Continuum II Psychic Powers Part III – Psychic Senses, Psychokinetic Effects, Telepathic Functions, and Will Force.

The Psychic Wheel arrangement, with its selection of opposing, near-opposing, related, and unrelated disciplines, was a fundamental part of Continuum II’s psychic ability systems – rather like AD&D’s, or d20’s, separation of spellcasting into Arcane (Wizard / Sorcerer, or, in AD&D Illusionist) and Divine (Cleric / Druid) fields, or the later introduction of things like Pact Magic, Incarnum, Shadow Magic, and Truename Magic. It meant that there were ten basic types of Psychic Adepts, each with their own capabilities and methods of solving problems. An adept would probably dabble a bit in related fields – those only one or two places removed on the Wheel – but would be entirely barred from the oppositional and near-oppositional disciplines. If you were a master of Psychokinetic Effects, then the disciplines of Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, and Natural Forces were beyond your reach. Did you also dabble a bit in Will Force? That would bar you from the Psychic Senses discipline as well. Combined with the choices between Psychomancy (with the option to dabble in C’hi and Introspection powers) and Psionics (and the option to dabble in Empyrean Magic), the net result was to offer several hundred variants on the “psychic” even before they started selecting and customizing their disciplines and other skills. A master of Heightened Talents who dabbled in Psychic Senses might breeze through an investigative scenario – but it would be his partner, a master of Dimensional Warps, who would allow him or her to follow a trail of clues across the solar system in a few hours.

Across the decades, and a hundred or so Psychic characters, the players never did come up with two who were much alike.

Psychic Senses are – at their most basic – powered-up Introspection effects, using psychic energy to modulate, amplify, and extend the user’s natural energy aura while analyzing the resulting interactions with the environment. “Passive” effects rely on picking up energy emanations, just as physical sight relies on picking up radiated photons, and can massively extend the sensitivity, range, and analytic functions of the user’s basic senses. Active abilities rely on extending the user’s energies to actually probe the universe directly – but in either case the Psychic Senses are amongst the most subtle and low-powered psychic abilities since they make no attempt to manipulate the world, but simply observe it. Active abilities cost a bit more, and may be detectable – but even with them it isn’t easy. Unfortunately, that same subtlety makes it easy for users to fool themselves – allowing their own preconceptions and desires to override the subtle cues of their discipline. Psychic Senses are thus incompatible with the Will Force abilities, which rely on throwing massive amounts of raw power into simply overwriting the structure of chunks of the universe, rather than accepting what’s there already. Psychic Senses are closely related to the subtle psychic-energy projection of the Telepathic Functions and to the still-subtle, if more active, manipulations of environmental energy fields employed by the Natural Forces discipline.

Psychokinetic Effects channel energy into the purely material realm, using it to move, re-arrange, and manipulate matter while suppressing the array of action-reaction and related conservation rules that would normally either make such remote-action and reactionless manipulations impossible or – at the least – turn the user’s brain into pulp. Like most natural law violations, this makes this discipline fairly expensive to use, with the energy cost scaling as a function of the mass involved and the degree of fine control required. It also makes Psychokinetic Effects fundamentally opposed to Heightened Talents, which focus on the subtle augmentation of the user’s personal abilities in accordance with the laws of nature instead. They are, however, closely related to the deeper law-negation of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the blunt power-surges and energy redirection of the Energy Manipulation abilities.

Telepathic Functions rely on a complex array of mental effects, combining the subtle energy patterns of neurological fields and the purely mental conceptual patterns of the astral level to generate empyrean constructs – channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into their target’s minds. The effective use of abilities in the Telepathic Functions category demands great concentration and precisely controlled thought patterns – although these talents often do not carry over into other activities. Operating primarily on the central nervous system and mind these abilities use comparatively little power. Overall, the fine control of energy patterns makes the Telepathic Functions closely related to the Energy Manipulation abilities, while the fine control of thought patterns and sensitivity to subtle energies are closely related to the psychic senses. However, concentrating on subtle mental effects make this list the “opposite” of Personal Control abilities which concentrate on the physical plane and body through continuous unconscious awareness of it.

Will Force abilities basically bludgeon reality into submission – hammering “What IS” with percipient will and raw psychic power until it gives way, reality breaks, and the user can substitute “What I Want It To Be” for whatever lost chunk of consensus reality used to be in his or her way. While this has all the subtlety of crushing houses with a wrecking ball, and is hideously expensive to boot, it is also versatile, fast, and (if backed by sufficient power) potentially extremely potent – and so Will Force is often a favored discipline for adventurers. Fairly obviously, it’s closely related to the law-negating effects of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the willful denial of reality and the imposition of a desired pattern used by the Personal Control discipline. Also obviously, it’s utterly opposed to the Psychic Senses discipline, which focuses on subtly probing and exploiting what is rather than what you wish the universe to be. Accepting the universe as it is incapacitates Will Force abilities, while trying to make it what you want blocks psychic senses.

Psychic Senses, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Classification
02 Alertness
03 Clairvoyance
04 Clairaudience
05 Compatibility Scan
06 Detect (Various)
07 Detection Screen
08 Dowsing
09 Lesser Divination
10 Lifesense
11 Magnetosense
12 Nightvision
13 Nymic Awareness
14 Pathfinder
15 Postcognition
16 Psychic Analysis
17 Psychic Scan
18 Psychic Tracking
19 Psychometry
20 Radar Sense
21 Second Sight
22 Signature Analysis
23 Social Perception
24 Spherical Awareness
25 Stress Perception
26 Surface Persona
27 Surveillance Detection
28 Timesensor
29 Truthsense

Psychic Senses, Major Abilities:

01 Ability Analysis
02 Aura Reading
03 Clairsentience
04 Cosmic Awareness
05 Danger Sense
06 Deepsight
07 Design Analysis
08 Electromagnetics
09 Elemental Sense
10 Falsification
11 Grab Bag
12 Greater Divination
13 Intuit Traps
14 Mystic Analysis
15 Perceptor
16 Precognition
17 Psychic Sensitive
18 Seekersense
19 Sensory Enhancement
20 Sensory Merge
21 Structural Probe
22 Systems Scan
23 Technic Analysis
24 Trigger Perception
25 Weakness Detection

Psychokinetic Effects, Minor Abilities:

01 Acrobatics
02 Armor Construction
03 Body Equilibrium
04 Camouflage
05 Clothing Shift
06 Containment Field
07 Detoxification
08 Dispersal
09 Fractionation
10 Fracturing
11 Gravity Compensation
12 Hindrance Field
13 Immovability
14 Kinetic Bolt
15 Levitation
16 Material Fusion
17 Mechanical Control
18 Mechanism Control
19 Missile Control
20 Muscle Override
21 Personal Force Field
22 Refining
23 Shockwave
24 Stabilize Material
25 Toughening
26 Ventriloquism

Psychokinetic Effects, Major Abilities:

01 Crystallization
02 Environment Control
03 Exokinetic Field
04 Filtration Field
05 Flight
06 Flow Patterning
07 Force Barriers
08 Gathering
09 Ice Creation
10 Inertial Damping
11 Internal Kinesis
12 Kinetic Charging
13 Material Control (Various)
14 Matrix Construction
15 Matter Simulation
16 Molding
17 Molecular Energetics
18 Molecular Patterning
19 Molecular Restructuring
20 Particle Manipulation
21 Plasma Manipulation
22 Poltergeist
23 Positional Lock
24 Reflection
25 Repulsion Fields
26 Solidification
27 Sonic Control
28 Stasis Field Projection
29 Telekinesis
30 Transmutation
31 Vibratory Powers

Telepathic Functions, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Inhibition
02 Animal Telepathy
03 Attitude Sense
04 Calming
05 Charm
06 Decision Override
07 Domination
08 Dreamweaving
09 Emotion Boosting
10 Empathy
11 ESP
12 Hypnosis
13 Illusion Casting
14 Implant Memory
15 Invisibility
16 Mindlink
17 Mindlock
18 Mindshout
19 Mindwipe
20 Patterning
21 Phantom Slayer
22 Psychic Shield
23 Rapid Teaching
24 Sensory Tap
25 Skill Borrowing
26 Suggestion
27 Tongues
28 Truthsense
29 Vertigo Induction
30 Voicing

Telepathic Functions, Major Abilities:

01 Combat Scan
02 Compulsion Planting
03 Confusion
04 Deep Conditioning
05 Deep Probe
06 Emotion Projection
07 Gestalt Operations
08 Glamours
09 Group Manipulation
10 Inhibition Blocking
11 Insignificance
12 Mental Analysis
13 Mental Disguise
14 Mental Feedback
15 Mental Surgery
16 Mindhealing
17 Mindriding
18 Mindscan
19 Mindtoxin
20 Mindtraps
21 Overtone Analysis
22 Overworld Manipulation
23 Project Madness
24 Psychic Bolt
25 Psychic Bonding
26 Psychic Purging
27 Psychic Transfer
28 Skill Duplication
29 Subliminal Telepathy
30 Telepathy

Will Force, Minor Abilities:

01 Aspect Assumption
02 Characteristic Focus
03 Command
04 Compensation
05 Computer Emulation
06 Convulsion Projection
07 Emotional Control
08 Enhancer
09 Focused Strike
10 Great Shout
11 Intimidation
12 Lock Keying
13 Mental Barrier
14 Mindpool
15 Neural Support
16 Omnifocusing
17 Oratory
18 Override Control
19 Polarity Shield
20 Potential Conversion
21 Psychic Catalyst
22 Psychic Citadel
23 Psychic Damper
24 Resist Death
25 Sensory Overload
26 Task Focus
27 Temporal Fixator
28 Virtual Creation, En
29 Will Focus
30 Willcrystal
31 Willshield

Will Force, Major Abilities:

01 Absolute Command
02 Chaos Manipulation
03 Compression
04 Cure Insanity (Reversible)
05 Damage Transfer
06 Dimensional Fixiator
07 Free Movement
08 Function Disruption
09 Function Enhancement
10 Function Reversal
11 Great Presence
12 Hieronymus Device
13 Illusory Travel
14 Imprinting
15 Mystic Resistance
16 Order Imposition
17 Pattern Shift
18 Plasticizing
19 Probability Shifting
20 Psyche Theft
21 Psychic Enhancement
22 Reality Insertion
23 Selective Enhancement
24 Selfmerger
25 Sensory Manipulation
26 Shattering
27 Spell Holding
28 Subjugation
29 Trace Amplification
30 Virtual Creation

Continuum II Psychic Powers Part II – Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, Natural Forces, and Personal Control.

And today it’s a few more of the Continuum II Psionic Disciplines.

Heightened Talents disciplines use a complex array of positive (for ability amplification) and negative (to keep the user’s mind from burning out) feedback loops to anchor the idealized skills and concepts of the astral plane into the user’s physical body – allowing the user to temporarily achieve incredible levels of skill and ability within particular fields. While this is subject to the natural limits of the user’s body and mind, and to the fact that the ideal concepts of the astral plane tend to be “generic” enough to apply to many worlds and dimensions, it’s also rather low cost. After all, it is quite possible to become an expert engineer, brilliant tactician, or deductive genius without any psychic powers at all. Psychic powers just make it easier. It should come as no surprise that Heightened Talents are closely related to the subtle, self-balancing empyrean (the physical-astral interface) Life Energy Manipulation abilities and to the equally subtle – if external – field manipulations of Natural Forces abilities. Equally unsurprisingly, the rules-warping Psychokinetic Abilities – which rely on the distortion of the principles governing physical bodies – are utterly antithetical to Heightened Talents, since they grossly disrupt that controlling feedback, allowing the positive feedback loops to build into uncontrollable destructive oscillations.

Life Energy Manipulations operate primarily on the Empyrean Interface, where the Astral Plane intersects with the Material – the location of the “life-force”. While this allows the users to readily manipulate the energies of that realm to help or harm, it tends to focus their attention on the Empyrean and the subtle energy fields associated with life. After all, without that focus and concentration, the user’s own energy fields will interfere with anything they try to do. Still, once the user achieves the necessary level of control, the amount of power required to manipulate those subtle fields is relatively small – making Life Energy Manipulations one of the more efficient disciplines to use. Naturally enough, the field is fairly closely related to equally-internal, if far less finely-controlled and feedback-driven Personal Control abilities and to Life Energy Manipulations, as shown above. It is incompatible with the feedback-damping “hit it with raw power” effects of Energy Manipulation abilities, since those require blocking the subtle feedback that Life Energy Manipulations require.

Natural Forces abilities are focused on external feedback – channeling the user’s energies into tapping and manipulating the natural, environmental, energy fields of the world around the user. Thanks to the sheer scale of such forces, such manipulation usually focuses on subtle guidance rather than raw force – but there are plenty of available energy potentials in the natural world that are just waiting to be unleashed, making the personal power requirements of these abilities relatively moderate. Such fields include morphogenic fields (that help govern forms and their development), probability fields, the environmental fields of the earth, air, waters, and life, “ley lines” and magical nexi, and various planetary, stellar, and quantum fields – although few user’s attempt to interact with those since making a mistake while meddling with such forces can have disastrous effects. Unfortunately, while the Natural Forces disciplines often have broad applications and implications, the effects of these disciplines often tend to be relatively subtle and slow, and so only a few of them find much favor with adventurers. Obviously enough the Natural Forces discipline is directly opposed by the Dimensional Warps discipline, which focuses entirely on tearing apart and blowing holes in the subtle fields that Natural Forces abilities seek to manipulate. While they operate on a larger scale, Natural Forces abilities are fairly closely akin to the subtle feedback manipulations of Heightened Talents and to the Psychic Senses focus on gently probing reality without distorting it.

Personal Control abilities operate by channeling energy into the users body, using it to establish rigid control over the users personal molecules and energy fields. The discipline thus offers a powerful defensive suite; as long as you have enough power you can simply shrug off the effects of a wide variety of attacks and environmental effects, Even better, the intensely personal nature of the discipline keeps the costs relatively low compared to many other disciplines. Unfortunately, those same factors generally limit the discipline to personal-only powers and the offensive functions are quite limited. The emphasis on the brute-force channeling of energy through the Empyrean and into the user’s physical body makes Personal Control abilities the opposite of the Telepathic Functions, which focus on channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into other people’s minds – one exercising fine control on the physical level and the other on the purely conceptual level. Personal Control is related to the Will Force disciplines, which focus on channeling raw power into an area to simply “overwrite” whatever is already there and “natural” results and to the Life Energy Manipulation abilities, which also focus on the empyrean interface with the physical body – if in a far more subtle fashion.

What I have here seems to be some older, shorter, discipline lists. If I turn up the longer lists, I’ll update these. There should be some full descriptions around for at least some of the powers too, but I haven’t found those up yet.

Heightened Talents, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Friend
02 Artistic
03 Balance
04 Charismatic
05 Craftsman
06 Deduction
07 Economic
08 Eidetic Memory
09 Engineering
10 Leadership
11 Mathematics
12 Military
14 Operator
15 Perception
16 Performer
17 Persuasive
18 Precision
19 Programmer
20 Psychology
21 Recognizer
22 Residue Focusing
23 Science
24 Sensitive
25 Stealth
26 Thought Embedment
27 Timekeeper

Heightened Talents, Major Abilities:

01 Analogue Construction
02 Archetype Assumption
03 Artificer
04 Auric Repulsion
05 Combat Awareness
06 Cultural Adaption
07 Dreamsearch
08 Empathic Healer
09 Empathic Predictor
10 Intuitive Physician
11 Logician/Computer
12 Milieu Affinity
13 Multiple Tracking
14 Pattern Detection
15 Power Embedment
16 Probability Calculator
17 Psychic Reservoir
18 Racemind Tapping
19 Residue Shaping
20 Ritual Channeling
21 Role Assumption
22 Sensory Awareness
23 Sensory Interpretation
24 Translation
25 Voice
26 Weaponsmaster

Life Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Age Shift
02 Aura Stabilization
03 Biofield Perception
04 Cause (Various)
05 Characteristic Drain
06 Cure (Various)
07 Damage Control
08 Death Touch
09 Devitalization
10 Empathic Bond
11 Fatigue Banishing
12 Flesh Shaping
13 Healing Sleep
14 Induced Aging
15 Life Channeling
16 Life Support
17 Parasitic Link
18 Personality Imbuement
19 Potential Tapping
20 Repel Undead
21 Resist Life Energy Manipulation
22 Shadow Casting
23 Suspension
24 Vital Points

Life Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Animation
02 Avatar Projection
03 Cellular Adjustment
04 Control Undead
05 Duplication
06 Ectoplasmic Control
07 Genetic Restructuring
08 Life Energy Restoration
09 Lifeform Analysis
10 Life Surge
11 Nerveblock
12 Neural Control
13 Physiological Regulator
14 Power Absorption
15 Power Bestowal
16 Power Drain
17 Regeneration Induction
18 Rejuvenation
19 Revival
20 Sending Creation
21 Simulacrum
22 Transition
23 Transplantation
24 Undead Creation
25 Vampirism

Natural Forces, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Control
02 Animal Powers (Various)
03 Banishment
04 Biosphere Tapping
05 Catalysis
06 Entity Projection
07 Flame Manipulation
08 Hibernation
09 Inhibitor
10 Limited Adaption
11 Luck Manipulation
12 Milieu Empathy (Various)
13 Natural Weaponry
14 Plant Control
15 Plantspeech
16 Potence
17 Seachange
18 Skinchange
19 Worldscan

Natural Forces, Major Abilities:

01 Adhesion Control
02 Animal Imitation
03 Binding Field Manipulation
04 Bioform Expansion
05 De-evolution
06 Diffusion Control
07 Elemental Control (Various)
08 Entrophic Projection
09 Event Catalysis
10 Event Inhibition
11 Friction Manipulation
12 Full Adaption
13 Gravity Channeling
14 Probability Warping
15 Racial Memory
16 Schrodinger Collapse
17 Seamaster
18 Shapeshifter
19 Spirit Binding
20 Transformation
21 Weather Control
22 Worldshaping

Personal Control, Minor Abilities:

01 Adaptive Regulation
02 Anasensence
03 Biocybrenetic Link
04 Bioelectrics
05 Bouncing
06 Clinging
07 Damage Resistance
08 Desentization
09 Disguise Shapeshift
10 Endurance Enhancement
11 Focusing
12 Gaseous Form (Var)
13 Hasting
14 Life Suspension
15 Merging
16 Omnidigestion
17 Pheromone Manipulation
18 Pressure Hardening
19 Reflex Enhancement
20 Regeneration
21 Resist (Various)
22 Restorative Trance
23 Self Sustenance
24 Self Weaponry
25 Sensory Override
26 Specific Transform
27 Sprinting
28 Strength Enhancement
29 Symbiotic Adjustment
29 Sympathetic Projection

Personal Control, Major Abilities:

01 Absorption
02 Adaption
03 Adrenal Surge
04 Atmospheric Adaption
05 Attribute Shift
06 Biophysical Control
07 Density Increase
08 Elasticity
09 Elemental Merging
10 Energy Resistance
11 Extended Senses
12 Hypersenses
13 Hyperspeed
14 Immortality
15 Intangibility
16 Kinetic Resistance
17 Metabolic Control
18 Neural Surge
19 Non-corporeality
20 Pattern Lockout
21 Pattern Stabilization
22 Phase Shift
23 Self-Transmutation
24 Shapechanging
25 Shielded Focusing
26 Steelskin
27 Thermal Control
28 Tranceshield
29 Venom Generation

Continuum II – Psychic Ability Upgrades, Dimensional Warps, and Energy Manipulation

Continuum II Psionic Abilities were – once again – minor (2 Point) and Major (3 Points) skills – and could be built up or modified by spending more skill points on them, just like any other skill. Unlike more mundane skills, however, Psionic Abilities involved the channeling and manipulation of exotic energies – and so there were a lot more options available for spending skill points than the usual “take a die off the check to get better odds”.

Thus, if you had the Minor Energy Manipulation Ability “Energy Bolt” you could lob around bolts of energy. You wanted to train a stubborn dog by giving it a light electrical zap whenever it went insane with barking at guests again? That’s a “Trivial” application. Melting an ordinary lock or getting your campfire going with wet wood? That’s pretty “Basic”. Throw a bolt at a nearby enemy? That one is – fairly obviously for an offensive ability in a RPG – “Basic”. Extra damage or throwing in a stunning or knockback effect or explosive on that basic blast? That’s probably “normal”. Hit two targets who are standing fairly close together? That might be a bit “Tricky”. Send a bolt arcing through three hostage-holders without touching the hostage? That would probably be “Advanced” unless there were special circumstances involved. Hold your power output even enough to substitute for your ships burnt-out electrical generator? That’s definitely pretty “Complex”. Those things have fairly tight tolerances. Trigger just the circuit you need to get that sealed door open? That’s blatantly “Absurd” – and you’d be a LOT better off using a more appropriate power.

Common ways to upgrade a psionic ability with skill points included:

  • Reduced Cost: Shift one column to the right on the cost chart. You could get this more than once, but couldn’t get off the chart.
  • Specialties: Reduce the application level by one (for relatively broad specialties) or two (for very narrow specialties) ranks. Specialties could be virtually anything. Area Effects? Piercing Defenses? Multiple Strikes? Explosions? Buffering Defenses? Increased Range?
  • Warding: You were never harmfully affected by your own power – although indirect effects, such as bringing down the ceiling, will endanger you normally.

As an option, if you came up with some way to seriously limit your power that the game master felt was reasonable, you could apply a free upgrade. So if you were limited to “Fire” (or, more accurately, low-density plasma) instead of energy in general… you could get a free upgrade, albeit only one.

Now, as for a couple of the specific lists…

“Dimensional Warp” abilities suppress a portion of the local structure of a dimension – such as a natural law or two, the dimensions of space, the structure of time, or some other principle, leaving little in the place of the suppressed principle but the fundamentals of existence – Sequence, Separation, Will (or Life), and Transformation (or Death) – filling that void with the user’s will. As such… they pit the user’s power against the metaphysical inertia of the universe and the massed will of those who inhabit it. The only thing that lets Dimensional Warps operate at all is that the user is generally only attempting to affect a very small area (at least when compared to the universe). Even so, Dimensional Warp abilities tend to be extremely expensive to use. On the other hand, the difficulty tends to depend on the size of the thing affected – not on it’s mass or the amount of energy involved. If you really need to get rid of an unstable quantum singularity, this is the discipline for you.

Naturally enough, the principles of Dimensional Warps are closely related to the Will Force and Psychokinetic Disciplines (which function by related forms of distorting natural laws as opposed to negating them entirely) and oppose Natural Forces (which subtly enhance and guide the local natural laws), Psychic Senses (which rely on gently probing what exists rather than trying to redefine it), and Heightened Talents (which rely on subtle amplification of what is already present rather than on breaking it down).

Energy Manipulation abilities are pretty straightforward: you reach out with your mind and channel raw energy – forcing it to do what you want. Unfortunately, since you’re running a mental interface with that energy, the big trick is to not let enough of it backlash through that interface to destroy your brain. Worse, maintaining such rigid control is power-intensive in itself – and dissipating what waste energies do manage to leak through (there are invariably some) costs even more. There is a reason why so many energy manipulators tend to be obsessed with their specialities, or pay little attention to endangering others, or seem intoxicated by their own power, or are otherwise a bit crazy – and it’s gradually-accumulating brain damage. Masters of Energy Manipulation always have the option to pay a little less psychic strength or push their limits and accept the resulting backlash – but it’s not a good idea to do it very often.

As such, the Energy Manipulation abilities are the opposite of the subtle, internal, disciplines of Life Energy Manipulation, with it’s emphasis on negative feedback loops and self-balancing systems. It’s generally not compatible with the subtle feedback required by Heightened Talents (since it focuses on blocking out such feedback as much as possible) or with the deeply personalized and internal amplifications typical of the Personal Control disciplines. It is, however, related to the imposition of pattern on psychic energies that the Telepathic Functions require and to the similar, but larger-scale, manipulations of the Psychokinetic Effects.

Dimensional Warp, Minor Abilities:

01 Blink Teleport
02 Coordinate Lock
03 Corridor Creation
04 Defensive Shunt
05 Dimensional Adaption
06 Dimensional Awareness
07 Dimensional Navigator
08 Disassembly
09 Displacement
10 Far Traveling
11 Folding
12 Gas Shunting
13 Gate Keying
14 Growth
15 Image Projection
16 Inertial Focusing
17 Inertial Null
18 Kinetic Matching
19 Linking
20 Otherplane Touch
21 Pocket Warp
22 Psychic Surgery
23 Shrinking
24 Space Distortion
25 Stabilization
26 Thought Oscillation
27 Tramline Generation
28 Wards
29 Warp Probe
30 Warp Rebound
31 Warp Tapping
32 Warp Tracing

Dimensional Warps, Major Abilities:

01 Apportion
02 Aspect Shift
03 Astral Projection
04 Axis Reduction
05 Axis Rotation
06 Block Transfer
07 Conjuration
08 Dimensional Lock
09 Dodging
10 Doppelganger
11 Etherealness
12 Geodesic Distortion
13 Hypershunt
14 Internal Gateway
15 Kinetic Shunt
16 Law Suspension
17 Matter Projection
18 Partial Phase
19 Personal Limbo
20 Plane Shift
21 Portal Generation
22 Power Source Creation
23 Reality Bubble
24 Refraction
25 Scattering
26 Stardrive
27 Summoning
28 Teleportation
29 Temporal Fugue
30 Temporal Shift
31 Time Manipulation
32 Warp Anchor
33 Warp Manipulation

Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Attuned Field
02 Cloaking
03 Conduction Field
04 Corona
05 Cybrenetic Telepath
06 Disintegration
07 Disruption Touch
08 Energy Analysis
09 Energy Bolt
10 Energy Imbuement
11 Energy Stabilization
12 Energy Storage
13 Holographic Illusion
14 Illuminator
15 Insulating Field
16 Invisibility
17 Multibolt
18 Nonresistance
19 Personal Shield
20 Plasma Generation
21 Potential Binding
22 Psychic Ground
23 Psychic Source
24 Psychic Seal
25 Reflection
26 Shadow Generation
27 Solidification
28 Storage Field
29 Tachyon Manipulation
30 Weapon Focus

Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Amplification
02 Damping Field
03 Electrokinesis
04 Energy Absorption
05 Energy Animation
06 Energy Barriers
07 Energy Channeling
08 Energy Conversion
09 Energy Dissipation
10 Energy Doppelganger
11 Energy Focusing
12 Energy Form
13 Energy Patterning
14 Energy Pulse
15 Energy Redirection
16 Energy Screens
17 Field Manipulation
18 Jamming Field
19 Kinetic Transfer
20 Magnetic Control
21 Minimization
22 Mystic round
23 Mystic Sourcing
24 Negative Energy Manipulation
25 Pattern Stabilization
26 Pattern Suspension
27 Photon Manipulation
28 Radiation Manipulation
29 Seeking Field
30 Sonic Manipulation
31 Technic Ground
32 Technic Sourcing

Continuum II, Basics of Psychomancy and Psionics

The “Psychic Wheel*” is a graphical representation of how Continuum II’s various psychic powers are interrelated and function:

*This version is a bit sloppy because the original was generated with a version of AutoCAD more than thirty years ago, and even if I could find the original file, I doubt that it would open properly in any modern application. Ergo, I slapped this version together in a basic graphics program by eye.

  • Your personal psychic power reserve – often known as your “Third Eye” or “Chakra” – occupies the center of the wheel. Having a fair reserve of psychic power is pretty much a requirement for the controlled use of psychic powers.
  • The triangle of internally-centered personal energy manipulation powers – Introspection, C’hi, and Mentalism – appears one level out. Their proximity to the various Disciplines shows what they can be used to do.
  • The ten primary disciplines of Psychomancy (fueled by purely personal power) and Psionics (fueled by using personal power to tap into external power sources) occupying the power wheel. Related disciplines are, of course, closer together, while opposing disciplines on the other side of the wheel are pretty much the opposite of their counterparts, and are generally incompatible. As a mnemonic, Psychomancy approaches those disciplines from the inside of the wheel while Psionics approaches them from the outside.
  • Finally, beyond the Wheel, we have the many disciplines of Empyrean Magic – powered by ambient psychic energies, popular images, memes, cultures, beliefs, and all the other detritus of the worlds’s minds. Unfortunately, this means that it’s unreliable and difficult to control. If you call upon the “Spirit Of Christmas” or “The Mother Of The Race”, or of a popular cliche or meme, you can never be sure of how much power there is in it or exactly what it’s going to do. It’s not uncommon for characters to dabble in Empyrean Magic despite those flaws since it’s pretty easy to learn and use.

Basic Psychic Strength Point Costs :

Attempted

Application:

Dimensional
Warps and
Will Force
Psychokinetics and Energy
Manipulation
Personal
Control and
Natural Forces
Life Energy
Manipulations
and Telepathy
Psychic Senses
and Heightened
Talents
Trivial 5 to 10 2 to 5 1 to 4 1 to 3 1 to 2
Basic 10 to 20 3 to 8 3 to 6 2 to 4 1 to 3
Normal 15 to 25 5 to 12 4 to 9 3 to 5 2 to 4
Tricky 20 to 35 8 to 20 6 to 12 4 to 6 3 to 5
Advanced 30 to 45 15 to 25 9 to 20 5 to 10 4 to 7
Complex 40 to 60 20 to 35 12 to 25 8 to 20 5 to 10
Absurd 50 to 120+ 30 to 60+ 20 to 40+ 12 to 30+ 8 to 12+
  • Dimensional Warps and Will Force abilities cost twice as much for psychomancers.
  • Psychokinetic and Energy-Manipulation abilites cost twice as much for psychomancers if they’re attempting a high-energy effect, but have a normal cost otherwise.
  • Mentalists attempting to use Psychic Senses and Heightened Talents use the “Dimensional Warps” column.
  • Mentalists attempting to use Life Energy Manipulations or Telepathic Functions use the “Psychokinetics” cost column.
  • The “Attempted Application” row to use is a judgement call. Throwing a lightning bolt at someone using “Energy Bolt” from the energy manipulation list is a “basic” use. Using it as a welding arc is “advanced”, and powering a delicate circuit with it is “absurd”. Electrokinesis offers considerably more flexibility and control – but using electrokinesis to generate that same lightning bolt is at least a “normal” task. Worse, attempting to use disciplines in “advanced” (Or higher) fashions often requires success rolls.

Empyrean Transfer Impedance is the primary limitation on the operation of psychic powers within a dimension. It measures the resistance to, and the quantity of waste energy generated by, moving energy through the empyrean.

  • At values of 6+ psychic abilities do not function in any way, including most of the subconscious feedback effects involved in social interactions. Few universes have such a base value, although zones are occasionally generated.
  • ETI Values of 5+ prohibit the development of disciplined psychic abilities save, perhaps, for the few characters with massive natural talents and many years to practice. Even they will be limited to introspective disciplines. Fortunately, the unconscious social aspects of introspection will operate – as will occasional flashes of C’hi powers (This phenomena is generally limited to occasions of extreme psychic stress and moments of complete focus. It’s responsible for things like “Hysterical Strength” – and is extremely hard on the user’s system).
  • Values of 4+ allow the practical development of Introspection (and C’hi, in the case of exceptional natural talents).
  • A value of 3+ allows the practical development of C’hi (and Psychomancy with an exceptional natural talent).
  • Values of 2+ allow the practical development of Psychomancy (and Psionics with an exceptional natural talents.
  • Values of 1+ allow the practical development of Psionics. If sufficient energy sources are available, and no other inhibiting factors are involved, psionics can accomplish remarkable things.
  • If the ETI value is less then one, those using psionics may multiply the cost of using their abilities by it. Sadly, very low ETI values are only typical of the most extreme comic-book-style worlds.

Special cases include Superstition (Making use of the energies which have been absorbed by individual objects. This requires an ETI value of 3 or less), Empyrean Magic (The use of ambient psychic energy. This requires an ETI value of 2 or less), Aura (Basically psionics drawing on the general population for power. This can get very odd, and requires an ETI value of 1 or less) – and Mentalism (Feeding external energies into the empyrean through the user’s psyche. This can be used at ETI values 4 or less – but the higher the value is, the greater the strain on the user. In general, a value of 3 is the the practical limit – and a value of 2 or less is strongly recommended).

GM’s may create dimensions with fractional ETI values if they so desire. Values between 4 and 5 permit limited Introspection. Those between 3 and 4 have similar effects on C’hi powers;

  • X.1) Powers may not be developed past the sixth level.
  • X.2) Powers may not be developed past the fifth level.
  • X.3) Abilities cost an extra skill point to develop.
  • X.4) Powers may not be developed past the fourth level.
  • X.5) Powers may not be developed past the third level.
  • X.6) Abilities cost two extra skill points to develop.
  • X.7) Powers may not be developed past the second level.
  • X.8) Powers may not be developed past the first level.
  • X.9) Abilities cost three extra skill points to develop and may not be developed past the first level.

Psychomancy and Psionics take less internal precision – but are limited by how much energy can be channeled into an effect, making some branches impossible to develop…

  • X.1) Prohibits Dimensional Warps disciplines.
  • X.2) Also prohibits Will Force disciplines.
  • X.3) Also prohibits Energy Manipulation disciplines.
  • X.4) Also prohibits Psychokinetic disciplines.
  • X.5) Also prohibits Natural Forces disciplines.
  • X.6) Also prohibits Personal Control disciplines.
  • X.7) Also prohibits Life Energy Manipulations.
  • X.8) Also prohibits Telepathic Functions.
  • X.9) Also prohibits Heightened Talents disciplines.

Other options are available… These include; raising the cost, rather then prohibiting fields and skill levels, “favoring” specific fields – and many other modifications. “Local” dimensional laws are highly variable...

Continuum II – Optional Attributes Conclusion, Attributes That Aren’t Recommended

First up, for the rest of the optional attributes list…

Grace measures a characters “talent” for dealing with social situations politely and diplomatically. It covers etiquette, manners, soothing conflicts – and acting as a member of the “upper class”. A high grace score helps a great deal when interacting with “sophisticated” people, while a low one may mark you as an uncouth barbarian. It is less effective with unsophisticated peoples – but the basic ability to handle social situations smoothly is of value almost anywhere, except around the occasional real “uncouth barbarian”.

Influence measures a characters ability to manipulate events on a large scale, whether through money, politics and intrigue, calling in favors, supplying wise council, mystic influences, through family or through some other means. Characters with high influence scores are rare – and often have “difficulties” with intrigue, people trying to use, replace, or discredit, them, anyone who wants something, requests for favors, and simply being watched. Being a V.I.P. can be nice, but it can also be a tremendous pain in the ass. Extreme cases should beware of assassins.

Intuition measures a characters psychic sensitivity and ability to detect occult disturbances – as well as his or her ability to guess correctly. High intuitions make characters difficult to surprise and allow them to extract far more information from any situation then is strictly reasonable, but also leave them open to various forms of psychic disturbances, inclined to weird premonitions – and subject to bizarre mood swings, headaches, and pains, as a result of events occurring somewhere or somewhen else. A high intuition score is also very useful in Powershaping and related magical fields.

Karma isn’t necessarily “good” or “bad”. It simply measures the likelihood of weird things happening to, or around, the character. Characters with high karma scores are marked by fate, whether for good or ill. Coincidence may preserve them at one moment simply to dump them into the middle of some unlikely disaster a moment later. It may be divine intervention, consequences of a past life, or simply luck, but it happens. On the other hand, those with low scores can plan ahead with far more confidence, and if fate is less likely to preserve them, it’s also a lot less likely to feed them to the meatgrinder. It is possible to get wholly “good” or “bad” karma via a Talent or disadvantage – but that is basically a form of Luck.

Learning Potential (AKA; “Potential“) is usually only needed when characters are getting a bit absurd. (Either by taking numerous skills at absurdly high (4+) ranks or by taking years off to gain an excessive number of skill points through study). Unfortunately for would-be powermongers, skills acquired through study tend to fade, and – no matter how much they study – many people simply are not capable of going beyond the master level. As a rule, a character may not gain more then (2/3 Potential) skill points via study and is limited to a maximum of 1/3 his or her score in skill rank. Neither limit applies on skill points acquired through level advancement.

Maneuver measures a character’s ability to move well; smoothly, gracefully, and with style. It’s important to acrobats, runners, swimmers, fliers, martial artists – and dancers. Maneuver rolls are generally required when the character wants to pull off some complex, high-speed, or otherwise difficult, stunt – a dive from a great height, stepping on the wall to corner at a full run, and so on – and have it look good as well as functional. As far as the martial arts go, high maneuver scores make the practacioner look good – and scores of 16+ allow the character to learn stylized forms without taking the associated penalty and to acquire time-consuming ones more quickly then usual.

Manipulation is a measure of a character’s ability to get other people to do what said character wants them to do through more-or-less peaceful means. Trickery, guile, phony emotional appeals, loaded wording, faulty logic, and similar social trickery are the essence of manipulation. While some degree of manipulation is a basic part of any social interaction, excessive manipulation is often very deeply resented. Trying to avoid manipulating people so as to avoid this is a form of manipulation in itself. As a rule a high manipulation score is a mixed blessing – and often leads to even your friends distrusting you.

