s world and Greenweld again.

   Minor items include: Jaiden and Child Protection Services, DragonWorld Politics, keeping an eye out for odd gatherings of magical power, investigating the omnipresent Orcish and Italian restaurants, visiting the various worlds the group has Identities in (it would be nice to hit up some local plotlines and such), find out if the House of Roses needs anything at the moment, a brief tropical vacation, deal with the Ministry of Magic, and possibly granting the Dark Elven priestesses some spells again.

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