Demonic Thralls

   Here we have an update on Kevin’s Darkness-Augmented Thralls – who are currently pretty much at the limit of the enhancements that can be stacked on a more-or-less normal human youngster. They aren’t, in fact, all that awesomely powerful; it would be easy to give them a limited number of far more potent abilities than they’ve got.
   What they are is awesomely flexible. They’ve got low-level magic, a broad range of minor psychic powers, are pretty tough, quite competent in a fight, are quick, possess modest healing abilities, and can be readily recalled if they’re killed – making them pretty much ideal minions.
   In a way, they’re also a preview of humanities birthright within the Manifold. The power of Darkness does not create; it can simply bring forth latent potentials. Perhaps one day, eons hence, when humans have passed into the Manifold entirely and have joined the Elder Races, the basic “adult” will look something like this.

   Standard Youthful (Normally Adolescent) Thrall

   Disadvantages: Normally two from among: Foolish, Greedy, Impatient, Secret, Outcast, Hunted (generally by upset relatives, demon-hunters, or anti-fey types), Legal Problems, Known Property, etcetera…that provides them with +6 CP over the basic 24 CP allotment for level zero, giving them base totals of 30 CP + 3x (Int Mod) SP.
   Since attributes in the Federation-Apocalypse campaign are rolled on 5d6, keeping the highest three – providing a most common result of 14 and an average result of nearly 14, the “standard” Thrall is set up with base attributes of 14. Individual characters may, of course, vary somewhat.

 

Basic Attributes:
Strength 20 (24) / +7 (DR 7/-)
Dexterity 22 (24) / +7
Constitution 18 / +4 (4 magic points)
Intelligence 18 / +4
Wisdom 14 / +2
Charisma 16 / +3 (6 free contacts)

 

   Saves:

  • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +4 (Positive Levels) + 4 (Con) =  +8
  • Reflex: +0 (0 CP) +4 (Positive Levels) + 7 (Dex)= +11
  • Will +0 (0 CP) +4 (Positive Levels) + 2 (Wis)=  +6
    • All Saves: +4 versus Occult Attack if the (default) Spellweaving martial art is currently in use.

   Languages (5): English, Infernal, Sylvan, Latin, one of choice

   Combat Information (0 CP)

  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Martial Weapons and Small Arms (12 CP, -12 from Dex = 0 CP).
  • Move: 40 Base + 10 (Exoskeleton) = 50
  • Initiative: +7
  • BAB: +0 (0 CP) +4 (Positive Levels) = +4
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 7 (Dex) + 2 (Wis, per world rules) + 4 (Military Smartclothes) +4 (positive levels) +1 (Natural) = 28 (Total universal DR 11/- due to Smartclothes, AC 32 and DR 17/- vrs physical attacks due to heavy effector module).
  • Hit Points: L0 3 + 3x (Con Mod + Dex Mod) = 33 HP (66 while wearing Smartclothes)

   Usual Weapons:

  • Plasma Pistol. +15/+15 (BAB +4, +7 Dex, +4 Martial Art, -2 Rapid Shot +2 Equipment), Crit 20/x2, 50 Shot Magazine, 40′ range increment. May draw as a free action. Add Mighty Blow and Prone Combat if trained.
  • Forceblade. +18 (BAB +4, +7 Str, +4 Martial Art, +3 Equipment), 2d8+10 (+3 Equipment, +7 Str), Crit 19-20/x2. Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows. Reduced to +12 and 1d8+7 if using a normal blade. Quick Draw and Whirlwind Attack if trained.
  • Unarmed.+11 (BAB +4, +7 Str), 1d12+9 (+7 Str, +2 Smartclothes), Breaking Technique, choice of Occult Technique.

   Purchased Abilities (30 CP):

  • Path of the Dragon: Upgraded to allow second level spells within their three fields at an effective caster level of three (+10 CP).
  • Mana (4 CP): +2d6 Power (Net 24 Base + 4d6 + 3d6 from a Relic).
  • Occult Sense: Detect Potential Thrall (sorts out easy recruits, Specialized/requires several days acquaintance, 3 CP).
  • Customization (12)Commonly Spell Resistance, Bonus uses for Grant of Aid, Innate Enchantment, improved Shapeshifting, More Mana, or Reflex Training.
  • Skill Points: 1 (CP Spent) 7 (Racial) + 12 (Int) = 20.17 are spent below, leaving 3 for customization and personal hobbies.