Mental Coordination measures a character’s ability to handle complex or multiple simultaneous tasks. Examples range from the mundane (Answering a question while lifting weights and watching television reruns) to such more significant operations as using multiple psychic powers, using telekinesis in several differing ways at one time, maintaining some illusion while doing something else, or keeping a horse under control while fighting. Such tasks are normally assumed to be things that require a minimal level of concentration to perform. A task that requires more then that will count as two (or possibly even more) lesser tasks. By default, characters can normally handle three simple tasks at one time. As a side-benefit, those with high mental coordination scores receive a targeting bonus when employing psychically-based attacks. There is a small problem with having a high Mental Coordination score; it tends to give people the impression that you’re not really paying attention to them.

Morale is an attribute that generally only applies to NPC’s, although PC’s may use it if they so desire. It’s essentially a measurement of how much stress a character (or group) can handle before giving way. While this is most dramatic in battle, where a failure of morale means anything from a minimal-failure fighting retreat through a total-failure rout or surrender (whichever seems likely to result in survival), it can also mean taking a bribe, giving in to blackmail, deserting a post, stealing something from an employer, or simply refusing orders. While Morale generally assumes an external loyalty, characters who’s loyalty is only to themselves may also have morale scores, but in their case it represents self-confidence. Morale rolls vary a great deal. Retreat is less tempting if there’s someone standing behind you with a halberd. A wandering bum can be bribed far more easily then a well- paid executive – especially if said executive’s position is secure and has every prospect of remaining so. Despite claims, training and experience don’t raise morale. They simply change a character’s (or group’s) estimate of the situation and best course of action. Groups also learn the advantages of operating as a team – and gain confidence in the capabilities of the other group members. Discipline doesn’t raise morale either, but it does allow a group to lose morale in stages, rather then all at once. Undisciplined mobs tend to break, but a disciplined group tends to try to retreat or fall back while retaining organization. It requires several failures to cause a rout. Leader-types may make independent morale checks, modifying the troops roll by +/-1 for every 2 points by which they make their roll – but if such a leader is captured or slain another check must be made immediately with a similar penalty. Mere incapacitation calls for another check, but with no special penalty. Leaders who fail morale checks can be a considerable problem, since their followers automatically take a similar penalty. Morale rolls are also modified by emotional factors. Abandoning your wounded isn’t good for morale. Fanatic religious devotion or defending home and family bolsters it enormously. Being reinforced – or seeing allies winning – may nullify a recent failure. A character (or groups) initial morale varies depending on recruitment procedures and selectivity. Professional mercenaries tend to have high morale. Those who don’t get out of the profession. Conscript peasants usually have low morale. Volunteers vary. Morale rolls are usually required only when something in a situation changes for the worse – or when something is obviously a stupid idea.

Mysterium measures a characters skill at remaining an unknown. The higher the score, the harder it is for an investigator or normal acquaintance to find out anything about the character. What’s more, acquaintances often won’t notice that they know little or nothing about you. This sort of thing can be due to occult skills, inspired hacking, the fact that the courthouse burned down, simply being very, very, reticent and unobtrusive, be the work of some intelligence organization, or just the result of coincidence. Whatever the cause, a high mysterium score will start to drop if it’s possessor keeps giving out information. The disadvantage of “Mysterium” is that it affects everyone. Friends will have as much trouble finding you as enemies will. If you never appear on the news, you never get any credit. Allies can’t rely on your abilities when they’re unknown. Occasionally mysterium appears in conjunction with a “secret identity” – as in; “No one knows anything about the mysterious Professor Prometheus!”. While this keeps the required secrecy to one aspect of a characters life, it also means that losing that secret will utterly destroy all the mystery; “Look! It’s only Mr Hardshack!”

Power is a characters natural psychic strength potential, over and above the base accessible from his wisdom. It is important in Empyrean Magic (which taps it), during outbursts of “hysterical strength” and other instinctive uses of C’hi, resisting psychic attacks, and in enhancing other psychic powers. Sadly, Power generally cannot be tapped directly. It usually requires an emotional (or a stress- related) trigger to bring it out. As a side benefit such “triggers” bypass the usual point expenditure limits.

Protean is a rare trait among most races. It measures a character’s ability to accelerate and control his or her shapeshifting. Unfortunately, even a high Protean score doesn’t give a character shapeshfting powers. It simply indicates that he or she will be good at controlling any such abilities that he or she possesses or acquires. A high score does have a minor disadvantage for those with active shapeshifting powers; unless they maintain strict control they tend to give away a lot through unconscious shapeshfting (“I’m NOT Jealous of him!” “Then why are you growing fangs Michael?”) although this does depend a bit on the nature of the character’s shapeshifting abilities. Low scores may indicate difficulty in making use of such talents at all.

Recognition measures how famous and distinctive your character is. It does not measure how people will react to whatever a character is known for (That’s a matter of how the people who recognize you feel about what you do, and is a bit too complex for a simple score). A high score means that many of those you meet will “know” at least a bit about you – which can be both good and bad.

Sanity is a somewhat debatable attribute. It could be seen as a measure of how rational a person is, of how closely their mental “model” of the world corresponds to that of their culture, of how well they control bizarre/ antisocial drives – or simply of how willing they are to accept reality without filtering it through theories and preconceptions. Go far enough “out of bounds” on any of these and you’ll be considered crazy. Those who won’t or can’t realize that you must open the refrigerator before trying to put the milk in (failure of reason), believe that the earth is flat (failure of world-model), want to conquer the world and cannot restrain themselves (bizarre or antisocial desire), or refuse to accept that the car has a flat because they just put new tires on it (unwilling to accept reality), are insane by most standards. It doesn’t measure stability. It is perfectly possible to have a nice stable fixed delusion. In Continuum II, any character who has reasonable goals, goes about achieving them sensibly, and is willing to deal with reality as it is, is sane. Cultural expectations do not enter into it. Sanity is, however, a variable. When a character’s mental stability (QV; Wisdom) is overcome, his or her sanity will drop. When and if it hits zero. the character will usually “snap” temporarily – lapsing into shock, confusion, hysteria, or what-have-you. They then begin over again with their “basic” sanity score reduced by one point. The lower it goes, the odder they become. Sanity can be regained through time, meditation, therapy (the telepathic variety is usually best), defeating your personal fears – or simply facing (and winning out over) the things that bother you. Sanity can be increased in a similar fashion by collecting “extra” temporary points – but this is notoriously difficult. Optionally, each lost point of sanity may manifest as mental quirks, with more bothersome quirks being equated to two or more points. A character who’s “permanent” sanity score is reduced to 0 is effectively out of action unless drastic measures are taken – or considerable time passes. In real life, sanity is all too rare; a very high sanity score has its own, built-in, penalty. If you don’t play such a character accordingly the GM will probably reduce your experience point awards. If you do, you’ll miss out on a lot of things. The “sane” response is very often to stay out of whatever-it-is that’s going on…

Size is an extremely simple attribute; It’s how large a character is. As a rule, it’s pretty consistent within any one species. Really large characters can take more physical damage before going down, but are subject to innumerable major and minor problems, ranging from conspicuousness thru having to have custom-tailored clothing and armor, being unable to fit into compact cars, and being unable to find a horse that can carry you, up to occasionally falling through the floor. Extremely small characters are slightly more fragile and have trouble with things being oversized – but they do have an easier time sneaking around and getting out of the way. It’s important to shapeshifters if the game master is keeping track of details because most of them can only manage to take forms within two size points of their racial ranges (three if shapeshifting in water).

Standing measures a characters perceived status among some group. While said “group” is usually the population at large, others are certainly possible. Standing might also be used to measure military or organizational rank, how much of the underworld a character controls, whether a character is a white, black, or grey, mage (and whether various mystic beings will respond to your invocations), how much the other knights and nobles of the realm respect you (although even a standing three knight is far above the peasants), or simply how rich and influential you are. Of course, with high (or sometimes low, such as a “black mage”) standing comes high demands on your time.

Stun measures a character’s ability to stay conscious and functioning despite pain, shock, impact, and injury. Stun rolls are required at the game-masters option – but likely occasions include being sapped from behind, being hit by a stungun, or simply taking a major attack. While this makes it easier to knock the character out, it also means that such characters tend to aggravate wounds less then others do, hence their stun score is added to their base vitality. Minimal success or failure on a stun roll generally leaves the character more-or-less dazed. As a rule, bullets, blades, and beams allow easier stun rulls then less-focused (and usually less damaging) hands, blunt weapons, and blasts.

Trauma measures long-term physical, psychic, magical, or spiritual injury. Trauma is acquired when a character takes massive, potentially-lethal, injuries, and fails an Trauma roll. The difficulty of said roll depends on the magnitude and nature of the effect producing the injury. Each point of a character’s trauma score is reflected in the game as a penalty to some activity – what depends on the GM’s whim and what produced the injury. The severity depends on how often the penalty comes into play. Trauma points (and their associated penalties) can be removed, but this requires repairing the damage somehow. It’s better to avoid it in the first place. Competent care is a good place to start, since it provides a retroactive +2 to +7 (Depending on the skill and resources of the caregiver) on the characters trauma roll (“He would have lost the arm, but we got him to the surgeon in time”). “Trauma” can be intentionally inflicted, often as a punishment. There is no roll to resist this sort of thing. Getting branded (A penalty to some social rolls) or having a hand amputated (Several points worth of trauma) is hard to resist. Trauma penalties can include various physical limits, social annoyances, psychological problems, weird curses, magical difficulties, and psychic malfunctions. While it may not be strictly reasonable, already-battered characters are harder to inflict further trauma on. What are a few more scars on top of all the others?

Voice measures the quality of a character’s voice, at least as far as range, tonality, singing, and speaking are concerned. While less then vital unless you’re a singer, and possibly irrelevant even then, those with high voice scores are simply pleasant to listen too. Low scores may indicate speech impediments or atrocious accents, but it rarely matters that much. It might be a decisive element in a closely-matched talent competition though.

Wealth measures the extent of a character’s financial resources. Sadly, unlike the convenient funding and gear provided by the “Increased Resources” talents, Wealth is something that has to be maintained and managed. Depending on the score, this may mean anything from an hours daily scrounging on through a job, and up to spending most of your time on managing your financial empire. Extreme wealth scores draw attention, publicity, and crooks, in equal measure. It can be useful, but after a point it tends to become a career in itself. Extreme levels of wealth have a nasty habit of endangering your friends and family.

Web is one of the strangest optional characteristics. It’s a measure of the strength and number of a character’s psychic “anchors” and emotional supports. Such “anchors” are either living beings with powerful emotional ties to the character (children, lovers, hated enemies, etc), or are objects (items, places, or what-have-you) in which a character has invested a great deal of their personal psychic energy. Objects and places are mental foci, triggers for memories, and places in which the character can recover his mental balance. For clairvoyants, spirit travelers, and the like, such anchors are also easy to reach psychically – and can be used to help rebuild a scattered or damaged psyche. Living beings act in a somewhat similar fashion – however they also act as emotional bulwarks, helping the character to resist many psychic assaults. As psychic constructs, webs can absorb or yield psychic power – but overdoing this risks damage to them, reducing the web score by one. The disadvantage is that a webs anchors are links to the user as well.

Zeal measures both strength of commitment, and how much energy, a character is inclined to put into causes. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a sensible, or even stable, choice of causes (QV; Intellect and Wisdom) – but a high value does make the character a splendid activist, fund- raiser, and annoyance. While it also makes a character extremely difficult to convert directly, characters with low wisdoms are prone to sudden enthusiasms. High zeal scores are common among religious figures, but they are not necessarily of any real help in exercising religious powers.

Optional Attributes which are NOT recommended :

  • Acting: This is another “attribute” that’s hard to seperate from the players performance, and is usually best handled as a character skill, rather then as an attribute.
  • Charisma: Measures how “likable” a character is. This is usually best handled through role-playing.
  • Clearance: Measures how much a character is trusted by some organization. It tends to be volatile, and is more of an attribute of said organization then of the character.
  • Education. This measures the extent of the characters education. This is normally treated as a function of a characters intellect and skill choices. A bright kid who grows up on a farm learns just as much as one in a high-pressure advanced academy, he or she just learns different things.
  • Esteem: Measures how well some character’s reputation is perceived. Basically, do those who’ve heard of you think of you as a hero of a villian? The problem here is that reputations are complex things, and one number cannot do them justice.
  • Heritage: This measures the importance of what a character is in line to inherit – whether in the form of lands, cash, or power. This is usually better handled by the GM using the character’s class, background, talents, and family, in relationship to the setting, the plotline potential, and his or her whimsy.
  • Insight: Measures the characters ability to have bright ideas and pick out important clues. Unless the players constantly need hints – which usually indicates that the game master is over-complicating things – this sort of ability is generally only useful if you want to go back to rolling the combat dice quickly.
  • Luck: This is usually used as an excuse for GM’s, and players, who are at a loss. Gaming already involves luck – the dice handle that.
  • Retinue: This measures the size of a character’s entourage. This is usually better handled as a function of culture, character skills, and appropriate other attributes.
  • Sensuality: Measures both a characters sexual attributes and his or her talent for using them. Anyone who wants to include Sensuality and deal with the resulting nonsense is welcome to do so, but I do not recommend it. Situations where it might be used can normally be handled using the character description and some role-playing – if they come up at all
  • Traits: Such as piety, courage, honor, greed, carnality, and other such personality traits are normally best handled on the character quiz. Elevating them to attributes tends to be nothing but a way to take the decisions out of the hands of the player.

Now, obviously enough, a lot of these attributes have made it into d20 through Eclipse – although in many cases it’s as a power you might want to buy, instead of as an attribute. It’s really too bad in a way; the flexibility of optional / secondary attributes allowed a great deal of setting and character customization. After all, if the game master opted to require Discipline, Fatigue, and Trauma, the setting will become a great deal more grim-and-gritty, “unlimited use” abilities become a lot less “unlimited”, and avoiding fights becomes a lot more important. On the other hand, if he or she asked for Aura, some variant of Corruption, and Mysterium, then a “secret supernatural” game is probably in the offing. Trade out one of those for Sanity and you’re headed for Call Of Cthulhu. Is he or she asking for Essence, Recognition, and one of the player’s choice? That would work nicely for a Shadowrun style setting. On the other hand, Doom (Radiation Dosage), Trauma, and Corruption (Mutation) says either post-apocalyptic radioactive wasteland or perhaps an alien invasion setting. Free choice? A wide-open and likely multi-dimensional setting is coming up, with lots of second chances for characters to work on specialties that there base attributes don’t really support.

Unfortunately, that degree of freedom would be pretty hard to translate to most of the current popular rules sets; most of them are a lot more restrictive about what rolls are related to which attribute, so adding options for new attributes is a lot more complicated.

Continuum II – Optional Attributes: Basics and Partial List

Continuum II’s optional attributes can be required by the game master or be selected by the player to suit his or her character. As such, characters might not all have the same set of attributes – and this is fine. Given that the basic rules of the system mostly called for rolling against attributes, many of the optional attributes don’t need a lot of detail – just a description of where they apply, and so can rolled against. To use the first sample optional attribute as an example… a character might use Stealth and Adaptability to try and merge into a group or Interrogation and Adaptability to try and collect information about an exotic culture. Optional Attributes are often used as a “second chance” of sorts; if a character has a lousy score in some attribute that he or she needs, they can try for a better result with a secondary attribute more specific to what they want. Some of the possible optional attributes include:

Adaptability measures the characters ability to blend into differing situations. Unless there’s something very peculiar about the character, this is usually limited to social situations. A character with a high adaptability is something of a social chameleon, able to merge with a wide variety of cultures, situations, and settings. Sadly, this comes at the price of an annoying tendency to adapt too well – a problem reminiscent of multiple-personality disorders. It also means a tendency to “be” whatever the people around you expect you to be. Extremely low scores indicate an inability to adapt to new social situations, making the character prone to offending the locals, very likely to get entangled in legal problems, limiting his/ her social mobility, and otherwise making it hard to get along.

Affinity or “Animal Affinity” measures the character’s intuitive ability to get along with, understand, manage, and befriend, animals. It even extends to some extent to “animalistic” sentient beings. It’s useful in estimating how close it’s safe to come to a herd, when tracking and locating animals, taming or training them, and in trying to figure out what they’re excited about, amongst many other things. A character with a high Affinity score is often deeply attuned to his (or her) own instincts – which may cause minor difficulties socially. Extremely high scores often lead to prefering animals to people.

Appearance actually includes qualities such as voice, manner, and body parl as well as physical beauty – but the physical level generally takes priority. It measures how attractive other members of your characters species consider him or her to be. Extremely beautiful or repulsive characters may find it easy to charm or frighten people, but this comes at a price; characters with extremely low appearance scores suffer from social ostracism, children throwing rocks, and are extremely memorable, while those with extremely high scores are targets for propositions, groupies, and slavers.

Aptitude (Specify) measures a characters talent in a particular field of endeavor. Possible Aptitudes include magical, technical, mechanical, artistic, combative, psychic, and scientific, but others are certainly possible. Aptitudes are basically “second chances”, scores which can be used in place of other (presumably lower) scores when using a skill or ability covered by the aptitude. While this can be quite convenient, it makes attempting to improve such an ability very difficult, requiring twice as many skill points as usual. Unskilled attempts at anything which an aptitude might cover always use the aptitude score, even if another relevant ability is higher. A character with an aptitude for music would use that score to try and play a few unskilled notes on a flute, even if his far higher dexterity would normally be used.

Arcane measures a characters natural affinity for the manipulation of magical energy or “mana”, either defensively or offensively. Arcane provides extra skill points to expend on “magical skills” as if it were Intellect, but this is modified by the planetary mana level, from “almost nonexistent” (-8) to “incredibly abundant” (+3). A total of 0+ is required to study professional magic at all if Arcane is used. As always, having natural magical gifts can get you in lots and lots of trouble… and better gifts equal worse trouble.

Aura measures the emotional impact of a beings simple presence, regardless of the exact nature of said impact. While every living thing has a bio-energy aura, Aura is a result of becoming an unconscious focus for some type of empyrean energies. At low scores this simply results in an intuitive response from those around you, at moderate scores it results in instinctive emotional reactions – and at high scores it begins to manifest in physical reality around the character. Hence a character with an aura of fear might walk surrounded by mists and shadows. One with an aura of corruption might sour milk and twist plants and spread disease as he or she passes. One with an aura of peace might heal and comfort. Note that, while “Aura” also occurs in conjunction with empyrean magic and various psychic abilities, in that context it refers to consciously tapping and manipulating empyrean energies. Aura is related to “Aura Points”, but they are not the same. “Aura Points” are pure power – but “Aura” cannot be directly tapped – or readily shielded.

Avatar measures a character’s underlying strength of will – his or her ability to learn to bend the local laws of nature and surpass normal limits. In essence, “Avatar” measures how high a level a character can reach. It is especially important to Arcanists and True Illusionists, who defy reality directly (and so are limited to a maximum level equal to their Avatar score), but even professions that settle for “bending” reality a bit are limited to a maximum level equal to twice their avatar score. It also measures the capacity for “final strikes”, great efforts of will, sustaining pocket dimensions, wielding and/or regaining special powers in dimensions normally hostile to such effects (Characters in such settings may regain one “point” of some sort per day per point of Avatar rating. This includes; personal mana, psychic strength, vitality (over normal levels), and spell points, among others). As a rule, “professional” player-characters are presumed to have wills strong enough that other limitations predominate in most settings. Unlike most attributes, Avatar is almost impossible to modify. It can be increased through a willing fusion of souls, and decreased through extremely high level spells, greater blood magic, and powers such as wreaking – but such events are incredibly rare.

Blood measures the “purity” of a character’s lineage. Exactly what this means depends on exactly who (or what) said character is descended from. While purer blood may mean little save a social distinction (and corresponding expectations), it may also measure a relationship to the royal family, provide peculiar talents of it’s own, be a measure of a character’s potential power, or follow some rule of it’s own. Whether your blood carries power, potential, influence, or merely social rank, characters can be sure that whatever you’re related to has his, her, or it’s, own problems – and the “closer” you are to it, the closer they are to you.

Class is basically an indication of birth rank – what “social class” a character started with. While this has few direct effects, it makes quite a difference socially and may affect what professions a character may follow. It is difficult to raise your class, but not impossible. It can be accomplished through wealth, influence, trickery, marriage, or things like a “grant of nobility”. In many settings class will also help determine what equipment and cash a character starts out with, as well as inheritance and what influence can be exerted on his behalf. On the other hand, it’s difficult to live up to a high class, and there are always people watching what you do. The character’s family (if any) is usually of roughly the same social class as the character, however children who are not acknowledged by the family, are illegitamate by local standards, or whose parents have non-hereditary social honors, may have substantially lower class scores then their parent or parents do.

Communication measures the ability to effectively and clearly express emotions, thoughts, and ideas – whether in writing, orally, in art, or through some other means. It does not guarantee the worth of such material, it merely allows it to be accurately and persuasively conveyed. This can be something of a disadvantage when you’re trying to con someone – or if the ideas aren’t worth much to begin with.

Cool measures a character’s ability to remain calm in the face of disaster; (“My dear Sir! I have no idea how the murder weapon got into my pocket!”). It’s very handy when trying to stick to a story or when talking your way out of something. A high cool score tends to render the character impervious to panic, unlikely to fumble things under pressure, and unimpressed. It tends to help you take charge of chaotic situations – and makes you ready to take advantage of any opening. On the other hand, people will often have a hard time taking you seriously or believing it when you tell them that there’s an emergency. Unlike Wisdom, “Cool” is not sensible. Those with “high” (15+) scores tend to stay cool no matter what the emergency, and hence suffer a +1 modifier on their initiative checks.

Corruption (Or many other transhuman paths) measures how far a character has gone down dark pathways, acquiring dark lore, foul powers, and the favor of horrific (or at least profoundly lovecraftian), beings. A characters corruption score can be changed, but this is always a struggle. Those who wish to plumb new and greater depths of foulness must come up with ever-more creative acts of corruption, while any character wishing to struggle against his/her corruption must perform great acts of redemption and stand on guard against constant temptations to backslide. Similar paths explore the mysteries of attributes such as “Mysticism”, “Undeath”, “Beastmastery”, “Peacemaking” and “Honor”. Such attributes rarely start off above minimal scores, but do increase with time and effort. Any and all of these come with obvious physical and auric signs – as well as a set of increasing obligations with increasing scores. The simplest way to “handle” attributes like these is to simply assign various appropriate effects values, and then select a list with a total value equal to the users attribute score. Higher scores generally extend and expand the effects of the powers associated with lesser scores. In many or most settings, taking any of these attributes will cost one or more Talent Points.

Dweomer measures a character’s natural ability to tap into the energies of the empyrean plane. Sadly, being a natural focus for empyrean energies, beings, mythagos, and manifestations, has it’s drawback; they tend to show up. Worse, a fully-open tap into the empyrean will swamp any mortal mind. Effective use of Dweomer requires that the user restrict the tap to more specific functions. The user can handle a maximum of (Wis/10) such functions – and even so, they will have a massive influence on the users mind and are limited to one informational, one active, and one passive function. Such functions are notable for being nebulous, erratic, and vaguely defined. Typical functions include Channeling/Mediumism, Dreamweaving, simple Power Tapping (Provides Score/3 points of aura), Lore Mastery, Mythago Creation, Faith, Soulflight, involuntary Prophecy, Earth Witchery, Spirit Binding, Myndfire, the Sight, Elemental Fury, the energy-channeling Spiral Dance, Tale Spinning, and even the classic Evil Eye. Using Dweomer is normally quite fatiguing. Dweomer is normally most suited for settings in which more disciplined powers are unavailable. Like most vague PC abilities, care must be taken to ensure that Dweomer- Functions are not overused – or stretched to cover every imaginable situation. The more powerful a function, the more dangerous it is to use. To reinforce the erratic and unpredictable nature of Dweomer, no two PC’s should ever have identical functions even if they’re named that way. In most settings, taking this attribute counts as a two point Talent.

Discipline measures a characters determination, self- control, and focus. It is useful in studying, ignoring an injury or distraction, resisting interrogation, sticking your hand into a fire, persevering in the face of overwhelming obstacles, defying emotional effects, and being a party-pooper. It can also lead to lead to problems with using spontaneous and intuitive powers or overlooking things when you’re paying attention to something else – and it makes it very hard to change plans and habits. In many ways, a high discipline score makes its possessor extremely predictable.

Domain measures the extent of the “territory” which a character is mystically bound to, can sense, draws power from, and can influence somewhat. This usually applies more to spirits then it does to physical creatures – but there are examples of things like the “land-sense”. The nature of a Domain depends on the nature of the owner. A nature spirit might control a pond, a mountain, or whole forest. Empyrean beings might control emotions, types of madness, dreams, or philosophies. Demons control areas, items, and energies. Gods may control fields of activity, groups of people, or territories. Material creatures are usually linked to specific areas, types of creatures, or magical nexi. Any of these can lead to problems, as the link operates both ways. While a character with a domain has considerable adantages, they must protect and maintain said domain. The score is something of a combination of thr importance of a domain and the character’s degree of control over it – however the score is used directly for a variety of “domain-related” rolls. Hence more specific domains usually allow bonuses on any required rolls. Domain is rarely a required attribute unless the characters used are very, very, strange.

Doom measures how long the characters got left before something really nasty happens. Doom can represent the effects of accumulating radiation poisoning and/or toxins, the gradual corrosion of some inner curse or dark power, some incurable disease, slow physical or psychic burnout resulting from some experimental treatment, or whatever. As a rule the effects of Doom are gradual. The character doesn’t just fall over dead, turn to stone, or turn into a monster suddenly. There’s generally some sign of their slow deterioration as the Doom score inevitably drops. What causes it to drop varies. Another addictive dose? A bit more exposure? Simple aging? Depending on it’s form, the drop in Doom’s attribute score may be reflected in a drop in other attributes. Occasionally Doom comes with a benefit, transferring the points from the dropping score to other attributes or abilities; “As the atomic fires within slowly consume you, the power they give you will grow enormously”.

Eldritch Lore measures how far a character has delved into “things man was not meant to know!”, knowledge that may grant strange powers or allow the deciphering of odd riddles and mysteries – but which undermines the stability of any more-or-less “normal” mind. A character who’s Lore exceeds his or her Wisdom is always mad, but penalties on any stability rolls and symptoms of insanity (E’s a a bit cracked, you see?) will show up long before then. As a rule, Eldritch Lore only increases – although some forms of amnesia may temporarily or, with massive blanking, permanently, erase some of it. Note that Eldritch Lore is NOT related to the resonant mental links used by Clerics, although the mental effects are sometimes similar.

Empathy measures a characters ability to “read” other people – interpreting subtle social and behavioral cues, body language, and inflections. Secondarily, such “cues” also reveal physical and emotional states. Characters with high empathy scores tend to be keenly aware of how other people feel. Empathy allows a character to detect close emotional ties, gauge the truth of someone’s statements, and moderate his or her words to suit the audience. Very high empathy scores tend to carry their own problems. A highly empathic character commonly finds it difficult to turn down a genuine emotional appeal.

Essence measures “humanity”, how much of his (or her) original psychic matrix and human nature a character has managed to retain through some dehumanizing process. The loss may be due to extensive cyborging, becoming a werecreature, merging with some sort of spirit (EG – becoming a faerie or vampire), neural damage, sociopathic insanity, abuse, or the simple loss of innocence. Essence is difficult to regain and – obviously – tends to be lost as a character becomes less and less human. A character who’s essence has been reduced to zero is quite inhuman, generally insane, and unplayable. Even those who’s essence is simply very low are generally seriously disturbed.

Family measures the extent of a characters network of “kin”, those he or she considers “a part of the family”. While kinfolk can be supporting and helpful, they can also be a tremendous drain on your personal resources, real and emotional. As a rule, each point of the family score indictates the existence of someone a character considers a part of his / her immediate family and assorted more distant relatives. Higher (7-12) values usually indicate the presence of an “extended” family or small clan as well. Scores of 13-18 commonly indicate membership in a major clan or similar group, with hundreds of members. Scores of 19+ indicate progressively larger and more powerful families, usually possessing large-scale influence or considerable resources. While this is very useful, such a “family” will often take up virtually all of a characters time. In some settings it may be necessary to determine the character’s sibling status or birth order… This can be done by any means desired to fit the setting. Note that a characters effective “family” score can be modified by up to six points depending on whether the character is a family favorite or is “on the outs” with his or her relatives.

Fatigue measures a characters innate energy reserves, ability to “push” his/her limits, and capacity for short- term bursts of effort. It can be temporarily reduced by things like a chronic shortage of sleep, lingering overstrain, having recently fought a series of battles, or a poor diet. Recovering it requires correcting the problem and getting some rest – up to a week per point lost in the most extreme cases. Short-term exertions are limited by fatigue points, AKA “Stamina”. These are initially equal to the characters (Fatigue * Endurance) and are expended via various exertions – casting a spell, using some psychic ability, wielding some power or weapon, or simply carrying rocks. They’re recovered via rest and sleep or, in emergencies, through stimulants (magical, psychic, or technological). Stamina doesn’t usually trouble low-level characters, as they generally exhaust their other abilities long before physical exhaustion becomes a problem. It can even be an advantage, as characters may attempt a “fatigue roll” to pour extra power into an ability or make a great effort. While this isn’t very efficient, any edge can be helpful in an emergency. Higher-level characters tend to find it more annoying, sometimes finding themselves too tired to properly use the power they have so abundantly available to them. Optionally, game masters may allow characters to add their level to their fatigue score, giving those higher level characters a bit of a break – although this is only really typical of superheroic settings.

Ferocity measures a mental resource which most people try their best to ignore; primal animal fury. While only berserkers fully tap their ferocity, others may learn to do so – within limits. Unfortunately, reverting to pre- sentient behavior patterns can be tactically limiting… In any case, a high ferocity score results in a constant battle against violent impulses. Most people don’t have to consciously resist the urge to impale that clumsy oaf who just stepped on their toe, but those with a ferocity score may have to. Ferocity is actually a primitive way of tapping psychic strength (including Power, if any), and expressing it as some of the simpler C’hi powers. Common effects include Adrenal Surge, Amplification (Strength), Compensation (For injuries), Hastening, Iron Fist/Flesh, Psychic Purging, Psychic Shield, and Self Healing. While various Animalistic, Fascination and Will Shield abilities have been reported, they require special training. While obviously potent, such abilities are undependable and come at the price of increasingly animalistic behavior. Each point of psychic strength expended through ferocity reduces the character’s effective wisdom by one until he or she has an hour or two to calm down. If it’s reduced to zero the character will become completely animalistic, and usually goes into fight-or-flight mode. Even well above that point, a character will need to make rolls in order to use devices, sophisticated tactics and techniques, or otherwise behave sensibly. Having a ferocity score is a problem outside of combat. It tends to be a major social handicap when dealing with those without it. A tendency to growl at people will do that. This usually results in a 1D6 penalty on attempts to be pleasant and persuasive. Animals often have high ferocity scores. That’s a major reason why small animals can put up such a fight against humans ten times their size. Any character with a high ferocity score is probably best off avoiding embarrassment, frustration, and annoyance in any form.

Glory is a measure of a characters fame, renown, and militant reputation. Glory has little to do with social class, personal behavior, or why the character did something. It’s only concerned with how difficult it was and with well it was done. A character can be low-born scum and still have great glory. The point is that you slew a hundred men and took the castle – not whether you did it to destroy a nest of villainy and rescue hostages or had simply wanted to rape the owners wife and butcher her small-and-helpless children. A high glory score can be very handy if you want to intimidate or join someone. On the other hand, it tends to attract people who want to beat you.

Gnosis is a measure of a characters attunement to – and favor with – various “higher forces”. While such forces can supply power and aid, open up new possibilities, and warp reality to aid the character in many ways, there is always a price for the use of such power. Unlike most attributes, gnosis is commonly below it’s base score, as points are “spent” and “regained”. A high gnosis makes the character a prime target, open to occult influences, and a potential pawn of those same higher forces. Gnosis may be expended to; request a reroll, buy off half the damage from an attack, to briefly warp reality (allowing an unlikely escape or incredible heroic feat, getting something to work when it shouldn’t, boosting another score, or making an “unskilled” roll as a skilled one), to counter someone else’s use of gnosis, try to “run into” a friend or helpful event, or to invoke the higher power the user taps against a foe. Caution is advised, since such feats cost 1-3 points of gnosis, tend to attract agents of any opposing forces, and can have unexpected consequences. In any case, gnosis is usually only regained at a rate of 1 or 2 points an adventure, but those “higher forces” will go ahead and use you just as if it was at it’s maximum.

Continuum II – The Character Quiz

The Quiz is really the core of your character. The attributes, numbers, abilities, skills, and disciplines may describe what you’re good at, but the quiz defines who you are. What you want. How you’re going to put those abilities to use. There’s no need to go into exhaustive detail unless you want to – but most of the questions deserve at least a moments consideration. It’s also a good way to give the game master a handle on your character. The quiz can be filled out first or as you create the character. In either case, it’s common to think of more things to put on it later.

As a rule, characters should be able to answer the twelve “basic” questions, and at least three of the optional ones. If any of the basic questions just don’t apply to the character one of the optional questions should be substituted. Game master’s are encouraged to give an extra talent point to characters with excellent quizzes, to charge one for a lousy job, and to charge two for not bothering at all.

Both Game master’s and players should be flexible. It’s not at all unreasonable for it to take several sessions to get enough of a “feel” for your character to finish up the quiz. Better late then dull!

Basic Items :

1) What does/did your family/clan/whoever brought you up do? Are/were they especially noted for something ? Do you resemble them or not? Do you maintain ties with them? Were they your real parents?

2) Name, and provide a few notes on, three relatives; One you like, one you dislike – and one you just know. Characters without families may substitute members of whatever group played a similar role in their life. Other kids from the orphanage, some of the older mercenaries in the company, whoever.

3) Name three simple, ordinary, things or situations that you just can’t stand.

4) Name three simple, ordinary, things that you like, and would go out of your way for.

5) Select your hair and eye color, height and build, and general description.

6) Name three things you like to do for fun.

7) What would you say your occupation is ?

8)

a) Where were you born? Was anything odd about it? Were you legitimate?
b) Where were you raised? What was it like? Did you have any notable playmates or friends ? Did you behave? Were your parents intimate or distant ?
c) Where, if anywhere, do you live now?
d) Who, what, or where has a claim on your loyalty?
e) Where did you get your education? If it was from a specific teacher, who was he, she, or it?

9) Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very low and 5 = very high) for; Bravery, Loyalty, Rationality, and any four additional traits. Possibilities include, but are not limited to; Piety, Altruism, Calm, Gullibility, Curiosity, Skepticism, Lust, Materialism, Honesty, Greed, Vengefulness, Romanticism, Egotism, Diplomacy, Sloth, Kindness, Thrift, Optimism, Pragmatism, Cultured, Introversion, Gregariousness, Honor, Patience, Enthusiasm, Emotionalism, Frivolity, Caution, Hedonism, Literal-mindedness, Ethics, Stoicism, Stubbornness, Morality, Organization, Loquaciousness, and their opposites. Characters may rate traits at “6” or “7” – but even a “6” indicates a major motivation – something central to a characters personality, which will intrude itself into everything which he or she does. A “7” indicates some sort of obsession – something which the character will hold more important then his or her life.

10) Name three additional minor quirks, behavior tags, traits, talents, hobbies, fears, old guilts, fetishes, or other distinguishing features.

11) What are your personal, long-term, goals? Is there something you have to finish? Some major interest? Are these overwhelming or obsessive goals?

12) Why are you hanging around with all of these weird people anyway? (Answering this question often has to wait for a bit).

AS A NOTE :

“I’m Playing In Character” is no excuse for being a perpetual pain in the rear. YOU’RE THE ONE WHO CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER. Characters who can’t fit into the group, are endlessly obstructive, who are impossible to involve in scenarios, keep destroying vital clues, are terminally indecisive – or who are simply more trouble then they’re worth – will be, quite rightly, abandoned by the group, and by the Game master. There is no sign on your head saying; “I’m a player-character. You have to take me!”. If your character keeps interfering with other people’s ability to play the game, invent a reason for him to grow, change, and get along – OR TAKE HIM AWAY.

Optional Items :

1) Do you have any kids? Siblings? Surviving parents or grandparents? How did/do you get along with them?

2) Have you “gone adventuring”, or worked with anyone of significance, before? Who? Why did you leave?

3) Do you have a personal symbol, colors, or dress in a particular fashion? A nickname or “title” which you like to use? What are they?

4) Describe; a major turning point, tragedy, or event in your life which made a major impression on you.

5) Do you have a companion, students, mentor, spouse, lover, or other major involvement? If so, who? If not, did you? What happened?

6) Account for the origin of your major talent(s) and disadvantages. If inborn, when did you first discover it/them, and what was the reaction of those about you?

7) As a small child, did you lose something that was precious to you at the time? A pet? A favorite toy? A keepsake? What was it, how did you lose it, and why was it important to you?

8) Give three scenes from your personal history that you recall vividly due to shock, wonder, weirdness, or some strong, associated, emotion.

9) Describe a place where you spend a great deal of your time. Why do you spend it there?

10) How do other people see you? How do you see your- self? How do you try to make them see you?

11) Describe your personal apartments or home. How do you have them decorated? Do you have any heirlooms or personal souvenirs lying around? A view? How do you like the location and the surrounding area?

