Federation-Apocalypse Session 62: From Jedi to Cardinals

   With the return of the game master, we return to the tour of the Jedi Academy, already in progress.

   As the tour continued, Kevin was having to suppress his feelings of confusion; these proto-Jedi actually seemed to be fairly sane! How could that happen?

   The Jedi Master gave Kevin a rather confused look, but managed to hide it quickly.

“Is there anything that needs explaining? I am sure all of you have questions.”

“I’m good. You got anything, Kevin?”

“In a way I hate to ask – but are you aware of how many confused and bizarre variants on the Jedi there are?”

“We’ve had questions about that sort of thing in the past. I can’t really say I understand the nature of the problem either. It does seem like Jedi orders and worse from future timelines are out there, and have made contact with each other – but I can’t say though that we have ever really had any contact with them ourselves. It seems the route to our little world is rather off the beaten track. Somehow I get the feeling this was a blessing in disguise.”

“Probably yes; many of the future orders seem to be quite mad.”

“I’ve heard tales of kidnaping, brainwashing, genocidal wars and such, but it seems difficult to believe. I mean from what I have heard, what little there is, they seem to be just as much a part of the problem as a solution. And that is not what the Jedi are about.”

“Well, I’m certainly glad my brother hooked up with you instead of with any of them. Do you think he’s done with his class now?”

   Marty wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or disappointed – well, pleased for Kevin’s sake. This was a Core-style Jedi order; very sane indeed (and not a lot of fun either). Perhaps their local pocket-universe didn’t include the insane force-dichotomy feature?

“Well that is indeed good to hear about us – although it does concern me even more about the other orders out there. I am afraid the school masters and I will have to put a great deal of thought into how to approach the inevitable contact.”

“Well, I can provide you with some assistance and much of the background information. Fortunately, I suspect that a great deal of it is inapplicable in your section of the universe.”

“Yes please do, and I do feel it is about time for young Thomas to be showing up. (The master looked to the door) You may come in, Thomas.”

   Thomas came in wearing loose white clothing that appeared to have been dirtied out in the woods a bit. He looked to be about eighteen (roughly equivalent to an old-style human of 12) rather than the 15 (roughly equivalent to an old-style 11) that he ought to be according to Core time. Evidently he’d picked up a few years knocking around the Manifold.

“Hey! Long time no see!”

“Oh hey, Kevin! Can’t say I was really expecting you to stop by – although, on the other hand, I am strangely not surprised either. (He looked a bit confused for a moment)

“I think stopping by is kind of obligatory!”

“Well… yes I think so, I just wasn’t really expecting you to stop by today… I think. This precognition is a bit hard to wrap your mind around.”

“It would be. Not one of the fields I work with myself. You’re growing up there! Oh, this is Marty – a business associate. Runs the Manifold Operations for Amarant Solutions.”

“Yes apparently so, I would be shocked if I wasn’t.”

“Nice to meet you, Thomas.”

“And it is nice to meet you as well.”

“Well, I think you’re gaining a bit compared to Core. Besides, I seem to have gotten stuck. It happens.”

“Ya, mom keeps talking about that. She wants grandchildren and she’s getting annoyed. Luckily she hasn’t started looking to me for that kind of thing yet.”

   Kevin got a bit red.

“I’m not stuck at too young for THAT!”

“He’s not kidding, son. You’re an uncle now!”

“Marty!”

“WHAT?! I’ve got a niece or nephew now?”

“Well, no point in beating around the bush about it. He’s got to find out eventually.”

“Nephew! And you’re supposed to let people bring that up in their own fashion Marty!”

“Does he have a name and how old is he now?”

“His names Eogam… He’s almost six now, I just didn’t want to mention him until I could bring him to visit. He couldn’t easily visit core before; he was a bit too magical – and nobody told me you were out here!”

“Someone’s been up to some interesting antics then!”

“Hey, these things happen! Particularly in some identities!”

   Kevin managed to divert attention to Marty for the moment – although Marty took pity on him and went along with it.

“So, how’s being a Jedi? Here, I’m just a guy who flies around in a spaceship.”

“Different than I figured it would be like. It’s like the movies, but it’s not. It is so peaceful here and the feeling of optimism just seems to radiate everywhere.”

“Nice. Hmm. I wonder what my little buddy is like here?”

   Limey turned out to be a pocket droid that spoke in binary at the moment.

“Thomas, this is Limey. He’s usually a laptop or a spellbook.”

“I mean, the oddest thing I have found about this place – besides the peace – is the lack of lightsabers.”

“Really? What do they use instead?”

“Well, hello Limey. For the most part they teach us a yoga style martial art. Although they also teach is the use blasters and armor designed to stand up to blaster fire. But they say that isn’t really the point of the studies. We should be proficient in combat, but not focus on it. We are to serve as an example to the rest of the galaxy through mediating peace.”

“Huh. That’s very different from most of the orders. Do they not know about them, or do they just choose not to use them?”

“As best as I can tell they are not familiar with the technology, I tried explaining it but I don’t know enough on how to build one.”

   Kevin chimed in again, now that the subject was safely changed;

“Well, they do look neat, but how often are they really practical? Still, if they’d like some to look at, I can get them some pretty easily.”

“Well I definitely seem to have peaked their interest with my talking of them.”

“I’ll make sure they get some then. Now, on the topic of getting things – the War of Souls is heating up, and my associates and I are attracting a lot of attention. That puts you, and this school, at greater risk than you would otherwise be in.”

“So actual battles are beginning then? This doesn’t bode well.”

“I’d like to assign you and the school some bodyguards or extra defenders. If you’re willing, I’d also like to set a link on you – and anyone else here who would like it – so that if you’re killed, I’ll be able to bring you back.”

   Master Tindale didn’t quite choke on his tea at that one – although his truthsense and telepathy suddenly went into overdrive.

“Probably a good idea.”

   Kevin was pleased at that; Thomas had evidently been keeping track of him enough to actually accept his abilities without a demonstration! Even his PARENTS hadn’t taken him that seriously!

“Ah, Master Tindale? I take it that you have not encountered that kind of ability before?”

“No we have not, and I must say I rather thought it impossible. Although the bunch of you all seem to readily accept it as fact.”

“It’s a rather rare talent, but one I see no reason not to put to proper use. The basic link will slightly enhance the recipients psychic talents and – if they’re killed – will allow me to provide them with a new body. There are much more powerful links, but they represent a major commitment. If you’d like some demonstrations, I think that any of my employees here will be glad to provide them.”

   Master Tindale went into deep thought, while Kevin cheerily ran over the explanations of the basic Witchcraft pacts. He reached a conclusion fairly quickly however;

“I am afraid there are limits to my trust, I am going to have to require a demonstration. I apologize.”

“Of the powers, or of the ability to recall the dead?”

“The ability to recall the dead.”

   One of the Thralls – Leonardo – promptly volunteered. He knew where to buy lightsabers in Kadia, and was needing to pick some other stuff up as well. The line-of-duty extra luxury credits death-benefit covered a small shopping spree in Kadia anyway, and he could just put the stuff for the Jedi on the expense account anyway.

“Very well; Master Tindale? Have you any preferences for making sure that no deception is involved?”

   (Marty had a private gripe; people kept over-rating his death benefits! Sure, he got a day off when he died, but he didn’t get paid, and it counted against his vacation days! He really ought to try and renegotiate that… Out in the Manifold, a business-related death should at least come with a commuting allowance and an inconvenience fee!)

“I have been watching all of you very carefully looking for deception or mind control. Believe me, the moment I feel something amiss, I will intervene at a moments notice.”

“I meant more would you prefer to blow up our volunteer to make sure, use a blade so you can check on things personally, or some other method? After all, if we’re demonstrating resurrection, it follows that he has to be really dead first – and there’s nothing for eliminating the chances of deception like personal involvement.”

“Ah forgive me, we shall use a painless method to kill, and then check for vital signs.”