   Notable Innate Abilities (From various Bonuses):

  • Witchcraft, all basic witchcraft abilities, (24 + 7d6) Power, Will Save DC (13 + Cha Mod), Able to recover 4d6 Power given ten minutes five times per day.
  • Level One Clerical Magic: Usually Light, Suppress Energy, and Detect Magic [all of which can be converted to Charm Person for one power] for level zero, Cure Light Wounds [may be converted to Amplify Psychic Power] and Lesser Disruption for level one.
  • Reflex Training for three bonus actions per day.
  • Grant of Aid 1/Day, usually 5/Day with the help of a minor relic.
  • Shapeshifting.
  • Low-Light Vision and Scent.
  • 12 “Phantom” Constitution points, and may spend one to gain any one of +4 Caster Levels, +4 Effective Hit Dice, +4 Constitution, +4 Dexterity, +4 Charisma, or +4 Negotiation for 1d6 minutes
  • Cloaking to conceal their abilities
  • Able to store six levels of spells, releasing them as move-equivalent actions.
  • Occult Ritual, Specialized in Summonings, Bindings, and Pacts (3 CP).

   Broad Skills (+4 Int): Pistol Expert Martial Art +11 (1 SP , +6 Dex, additional +4 if trained), Blade Expert Martial Art +11 (1 SP, +6 Dex, additional +4 if trained), Lightning Fist Martial Art +11 (1 SP, +6 Dex, additional +4 if trained), Acrobatics +20 (1 SP, +7 Dex, +8 Racial), Physical Stealth +24 (1 SP, +7 Dex, +8 Racial. +4 Gear), Spot +11 (1 SP, +2 Wis, +4 Gear), Listen +11 (1 SP, +2 Wis, +4 Gear), Computer Operations +9 (1 SP, +4 Int), Gadgetry +12 (1 SP, +7 Dex), Identities +8 (1 SP, +3 Cha), Wealth (Core) +22 (5 SP +3 Cha +3 Cha +5 Wealth-Producing Powers +5 Employed), Appraise +9 (1 SP +4 Int), Gather Information +8 (1 SP +3 Cha), Search +9 (1 SP +4 Int), and Spellcraft +9 (1 SP +4 Int).

   Narrow Skills (+4 Int, +5 Training): Servant +14 (1 SP, +4 Int), Acting +13 (1 SP, +3 Cha), Seduction +13 (1 SP, +3 Cha), Climb +25 (1 SP, +7 Dex, +8 Race), Jump +33 (1 SP, +7 Dex, +8 Race +8 Move), Dimensional Navigation +12 (1 SP +2 Wis), First Aid +12 (1 SP +3 Wis), Negotiation +13 (1 SP +3 Cha), and Profession/Administration +12 (1 SP +2 Wis).

   +3 Specialities: Gadgetry/Smartclothes (1 SP)

  • Pistol Expert Techniques Known: Attack 4, Rapid Shot, Quick Draw (with Package Deal: Mighty Blow and Prone Combat).
  • Blade Expert Techniques Known: Attack 4, Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows (with Package Deal: Quick Draw and Whirlwind Attack).
  • Lightning Fist Techniques Known: Power 4, Breaking, and Vanishing (with Package Deal: Ki Block and Wrath/electrical). 
  • Usual Gadgets (12): Smartclothes with Exoskeleton and +30 HP (4), Plasma Pistol (1), Forceblade (1).

   Basic Customization: Roll for Power (7d6+20) and Mana (2d6). Select 3 Magical Fields, spend 3 Skill Points and 12 CP. A few points from their Identities are usually spent on useful abilities in one of the realms Kevin has identities in, the others are free.