12) If you could have any kind of pet you wanted, what would it be? What it that you like about that type of creature? What qualities and traits does it represent to you? If it’s a practical creature, why don’t you have one? If you do, what’s it’s name and how long have you had it? Where did you get it?

13) What’s your religious background ? How strong are your beliefs, how do they affect your behavior, and what do you think of those who believe otherwise? What are people – and what is the universe? Does either or both have a destiny?

14) Sketch yourself. Is this how you usually look, the way you’d like to look, or was this a bad moment? (The terminally unartistic can select, or modify, a picture from another source).

15) What is your great secret? Why is it so important to you? How far will you go to keep it hidden?

16) Provide three typical, personal, quotes.

17) Name someone who has greatly influenced your life. How? Inspiration? Teaching? Example? Friendship? A casual contact you found deeply meaningful?

18) What notable organizations (Guilds / Faiths / Clubs / Cabals / Societies / Whatever) do you belong to? Why? How did you join? How deeply are you involved?

19) Provide a brief personal timeline for yourself. It might include military and underworld experience, travel (and why), imprisonment, and involvement in great events.

20) Do you have any impractical romantic ideals? What would you look for in a lover or spouse?

21) Name three easy ways that you can be roped into an adventure/subplot. How does your presence make things easier for the Game Master?

A free hint. This is a major survival mechanism here. Game master’s hate to kill off characters who’ve become integral to their plot.

22) What are your views on violence, and what would it take to change them? How have they worked out for you in the past? (For weird characters; Have you ever been killed? Was it interesting?)

23) Give a bit of your recent history. How did you get to where you will be entering the game?

24) Do you have a “Secret ID”? Which is the real you?

25) Name, and give a few provocative or descriptive bits about, some acquaintances. What makes them notable? Are they enemies, old allies, or simply people you know? Is there a significant figure you like and trust as well or one you dislike and distrust? Why?

These don’t have to be anyone important – but they ought to be interesting enough to make good NPC’s, and to act as potential plot hooks. The Game Master will love you.

26) What’s your status in your family and society? Have you been involved in any major events? What? Are you especially known for anything? Some trait or deed?

27) What is there about yourself that you really like? Don’t like? What are you trying to improve? How have you changed over the years? Have you learned any major lessons about life?

28) Is there anything notable, and known, about you? Some trait or deed? Were you involved in any recent historical event(s)? How?

29) What have you got in the way of personal ethics? How do you see people and the universe?

30) What’s your status in your home – or the local – society? Are you wanted or highly trusted? Been hailed as a hero or villain? Do you have a title or position? Are you popular or outcast? Do you have a record or a high security clearance? Would you be recognized? Why? Were you judged fairly or unfairly? Would you have some sort of legacy coming? Do you want it? Are you a recognized arbitrator, messenger, or other “neutral”?

This, of course, is the original Continuum II fantasy character quiz from more than thirty years ago – but versions of it have made their way through many of the tabletop games since. It’s become a bit less important for online gaming – the players who are inclined to provide details tend to put up blog posts and lengthy chunks of backstory and those who aren’t so inclined are difficult to persuade to come up with so much detail – but it’s still the heart of what makes a character  interesting, and more than a sheet full of numbers. I may put up a few examples, simply because – when it comes to having a really good game – this sort of thing really is a lot more important than optimizing your build. 

 

Continuum II – Attribute Bonuses and Derived Attributes

 

 

 

 

I’ve given up on trying to convert this chart to current standards; it’s too much trouble to try and create something that will fit this blog smoothly – so here’s an image of the original to refer to if you want to click on it.

Lifting Capacity is fairly straightforward. As a rule, a character can haul around up to 20% of his (or her) basic lifting capacity without a problem. Each additional 20% or part thereof gets more tiring – and penalizes a wide variety of other rolls. Going beyond a characters lifting capacity is quite possible, but generally can only be sustained for very brief periods.

Tou (Toughness) is a characters base toughness – the amount of injury from any source that he or she can simply ignore automatically. Note that this stacks with enhancements from martial arts, skills, and other effects. Toughness goes with high strength scores simply because – without it – a character exerting massive strength would severely injure themselves.

AR Bonuses modify a character’s base attack rating. Strength bonuses modify hand-to-hand combat, Dexterity bonuses modify the use of advanced projectile weaponry (The Personal Storage, Propellant, and Energy categories), while their average (rounded up) is used for Leverage- Assisted and Thrown weapons.

DB (Damage Bonus) enhances a character’s ability to inflict damage in hand-to-hand combat and, to a lesser (Halved, rounded up) extent with primitive (Leverage- Assisted and Thrown) projectile weapons. It has no effect on weapons in other categories.

DR (Defense Rating) is simply a character’s basic ability to avoid being hit. It is generally wise not to rely on this too much, even if yours is quite high; combat-focused characters very often have high attack ratings.

In (Initiative) modifies the basic (1D10+1) initiative roll, and helps determine the “count” of the combat round when a character begins acting. No one can act before “1″, and anything over “10″ rolls over into the next round. Given that spells normally require at least one count per level to cast, and are fairly readily disrupted, spellcasters usually need a lot of protection to cast any major spells in a fight.

Max (Maximum) indicates the character’s upper limit on skill point investment in the development of particular abilities. To be more specific; Dexterity limits a characters development of the martial arts, Wisdom limits the improvement of the characters psychic abilities, and Intellect limits the development of most other skills.

PS (Psychic Strength) is simply a characters base reserve of psychic energy – the “fuel” for psychic abilities. While most characters have relatively little use for it, anyone can learn to use a few specifically Psychic Cantrips or psychic versions of common cantrips. Characters may, if they are available,  get minor focusing devices to allow the use of a limited selection of such abilities.

Bind indicates the number of other spirits that the character can anchor with his own aura. While this is most obviously relevant to shamans, spiritualists, and necromancers, a more subtle version of the same effect is used to acquire more ordinary devotees and henchmen – the people whom you can really count on due to their deep bond with you.

Mob indicates the extent of a character’s influence over those who aren’t in direct contact with him – his ability to produce a lasting impression on things like the morale of an army, the loyalty of the city guards, or the dedication of cultists. The “Mob” modifier acts as a penalty on other people’s rolls if (or when) they attempt to interfere.

Skills indicates the basic number of General Skills a character receives. Unlike many of the other values, this is, however, often modified by childhood circumstances:

  • Childhood Environment Modifiers: Highly intensive and/or “ultramodern” education: +1. Physically limited childhood; spent underground, aboard a small space colony, or some such: -2
  • Species Behavioral Modifiers: Solitary, antisocial, or innately clannish race: -2
  • Species Longevity Modifiers: Extremely long-lived racial stock (500+ years): +5. Long-lived racial stock (200-400 years): +3. Short-lived racial stock (40- years): -1.
  • Character Age Modifiers: Character is extremely “young” for his/her type: -3. Character is middle-aged for his/her type: +1. Character is elderly for his/her type: +2.
  • Exotic Species Modifiers: Alien/Feral/Exotica: See General Skills Notes / Special Modifiers

Boosts are only relevant if somebody has “Secondary Ramifications” on an enhanced attribute (QV; Talents), in which case “boosts” indicates the number of special abilities that such a talent will bestow. It’s important to note that Armsmen, and certain of their subclasses, thanks to their focus on self-enhancement, get a bonus on talents and will often use this column.

Endurance got it’s own chart, because I ran out of room even with the tight compression of the first chart…

 

PM (Personal Mana) indicates the character’s basic supply of magical energy. It’s not usually a lot, although Faerie multiply this basic score by their (Might/2). Personal Mana is usually used to power Cantrips – for most characters through a cheap focusing device or two with a preset selection available. While Cantrips are of limited power, they can be quite handy.

VB (The Vitality Bonus) applies to vitality rolls and any healing that the character receives – including natural healing. Column 1 applies to Primary Combatants, 2 to Semi- and Tertiary Combatants, and column 3 to Noncombatants.

Spells” indicates bonus spell points per level for primary spellcasters.

PS (Psychic Strength) indicates bonus Psychic Strength for Primary Psychics. The number after the slash is bonus recovery per hour, a bonus which applies to all characters.

The Vitality Base is just that; how much punishment a character can absorb due simply to his/her endurance score. This also measures the portion of a characters Vitality Score that actually represents the physical capacity to absorb and withstand damage. That’s usually a rather small part of a high level characters total Vitality.

One of Endurances major functions was as a measure of a characters ability to generate personal occult power – and so did very different things depending on what a particular character channeled that power into. Primary combatants tended to be incredibly durable, while those who focused on magic or mental powers were less durable, but gained additional reserves of energy to use their powers with.

Both game masters and players are generally advised to avoid using characters with unspecialized Intellect, or Wisdom, scores above 24. It’s difficult to play someone who’s mental abilities are beyond your comprehension.

When it comes to game design… Attributes in this style are more complex at first then current ideas of generic modifiers – but are far less subject to change during play. That was more or less what made them Attributes. If Conan was incredibly strong at the start, he wasn’t twice as incredibly strong later on. The Gray Mouser didn’t get faster at higher levels; he just learned more tricks and more ways to exploit his natural speed. It also meant a lot less focus on any one attribute; sure, one or two attributes would probably be most important to any given character – but all of them were useful to anyone. Your low-intellect but high endurance mage might not know as many spells as a mage with the opposite arrangement – but he or she would get more chances to cast them. 

Continuum II – Basic Attributes

Since I’ve been asked for some more of the Continuum II stuff – and I’ve managed to get some of the old files disentangled and have edited out most of the corrupted parts – here’s the segment on the seven Basic Attributes.

Attributes are a simplified way of measuring a characters innate strengths and weaknesses, and are necessarily broad and general; while “Intellect” might be broken down into; memory, logic, mathematical ability, insight, education, and many other variant categories, it usually suffices to note a “base level” and handle subcategories elsewhere – if at all. Subcategories are rarely worth the trouble.

Continuum II games normally employ seven basic attributes and at least three optional attributes. The basic attributes are Intellect, Wisdom, Perception, Strength, Endurance, Dexterity, and Presence. They should be applicable in most settings. A partial list of optional attributes is given later, however individual game masters (and players) may have ideas of their own.

The “normal” range of human and near-human attributes extends from 0 to 21 – although values below three or over 18 represent exceptional extremes, usually indicating either a severe illness or disorder at the low end or special talents or training at the high end. Typical values are in the 7-12 range, however player characters are often exceptional in one way or the other.

Intellect measures the characters ability to acquire, recall, and logically manipulate, facts – including extrapolating them into the future to predict events. While these are arguably separate abilities, strength in one can counter weakness in another. Superior logic can get along with fewer facts, superior recall can compensate for learning slowly or trouble in coming up with original solutions – and being quick to learn can compensate for forgetting a lot or being slow to figure things out. “Intellect” also covers the extent of a characters background knowledge and is the primary influence (with longevity and educational efforts being strictly secondary) on the number of general skills he or she will have picked up during childhood. It does not cover creativity and originality. Intellect has a major impact on a characters scholarly abilities and determines the upper limit on the characters development of non-martial and non-psychic skills. Characters with extremely high levels of Intellect are best left as NPC’s, simply because it can become near-impossible to properly represent their capabilities without resorting to (roll) “well… he predicted that gambit some time ago, and has prepared a countermeasure…” – and that sort of thing tends to frustrate the players if overdone.

Wisdom is measures the characters ability to access the deeper levels of his or her soul – the buried memories and accumulated experience of prior lives (generally in the thousands or millions for any character with a reasonably Wisdom score). It thus measures psychic stability and will, judgement, “common sense”, and genre awareness, as well as the ability to assess the likely outcomes of various plans. Creativity is partially a function of Wisdom, since it may allow a character to “come up with” a solution drawn from some distant prior lifetime – but it does not cover true originality (although that is extremely rare in the multiverse). Practically, while “Intellect” may let you know all about why smoking is bad for you, it’s wisdom that helps you stop. Wisdom determines a characters basic psychic strength, his or her resistance to psychic attack, ability to develop psychic abilities, and resistance to the “detachment” resulting from a true death. (Dying is less stressful for those who are already in deeper contact with their soul – but do it too many times and you will still lose contact with your physical form and so will have to start over with a new birth). Characters with very high Wisdoms are prone to getting informed by the game master of the merits and flaws of their ideas and plans.

Perception measures just how likely a character is to notice things, a combination of sensory acuity, how much attention the character pays to his or her surroundings, and the ability to properly integrate that information. It should not be confused with intellect. Even very stupid animals can be extremely perceptive and alert. Perception modifies few other rolls, but is possibly the most often used attribute regardless. Perception also serves as a measurement of how sensitive a character is to obscure and arcane influences – including subtle social and behavioral cues. Given how often noticing something is critical to an adventurers success – or even survival – Perception is very handy. At transhuman levels it becomes an innate awareness of the state of the universe – allowing the character to sense cosmic disturbances, tell what is in a container without opening it, determine if they’re in a high radiation zone, and otherwise simply “know” things that he or she has no actual sensory method of finding out.

Strength measures a characters raw physical power and his or her ability to apply it effectively. Perhaps the easiest attribute to understand and measure, Strength is a vital factor in melee and primitive missile combat. It becomes less relevant with increasing technology. Strength is also the most obvious example of the differences between heroic and superheroic settings – as the dual column for “lifting capacity” clearly shows. In a Heroic setting things like leverage, ground support, the durability of your own bones, and many other factors limit a characters Strength in “realistic” ways. In a Mythic setting… Superman may indeed lift battleships, or Thor hoist up the Midgard Serpent or partially drain the seas with no worries about that being physically impossible. Yes, most characters are personally physically impossible – but in a Mythic setting the world beyond themselves also acknowledges their distortion of physical reality.

Endurance measures a characters personal resilience – his/her ability to sustain major efforts, resist damage, recover from injuries and fatigue, withstand toxins, and resist disease. Secondarily, it covers things like doing without rest, getting along on a lousy diet, and surviving exposure. Essentially, “Endurance” simply describes how well the characters body functions under stress. This is not, however, primarily a physical quantity once it begins to transcend normal physical levels. At that point it becomes a measure of a characters Percipient ability to override mere “reality” and insist on his or her own existence. With enough Endurance, there comes a point where characters can not merely withstand having their blood replaced with boiling lead or breathing fluoroantimonic acid. They can withstand things that should rip their atomic structure apart into subatomic particles. Endurance is the major reason why single mighty attacks are often less effective then a dozen far weaker ones: the dozen are more likely to convince a characters unconscious mind that he or she SHOULD be hurt.

Dexterity is a measure of coordination, fine control, reflexes, and reaction time – the speed and precision of the characters neuromuscular system. For characters who aren’t limited by low strength, it also determines their agility. As with Intellect, any deficiency in one aspect of dexterity can usually be compensated for by another – hence a composite rating will do for most purposes. Dexterity is a vital factor in the use of ranged weaponry and when doing precision and/or high-speed work. As usual in Continuum II, at high enough levels Dexterity is less a matter of mere physics and time than of perception and belief. It may make no sense for a character to see an incoming laser beam before it arrives, and then to dodge it, without catastrophic side effects – and even less to interrupt something that mere physics says has already happened – but with a high enough Dexterity, that sort of stunt is quite possible.

Presence measures the strength of a characters psychic aura – almost literally their “strength of personality”. It governs the ability to lead and sway others (although you can have great Presence without good ideas or planning skills), to bind spirits to yourself regardless of their nature (living henchmen, bound spirits, obedient sentient undead, and many other types of minions all fall into this category), and to command obedience in those with lesser abilities. On the personal side it measures a characters resistance to being swayed by emotions (including fear), their “strength of will”, and how strongly they hold to their convictions. Of course, while Presence alone does not make someone an effective leader, or convey skill in communicative, persuasive, or manipulative abilities, just as raw Strength does not necessarily include skill in using it to best effect, a high presence will usually get them a chance to try and makes attempts at using even the crudest of such skills far more likely to succeed.

While attributes have numerical values, they are also described by the terms given below. Hopefully this will serve to give everyone some “sense” of what the abstract values actually mean.

  • 00: Nonexistent. The character has no measurable degree of this quality.
  • 01: Abysmal. About as bad as it can get and still be there.
  • 02: Dreadful. Worse than your average infant.
  • 03: Horrible. Either a small animal or something is severely wrong.
  • 04: Pathetic. The sort of person you automatically move to help because it’s painful to watch.
  • 05: Feeble. They might be able to do it themselves, but it won’t be quick.
  • 06: Inept. You wince a bit, but wait to be asked to help.
  • 07-08: Poor. Clumsy, unexercised, or otherwise a bit below average.
  • 09-10: Average. Normal. Most people fall into this band for most of their attributes – enough so that you can just note any that are exceptionally good or bad and save a little work.
  • 11-12: Fair. Better than average, the ones who “show potential”.
  • 13: Good. A high school athlete or weightlifter, a truly talented child star.
  • 14: Superior. Measurably better than the vast majority of people.
  • 15: Noteworthy. The expert at something who you hire to lead teams.
  • 16: Remarkable. “Wow. That’s amazing. How can you do that?”
  • 17: Exceptional. One in thousands.
  • 18: Extraordinary. You wouldn’t have believed that a normal person could do that without seeing it.
  • 19: Marvelous. Something to be discussed, told in tales, and marveled at.
  • 20: Fantastic. Pretty much the maximum you’d credit for any human being.
  • 21: Incredible. Stuff that’s downright unbelievable. No one could do that!
  • 22: Prodigious. Beyond normal human limits. The stuff you hear about in stories but which no one can reproduce.
  • 23: Phenomenal. A unique event, beyond being credited save as the outcome of some hidden effect or enhancement.
  • 24: Stupendous. Something you probably wouldn’t believe if you saw it, such as Krakatoa exploding.
  • 25: Unearthly. On the cosmic level. Too much to be attributed to any force a mere planet can contain.
  • 26: Preternatural. Beyond the limits of what is permitted by mere laws of nature.
  • 27: Monstrous. Something that shreds the laws of nature. The Godzilla threshold.
  • 28: Unbelievable. No. That cannot possibly have happened. There must be another explanation.
  • 29: Legendary. Sure, maybe in a work of fiction. It could never really happen.
  • 30+: Mythic. The sort of thing that you can only attribute to divine intervention.

By current RPG standards the Continuum II rules were a little bit odd. The attributes – including social attributes – were all concrete, measurable things with physics-based explanations for how they worked – but they worked according to the rules of multiversal physics, as built up from the primordial concepts of Life, Death, Separation, and Sequence, rather than from something as trivial as the lower-level natural laws that had been imposed during the creation of any given setting.

Debatable Evils – Negative Energy And Undeath

And for today it’s another question!

I’ve recently encountered some media that have put forward an interesting idea with regards to undead beings. Specifically, the idea that it’s possible for there to be undead creatures that were never alive to begin with, essentially beginning their existence – whether summoned magically or created “naturally” – in an undead state.

While none of those media get particularly deep into the mechanics of how exactly that’s possible, the idea doesn’t seem so implausible that it cannot be countenanced. That is, if new beings can come into being while alive, why not do so at the opposite end of the metaphysical spectrum? That, or they could be animated by spirits associated with death, necromancy, etc. Coming up with an explanation that sounds plausible, at least on its face, isn’t too hard.

My question is, what mechanical alterations (to the existing rules regarding undeath) would that idea have if implemented under the d20 game rules? At the very least, it seems like spells associated with creating/summoning such undead wouldn’t necessarily have the [Evil] descriptor.

-Alzrius

Well, it’s important to remember that biology and metabolism really aren’t important in d20. That’s why d20 uses Hit Points instead of detailed wound systems, and why elementals – lumps of rock, or plasma, or swirls of air with no metabolisms or biology – are creatures with hit points. Undead basically have [Hit Points] – a negative value of hit points that they treat as a positive one because they’re things of negative energy.

Inanimate objects can have metabolisms, and biology – but in d20 terms they are objects, or perhaps organic machines, not truly living things. That’s why a Deathwatch spell doesn’t give you a report on every broken blade of grass in a field and why I can’t cast Cure Light Wounds on a mostly-eaten watermelon to heal it and let me eat it again. That’s also why Remove Disease (presuming that diseases are caused by micro-organisms) is a Conjuration (Healing) effect and not Necromancy (Death).

  • Positive Energy drives growth, life, mobility, and creation. It is a force of light, change, and evolution that drives an increase in complexity in the face of entropy. Thus children are filled with positive energy while the extremely elderly, who have mostly exhausted their stores of possibility and can barely cling to life, have little left.
  • Negative Energy weakens, kills, paralyzes, and annihilates. It is a force of darkness, cold, and entropy. That’s why undead are destroyed at zero hit points; they can no longer resist the side effects of the negative energy within them. It’s also why they generally do not grow or gain levels and why most undead feed on the living – their corpses gaining an unnatural mobility through theft.

Neither positive or negative energy is a moral agency in itself. In d20, that role is reserved for the energies of the outer planes, which make “good” and “evil” into absolute, measurable, and detectable, forces. There isn’t any moral relativism and there’s no point in arguing about whether or not an act is good or evil. Just use your Phylactery Of Faithfulness (a mere 1000 GP!) and you will KNOW.

In the real world clearing some forest is good for some types of creatures, bad for others, and will have ongoing effects, both knowable and unknowable, on the environment, the world, and the human population, that will not finish playing out until far in the future. Is doing so a “Good” or “Evil” act? The answer depends on your personal priorities and beliefs and on how many consequences of what kind you are aware of to consider. Would your decision change if you somehow knew that it would unleash a horde of plague-carrying rats and kill millions?

In d20, if you are tilting the alignment energy balance of the material plane towards Good, then you are committing a Good act. If you are tilting the alignment energy balance of the world towards Evil, you are committing an Evil act. If you’re doing neither to any noticeable degree… then the act is neither good not evil.

Are those babies of a species that is strongly inclined towards evil? Then slaughtering them all is a good act even if they are neutral at the moment. Adopting and raising one is evil. Adopting and raising a child of a species that is strongly inclined towards good is good. Adopting and raising a child of a species without strong inclinations? That could be good or evil depending on how you raise it. Running a slaughterhouse and massacring hundreds of true neutral creatures every day? That’s neither good nor evil.

The trouble with the d20 rules on Alignment is that no one ever actually sat down and tried to work out what the axioms of good and evil WERE (why would they? The only real point was a set of quick labels to sort out targets and people to protect). “Good” is loosely defined as a grab bag of behavioral traits that promote group welfare in a social species (“Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others”) while “Evil” is loosely defined as behaviors that disrupt social groups (“Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.”).

According to the 3.5 Players Handbook (and supposedly in Pathfinder due to a lack of new rulings and back-compatibility) “channeling positive energy is a good act and channeling negative energy is evil” (Page 160).

Why is that?

Well… the Prime Material Plane is supposed to be made up of a mixture of the elemental forces of the inner planes – Fire, Air, Earth, Water, Positive Energy, and Negative Energy. But unless someone is importing or exporting such forces, what’s there is there. Like it or not, channeling substantial amounts of negative energy in from the negative energy plane – whether in the continuing tap that allows undead to exist or in bursts – drains energy from the material plane. It reduces the universe for all time to come. Adding positive energy doesn’t “make up for it”, since otherwise that energy could have gone into expanding and adding possibilities to the universe.

And there’s the connection; importing negative energy from the negative material plane reduces the total energy of the prime material plane, draining the possibilities of the future and denying existence to creatures that would otherwise have been born and lived. Throughout the eons to come… it is a never-ending crime, and so is an Evil act.

Importing positive energy from the positive material plane forever adds to the possibilities of the universe. It is a never-ending boon to all life yet to come, and so is a good act. And no matter what your reason for using Channeling is… that long-term Good or Evil is going to outweigh the immediate effects.

So why aren’t all spells involving positive energy “good” and all of the ones involving negative energy “evil”? That’s something of a game convenience so as to allow evil Clerics to heal – but what’s the in-game explanation?

Well, looking at the lists…

  • Conjuration is used to bring in materials from other planes. Ergo, effects involving positive and negative energy that aren’t Conjurations must rely on gathering positive or negative energy from ambient sources – or simply generating both positive and negative energy at the same time from a zero state – rather than on importing it. Thus many spells (Disrupt Undead, Touch Of Fatigue, Chill Touch, Ghoul Touch, Stricken Heart, Defoliate, Deathwine, Gloomblind Bolts, Blood Crow Strike (which, interestingly, creates identical amounts of fire and negative energy), Enervation, Vampiric Shadow Shield, Smite Abomination, Waves Of Fatigue, Waves of Exhaustion, Orb Of The Void, and even Energy Drain) may involve positive or negative energy but they aren’t Conjuration effects – they’re Necromancy. And the basic definition of Necromancy is that “Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and the life force”. Ergo they use and manipulate, but do not summon, such energies – and thus are not inherently evil.
  • Next up on the list of spells involving positive and negative energy we have the curative and anti-curative spells, such as Cure/Inflict Wounds, Vigor, Delay Poison, Energetic Healing, Healthful Rest, Cleanse, Heal/Harm, Life Shield, Symbol Of Healing, Revenance, Revivify, Remove Radioactivity, Resurgent Transformation, Pillar Of Life, Repair Undead, and Heal / Harm.

These spells are a bit weird. Most of the Curative spells are Conjuration (Healing) – which makes some sense – but the corresponding negative-energy vesions tend to be Necromancy, and neither version is (Good) or (Evil). Why aren’t the equal-and-opposite spells Conjuration (Infliction) rather than Necromancy? Or why aren’t the Curative spells Necromancy? After all, in first and second editions curative spells were reversible and were all Necromancy. (No one seems to be entirely sure why it was changed except that someone working on the project felt that “Necromancy” should be inherently nasty and that “Good People” shouldn’t use it. Of course, you couldn’t take Healing away from anyone, or the setting broke). There’s the argument that you are conjuring new flesh and blood to fix a wound, but then why can’t I fix that watermelon? And why do Air Elementals get healed this way? Worse, in Fourth Edition healing spells tend to be Daily Use Utility Prayers and in Fifth Edition curative spells are Evocation. Given that, it’s kind of obvious that the school assignment is pretty much arbitrary – especially since those are mostly Divine Spells, and “school” doesn’t matter much to Clerics.

So to justify this in game terms…

  • Perhaps these spells are simply “taking out a loan”? Some of them are strictly temporary, while the excess positive energy of the actual healing effects might either leak back or simply take the place of the positive side of the usual flow of power through living and unliving things over time. That would leave no net gain or loss of energy on the material plane, and thus no reason for them to be “Good” or “Evil”.
  • It could mean that those spells involve the old idea of Backlash. They’re neutral because their effects are automatically balanced out. Perhaps when one creature is Healed another one somewhere else suffers equal and opposite Harm. Or perhaps the power is drawn from the patient or healer in some form. Does being magically healed magically age you a few hours or days depending on the level of injury? Who would notice? It’s not like characters come with a life expectancy meter and how often does “death by old age” come up for Adventurers anyway?
  • It could also mean that these spells are simply misclassified, and actually are necromancy spells – which could be taken to mean that there are limits to how much healing is available, or mean that healing does not work well in dark dungeons full of pooled negative energy (where little or no ambient positive energy is available), or some such. That would have the (very welcome) side effect of restoring some slightly longer-term meaning to losing hit points after the first few levels (after which Healing Belts, Wands of Lesser Vigor, and similar tricks mean starting every encounter with your full hit points).

 

  • The final major group of spells – Bless / Curse Water, Sanctify Corpse, Veil Of Heaven / Positive Energy, Empower Holy Water, Light of Iomedae, Consecrate / Desecrate, Khain’s Army, Animate Dead, Hallow / Unhallow, and Create Undead – DO carry the “Good” or “Evil” descriptor. And notably… they all definitely do import excess positive or negative energy, and so make permanent, ongoing, changes in the energy balance of the material plane.
  • The last few relevant spells – things like Life Channel, Undeath Inversion, Blood Of The Martyr, and Fire Of Judgement – all have to do with either shifting positive or negative energy around or changing how they interact. They’re rightfully neither good nor evil.

Now the point of all this is to take a look at how positive and negative energy work and what they mean in terms of the setting so that we can see what MAKES casting certain spells or the use of Channeling inherently good or evil.

And what the game seems to imply… is that using ambient negative energy, or generating it by producing equal amounts of positive and negative energy, is morally neutral. On the other hand, pulling negative energy from the Negative Material Plane into the rest of the universe – whether in a burst or in a slow trickle – is inherently evil.

Stronger creatures powered by ambient negative energy will need some way to harvest it – perhaps haunting places where it collects (the classic graveyard haunts), or cultivating and draining it from others (for example, the Sirens from My Little Pony). This could even be benign, at least to start with. After all, stealing negative energy from a normal creature could theoretically leave it happier and healthier. Of course, when that’s no longer enough available naturally, and the creature must start to cultivate negative energy to feed… then things will start to get bad.

In theory you could also get spontaneous negative energy creatures arising anywhere where a lot of negative energy has built up – but the nature of negative energy is destructive. You won’t get evolved complexity, built up over time (that’s why even intelligent undead tend to go madder and madder over the centuries). Something else will have to provide a framework for your creature to form around and a spark to bring it to (un-)life – but if the old manor has built up a pool of negative energy, is filled with psychic traces of hatred and disharmony, and someone murders the old man who owned the place during a burglary… then you have power, purpose, and spark.

That does give us an opening though; in this view Animate Dead draws a burst of negative energy into the world to create weak undead powered by ambient energy and Create Undead gives them a continuous link – but you could (at least in theory) use a higher-level spell to gather ambient negative energy and use it to create Animate Dead style undead powered by ambient negative energy without it being actively evil – at least as far as the process goes. You’d still bear at least some responsibility for anything they got up to later though – and THAT is almost certain to go badly eventually. Similarly, you could use ambient negative energy to manifest undead constructs, allowing you to use “summon undead” without the [Evil] descriptor as Pathfinder does – but that also goes a long way towards explaining why those spells are so ineffectual for their levels.

As for what you could animate or what might animate spontaneously… you’re creating a creature with no pattern to follow using forces which are inherently difficult to control and shape. That means that complex creatures and minds are likely going to be out of reach. Destructive oozes, simpler aberrations, and constructs are a good starting point. You just make them evil instead of neutral and throw “undead” qualities on top of whatever they started with. Make them vulnerable to positive energy and let negative energy heal them and you’re mostly ready to go. For a few possibilities… consider the Ragewind (3.5 MMII), Raggamoffyn (3.5 MMII), Hangman Golem (3.5, MMIII), Cadaver Collector (3.5 MMIII), Necrophidius (3.0 Fiend Folio), Attic Whisperer (Pathfinder), Corpse Candle (Pathfinder), Byakhee (Pathfinder), and Jealous Structure (Pathfinder Curse). For items on the blog… I’d recommend the Dark Tales series (The Hunt, The Grove, The Well, The House, and The Ship). I’d also recommend the Occult monster-enhancing packages.

Anything with an active link to the Negative Material Plane (like virtually all of the more powerful undead) however…. will be a walking blight on the world, actively draining the energy of the universe to survive. It may not consider itself anything but hungry – but by the objective standards of d20 such creatures are inherently evil and utterly hostile no matter how they limit themselves or justify their feeding.

And for another reader response and answer…

Personally, the issue I see is that most undead seem to act as either constructs like skeletons and liches that just happen to use living remains as the raw materials or are some sort of a contagious plague like vampires or zombies. As such they all seem to be defined with regards to a former “living” state. Thus I find it hard to visualize some method of generating undead corpses without some source of corpses to begin with that required it being alive at some point. Which isn’t to say you couldn’t animate a mass of calcium and synthetic protein into a zombie, but I don’t think that is the idea you were going with.

Instead, I would look at the idea of negative energy life forms as a mirror to positive energy lifeforms. A lot of material seems to assume that all living things have some sort of link to the Positive Energy Plane that provides the animating/organizing force independent of the creature’s metabolism. While never entirely clear, the positive energy a creature can pull through into the material plane is limited and that is what is the bottleneck for things like healing, lifespan, and growth. To further boost those in response to disease, injury, or aging, external sources are required in the form of medicinal herbs, healing spells, and lifeforce infusions.

With that said, I would argue that lifeforms that use a link to the Negative Energy Plane as an energy sink would be possible. Instead of pulling energy in to heal injuries, it could instead sacrifice mass-energy to the sink to generate power for healing instead.

While in many ways indistinguishable from normal life forms, this could have a number of interesting side effects: poor (or even addictive) response to normal healing, a tendency to lose mass over time, a body temperature a little below ambient, healing ability being proportional to mass (i.e. being fatter), slower growth rates, much higher need to eat/drink to maintain mass and health, higher tolerance to heat, and lower tolerance to cold.

Thus I can imagine life forms running around the material plane vacuuming up loose bits of mass-energy to consume, growth, and multiply across the landscape. Attempts by these creatures to eat normal life forms or vice versa could go poorly as the resulting (brief) collision between positive and negative energy taps lead to explosive results. Which could then lead to entire areas being dominated by one form of life or the other depending on which gained a hold first. Perhaps this could be the mechanism behind those absurdly vibrant underground ecologies and why people aren’t roasted alive due to the geothermal heat.

This could then lead to all sorts of fun little issues like you can’t eat the local flora/fauna without some significant preparation work, extremely potent medicines made from plants of the other type that are a pain to gather, and really nasty monsters that start off huge and can continue fighting for long periods of time simply by sacrificing mass for regeneration until it is too small and then flees whereupon it may return larger than ever when you least suspect it.

Not that this is a set of mechanical alterations like you asked, but perhaps this is food for thought to help brainstorm some more ideas, adventures, and horrifying experiments.

-Spellweaver81

This is actually a lot like the physics of Continuum II – where energy flowed from Hyperspace into normal space and from normal space into subspace. Physical creatures could exist in any of the three – and energy creatures could exist across the interfaces. The most common energy beings were “Demons” (linking Normal Space and Subspace, and so almost universally deadly predators, feeding on each other and on any energy they could get) and “Manitou” (linking Hyperspace and Normal Space. Their problem was controlling the flow of energy). A very few life forms had both Hyperspace and Subspace links, but while that provided immense abilities to both generate and dissipate energy, coupling it was wildly unstable; a “God” needed stabilizing feedback to avoid exploding or dissipating.

  • Undead” combined a Demonic aspect and a Physical Body in Normal Space. They needed constant energy inputs to resist the drain of Subspace.
  • Faerie combined a Manitou aspect and a (Living) Physical Body in Normal Space. They dissipated excess energy as a variety of powers.
  • Elementals occurred when a Manitou anchored itself into nonliving mass. They ranged from tiny things to the planetary core elemental.
  • Totem Spirits were anchored through the Empyrean (mental) Plane into a group of living things.
  • And so on.

Overall there were five major orders of life, dozens of types of symbiotic hybrids, and a lot of tinkering, Thus the characters occasionally did things like analyzing the metabolism and biology of dragons, or the genetics underlying the different power-expressions that led to storm, fire, ice, and primal giants. After all… once they knew how something worked, they could figure out how to manipulate it to be more to their liking.

Alas, however, d20 and Pathfinder don’t really go into that kind of detail. There are reasons for that. They have many writers, so maintaining any kind of consistent physics is near-impossible to start with and (worse) going into that kind of detail would mean that the game master would need to study a lot of physics before running the game. Pathfinder’s writers in particular are very reluctant to introduce any new mechanics (preferring to refluff old ones, which is how they wound up with Psychic Spells and with Grit, Ki, and several other kinds of points which all work the same way while supposedly representing wildly different processes) for fear of the kind of unexpected rules interactions / exploits that so plague 3.5. That, in fact, was a part of the reason for Eclipse; you can use it to build exotic mechanics (such as the Nymic Mage), while maintaining a basic consistency.

So this won’t really work. D20 tells us that the Negative Energy Plane is full of undead (who, if they had negative metabolisms, should respond to being there like positive energy creatures do on the Positive Material Plane – although they’d probably disintegrate instead of exploding), that negative energy creatures cannot grow or reproduce except by infecting or consuming positive energy creatures, that negative energy creatures cannot gain levels save by stealing positive energy from truly living creatures, and that negative energy is inherently entropic and entirely destructive. Negative energy creatures can amalgamate with each other – but that’s merging, not growth. Thus a negative energy creature will always have to have a structure provided for it somehow.

I think the closest things to this in d20 are the half-undead templates from Dragon Magazine. Of course, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a half-undead ecosystem going.

And I hope that helps!

Continuum II: C’hi Powers, Part III

Introspection and C’hi Powers are well known for their relationship to the martial arts. At it’s most basic, this opened a special option for the “Mystic” category of basic martial arts maneuvers – C’hi Channeling, which boosted the user’s effective level for the use of Introspection and C’hi powers by +1 per level up to a maximum of +7 levels. The first level counted as three martial arts options, each level after that cost one additional option. This, of course, weakened the mundane effectiveness of such styles, but greatly boosted the effectiveness of any C’hi powers used with them. Higher level characters would still win a fight due to their far greater power reserves, durability, and advanced skills – but at least it took a few rounds and so allowed promising youngsters to be effective speed bumps, just like they are in martial arts movies.

Really high-end “martial arts styles” – the sort of stuff you find in over-the-top martial arts comic books where the characters shrivel people to dust with a touch, shatter small mountains, shapeshift, fly, and otherwise act like super-heroes and super-villains – tended to consist of little more than a list of Introspection and C’hi powers and ways that the style typically combined them. For example…

The Poison Claw Style was an exotic and almost entirely offensive form relying on hand attacks, usually from a crouched position.