“Well, we are at your disposal.”

   Now, if the local Jedi had a row of “instant disintegration booths” – or were set up to conveniently put troublesome or dark-side inclined students to sleep – they were going to have to re-evaluate them a bit.

   They didn’t seem to though; life in the manifold – and the war – was probably making Kevin, Marty, and the rest all a bit paranoid.

“Alright then, step forward young man. (Master Tindale looked Leonardo deeply in the eyes). Are you sure you completely understand what is happening and the potential consequences? You do? Very well then, this will not hurt.

   He laid his hand on Leonardo’s chest, and closed his eyes for a moment… Leonardo fell over gently as Master Tindale telekinetically lowered him – and sighed.

“The deed is done. He is dead. The young man trusted you and your abilities right up to the end. I hope his trust is well placed.”

“Right then; the recall will take about half an hour, a bit of clear floorspace, some chalk, and three candles; I have the chalk and candles, I hope your cleaning staff is willing to leave it on the floor for a bit.”

“It can be arranged. I presume that you are not needing the body for reuse?”

“No; the ritual creates a new one anyway. This has been known to confuse law enforcement however.”

   Kevin got on with the ritual, while Marty carried on the conversation.

“So tell me a little about this part of the universe. I’ve never been around here before.”

“You are near the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The sheer number of stars and other debris makes travel difficult at best – and one stop in particular drops you well within sight of the massive monster. Unfortunately, it takes good piloting skills to make that next jump and arrive on target given the warping of space-time going on in the area. You can’t see the black hole itself of course, but you can see the effects it has on the surroundings. In particular, the accretion disk glows brilliantly as mass and energy is slowly sucked into its body of the black hole. It visibly rotates even when you are an enormous distance away.”

“Oh, we went by that thing on the way here. I was wondering what it was.”

“Some say you are even able to feel a presence – or a sort of active lack of one – as you go by.”

   Kevin considered that for a moment as a side-issue. That multi-tracking thing was SO handy… Fortunately they couldn’t have timeslipped much, or they’d have been avalanched with Thrall-messages; it shouldn’t have much effect at light-months away anyway unless the local rules were REALLY weird.

“Guess it’s trying to communicate.”

“A few have suggested as much. I am not sure what to make of the feeling myself.”

   (Kevin hoped it wasn’t someone – or some group – stuck near the event horizon and calling for help telepathically. That would be very depressing, and rescue would be quite awkward. On the other hand, given the time dilation effects, anyone at the event horizon would outlive most of the rest of the universe by a good margin – provided that they could survive the radiation. The tidal effects wouldn’t be too bad on a black hole that big… Marty had the same thought. A rescue at the edge of a black hole might be fun to plan out, but even hyperdrive and the power of hypermatter reactors had limits).

“Anyway, this area of the galaxy is very resource rich but sparsely inhabited and good hyperspace routes are few and far between. You can find an interesting variety of ecosystems around here.”

“I’ll have to do a little exploring when we have some time.”

“A few of the neighboring systems are inhabited, as best as we can tell by descendants of the same original species. Before the development of hyperdrive, contact between the systems was established the old fashioned way. It works some much better here where the distances between systems is only a fraction of the distance out in the spirals. Indeed it was the contact between these systems and their scientists that eventually lead to the discovery of the force and it’s use.”

“Interesting.”

“Now the Republic has managed to get into contact using that hyperspace route you followed and we are working hard at trying to integrate ourselves into the rest of the galaxy. I must admit a certain amount of admiration for the technological development of the Republic and their commitment to their ideals. Are there any other questions you wish to ask?”

   Kevin had finally completed his ritual.

“Ah, here we are! Welcome back Leonardo. I trust you had time to do all your shopping?”

“Oh yeah! And I grabbed a bit of stuff for the locals here that might catch their interest!”

   Leonardo unloaded a bag of stuff.

“What all did you pick up?”

“I grabbed several varieties of lightsabers, some movies, a few “history of the Jedi” things, training manuals from later eras, and few things on the Manifold in general.”

“Well, that should be helpful – if perhaps a bit horrifying in spots.”

   Master Tindale had been probing carefully;

“All right, I am impressed. It definitely feels like it is the same person. Mind if I examine you for a moment young one?”

   Leonardo didn’t mind. After all, that was part of the point. Kevin was giving it the nod anyway. Master Tindale laid a hand on Leonardo’s forehead and closed his eyes briefly.

“Well that pretty much concludes that. That should be nigh impossible to fake, although that may be yet another assumption. Alright Kevin, I believe you and forgive me for doubting you and putting this young man through that ordeal.”

“Not a worry; It’s not particularly troublesome to them, and I’m very well aware that it’s a difficult thing to believe. Anyway, there wouldn’t be much use in faking it: making my brother overconfident would not help keep him alive.”

“Quite true.”

“Now, the lesser link will simply bring them to Kadia to be raised, rather than making it possible through ritual anywhere – but the important point is being raised I think, even if it is a ways off. Would anyone else be interested? Setting up the link is something of a bother, but the number involved doesn’t really matter.”

“That does seem quite beneficial. Presuming there are no other complicating factors, I think we can arrange the interest of the other students.”

   There weren’t any further complications – and there were quite a few students who liked the idea of an option to come back if they were killed, especially after the instructors explained the process and the reasons.

   Besides, even if Kevin was only setting up witchcraft pacts, they did provide a few useful extra abilities.

“Now, I brought my employees along to supply Thomas with some bodyguards, and the school with a few more defenders. After all, if anyone is going to die defending the place, best it be people who can just come right back afterwards.”

“Exceedingly prudent, although I hope it never comes to that.”

   They assigned the Thralls, set up some better transportation for the place so that the students parents and relatives could visit more readily, and spent some time on general visiting before saying goodbye for the moment – and leaving the students to experiment with their minor enhancements and the instructors to worry over possible futures.

   If they wanted to consult or something later, they let them know that the Thralls could contact them – although they considered the fact that anyone who was linked could reach them just by dying too obvious to mention.

“Ah, one last parting gift in thanks for your assistance this day. For you Marty, you might do well to meet with an artist by the name of Santiago Columbar at a place called the Terminal Cafe. I suspect you might be able to have profitable business transactions and meet a kindred soul.”

“Thanks, Master Tinsdale, I appreciate it.”

“For you Kevin, you would do well to find the Winter King again and establish an alliance I think. I would try among the temples of the Shao Lin.”

   The Winter King? Arthur maybe? There were several possibilities. Oh well. Precognitives were always cryptic; it looked to him like it was a way to shape events towards what they were seeing and reduce the temporal confusion.

“I’ll look into it. Thank you for your advice.”

   Master Tindale proceeded hand out advice on chance encounters that could prove profitable to everyone, including the Thralls – who, after all, were people too.

   On the way back home, Kevin had a neodog in anthropomorphic form call the Unified Church – as an agent for Amarant Solutions and himself as an Opener and as the Ambassador of the Fey – and request an appointment. That got them an appointment with a Cardinal only two days off.

   While they were waiting, Kevin’s parents were still occupied (it looked like they might be busy for a week or so longer; the combination of fey food and the dragonform made for some strong impulses) – and Marty went off Pirating, so Kevin spent a couple of days recruiting, following up on the projects list – and “working” on romance, cuddling, establishing a welcoming and affectionate “family” for dragon-hatchlings (who knew?, it might have some effect), and getting started on becoming the father of a few hopefully real-and-ensouled clutches of hatchlings. Would it help that three out of four of them had apparently been wanting him to impregnate them for some time?

   Well, that was one of the factors being tested.

   Along the way he showed Kelsaru around Kadia, and took her to visit Core in the overlay area he’d set up for his experiment. It was going to make for awkward questions later, but he wanted to offer her an official consort position, and she ought to know what she was getting into.

   Kevin had a few carefully-selected Thralls on call for the meeting, but didn’t take any along. No point in shoving things in their faces. Assorted documents of course, although the Church had doubtless pulled a through report on each of them, and knew a lot already.