   Kevin is a specialist in power imbuement – and, at the moment, he’s taken pretty much every possible route to doing that. He’s giving his recruits one of the most powerful +0 ECL base races available in the setting, using his status as a god and some highly specialized abilities to provide his followers with an absurd level of Divine Endowment (divinely-granted abilities, normally costing six of the Deities personal CP per CP bestowed), granting a high-efficiency 32 CP/+1 ECL template with built-in disadvantages, acting as a patron for Witchcraft Pacts, using Leadership to provide +4 Positive Levels (about the maximum possible), granting the Clerical Spellcasting Package, and providing a high-end Package Deal. He’s also providing them with military-class Smartclothes and other high-technology gear.
   That’s quite a package. In fact, there are only a few other ways to enhance people – providing spells and magic items, Unique Training, and direct grants using Wishes and Godfire – and none of those can really be applied on a mass scale. Kevin’s agents will continue to slowly gain power as their master does, since    Kevin’s powers are optimized for power bestowal. At the moment, he grants an extra 10 character points for every level he gains – an effect which is also at about the limits of the process.
   For characters who are technically level one – youngsters with a base level of zero and a +1 ECL template – they’re pretty formidable. Of course,  roughly two hundred character points worth of special bonuses will do that.

   “Pureblooded” Human Racial Bonuses:

   Given the extent of their transformation, Kevin usually gives his Thralls the “Pureblooded Human” base if they didn’t already have it, replacing their previous race if it was different. He can vary the template somewhat, but normally sees little reason to do so. Similarly, they tend to get standardized attributes, are all physically adolescents of about 12-14 years equivalent, have full obedience/property programming, and are genetically and physically modified enough to obscure their original identities pretty throughly, at least as far as recognition at a glance goes – although close contact with friends or relatives will give their real identities away pretty quickly even if they don’t admit it up front.

  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills: +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • +4 Intelligence (Normally 24 CP, reduced to 12 CP by world laws).
  • +2 to any one attribute (Chr) (normally 12 CP, reduced to 6 CP by world laws.
  • Immunity/Aging (uncommon/minor/minor, 2 CP). Can expect to live for several centuries without much of any signs of aging – or pretty much indefinitely in the Manifold.
  • Grant of Aid/Specialized (requires several hours): May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 3 CP), with the Regenerative option/Corrupted (requires lots of food and rest, 2 CP), allowing them to slowly regrow lost limbs and organs.

   Divine Endowment Bonuses:

   As a power-endowment specialist, all of Kevin’s faithful followers – such as his agents, priests, and  wannabe-agents – get 48 CP worth of abilities:

  • One level of Full-Package Clerical Spellcasting with the Negative Energy and Witchery Domains (10 CP). This includes:
    • Three Level Zero and One Level One Spell Slots, plus One Domain Spell Slot. These are most commonly filled with : Light, Suppress Energy, and Detect Magic [all of which can be converted to Charm Person for one power] for level zero, Cure Light Wounds [may be converted to Amplify Psychic Power] and Lesser Disruption for level one.
    • Spell Conversion to the Witchery Domain Spells.
    • Two Domain Feats – Normally 12 CP worth of Witchcraft or additional Power.
    • A Witchcraft Pact: The Spirit Pact. This means that – if they’re killed – their spirits will be drawn to Kadia, Kevin’s afterlife-realm. It also provides them with the remaining 6 CP needed to purchase full basic Witchcraft. That’s (Str+Dex+Con)/3 Power and seven abilities from the basic Witchcraft list – normally including The Hand of Shadows and Healing.
  • 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)
  • Dimensional Adaption (2 CP): Enthusiast, Specialized for double effect: Only for the “Identities” skill, Corrupted: only changes in new realm, reduces the cost of Identities by 2 SP. For wannabes in the Manifold, this will usually provide +16 CP worth of local privileges, wealth, and so on.
  • Broad Skills (all +4 Int): Appraise +9 (1 SP +4 Int), Gather Information +8 (1 SP +3 Cha), Search +9 (1 SP +4 Int), Spellcraft +9 (1 SP +4 Int), and Wealth (Core) +22 (5 SP +3 Cha +5 for wealth-generating powers +5 for employment).
  • Narrow Skills (All +4 Int +5 Training): Dimensional Navigation +12 (1 SP +2 Wis), First Aid +12 (1 SP +3 Wis), Negotiation +13 (1 SP +3 Cha), and Profession/Administration +12 (1 SP +2 Wis).
  • Reflex Training (6 CP): 3 bonus actions as required per day
  • Shapeshift, Specialized/requires a full minute (3 CP).
  • Occult Ritual, Specialized in Summonings, Bindings, and Pacts (3 CP).
  • 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.
  • Create Relic (2 CP): Specialized (2 Point Relics Maximum), Corrupted; only points from Enthusiast.
    • Would-be followers can usually be assumed to have created some personal relics:
      • A personal psychic focus of some sort, which provides +3d6 Power (1 CP as a relic).
      • A shapeshifting focus that removes the specialization on their shapeshifting and provides +2 bonus uses (1 CP as a relic).
      • A one-point relic of choice.
    • Full Thralls can usually be expected to have created:
      • A personal psychic focus of some sort, which provides +3d6 Power (1 CP as a relic).
      • Two other one-point relics of choice. For those on more combative assignments, one that provides +4 Bonus Uses on Grant of Aid is popular.