  • The techniques most commonly included as a part of the style were Intimidation (an Introspection ability), Biofocusing, C’hi Drain, Eagles Claw/Crushing Claw, Hastening, Metabolic Control, Plague Carrier/ Poison Touch, Whirlwind/Whirlwind True, Amplification (Strength), and Sensory Stun (another Introspection ability).
  • Common combinations included the signature “Poison Claw” attacks (Hastening, Crushing Claw, and Poison Touch), exhaling deadly clouds of plague or toxins (Whirlwind and Plague Carrier or Poison Touch), ripping minor enemies apart to terrify others (Intimidation, Crushing Claw, and Strength Amplification), finger-snaps so powerful that they could render every one nearby blind and deaf (Whirlwind True and Sensory Stun twice), absorbing enemy toxins or encountered diseases to add to your own arsenal (Metabolic Control and Poison Touch or Plague Carrier as needed), and so on – with each adept developing their own preferred list.
  • Overall, the style tended towards swiftly crippling groups of opponents – making it easy for friends and allies to deal with them. It didn’t work so well on major opponents, since they were often highly resistant to the user’s abilities.

It didn’t bear much resemblance to the acrobatic, ice-based Glacial Wind Style (using Polarity Shield, Projection/Psychic Lance, Biofocusing, Dim Mak True (focusing on heat and cold), Binding (encasing opponents in ice), Iron Fist, Will Shield, and Acrobatics). The Glacial Wind could inflict impressive amounts of damage, but ran more towards “close with the major opponent and entrap him or her long enough for your friends and allies to take him or her out”.

Black Lotus Flower Style was focused on deception, rapid movement, and energy transfer, relying on hand strikes for offense and evasiveness for defense. It’s basic techniques included Sensory Stun/Mirage (introspection again), Kinetic Aura/True, Hastening/Ghosting, Light Foot, Acrobatics, Iron Fist/C’hi Pulse, Shockwave/Chiburst, Transfer, Natural Empathy/Vital Points, and Missile Deflection/Evasion. It was used to confuse and delude masses of enemies, keeping them striking at phantoms while the user took them out one by one with cheap precision strikes.

Stalking Death Style employed Persuasion/Mesmerism (an Introspection ability), Unpresence/Psychic Camouflage (more Introspection), Hypersenses, Vibration (used to shatter bones, open locks, stun with a touch, and combined with Resistance to allow brief intangibility), Resistance (Vibration), Precision, Focused Mastery (Stealth), Light Foot, Acrobatics, and Evasion/Vanishing – basically focusing on becoming a living shadow, capable of mesmerizing guards, passing through walls, walking through a crowd unseen, seeing in darkness, and bypassing all kinds of defenses.

And there were many, MANY, other styles. Pretty much every C’hi-using character came up with their own if none of the existing ones caught their eye. They didn’t always do a good job the first time around, but they could always pick up a new technique or two and retrain their list of personal maneuvers to do something a bit different.

Storm Weaver Style was a “natural disaster” style, focused on turning the environment into a whirling tornado-shield and firing masses of material like a cannon – whether loaded with grapeshot or solid projectiles. It could also generate shockwaves, hurl or turn aside avalanches, and devastate areas – although, it was very power-intensive. It was very much a niche style, since – for the most part – if you really wanted to battle armies and tear up the landscape there were major psionics and several kinds of magic that did it at much lower cost. Unless you were in a martial arts / C’hi powers ONLY campaign there wasn’t a lot of point in this.

Seven Finger Jitsu Style focused heavily on introspection, vital points, precision, and projected strikes – to the point where a master generally stood around with their arms crossed and entirely hidden within their billowing sleeves, making subtle finger gestures inside those sleeves to invisibly inflict various injuries on their opponents. It’s chief advantage was being set up to use almost no power. A master could pretty much keep it up indefinitely and often didn’t even appear to be doing anything but sneering at their opponents. On the other hand, it focused on individual targets, wasn’t overwhelmingly powerful even then, and wasn’t terribly fast in dealing with those targets. Rather like Darth Vader’s “Force Choke”, it wasn’t an especially good way to deal with an onrushing horde or a giant (and likely resistant) monster. Fortunately, adding in a few area effect options made it much more effective for adventuring purposes, even if it did kick up the power costs.

And to get back to the ability listing, here are the last of the…

C’hi Techniques

Plague Carrier: This technique allows the user to maintain, and adapt to, the presence of various virulent microorganisms in his bloodstream and tissues, releasing them thru the capillaries in his skin at will. While potentially very useful, this can have gruesome consequences when/ if something goes wrong. As a side effect, this grants near-total immunity to anything already present in the user’s bloodstream, and a fair degree of resistance to new “acquisitions”. “Poison Touch” allows the user to adapt similarly to carrying exotic chemicals in his / her bloodstream, including various poisons, drugs, and corrosives. However, unlike micro-organisms, chemicals are not self-replenishing. This ordinarily limits the user to whatever he / she has recently ingested. Further improvements include the ability to produce various chemicals internally, to selectively modify the organisms living in your blood (This usually means creating a resistant or weakened strain, but further improvements may allow genetic modifications) – and the ability to create antidotes, vaccines, antibiotics, and counter-agents, for the stuff you’re circulating in your blood. Perhaps sadly, this technique has a reputation as bad as, or maybe even worse then, Dim Mak. Even the occasional healer who specializes in the curative aspects of this talent will generally be regarded with grave suspicion.

Power Block: This handy technique allows the user to link an offensive technique with a defensive one, a trick which allows the user to block an attack using a technique such as Auric Shunt and strike back with the same, “defensive”, action. The advanced version allows the user to surround himself with an aura carrying the effects of another technique, which will affect anyone who touches the user. Unfortunately, unless this skill is otherwise improved, this has to be a technique that would normally affect another person. Further improvements could involve that aspect of the technique – but more commonly involve things like extending the radius of the effect, extending defensive abilities to shield a radius, or making such an effect a reflexive action.

Precision: This technique heightens the users fine muscular control, providing a substantial bonus on any action involving fine work or precise action – such as missile fire (especially thrown weaponry), striking at openings and joints in armor (reducing the protection it gives) – and when striking from behind or by surprise. The bonus is usually around +3, but it only applies if the user is attempting a precise action, in which case it usually compensates for some of the penalties. This ability is especially formidable if combined with some of the other psychic abilities – such as Vital Points. The advanced version further refines these techniques, increasing the bonus (to +5) and assists the user in any technique involving fine control of his or her nervous system and personal energies. Any bonuses with weapons due to this technique are not cumulative with “normal” martial arts skills. Further improvements may involve things like doing micro-precision work, perfecting the ability to stand absolutely still, working faster, and enhancing the users martial arts skills.

Projection: This deadly technique allows the user to link his own bioenergy field with his targets – and then transfer the effects he generates internally into them. Obviously enough, the auras of the user and the target must be in contact for this to work at all, and it’s much easier and much more dependable if the targets physical body is within the user’s aura. This usually limits this technique’s effective range to (Dex) feet. Worse, the concentration this requires generally means that using this technique requires two actions. It can be a dangerous technique to use as well, since linking your personal energy field to that of a major demon or an undead creature can be extremely dangerous to both parties involved. Even lesser incompatibilities can be bothersome. The simplest effect available is a ranged blow, but projection is often combined with other C’hi techniques to create more exotic effects. The advanced version directs, channels, and releases the effect along a projected carrier, without directly linking the user to the target. While this avoids the dangers inherent in linking auras (and extends the range to (Dex x 10 feet) it, unlike the basic version, can miss and can be resisted normally. The basic version quite effectively bypasses a wide variety of defenses. Both versions have trouble penetrating an area protected by a psychic shield, but most such shields are limited to protecting the user’s mind, not his or her body. Further improvements often involve blocking possible feedback, further extensions of the range, reducing the need for concentration, and channeling other energies through the link.

Psychic Aura: Is probably the strangest technique on the entire list. Closely related to empyrean magic, it involves physically manifesting a psychic construct based on the users aura. This can get seriously weird. Exactly what form the construct “takes” depends on the users personality – as well as on what they attempt to develop. Examples include; blazing Inner Light, which “dispels the darkness” and “drives back that which is impure”, grasping, Manipulative Tendrils that entangle and manipulate all who approach, Good Vibrations, that damp hostilities, evoke friendship, and make everyone in the area feel good, the Dragon-Form, a type of psychic exoskeleton, the sullen, vengeful, rage of the spirit-choking Balefire, the slippery/evasive shield/disguise of a con-artist’s Doppelganger Field, and the hypnotic, devouring, inner darkness of the Myndwulf, which was capable of tearing thoughts and memories out of people’s minds. The exact powers and nature of a psychic aura vary, ranging from things like a “simple”, physical, repulsion of enemies to outre’ philosophical abilities. Advanced versions tend to improve and expand on the basic effect – but the most common improvement is to extend the range. Other improvements may include; manifesting related effects, reducing the psychic strength costs, reducing the time it takes to call up the manifestation – or evading the possibility that the construct will begin to influence the user. Psychic Auras are normally built with the Power Armor rules. Unlike actual power armor, however, they tend to be very short-term and expensive to maintain, even if they do offer an unusual range of special functions. .

As a more modern note… if you’ve just GOT to be Naruto or Etrigan or something, this is one way to do it; that’s really just adding drawbacks to your construct to make it more powerful and semi-independent.

Psychic Purging: Is a straightforward effect used to expel foreign energies, substances, beings, and so on, purging the users mind and of all such influences. The advanced version extends the effect to the user’s physical body as well. Psychic Purging can thus be used to eliminate poisons, compulsive effects, and other intrusive things, but the energy cost is proportionate to the strength of the effect. This normally requires both some time and quite a bit of concentration. Further improvements often involve reducing those requirements or extending the effect to break off unwanted contacts or links. A rare improvement is to reduce the use of the technique to the unconscious level, making it very difficult to keep the user from using the technique to throw off mental influences.

Psychic Reservoir: A simple technique that allows the user to accumulate a greater-then-usual reserve of psychic energy – increasing the user’s maximum psychic strength total by (Level) points. Further improvements increase the maximum by half a point per level. Unlike other techniques, there are few complications involved in either the basic or in the improved versions. It does have a side effect, in that each level beyond the second boosts the users limit for the safe expenditure of psychic strength in a round by one point.

Psychic Shield: This technique enhances the users ability to resist psychic probes and attacks, generating a low-level barrier against psychic contact. The basic version is fairly effective against simple suggestive, emotional, and hypnotic effects, and will protect the user from casual psychic scans and passive psi-senses, but is of little use against directed probes and attacks relying on raw power instead of subtle influences. The advanced version lets the user actively resist psychic attacks and related powers, including compulsive spells, fascination, hypnosis, and telepathic assaults, although this can get expensive. Further improvements may allow the user to identify the source of any psychic attack, generate a shield against projected psychic abilities, protect an area, hurl away living beings by “repelling their auras”, or create a permanent (if low-level) barrier.

Resistance (Specify): This handy technique allows the user to resist a particular effect, whether a form of energy, a class of substance, or a particular type of attack. Possible effects include acid, electricity, telepathy, fire and heat, and impact. The major limitation is that such effects must generally affect the targets entire body – which weapons generally do not. Note that “resistance” is not “immunity”. It only reduces the injuries caused by major effects – although minor ones can be ignored. A character with “resistance to fire” can easily pick up a coal to light his (or her) pipe without injury, but toppling into lava will still be a bad experience – if far more survivable than usual. The advanced versions can provide near-immunity to broad effects and resistance to powerful focused attacks (such as weapons), but are active effects, and so require conscious expenditure of psychic energy. Further improvements usually involve reducing the cost, making them “automatic”, or expanding their protection (EG; Acids to Corrosives to (eventually) Dangerous Chemicals).

Self Healing: The technique maintains and repairs the user’s body, restoring it to its normal state. As such, there are no short-term supernormal enhancements associated with this technique although it does provide innate self-diagnostic abilities. The basic form allows the user to regain (1D6+1) points of vitality per psychic strength point expended, up to a maximum of (End/3) “points” of psychic strength per day. While the basic level is not sufficient to simply cure major diseases or counteract powerful toxins, it is capable of handling most lesser problems and moderating the effects of greater ones. It allow the user to shrug off pain, tension, lack of sleep, thirst, hunger, and a variety of other discomforts – within reason, since the cost will increase as the problem becomes more critical. Remaining awake and alert for a few days is trivial, a few weeks is considerably harder, and a years at a time is extremely expensive. The advanced form extends the curative functions, allowing the user to counteract virtually any disease or toxin. It also allows the user to extend the benefits of the “basic” level to others. Further improvements include reduced aging, slow regeneration of lost limbs and organ, stabilizing the user’s body against overloads, stress, and environmental problems (such as dangerous, but not instantly deadly, levels of radiation, temperature, low oxygen, and toxic chemicals), remaining active despite severe injuries, and even (temporarily) resisting death.

Senethar: This ability channels energy within the user’s bioenergy aura, a talent related to Auric Shunt but attuned to energy rather than matter. The “basic” version used passively provides a modest (+3) bonus on the users Resistance Rating and Defense Rating vs energy-based attacks. In active mode, it lets the user attempt to divert individually-targeted energy attacks – as well as to attempt to tap and channel energy sources within his or her aura. The advanced version permits the user to attempt to divert or reflect such attacks on an “automatic” basis. While this is not effective on area effects, it does provide a +5 bonus on relevant Resistance checks. Further improvements often involve focusing and projecting available energies and area-effects, grounding energy sources, increasing the effectiveness of the basic functions, learning to manipulate purely magical or psionic energies, instead of accepting the usual limitation to quasi-physical ones, storing a circulating “pool” of energy, and channeling energy into barriers.

Sexual Techniques: Always one of the most popular (if, perhaps, not one of the most practical) available disciplines – incorporating enhanced sexual endurance, skills, sensitivity, and attraction along with perfect control of fertility and the bodies physical responses. The advanced version extends this to the auric level – adding a seductive aura, pleasure-sharing, and similar talents. This technique is often combined with others, such as Mindlink, Precision, and Relaxation – although addiction may become a problem. Further improvements may include easing pregnancy and childbirth, using the energy of the activity to recharge psychically (possibly even to above normal limits), “charming” / fascinating the possible partners, creating various kinds of links, the ability to use other talents on your partner, pheromone generation, deliberate addiction of others, physiological and/or genetic manipulation of the children, using the energy surge to boost other abilities beyond normal limits, and resistance to disease.

I’ve never seen any point in trying to pretend that this would NOT be one of the most popular topics of research and development in any field that covered it. My usual ruling was that this particular field of study could just be noted as background characterization (like “my character is really good-looking and gets invited to a lot of swinging parties!) unless you expected it to actually have notable game effects (like “my character is so good-looking that he/she just gets admitted to see important people without question”) – in which case you had to actually pay for it.

Shadow Casting: This bizarre technique allows the user to “split off” portions of his self – of his or her personal mass, vitality, psyche, and energies. Such “shadows” may embody a fraction of the users energies in general, or a particular portion of the users power and personality. In either case, they are usually physically intangible (and can’t “die” by normal means) – unless they embody a major fraction of the user. Both psychic and magical senses will detect them as “real”, if weak and partial, presences. Shadows can be used as scouts, diversions, and even as weapons, but they are splendid links to the user, and will generally be missed if he or she doesn’t get a chance to re-absorb them. Splitting off too much of yourself is dangerous, especially over long periods of time. The advanced version allows the user to reshape a shadow – either internally, granting the user the ability to draw on the powers of whatever type of creature he’s reshaped a portion of his “self” into (QV; Weres) or to be released, creating a kind of “companion creature”. Such creatures are still shadows and remain telepathically linked to their creater over a fair range. Further improvements may involve giving shadows greater solidity, self-duplication, drawing on were-creature powers, placing a part of your self into another body, using a reshaped shadow as a disguise, and entirely disassembling yourself and re-assembling somewhere else. It’s also possible to set up a “repertoire” of different shadows, but this takes practice.

Shockwave: A simple, if expensive, technique that unleashes an overwhelming wave of pure psychic energy. In itself, this is simply a stunning, concussive, bolt of force – however it can be propagated through objects unless they’re resistant to psychic energies and can act as a “carrier” for other effects. The shockwave can be projected up to (Dex x 10) feet or be extended as a cone out to the limits of the users aura. The advanced version simply allows the user to push beyond those limits, at a cost dependent on how far the ability is being pushed. Shockwaves are incredibly “noisy”, on the psychic level, if not always on the physical. They tend to disrupt psychic constructs, shatter spells with psychic components (such as most illusions and mental manipulations), stun psychic sensitives, and otherwise make a mess. Further improvements usually revolve around making it cheaper to use, extending the disruption-effect to the physical or magical level, or learning to attune it to specific targets or types of targets, thus making the effect selective.

Somatic Control: This technique allows the user to manipulate and augment his or her bodies physical processes on the gross level, manipulating heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, need for sleep, food, and water, breathing, and so on – supplying any shortcomings (such as there being no air to breathe) with psychic energy. While this control can be used for an immense variety of “yoga” tricks, it’s most dramatic use is in resisting injury through control of bleeding, shock, and repair processes. The basic version allows the user to transfer a part of any damage taken from injuries, toxins, or diseases, to his/her psychic reserves and to resist effects which “drain” attributes. The advanced version extends the basic abilities, and adds new ones; it can be used for self- healing, to resist or suspend the effects of injuries, and to briefly “push” the user’s other psychic abilities by boosting neural activity – a potent, expensive, and dangerous technique. The user can suspend the effects of some single attack for up to (Wis) days, but cannot recover either physically or mentally until the damage has been dealt with. Further improvements cover things like ignoring mortal injuries, feigning death, boosted recovery of psychic energy, enhanced ability to absorb injuries, and neural surge techniques.

Transfer: This is the technique of nonresistance, of “allowing” energies to pass through the user’s body and aura without interacting with them. While not totally effective, it can reduce the effect of such attacks by up to 90%. It’s even possible to transfer the kinetic energy of material objects, although this doesn’t work very well against precisely-focused (arrows, thrusting attacks, etc) or continuously-driven (EG, chain saws and rapiers) attacks. It also has a minimum “threshold” of about ten points of damage. Below that point it simply isn’t possible to drop the resistance low enough. This is a very expensive discipline to use – and so is probably best saved for the “big stuff”. The advanced version allows the user to attempt the opposite tactic – increasing their “resistance” to the point where the force rebounds against its source. While this tactic can be spectacular, it’s also dangerous. If the force overwhelms the users resistance, he or she will absorb the full impact – often as structural damage. Boosting your resistance this way tends to forfeit a lot of the “give” usually inherent in living structures. Further improvements often include somewhat reducing the cost, transferring attacks into someone else (this trick has the same sort of disadvantage as “reflection” does. If the victim manages to resist, the user will absorb the full effect), protecting the area within your aura, or extending the effect to several attacks within a brief period.

Vibration: This technique allows the user to generate powerful vibrations, either internally, or in whatever he or she touches. While this can be applied in a variety of ways, the most common is to shake, disrupt, or shatter whatever it’s directed against. Other uses range from massage, through removing tarnish, to countering sonic attacks. The advanced version lets the user generate a powerful “pulse” of vibration or a vibratory “shield”, a trick which makes him/her nearly impossible to hold. If combined with an appropriate resistance, this can even be used to render the user intangible, if usually only briefly. Attempting such internal tricks without the resistance is often painful and (in the case of attempting full intangibility) sometimes fatal. Further improvements include causing structural damage, “reaching into” the other aspects (subdimensions of reality), seeking out resonant frequencies to use to destroy things, subsonic manipulations of emotions, inducing severe vertigo, countering vibratory effects, knocking people out, and ignoring armor.

Vocal Control: This subtly potent technique begins with “basic” mimicry, permitting near-absolute mastery of tone, inflection, and accent, as well as the allowing the user to effectively imitate an incredible range of sounds – often at remarkable volume. It also makes it easier to acquire languages – reducing the skill point cost by one, to a minimum of one. The advanced version extends this to the ability to interweave subtle tones and inflections in normal speech – weaving suggestions and insinuations, subtly influencing moods, and issuing abrupt orders with a fair chance of being obeyed. Such tactics work best on well-known individuals, poorly on strangers – and not at all on unknown races. Further improvements include a hypnotic voice, a “great shout” (capable of deafening people a breaking windows within a radius of several hundred feet), focused speech that “carries” only to its intended target even at great range, generating a telekinetic field within the users aura which acts as a kind of “amplifier” or “speaker”, psychic projection of meaning along with the words, or further linguistic enhancements.

Whirlwind: This deadly technique permits the user to attack everyone within his or her bioenergy aura, a radius in feet equal to his/her dexterity. While this may be a basic physical attack, many characters employ more exotic techniques, ranging from a nerve strike to plague carrier. Sadly, using such exotic techniques with the basic version requires paying for each attack separately. It does, however, allow the user to selectively exempt possible targets if he or she so desires. The advanced version permits the user to simply pay twice the price of a single attack for the full sequence – but doesn’t allow for leaving people out. Further improvements may permit launching an entire rounds attacks instead of a single strike, reduce the cost, allow target selection with the advanced form, make simple attacks automatic, extend the effect to three dimensions (and possibly even beyond that), creating a sphere of a long-term effect, or simply pushing people away automatically.

Will Shield: This handy technique allows the user to superimpose a counterpattern to an incoming psychic (or mystic) effect on his aura – making any resistance check an all-or-nothing proposition. Fortunately, the user can generally “feel” whether or not he can handle the incoming effect. (In game terms, the user may pay for using this technique after a successful resistance check to fully nullify the attack. If the roll fell in the marginal success or marginal failure range however the user may still pay for the attempt – but will have to roll again. It might or might not work. A failure will leave the user too busy dealing with the collapse to resist in any other fashion). The advanced version allows the user to blunt an effect that overwhelms the counterpattern, increasing his level of success by two levels. Further improvements may involve learning to resist internal effects (poisons and such) similarly, gaining bonuses on particular categories of rolls (EG; either vs particular items, such as “drugs and toxins”, or on rolls against a particular attribute), resisting the effects of shock, countering subtle mental effects and influences, ignoring distractions, or making great efforts.

The Introspection and C’hi systems allowed characters using them to have unique styles and suites of abilities, while still being free to attempt hundreds of different tricks with varying chances of success depending on their underlying abilities. Of course, it also required a lot of on-the-fly game master adjudication. That was the main weakness of Continuum II; the players had a lot of fun – but it took years of play before any of them were really ready to run a game of their own because they needed to understand how everything worked before they could easily figure out what was likely to happen when a player tried something outre on them.

It was also possible for it to backfire. For an example, when the party was attempting to deal with a water mage who’d set up shop in a swamp, they found that his tower was made of water – and simply flowed into gaps and otherwise repaired itself when they tried to breach it. One C’hi master announced that he was going to “channel an enormous pulse of energy into his metabolism and briefly enhance it to “bomb” speeds, channel that thermal energy into a reserve before it could injure him, and them project it – creating the equivalent of a massive shaped charge to blow away a chunk of the tower. He acknowledged that this was potentially suicidal when I warned him – but he went ahead and tried it anyway.

He didn’t manage to project the energy before he lost control. The resulting blast pretty much vaporized him, but also blew away a large chunk of the tower.

And then another character with far less training and skill announced that – since the first attempt HAD taken down a lot of the tower – he was going to try the same stunt. The rest of the players told him he was insane, but he insisted.

Still, two such blasts did take out most of the tower, so that was something I suppose.

Similarly, when Arthur attempted to put together a combination to let him meditate his way back to the present (linking himself to the planetary biosphere to get the strength to maintain his body and putting himself into a healing trance to maintain his mind) after being stranded on an alien world  a hundred and forty million years in the past, he made most of his checks – but lost track of his body, and wound up greeting his friends as the spirit of the local biosphere. That really put a crimp into his ability to go adventuring until after he figured out a way to make an Avatar.

Continuum II: C’hi Powers, Part II

Quite a lot of things in Continuum II ran on the same general mechanic; you had a power defined by how it worked and by it’s theme. You could attempt anything within your personal limits for handling energy and the limits of whatever energy source you were drawing on that fit in with how it worked and with that theme, at a cost determined by how much power it would require and a difficulty determined by the level of fine control it required – with most basic actions being simple enough not to bother rolling for.

So you had Electrokinesis and you wanted to throw an electrical bolt? A high power cost (depending on the damage and range you wanted), but a really easy control check – so easy in fact that you normally didn’t need to roll that control check because success would be automatic. You wanted to override the circuits of an electronic lock to open a door? Not much power required, but you’d want a lot of fine control – so a difficult roll (made much easier if you had some applicable special senses so you weren’t fumbling around blind). You wanted to reach into a computer you’re touching and directly enter some false data? Almost no power – but a virtually impossible check unless you had supplementary powers like “computer emulation” to make it more reasonable, and probably tricky even then.

Psychic Powers fueled by your personal energies (C’hi powers if they normally operated inside your own energy-aura, and so had direct control feedback and a big break on control checks, Psychomancy if they projected energy beyond that range and so gave smaller bonuses) gave bonuses to control, but had much lower upper power limits because your body only had so much energy available. Powers fueled by available external sources of energy (minor psionics) had no modifiers. Powers fueled by remote, but almost unlimited, cosmic energy sources (major psionics) could accomplish incredible things – but required a low transfer impedance to avoid frying the user’s brain with the waste energies and made fine control extremely difficult. Not too surprisingly, characters who opted to focus on stealth, manipulation, and otherwise being subtle tended to go for personal-energy based powers, those who wanted to balance power and control went for minor psionics, and those wishing to deal in vast amounts of raw power went for major psionics. They could all be equally effective in combat of course; using personal energies to pinch someone’s aorta shut worked just as well as using cosmic power sources to crush them with a mountain.

With psychic powers you could improve your control with rituals, tools, and time, and/or improve your raw power with boosters, foci, and channels. If you wished to extend the theme, or make a power cheaper to use, or improve your fine control, or vary it in a lot of other ways, you invested more skill points in it. That had an upper limit of seven in total, but let you personalize and improve your favorite powers and uses thereof.

Overall, I’ve always preferred this general approach; it means that there’s a lot of ways for a thoughtful player to solve problems and manipulate their character’s powers to meet particular challenges.

And to stop musing and get back to the C’hi power descriptions from lo, those many years past…

C’hi Techniques

C’hi Infusion: This technique allows the user to transfer psychic energy (or vitality) to someone else, usually on a temporary basis. The user simply attunes his bioenergy field to the recipients and channels his or her energy into them. While this sounds simple, the actual technique is fairly complex, and merely setting up the link requires a certain amount of energy. Fortunately, physical contact usually makes it easier. The advanced version lets the user “guide” the recipient’s internal energy flows, making it far easier (and much safer for the student) to teach c’hi disciplines – and even allows a teacher to temporarily imbue his target with some of his own techniques, catalyze a shapechange, or help them heal wounds. Interestingly, this also allows a “teacher” to study his “students” techniques. Further improvements generally revolve around deeper transfers (EG – skills, knowledges, and languages), fast teaching, fast learning, and amplifying the recipients power. As a rule, transfers are temporary. A permanent transfer leaves the donors power permanently decreased, and can lead to problems like those noted under in C’hi Drain, although the voluntary nature of this transfer reduces them somewhat. While it’s possible to manage permanent transfers without the donor actually dying, unless the donor and the recipient share a great mental affinity, the mental link it creates can easily lead to madness.

Compensation: This ability is most useful to characters with a major permanent impairment, but can be handy to anyone who suffers an from a permanent or temporary handicap. Users simply force their (unimpaired) aura to replace the function of the damaged organ. This ranges from managing with a sore foot up to compensating for total blindness or even a missing limb or organ. Such “compensation” is effective – if often odd – offering minor advantages and disadvantages over the original ability since this is a psychic effect with limited range. A blind man could use this skill to “see” – but might find that, while his visual range is limited, many illusions do not register at all. A phantom limb would have no trouble picking up something hot or picking something out of acid, but might be shocked by something carrying a strong psychic charge. The advanced version acts as a form of empyrean projection with a limited range; the user may explore the psychic aspects of the material world(s), but cannot reach the deeper levels of dream, the various afterlives, or the conceptual realms. Further improvements include things like boosted physical functions, doppelganger effects, the ability to make an easy transition to the empyrean level upon physical death, or even the ability to make such transitions at will (going is easy, rebuilding your physical body when you want it back is a lot harder).

Dim Mak: This technique uses a focused burst of energy to disrupt the target’s life processes, usually on the neurological level. Obviously enough, there are many possible variations. The best-known effect is, naturally enough, the infamous “Death Touch” – causing severe, immediate, damage, pain, shock – and/or neural disruption. More specific variants include “draining” various attributes, stunning or paralytic effects, the “laughing death” (IE; causing uncontrollable spasms in one form or another), and simply inflicting incredible pain. Advanced versions of such skills allow the user to inflict either greater or delayed injuries, causing a subtle, cumulative, disruption, which may eventually kill or cripple the victim. Such subtle effects can go unnoticed for some time – possibly becoming extremely serious in the interval. Further improvements usually involve making such “injuries” more difficult to heal, expanding the number of variations available, or using the technique to disrupt the use of other powers.

Dragon C’hi: This technique allows the user to tap other energy sources to rebuild his personal psychic reserves. Such sources may be magical or physical in nature, but each separate source requires an individual variation or improvement on this skill. Common sources include personal magical powers, symbiotic spirits, great heat or cold, lightning, and so on. These sources must be internal to, or directly in contact with, the user for this talent to operate. The advanced version allows users to draw on fields in the immediate vicinity, such as the electrical power being released by a storm. Note that, while “bio-energy” is a popular choice, the user can only tap excess energies, he cannot forcibly take it. The “third level” of this ability is often used to power C’hi skills directly, greatly reducing their cost. While this may effectively supply several points of C’hi per round, self-recharging is a far more delicate process – and cannot be accomplished at this rate from external sources. There is, however, no fixed limit on recharging through the conversion of exotic personal energies. Further improvements usually involve extending the efficiency or range, learning to tap additional energy forms, or building up “pools” of extra energy, either psychic, or in the original from.

Eagles Claw: This handy technique exploits the natural tendency for creatures to focus on their manipulative organs. Focusing the bodies energy there enables the user to grip with superhuman strength. This makes it extremely difficult to dislodge the users hold, disarm him or her, and so on. It also lets the user to grip even the tiniest surface irregularities, allowing him or her to readily cling to almost any surface. Those already skilled in climbing will find that they can easily cross ceilings and similar obstacles. The advanced version enhances and extends this power, allowing the user to crush stones, bones, and so on, with his grip. While much too powerful to be used in ordinary climbs, it can be used to scoop out or break off pieces of the surface, so that others can easily follow. Obviously enough, such strength has an immense variety of other uses. Further improvements often involve imbuing the hands with incredible toughness, extending power through the arms and shoulders, or enhancing precision and speed to inhuman levels.

Energy Absorption: This technique allows the user to act as a “capacitor” for some form of energy, using his or her body to absorb and store it. The basic form is essentially defensive; the energy is first absorbed and then gradually dissipated into the surrounding area. The advanced form allows the user to control that discharge, storing and directing it. Unfortunately, this has a far lower upper limit then simply dissipating an overload. (Storage limits are usually Endurance – 6 “levels” of magic, Endurance “points” worth of physical energies, and Endurance + 6 points of psychic energy). Further improvements usually involve increasing that limit, storing complex energy patterns (Spells and such) – or imposing a simple pattern on the usual raw energy discharge (for example, creating laser beams instead of simple solar discharges).

Evasion: This technique allows the user to shift his molecules from point-to-point within his bio-energy field at near-sonic speeds – an effect which gives the appearance of near-instantaneous movement. While this is most commonly used to evade attacks, it can also be used to get into position to attack, reach cover, duck out of sight, cross crevices, and so on. Unfortunately, any substantial intervening barrier will block the use of the basic form. The advanced version, or “Vanishing Technique”, allows the user to rearrange his molecular structure in transit, allowing him to penetrate simple barriers, vanish without a “strobe effect”, and escape from bonds. It does not allow him to retain an altered molecular structure at the “end of the trip”.

The most common variant form is “Face Dancing”, the ability to reshuffle your personal molecules while remaining in place. The basic form of this ability allows the user to modify his or her; features, coloration, apparent (but not actual) mass, and general body type, within the limits of the basic humanoid (or whatever) form. While this usually includes the users clothing and gear, large amounts of inorganic material may require enough extra energy to be impractical. The advanced version permits a full shapechange to a non-humanoid form, giving the user access to any innate, physical, powers which that form possesses. Sadly, due to the great complexity of this feat, each such form must be acquired separately.

Further improvements commonly revolve around things like repairing damage, adding new or improved physical systems to the users body, combining features from two or more forms (“Wereforms”), or simply acquiring extra forms.

Focused Mastery: This ability permits the user to focus his psi-energies on enhancing his use of various skills or small groups of skills, although the broader the group chosen, the smaller the bonus. At the basic level, the user may select three such skills or groups of skills to enhance – although his (or her) selection is restricted to basically physically-oriented skills. Typical selections include various athletic, combat, and stealth skills, although others are possible. Typical bonuses range from +1 to +5, depending on the breadth, relevance, and importance, of the skills selected. The advanced version provides an extra “+1” on the bonus and allows the selection of two additional areas to boost, either or both of which may be mentally-oriented. Any further improvements generally involve adding an extra area and/or increasing the bonus – to a maximum of +6. Variants which boost the users effective level of mastery of a skill exist, but can get tricky. Pushing the limits of your mastery of dance is unlikely to result in more than stiff muscles or perhaps a strain. Pushing your mastery of – say – shapeshifting presents considerably greater hazards.

Focusing: This handy technique is used to channel the users full effort into a precise moment – commonly the moment of impact when hitting something, but other applications exist. Used in combat, the basic version allows the user to inflict maximum damage with a blow. The advanced version is more flexible. Used passively, it increases the users Damage Bonus by his (Level/2). In active use it takes an extra three phases to invoke, and can be used to either inflict structural damage or to combine a round’s attacks or efforts as a single action. Such combined actions are made with a +3 bonus and have the combined effect of all the actions they replace. While both options can be employed, that requires five extra phases instead of three. Further improvements usually involve the using focusing in combination with special abilities or reducing the preparation time.

Hastening: This technique uses psychic energies to accelerate the user’s metabolism and reflexes – allowing him to select any two enhancements from the list given below. No single enhancement may be selected more then once at the first level. Each additional level allows the user to select two more enhancements – although no one enhancement may be selected more then three times. Selections are permanent once made. The possibilities include Attacks (+1), Initiative (-2), Movement (+8″), Actions (+1. Incidental, unresisted actions only. This means things like getting something out, tying a knot, and so on. Not movement or attack actions, although this does let the character get lots of work done quickly), Resistance to “Slow” Effects (Permits the character to compensate for the effects of efforts to slow him down through magic and psionics, although each effect must be countered separately), Ghosting (a tactic that employs bewilderingly rapid movement to produce an illusion of multiple images – making it difficult to determine the users exact position and angle of attack. This grants the user a “+2” to his Defense Rating and Resistance Rating against individually-targeted attacks and a “+1” on his Attack Raring, provided that the foe has no method of countering the effect), and whatever else the GM and player can come up with.

Hypersenses: This useful technique increases both the users sensory acuity and range. The basic effect is a simple “+3” bonus on the users perception rolls. The advanced version is applied to a particular sense, and permits both active and passive enhancement. The passive version generally provides a “+5” bonus on appropriate perception rolls and an extended sensory range, allowing the user to see slightly into the ultraviolet and infrared ranges, feel electrical and radiation fields, hear sub- and supersonic frequencies, taste normally tasteless substances, or smell weird things, as appropriate to the chosen sense. Active enhancement allows things like telescopic vision, master-class safe-cracking, and a variety of other tricks depending on the sense. Any further improvements usually mean simply extending the active version to additional senses.

Iron Fist: This skill allows the user to channel a burst of psychic energy through whichever limb he uses to attack with. While the basic effect gives the users unarmed blows Attack Rating and Damage Bonus bonuses of +(Level/3), generates a blinding psychic “flare”, and allows the users blows to affect creatures normally resistant to such attack, it’s primary purpose is to learn to generate and channel that burst of energy. The advanced version allows the user to focus that burst into a concentrated pulse, an effect which can be used to cause tremendous damage to inanimate targets or quite a lot to living beings. The pulse can also be focused into another ability, vastly increasing it’s effects. Further improvements usually involve using the pulse to overload psychic blockages, focusing it into specific abilities, or converting the pulse into other forms of energy. A chi pulse usually multiplies the effectiveness of whatever technique it’s fed into by the same factor as it multiplies the points expended in using it. This is usually limited to around three times the normal level of effect. Going beyond that risks psychic burnout.

Iron Flesh: Is a basic toughening technique which allows the user to resist injury through inner control and conditioning exercises. It can be used both actively and passively. The passive version slightly enhances the users Defense Rating and Toughness (+2 each). Actively, it can be used to attempt to “moderate” an attack – reducing the damage by 50% with a successful Endurance roll. The advanced version channels psychic energies into the outer level of the users aura, generating a protective force field known as protective air or “golden armor”. Passively, this technique is simply a more effective (+3) version of Iron Flesh. Actively, it’s a visible glowing aura, offers increased (+5) protection, and extends somewhat beyond the surface of the body. Further improvements may offer increased defenses, allow the user to extend his protection to someone or something he or she is holding, or enhance the users ability to resist specific forms of attack.