   Hm. They had a through investigative report pulled on themselves, and took a look to see if it said anything too shocking or that they’d really though was private.

   It did have a lot more available on them then they’d really thought about, but it was well behind and at least most of the more critical bits were blurry, speculative, or missing entirely.

   In Rome, they were called into the Cardinals office – but had to wait a bit. The secretary informed them that another matter had run over on time.

   Well, making them wait could be a subtle power-play, but there wouldn’t be much point – and it gave them time to present all their assorted documents.

“Please be seated, the Cardinal will be with you shortly. I am afraid another matter has run over on time.”

   About fifteen minutes later the door opened and the cardinal arrived – although in plain clothes, which was a bit of a disappointment for Marty.

“I apologize for being late and the style of dress, I am afraid the last appointment got a little out of hand. I am Cardinal Handel. You must be Kevin and Marty am I right?”

“Quite right sir.”

“Pleasure to meet you.”

“Now this does save me the time of having to track you down and ask you to come before me. As you no doubt realize we have been keeping an eye on you and have been monitoring your activities for some time now. To say you have piqued our interest is an understatement.”

“That did seem likely – and is why we are here.”

“Now what do you hope to get out of this meeting if I might ask?”

“The War of Souls is beginning to come out into the open; I would like to know whether the Church is likely to oppose, tolerate, or support my operations. I would prefer that the human race not be absorbed by the older races. Unity may be the ultimate destiny of all races, but I would rather not rush into it.”

“Interesting and direct. Well that does help matters. It saves this meeting from taking up the next several days at the very least.”

“I suspect that Marty is more-or-less unfamiliar with the concept of “religion” as a serious influence rather than an excuse for funny hats and odd styles of knives, and is simply curious; Marty?”

   Marty did have to admit that the Battling Business World version of Christianity had Christ beating up the roman emperor after his crucifixion. After all, with no real need to explain what “happened after death”, militant martyrs running around, professional “Suicide Bombers” who did it for a living, “terrorism” defined as “the malignant destruction of property too trivial to reset and the disruption of services so as to cause the maximum possible annoyance” (with actual deaths being completely irrelevant) (which sounded like an Xellos thing to Kevin; he’d probably enjoy Battling Business World), and “old age” meaning that you just retired and sent occasional postcards from Florida and various resorts until you only appeared at rare intervals. You NEVER really “vanished” though. That was another thing that made Mr Leland so odd; he had silvering hair. Come to think of it, Marty Tabard Senior – and his efficiency apartment in an out-of-the way neighborhood – was a bit odd too, but that might just be because Marty was anchoring him.

“I just want to make sure business goes smoothly for me – and since this young man is my business partner, I felt I should come along.”

“Alright, I shall be direct as well. The Church has never endorsed or tolerated pacts. On the other hand, you have been unusually straightforward and truthful in your dealings thus far. You acknowledge the pacts to be a temporary thing, especially in the grand scheme of things. You have used the servants you’ve gained mainly for beneficial purposes and in the service of others in a time of war. You – and they – are capable of providing services which few others can, regardless of what your former tutor may think. With that said, it is also my personal opinion that you are hindering the emotional and spiritual development of each and every one of your charges – and may be delaying their personal growth by decades. Attempting to remain a child forever is going to prove problematic, for both you AND your charges.”

“Quite possible. In fact, almost certain. But while dying, and accepting death, may be a necessary part of growth, we have an eternity for that – and all of civilization has been directed towards comfort and safety.”

“I cannot say that the path you have chosen or the one you lead others on is what I would actively endorse. On the other hand, a great many can do far worse out in the Manifold. And while we could make your life very difficult, I do not have any illusions that we could stop you in the long term. As of this time the Church will not hinder your activities, but neither will we endorse them in the vast majority of cases.”

   Marty found that acceptable. Kevin did too – although he had been hoping that someone besides “M” (whoever he really was) would acknowledge that he was offering about the best possible deal – not just that people could do worse if they really tried hard. Oh well, expecting the Church to admit that was probably a bit much.

“As Marty might say, I work with the cards I’ve been dealt – and, at the moment, Core needs defenders. The darkness is born of mankind and the struggle to survive. It is properly directed outwards, against that which threatens.”

“Quite true, which is why I have not ruled out ruled out all cases.”

“And if that battle fails, I hope that you have plans of your own. The light may send you a guardian if one is needed of course.”

   Of course the light worked in mysterious ways. Who knows? Maybe what the world really needed was a Dark Lord – or, for that matter, a Battling Businessman.

“Would you like me to leave you a liaison?”

“I believe that would be a good idea.”

   Kevin decided to stress the point. (Marty thought that that was a good idea as well; after all, they had an entire multiverse to hide in!)

“Very well. I shall assign one of the oldest youngsters to you, since the Church has an interest in history anyway. His name is Oshann, and he was born in the Manifold nearly four thousand years ago. When he was five, he was carried away by the Fey. Bound to their service, and to the changeless nature of their realm, he played many roles there – shifting from servant, to pet, to hound or steed, to quarry, and to many other roles at the whim of his masters. I invoked an old tale – the Tiend – to obtain the release of a dozen or so youngsters in similar situations. While that story is far more recent than the oldest Fey, and was never all that popular, like all tales it had a bit of power to it in their realm – and it sufficed to win the release of the oldest changelings. Some did choose to pass on, others chose other worlds – and a few choose to serve me for a far shorter time and purchase the freedom of the multiverse and enough power to please themselves for a few millennia, or to meet the fey as equals. He should find Core amusing – and he has a great many tales to tell if you would like to listen. Hopefully you can encourage him to wear some clothes and to adjust his apparent age up a bit. At four thousand plus, looking like a five-year-old is a bit silly – and clothes are very common these days!”

   Actually Kevin wasn’t quite sure that the Fey hadn’t agreed simply because the oldest changelings were no longer much fun and he was bringing in plenty of new playthings anyway – but there had probably been some force to it; the fey were usually pretty possessive of the “things” they considered theirs.

“Quite touching, we shall do what we can to ensure his stay is enjoyable. And I am sure we will remain in touch as we find intractable cases that you might be better suited to. Care to stay for dinner or must you be off?”

“I believe we have time for dinner.”

   The dinner was with several of the other Cardinals as well. Kevin wasn’t quite sure that they weren’t just fascinated with a chance to meet a friendly representative of the darkness, but it was a nice dinner anyway – and a lot of interesting stories were exchanged. Who knew? That might stir up some discussion on the issue all by itself – especially after they looked up the Tiend.

   Marty found that his stories – while not as morally suspect as some of Kevin’s, were just as bewildering.

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L5R: The Mountain Heart School

   Today we have a slightly-tweaked player-proposed school – one designed to give a powerful earth mage a serious boost.

   Most earth-focused Shugenja concentrate on the defensive, purifying, and practical arts. Some, however, feel the outrage of the earth at the violations of extra-dimensional forces and intruders, and become channels for it’s wrath. Such are the students of the Mountain Heart Yamabushi School – the mystic wardens of the Earth. Unlike most schools, however, the Mountain Heart school is less than exclusive: anyone who hears the outrage of the Earth is welcome within their ranks.

   Mountain Heart Yamabushi, Advanced Shugenja (technically Courtier) School

   Requirements; Spellcasting Rank 3+, Earth Affinity, Earth 4+, Spellcraft 4+, Swords 4+, Battle 3+, Defense 3+, Meditation 3+, and accepting the obligation to defend Ningen-Do against extra-dimensional incursions.

   First Technique/The Mountain Rises: You are infused with the elemental power of the earth, and are defended by it. You gain an additional affinity with earth magic (5), may add (Earth x 2) to rolls to resist poisons, diseases, and harmful spell effects (10), and may spend a void point to cast a spell while remaining on Full Defense (5).