Demon Thrall Template

   +32 CP/1 ECL, includes +4 Granted Positive Levels for another +24 CP:

   Infused with Kevin’s negative energies, his Thralls gain substantial abilities – at the cost of becoming his possessions until they can accumulate enough skill and power to pay off the CP cost of the powers they’ve been granted. That usually requires centuries or millennia, but its not like they don’t have time. Becoming a Thrall is always voluntary, and necessarily includes being informed of the soul-bond: that requires their consent to set up. Thralls always know and accept that they’re property: that knowledge wells up directly from their souls.

  • Eliminate restrictions on Pureblooded Human Grant of Aid (4 CP)
  • Extraordinary Returning (Specialized: Requires Summoning Ritual, 3 CP)
  • 2d6 Mana (choice of natural magic effects, 12 CP),
  • Mystic Link with Master (Corrupted: allows communications and the transference of small amounts of mana/power and its effects only, 6 CP),
  • Blessing (Specialized in Mana, Power, and Magic Points, Corrupted only with Master, 2 CP, normally works over the Mystic Link only. Basically, their master can draw on their reserves and mana-based effects to augment his or her own abilities).
  • Enhanced Health: +2 Bonus d0 Hit Dice (Essentially + [2 x Con Mod] HP, 8 CP, required to qualify for the Leopard Totem).
  • Hellcat (Leopard) Totem/Internal Transformation/Genegrafts: Shapeshift, Attribute Modifiers (Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Acrobatics and Jump, +4 to Stealth, Low-Light Vision, and Scent), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Human or anthropomorphic appearance at Kevin’s option; he usually doesn’t change their appearance much). Specialized: Leopard Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Agile (4 CP): May add Dex Mod to Con Mod for their L1 Hit Dice. Corrupted: These extra HP can only be healed through the use of magical or psychic powers.
  • Full Shapeshifting (+3 CP) with +3 (Dex/2) Bonus Uses (3 CP) per day. The Thralls are using a minor  variant on the standard shapeshifting ability; unless the local rules of a realm interfere, they only get size modifiers on their attributes, don’t gain any confusing special senses, and only get a minimal set of instincts. This avoids a lot of complicated recalculations – especially since the animals of the setting also have a base of 14 in most of their attributes instead of 10.
  • Advanced Witchcraft: The Secret Order (6 CP) (note that the Adamant Will does not protect them against their masters).
  • +2d6 Power (4 CP).
  • Path of the Dragon: Natural Magery: Shaping (6 CP), Pulse of the Dragon (6 CP), Heart of the Dragon (L1 Effects, 18 CP). All Specialized: 3 Fields only (Vary with the Thrall), Corrupted: Must gesture and chant (10 CP). Save DC 15, Effective Caster Level 3 (per three base hit dice).
  • Martial Art: Spellweaving +11 (1 CP +6 Dex +4 Int). Known Abilities: Defenses 4 (+4 on saves versus occult attack), Whirlwind Attack, and Ki Focus (-1 Con to pick from +4 Caster Level, +4 Effective Hit Dice, +4 Con, +4 Dex, +4 Charisma, or +4 Negotiation for 1d6 minutes). Those who have had their package deal training also get Inner Strength II (gaining 12 “Phantom” Constitution points to power their occult techniques).
  • Cloaking. Specialized: does not conceal the fact that they’re enhanced or – if probed – the general nature of their enhancements. It does conceal their identities, the nature and extent of the soul-bond, their status as property, and the exact origin of their abilities. Basically they seem to be “just another generic kid”, albeit one whom someone’s granted some minor powers too. (3 CP).
  • Positive Level Effects: + 24 CP (already included), +4 BAB, +4 Saves, and +4 AC (an effective value of 108 CP).
  • An additional Witchcraft Pact (Duties/Loyalty to Master, -6 CP)
  • Disadvantages: Blocked (Any other Deities Clerical Magic), Obligations (To Master), and Valuable/Useful and Obedient Property (-10 CP). 