Kinetic Aura: Allows the user to impose a simple kinetic vector field on his bio-energy aura, generating any of a variety of effects, ranging from just pushing everyone away, to cyclones and wedges of pure force. The effect can be tuned to living things, unliving things, or (weakly) to both, but this must be decided when the ability is acquired. The advanced version will either greatly increase the strength of the effect – or allow the user to “re-tune” it at will. While not usually the best form of attack against an individual, this talent is especially useful against barrages of missiles and/ or large numbers of attackers. One popular trick is to raise a sphere of whirling junk as shield, weapon, and source for a barrage of missiles. Further improvements usually involve strengthening the effect, more complex fields, selectivity, maintaining an air bubble / force field, or simply throwing things around skillfully.

Latent Energy: Put simply, this is the art of the delayed effect. While only of value when combined with some other C’hi ability, the user may delay the effect of that ability for anything from seconds to a week or so. Greater delays are possible, but the latent energy is increasingly likely to dissipate in the interim. As a rule, latent energies can be detected by any form of psychic scan, although more subtle effects can be hard to analyze. The advanced version of this skill allows the user to trigger (or dissipate) the “latent” effect remotely, at ranges of up to (Per) miles. One popular trick is to “pay” for several attacks, set to “go off” sequentially, effectively making the attack continuous over several rounds. While expensive, this still only counts as one action – and the cost of this skill need only be paid once. Further improvements often involve selective effects, various “automatic” triggers, and the ability to “store” raw psychic energies.

Light Foot: This dramatic ability allows the user to “brace” his personal energy field against another – given a clear boundary to focus on. This allows him to “touch” the field and any associated substance without actual contact. It can thus be used to move over water or cross mud without leaving tracks, to walk on a thin wire, or even to stand on intangible energy fields and illusions. Other applications include handling objects without actually touching them and striking immaterial beings. The “advanced” version dispenses with the need for a visible boundary, permitting the user to “walk on air” or float around. Further improvements usually involve speeding up (often in combination with other techniques), a form of “immovability”, or simply making “steadying yourself” a reflexive act.

Metabolic Control: This complex talent allows the user to manipulate his or her own biochemistry and metabolism. While this helps the user stay comfortable in hot or cold weather, most users are more interested in the “+3” bonus against toxins and disease and in the way it similarly increases the users healing rate and the effects of occult healing effects (also by +3). Other uses include; enhancing your stamina, compensating for a poor or minimal diet, going into hibernation, and so on. The advanced version allows the user to create new enzymes and take such metabolic tinkering to an extreme, permitting him or her to counteract most toxins, digest cellulose, drastically slow the aging process, go into suspended animation, stay comfortable in extremely hot or cold weather, resist metabolism-altering effects, and further enhance their healing processes (+5 instead of +3). If appropriate complementary techniques are used to avoid destroying yourself, metabolic control can be used to generate tremendous internal heat or cold. Further improvements may involve adapting to outre’ environments (breathing water or toxic gases, extremes of temperature), easing the necessary rolls, generating peculiar biochemicals, form changing (basically a total physical redesign. This can be very tricky), and genetic shifting (do-it-yourself designer genes or even changing species). Some of these tricks take a lot of time, or power, or both, but the real limiting factor is usually knowledge and control.

The Bio-enhancement variant involves tinkering with your bodies structure and natural chemical balances in an attempt to improve things. Unfortunately, the body is a complex interactive mechanism – and improving one thing usually means paying a price elsewhere, if only in the form of overload-stress. However odd it seems, artificial physical augmentations fall under the rules for Cyber/Bio-ware, regardless of how they’re induced. Such augmentations are innate once “installed”, and so do not require even the passive use of this skill to sustain. While c’hi-based “cyberware” is easy to “purchase” and “install”, both the selection, and the number of cyberware points available, are sharply limited. Selection is primarily limited by what the GM can be talked into allowing. The “point value” is limited to three times the users level of Bioenhancement skill. The Pheromones variant allows a subtle manipulation of the users body chemistry, generating chemicals which subtly influence the attitudes, reactions, and moods, of those around the user. The effect is sharply variable, depending on the local conditions and the users actions. Pheromones tend to augment the users social talents, not replace them.

Mystic Channeling: This technique taps the user’s personal mana, allowing him to wield a small selection of cantrip-level magics. The “basic” effect allows the user to acquire a selection of (Intellect/3) cantrips. (This may be modified by skills and techniques such as Eidetic Memory). Unfortunately, wielding them drains both the users personal mana and psychic strength. The advanced version expands this list to (Int) cantrips and allows the user to counteract cantrips. Further improvements might include various mystic “senses”, access to small (Int/3) lists of higher-order spells (Up to level 3 at the most), and improved countermagics. All of this is, unfortunately, limited by the fact that personal mana tends to be an extremely limited resource itself. Note that Mystic Channeling DOES NOT permit faerie, demons, and gods, to channel their dynamic mana flow / Might into magical effects. Linking together their chi and might that way is an extra two-point Talent (Major Ramifications on the C’hi powers), and has the potential to completely unbalance the game. Combined with a good memory, it would allow them to work extremely powerful magics. Combined with Dragon C’hi, it would allow them to do so almost endlessly. GM caution is advised.

Parting Waters: This technique generates a “wedge of force”, a field within the user’s aura which causes a violent repulsion between objects. Perhaps the most spectacular use is to literally “part the waters”, but parting things like flights of arrows is somewhat more practical. It’s also a great way to get through crowds and brush. The advanced version enhances this effect to the point where it can disrupt, and tear apart, solid stone. While a handy escape technique, this is hard to beat when you’re looking for a dramatic way to express yourself or if you’re annoyed with a door. Further improvements normally involve things like generating a spherical shockwave, faster burrowing, using the field to hurl things away, erecting a force-field sphere, or focusing the disruption-field to do fine work with it.

Polarity Shield: This technique requires that the user have a recognizable “polarity” – a personal theme or style. Given that, the character may then choose to be highly resistant to that style or to it’s opposite. Thus a “Master Of The Glacial Wind” might be resistant to either extremes of cold or to fire and heat. Such resistance extends to various levels, hence a “Servant Of The Light Incarnate” might be resistant to darkness in all it’s various forms – magical, psychic, negative emotions, and so on. The more general the effect which the shield protects against, the weaker the resistance it grants is. The advanced version can either be used to protect a modest radius or as a more potent version of the basic shield. Thanks to the immense variety of possible “polarities”, the mechanics of any particular case must be worked out in consultation with the GM. A fixed percentage, a reduction by the users level, or a bonus to resistance rolls, are among the simpler ways. Any further improvements must be negotiated.

Continuum II: C’hi Powers, Part I

The next few posts will be another segment of the Continuum II rules – a set of rules I’ve had knocking around for many years now. Since they were designed to be modular, some parts may find a home in pretty much any campaign. This particular module is concerned with second-order Psychic Powers – commonly known as C’hi Powers.

Continuum II used a scale of 1-6 for several universal constants. For Psychic Powers, which involved transferring energy through the Empyrean Plane the important one was Empyreal Transfer Impedance. At 6, psychic powers did not work. At ETI 5, only Introspection powers – abilities based on awareness of your own energy field and how it interacted with other energy fields – operated. At ETI 4, you could also use C’hi powers – abilities based on manipulating your internal energies.

C’hi powers could be quite useful, they offered remarkable fine control and considerable versatility – but the user was limited by the actual energy content of his or her own body. An incautious user could easily harm, or even kill themselves. On the other hand, C’hi powers were almost impossible to block without killing the victim. As usual with Continuum II, the rules were concerned with HOW things worked – what you used your tools and effects to do was up to you.

C’hi techniques are the most personal, and thus the most individualistic, of all active psychic powers. They tend to be interpreted and used differently by each and every C’hi master. They also have highly variable costs, as they can be warped, extended, combined, “pushed” – and otherwise mangled – in a vast variety of ways. Adding special limitations will reduce the costs somewhat – but it can be hard to tell just what’s a limitation.

Like most psychics, C’hi masters can generally only use three abilities at a time. Since some attacks will involve several techniques, this can be a bother. C’hi masters may partially avoid this problem by setting up a list of “practiced combinations” which only count as a single psychic effect. Such combinations may involve up to three abilities themselves, including, possibly, other combinations. Masters are automatically entitled to develop up to (Int/2) combinations, and may acquire an additional three per skill point expended in study. Skill points may also be – as usual – spent to upgrade particular abilities, up to a maximum total of seven (basic techniques are already at II, Advanced at III).

In any case, onwards with the techniques!

PRIMARY C’HI TECHNIQUES:
  Technique Advanced Version
1)  Acrobatics Free Action .
2) Adrenal Surge  Adrenalin True
3)  Amplification  (Char) Boosting

4)

 Animation  Psychic Forging Sp.
5)  Auric Shunt  Auric Bar
6)  Balancing  Adhesion

7)

 Binding  Paralyasis
8)  Biofocusing  -True
9)  Bokken  Charging

10)

C’hi Drain  -True
11) C’hi Infusion  C’hi Teaching
12) Compensation  Auric Body
13) Dim Mak  -True
14) Dragon C’hi  World C’hi (True)
15) Eagles Claw  Crushing Claw

16)

Energy Absorption  Energy Storage
17) Evasion  Vanishing
 17b) Face Dancer  Shapechange
18) Focused Mastery  True Mastery
19) Focusing  Ad. Focusing
20) Hastening  Ghosting
21) Hypersenses  True (Sense)
22) Iron Fist  C’hi Pulse
23) Iron Flesh  Protective Air

24)

Kinetic Aura  -True
25) Latent Energy  Remote Trigger
26) Light Foot  Levitation
27) Metabolic Control  Internal Alchemy

 27b)

Bioenhancement  Phermones
28) Mystic Channeling  -True
29) Parting Waters  Tunneling
30) Polarity Shield  -True
31) Plague Carrier  Poison Touch

32)

Power Block  Damage Shield
33) Precision  Prana-Bindu
34) Projection  Psychic Lance
35) Psychic Aura  Psychic Projection
36) Psychic Purging  -True
37) Psychic Reserver  -II, III, Etc
38) Psychic Shield  -True
39) Resistance  -True
40) Self Healing  The Healing Touch
41) Senethar  Channeling
42) Sexual Techniques  Tantric Mastery
43) Shadow Casting  Animal Mimicry
44) Shockwave  Chiburst
45) Somatic Control  Yoga Mastery

46)

Transfer  Reflection
47) Vibration  Vibratory Pulse
48) Vocal Control  Psychic Voice
49) Whirlwind  -True
50) Will Shield  Iron Will

 

Ability Listings :

Acrobatics: This technique generates an low-grade internal psychokinetic field which subtly “guides” the users movements, augments his reflexes, and “cushions” falls, allowing the user to perform any acrobatic feat which he can clearly envision, including midair turns, spectacular leaps, landing safely – and resisting being knocked, thrown, or lifted. The advanced version is expensive, but can compensate for external hindrances – allowing the user to ignore encumbrances, move freely underwater or through similar mediums, and override the effects of paralysis or other hindrances. Further improvements usually involve increased movement rates, feats of immovability, strength enhancement, and reduced costs.
The usual game mechanic is to spend one psychic Str point per D6 that needs to be removed to make whatever roll the GM requested… The advanced version usually costs anywherefrom one point per turn to one point per round, depending on the resistance.

Adrenal Surge: Taps the users physical reserves – allowing brief bursts of “superhuman” strength, speed, endurance, and reaction time. While this uses little psychic energy, it’s rapidly exhausting. The technique cannot be used for more then (End/3) continuous rounds – and should not be used more then (End) rounds in any one day. It leaves the user strained, tired, aching, and hungry. The advanced version extends the “burst” with psychic energy, tripling those limits. During a burst the user receives +1 attack, +3″ move, a +1 on his Defense Rating, Damage Bonus, Resistance Rating, and Attack Rating, and a chance to evade any incoming missile he’s aware of… Adrenal surge can also be used for a “final strike”, making the user almost unstoppable – and incredibly dangerous – for the few minutes before his body burns out totally. Further improvements commonly include allowing momentary bursts of incredible speed, strength, and agility – or other “supreme efforts”. Such stunts are dramatic, but generally leave the character exhausted.

Amplification: This handy ability channels psychic energy into boosting one or more of the user’s “basic” attributes (Strength, Intellect, Presence, and so on). The basic version is passive, and provides a +3 bonus on an attribute, to a maximum of 19. It can also be used to boost two attributes by +1, to a maximum of 18. The attribute(s) to be enhanced must be selected when this ability is acquired, and can not be changed thereafter. The “advanced” version is an active ability focused on the same attribute(s) . It allows the user to boost an attribute by +6, to a maximum of 24, or to enhance two attributes by +3, to a maximum of 21. Minor variations apply to movement rate and to some optional attributes (GMO depending on the attribute). Further improvements usually involve specialized bonuses and related bonuses, rather then further increases in the basic attribute. These attribute maximums are for “normal” humans, with a base attribute range of 3-18 and a normal limit of 21. They should be adjusted appropriately for races with differing limits and for special talents.

Animation: This bizarre technique channels a part of the users personal energy into an inanimate object, giving it temporary “life” under his (or her) control. Obviously enough, massive items require more energy to animate. Being essentially a “part of the user”, such items can be used in many ways, but are limited by the users strength. Items commonly animated include ropes, flexible weapons, and ECHO (Exoskeletal Configuration/Humaniform Operation) combat vehicles. The advanced version permits the user to create a permanent psychic construct – although this requires expending permanent points of psychic strength. Weapons are common, armor, companion creatures, tools, and instruments are all possible. Whatever the form, such constructs are a living part of the character and can generally be called forth at will. Constructs can be imbued with a variety of C’hi powers – as well as those of their basic form. The exact cost of giving a construct a specific power, function, or ability, is up to the GM. Simple solidity (allowing a sword to function as a sword or some such) is relatively cheap. Some are simply channels and/or amplifiers for the users psychic abilities. These are also relatively cheap. Constructs can be “imbedded” in physical objects, rendering them permanetly “solid” as well as making them a good deal more independent. This has occasionally allowed such creations to survive the death of their creator.

Auric Shunt: Allows the user to “channel” kinetic energy within his personal bioenergy aura, amplifying, redirecting, and focusing it as necessary. The “basic” version of this ability must be specifically “focused” via some physical gesture or through concentration. It is often used to divert blows and missiles, increase the impact of the users blows, assist in “martial throws”, and to create small “force fields” (allowing the user to block sword blows and such with his bare hands without injury). The advanced version of this skill allows the user to generate an “aura” of such effects, creating a “sphere of defense”, diverting full flights of arrows, or manifesting walls of force. Popular special tricks include attempting to turn an opponents blow back upon himself (basic), and generating the equivalent of an exo- kinetic field (advanced, see “psychokinetic effects”). This technique is sometimes known as “hard” and “soft” C’hi – but unless the user chooses to specialize, both modes are available. Further improvements commonly include easy “reflection” of missiles, force fields, and a variety of special tricks. Probably the most common later improvement is to set up a “passive” enhancement of the users Defense Rating and effective toughness. The most common use of “Auric Shunt” is probably to block attacks or enhance attacks. The basic version is good for +/- 3 points per point expended, the advanced is good for +/- 5. Other tricks vary…

Balancing: Gives the user a vastly improved sense of balance and accompanying control. This ability can be used in climbing, when walking on slippery, narrow, or sloping surfaces, when diving, in acrobatics, or to reduce the effect of falls. It also negates penalties for surface conditions and allows the user to fight from any position without penalty – at least within reason. While the advanced version doesn’t literally allow the user to stick to walls and things, it does allow him / her to manage with the tiniest projections and surface irregularities – or to accomplish remarkable acrobatic and contortional feats. While extraordinary, such feats are in no way superhuman – and so are relatively cheap to perform, usually costing no more then one point per turn. If you want to be a human fly, to join a circus, to twist yourself into bizarre positions – or to fight that way – then this is the technique for you. Further improvements usually involve die roll bonuses or other martial arts enhancements.

Binding: This skill employs inductive feedback to “jam” an opponents central nervous system, effectively allowing the user to use a martial-arts type “hold” or “nerve strike” at range. The targets escape rolls are based on dexterity, rather then strength. The targets bioenergy aura must be in contact with the users aura, giving this skill a maximum range in feet equal to the users and targets combined dexterities. The “advanced” version allows only one chance to escape via any given means, and causes near-total paralysis. Unusually, there is a “standard” third level to this skill, that allows the user to jam the targets involuntary nervous system as well – causing anything from mild headaches through respiratory failure, shock, convulsions, and heartbeat irregularities. This is unpleasant, and causes up to 2D6 points of damage per round – while your victim remains helplessly paralyzed. Further improvements may involve diagnostic or helpful abilities, “reading” the targets neural responses, inflicting massive pain, controlling someone else’s body, and causing even more damage.

Biofocusing: Allows the user to transfer physical energies within his body by psychic means. The “basic” version only covers to muscular force – but by concentrating the output of many muscles, it allows the user to exert great force with a touch – or to increase his effective strength. The advanced version uses psychic means to protect the user’s body from the consequences of concentrating other energies, allowing him / her to focus thermal (depends on constitution), bioelectrical (depends on dexterity), or other energies (DMO). Even more advanced techniques permit the user to build up a pool of energy over time, generate an intense surge of power, or tap energies from the immediate area (within his or her bioenergy field).

Bokken: Allows the user to channel his power into a material focus, enhancing it’s effectiveness. While this is limited to relatively basic, hand-held, items, the technique makes even crude props as effective as a “conventional” tool or weapon. Hence a crudely-carved wooden blade can be used as effectively as a well-made steel blade, a couple of crossed sticks could function as a pickaxe, and some thin twine could substitute for a heavy rope. Obviously enough, such items normally must remain in contact with the user. The advanced version of this skill can further enhance the effects – giving the focus item supernormal effectiveness. Weapons gain a bonus to their Attack Rating and Damage Bonus of (Users Level-1)/3, and can be used against creatures resistant to normal weaponry without penalty. Other items gain similar bonuses, albeit to defense or to noncombat effects. Improvements usually involve temporarily charging an item with psychic energy, either from this discipline (allowing the use of this discipline on missiles and such) or from some other discipline. The effects and stabality of this vary enormously. This technique is often combined with “Animation”, allowing the user to do remarkable things with things like ribbons and pieces of string. Stranger improvements may involve learning to enhance functions of psychic, mystic, and technological devices, enhancing other people’s abilities – and temporarily imbuing items with a “pool” of energy and some abilities to use it on.

C’hi Drain: Allows the user to disrupt a targets reserves of psychic energy and, thanks to its physical aspect, induce physical exhaustion and damage as well. The “advanced version” allows the user to disrupt both his victims current energy reserves and his ability to accumulate psychic energy, causing neurological damage which must be healed through time or specialized techniques before the victim can regain his full power, or use it to best effect (see; “Overload Damage Effects”). The recovery time necessary may be further extended by applying this talent over several hours, although this normally requires a helpless, or throughly distracted, victim. One notable “special trick” involves combining C’hi Drain with Dragon C’hi (Bioenergies) to “steal” a portion of an opponents power. The “advanced version” of this trick allows the user to steal part of a dying victims life energy itself, permanently increasing his personal vitality, psychic potential – and possibly even acquiring one or two of his victims abilities. Sadly, only a small part of the victims talents can be stolen in this fashion and integrating such stolen life energies with your own is difficult and dangerous. Bits of each victim’s memories and personality are acquired as well – an effect which can easily drive the user insane. Further improvements commonly involve extending the recovery time, creating a continuing effect, or using this technique to disrupt magical or physical powers.

Continium II – Notes on Ceremonial Magic

And for today, it’s another bonus answer that – as so often happens – got WAY too long for a comment.

Could you expand on the Ceremonial Magic you linked in the Anomaly article? I have tried to read the Continuum II articles that are here, but I feel I am missing the primary sourcebook and have not been able to find one that seems to match.

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Continium II’s Ceremonial Magic (as opposed to Ritual Magic, which was quite another thing) operated much the way that some people think it works in the real world. The most common references that the players used were by Scott CunninghamCunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic. Symbolism was most often pulled from the books on Tarot or Norse Runes, (since those were all available handy to the table), whatever astrological data was available for the current setting, and general ideas about Ley Lines and Nexi.

Power and Complexity turn up as spell design concepts in The Practical Enchanter, even if they are both mostly subsumed into “spell level” in d20. The basic distinction here is that Power reflects the amount of raw energy available, while Complexity cover s how detailed the structure of a given effect is.

A Fireball or Lightning Bolt calls for high (3+) Power, but very little Complexity (1 at most). A subtle illusion, or a healing spell, is exactly the other way around; calling for very little power, but a lot of complexity. Summoning and Binding creatures calls for both about equally (and so Ceremonial Magic can only actually summon and bind the most trivial entities – although if you wanted a micro-elemental (fire) to monitor your hearthfire and keep it at the proper level for cooking while you were busy elsewhere, you could fairly readily manage that. Of course, simply getting in touch with more powerful entities calls for very little power and only moderate complexity – but then you need to bargain.

So Ceremonial Magic was a common “helping” ability – the swiss army knife of magic. You used it to add some protective inscriptions that would help some if you lost control of your summoned monster, you got a few helpful micro-elementals that got you small bonuses in your alchemy lab, you used Ceremonial Magic to get in touch with, and seal a pact with, a brownie that kept an eye on the baby, sped recovery from a plague, made small, useful, things, and so on. The benefits were never especially huge, but – in adventurer terms – the cost was very small. A handful of hammered copper symbols, pinches of common herbs, some pebbles and terribly flawed (and near-valueless) gemstones from a rock collection, and a little study? You were set. Sure, it was never POWERFUL, but knowing what influences were active in that ancient haunted mansion, or getting a glimpse of who was behind the attacks, or laying down a ward that kept stray zombies from wandering into camp, could get you a long ways on very very little power.

When it comes to Continium II in general… well, the title was a transfinite mathematics pun, as well as a reference to alternate dimensions, which probably says something about what to expect from it.

Continium II never made it to publication, partly because much of the material predated the easy publication systems now available, but mostly because it was simply too long and too complicated. It was rather heavy on “how things worked” rather than “here’s a game effect” and so it placed heavy demands on the game master. Shapeshifting to a whale? Out came the book on whale biology to get some details. Monster design? A bit like the Martial Arts system, with modifiers for Evolutionary Time (the longer a group of species had to adapt to a particular set of natural laws, the more powerful they because within that dimension and the less able to function elsewhere), reproductive strategies, and a lot more evolutionary biology went into making monsters.

For an example that happens to be posted…

  • It had the twenty-five basic and twenty-five advanced Introspection powers based on awareness of your personal energy field – the lowest tier of psychic effects. Those worked even when the local dimensions Transfer Impedance for Psychic Powers was “4″ – just below “5″ where psychic powers were basically impossible to use.
  • At the next tier, Chi Powers (based on shifting your internal energies around inside yourself and requiring a transfer impedence of 3 or less for effective use) offered about hundred powers that you could combine to produce desired effects.
  • Tiers 3 and 4 – Psychomancy (directing personal energies into external effects, allowing fine control) and Psionics (tapping external energy sources and projecting the results) shared the same list of six hundred-odd disciplines and rules for creating variants, but they functioned differently. For an easy example… a Psychomancer using Telekinesis might try to pinch a few blood vessels to hurt someone or open a door from the inside to pick a lock. They had high precision, superb control, and could feel the feedback from their abilities – but they had very little power. A Psionic faced with similar tasks could smash the door, or lock, or throw things around – but they’d have to work very hard, roll well, and specialize in such tasks to develop anything even approaching a Psychomancers basic level of fine control. Both systems had their advantages.
  • Then, of course, there were psychic subfields drawing on psychic nexi and popular beliefs, the planetary biofield, and other local sources.

After the psychic powers, there were numerous other types of power sources to play with – Gramarye (including Sorcery (Shaping cosmic-level energies through symbols – requiring rigid structure to maintain control), Powershaping (where you freely shaped local energies related to your affinities. You got a few, but the list was long. To start with “A” there was Abjuration, Air, Analysis, Animation, Anticipations, Architecture, Astrological, Attunement…), Thaumaturgy (inducing positive and negative feedback loops in planetary energy fields – powerful and potentially long-lasting, but you were using small inputs to try to manipulate a chaotic system, and so it was very prone to going wrong and was very difficult to stop), True Illusion, Ceremonial Magic, Mysticism, Ritual Magic, High Alchemy, Personal Magic, and Domination),

Then, of course, there were Percipience (and it’s subfields) – Engineering (Technological (in several variants), Biogenetic, Social, Probabilistic, Reality Catalysts, Linguistic, Pattern Tech, and Weird Science), and Invocation (divided by tbe nature of the entity being invoked; what you could get from a subspace creature that devoured energy – a “demon” – was a lot different from what you could get from a living cosmological principle).

Continium II did keep a group containing several engineers and scientists busy exploring how things worked for a decade and a half (and it was always fun to hear “Blast it! We should have realized that he/she would be able to do that from the type of powers he/she was using…) – but I could hardly ask a prospective game master to read it before trying to run the game. Quite a few of the players ran Continium II games after a while – but not until after they’d been playing for years. Nobody has that kind of time these days.

Currently a lot of the Continium II ideas have been recycled. For example, the Witchcraft system in Eclipse uses many of the concepts that went into Introspection, Chi, and Psychomancy – but the list of abilities has been greatly reduced, most of the complexities were relegated to “why I built it this way” (and not actually mentioned unless someone asks) instead of being anything that players and game masters have to deal with, and most of the advanced options have been stripped out – all in the interests of making it playable without a few years of experience with the system. I’m told that Eclipse is still too complex for a lot of tables – but that’s a considerable improvement over Continium II.

Still, I post occasional chunks of the Continium II rules for nostalgia, inspiration, showing where design elements came from for later systems, ideas, and to oblige some of the original players, who often still have questions, want to review something for their own projects, or want a bit of an update. Perhaps I should get back to doing that again. It’s not like there isn’t a LOT of material available, even if some of it is still handwritten.

Residents of the Ars Goetia, Part II

Eliphas Levi's Pentagram, figure of the microc...

What could go wrong?

The “Demons” of medieval tomes were mostly the creation of fevered would -be demonologists and “scholars”. While they might be loosely based on a few genuine mythological fragments, those tattered threads are pretty thoroughly lost in a sea of wild conjecture. For our purposes this is good; it provides a lot of room for turning them into creatures that can play an interesting role in various games.

Part One included Andromalius (the Judge), Beleth (the Berserker), and Bifrons (the psychopomp). To continue with part II, we have…

MALTHUS (Mal-Thus) The Earl Of Slaughter, Armorer Of The Abyss.

  • Favored Form: A slim, languid, effeminate fop, carrying a rapier, dripping with gems and jewelry, and wearing exquisite silken clothing – often a near-parody of a high-ranking officers military uniform. He takes care never to appear before a given individual twice in the same outfit. Some people call his outfits and appearance “ridiculous”. HE calls them “bait”.
  • Major Powers: Grandmaster Psionic (Disruption and Vamparism), Powershaping (Conjuration and Battle Magic), Master Strategist, Tactician, and Military Engineer. Despite his utter brilliance as a general, putting Malthus in charge of a military force somehow always results in a very high casualty rate (most infamously, the legendary “morning calisthenics massacre”)- but he does get things done. If it’s needed he will conjure up his own troops, fortifications, and arsenals, but he prefers not to waste his time and genius on matters of simple logistics.
  • Sacrifices: Malthus prefers human sacrifices, dying violently and in pain. He will quite cheerfully collect his own sacrifices if the summoner doesn’t get them ready for him – although he quite willing to count casualties among any troops placed under his command as sacrifices. Luckily, he can be somewhat placated (at enormous expense and far less effectively) with an assortment of new outfits and various luxuries – gems, silks, fine wines, and the best of foods.
  • Ritual: Summoning Malthus requires setting up a magical circle – and a substantial lump of opium to be burned as incense.
  • Basic Nature: Malthus is a master general, and he knows it very well. He will want to take charge, snap orders at all and sundry, and lay around languidly and be waited on. Unlike many of the other creatures of the Ars Goetia, Malthus has embraced the darkness, simply because it gives him more chances to exercise his supreme skills in the arts of war and attracts great heroes to meet in battle. He does not see his troops – or his opponents – as people, but as pawns.
  • Combat Skill: Malthus is insanely dangerous in battle. He has enormous personal strength, as well as being very, very, skilled with virtually all weapons. He will, however, normally spare noncombatants; children can grow up to be worthy opponents, and older noncombatants can produce and care for more children – giving Malthus more people to kill or to lead into battle to die demonstrating his supreme brilliance later on.

OROBAS (Or’-O-Bas) “The Prince Of Steeds”

  • Favored Form : Orabas most often appears as a powerful black stallion with a crimson (or actively flaming) mane and tail, but sometimes appears in the form of other steeds – although always in a similar color scheme. He speaks in the inhuman voice of whatever creature he appears to be. Regardless of his form, he will be equipped for war, with silver barding and tack – although he wears no bridle.
  • Major Powers : Basic Powershaping (Counterspells, Divination, and Enchantment), Lesser Psionic (Beastmastery, Healing, Belamourment – and Exokinetic Fields). As befits a mighty steed, Orobas possesses great Physical Strength, Toughness, and Speed.
  • Sacrifices : None.
  • Ritual : A complex summoning circle. Orobas is of little use unless bound, a rite that requires a silver bridle and several minutes. It also requires providing Orobas with the summoners true name and reason for calling him forth – information that Orobas will freely share with any other summoner.
  • Basic Nature : Once bound, Orobas is a faithful retainer and will do his best to serve and obey the summoner and to answer his or her questions – giving him something of a reputation as an oracle. While Orabus is a most superior mount, keeping him bound will gradually drain the summoners vitality – inflicting (1D6) points of damage each day which can only be regained via rest and time, and not at all while Orabas is kept bound. Orabus views his office and purpose as to be a faithful retainer of whoever his current “master” is – a powerful steed and wise advisor. He does not feel that it is the business of a war-steed to question it’s master – and so turns a complete blind eye to the summoners moral status, and to the nature of the deeds he is called on to assist (no doubt the reason for his current status). Orabas might carry a heroic master through storm, flood, and the very fires of hell to rescue a single child – while for another he would crush a dozen beneath his blood-soaked hooves. As a part of his service he will hold a master’s secrets in absolute security – unless asked about them by another master, in which case that aspect of himself will cheerfully tell it’s master whatever he wants to know.
  • Combat Skill : He’s a war-steed, and – within that basic limitation – is extraordinarily competent.

STOLAS (Sto-Las”) “The Prince Of Carrion Crows, Bard of Chaos”

  • Favored Form : A huge raven with silver talons and red-golden eyes. Stolas “prefers” to speak in riddles, snatches of song, and doggerel nonsense. He often sends a minor aspect of himself to answer a summons, instead of coming in person. Such raven-familiars can grant a summoner various minor powers – usually translation or very minor powershaping abilities (as always, in a particular field or fields).
  • Major Powers : A master Spy and Thief, Stolas also possesses Powershaping (Air, Sound, and Illusion), and possesses the ability to speak and read all languages, a talent he may share with his summoner if he desires. Stolas is a notable musician – and may be a true master. He can produce a wide variety of bardic effects.
  • Sacrifices : Stolas favors original music, elder texts, weird snippets of knowledge, and concerts. What he finds acceptable seems to be a matter of whim. The summoner usually needs to negotiate.
  • Ritual : An elaborate circle, incense, and a full set of ceremonial gear is needed to summon Stolas – unless the summoner is capable of performing the far faster Song Of Summoning on woodwinds or harp. Stolas will teach a summoner the song on request, but a proper performance requires considerable skill and personal tutoring from Stolas; books, recordings, and similar methods are not sufficient to learn the subtle personalization that makes it work. He’ll also teach summoners about music and herbs on request.
  • Basic Nature : Stolas is a rogue, a trickster, and quite unreliable… Everything he does should be taken with a grain (several grains?) of salt. Even when bound to a summoner, he cannot be prevented from dragging everyone in the vicinity into baroque entanglements, twisting answers to questions that do not involve music or herbs, and generally making mischief.
  • Combat Skill : Stolas’s talons apparently possess some curious venomous or disruptive property – making them unexpectedly dangerous to both living beings and magical constructs.

Residents of the Ars Goetia

Illustration from The Goetia: The Lesser Key o...

It's best to double-check that before starting!

When it comes to source material, it’s hard to get much more authentic than going medieval – and the list of “demons” in the Ars Goetia offers quite a lot of inspiration.

Of course, when you read that list you don’t find a lot of game-style “demons”. You don’t find much in the way of berserk killing machines, of evil for the sake of evil, or of random torment. You find pursuers of thieves, teachers, healers, seers, war-leaders – and even war-steeds.  A list of entities who… wound up on the wrong side of heaven for one reason or another – apparently rarely for direct rebellion – and who were cast out.

There are a lot of reasons why someone can wind up on the wrong side of a war and still be a decent enough person. Traditionally, quite a few of these entities were serving their summoners in pursuit of their own redemption – even if they’re not very good at it and have massive blind spots.

For game purposes, most of these entities can be treated as Conceptual Spirits – entities that embody immortal ideas, and so can be in many places at the same time. The summoning rituals open the way for them to manifest – and the more powerful the summoner, the more powerful the manifestation.

They’re relatively easy to summon – at least as far as games in settings where magic works are concerned – but there is always a price…

ANDROMALIUS (An’Dro-Mali~Us) “The Earl Of Justice”

  • Favored Form : A stern and fearsome man attired in the clothing of a judge. He occasionally appears with, or sends in his place, one or more terrible black hounds – in reality merely embodied fractions of his own energy and immaterial essence. He has been known to leave one of these “creatures” with a summoner.
  • Major Powers : Grandmaster Psionic (Psychic Senses and Heightened Talents), Powershaping (Nymic Magic and Transformations – only when embodied), Spell Imbuement (Only in living creatures, maximum of seven). He will often bestow a set of carefully-tailored spells to allow a summoner to enact judgement on the guilty.
  • Sacrifices : None required when the summoner is acting in pursuit of justice, otherwise he may require some quest – always in pursuit of justice – in return for his aid. He will also always tell the summoner something about himself or something he’s done that he would really rather not know – most often revealing the undesirable or unjust results of the summoners own past actions.
  • Ritual : Circle, scribed with an oaken rod.
  • Basic Nature : Vengeful and merciless. Andromalius tends to use his “summoners” as agents in carrying out his eye-for-an-eye judgements. It is probably this lack of mercy that put him on the wrong side of the greater celestial powers.
  • Combat Skill : Master of the “Soft” martial arts.

BELETH (Bel-eth) “The Mad King”

  • Favored Form : A handsome and powerfully built man riding a mighty war-stallion, usually accompanied by martial music. He occasionally simply sends the horse-fraction of his energies, in which case things can get “uncomfortable” for the offering (see below) – unless the “summoner” has a mare – and some splendid tack – ready (which is very, VERY, wise). The horse can be ridden, and is a useful and obedient mount – at least as long as you do a lot of fighting.
  • Major Powers : Master Psionic (Telepathic Powers), Powershaping (Winter and Summer magics), Hypercharisma and Hypermasculinity.
  • Sacrifices : Beleth requires the, er, attentions and companionship of a pretty girl while he’s present. He will leave her psychically bound to the summoner as a personal slave when he leaves (this can actually be very very useful if he arrives in horse-form and is offered a mare). If such an “offering” is not forthcoming, he can occasionally be placated by a supply of expensive weapons, armor, and masculine accouterments.
  • Ritual : Beleth can be summoned through the use of an enruned ring – and an invocation – but it is a very good idea to have inscribed either a protective circle or a containment circle first.
  • Basic Nature : Lustful, hot-tempered – and far too easily enraged. Beleth often arrives in a fury, and can be extremely dangerous if defied. He’s more than a little nuts. Unfortunately for him, he sees nothing wrong in his behavior; is not a mighty warrior entitled to such small indulgences?
  • Combat Skill : Beleth is competent with virtually any weapon but primarily relies on sheer strength and his immense personal vitality. The horse is a powerful steed, although it does have a pesky tendency to teleport right into the middle of combat.

BIFRONS (Bi-Frons) “The Earl Of The Dead”

  • Favored Form : Either an insubstantial minotaur with eyes full of stars or a slim, naked, boy. He is very hard for most people to see at all either way.
  • Major Powers : Navigator, Caravan Master, and Inter-dimensional Traveler, Powershaper (Necromancy and Mindsending), and Cultural Adaption. Bifrons is a wanderer of the empyrean plane, and is capable of taking people on a guided tour through almost any afterlife.
  • Sacrifices : If not placed with the gift of some means of transport (Horse, boat, car, plane, whatever) Bifrons has an annoying tendency to drop off those who travel with him in an inconvenient location. Summoners who simply want him to use his necromantic or tutoring talents on their behalf may either undertake a “brief” empyrean combat/quest or placate him with simple cash – although, unless things have changed recently, Bifrons does not take paper money, credit cards, checks, or letters of credit. He insists on gold and silver coins.
  • Ritual : The summoning circle must be drawn in the earth, either outside or in some public place – such as an inn. The summons also requires mold from a graveyard, and all negotiations must be completed within seven minutes – or Bifrons will travel elsewhere.
  • Basic Nature : Irritating. Bifrons is a know-it- all, and delights in telling endless stories about his travels elsewhere – and how they were so much more interesting and dramatic then whatever is going on at the moment in his summoner’s life.