   Second Technique/The Mountain Endures: The endurance of the earth is now yours. Double the base wounds in each of your wound ranks (15) and – as a side benefit – when you are targeted by a spell you may raise or lower it’s target number by 5 (5).

   Third Technique/The Mountain Conquers: You are now a channel for the wrath of the earth, and sometimes must struggle to hold back it’s vast power when it wishes to pour itself through you and strike down some menace. You gain an additional spellcasting action each round for casting earth spells only (10), gain [(Rank – 4) x 5] Magic Resistance to spells cast by opponents who are contaminated by malignant extra-dimensional energies (5), and gain (Void) free raises when casting earth spells (5).

   Fourth Technique/The Mountains Strength: As you are open to the earth, so can it absorb and harmlessly dissipate unnatural forces which would otherwise infect you and protect you against the backlash of failed magic. You gain Immunity to contamination by malignant extra-dimensional energies (Taint, Mischief, Etcetera, 10). Any Earth spells you attempt to cast are still cast even if any raises made fail if the basic roll would have been high enough for that if no raises had been declared (10).

   Fifth Technique/The Mountains Heart: You have touched the inward serenity of the earth, your pulse beats in time with the heart of the world, and your spirit is forged in it’s fiery heart. It’s power pours through you, to transform and awaken what you touch. You may easily forge stone and iron into near-indestructible crystal, and may transform the resulting objects into Nemuraanai without difficulty – albeit at the usual XP cost (10). Secondarily, you may subtract your (Willpower + 5) from the wounds you take from any attack, to a minimum of zero (10).

   The Mountain Heart School makes it’s practitioners extraordinarily tough and grants them – if they are sensible enough to pay the raises for casting their earth spells without using a spell slot – near-limitless use of basic earth magic and/or the ability to cast higher-level spells quickly, easily, and with several raises behind them. On the other hand, given that a character would have to be of the seventh or eighth rank to complete the school, and will have to keep on spending points on it as well as on spells and spellcasting, that’s probably appropriate enough.

Amber: Drizzt, The Resurrected One

   Today it’s an old Amber character – a youngster who managed to get himself (rather foolishly) killed fairly early on. He was eaten by King Kong thanks to the player repeatedly having him not do anything while the ape came up to him, inspected him, smelled him, picked him up, put him in his mouth, chewed him up, and swallowed him. No one could quite figure out why he didn’t simply psychically dominate the big ape, chase him away with Nightfang, blast him with sorcery, outrun him, or do any of dozens of other things. In any case, Drizzt was brought back a little later – although arguments as to whether it was a true resurrection or not continued – as one of Arvon’s research projects. the player found him more amusing after that: Arvon had provided a selection of new and interesting powers for him to play with.

Drizzt, The Resurrected One, Ur-Lord of Amber

   Drizzt, son of Julian, stands about 4’2 and weighs about 60 pounds – reasonable enough for the ten-year-old that he appears to be. With an amberites extended lifespan, his real age is closer to fifteen. He has light brown hair, curious slit-pupiled amber eyes, and seems to have completely stopped aging since his resurrection, which may have something to do with his innate attunement to trump energies. Thanks to Arvon’s tutoring, he now has modest magical and trump-based abilities. Whether Julian will accept his return is another matter. Drizzt still has the use of his shadow-seeking horse, regardless of Julian’s reaction, but the hawk is another matter.

   Attributes: Psyche 60, Warfare 14, Strength 6 Endurance Amber. Currently 0 Stuff (originally had some Bad Stuff).

   Other Abilities:

  • Trump Attunement (Sense, Defense, and Identify only, 15).
  • Trump “Stunts” (Limit of three per game session, 10).
  • Personal Named and Numbered Alternate Forms: Hawk, Wolf, Dolphin, Panther, “Elemental” (the basic four), Invisibility (May be used in other forms), Human, Chaos Form, and Squirrel (creature powers courtesy of Arvon, 2).
  • Personal Resistance To Normal Weapons(creature powers courtesy of Arvon, 1).
  • Artifact Dagger: Nightfang (see below); Deadly Damage and Mold Shadow Stuff (5).
  • Power Words (20).
    • Evocations: Dreamweaving, Eldritch Force, Element Mastery, Enchantment, The Holy Blaze, Living Forces, Nightweaving, and Northern Winds.
    • Basic: Biocontrol, Force Field, Psychokinesis, Purging, Trump Disruption, Trump Surge, and Virtual Creation

   Bonuses:

  • Mental “Quirks“;
    • Irrational Fear Of Apes (Minor, Well-Known, 2)
    • Loyalty To Arvon (Disastrous, Well-Known, Irresistible, 5)
  • Personal Weakness; Can be injured or stunned by “Trump Disruption” and related effects (Major, 2)
  • Social Handicap; Commonly viewed as an idiot or impostor and generally obnoxious (Major, Reputation, 6)

   Experience 18

   Special Notes:

  • Whether he’s still got a “court devotee” in either sense, was up to the GM – and whether or not Daniel (the player) bought one when he took over playing him again.
  • This version of Drizzt has no “player contributions” to help out. This changed when Daniel took him up as a player character again; Drizzt made an abrupt recovery from his “state of shock” and picked up another ten or twenty points worth of new abilities and improved stats.
  • Since Drizzt once tried to shoot Arvon through the heart, Arvon took the chance to hardwire and program in a few restrictions while reconstructing him. While he’s being played this takes the form of the quirk given above. Before that point, Arvon had a dependable ally/agent.
  • Nightfang appears to be a fragment of darkness, forged into a dagger. Only quasi-material, it easily pierces armor, its ebon blade leaving no wound, but disrupting the energies of whatever it strikes. As a talisman, it also acts to cloak the users presence, dampen sound, and otherwise disguise and conceal him. It is even capable of deflecting basic magical and technological means of detection. As a magical focus, it amplifies the power of the users spells, especially those of a destructive nature. Interestingly, Drizzt can use a “trump stunt” to summon the blade if it’s been separated from him.

Power Words:

  • Biocontrol: This useful “word” allows the user to manipulate his personal physical processes on both the somatic and metabolic levels. This allows the use of a variety of “yoga” tricks, aids in resisting toxins and the effects of injury, physical “drains”, and disease. It can even be used to “tailor” enzymes and pheromones, but this is difficult to master.
  • Force Field: Channels the users internal energies into a fairly formidable force-field aura, in his case based on trump. As such it is fairly resistant to most other powers – although any determined clash will soon deplete its energies.
  • Psychokinesis: Allows the user to channel psychic energy into a brief telekinetic burst. While the users control is relatively crude, it suffices for simple PK bolts, repulsive fields, grabbing things, and throwing things around, with a strength equal to the users psyche.
  • Purging: Creates a “surge” of trump energy within the users body. While this has some minor effects, its primary purpose is to drive out intruding energies and substances. Secondarily, the surge tends to “rebuild” the users body to some degree, at least enough to halt blood loss and do a little patching. While it lasts, the surge is roughly equal to using “trump defense”. This word can be applied to someone else via mindlink.
  • Trump Surge: Feeds an extra surge of trump energy into whatever trump-based feat the user is attempting, boosting the effect and/or the speed with which it can be achieved. It’s commonly used when the possessor is in a hurry to contact someone or to trump out.
  • Virtual Creation: Taps into the power of trump to materialize whatever relatively small (up to about ten pounds), simple, object the user envisions. While this cannot create high-tech, “magical”, or artistic items, things like rope, blades, saws, and simple pistols are quite possible. Keeping such an object in existence is a considerable drain on the users physical energy out- put, reducing his effective strength by one per item.