    Kadian Familiar Package Deal:

   Those Thralls who have had time for their advanced training in Kadia or a few other locations get the following Package Deal – primarily designed to make them more useful as familiars and bodyguards. Those who have not yet had time will be rotated back through Kadia for it as quickly as that can be arranged.

  • Intensive Training: Augmented Bonus/May add Con Mod to Dex Mod for Skill Purposes, Specialized in Martial Arts Only (3 CP).
  • Deep Reserves: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only usable to recover Power and requires ten minutes of meditation to use (6 CP).
  • Power Words, Specialized/requires ten minutes of preparation to store a spell, must be able to gesture to release them (3 CP).

    How fast the Thralls gain Character Points – and thus can start paying off their 200+ point debt and working their way into freedom – is an open question. They can’t gain levels while they’re still Thralls, but they can probably pick up half a level or so (12 CP) worth of new personal abilities. Given that most of them aren’t really very independent or in a lot of danger, I wouldn’t expect more than one point per session or two for those on active adventures, with an average of a point every year or two for most of them.

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Alternative Force-Users – The Hedi

   Anger. Fear. Hatred. These lead to the Dark Side.

   Using the Force while in the grip of such emotions will swiftly corrupt a force-sensitive – greatly amplifying such mental patterns and eventually burning them into the user’s consciousness as reflexive patterns – an effect known as “Falling to the Dark Side”.

   The Dark Side can be overcome – but it requires immense self-discipline, long effort, and constant wariness lest you fall back into the patterns of the Dark Side. Once such habits are burned into the mind, they will pop up at any unguarded moment.

   According to George Lucas, in the commentary for Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the dark side is more powerful; “We’re cementing [Anakin’s] determination to become the most powerful Jedi. The only way you can really do that is to go to the Dark Side because the Dark Side is more powerful. If you want the ultimate power, you really have to go to the stronger side, which is the Dark Side.”

   Why is that?

   It’s an old, old, reason. Bodies and Minds normally operate within their safety margins. After all, you don’t want to injure yourself if you can avoid it.

   When it’s a fight-or-flight situation – a choice between winning, escaping, and dying – the limits go right out the window. If it’s a choice between death and injury, guess which one your body and mind are genetically programmed to choose?

   That’s why the Dark Side is more powerful – and why overuse of it can be physically damaging, as demonstrated so dramatically by Palpatine. You generally don’t see any normal Jedi overloading their bodies to the point where they start withering up.

   Can positive emotions also cause feedback loops or grant power?

   Of course they can. They won’t normally override the mind and bodies safety mechanisms – but they can serve as a focus and motivation for pushing pretty hard when you have too. Of course, backing your use of the Force with such emotions can burn them into your consciousness almost (since it involves somewhat less power) as strongly as backing the Force with negative emotions.

   Thus you can indeed “Fall to the Light Side”. Running around using the Force to back Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness is all very nice – but reacting to everyone and every situation, including your opponents, with unconditional love and forgiveness makes for saintly religious leaders, inspirational stories, and lovely martyrdoms, not for effective player characters. In the end, it’s usually weakening anyway, simply because time spent comforting the distressed and loving everyone around you is time you aren’t spending developing your skills.