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fits the Eighth and Ninth

Water tower - Gödöllő from above

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After Thursdays utter exhaustion, David didn’t wake up for hours, by which time he was quite ready for his Friday-morning breakfast.

Lestat, however, had left a message; While he had no ill-will about it, he was looking into finding some way to get rid of the light-spell. It was making his unlife very difficult…

The Warlocks Personal Timeline:

13 (Wednesday): Between Orcs and “Ogres” robbing a convenience store, whining dogs, and a visit from Lestat, David only got about four hours sleep, and was up at dawn with things to do; “Stealing” an alien scoutship from a secret government organization, a trip around the moon, grocery shopping, getting and repairing a car, visiting a hospital to heal people (and appearing for a television interview), obtaining a drivers license, being taken to Washington, leading a mass escape from Department-X and briefing the upper government on the situation, binding and fixing Robert – and working on magical gadgetry… Too jittery to sleep, Wednesday segued straight on into

14 (Thursday): “Hunting” with Robert led to getting the Sanctum set up with facilities for everyone, trying to inventory it’s rooms, a dark dream (and phone calls) from the far future, and various global cataclysms. Using power “borrowed” from the Rift-Realm, David unleashed a variety of unthinkably potent spells (With incalculable ramifications) in a desperate attempt to hold the world together. Pestered by reporters, he then retreated into studying his new-and-improved sanctum, setting some elementals free, administering mental therapy to Robert and Solamon, dealing with his family, copying Solamon’s powers – and lending out them to the Rift-Realm – before discovering that there were two alien battle fleets on the way, and that the huge asteroid was apparently a “planet-eater”. Their inability to contact the aliens led to a salvage / rescue expedition to the orbiting alien ships, the loss of Azrael, a bit of investigation of his mysterious bond with Robert, and negotiations with the “blue guy” aliens, just before the power overload of casting global spells caught up to David like a steamroller…

What the hell am I going to do about that asteroid / ship? I couldn’t touch it WITH all that extra power!

Maybe somebody at breakfast will have an idea.

So what’s on the preview channel? AN ATOMIC BLAST!? IN SEVEN HOURS?

WHY!?!?

Who’d… There are a bunch of cold-war fellows who’d like to start a war to stir up national loyalties and to help keep things together politically, but they’d prefer a conventional one?

I take it you’ve been busy while I’ve been asleep?

There are too damn many launch buttons!.. If it isn’t going to be a human being, who else has access?

There are three self-aware computer systems and they all have nuclear access?

Great. Just Great. Jus – WHAT WAS THAT?!? Something hit you?

The rocky mountains elemental felt something hit it? Must’ve been one hell of an impact for a mountain range to feel it!

I suppose we’d better look into it.

Investigating the shock led to a crash-landed spaceship. It was spider-shaped, as big as several aircraft carriers put together, and severely damaged. It proved to be full of long-deactivated robotic aliens…

No wonder the mountains felt it… Through one peak and practically buried in another. There really shouldn’t be anything left of it at all!

I wonder what it’s made of?

Yet another (crashlanded) alien spaceship – possibly with yet another alien race onboard.

“Yet Another”. Has the world gone that mad, or is it just me?

*******************************************************

There isn’t time for patient exploration!!! I’m just going to have to get some of the systems up and running and try to get something out of their computers. There doesn’t seem to be anything left in the way of a crew – and we’ve still got an atomic war on the way!

Has ANYBODY here got ANYTHING on that?

You’ve narrowed it down to one of the three sentient computer systems? You can’t get locations on them? Why not? They’re better at hacking then you are?

I suppose that makes sense.

Well, these are sentient computer aliens… Maybe if I wake them up, they can help out.

So that’s insane?

Have you been paying attention recently?

OK, the system’s up…

I think you’ve been down a long time fellows. As far as I can tell, you drifted into the solar system out of deep space.

What happened to the enemy? The Traitors-To-Life who wished to plunder living worlds?

Would this (showing them the planetoid) be them?

Yes? But it looks like it’s been millennia? What an amazing coincidence… You think so too? It seems that there’s a lot that kind of thing going around.

Let’s see what I can do in the way of repairing, and repowering, your systems and crew.

You don’t think that that’s possible? What’s magic?

Well, you don’t understand how I got you fixed up do you?

I didn’t think so.

The Warlock spent the next hour or two fixing up – and powering up – the crew. They came in many sizes, with a large variety of tools and weapons, and with a somewhat simple-minded (if helpful, brave, polite, and overly boy- scoutish) selection of personalities. Just the bunch of people you’d trust with being cosmic guardians… Nice, reliable, computer-minds which could easily be checked, reproduced, and repaired coupled with enormous physical power – and eternal readiness.

It made him wonder who’d originally designed them.

Sadly, they didn’t have any better luck with earth’s computers then the others had been having. Tired, David was just taking a breather when the mayor called…

Weird. They’re not very good at using it, but their power supply seems to be magical somehow… Dammit! I wish the professor hadn’t tried that earring on. Where does the energy come FROM!? How can I have – generate? – nearly as much power as this kind of ship? How can my body handle that kind of power? What if it can’t? How can everyone have OVERLOOKED this kind of thing!? I’ve left traces across the entire world! Even if the power was weak, Lestat, Solamon, and the Seer, have been around for quite a while! Twenty minutes ago I was exhausted. Now I feel fine. What am I becoming?

I don’t know enough physics.

I wonder if there’s anyone who does?

The mayor again? What about? There’s some maniac on one of the water towers with a bunch of hostages and he’s demanding me? An old oriental man with weird powers?

Oh shit.

And I was just wishing for the Professor… NO. That COULDN’T be possible. Besides… I wanted him SANE.

Hey, is there anyone else you’d like to mention that you gave out my number to? The Mayor, the Governor (Now a dog), the President, and the Ruler Of Kenya (?!?). Oh never mind…

The professor seemed to have gone entirely through insanity – and was somewhere out on it’s other side. He acted like an advanced Alzheimers patient. There was no connection between his ravings and reality at all.

Unfortunately, he still possessed both his powers, and the occult artifacts he’d collected under the power of the earring. David and the others dodged or parried random blasts, and pulled hostages out, until the Professor decided to fly the water tower to the moon.

Good god… He really is hopelessly out of his mind. I’d hoped he might be reachable.

No, you can’t bill me for the water tower! I wasn’t the one who took it away! You called ME remember? Why don’t you send the bill to Dr. Genos? He’s responsible for the damages from the Lizard and the sewers too…

I shouldn’t have mentioned the Lizard. Here he comes again… Trying to jump on top of us.

Yes, Michael, I’m very tired of the Lizard! You have a way to get rid of him?! FINE!

Well, I suppose he can’t claw himself out of a deep space parking orbit, but he might suffocate (Even if he does seem fairly unkillable). After all, he didn’t get a choice about being this way…

I guess you’re right; he’s an uncontrollable monster who keeps destroying buildings and killing people – but I still wish we could’ve cured him.

OhShit! We’ve still got a nuclear war coming up…

We still haven’t got anything on which system, or on where!

Waitaminute… Sentient computer systems. Whatever- it-was that was in MY computer certainly seemed like it was sentient! Of course, it wasn’t hooked up to a modem or anything – but it might have gotten around that.

It’s time to drop in on my apartment again… I hope that there aren’t any left-over Dept-X guys there.

There weren’t. There was, however, a glowing ball of blue light where his computer used to be, his creepy roommate had cleaned out (And hocked) most of his stuff – and something REALLY seemed to be “wrong” about him.

God he’s being evasive – and he’s hocked all my stuff! There’s no time for this kind of dancing around… I’ll run a quick probe.

He’s been getting off by strangling his lovers while he’s inside them? He’s killed three so far? That’s even sicker then I thought!. I’ll just show the other fellow what he was in for…

That ran him off quick enough.

How did I do that? I’ve got no time for explanations now, just gimme the pawn-shop slips. Right. As for you, you’ve murdered three people and I’ve no time. You’re a dog…

I’ll drop him off at the pound on the way.

Oh hell. Here. I’ll pay for his veterinary work. That should give him a fair chance at getting adopted. I’ll even throw in a spell to make him a good dog…

We’ve got less then four hours now guys… Whatever- it-is that downloaded itself into / through my computer seems to be a bit defensive – and to have spread out thru the university systems – but it’s reasonable enough and doesn’t want to wreck it’s own technological basis. It also says that there’s one in Kenya, but it seems to be limited to the “local” systems the Russians put in, and it’s busy sorting out what, why, and where it is, as well as in learning to communicate, and “growing up”. There’s one in China too – but it’s located in a single command computer and is obsessed with “Destroying those hideous organic life forms”.

Anybody wanna make one guess at which one it is?

So. There’s no time to be diplomatic, and we can’t get too close or it’ll launch everything it’s got – instead of spending a few hours trying for more.

You guys are detection-shielded and can easily blow it up from orbit before it has time to launch?

Blowing it up turned out to be pretty simple… One of the computer-aliens mounted an orbital cannon. There were some complications as Michael used his armor (Hey! I could fly through the core of the sun in this stuff – at FTL speeds!) to pull out the people, but there was a lot of property damage.

The Chinese Government would be mad as hell. David called the president and warned him, and told him to send in the diplomats… The TV said that that put the major chances of war off for nearly forty-eight hours.

Forty-eight hours? Well, it’s better then three…

Desrae? Where are you getting all these kids? Out of fatal accidents?

WHAT?!?

Oh… You mean out of accidents where they would’ve died if you hadn’t intervened. So why not take them to their parents? Most of them are orphans? You’ve found that if you’re in the “immediate vicinity” when someone dies you can gather all the energy you need without any need to suck it out of them? (Errrrr…) So-you-go-thru really-fast-and-pull-out-who-you-can-and-absorb-what-you- need-from-the-rest. Well – they can stay for a while IF we’ve got room and IF the sanctum is safe enough for some wandering children…

There are all kinds of weird accidents and things these days? The average death rate is up nearly 15%?

How are you getting there anyway? One of the smaller aliens is acting as a shuttle for you?

Cosmic robotic boy scouts. Riiiigggghhhhht…

You (Haven) can take care of them easily? You’ve got several entire planets and a microverse “in the basement” anyway? You have lots of food, and have laid in the “Nice Wizard” set of parameters for the servants and such? Most of the seven previous ultra-powerful wizard-masters who are not a part of you were fairly nice people? Only one of them was REALLY nasty? Number four? He’s the one who merged fifty billion or so people into a “living world” of tormented spirits?

WHAT KIND OF PLANET?!?

IN THE BASEMENT!?!?!

“I shouldn’t go there. It’s too strong to do much of anything about?”

“Even the really powerful magi couldn’t do anything?”

SHIT!

So what are the others like? One planet of sentient plants which were too nice and passive for their own good out in the wider universe, one which was simply a great spot to live/vacation, and a micro-universe which has a contract to do your small-scale cleaning/dusting, and any required nano-operations?

Yes kids, it’s OK, there’s lots of space for you. Am I the Warlock? Like in the comic book?

Lemme see that!

Geez… This thing is almost entirely accurate! Only the stuff which went on behind shields – or was “edited out” for being overly x-rated – isn’t in here. Just the way to keep a secret.

What’s all this stuff about companion rings?

Hey, waitaminute, this came out last month and still covers everything up thru that mess with the professor?

“Robert seems somewhat subdued”. Yeah, fight… You mind if I hang onto this for a but kid? No problem, you can just buy another copy?

Oh, bugger.

I think I ought to talk to the author – very soon.

Huh. It may be a waste of time – but I’d still like to have SOME way to conceal my identity. Maybe there’s something in the mystic artifact collection?

A little carving of a dog in Onyx that “chases away” light magic for up to 12 hours a day? That’ll do… At least the light-spell doesn’t seem to affect the inside of the sanctum.

We might want to keep an eye on what the professor’s up to on the moon? Why? It’s a dead world isn’t it?

It’s a large egg with a lot of space debris built up on it?

ARRRGGGGHHHHH!

David spent the next few moments attempting to find some way of expressing himself…

He eventually settled on stomping in a circle while waving his arms and yelling at the universe…

Eric was rather pleased. Evidently his sixteen year old son was still “in there someplace” – despite those (rather incredible) powers…

WHERE’S THAT BEDAMMED “COMIC BOOK”?!?!? WHAT COMIC BOOK?

Nobody else remembers it? OK; it’s either my way of expressing Timewalker’s pre- and post-cognitive powers, or something’s going on – or I’m under even more stress then I thought…

Hey… Robert was manipulated. I wonder how many of the others were manipulated into joining up? Lets see;

Solamon wasn’t… Somehow I feel like I’ve known him “forever” (I wonder why?), but he hasn’t been hauled in magically.

Desrae’s entire family was manipulated into being in the area, but she was just “steered” a bit… I suppose that whoever-it-was felt that her looks alone could get us to accept her.

God she’s lovely.

Errr… I wonder how many people that’s been the last thought for? I mean… She’s sucking peoples life out. Maybe they don’t really need it any more at that point, but what if they do? Is she just doing a little psychic scavenging, or is she actually eating people’s spirits? How many might’ve gotten to a hospital and lived if she hadn’t sucked them dry?

Why am I thinking of colorful poisonous things?

She’s awfully instinctive, and her instincts lead to    something like Lestat. She’s bonded with a demon. She didn’t want a cure.

A nice normal night out is beginning to sound better and better… I may feel differently when I’m actually looking at her, but I’m not entirely sure that I really want to get her into my bed.

OK; I’ve got a planet of horror in the basement that none of the prior magi could do anything about, there’s a planet-eater in orbit, and a nuclear war is coming up day after tomorrow…

Great.

Well, it looks like Haven lets me tap into the power of the prior “occupants”. Perhaps I ought to try and find out something about who they were, and what they could do.

Even if that’s not what’s going on it’d be very nice to know what they tried to do about that nasty “world”.

The library seems like a good bet.

It’s always the second door on the left?! No matter where I am at the moment?

Well, I wanted a wizard’s sanctum.

The library was huge, and strange, and filled with a lot of seriously odd volumes – even if you didn’t count the ones that were carefully locked away because if you let them out they got up to things… David found out a lot, but his basic research project rapidly turned into an all-nighter…

He hardly even noticed.

So… Haven’s current form is nothing like it really is. It originated in a universe so alien that actually knowing much of anything about it would drive me crazy. Most of the prior owners were fairly minor mages, but a couple were pretty powerful. The first two weren’t very “human”, the second was the son of the first, the third was female, the fourth was the nasty one and, as a mage of the twelfth circle he was sightly more powerful then I am (I’d class as a mage of the fifth circle, but I’ve got major “innate talents”?), the fifth was primarily a ritualist, the sixth was of the fifteenth circle (and was a LOT more powerful then I am since he had some talents too), but used a less flexible branch of magic, and had no luck dealing with the “planet of torment”. His books of magic are filed under FE.6 thru…

ENOUGH ALREADY!

At least it looks like the chances of coming up with something new to try are fairly good.

OK, so what’s everybody got on the “Planet-Eater”?!? If you’ve seen them before you ought to know something!

They (Or possibly IT) are essentially vampires? It/they usually hang around the heavily populated areas of the galaxy (So why is it here?) sucking the life out of planets… Massive fleets and firepower can chase it away sometimes, but most of the time it leaves a dead world, with seriously unstable hyperspace/subspace interfaces, behind…

THAT’S ABSURD! For something that size? It’s almost a hundred kilometers across! The bioenergy of a planet is NOTHING in comparison to the kind of energy needs a “vampire” like that would have!

You think it taps into hyperspace through the “local life forms”, and hibernates while traveling between star systems?

Well, it’d explain why it was immune to my spells… Whatever-it-is that powers “magic”, it seems to have an opposing force which powers “vampires”.

The mayor of Cincinnati is calling?

Why?!?

Because she’s heard that I’m a superhero and the local national guard forces can’t stop the football team?

WHY NOT?!?

Because they’ve turned into giant tiger-creatures?!? Just like their mascot? There’s nearly 120 of them?

I’ll try to do something as soon as I can, OK? There are quite a few other emergencies going on…

I think I’ve got an idea… I’ve got a planet-eater on one hand – and a planet of evil and pain which tries to suck in anything which comes near it on the other.

Maybe I can arrange an introduction.

Nobody has any idea what might happen?.. We’d need a computer capable of analyzing magical energy to get any kind of an idea?

Well, that ball-of-blue-light which got into my computer seemed to understand magic. I’ll call and ask it!

It’s beyond calculation? Or at least beyond what you understand? Drat. Well, I haven’t been sending myself any warnings about the idea…

Maybe I can think of a way to do it.

So. What am I going to do about the one-hundred-and- twenty giant tiger-creatures?

The faint, psychic, whisper came from somewhere… A thought out of the future? A suggestion from impatient fate? An idea which would have occurred much earlier if he hadn’t been under such stress?

“Why don’t you send a few people from the group that you’ve been collecting?”

Who cared where it came from? It was a GOOD idea.

Oh for gods sake. Haven? Can you find someplace to put them? Good.

Michael? You carried the Lizard into orbit and collected 300 people in sixteen microseconds, could you put them there?

You’d like some help because they’re too big for you to use both kinds of acceleration at once? Maybe Robert?

I dunno… I don’t think I want to send Robert into the middle of a bunch of giant cats. Not just yet. He hasn’t even fully adjusted to being… Anyway.

Who else have we got?

Ratman and THE VOICE only show up when they want to, Azrael, The Professor, Ebonflame, and Timewalker, are all out of it at the moment and it’s not really Desrae’s kind of job…

Who does that leave? The Changeling and the Commander? (God. The Changeling’s talents are a hell of a lot like Robert’s. Is he going to need a leash too? At least HIS wolf-spirit is safely external. Come to think of it, is that thing a real animal at all? That’s another thing I’m going to have to look into).

Well… We need the Commander to talk to that fleet. I know you might need more help, but will Changeling do to start with?

OK then.

*******************************************************

Who is it now, Oh Cell Foe? Julia?

Hell yeah, put her on!

So, she’d like to make it Fisherman’s Wharf? That’s fine with me… My chemistry partner from last semester turned into a small dog and ran away? (Oh hell. That would be a Zarkonian. If one of them took his place, Jason’s almost certainly dead. Poor bastard). Yeah, that’s very very strange all right (True enough. Why the hell would they impersonate a minor college student?)… I’ll come by and pick you up tomorrow evening unless something goes very wrong…

Second Call? From a very old supercomputer? (Huh? I thought those were new?!?) It’s under the ocean, upside down, it just woke up and it’s disoriented – and it wants to know if it should begin the cyrogenic revivals? The continental layout has shifted enough to alter the base parameters for the revival sequences?!? (What cyrogenic revivals? The CONTINENTS have shifted? WHY IS IT ASKING ME?)

Errr… Why not wait a day or so? Will it actually matter any?

Not really, anybody who wasn’t going to make it died a long time ago and you’re already eons overdue anyway? You’re bringing the other computers online for now?

The TV is prelisting a special report “Return Of The Atlanteans; The Revival Of A Pre-Ice-Ages Civilization” for two days from now? Now that’s an OLD computer…

I wonder if this would be before or after the atomic war it’s predicting for the same time period?

If we’re still around I’ll deal with it then.

I wish I could talk to Solamon.

Maybe I can! He’s not very firmly anchored in time, so maybe I can get in contact with a sane aspect of him with a mirror-spell, even if his present aspect is sort of out-to-lunch…

Solamon apparently used the transtemporal link David established to minimize the timeripple resulting from a temporal overlap – and popped out of the mirror to hand David a cerebral augmenter, and to ask David to install it in his (present) brain… The timelords would still notice the ripple of course, but they would have yelled a lot more about a full-scale shift. Besides; they were approaching a critical historical nexus. It was no time to be having a mental overload.

Along the way David “discovered” that “Cell Foe” was an extraordinarily powerful linking focus (You just had to dial some appropriate coordinates) – and that the TV did something similar for divination… Both had actual spirits (With a definite “familiar” feel) although most of the other devices which he’d inadvertently enchanted were simply constructs.

Hey… If somebody can cast destiny spells to try to make all possible disasters happen at once, why can’t I try to make sure I succeed at something? Or at least to limit the things which can go wrong?

If I use mirror-magic to amplify my power…

I’ll need to take a lot of precautions…

God. Maybe I can actually do this.

David spent much of the morning taking precautions – shielding spells, destiny spells, personal enhancements and amplifications, gathering “components” – and trying to tap into any latent powers he could… If anything went wrong, he wanted it to affect him – and not the rest of the world. This was, after all, his idea.

That afternoon, the orbit of the world-eater brought it nearly overhead – and David opened a gateway between it and the pocket-realm “basement” which held the hellworld. He’d faced it away from the earth, and shielded it all he could…

Deep in space there were terrible psychic screams…

The worldeater tried desperately to pull away as the overwhelming power of the hellworld locked on to it’s essence and began dragging it through in pieces like an object being consumed by a black hole. While some small fragments did break away, most of the “asteroids” mass, and power, was dragged through the gateway.

Moments later, as the stone, metal, and annihilating energies of the word-eater rained down, it was the turn of the hellworld to scream. It’s convulsions – and the clash of opposing energies – began to tear it’s fragile pocket-realm apart… Reality convulsed, and shuddered towards catastrophe.

Lord Warlock? We have a class-1 emergency situation. Unless the “hellworld” pocket dimension is disconnected from the basic sanctum nexus within 2.3 minutes a total containment failure can be expected to occur. The most likely result is the destruction of this solar system.

WHAT?!?

SHIT!!!

Sohowdowecutitloose? Fromthemaincontrolroom? Where’s that?

YOU CAN’T TELL ME THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR OLD SECURITY RESTRICTIONS?!?

AAAARGH!

OH NEVER MIND! I’LL FIND IT MYSELF!

David drew on the talent he’d copied from Timewalker and stepped out of time. That ought to give him plenty of subjective “time” to look…

It took thirteen hours to find the control room. By that time David had had to have Solamon show him how to “rest” out of time – and how to maintain the effect for so long.

It turned out to be a big cross-shaped room, full of levers.

Haven seemed to “tilt” for a moment or two as it compensated for the mass differences…

It couldn’t say exactly what had happened in the hellrealm – but it hadn’t been doing well.

RIGHT.

Hey. My divinations about a possible battle between the world-eater and the cosmic boy scouts gave them about 50-50 chance.

If they haven’t noticed it already, I think I’ll let them know that they’ll probably never get a better time to attack.

Sadly, that “trouble-detection” system had picked up some information which David could have done without… It seemed that the psychic storm his tactic had created had killed nearly a thousand telepathically-sensitive people. Fortunately, Solamon knew what to say…

Oh GOD. I’ve killed 987 people. Come to think of it, I’ve committed genocide by transformation and mutilated a roommate and a friend…

Some of his friends stepped in to help with the angst.

David… It ate planets. Out of nearly six billion people, plus however many were on the other worlds that it would’ve eaten, there were less then a thousand that you couldn’t save. The Zarkonians made a habit of genocide. As for Robert and your roommate… they’re getting off pretty easy for multiple murderers. You’re doing pretty well – and, if you’re worried, it will be easy enough to make sure that your idiot roommate gets adopted before he gets put to sleep.

Warlocks Personal Timeline:

15 (Friday):    Atomic clouds in the forecast lead to tracking sentient computers, and to earning a first-aid merit badge for helping out the crash-landed Paracosmic Boy Scouts. With lunch came The Amazing Dao and his Water Tower, Interplanetary Ballistic Lizards, transforming a murderous roommate into a dog – David even paid for his veterinary work – and blasting a launching site in China. Meanwhile, Desrae’s child rescue operation led to a bit of exploration in the sanctum, a world of horror, and a night ransacking the library in search of explanations, all of which led into Saturday…

Sadly, with the first phase of the Chaos Storm complete, scheduling changes, and the loss of too many players, meant that the campaign had to close down after a mere thirty or forty sessions. Still, the Catastrophic Destiny spell had served it’s purpose: within two weeks of gaining their superhuman abilities a number of formidable heroes had been forged into a team, had learned to use their powers effectively, had learned to make tough decisions – and had gathered and used the resources that let them defeat the planet-eater before it could devour the newly-vulnerable Earth. Stopping a nuclear war had merely been a bonus…

Most likely the next few weeks of game time – and thirty or so sessions – would have been devoted to dealing with alien fleets and cultures, Zarkonian attempts to make the Warlock stop his transformation-plague (not that he could), the recipients of those mysterious “companion rings”, legal issues, soothing Robert’s school, assorted supervillains, new races appearing, other dimensions, and all the other complications of the rise of magic.

It really is too bad that it never proved possible to continue.

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fit the Sixth and Seventh

Some hours later, it was just after midnight, they’d finally gotten back to their proper time (and so were free to act again without risk of temporal paradox) – and the most urgent situation on their plate was the giant hostage situation at the stadium. The police had already tried to get involved – but only by negotiations. That left it up to the Guardians.

OK… We’re invisible, we’re here, and what are we going to do? We’ve only got about six hours till dawn now.

No, we are NOT simply attacking! Not with 80,000 people there as hostages! Why do you think the police haven’t tried it?

Well, there’s only so many places to hide a bomb in a stadium. Maybe we can find it if we circle around in the place with a detection spell running…

No luck. SHIT.

Maybe there isn’t one?

At least we got a good look at their thugs… Sets of three with pistols, communications gear – and assault rifles.

Well, I can screw up the weaponry pretty easy.

So lets go talk to the supervillains…

The ensuing hour was mostly devoted to conversation between “The Voices” (Warlock, TimeWalker, and Ratman) – and various villains and thugs… It didn’t get very far – although it did reveal that the martial artist could still “see” them to some extent. Unfortunately, no one was willing to tell them who was in charge, or to talk it out…

It did let Warlock screw up their radio-detonators, as well as confusing a lot of thugs.

Great. Just great. None of these people will tell me who the real boss is!

Maybe I can look into someone’s mind?

Shielded.

Damn.

Waitaminute… They’re all shielded just alike? It responds to my probe, but they don’t seem to notice…

So who’s doing it? (“I’LL FIND OUT!”)

Whaaa? Oh. It’s THE VOICE again… No, we’re not trying to infringe on your gig! Can you trace back to whatever’s powering these shields?

Come to think of it, I’ll break the spells on them. Maybe they’re all being compelled somehow?

Just protective/escape stuff… Oh well, good riddance anyway. Neat spells though. I doubt that I could do them – even if it they were my type of magic…

THE VOICE traced the mental beams back to a cloaked spaceship hovering overhead – and blocked them. Warlock and the others decided to go for it, while at least part of the enemy defenses were down…

Warlock decided to try some voice-amplification and “command” magics as he became visible in the center of the arena… “THIS IS THE WARLOCK! I HAVE DISABLED THE THUG’S CONVENTIONAL WEAPONRY, AND WE WILL RESTRAIN THE PARANORMALS! PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND EXIT THE ARENA IN AN ORDERLY FASHION!”

DAMMIT! How come nobody ever does what they’re told?

Meanwhile, Ratman was blasting away at the martial-artist type, TimeWalker was busy evading some sort of “smart”, target-seeking, energy blast (of vast power), and the Warlock was finding that that superstrong fellow was increasing his mass somehow, and was rapidly overloading the levitation spell he’d used on him…

At least all the normal people are getting out, but it’s turning into a riot! Oh well, most of the serious injuries are to the thugs…

DAMMIT! Nothing seems to work on that energy blast!

Well, that’s a cute way to handle it. Drag it right into the hyperstrong fellow. Maybe if I incapacitate the energy-manipulating fellow directly?

Timewalker popped out… I guess he’ll be OK. He’s certainly out of my reach anyway…

So it’s fucking rude to apply a weight-spell there! It worked didn’t it?

Ratman?! You didn’t exactly have to vaporize him!!!

We’re gonna have a real serious talk about this!

I’d better make sure that the two surviving “supervillains” stay unconscious.

After that, Warlock settled down to healing all the people who’d gotten hurt in the stadium exodus – while Michael and Robert showed up to collect the villains.

Given their abilities, they certainly knew that the police wouldn’t be able to handle them.

When the police got there, they were most insistent about everybody filling out a report before vanishing.

OK… That’s the last of them… Now what?

Bloody police. They’re enough cameras in the place, I’d’ve thought that they could have watched on TV – if 80,000 bedamned eye witnesses weren’t enough for them.

Oh boy… TV. Dozens of reporters here to broadcast the game.

I think we just put on another show here.

Just great… It’s what, 11:00? Time to get back to the sanctum anyway.

I missed morning classes too. What am I gonna do about these Department-X people? They’re gonna wreck my life! (If some super-powered maniac doesn’t do it first!).

Warlocks Personal Timeline:

11 (Monday):    An early-morning “convenience store” robbery reveals the presence of a mind-controlling guy and an FBI investigator of the paranormal. Immersion in Desrae’s psi-field leads everyone to oversleep, whereupon a Department-X helicopter tries to kidnap Warlock (Leading to an encounter with an explosive bus, a mass rescue, the appearance of THE VOICE, an encounter with The Commander, and blowing up a building). Meanwhile, Robert was attacked by the Order Of The Firehawk, Desrae smashed her car while being kidnaped by an ogre – and the junior thug was snatched by the mutagenic slimes and attacked by poison-blowgun wielding rats. Warlock wound up having to explain to his mother, tricking the ogres to go after Desrae through the dimensional gates they’d been guarding, and gating them all back…

12 (Tuesday): Warned of an investigation, and with his items demanding constitutional rights, David spent the next few hours arranging conveniences and setting up a phony death for Robert, finding out that some of his enemies knew who he was, and were out to grab him, going to Ratman’s rescue against the slime and sewer-things, dealing with Dr Carlson and Dr Genos (again), creating a simulacrum to walk into the kidnapping attempt, rescuing people from a massive automobile accident, dealing with the kidnappers and Lestat (Desrae’s elder-vampire Sire), transforming and interrogating surviving agents, hiding his family, being threatened by Master Dao, and fighting an ancient lich-ninja. Afterwards, the Mayor called about an odd situation (Revealing that Cell Foe had been giving out his telephone number), David got a date for Saturday night, they timejumped back to fight a gang and rescue a kidnaped girl, encountered a hyper- fast alien, debated with David’s home computer, talked to his roommate, and fought a selection of supervillains who’d taken a football stadium and crowd hostage…

Is there anything else I’ve got to do this afternoon? Maybe call that shapeshifting fellow… It’s pretty unfair of Dr Genos to keep him locked up that way!

Well, that was a waste of time. He won’t trust me, he’ll only trust the “Daddy” who locked him in a cell. He doesn’t even want a book!

Oh fine, I’ll pipe in cable TV and put it under his control… At least that’ll give him something to look at.

I give up. Enough is enough. I’m going to take a nap.

Oh come on… I’ve barely gotten my eyes closed!

So what is it now, oh TV???? Orcs robbing a liquor store?????? On the “Video game preview channel”??????

ORCS?

ALRIGHT ALREADY! I’LL GO!

Jeez… Anybody?… Everybody’s asleep but Solamon. No – Desrae’s not here at all. Probably gone clubbing. Not available anyway…

Right. Lets pop over to the place.

So why isn’t anybody here? Oh. Right. The “Preview Channel. We’ll give `em a few minutes…

God. It really is Orcs. With a two-headed ogre.

You’re here, and you’ve conquered the place because you haven’t met any opposition yet?

The ensuing brawl was fairly short – and rather one sided… It did lead to David discovering that he was evidently better protected then he’d thought. It also led to turning a bunch of sleeping orcs and a two-headed ogre over to the police.

That would liven things up down at the station. The report basically read “I’ve got no idea!”.

Great. ANOTHER set of alien invaders. From another dimension this time. An AD&D Dimension. Just what we needed…

Blast Gary Gygax anyway.

Uhrrr… Oh, please. It’s two in the morning. It was midnight when I finally got to bed! Who is it this time?

LESTAT?! Ohshit… Better go out and see him. He’s not exactly a friend (I mean, for Christ’s sake, He/It eats people – even if he does seem to stick to the bad guys), but he’s sort of an ally… Solamon? You want to be moral support? Lestat makes me nervous.

Lestat was mostly interested in where Desrae was, and how she was doing – although he also seemed interested when he saw that David was actually a mage and fey – not simply someone using gadgets… He didn’t want to come in. Too many manitou. David would have offered him a snack – but apparently he was far past the point where he could just drain off a little psychic energy.

Maybe I need less sleep then I did before – but I’m still going back to bed for a few hours…

What’s that whining? Oh, FINE. I’ll fill up the dog food dishes, so shut up!

Jeez… It’s nearly dawn, and nothing urgent is going on. I actually got to wake up by myself.

The world is probably setting me up for something.

OK, so what have we been keeping on hold?

<<<LET-US-GO-AND-GET-A-SPACESHIP>>>

Alright, already, Mr Commander! TURN IT DOWN. Yeah, that’s right, I can yell in your head too… We’ll try to get one, OK?

They’re operated telepathically – but you’ve got to get inside and touch the panel to attune it? Hm. Maybe I can use mirror-magic to work up enough of a link for that.

Damn. It’s psi-shielded – so we can’t just grab it remotely… We’ll have to go and get it in person.

Yes, Robert – you can come. Just wait a minute, and I’ll put a disguise spell on you. You’re wanted by the police, remember? We’re trying to pretend you’re dead if you haven’t forgotten…

Yes Michael… I realize that you have no intention of missing out on a genuine spaceship!

Between mirror-scrying and telepathy, it was fairly easy to get a layout on the base and it’s security. It was tight – but fairly conventional…

Nothing Timewalker and Warlock couldn’t bypass or set off all at once.

Of course, that left getting everyone in there with the ship to leave – but setting off the fire alarm was reasonably effective… Everybody who was actually in the ship left – save for a pesky master sergeant, some sort of psychic guardian – and apparently on loan from Department-X.

He issued a lot of threats… It seemed that aliens (of one kind and another) had made attempts to steal the ship several times before. After some useless debate, the group managed to dump him through the floor, and got into the control room…

What do you mean It’s not responding?! You start to train your pilots in infancy – and you’ve been opening up new channels, and using your telepathy in new ways, and it no longer recognizes your mind-patterns? WELL, WE’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!

Stupid ship! I command you; LISTEN TO HIM… AUGH!

Forcibly attuned by David’s technomantic spell, the ship took off – at about six gravities – and without the compensation fields in place…

OOOFFF! OW! Waitaminute… Why aren’t I hurt? Are any of the rest of you… Never mind. Two guys who can take a fall from orbit, two in battle armor, and a werewolf. If I’m not hurt, they’re fine.

So where are we… We’re past the Moon? The drive engaged as soon as we left the atmosphere?

ARE YOU NUTS!?!

We are NOT going to meet your mothership out beyond Pluto! I don’t have a few weeks, my spell on the ship will wear off one hell of a lot sooner then that – and if you’re going to insist, I’m getting out!

I’ll FUCKING WELL WALK!

I DON’T HAVE TO BE REASONABLE, I’M SIXTEEN!

What would your mother ship do about the Zarkonians anyway? Blow-up-the-infected-cities? NO. We’ll handle the problem ourselves…

Turn this thing around. We’ll park it in the cave. I’ll get the elementals to enlarge the garage a bit…

We don’t want to get tracked… You’ve got a screen engaged? I’ll make a few diversion-spells and shields of my own…

Hi Dad! Where’ve I been? Err… I’veBeenOutStealing AnAlienSpacecraftFromASecretGovernmentProjectBecauseIt BelongsToThesePeople… What was that you were saying about the gear those agents had? It’s very advanced?

Perhaps wisely, Eric decided not to think very hard about spaceships and such… It was like Timewalker’s tricks. It made his head hurt.

I’m sorry Dad… I’m trying to get everything back to normal for you as fast as I can – but it might be a week or so.

I don’t think mothers life was ever quite as normal as you think it was anyway… Here. I’ll have the TV show you…

Food? There ought to be food. I stocked the place with quite a lot of groceries. So where’s… ROBERT! Go get yourself a deer or something! I’ll just make a shopping run. At least those agents had plenty of cash on them. About eight thousand total…

Well, I think it’s honest enough. They’ve probably blocked off my bank account by now.

See? Hmmm… I think I’ll shop someplace well away from this ATM.

Hey! I know where I can get a car! I’ll just buy a total wreck and fix it up like I did Desrae’s!

Sure, a hundred’s OK! (What the hell, it’s not like it was my money).

Cool. I’ve got a Corvette. Looks a little odd somehow… Timewalker? I used your specs… You’re afraid you got it a little off? They won’t actually be making this model until 2012? Oh, never mind. I’ll just say it’s a concept car or a rebuild or something.

10:00 and still nothing’s happened. Maybe Wednesday is superheroes day off…

There’s a special on me on channel nine? Now that’s sort of cool – but they don’t seem to be sure if I’m a good guy. We need some good publicity.