   Evocations are a class of power word only available to those with some form of trump powers and a fairly high psyche. An evocation creates a temporary trump link to some powerful “entity” in shadow, allowing the user to tap some of that beings power for his own use. Sadly, the link is purely psychic and too tenuous to transmit “primal” powers – restrictions that limit evocation to magical energies. As “raw” magical power is useless to anyone except mages (who can get their own), Evocation is commonly used to tap into more specialized sources, already attuned to a particular type of magic, so that most of the work of spellcasting is already done – the user can simply provide the finishing touches and turn it loose. The process is exhausting, both physically and psychically, is limited to “quick and dirty” spells of limited power and sophistication, requires a different word for each “field” of magic, is blocked by barriers vrs trump, is limited by all the usual defenses versus magic, and can be blocked like other power words – but also requires little magical skill, is quick and easy, and is fairly flexible. Evocations need not be adapted to the magic of the “local” shadow, since the spell is actually cast there, it happens automatically. Drizzts evocation power words include;

  • Dreamweaving: Covers telepathic and purely mental magics, such as Psychic Charging, Glamours, Hypnotism, Psychic Illusions, and Mental Shields.
  • Eldritch Force: Covers magical energy constructs, such as Force Shields and Bolts, Mystic Chains, Walls, and so on, as well as simply Disrupting/Dispelling Magic.
  • Element Mastery: Covers the “manipulation” of the four classical elements; Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. It does not cover alchemically-related forces.
  • Enchantment: Covers Enhancing and Binding spells, as well as attuning things to permit easy manipulation via other powers – most commonly by his high psyche.
  • The Holy Blaze: Covers the magic of Purification, Light, and Solar Forces. Unlike the principle, and despite the name, the Holy Blaze has few positive spiritual or intellectual aspects.
  • Living Forces: Covers Biomanipulation – the magics of Life, Healing, Death and more subtle effects based on the control of the body and metabolism. Sadly, these are limited by the “quick and dirty” aspect of evocation.
  • Nightweaving: Covers the magics of Darkness, which includes those of Deception, Illusion, and Negation. As with the Holy Blaze, Nightweaving covers only a few of the spiritual and intellectual aspects of the principle.
  • Northern Winds: Covers the many magics of Winter, Necromancy, and simple Destruction as well as those of Ice, Blizzard, and Freezing Winds.

Shadowrun: Movie Vampires

   For today’s special request – and because today there’s a bit of connection trouble, so it’s easiest to keep things short -we have Edward Cullen, from “Twilight”, as a Shadowrunner.

   Given that angsty-stalker-vampire-romance novels are not my forte, I’m relying on secondary sources – but those will probably suffice for a romance-novel figure. They’re not really noted for going into technical detail about their characters actual skills and abilities.

   Basic Expenditures: Magic 24 (Ace), Attributes 24 (30 points), Resources 6 (20,000 NY), Race 0 (since these “vampires” seem to be basically enhanced humans), and Skills 6 (30 points).

   Basic Attributes: Strength 6 (10), Charisma 6, Quickness 6 (10), Intelligence 4, Willpower 4, and Body 4. Magic 10, Essence 6, Reaction 7 (13), Initiative 13 + 4d6.

   Dice Pools: Combat 9

   Karma Pool: 1

   Current Karma: 0

   Edges: Free Luxury Lifestyle (5), Enhanced Special Attribute (Magic +1, 3), Good Looking (2), Longevity (1), Magical Talent (can awaken normal, small-point-total characters into sidekick level characters after much angst, soul-searching, and plot-driven nonsense; arbitrarily, 5 points). Net total: +16.

   Flaws: Detailed Background* (from the books, -4), Obsessive Personality (-4), Enemies* (-2), Distinctive (-1), Increased Target Numbers (+1 to all target numbers in daylight, -3), Membership (group of vampires, who are more of a pain than a help, -2*), Weird Morality (-2). Net: -18.

   *Exempted from usual 10-point limit due to being useful to the game master.

   That leaves a couple of points available for any minor advantages or powers that weren’t mentioned in the Wiki and fan descriptions.

   Skills:

  • Active Skills (30): Art 6, Driving 6, Seduction 6, Unarmed Combat 6, Athletics 6.
  • Knowledge Skills (Bases + 20): Art History 6, Classic Cars 6, Psychology 6, Tactics 3, Sports 6, Music 6,
  • Languages (6): English 6 (Read/Write English 3)
  • Irrelevant Skills (7): Stalking 4, Angst 3

   Ace Powers (20, 25 after Geasa): Celerity (Wired Reflexes III, 5), +4 Strength (2), +4 Quickness (4), Telepathy Power Pool I (3), Hyperscent (.25), Low-Light Vision (.25), Invulnerability-III (5), 2 Automatic Successes for Seduction (1), 1 Automatic Successes for Stealth (.5), may inflict L lethal damage in unarmed combat, this counts as a magical weapon (.5), Regenerate one box of damage per minute (3), need not breathe or eat normally (.5).

   Geasa: All powers must be vampire-themed, give him a bad reputation as a vampire, occasionally cause cravings for blood, and mean he has automatic enemies (anyone who dislikes vampires): none of this is very important, making this a 25% off Geasa.

   His 25 points of initial Karma will buy him Initiate II: in his case, that means getting +3 Magic Rating (3 choices), Adjustment, Cliche, and Supporting Cast.

   This doesn’t account for the ability to turn other people into “vampires” – but that doesn’t seem to happen a lot, and they mostly seem to be ordinary people beforehand. Ergo, they’re just being promoted to sidekick status and being written up.

Star Wars: Technical Details III

   First up for today, it’s part III of the series on gaming in the Old Republic era – in this case covering the general nature of the Galactic Republic as a government, some of it’s long-term projects, currency in the galaxy, and extra-galactic exploration.

   The Galactic Republic has never been a particularly tightly-organized institution. For the most part, worlds govern themselves, while the Republic and the Senate attempt to negotiate disputes, provide some sort of a system of currency exchange, discourage wars, superweapons, and a few of the more hideous interstellar vices, regulate trade and interstellar law, sponsor exploration, and run starports. (In theory, a formally licensed starport is subject to Republic Law and is the domain of Republic Law Enforcement rather than local planetary law. In practice, enforcement is usually farmed out to the locals). In the case of major attacks on the Core Worlds, the Republic deploys its (relatively small) officer corps and peacekeeper forces to coordinate the forces contributed by individual member worlds. Sponsoring a few organizations – the galactic archives, the Jedi order, the exploration corps, and a few long-term projects (such as the galactic communications net), is distinctly secondary – as well as being not much of a burden on the resources of a galaxy.

   That isn’t all that ambitious an agenda, but there’s something to be said for knowing your limits: the Republic has been around, functioning, and reasonably stable for more than 25,000 years – longer than many of its member civilizations have lasted.

   Some of the projects that have been undertaken have included:

  • The Galactic Mapping Project and Exploration Service, while (even after 11,000 years) nowhere near complete, has still proven invaluable in setting up trade routes, tracing back the sources of attacks on the Republic, and locating various resources – including liveable planets.
  • The Galactic Subspace Communications Net is another ongoing project. While some of the more tightly-grouped major worlds enjoy fairly good communications, most of the less-important worlds can only send and receive limited amounts of data – most of which goes to vital services, trade and emergency information, and similar things. Getting private communications into the pipeline is quite expensive even for small files. Live voice communications may be quite impossible to arrange at times.
  • The Galactic Hyperspace Beacon Project has gradually added ways to easily locate your position and marked out safe hyperspace routes, vastly easing and accelerating interstellar travel for those worlds which have had their local routes surveyed and buoyed. Worlds which cannot afford the (rather high) costs compete against others for priority ratings from the project.
  • Other – more “local” – projects have included several solar-engineering, planet-moving, terraforming, and orbiting dyson-sphere construction projects, including intercepting several inspiraling neutron stars before they could trigger gamma-ray bursters and devastate major areas of the galaxy. Unfortunately, the Force-based limitations on self-replicating, self-repairing, and self-organizing machinery means that such projects must either employ massive numbers of people and consume considerable resources OR that they must be personally supervised by Force-users – although both Jedi and Sith can serve equally well in that capacity. This, of course, has provided a major impetus towards the continuing support of the Jedi order and has prompted numerous calls for tighter regulation of that order.