   We won’t be spending a lot of time on Falling to the Light Side. Player characters are virtually never vulnerable to this, it’s boring, and – since the process is slower than falling to the Dark Side – it’s correspondingly rarer even for untrained Force-sensitives.

  Besides, who’d notice? A perpetually nice person who helps out everyone around them and is simply soothing to have around is a local blessing, but they really aren’t likely to attract attention on the galactic scale. If the game master wants to keep track of “Light Side Points”, I suppose it’s possible; a player character who is too dedicated to compassion, love, and healing may eventually “Fall to the Light Side” and become incapable of violence, hostility, or anger – and gain a bonus to his or her Force skills (Perhaps Light Side Points/3) – but is that really likely?

   So; to use the Force safely, without altering your consciousness, you must pretty much avoid emotion, remain detached, and exercise patience, self-discipline, passivity, humility, inner peace, self-awareness, and setting aside your feelings. You must trust in the Force rather than placing your confidence in physical things. (After all, if you’re trusting in physical things, you don’t have the confidence in the force to use it all that effectively). The occasional outburst or small failure won’t be too big a problem as long as you refrain from making a habit of them or going completely overboard – and thus allowing the power of the Force to burn such patterns into your mind.

   In other words, if you want to use the Force without allowing it to alter your consciousness, you have to alter your consciousness yourself – and in some pretty profoundly unnatural ways. Emotions are a pretty fundamental part of consciousness for most sapient beings.

   So if you’re going to be altering your consciousness anyway, why not do it the easy way? Why take risks when you can pop a pill? It works for vitamins…

   Thus we have the “Hedi Order” (also known as the “Hed Cases” and the “Hippy Jedi”) – as well as all those “failed Jedi” who hang around in bars getting morosely drunk (and thus damping their unwanted force sensitivity). You don’t want your emotions seizing control? You want peace, a vague and abstract fellowship with the world, and to be so mellow that nothing upsets you?

   Pretty much every race has access to substances that will do that. Of course, they tend to cause other problems – but which is better? Being able to have a fairly normal (if somewhat incompetent) life while pleasantly self-medicated, a near-certain spiral into the Dark Side, or having to abandon any pretense of having a life outside of your monastic self-discipline?

   Quite a lot of force-sensitives opt to join the Hedi – even if they’ve never heard of them and there isn’t an actual Hedi organization. After all, no formal training is required.

   You want to be a Hedi?

   Here are the rules:

  1. Start self-medicating. This is Star Wars. Go ahead; name whatever-it-is you’re using.
  2. Take a basic -1d6 penalty on EVERYTHING you do.
  3. Take an additional -1d6 penalty on the use of Force skills.
  4. Take an additional -1d6 penalty on EVERYTHING you do for every two full Dark Side points you have. If you want to overcome embedded habits like that, you’ll need to up the dosage.
  5. You CANNOT gain Dark Side points, no matter how you use the Force or act up. Neither, however, can you summon up the hostility to use any Force power that would normally result in an automatic gain of one or more Dark Side points – and, if you act out of character (anything other than being mellow and a bit vague), the GM is free to assume that you’ve stopped taking your medications and penalize you accordingly.
  6. You must take care not to run out of, or stop taking, your drugs. If you do, you will lose your immunity to gaining Dark Side points – but your penalties will only go away at a rate of 1d6 per week thanks to the withdrawal symptoms. In addition, going “Cold Turkey” will almost certainly result in gaining a Dark Side point anyway.
  7. If you wish to wean yourself off your medications without gaining a Dark Side point, you’ll need medical assistance to gradually taper off and to spend 10 experience points re-learning the emotional control and self-discipline you’ve allowed to atrophy – and you’ll be back to being a normal force-sensitive.

   Unlike many of the other orders, the Hedi don’t have a “uniform” – even if they do have a distinctive look of their own. It comes of not caring much about what they look like or about social conventions. They tend toward scurfiness, eccentric modes of dress, and color combinations that would make a normal person wince – simply because they choose them based on what appeals to them when they look into their wardrobe or go clothes shopping, and they’re all doped up at any given moment.