I think I know how to get some… I was planning to do it anyway as soon as things calmed down – but maybe it’d be a good idea to make a hospital stop right now. I ought to be able to heal quite a few people…

David decided to visit the big, “general”, hospital first. It had the highest percentage of charity cases. He hit the burn wards, the spinal cases – and children in general… He stayed a little over an hour – which was more then long enough to attract a media circus.

He answered a few questions while he was working…

It was magic – or something like it. He was masked because there were too many people after him already. He was stopping because he only had so much power – and he’d heal more people tomorrow if he could.

Then somebody started offering to pay an awful lot – up to 100,000 $ – for an interview.

TimeWalker said he could arrange enough time for it – if they had some independently powered equipment.

They did.

While the interviewer rapidly figured out that “The Warlock” wasn’t very old, and asked a lot of questions about who he was, they did get out a certain amount of information on Department-X, various supervillains and menaces, about what his abilities were – and how short of experience he was in using them.

You’d better broadcast this before someone tries to confiscate the tape. Yeah, I meant it about the people after me… Where to send the money? Err… <Azrael? Ask Ratman which is the the best of the charity-groups that take care of the street kids… He says that the Donavan Foundation is the best? Thanks> Send it to the Donavan Foundation for Homeless Children…

Yes, I’m serious!

I don’t really need it… No, I’m not independently wealthy! But a motorcycle suit doesn’t really cost all that much!

I think I’ll hit the DMV, and get my license, after lunch. I’ve got a car to use now…

Well, that was easy. I’ve got my license. I’ve got a sports car – and I’ve got a date Saturday…

All is COOL with the world.

I did promise… There’s a plane out at 2:00. I’ll just send the simulacrum… I’ll bet a buck that those Department-X idiots are stupid enough to jump on somebody that’s coming in voluntarily.

No takers?

They did… On the plane no less. (“Jeez, guys! Do you have the slightest idea how dangerous – and stupid – this is?”). David blocked their power-damper handcuffs (If only because they were interfering with the link), but let them chain “him” up…

He spent the trip making a terrible, childish, pest of himself… Sadly, none of the ones he could “read” knew very much.

In Washington, they drove around (In their new pink sedan) until they decided he’d gone to sleep, and then into (another) secret base hidden under the decorative pools of the Washington Monument…

David nearly laughed himself to death…

They promptly got him out (Despite his transferring all the chains to the agents “escorting” him), and tried to stuff him into a cell; a nasty, uncomfortable, cell in a long line of other locked cells.

He let them shove in an illusion and went wandering about…

Stupid asses. I was being cooperative, but can they go along with that? Nooooo. I think I’ll just shield myself against the alarm systems and go looking around a bit… They’ll have a hell of a time gassing, detecting, or stopping, a wooden golem in any case.

Huh. Lots of people. Bastards.

And they’re running all their security systems thru a computer too. Let’s just clear out that gas, set off all the alarms, open up the cell doors – and announce an exodus…

It went fairly well… Apparently all of the agents who were capable of dealing with Warlock were still on the way back from the west coast. With a little bit of magical backup, the other prisoners were quite capable of pulling off a mass escape. Unfortunately, this was just a holding center. Outside of a few items (Payroll list, the locations of two bases (The Northern Rockies in Canada and Key West), they usually transferred people too – and the locations a few random agents had in their heads), there wasn’t much information to be had.

Still, that left him in Washington.

He went to see that guy who’d given him his ID back in the helicopter. He wasn’t in – but his wife was not inclined to believe what her husband did for a living. Warlock told her all about it – and gave her the power to detect lies to boot…

Huh. Serves him right… That’s an idea though. Who else should I tell?

They’re supposed to be in charge of restraining the government… I think I’ll start off with the Supreme Court Justices.

He did. He gave telepathic data-dumps, and some basic psi-shields, to Justices, Senators, Representatives, and so on… He stayed away from the ones with shields, as they might either have already been influenced by Dep- X, or be alien infiltrators – but he still got quite a few of them…

Bugger. About 40% of them have shields of one kind or another. Well, at least the databurst and shields are pretty quick spells… I’ve gotten a couple of hundred in the last four hours. 11:00 (or 2 AM in Washington). The President’s got a shield… Still, he’s in charge. It might be worth a shot anyway.

Maybe I should try hitting a few reporters or something first. Just to make sure they talk about it…

David spent the next two hours visiting hospitals – that would attract some reporters, and do some good as well. It did… He fed them quite a bit about Department X.

Well, that should get the story out tomorrow. A few destiny spells will ensure it. The doctors and reporters had certainly gotten excited enough – and asked enough questions.

I think I’m about out of things to do here… Might be a good idea to stash the simulacrum someplace. Who knows when it might be useful again? It’s a root. I’ll just sink it in the ground someplace and put concealment spells on it. Maybe a preservation charm too. There are plenty of parks around here.

“Back Home” David found out about the guys from the Order of the Firehawk.

Robert? Let me get this straight… You’ve – killed – another – eight – people.

The game master called for a brief discussion with Robert’s player at this point. The player felt that removing the excessive violence from the character would spoil the fun – and therefore wasn’t willing to take the “control spells” (with their lack of an in-game effect) as an excuse to have the character change – or to role-play a character who wanted to be violent but was being restrained.

The rest of the players – and the game master – felt that a massacre specialist simply didn’t fit into a superhero game and the group had stretched toleration as far as they possibly could; if the character wasn’t going to change, he was going to have to be either brought under control or jailed.

Since the player still wasn’t willing to change Robert’s behavior, and didn’t want to play a jailed character, he made another character – and Robert was demoted from “character” to “pet” with every control mechanism and aggression-reducing effect stacked on him that the group could come up with.

Right… More binding spells. Commands, links, and restraining spells. Damp his adrenalin, reduce hostility, tone down aggressiveness… Everything-I-can-think-of-spells. Reinforced. There. That ought to do it… <Go on to bed Robert, I’ll see you in the morning>

Dammit. That’s what I thought last time! Maybe… That won’t work. Caging him would kill him. I’ll try a mirror divination and see if there’s anything else I can do that’ll restrain him… OK, I can make a quick restraining talisman for him to wear easily enough, so what else can I…

That’s SICK! I can’t do that to him, he’s a person, not a dog! He trusts me! He’s – He’s… He’s killed more then thirty people. Even if it’s not entirely his fault. The mirror says that this’ll help keep him from killing any more.

Oh God.

Maybe I can help him regenerate after he calms down… At least I can make sure that he doesn’t feel it, that he’ll never know.

Oh God. He trusts me.

David was sick several times – but he managed to do the job. He carefully added sensitive but functionless lumps of fatty tissue to simulate the original organs, blocked regeneration, made sure that Robert’s personal scent wouldn’t change, healed the incision, rebalanced Robert’s hormones – and cleaned up… With any luck, the boy would never realize that he’d been neutered.

Afterwards, David got to work preparing some of the magical gadgets he’d been meaning to make. Running on nerves, he was still up when everybody else started to wake up – including Robert, who turned out to be a lot calmer and more docile then he’d been before…

Oh God. If he realizes what I’ve done when he wakes up, he’ll kill me – and I couldn’t blame him. What else needs doing around here? There must be something! Lots of things. Anything is better then thinking about the fact that I’m a monster…

Hi, Robert! (GUILT)    HowAreYouFeelingToday? (GUILT) OK? A little bored? (GUILT!) HowAboutWeGoOutHunting? You’d like that wouldn’t you? (Oh hell… I feel like there’s a neon sign proclaiming “The Warlock Mutilated Me!” over him. At least he doesn’t seem to realize what I’ve done… What am I going to do if someone else does?).

COOL! An insulation-spell allows me to touch Desrae without blowing up! I wonder if I can throw a booster spell on myself to make myself more attractive to her? It’s worth a try! At least Robert’s not competing any longer… (GUILTGUILTGUILT!) I can’t believe I thought that… How could I be such a bastard…

Still running on nervous energy – and half giddy with fatigue – David spent the next few hours getting a lab set up for his older sister, finding equipment for his father – and getting his little brother set up with some writing equipment and a place to work. He even tried to inventory the rooms, given that there seemed to be far more then he’d ever requested… Workroom, garage, the personal apartments, kitchen, living room, library and computer room, several labs (Electronics, biochemical, and a machine shop), the kennels, service area, Robert’s meat locker, and one large cavern with a lot of greenery and a pool for swimming in… The storage closet with the guns seemed to be quietly turning into an armory.

Rather impressive considering that he’d just set up a basic magical workroom and storage area last week. All he’d really intended was a place to put a big mirror and work on enchanting a few things…

On one of his peripatetic trips through – the third time he’d asked Cathrin if there was something else he could get for her – she quietly tranquilized him and put him to bed. She recognized overstress when she saw it, especially in somebody she knew as well as David – and she’d gotten enough readings on his current metabolism and energy-balance to pull it off…

Now you’re sure there’s nothing else… Hey! That’s not fair! Just because I’m a little on edge, that’s no reason to tranq – tranq – tranquilize… (Thud)

(Terrible discomfort… Light? He was… Strapped to an ice-cold table? David tried to break free, both physically and magically, almost reflexively – but nothing happened. The straps were enchanted somehow. Something like the Earring. He suddenly became aware that he was cut off from his allies, somewhere where reality itself felt – warped – on an operating table, under a blinding light, and that he was being slowly vivisected – by his Mother, Sister, and Robert (Who was gleefully returning David’s treatment of him). They said they were sorry – but that they needed the data, they had to know how his powers worked, and there wasn’t enough time to be gentle. They, and their scientific friends, were “wondering how long he could actually survive this”.

David realized that no ordinary drugs could possibly knock him out about the time Timewalker materialized to pull him into a timebubble.

Things were getting really weird when someone poured enough water on him to wake him up.

GAAAH! <Gasp/Rattle/Thrash/Gurgle!>

Holy Christ!

Bad dream? At least it looked that way?

Yeah, you could say that.

You could say that the tax laws are a little complex too. Hmm… That was one hell of a powerful dream. What the hell is that whispering? (No, Michael. It’s nothing to do with your armor’s sound system, even if you can’t turn it off… Hmm… Technomancy didn’t work. Maybe a command-spell? HA! Gotcha! Technomancy didn’t work because the armor’s alive somehow! Alive somehow… Uh, Michael? Are you sure you want to keep on wearing it?).

Timewalker? You’re the psychologist… What do you think of this? Sounds a bit outre’, but you think that it sounds like some kind of warning? Maybe to look out for Department-X, for mother’s connections, for people/ aliens pretending to be my family, for my family, or…

NEVER MIND!

Wait-a-minute-here… That was way too detailed for a simple dream – and a warning has to come from somebody.

Right, Oh Mirror, WHO’S BEEN FUCKING WITH MY HEAD?!?

I Have? From the far future? (Geez. Centuries, and I don’t look more then a year or so older…) WHY?!?

I don’t want to answer that question?

DAMMIT! When I get to be me-then I must remember to kick myself for being such a pain in the rear for me-now and… TimeWalker? Do you ever get over the headaches?

What is it Cathrin? You’d like some information? I don’t have much… The spirits say I’m “Fey”. I think that means I’ve got a really powerful, self-generating, field on the mystic energy level.

I wish I knew what that meant too!

There isn’t much about the Fey on file? What “File”? In the “RACEMIND”?!? Geez, now THAT’s gotta be a handy talent to have. It’s only things that have been known to a LOT of people? Still…

Now who’s calling, Oh Cell Foe? ME?!? I’m trapped in an interdimensional vortex, and I’m calling myself to see if any of me remember how I got out of it? I can’t tell myself about any of this because it’s against the rules of the Timelords?

I can hang up on myself if I bloody well want too!

About then things really started coming unglued. All the major faults decided to let go simultaneously. The spirits “in” the sanctum said to get outside fast. They wouldn’t be able to hold the walls… Plus, by the way, there was someone outside waiting to see the Warlock.

Shockwaves? OH GREAT!

Master Equinox? What the hell?!? YouCan’tInterfereDirectlyButYouDon’tWantTheWorldTearingItselfToBitsSince You’dGoTooSoYou’reGoingToChannelYourPowerThruMeButIMust NeverTellAnyoneThat?

OK ALREADY!

So What’s??? There’s a giant asteroid coming towards earth and the crustal-plate elementals are hitting each other?!?! YOU IDIOTS!!! COOPERATE AND HOLD THE PLANET TOGETHER! (Geez! They seriously MEANT it when they said they’d lend me some more power… OK!)    Next we’ll need a really big kinetic damping spell. Maybe I can get the Solar Elementals (If any) to zap it – since it seems to be shielded against my touching it directly… WHY THE HELL IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING AT ONCE!

Waitaminute…

Good God… That’s one hell of a big destiny spell. It’s trying to force every possible earthly catastrophe to happen at once?!?! NO!

Even with all the extra power – and every arcane trick that David could think of – it soon became obvious that David was losing. The best he could do without burning himself out was to moderate their effects… There’ would be widespread disaster, but it’d be manageable – especially if he could hold onto the power for a bit, and use some spells to help everybody out.

The way things had been going – and the way TimeWalker talked – he couldn’t afford to be unconscious for long.

OK; While he had all the power, it was time for some serious – planetary-scale – spellcasting… A long-term “All-Revealing Light of Truth” spell (To let people see those pesky shapeshifters), a status-check spell (There were monsters in Tokoyo, the Elementals were fixing the crust, the asteroid would probably stop {?? – A ship or something??}, and there had been a lot of damage and many casualties), a massive repair spell, an equally-massive healing/revival spell, a failed attempt to enchant himself “Against that pest’s destiny spells!”, one to pull his mother out if/when she needed it (Apparently she did not at the moment… Whatever was going on with mother was looking odder and odder), a self-enhancement spell on himself (It mostly went physical for some reason), some basic Dimensional Barriers (To stop mass troop shifts – as in those stupid orcs), an attempt to get rid of/cure the Filoviruses (Ebola, Marburg, etc. Sadly, some utter bastard apparently blocked it), Creating a Really Great Wizards Sanctum, Locating (And collecting any that just happened to be accessible and/or laying around loose) any mystic artifacts which happened to be about, an attempt to stop the Crimson Bangle (Effectiveness unknown as of yet), an attempt at getting some background information on magical beings (Resulting in a sort of survey course in Paranormal Zoology), setting up an effective trouble warning/location system in the sanctum, creating a kind of arcane, contagious, “plague” to force the Zarkonians to shift (Fairly permanently) into non-sentient shapes, Legalizing and Distributing Pot (Considering the level of tension and chaos it seemed like a good idea – even if he hadn’t been a college kid from California), “Announcing Himself” (And letting everyone know that they shouldn’t count on this sort of thing; the circumstances had been somewhat unique), and Re-Stabilizing the Global Weather Patterns – which is when the power boost got withdrawn. Still, most of the things he’d done would last for many years to come – if not for decades or centuries.

God. What a RUSH.

Whaa??? Oh. Channel Nine. Look, I’m sorry, I’m busy, and I’m very tired at the moment! Maybe I’ll have time to talk to you later, OK?

OK, so if they won’t go away I’ll just go invisible. That ought to discourage them…

So where’s the sanctum? There it is. Everybody must be inside… Cell Foe says that “Haven” says hello? It seems to be alive, sentient, from some alien dimension, to have links like both Desrae and I (Good God…), and it’s surprised/angry/indignant that it could be dragged here and bound – as well as extremely confused about what these carbon-based things here are? Huh. Why do I have the feeling that it may be decades before I have a good idea of what all it is I’ve just done?

How did you guys get bound into statues anyway? The Sanctum did it? Just a minute and I’ll turn you loose.

Weird. The Sanctum seems to amplify my power vastly – as well as providing some new ones… At least it cut those elementals loose easily enough.

Oh God. All-revealing light. Robert.

Robert? Oh God. Don’t look at me like that! I had to! (God. He feels utterly betrayed… He’s going catatonic on me? It’s my spell after all, maybe I can keep his brain from really registering the information. Not good, but adequate for the moment. God. Everyone else is going to see it too. What am I going to tell them?

It’ll have to be the truth. I seem to have inadvertantly banned lying…

Michael put up the most arguement. The aliens could see both the power and the berserker tendencies. They’d have executed him, and everyone else could see the need for restraints, as well as the fact that David would’ve rather done almost anything else…

Caithrin? Why are you trying to sneak up on me with a needle? (Must be embarrasing to see yourself sneaking around that way on the TV…).

By the way, it looks like I’ve just abolished lying, at least for the next ten years or so.

Yes, I know just how big a mess that’s going to make in a lot of ways! I dunno how I’m going to maintain my “secret identity”…

(With the memories of an especially unpleasant dream going through his head, David put a little more “force” – and pain – behind his look then he’d really intended)

SO WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO SNEAK UP AND DRUG ME?!?

You’re not sure what I’m becoming and it might be very dangerous and it might need curing and… What if it was dangerous to the population at large?

Look… I don’t think any of that kind of thing will work on me anymore – and I don’t think I could be “cured” at the moment without it killing me.

As for the population at large, if I wasn’t this way right now, most of them would ALREADY be dead.

Lets go and see what’s happened to the Sanctum, OK?

The sanctum was WEIRD… It had it’s own, multiplex, consciousness, bizarre servants from alien worlds – and any amount of other weirdness. Unfortunately, there was little time to look around; one of the first things the group ran across was that “trouble-warning” system that David had tried to set up… Like most of those spells, the consequences were far beyond his understanding. It seemed to have a limited projective function. It showed the Warlock a few things that he hadn’t entirely wanted to know…

What is it they say? “No good deed goes unpunished?” That “light-of-truth” business is a bit out of control; Global riots. A lot of old lies are showing up as fakes – like most of the foundations of the major power bases worldwide. Revolutions, replacement, etcetera. At least Department-X seems to have blown apart… It looks like most of the major governments have been lying. Everyone always thought so – but now they KNOW.

At least it’s only people and politics – and not the planetary crust this time.

Master Equinox dropped by momentarily with a message – it seemed that David shouldn’t expect much help for a bit; One of the rift-realms greatest – and maddest – magi was making trouble; He’d made it two tiers further “up” then anyone else, was WAY more powerful – and didn’t care WHAT he was wrecking. He supported the no-intervention idea – even if it killed everyone… The rift-realm had too many worldgates. It was naturally unstable. While David’s goodwill was helping “hold the place together”, he didn’t think that David could really help much… Power in the realm was derived from a mix of raw magic, knowledge, intuition, creativity, and accomplishment… David was strong on the creativity and intuition bit, but he’d only been at this a few weeks. The rift-realm let mages surpass all ordinary limits (Although it did tend to make them a bit nutty).

Well… Hell. They helped ME. There really ought to be something I can do – but I just don’t have that kind of power!

I need a lever.

The rift-realm is devoted to pure magic…

Hey, Solamon!

Solamon was getting awfully fuzzy… Something about the light-spell was breaking down the mental “barriers” that kept him from being overwhelmed by his memories… Still, David copied his powers into a psychic matrix of mirror-magic and loaned them to “his” side in the rift- realm. They were different enough from magic that they might be some help. While he was at it, he copied them for himself too – and tried to help Solamon. On the plus side, the light spell didn’t reach into the sanctum and Michael now knew how to work his armor…

About then, the Commander telepathically “announced” that “THE FLEET WILL BE ARRIVING SHORTLY”.

WAIT A MINUTE! Which fleet? YOUR fleet?!?!? The one that was going to “Blow up the infected cities?”

You’re not going to try do that because “We’ve found an effective countermeasure”? The fleet’s coming in as fast as it can because you’re fighting the infiltration too, and you need to get a hold of the countermeasure as quickly as possible in case you can’t keep the “planet-eater” from destroying the earth?

PLANET-EATER?!?!?!?! That Asteroid? You’ve seen them before? This planet’s strategically valuable enough now to make it worth a try at stopping it, but you’ve never been able to before?!

Did you try hard?

I thought you were out of touch?!? You are, but you used a top-priority emergency signal and you’re sure that they’ll listen to you when they arrive?

What happens if they don’t?

SHITSHITSHIT!

David, completely overloaded for the moment, dithered briefly, and unconsciously elected to focus on a few of the more comprehensible and immediate problems, such as Robert, the ex-agents, and trying to get the Commander in touch wth the fleet while everybody still had some time to prepare if he couldn’t talk them around…

RIGHT.

Now waitaminute. Why should Robert feel so betrayed? He’s only been with us a few days… He knew we didn’t trust him to begin with, and one of the first things we did was bind him to obedience! OK, it’s a rotten thing to do to someone – but betrayed enough to go catatonic? How did a murderous werewolf I’ve hardly met, and don’t especially trust, suddenly become a “friend” I can feel such guilt over? He’s murdered thirty people. A couple of months – hell, LIFE – without sex hormones isn’t all that high a penalty!

It’s not even an unreasonable precaution.

Ahhh… Somebody’s laid a bunch of destiny spells, and a deep bond, to shove us together… I’m “Pack Leader”. He doesn’t want to fight. So. Somebody HAS been setting us up.

Now if only I could be sure that it wasn’t me.

The ex-agents were simple. They were fine. They were even beginning to adjust to being dogs. It seemed that they’d been conditioned to accept their circumstances, and obey orders, from an early age…

They’d also done enough seriously rotten things over their years as agents that David felt very little guilt about keeping them the way they were.

That left finding some way to get in touch with that stupid fleet… The easiest way would be to enhance the Commander’s telepathic range.

So. About this fleet… The scoutship we took mounts an amplifier doesn’t it? Maybe if I step it up, you can get in touch with the fleet…

Nope. Drat. Maybe with more telepaths and a bigger amplifier to work with? We can salvage those big ships up in orbit now – and they ought to have both aboard.

The salvage expedition was a definite success. There were six “blue guy” refugees aboard (The Zarkonians had tested and taken away almost everyone… It seemed that most of them were Zarkonians and had forgotten – or never known – it) and lots of large ships available… They took a medium-size cargo/medical ship (Only about 1/2 a mile long) and stuck it under the ocean, secured most of the others – and made sure that all of them were “infected” with the metamorphosis -plague…

On the other hand, the ships instruments showed that there were at least two alien battle fleets on the way. It also helped confirm the identity of the world-eater.

Azrael began to collapse on the way back. It seemed that he’d been a Zarkonian – without knowing it – and the plague-spell was taking effect. His telepathy and basic self-image had hidden the early effects… David tried – but the spell was too powerful- and too far along – for him to do more then make him comfortable… Checking on everybody else revealed that the supervillain with the energy-manipulating powers was also “going dog”. David spent some time transferring his powers into an amulet. It might come in handy later on… A dolphin might have been better (They had similar mental patterns) – but he didn’t happen to know any…

The super-strong-and-tough guy was just a mercenary. He could stay where he was for the moment.

The commander and cohorts got through to the fleet. It was fighting another fleet and a single ship (It didn’t have much of a chance – but it had a hot pilot and a wide field of fire… Given the rest of the confusion it was doing pretty well). They’d make it – but it looked like it was going to be an extended fight.

The stepup worked? You got in touch with them – and they’re willing to listen? Well, that’s one less worry on the list…

Momentarily dizzy with relief, David turned away. The room kept on turning even after he stopped – and promptly faded away into blackness. Even the energies of faerie and supernatural imperatives eventually give way before the kind of fatigue throwing massive twenty-first level global spells generates…

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fits the Fourth and Fifth

  • Monday’s Child is Fair of Face.
  • Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace.
  • Wednesday we’ll be lucky if we ever get to…

Whaaaaa? Was that ringing? At (Urrr… 5:00 in the morning? Grrrr…). Phone. Who in hell…

You need some more power? Electrical and Magical? So does the TV? It wants a satellite dish and cable access as well? I did a very sloppy job on enchanting all of you? Oh, fine – but the cable access will have to wait a bit. Is there anything else? Can I go back to sleep now?

So Michael’s calling… Why isn’t he here? He was thirsty – and we haven’t got running water? So why is he…

You’re at the little convenience store a few blocks outside the park entrance and the place is being robbed? By a gang of about 30 people? Heavily armed? They’re shooting at you, you’ve got the force field up – and you just got the comlinks figured out?

Solaman? You teleport… Could you pop over to (Er, map, map… Here), and check on Michael? There’s some kind of big robbery going on.

(–Pop–)

(Yawn… God, I’m tired… That ought to…)

Waitaminute… Why in the name of god would thirty people be trying to rob a convenience store? That’d be overkill for a major bank!

Oh hell. We’d better go look.

(–Yawn–)

Meanwhile, Solaman had stepped out of time, and hiked over to the place… The store was packed with people, all of them armed, all of them looking a bit blank – and all of them shooting at Michael/Xenomorph. They didn’t seem to have anything else in common…

They also didn’t pay much attention to his attempts to settle things down – until he moved out of time and took away all the guns.

They promptly fell unconscious.

Zarquan’s Quickie Mart?????

Well… I guess it does have the virtue of being a bit hard to forget. Now what…

Now that’s weird… All kinds of different people. Even an FBI agent. Azrael? None of them remember anything about this? Their memories just go blank earlier this evening?

Great. Mind-controlled. Nobody here but victims. We’ll never be able to get that through to the police. Timewalker? Could you scatter them around in some safe places to wake up? Good. Hm… Just leave the FBI guy. He was looking for paranormal phenomena… Here’s one for him. I’ll leave a note.

The police were not happy with Warlock’s rapid-fire “explanation”… On the other hand, it looked like the word was gradually getting around. Warlock only had to wipe away a few memories – of them spotting Robert Lee making himself a hoagie. (He was kind of wanted.)

Back at the sanctum, the TV had a show for Micheal; “The Family Channel”. His mother, on a plane, worried about him, and dealing with some highjackers along the way. It seemed that somebody named “Lothar” had heard about him and his friends?

That didn’t seem like her at all.

Monday, everybody overslept… Sealed away from any other disturbance, Desrae’s enhanced psychic field – and simple exhaustion – led everyone to sleep both deeply, and late… They didn’t wake up until fairly late in the afternoon.

Michael finally managed to get out of his armor – and settled down to doing a lot of eating and drinking.

Warlock went home to see his mother… She’d wanted to see him about something.

Desrae and the junior thug went clubbing… He saw a great opportunity to do some sponging.

Timewalker decided to stay in the sanctum and monitor things a bit. He wanted to get a little more famalier with this timezone before he went out.

The TV decided to help him out. This would get very weird later on. Azrael stayed “home” as well.

Robert went hunting…

On the way home a weird helicopter appeared just in front of Warlock, some sort of invisible binding field grabbed ahold of him and started dragging him in – and an overly-amplified voice started telling him to “come along quietly”…
He was not inclined to do so.

Whaaa!?! HEY! LEGGO! I will not come along quietly! (Probably some of Dr Genos’s guys again). Maybe I can force the helicopter down if I reduce the air pressure around the rotors…

Cool.

So I’ll crash too? We’ll all crash together then… (Drat. They aren’t going for it – and there’s no room to push the descent rate enough to scare `em. At least we’ll be on the ground.)

Actually, the helicopter never touched down… It’d landed on the top of a speeding bus.

A buncha guys in business suits and dark glasses?!?

No, I don’t believe you’re from the government! The Government would start off with identification!

If this is an arrest, what am I being charged with? “National security”!?!?

Look, can’t you go bother somebody else? Go arrest the Seer. He’s a bad guy – and I don’t have time right now!

I’m wanted for questioning? So what is it you want to know? (Maybe about the alien invasion?)

You haven’t got your instruments here? (Oh No. I’m not about to disappear into some sort of lab/prison! It almost sounds like they want to vivisect me! Don’t know what this fellow can do, but they’re holding onto me somehow…)

During the ensuing debate, one of the agents seemed to deduce that Warlock wasn’t very old, Warlock spray- painted everything pink, shut down every technological item in the helicopter, grounded out “whatever-it-was” that was holding him – and got handed an FBI ID to check out. Of course, anybody could fake an ID…

<Timewalker? Could you come and help me? I’m being kidnapped… Where? Well, look for the pink helicopter parked in the street.

OK, so I painted it.>

About then, David realized that they were on top of a bus, rather then on the ground, a spirit calling itself “The Voice” (Of truth, justice, rationality – and whatever) put in an appearance and threatened to tie the rotor blades in a bow – unless the pilots took it away RIGHT NOW – and Timewalker showed up…

With the solitary agent who seemed to have personal powers entangled in a psychic struggle with The Voice, Warlock and Timewalker tried to simply leave. This did not work out; trying to get the driver to stop the bus revealed that he was afraid to slow down – someone had threatened to blow up the bus if he did…

You’ve got to be kidding. A secret government group tries to grab me, and I force their helicopter down on top of a bus that’s rigged to explode? So where’s the bomb?

Someone’s made the bus itself into some kind of explosive somehow? That’s RIDICULOUS!

OK. Fine. Wecanhandlethis. Lets put the passengers in the helicopter… Timewalker? You know how to drive this thing? Great! (Look – We have to put everybody on your helicopter because this bus is rigged to explode. Yes, I KNOW that’s absurd!!! It’s been going like this for days now, it’swhyIhaven’tanytime, JUST TAKE THEM!)

Well, I’m not the one who’s spent the last ten minutes fighting a mental duel with a belligerent sprite!

Not enough room? I’ll have to bail out and use the feather-fall spell on the last few… Jeez, why are you trailing along? How do I do this? How the hell should I know! I’ve only been at this for a couple of days!

OK… We need a big empty field or something. DAMN. Nothing within a reasonable distance. Maybe a nice, big, condemned building to crash it into? One they’re going to blow up anyway? There. About six miles away. Head for it…

Timewalker shunted himself, and the entire bus, about five minutes forward in time. It would give the others time to find a route and to clear the way. “The Voice” turned into a huge (And extremely silly-looking” pixie” type thing, Warlock threw in some siren-spells, and that FBI agent used some gadget that turned all the traffic lights green…

Warlock went on ahead… The place wasn’t actually scheduled to be demolished until tomorrow; there might be somebody inside. Besides, some illusion-signs would help Timewalker find the place…

Three street children? Oh fuck! No time. {Sleep} I’ll drop them off down the block… Anybody else? On the top floor? Damn!

Up on the top floor, Warlock found someone who knew that the place was due to go, but who seemed less then familiar with a lot of ordinary things, and who seemed to “flicker” slightly at the edges of your vision…

Warlock tried to haul him out of there FAST – and got stopped in his tracks by a telepathic override.

Weird. What’s a bus? A bus is kinda like those cars down there, but – NEVER MIND! We’ve gotta get out of – HEY! How’d he… He seemed to change as I came in… Maybe a Zarkonian? Nah. It seemed more like they way Azrael makes my eyes water when he pulls that…

Hey! Azrael! If this is one of your guys, tell him to stop fooling around, we’ve gotta get out of here!

What’s that? Lessee. You’re glad you’re not alone, but sorry it’s not a girl – and you’re annoyed that he outranks you?

WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT LATER!

Despite the Warlock’s shielding spells, the mass of the building, and Thorn/”The Voice” growing to 50 feet tall and using his body to contain the blast, there were some serious injuries – and quite a lot of damage to the surrounding buildings.

They spent some time cleaning up… Warlock healed people, The Voice (Who seemed to be basically an earth elemental with a human mindprint) propped up and fixed buildings – and Timewalker went back to the sanctum to keep an eye on everybody…

Warlock and the police (when they showed up) kindof ignored each other until everybody had been patched up – at which point one of the senior officers at the scene told him to “Just get out of here… GO AWAY”. The FBI guy was still hanging around – although he was still a bit nonplused about Thorn/The Voice turning back into a tiny sprite, and going off to try and figure out who’d rigged the bus… He decided to simply give Warlock a plane ticket, and tell him that if he didn’t come in for an interview within two and a half weeks he’d come and get him anyway. Sadly, Thorn’s expedition simply led to the city bus terminal.

Elsewhere, Robert had been targeted by the Order Of The Firehawk – apparently some group which hunted down supernatural beings. Unfortunately, the seemed to feel that all supernatural beings were malevolent, and used silver knives that could turn their own powers against them.

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, they weren’t really ready for Mr Robert Lee, or for Timewalker, who went to his assistance. It wasn’t easy – especially after Robert went berserk and it turned into a massacre. Even a bunch of highly skilled archer-warriors were no match for a martial-artist werewolf, although they did manage to temporarily overload Timewalker’s abilities.

That meant he couldn’t intervene when an Ogre grabbed Desrae out of her car (Which got totaled), or when a suction tube made from slime sucked the thug (Desrae had refused to associate with him any longer) into the sewer system…

Desrae, rather worried about Mask, started draining the ogre – but it didn’t seem to have much effect. It hauled her off to a cave anyway; to meet it’s brothers and get tied up… “Pret-ty La-dy”…

The thug was confronted with talking mutant rats, and their slime-controlling “king”, his servants and their various minor talents, and a lot of rats with blowguns and poisoned darts. He managed to avoid being dinner – but had no idea what to do when the surviving rats started to surrender and worship him… They were afraid of the alligator-men, and wanted him to protect them. He wound up taking a nap in the slime (He was exhausted…) – and it promptly started mutating him into a giant rat…

He was very unhappy about it when he woke up.

Hi Mom! What’s up? Schools doing all right… You were worried about me? Why?

One of your colleagues saw my name on a list??? For possible investigation by a special department??? Sort of like the “X-Files”??? (Oh boy…)

I’m not on the top, and she’ll try to get me off the list – but those are bad people to get involved with?

I “haven’t been doing anything that might get their attention somehow?”

Errr…

David, have you been up to something?

Errr… Those would be the guys in the helicopter, with all the weird gear? (“Yes… WAITAMINUTE! They tried to pick you up already? What could’ve got their attention that fast… and you got away?! HOW? You’re not an alien or anything… I know – I was there!”

Well; It started with the dragon showing up for the game… (No I haven’t been taking anything funny – and I haven’t been playing the games too much… And it’s not flashbacks or anything!)

See?

Mrs Mayseren got the whole story… She found it a bit hard to believe – especially the bit about the bus and the explosion – and the vampire and werewolf. She told him to try not to get into trouble – and left for the airport back to the east coast in a great hurry.

In the meantime, Desrae had used her power to “turn into a mist” to escape the ogres – but took the wrong exit from their transdimensional cave, and wound up in an alternate world. She took refuge from the sun in a hollow tree – and used her link with Mask to call on her allies for help – before she slipped into her daylight slumbers…

Mask went and got the Warlock – and Thorn, who’d used his tracking powers to locate one of those interesting people he’d seen… Tracing Desrae proved pretty easy. The great big footprints were a dead giveaway.

What do you want Mask? We’ve got to go save Desrae? Don’t tell her you got killed? (WHAT?)

The ogres took her?

Ogres… Only four hit dice. Right. Waitaminute. They grabbed a vampiress?

No, I’m not good to eat… I taste awful… Where’s Desrae? The pretty lady? She turned into a cloud and left? Through one of the doors?

Oh boy…

Good Lord. This place is some sort of nexus! A gate to other worlds. Desrae must have gone through one of them. Great. Maybe if I anchor myself here, and then follow her, I’ll be able to pull us both back through. It’s worth a try…

Cool. Weird, but cool. Now where… You can track people Voice, where’d she go? Sunlight isn’t good for vampiresses…

We should “look out for the things that eat Ogres”? They come out after dark? With any luck, we’ll be out of here then… Thank you uh… Mr Tree.

Warlock and the Voice waited out the afternoon – woke up Desrae – and got the hell out… Even with Issilor’s ring, Warlock could barely manage it; despite Desrae’s apparently limitless confidence (“You’re a mage aren’t you? Just poof us there!”)… It was a very good thing that he’d thought to leave an anchor.

Meanwhile, Timewalker had recovered – and was back to watching the TV – Robert had eaten a deer, and gone back to sleep, and the Junior Thug had woken up and gone to deal with the alligator men – as well as to find a way out. He killed a lot of subsapient alligator-things, but couldn’t find an exit. “The slime” didn’t want to let him go…

Great! We’re back… So what’s wrong now? Your BMW got totaled? I’ll see what I can do with it… Maybe a series of repair spells?

Cool. She nearly kissed me. It might’ve been worth the explosion…

I’ve got to figure out that insulating spell.

What’s been happening to the thug? I’ve just gotta see it on the TV? It’s funny as hell?

Well – It fits him.
I suppose we’ll have to go and get him back… What if we can’t change him back? Do we really want to wind up associated with “RATMAN”? He was bad enough before!

Meanwhile, Desrae’s thirteen-year-old kid sister, and Robert’s young cousin, had gotten pretty curious about what was going on…

Remember; Shapeshifting runs in families.

Amd so do the psychic potentials which allow people to survive becoming vampires…

Robert’s still asleep? Good!!! At least he hasn’t gotten into any trouble. Desrae? Asleep again? But she just slept for… Oh. Sunrise. Tuesday morning… I think I’ve got “Dimension Lag” or something. At least I took a nap while I was waiting for sunset under that talking tree…

So: Mother called to say something about some sort of an investigative team, and wants to be called back. The TV wants to talk to me. The phone and some of the other objects want recognition and rights for sentient objects written into the constitution (OK, next time I have a chance to amend the constitution I’ll take care of it), and my home computer wants to discuss a business contract with me – and says I should bring a mainframe?

Not to mention that we’ve gotta go and rescue Ratman.