   Currency varies wildly across the galaxy. Most planets use local physical currencies, larger and more advanced planets usually use electronic banking systems as well. A few worlds rely on barter, on trading in property-fractions, or on even stranger systems, while a few species don’t have any concept of “money” at all. It’s best to assume that the local currency may be VERY weird – especially if the planet is embedded in an area of firm Republic or Hierarchy control; if the local currency wasn’t weird in that situation, it will probably be absorbed by the interstellar system.

   In general, interstellar transactions are usually carried out electronically (occasionally by actually shipping currency around, but that is very rare). The value of Republic – or Sith Hierarchy – credits tends to vary wildly with the amount of offworld trade a planet has, who’s in charge in the area, local prejudices, and interstellar events. If you’re planning to travel widely, or to cross the lines of control, it’s best to carry several different currencies, to stock up with materials of intrinsic value, and possibly to carry some items for barter – which is a part of what fuels the interstellar drug trade: high values, easy portability, easy testing (with current analysis systems), and widely desired. On many worlds, drugs are a de facto currency. Sadly, large sums in Sith Heirarchy Marks or Republic Credits can cause problems in the opposing domains – although, since the Hierarchy is the upstart, Republic Credits are still accepted in much of its territory – if at a steep discount.

The Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy:

According to those who embrace this (lunatic) “theory”, the entire ancient Sith/Jedi conflict is being constantly stirred up and manipulated in order to allow the Elders of Trion to systematically manipulate currency exchange ratios between planets. In the pursuit of this plot, there have been tens of thousands of years of war, death, and terror across the entire galaxy, all in the service of ever-greater profits. Ultimately, the Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy aims to enslave the entire galaxy!

Everything is clearly laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Trion – a book which has been almost totally suppressed save in bootleg copies that disguise themselves by substituting local references for the true ones!

Most people think that this entire idea is quite mad – but, given the size of the galaxy, there are billions of people out there who will swear that it is quite true – and who will support a thriving industry of fear-mongers who exploit such beliefs.

   Extragalactic Exploration has been fairly limited. While Hyperdrive is more than fast enough (although mysterious slowdowns in hyperdrive speeds have been reported to occur in deep intergalactic space) – galaxies are relatively close together compared to their sizes, and hyperdrive can cross a galaxy in a matter of days. Unfortunately, fast hyperdrive travel relies on well-charted routes and a catalog of objects that might interfere with the trip – most of which are spotted visually. While interstellar objects are far more common than intergalactic ones, most of them are near-impossible to spot. Between brown dwarves, dim ejected stars, rogue planetoids, and similar obstacles – as well as the numerous unexplored areas available in the galaxy – few expeditions have made much progress.

   Still, over thousands of years, there have been quite a few attempts, and reports on most of the nearby dwarf galaxies are available. One was even colonized by the Ordaltha civilization, apparently for some sort of religious reason which made them willing to accept a substantial casualty rate during the trip. Another of the nearby dwarf galaxies seemed to be exclusively full of mega-fauna jungle-planets, although there were buried traces of extinct civilizations there. Sadly, complications ensued on that expedition, and only a few survivors got back with their (somewhat contradictory) reports. Another expedition reported an encounter with some sort of intergalactic predator-thing – but that report is so old as to be semi-legendary, and is widely dismissed as a galactic legend. A number of inhabitable solar systems have been reported in the depths between galaxies, and make superb secret bases and refuges – but for that very reason, few exact routes or coordinates are available.

Shadowrun: Yseult Chaput

Yseult’s personal history – as she knows it:

   Yseult Chaput was born into a wealthy french family and was – not surprisingly – a somewhat spoiled child.

   Her father, Leonard, was the CEO of D’horlogerie Ordinateur, a (relatively minor) cyberware and computer corporation specializing in special-order and unique systems. Her mother, Adelaide – a teacher – was in many ways a rather unlikely match.

   When Yseult was ten, her younger brother Benoit arrived – and she immediately took to caring for and playing with him. People – or at least people with magical senses – often seemed to look at Benoit a bit oddly though; they kept acting like looking at him hurt their eyes. They never told her why, but Leonard and Adelaide kept Benoit even more sheltered than they’d always kept her.

   That didn’t keep them from having a lot of fun. There were vacations across Europe, in Hawaii, in the Middle East, and (finally) in Egypt, and there were many other events as well as the regular visits to Paris. With telecommunications as good as they were, there was no reason to stay home or to keep the kids there just because of school.

   The day before Yesult turned 18, the family was enroute to a family reunion/coming of age party for her when the car – somehow – went over a cliff, despite the safety systems. The resulting crash instantly killed Leonard and Adelaide, and send Yseult and Benoit to the hospital in critical condition.

   When she came to the next day she was in a hospital and more than a bit fuzzy – and one of her father’s associates – an older many by the name of Winoc – was waiting to speak to her. He informed her that she and her brother had been in a nasty car crash, and that she and her brother had suffered massive injuries. Her brother – still growing too much for cyberware – would be receiving bio-replacements. She had a choice: if she wanted bioreplacements, they were – of course – available thanks to her medical contract and donor counterpart. On the other hand, if she wanted state-of-the-art cyberreplacements, the company would – as a courtesy – cover the paperwork of tapping her father’s medical accounts and provide the best available systems.

   The fact that they were asking her was enough to tell her that her parents were dead.

   She couldn’t be weak and vulnerable any longer. Before passing out again, she opted for a complete cyberframe replacement – and spent the next several weeks sedated and undergoing extensive rebuilding. A last “thank-you” to her father from his company.

   When she came to inquired as to how her brother was doing – and this time around the nurse claimed to have never heard of him. He’d apparently been wiped from the hospital records too.

   As time went on she still couldn’t get anyone to tell her where her brother had gone – and found that most of the records had gone missing in some sort of computer crash. There were a few physical relics – but not many, and nothing that really demonstrated that he’d been her brother.

   When she finally got out of the hospital she decided to look for him in any way possible.

   That was seven years ago.

   Since then she has built a massive array of corporate contacts, both on her own and by exploiting Leonard’s old connections. She’s built up her connections with law enforcement and the military in order to gather information and set up aliases with which to set up underworld contacts.

   And she has yet to find anything. She is beginning to loose heart, an to doubt both herself and her memories, as well as the chance of finding her brother.

   Yseult still lives in her families estates in France, thanks to the income from her father’s stocks – although she dutifully puts half the money aside in case she should find her brother alive.

   Yseult is fairly tall (5′ 8″), skinny, blond haired, green eyed, and relatively well mannered. It isn’t enough to entirely make up for her massive cyborging, but she still manages to make a decent social impression.

Yseult Chaput, Information Broker

   Basic Expenditures: Magic 0 (Mundane), Race 2 (Latent Metahuman), Attributes 16 (26 Attribute Points), Resources 30 (3000 K in Resources, Initial Funds of 83K), and Skills 18 (40 active skill points).

   To represent experience in the campaign, I’m providing +2 Karma Pool and one major piece of equipment at two-thirds off the base cost. These bonuses have been included below.

   Basic Attributes: Body 4 (10), Quickness 6 (10), Strength 1 (11), Intelligence 6 (8), Willpower 5 (6), Charisma 4 (1), Magic 0, Essence 2.86, Reaction 9 (13), Initiative 13+3d6.

   Dice Pools:

  • Combat: 12
  • Hacking: 6
  • Task: 2
  • Karma Pool: 3
  • Current Karma: 4

   Edges: State of the Art (has access to Betaware, 2), Cybertolerance (reduce cyberware essence costs by 20%, 3), Freeware (Betaware Natural-Appearing Cyberframe, 6), Perceptive (-1 to target numbers for all perception rolls, 3), Perfect Time Sense (1), Photographic Memory (2), Overspending on Basic Expenditures (6). Net Edges: 23

   Flaws: Flashbacks (to last moments in car with little brother, triggered by seeing families together and by car accidents, Willpower [6] to avoid, -4), Miser (Will [6] check to spend, -3), Obligations (Uncommon, Major, with Plot Hooks, -3*), Detailed Background (-4*), Common Lethal Allergy (Nuts, -5), Low Pain Tolerance (Extra -1 per monitor on which target number penalties apply, -4), and Public Identity (Heiress, -3*). Net Flaws: -23.

   *Exempted from usual 10-point limit due to being useful to the game master.

   Skills:

  • Active Skills (40): Stealth 6, Agility 6, Endurance 4, Pistols 6, Computer 6, Investigation 6, Etiquette 6
  • Knowledge Skills (Bases + 30): Undercover Business 6, Sports 4, Firearms 3, Information Theory 3, Cryptography 6, Anthropology 6. History 6, Geography 6, Law 6, Vacation Spots 3.
  • Languages (8): French 4 (Read/Write 2), Arabic 4 (Read/Write 2).
  • Irrelevant Skills (9): Dancing 6, Dragon Kites 3.

   Resource Expenditures (3000K)

  • Cyberware (1060K):
    • Betaware Cyberframe (3 Ess as Betaware, 2.4 Ess after Cybertolerance, Freeware/no monetary cost)
    • +4 to Strength and Quickness of her Cyberframe (Betaware, 560K, 0 Essence).
    • Cybereyes (.2 Ess, 5K) with Flare Compensation (.1 Ess, 2K), Image Link (note that this can either pass signals into the system or pass them to internal memory,.2 Ess, 1.6K), Low Light (.2 Ess, 3K), Thermographic (.2 Ess, 3K), Eyelight System (100 M range, reduces lighting target number modifiers by 6, .2 Ess, 1.2K), Electronic Magnification-III (reduces range penalties by three levels, .1 Ess, 11K), and an Eye Datajack (.25 Ess, 2.2K). Net 1.45 Ess – .5 (Eye Package Deal) = .95 x .8 (Cybertolerance) = .76 Ess (in Cyberskull) and 29K.
    • Cyberears (.3 Ess, 4K) with Dampening (.1 Ess, 3.5K), Amplification (10x Shotgun Mike, .2 Ess, 3.5K), High Frequency (.2 Ess, 3K), Low Frequency (.2 Ess, 3K), Sound Link (note that this can either pass signals into the system or pass them to internal memory,.2 Ess, 1.6K) and Selective Sound Filters-V (.2 Ess, 50K). Net 1.4 Ess – .5 Ess (Ear Package Deal) = .9 Ess x .8 (Cybertolerance) = .72 Ess (in Cyberskull) and 69K
    • Transducer I (.1 Ess, 2K). Net .08 Ess with Cybertolerance, in Cyberskull.
    • Knowsoft Link (.1 Ess, 1K). Net .08 Ess with Cybertolerance, in Cyberskull.
    • Datalock (.2 Ess, 1K) with Encryption-10 (50K) and Data Compactor-IV (.25 Ess, 38K). Net .36 Ess, 89K.
    • 60 MP personal Headware Memory (.2 Ess, 9K). .16 Ess after Cybertolerance.
    • Mark-50 Rating-III Skillwires (.3 Ess, 30K). .24 Ess after Cybertolerance, in the Cyberframe.
    • Wired Reflexes-II (+4 Reaction, +2d6 Initiative, 3 Ess, 165K). 2.4 Ess after Cybertolerance, in the Cyberframe.
    • Cyber Holster (.7 Ess, 5K). .56 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Smartgun Link (-2 to smartgun target numbers, .5 Ess, 3.5K). -.1 Ess for Image Link, .32 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Autoinjector-X (.1 Ess, 5.5K). .08 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Internal Air Tank (.25 Ess, 1.2K). .2 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Internal Voice Mask-VIII (.1 Ess, 32K). .08 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe..
    • Cyberhand Safety (.08 Ess, .8K). .06 after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • 8x Holdout II. Two sealed in the chest, 2 openable in the chest, one openable in each limb. All Screened and Hardened (Concealability 13, +3 to instrumental detection target numbers, .2 Ess x .8 (Cybertolerance) x8 = 1.28 Ess (in Cyberframe) and 64K. Of the two sealed ones, one currently one holds her Cyberdeck and the other one holds her Pocket Secretary. The remaining six are used for various items of equipment.
      • Grand Total: 2.4 Essence (Cyberframe) + 7.4 Essence (Other Systems) of which approximately 90% can be accommodated in the Cyberframe. Since this is well within the 12-Essence point capacity of a cyberframe, and the character isn’t especially short on Essence and isn’t a magician, I’ll just use that 10% figure plus the cyberframe cost to calculate her base essence.
  • Social Purchases (610K):
    • Connections: Corporate, Law Enforcement, Military, Governmental, and Underworld (125K).
    • Five High Contacts (100K)
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    • Four Level Two Contacts (40K)
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    • Eight Extra Level One Contacts (10 total, 40K)
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    • Three Secondary Identities: Agathe D’Aramitz (most used), Ghislaine De la Fontaine, and LYDIE Vipond (least used) (225K).
    • Two Clearances – Equipment (40K) and with the European Union (40K).
  • Major Equipment (1330K):
    • Novatech Simcase-10 (MPCP 10, Hardening 5, 2000 MP active memory, 2500 MP storage memory, I/O 480, RI 2. Normally in chest holdout. Normally 960K, but – in this case – this is the item that the character is presumed to have been upgrading, and thus gets 2/3’rds off on, for a net cost of 320K).
    • Programs:
      • Hacker Utility Package; All utilities except Trace, Black Hammer, and Killjoy at Rating 4. 250 MP, 25K.
      • Biocontrol-3/3 Specific Functions: Iron Will (+1 Will, +6 versus interrogation and mental control), Sleep Accelerator (need sleep only three hours per day), and Stimulant. 48 MP, 5 KNY.
      • Mentat IV (+2 Intelligence, +2 Task Pool) 80 MP, 8 KNY
      • Skill Packages (all at Rating-3). Grand Total: 1000 MP and 105 K.
        • Combat: Rifles, Heavy Weapons, Gunnery, Knives, and Unarmed Combat.
        • Physical: Slight of Hand and Strength.
        • Technical: Biotech, Demolitions, Electronics, Finance, Mechanics, Systems Operation, and Survival.
        • Social: Administration, Fast Talk, Interrogation, Intimidation, Leadership, Negotiation, Performance, and Psychology.
        • Vehicle: Bike, Car, Construction, Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Hovercraft, Motorboat, Rotor Craft, Submersible, and Vectored Thrust.
        • Knowledges: Chemistry, Genetics, Physics, Theology, and Archeology.
        • Languages: Basque, German, Italian, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish
    • Pocket Secretary with chips for Micro-Transceiver 6, ECCM 6, Data Encryption-6, Voice Identifier-6, Bug Scanner-6, Dataline Scanner (R6), and Radio Scanner-6. Net 42 K. (This is usually stored in a sealed chest Holdout and run via DNI).
    • White Noise Generator-VIII (12K).
    • One year Gold Docwagon Service (25K)
    • 10K Monthly Income with Plot Hooks (500K). This normally covers a rather nice lifestyle.
    • Equipment Grab Bag (150 K).
    • Eurocar Westwind 2000 Turbo (138K)

   The “Grab Bag” normally provides up to 15K worth of gear. In her case this normally includes 6 doses of Antidote-8 (.4K per use) and 4 doses of Hyperox (.2K per use) in her Autoinjector, a Smartlinked Heavy Pistol (9M damage, 1K), a couple of Flash Grenades (.05K), a Secure Jacket (.85K, 5/3), Secure Ultra-Vest (.35K, 3/2, adds +1/+1 per layering rules), and an Armored Cap (.2K, adds +1/+1 for a total of 8/6 Armor), a Survival Kit (.1K), a Medkit (.2K), a Hand Cell Phone (to get taken away, .05K), for a total of 6K. The other 9K usually goes into speciality supplies (such as, in some cases, a heavier weapon), wardrobe, and various personal luxuries.

   The original character design did not spend all of her Resources. However, since you only get to keep a small fraction of whatever you don’t spend, I’ve spent the rest of it on the players behalf. Hopefully we can get some of those contacts filled in a bit more over the next few weeks.

   And yes, that’s pretty appalling in some ways. Pretty much any character with a “Class-A+” priority in ANYTHING is going to be appalling in some way…

Star Wars Technological Explanations II

Today it’s another couple of features of the Star Wars universe – the impact of the Force on biology, medicine, and technology, including that wonderful Bacta…

   The Force has a great impact on life throughout the galaxy, although it often passes unrecognized by those who simply accept the “ground rules” at face value. It modifies quite a few biological – and even a few mechanical – processes. For example:

  • The mind is linked with, and operates through, the brain, but isn’t really reliant on it. This means that no physical method (including surgery, chemicals, brain damage, control implants, and electrical manipulations) of neural programming, coercion, or mindwiping is entirely reliable, effective, or permanent. Similarly, only force-sensitives (and not all of them) can use technology that interfaces directly with their “mind” via the brain – and it means devoting a good deal of their potential power to maintaining that interface.
  • It provides a non-genetic method of adaption. Creatures arriving in a new biosphere will find that they can digest the local foods, resist the local illnesses, tolerate the local environment, and – for that matter – pick up the local communication techniques – with considerably more ease than is at all physically likely. Creatures born on a particular world will often demonstrate far more extensive adaptions, while remaining genetically almost unchanged.
    • There are a lot fewer races, and far far fewer biochemical systems, around the galaxy than is commonly believed. No one really knows whether the biochemical similarities are due to Force-encouraged panspermia or exogenesis effects (spores, bacteria, and similar lifeforms being naturally spread around the galaxy), to some unknown cause, or to life-seeding (whether purposeful or unintentional) by the first few (long long lost) civilizations of the galaxy, but the effects are undeniable. The racial similarities are even easier to explain: over the history of the galaxy innumerable races have built civilizations, scattered colonies, and collapsed – only to repeat the cycle on their original and other worlds. While force-based adaptions and local genetic drift results in many cosmetic – and occasional deeper – changes in such races, quite a few apparently-distinct “species” are capable of interbreeding naturally, and many more can manage it with a little technological or force-based assistance.
  • Nonphysical “Alien Powers” are, in fact, generally Force monotalents. Like all such, they’re not subject to the feedback-loops which can lead to the “dark side”, but they do make their users subject to Force-based detection, are affected by Force-negation effects, render their users subject to Force-transmitted disturbances and disruptions, and are open channels for Force-based attacks. A fair number of both sapient and nonsapient creatures possess such abilities, ranging from some popular pets on through exceedingly exotic life forms.
  • Transplant surgery generally does not work; unless the tissue being transplanted is originally from the recipient or is virtually genetically identical, the Force will not recognize it as a part of the recipient’s body, and it will be rejected. Major medical centers may be able to regrow or clone limbs and organs, but the techniques are specialized for particular races and require good genetic samples. Only major medical centers, or those specializing in particular races, can usually muster the necessary information and resources – and even they are helpless if the donor’s tissues have sustained too much genetic damage from some agency to obtain a viable genetic sample; the Force can help such a victim survive with such damage, but it cannot correct it via any known technique. If you can’t find someone with the expertise, equipment, and resources to do a bit of genetic tweaking and clone the tissues you need, prosthetics are about the only option. Fortunately, they’re quite good – and, since they only interact with the peripheral nervous system, they are not limited to force-sensitives.
  • If the bond between the Force-aspect and the physical aspect of a living creature is sufficiently disrupted, that creature will die – regardless of any conventional medical attention, right down to cellular-level life support. You may be able to keep individual bits going, but you’ll only have lumps of flesh; the mind and personality will have permanently departed. An excess of shame or humiliation, sheer despair, and psychological traumas may be lethal without any physical cause or justification.

   The Force does interact with technology. In general:

  • Systems that mimic living things, whether by “thinking” or self-replicating, become increasingly erratic over time. Self-replication generally fails after only a few generations while computers and droids will need regular reprogramming. This can be partially corrected on a local level by any form of living supervision (Force-sensitives are more effective and Force users are most effective), but means that things like self-duplicating automatic factories and such remain a pipe dream. If you want to really exploit resources, you have to send people out to do it. Installations that are left to operate on their own are subject to this limitation as well, although they can be effectively set on standby and left for later use.
  • Force-sensitives and -users can channel the Force into enhancing equipment, allowing it to (sometimes FAR) surpass normal operational, technological, and even physical limits. Unfortunately, this is a great deal of effort and takes a long time to recover from. Such equipment will, however, remain enhanced until the individual who imbued it with the force dies, and will occasionally remain enhanced for some time thereafter. Would-be inventors occasionally produce amazing breakthroughs, and are disappointed to find that their creations are doomed to remain near-unique.
  • Super-weapons never last. There are, in fact, several ways to build gigantically-destructive weapons. Simply building one invariably runs into all kinds of obstacles. Letting people find out about the project makes it worse. Actually blowing up, sterilizing, or otherwise wrecking a planetary ecosystem is likely to cause all kinds of malfunctions – and no known superweapon in history has survived more than three uses. Interestingly, a device of virtually identical design, deployed to blow up rogue planetoids without ecosystems, or to dismantle lifeless gas giants for use as raw materials, or some such project will work just fine – until someone tries to use it as a weapon.
    • A powerful Force-user may be able to moderate or prevent such problems, but – if so – they would be well advised to never leave their super-weapon unattended for long once it’s been used. Even a few minutes absence may lead to having to build a new one.
  • Self-repairing machines, or machines which are repaired by other machines, are possible, but are never 100% effective. Even the best such machines will need occasional maintenance from a living technician. This, of course, is why jobs such as “vehicle repair” are not simply left to droids; a good droid can – for example – multiply the number of vehicles an expert mechanic can keep running, but you still always need the expert on call.

   This brings us to Bacta – apparently a universal cure-all, at least as far as gross tissue damage is concerned. The doctors don’t like to talk about it, but Bacta (there are actually several strains, “generic” Bacta is a mixture of them) is simply a bio-engineered form of a Force-using protoplasmic parasite. The original creature infiltrated damaged tissues, taking it’s pattern from the remaining tissue, from the victims own force-pattern, and from the biochemistry of it’s new environment. Given a few hours to work in, it would disguise itself as a part of the victims own tissues, essentially becoming a genetically-chimerical part of the hosts body. Over time, it would digest and replace more and more of the hosts tissues, eventually breaking down the victim into a puddle of goo after the critical point where the host’s Force-pattern and original body was too far gone to maintain was reached.

   Fortunately, such victims became sterile as soon as the parasite replaced the gonads since it did not imitate their genetic structure and the immune system of a healthy host tended to eliminate it before it could effectively disguise itself. Still, the original parasite – and the false feelings of invulnerability it produced when hosts noticed that wounds sealed themselves almost instantly – has killed (and still kills) a great many people.

   The modified version still infiltrates and mimics tissue, replacing damaged potions – but it has been rendered incapable of growing without several special provisions and stimulants. Within a few hours or days (depending on the purity), Bacta can effectively “heal” major injuries (and will, in many cases, gradually be replaced thereafter by the user’s naturally-regrowing tissues). It cannot, however, replace organs and systems which are entirely missing: if you have a ruptured or damaged liver, Bacta can replace the damaged tissue. If you’re missing a leg, Bacta can seal off and cushion the stump, anchor loose tendons, and cover the area with “skin” – but can’t replace major portions of the body or substitute for skeletal materials. Worse, if the damage is too extensive – bad enough to cause the victims force-pattern to degrade or to destroy too large a proportion of the victims tissues – bacta will not be able to effectively pattern itself, and will simply slough away.