Urghhhh…

It’s too early to call mother… and the TV doesn’t seem to be too talkative at the moment. Solamon left a note saying that we shouldn’t try to go after “Ratman” for a few hours… Well, it’s not like there’s nothing else to do around here.

Besides… I think I might have a way to get those pesty ninja guys off Robert’s back; what if I can make the people who hired them think he’s dead?

Warlock spent the next few hours arranging; running water, waste disposal, electricity, a remote cable and satellite connection (He tapped into the rangers), and various other necessities for his sanctum. He also used some protein mush, magic, and Robert’s regenerative abilities to grow and tan a “spare skin” – a bit of “evidence” of Robert’s “death” to send to his school…

What’s up Michael? You think that my powers include something that really attracts girls? (Cool!)    Because Julia told you she wanted to go out on a date with me, and asked you to have me call her, she’s free Saturday night?

At least there won’t be an explosion…

Mother should be in her office by now!

The phone call was… odd. There was this low buzz in the background, the voice sounded a little off, her tone was far too emotional, somebody tried to trace it back (Cell Foe diverted that to the bottom of the Marinas Trench somehow), “she” sounded rather like a man – and kept trying to find out exactly where he was. She said there was some sort of investigation going on – and that she’d fly back and see him personally at 5:00.

Well… SHIT!

OK… Presuming that that really wasn’t Mother, all that interest in exactly where I was sort of indicates that somebody’s after me – and that they could get there fast. If they’re tapping mom’s line, they’re probably keeping an eye on the house. I could try to warn Dad, but I’m not even sure that there’s a threat, much less what it might be, it might do more harm then good, and I’d have to try to explain what was… and that mother’s a secret FBI agent… and how I knew… and try to get him to believe what’s been going on (Hah. I’ve been living it, and I don’t believe what’s been going on), and…

TOO FUCKING MANY IF/MAYBE/BUTS!

SHITSHITSHIT!

Maybe Timewalker will get back… I think maybe my best option otherwise is simply to be an “unsuspecting kid” and just show up… I’ve got help nearby, and it might be nothing much…

Damn.

Well, at least it’s late enough to go after Ratman.

Yeech.

Down in the tunnels, Ratman had found the Alligator King – and engaged him in conversation… He seemed to have been a stockbroker before the slime got him – and he didn’t really want to fight – even though something was making him feel like he ought to. They decided to combine their power over the slime, and to try to escape instead. If they couldn’t do it alone, they could try to recruit the Slug King and the Bat King as well. Back on the surface, Robert, David, and Azrael, had picked up a diagram of the sewer system and were on their way…

Ok, this is where he got sucked down. Right in the middle of the street. How very inconvenient. You don’t like the look of it either, Azrael? Well, you can keep us in touch from here – and that way you can field stray questions…

Well – a few “Men At Work” illusions ought to cover it. Yes, Robert – I’ll keep it out of your fur. A good slimeshield spell seems like a fine idea anyway…

(Disgusting… It looks like a big throat!)

Huh. Shut tight. Robert? Would you? Yeeech… Slime all over the street. (Sorry Azrael! How was I supposed to know that the sewer could vomit?). This way… Boy his this stuff got a weird aura to it.

There you are! So what’s with this fellow? You both want out? Fine – but I think we’ve gotta do something about this slime stuff…

After a brief discussion the the group went looking for the Slug King – and the center of the slime… It was a very nasty trip. They also had to evade talking, poisonous, guard-slugs, cleaner-slugs smoothing slime, and random garbage… At the center was a big, clean, and somewhat overheated room cut into the bedrock. It was occupied by a lot of equipment – and a man in a suit sitting behind a desk.

OH GREAT! The first guy who recognizes me, and it’s a guy who lives in the sewers!

Yes, hitting you is definitely an option! It kindof depends on what you say and do, so WHAT’S GOING ON!?

You were running an experiment on the slime-stuff – but Hardin Inc. refused to mass-produce it because all the test animals died within a month, even if they did show signs of vastly boosted intelligence. You got an offer of funding, you took it, got set up down here, and went to work with some “suggestions” from your backer; Dr Genos. (OH, NO!) It got away from you, sealed you in, and left you with nothing to do but watch TV and try to figure out what was going on. You have a phone, but it only connects to Dr Genos – and you’ve been reluctant to call him until you understand what’s going on.

Well, THE SLIME-STUFF HAS BEEN SNATCHING PEOPLE OFF THE CITY STREETS, you IDIOT! HAVE YOU GOT AN ANTIDOTE?

It’s only stays out of here because of the heater and the dehumidifier??? You have a counteragent – but the stuff has changed a lot? Give it to me, and I’ll try to enhance it…

Enhanced, the counteragent worked – on individuals. Not an infested sewer system… Warlock called in the other people who’d been mutated, and treated them (There were sixteen) – while Dr. Carlson raved at Dr Genos… Unfortunately, they couldn’t think of any way to handle the slime – and it would just keep grabbing people until they got rid of it. At least they could clear it out of the exit corridor and get the victims out.

Interrupting Dr. Carlson revealed that Dr Genos had a countermeasure – but it’d kill most of the creatures who’d been exposed. He was willing to improve it – but he wanted something in return; An opportunity to run a few tests on Mr Robert Lee. A full scan of a natural shifter could be quite helpful to his experiments. It took him a few minutes… Apparently the slime wasn’t exactly what he’d given Carlson any more – and getting enough of his new counter ready would take a few days.

OH NO! I’M NOT GONNA LET SOME GUY POKE AT ME UNLESS YOU’RE THERE TO KEEP AN EYE ON HIM!

“I don’t like it much either Robert – but I haven’t any other ideas! Has anybody got another idea on how to get rid of the stuff without wrecking the city? No? Hell…”

They told him all right – and he sent around a lab-in-a-truck and a sampling team… David knocked Robert out for the bits that would’ve been painful, and it only took a few hours…

“Don’t worry about it Robert. I’ll watch them”. Hm. Some neat Technology. At least ten years ahead on the computer stuff… Some “Psi-Based Technology”? How on earth would that work? Ahh. Thought so. Trying to scan at me too. That wasn’t part of the deal – so he’s got nothing to complain about if I block and erase it…

Actually, the tests were fairly straightforward, if repetitious. They wanted to run most of them at every step in his shapeshifting process… Fortunately, they were done about noon – just in time for them to attend a massive car pileup. Whether luckily or unluckily, at least one guy with a videocamera was around.

It took him almost half an hour to get everyone out and healed… At least the illusion-disguise he’d put on Robert was still running. He was very helpful about lifting smashed cars.

The police just cooperated. They were even obliging enough to keep the reporters out of the way.

(Non Igni!) ShiftThatCarWorstCasesFirst! OhGod, Half HisFrontRibcageIsShearedOff. TryAnyway… Nobody’sDead Yet. MaybeICanKeepItThatWayIfIKeepSnuffingFires…

Next? Aren’t any more? (Whew!) Good. Look, fellows, I just don’t have any good answers for you! Err, Well, it’s like this…

David tried to explain a few things – and then made the mistake of mentioning the slime. He’d thought that it might be a good idea to get out a warning until Dr. Genos had it cleared up, but the reporter’s were a bit torn… It’d be a great story – but people would panic and others would rush down to see… The second reporter looked at his torn colleague – smiled a bit, made some comment about reporting responsibly, and magically wiped the first one’s memory of that bit… “Being reporters doesn’t necessarily make our judgement any better then yours Warlock”.

Urr… Right. I’ve gotta be going.

12:30. About four hours until I’ve gotta walk into something-or-other…

Wait a minute… I’ve got an idea. I’ll need a few ingredients though… One of those “occult speciality” shops has gotta have a mandrake root… I’ll send in a simulacrum!

Along the way, David had to stop for cash, two pig- faced green demon-things popped in, said “Damn! Wrong Continent!”, and vanished again – and Michael tried to practice sneaking up on David and Robert, but couldn’t get the sound effects generator to turn off…

The Professor called – to announce; “I remember who you are… I have a lot to do right now – but someday I’ll be back!” (“Why?”) “VENGEANCE! (Click)”. Azrael and the Commander pestered David into scrying for a ship, and Warlock settled down to constructing a simulacrum he could channel a part of his power through…

Huh. Vengeance? For what?

Oh great… There’s one handy, but it’s in the navy construction yard, stuffed into warehouse 36. Great. Even if we manage to grab it somehow, we’ll piss off a major department of the government!

Cool. The Simulacrum bit worked! (For that matter, so did the extra memory chips I put in the phone. How did it manage to do a voice comparison anyway?) It’s a bit clumsy though…

Robert? Would you play reserve? Thanks…

Something’s bloody wrong. Dad’s nervous, he’s trying to get me to go away, and somebodies shoving something into his back. Let’s try and pull them out… Joseph’s upstairs? In his room? Why don’t I take him down for Pizza?

A dozen of those agent guys with weird weaponry? But they said they’d wait a week! (I think it’s stun stuff – but I bet this would REALLY hurt if I was really there). Well – lets collapse… Maybe they’ll haul “me” inside so I can see what’s going on…

Dammit! That one recognized that it’s a fake – and blew the head off it (Owww! Fuck! Not real, but Still. Bother. Now I can’t see… Maybe a scrying spell?).

Now who’s this? He’s smoking in the sunlight and his clothes are centuries out of date… Seems to fit the description of the guy who “sired” Desrae… Hell. He seems concerned. Maybe a darkness spell? Thanks, but it won’t work? You tried that sort of thing centuries ago, and it doesn’t work for you? OK… Yes, I know I’ve looked better! Maybe I can regrow the head… That’s a lot better. Yes, I’ve got family inside… You’ll distract the agents while I get them out? Deal!

Holy God! How can anything more that fast? He was through the door so fast I couldn’t even see him move!

David went through his brother’s window just as the screaming started downstairs…

There’s some fucking bastard ready to shoot Joseph? He’s only ten! <Corpus Humanis Mutis Corpus Canis!>

Don’t growl at Me, or I’ll leave you at the pound!
<Leash>    Yeah, “Whimper” is about right, asshole…

No, we haven’t time for you to write about this!

Warlock headed downstairs invisibly. “Lestat” had already killed eight men – and was moving too fast for the three remaining to hit… Eric was in shock. David threw some protective spells on him – but even warping time didn’t let him spellcast fast enough to drop more then two of them before Lestat killed the third and left in a blur…

Holy God! Dad?!? He’s OK… In shock a bit, but OK. God. The place is a massacre zone… Not as much blood as I would have thought. Lestat must have drunk a lot of it…

God.

Robert? Could you escort them back to the sanctum? I’ve got to clean this up a bit… “Just Vanished” is a lot better then “Slaughtered”… No, I didn’t do it, and I’m not proud of it!

Police? Hell! I’m not quite finished yet! <Forget!> <You don’t see anything!> Good… It worked. I guess the commotion was loud enough to reach the neighbors.

Right… That’s everything. No bullets, no bullet holes, no blood, no bodies – lots of odd gear, but I’m taking that along to check out… Along with the two I managed to KO (Plus the dog). The shield-spells and the rock should block any tracers…

But what the hell am I going to do with the agents?

I’ll just keep them asleep for a while… I’ve got to try and locate Andrea and Cathrin… They might be in danger as well.

Can’t find mother… Maybe she’s just out of range. Washington’s quite a stretch. Cathrin’s at work at the University… I can just call her.

Cathrin? It’s David… Look, we’ve got something of a family emergency… I can’t come over because of the security? How about I meet you in the parking lot? As soon as you can.

It took 26 minutes. Cathrin wanted to know what was wrong… She was being followed by a pair of agents, and so David told her he’d explain on the way…

He told her about the snatch attempt, and that he had Eric and Joseph hidden in Fern Park (Where’s that? If this as another one of your practical jokes, I’m gonna kill you David!).

“If this is one of my jokes, I’ll kill me!.. Those agent-guys are following us… Turn here!” David threw an illusion on their car and a passing car…

There. They’ll follow that one. “David? How did you do that?” I cast an illusion-spell, I’ll explain later – just turn into the park and drive up to that wall…

“You’re sure you haven’t been playing those fantasy games too much David? Do you think you’re Batman?” “No – look, I’ll explain in a moment, OK?”

Back at the Sanctum, Eric was recovered, and it was time for explanations. Fortunately, Eric had seen some of the film from the studio and wreck on the news. That made it a lot easier… Unfortunately, the proceedings were interrupted by the T.V.; It seemed that a trio of “Supervillians” had taken over the football arena, and were holding everybody hostage… One football player and a cameraman were already dead. They had a bomb – and wanted a lot of cash, and the release of six paranormals from secret federal detention. They were giving the authorities till dawn.

It looked like one semi-metallic brick, one energy- projector, and a martial-artist type (At least according to “Champions”…). There might be somebody off-camera giving orders as well…

Great. Just great. Well – we’ve got all night to do that. I’m gonna interogate the dog first…

Stubborn, huh? Desrae?

About 1200 agents and lots of cash? SHIT. No… It wasn’t me. You ran into an elder vampire. Yes, they’re nasty. Lots of trained (if very low-powered) psychics? “Q” determined my identity, and put a high priority on me? They’ve been tracking power-bloodlines for generations? Great. I’ve gotta set up some remote entrances for the sanctum…

So why aren’t you surprised about this Joseph? You want me to read your book; Man Into Magus; The Life Of A Teenager (!?!) A lot of your writing turns out to be about someone you know, even if you never know who?

I can’t find mother… If you get anything on her, please let me know about it, OK?

About that time, the special ninja squad (Based out of Los Angeles?) showed up to get Robert… There was a big fight with the ancient lich-ninja who could find the sanctum. The group won, but only managed to banish him… They did get some of his gear though.

Right. I’ve no time… They’re all gonna wake up as dogs. Desrae can question and drain them a bit. Hell. They were willing to shoot at Joseph, they bloody well deserve to be dogs. I’ll make myself a kennel!

Warlock is getting a bit stressed out here…

Right… So now we’ve got some cages.

Now who’s calling…? My computer? But… I haven’t even been back to the loft! How could my computer get enchanted?

It doesn’t like my roommate… It thinks he’s a bad guy because he feels creepy (OK, I can’t disagree with that), he wears black tights (?????), and he keeps odd hours. Er, well, I suppose we’ll look into it… (Why are all my appliances buggy?). You still need a mainframe?

So what else is going on? (Besides the mass hostage situation… Arghhh… What the hell are we going to do about that?). The TV has a show about a girl Ratman knows? She’s been kidnapped by a gang? About an hour ago? (Oh great). Last, but not least, the city Mayor is calling??? (HOW’D SHE GET MY NUMBER? You’ve – been – giving – it – out… ToEveryOneYouThoughtOughtToHave It. AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! YouThoughtIt’dBeOKSinceYou’reAutomaticallyDivertingAllAttempts ToTraceIt?!? ARRRGH! NeverMindNoTime! Put her on, oh “Cell Foe” (I begin to wonder if it’s serious about that!).

Everything out-of-the-ordinary that happened in the city went over the mayor’s desk – and there had been a lot of it over the last few weeks. Enough to convince her that, if her city had suddenly acquired a “superhero”, it might be worth going along with it…

Especially with whatever weirdness was going on out at the air force training center… Lights and noises, guards who acted semi-hypnotized, and a complete refusal to talk to the city police – or even to her – was just a “bit” out of place for a basic training camp…

The next call was from Julia… She had a couple of concert tickets for Saturday night, and she’d like David to go with her…

Pick her up Saturday night? Where am I going to get a car?

Oh, never mind! I’ll come up with something if I’m still alive by then! It’s only Tuesday…

Michael seems to have accidently teleported himself somewhere? Oh great! I don’t think he’s hurt, but it may take him quite awhile to get back… We’ll have to go without him this time.

All right already! We’ll got after Sarah first. It shouldn’t take too long, it’s just a gang…

Huh. Can’t find her now? Could be shielded somehow – or she might be dead. Damn.

We could go back and look? (Yes, Dad – he’s a time-traveler… Yes, I know that makes no sense! You seem pretty pale… Uhmmm… There’s a bed over there, OK?)

Leave us some margin… About an hour and a half?

Huh… Everything seems sort of stiff and sticky… Maybe something to do with being temporally displaced?

OK, she’s been snatched into this huge “warehouse”. It’s heavily guarded, belongs to the “Bloods”, and has only two entrances?

So we’re not just talking punks here. We’re talking major criminal organization… Just great. We need a diversion? How about an illusory drive-by while Ratman blows the door in?

Watch out, they’ve got automatic weapons and combat training?

Ratman? Do you think you could mention things like that a little in advance from now on?

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!?!?

Please tell me that that one guard-punk didn’t just take off down the street fast enough to be trailing a sonic boom?

Please tell me that?

Well, it’s not like we’re going to catch him! Let’s get on with the normal punks…

Actually, dealing with thirty or forty punks wasn’t all that hard (Especially with the amount of confusion an illusory “Aliens/Predator” assault motif spread). What complicated things was that they’d been running a private roman-style arena – and had been snatching any necessary “volunteers” from among the street people.

They’d also been making tapes. Unfortunately, none of their “productions” were on the premises. Weapons and such, yes, but no tapes.

TimeWalker fixed that readily… It was easy enough for him to go and do some personal filming…

Then they called the cops.

What a look. Surely they can’t really be swallowing this “Predator” bit? It’s only a movie! Well, it makes for confusion anyway… Let’s go with the gag.

No! You can’t just swipe the guns and drugs and stuff! It’s evidence, we’re the good guys – and we don’t need any more guns anyway!

I bet he sprouts whiskers again inside a week, just on force of personality…

Hello? Yes, I’d like to report a drive-by, murder, kidnapping, drug possession, conspiracy, and quite a few other things… Could you send someone around? Here’s the address…

It took the police almost half an hour to respond – but it was hard to blame them, given the area… They were a bit bothered to find that the Warlock and company had called them – but had to admit that it served as a great reason for a search. They didn’t need TimeWalker to turn up any more evidence though… The videotapes, the drugs, the setup, and the weapons, were plenty…

I HATE this sticky feeling… Let’s get back to the time when we’re supposed to be, and maybe it’ll go away. We can check out my roommate…

WaitASec… I’ll shield Sarah against my scrying and the TV’s first… A few hours should do. That way we won’t interfere with our own decision to jump back and look for her… No paradoxes please… OK.

Well, he seems normal enough… (Shaddup Solamon!!! You can’t just ask people if they’re villains and peer into their closets! Yes, I agree, he gives me a creepy feeling – but he’s always done that! He’s a creep, it doesn’t make him a supervillain!).

OK; You need a mainframe to run your sentience core on, and you want some “metals” from the “Spirit Realm” to bring your magical powers online, and you want some crystals to bring your psychic powers online – and you need more power, and a bigger drive, and a…

Spirit Realm? Matrix Crystal? Sentience Coding?

You can’t be moved because the “access location” is important? My enhancement spells are much too limited to be of any real help?

What in the name of God are you?

Unfortunately, David didn’t manage to find out before fatigue caught up with him and he had to crash for a couple of hours.

Next up: Wednesday!

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fit the Third

Fight using Kadhara

Image via Wikipedia

And on the second day of the Chaos Storm, things got even screwier, and the characters spake onto the game master, “why us?!”. Once again, far, FAR, more time (several weekly sessions) went by in the real world than in the game…

About a week ago, Robert Lee, a fifteen-year-old martial arts student, had been sitting in the garden and thinking about what jerks the guys from a rival school were, when the full moon rose.

The next day he woke up naked on the school steps – and the rival school had been massacred. The ensuing complications forced him to leave Bangkok very, very quickly. He hopped a freighter “in disguise” as a big wolfish mutt. If he could make it back to the American west coast, maybe his father, Adrian, could help him – even if the man was a survivalist loony. This was just too weird…

OK, so this flight business is a great way to avoid the traffic snarls… I wouldn’t have thought that acquiring a decent set of prospecting gear would be so hard. It is California after all, you’d think they’d stock that kind of thing just for the tourists.

Oops.

Sorry man, I didn’t mean to land on… What are you doing with that phone booth? And with the guy inside? You’re desperate, you’re hungry, and you keep losing all your clothes when you turn into a dog?

Oh bloody HELL.

Look kid… Put his wallet back, I’ll heal him up, and you’re coming with me… (Sorry officer, but It’ll be better if I deal with this. Who am I? Why, I’m The Warlock! Stop snickering! Yes I’m serious!)

Well, that’ll make him take me a bit more seriously next time… I got nice and high before kicking in the invisibility spell. Jeez… Strong, tough, and shapeshifting. The kid couldn’t be a Zarkonian could he?

Nah… What would be the point?

I’m not gonna set him down though. If I keep him levitated, there’s no way he can hurt anybody – and he does seem to have some awfully violent tendencies.

I’ll call the professor… Good Lord. He’s eaten up all the steak in the freezer ALREADY. I’ll have to go and pick up some hamburger or something.

Now THAT’S an AURA. A giant wolf?!

I don’t BELIEVE it. I’ve found a werewolf. NOW what am I going to do?

At about this point, Adrian Lee parked his helicopter in the street outside and started banging… Well, Robert had called him – and Adrian had implanted a radio tracker before he sent him off. Some sort of government job he stole. Stuck itself to the stomach lining. David and The Professor eventually managed to get rid of him… Seeing his son shapeshifting was enough to set off all kinds of paranoia. Still, what were they going to do with Robert? However unintentionally, the child was violent, dangerous, and had killed at least twenty people in Bangkok. Putting him in one of Dr. Genos’s cells seemed a bit much – but the juvenile authorities would never be able to handle him.

Now that’s strength… I’m not sticking my arm near him again. I’d like to keep it attached! He doesn’t have any idea what he’s capable of does he? Wait just a minute… Wasn’t there something about Bangkok a few days ago in the newspaper?

KILLED TWENTY PROFESSIONAL MARTIAL ARTS STUDENTS?!?!

We can’t just let him go… I don’t think he really deserves to die – but… Hmm.

Control. He needs control – or at least we do. If he cooperates, maybe I can work a binding spell on him somehow. It’s worth a try.

Cool.

Having settled that, The Professor sent them out to get the boy some clothes… Preferably, at the rate he seemed to run through them, some cheap ones.

Meanwhile, Desrae was learning to adjust to her new status as a vampiress. Quarreling with her father was just the start of it… Still, adapting to a new role wasn’t much trouble for a theater arts major.

Unfortunately for them both, (As faerie and vampire), She and David bumped into each other at the mall. It was proving difficult to find anything which satisfied Robert – except army surplus. Survivalists…

Now Isn’t that Desrae? From college? The one taking acting courses… God, she’s lovely.

(Slip… Bump… BOOM)

Whaaaaat the FUCK!?!?!

OWWW!

Good thing I can work some healing magic… So what the – the – I can’t think of anything obscene enough – was THAT?!?

The ensuing discussion had to be put off until after they evaded mall security and some would-be protectors (AKA about one-half of the the local male population). Both David and Desrae could see that each others auras were extremely weird…

Besides – the energy flares which started going off whenever they got too close to each other made it just a bit obvious tat something weird was going on… The professor found meeting her very, very, interesting…

At least she only needed to drain some C’hi energy, not blood.

Great. Just great… The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Bright, lovely, pleasant, and with a lot in common with me – and if we get too near each other we explode.

This really sucks.

Just to top the cake, on the television, they found THE CRIMSON EARRING (OK, so he claimed it was “the Crimson Seer”), had taken a studio hostage – and wanted Warlock to come and engage in a “test” of their mystic skills…

Just great. What skills? I’m running on guesswork here… He’s only giving me/us an hour. I guess we’ll just have to go…

So where is this place? Well… Hell. I’ll call and ask. Where’s the phone book?

What’s that Azrael? All of your ships are still in orbit – but they might have shuttled down? It’ll have to wait… We’ve got an immediate problem.

Hell. That’s sixty miles away. With traffic like it is every saturday night? We’ll never make it… Put the guy on. Maybe we can talk him into waiting.

Yes, I know it would be a lot faster if you had one of your ships Azrael… We’ll try to get you one, OK?

OK, so that’s not going to work. There’s got to be some way… Ebonflame? You teleport… Can you carry other people with you? You think so? Let’s go for it guys…

The trip through the dimension of darkness wasn’t a pleasant one… The “place” seemed to be the domain of primal nightmares. Azrael went down instantly. Master Dao poured power into his psi-shields – but the effort left him dazed.

Warlock, still too young for his mind to have fully sealed away the childhood fear of the dark, was warded only by his instinctive solar spell. Primordial night poured through the open gateways of his consciousness.

And passed. Unlike his elders, the Warlock had yet to forget how to fully awaken, to find the world fresh and new and full of wonders.

Unfortunately, the strain of taking the other three through his portal knocked out Ebonflame as well. That left David and the Professor to deal with “The Crimson (Whatever)”

Uhhh… (gasp… pant…) Gotta remember not to do that anymore… Fuck… Is that what happened to the kids he swallowed up?

Well, there he is. At least he doesn’t seem to have brought any thugs. The studio audience doesn’t even seem to be taking it too seriously. They seem to think it’s some sort of publicity stunt.

Thank god we beat the cops here.

<Ahhh… There you are Warlock. Sneaky aren’t you? What’s with the goody-goody bit? As another mage, you surely understand that there are times when… (As he leaned forward, the Seer took a closer look). You’re just a boy! No wonder! You’re still full of totally impractical ideals aren’t you? How long have you been at this? THREE DAYS?!?! Look, I only sacrificed three homeless kids – nobody wanted them anyway – and it was for the greater good…

You haven’t taken philosophy yet?>

The Professor had recovered… The studio had more then enough electrical power to draw on. He channeled it into a massive electrical bolt, beginning a curious combination of an arcane battle and a discussion…

(Warlock) “Cuerennos Invocat, Entra Canis Perdo!” (Seer) “LATIN? Why on earth would you use LATIN?” (Warlock) “Fulimenta Jove!… It seems to work!) The Seer engulfed Master Dao in mystic flames… (Seer) “OK; what the hell are those huge slobbering things?” (Warlock) “If they’re what I called, they’re the hounds of the wild hunt! (Seer) “THEY’RE WHAT?!?! I’ve been trying for years – and I’ve never been able to contact anything like that! Could you call them off? I’d really like to talk about this!” (Warlock) “As far as I know, they’re supposed to be unstoppable!”

It got even more complicated when Michael showed up and started shooting… First with bullets (Look, kid, I was expecting the police – did you really think that I wouldn’t be prepared for bullets?), and then with some sort of plasma beam… (General chorus; Whaaa…?)

(SEER) “Look, can I have your phone number?”

(Warlock) “On TV!?!?”

Meanwhile, the audience was applauding madly – as a variety of binding effects, disruption, flight, mystic energy, and kinetic spells went off. The Seer complained bitterly when the hounds started levitating themselves after him (“What, now dogs are casting spells?”) – and tried to teleport out… David, while he wasn’t really sure what the Seer was up to, tried to stop him. He threw a disruption spell. The resulting wild gate took them both… Master Dao swore in annoyance… Wizards. He’d probably get a call asking for the fare back from Stonehenge or Easter Island or someplace like that.

He scooped up Azrael (Evidently Ebonflame was still someplace in his dimension of darkness) – and went after the earring. It’d seemed so important to the Seer that he’d gone to a lot of trouble to knock it off… It’d gone through the wall into the parking lot.

Unfortunately, an enormously fat fellow in a pickup truck had already picked it up – been compelled to put it on – and was peeling rubber getting out… Master Dao gave chase – and ran straight into a skateboarding teenager who’d just barely dodged the truck. He’d never catch it hauling Azrael… On the other hand, this was the one place in town where an alien napping on a park bench would attract no attention at all – just outside the Sci-Fi channels studios.

Oddly enough, the teenager was using his skateboard – and a handy passing car – to pursue the truck as well. He got there first – and started yelling… Master Dao flipped aboard and tried to grab the earring. It burned his hand off… While he was still in shock, the teenager smashed the back of the drivers head in.

At nearly 90 MPH, this did not work out well… The fat fellow wound up “technically dead”, sustained only by the power of the earring. Dao and the teenager wound up fighting a duel of psychic energies… Dao won, and stashed Azrael and the kid in a hotel room before going back to await an ambulance.

Elsewhere, David opened his eyes – and regretted it very quickly…

Urrgh… Ok. I’m lying on a glowing pathway made of golden light, which drips endlessly into a black void. The sky is purple, and covered with strange flecks and twisty patterns – and the path slopes steeply upwards. There’s the Seer…

Well – I don’t feel dead.

Call it a truce? Sure… We fought and we wound up here. I’m not about to try it again at the moment. Up or down? Up I think…

OK, so it’s clicheic. Look at this place. Have you got any better ideas?

Why did I interfere with your spell? Didn’t I have any idea how dangerous that was?

No I didn’t… And as for “why”, well, we were kind of fighting, so I figured that whatever you were doing would probably be bad for us.

The Seer groaned.

It was a long way to the gate… Just an extension of the path really. With bars of blue light. Warlock and the Seer spent a few minutes tinkering, but didn’t get very far before that fellow in the black-and-white outfit showed up again. This time he stuck around long enough to talk;

It seemed that this was the “Path Of Ascension” – a way of initiation into the higher magics. Most mages didn’t come here until they’d had a century or more of self-teaching – and they might spend many centuries more here, learning, in the realm of mages at the bottom of the path.

“Magic” wasn’t something you did – it was something you lived.

He asked how Warlock and the Seer had gotten there, and listened to their stories – the Seer’s tale of a tower in an ancient cave, the books and relics it contained, and of his years of study.

Of Warlock putting on Issilor’s ring last week, and the ensuing confusion…

WAITAMINUTE! You know about this ring? Who’s this “Issilor” guy? What do you mean he must be dead “Or I wouldn’t be wearing his ring”.

He’s the only mage who ever completed his Ascension and got out? How long does this stuff take anyway? I gotta get home by Thursday, or mother will have a fit!

“Your arrival was an accident child… I think that I can send you back. Perhaps you will return when you have outlived your ties to the outer world…”

(POOF!) Oops… Police again. Would-be interviewers and “we’d like you to answer a few questions”… Look, guys, I really haven’t any answers for you! Which way did Master Dao go? Through the parking lot? I’ll never get through this mess…

Hey! I can levitate without casting a spell! Maybe it’s some side effect of taking a walk on that path… That place had been incredibly overcharged with magic. It was made of the stuff. Now where? I’ll try another mirror spell.

OK, the Professor’s in the hospital (OW! That must hurt unbelievably… Maybe we can regenerate his hand somehow?). Still, he’s fine for the moment…

Where’s Azrael?

Well, perhaps you could… WHY AM I ARGUING WITH A HOTEL DOOR!!! Come to think of it… HOW AM I ARGUING WITH A HOTEL DOOR! SHUT UP AND LET ME IN! (How??? Oh. Am I radiating that much magic? Can’t bind it in. Hey! Maybe I can shunt it to the workshop I was setting up! It might even be useful there…)

Cool.

Azrael?… He’s way out. Maybe I can work a mind- healing spell? Huh… I can, but not a very good one. Oh well, it worked. So who’s this guy? No idea? Lets wake him up and find out why Dao flattened him.

So that’s why. He’s a nasty little thug with power. He wants his skateboard. Never mind. I’ll conjure him one and put a tracer spell on him (in case we want him later). Let’s get out of here…

It’s a door. It can’t have much of a mind. Just zap it would you Azrael?

Warlock and Azrael flew… The junior thug decided to hitch a ride in a Porsche and visit the hospital as well. Who knows why… Once there, he started looking for things to steal, but at least his skidding, spark-throwing arrival made a good diversion from Warlock and Azrael dropping in.

Dao was in surgery to get his stump neatened up. They were having trouble anesthetizing him… He kept using his powers to block the drugs.

A member of the surgical team then proceeded to use his pocket-watch to knock out everyone else and turned into a janitor. It didn’t work on Dao – but, this turn of events did leave him throughly confused…

When Warlock and Azrael showed up, he decided to go and check on the fat fellow in ICU instead.

Up in ICU, the doctors were puzzled. The fellow had no heartbeat, no blood pressure, and a wrecked brain – but he was still breathing and refused to die…

Unable to get the earring off, Warlock and the others decided to try and patch him up so he could do it. That idea left them with a virtually invulnerable “earring-powered” zombie on the rampage. Warlock repaired the walls – and most of the patients – on the way out.

Look at that loon skidding in… I’ll add a display of sparks. That ought to divert anybody who might spot us landing…

OK; the surgical team is unconscious, and the patient is awake. Aren’t you getting a bit overenthused about this knocking people unconscious bit professor? It was the janitor? With a pocket watch?

Maybe I should try the mindhealing spell on him.

So where’s the earring? (Shut up! I don’t talk to surgical tables! I’d better work on that power shunt a bit more…)

Look, why don’t you quit arguing, let us in, and go sound the alarm or something?

Yuck… So what’s wrong? He’s had a massive heart attack, a broken skull, brain damage, various injuries – and his heart quit beating twenty minutes ago? He’s still breathing though…

Hell. I’ll try. It’s not like I could hurt him…

Oops.

Well that was a lousy idea… Sorry about the wall. I’ll fix it… Hell. I’ll heal everybody while I’m at it.

How are we going to stop that thing? We can’t just let it smash it’s way through a hospital… Well, just blast the earring loose again! All together now…

PROFESSOR! DON’T!… OHSHIT!

Overcome by curiosity, Dao tried on the earring. It promptly took him over – and teleported him away.

This was not good.

Oh boy… Maybe I can get hold of the Seer? After all, it’s his earring. Maybe he knows how to…

Blocked. DAMN

OK, so where’s the Professor? He’s crawling down a crevice in a cave – someplace where there’s a blizzard overhead. Can’t see a thing – but it feels like a long ways off.

Damn. I don’t think I can do anything.

I’m not even sure I ought to.

Maybe I can do something with that big mirror I was working on enchanting… I can’t get into the workroom because it thinks I’m the wrong person? I think maybe that I channeled too much power into it.

Now my phone is talking to me. OK – telephones are supposed to do that – but not by themselves. I’ve got to find a way to cut off the rest of that mana leak… It says that Michael is calling. Caller ID. How very convenient! I’d been meaning to get back to him anyway.

So what’s up? You’re calling youself “Xenomorph”, and you’d like to meet me at the pizza place? You’ve found your powers? (Oh boy… SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?)

Let me get this straight… You “found” a secret US government base in a sub-basement of that condemned old office building you were using as your base – and it was full of alien technology and a bunch of GI stuff – and a bunch of records dating back more then twenty years.

(What, are we living on a planet or a swiss cheese? I mean, if you count the little workroom I set up in a cave back behind the house (on the edge of Fern Park) that makes three secret underground bases in less then a week…)

So you moved all the stuff to your new secret base, and put the armor on. You haven’t got it all figured out just yet, but some of it’s systems are really easy to use? Especially the flight, camouflage, and weapons systems?

WATCH WHERE YOU POINT THAT THING!!! JEEZ!!!

Look, Michael, lets just have some pizza, OK? Just don’t push that button again…

How come I can see the armor if nobody else can? It doesn’t work on strong minds? Weird.

Meanwhile, the “junior thug” had decided to go back to the hotel room… It wasn’t often he had a room. It talked to him… It (The consciousness of the room???) could feel where Warlock/”Father” had sent most of the power, and it wanted to be moved there… Otherwise, it would run out – and die – in a week or so.

Well, why not? Besides – if “Warlock” could simply conjure stuff up, he’d be a truly handy guy to know…

So. A map, a compass bearing, and a range estimate. Right on the edge of… Fern Park? Well, he guessed it wasn’t too unreasonable… Nobody ever went there. It was just a bunch of little mountain valleys and woods. It wasn’t even all that pretty compared to some of the NICE parks around…

OK; Off to Fern Park.

Unfortunately, the place turned out to have another visitor… The Lizard. Now eighteen feet tall and more annoyed then ever.

The ensuing conversation didn’t go well… Neither did the fight. He wound up on the run, trying to hide, and calling 911… (Would this be Fire, Ambulance, or Police? “YES!”).

Back at the professor’s place, Robert had finished cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry – and was looking for more. Desrae had woken up from her “afternoon nap” as well. Evidently even the little sunlight she got crossing the parking lot, and indirectly through the car windows, was enough to severely “tire” a vampiress…

Hrrrmmm… I’ve got to find somplace for Robert to stay… He can’t stay at the professors when the man’s disappeared.

Hey Michael – wanna meet a werewolf?

You guess your armor’s tough enough? It’s not like that, he’s got some control.

Back at the professors, there was some confusion… Geez… You’ve eaten everything already? Wasn’t there a chest freezer in the laundry room? (God. I hope his appetite tapers off pretty soon. Where can he possibly be putting it all?). Good… There is. Have a ham…

Desrae? We sort of defeated the Seer, The professor has been possessed by an earring and vanished – and we probably ought to clear out of his place, just in case he comes back as a megavillian. Besides – who wants to try and explain his disappearance?

At about that point, the TV came on – first with a smiley face (on every channel), then with a short film featuring the fight with the Seer (with everyone given full credit) – and then a scene with The Lizard on the rampage in the park…

Oh boy… I wonder how many things I’ve accidently empowered lately? Great. The Lizard again. Couldn’t Dr Genos hang onto him for twenty-four hours? He’s gotten too big for Ebonflame to swallow him again…

Well – who wants to fight the Lizard? Yes, Robert, I know you want to…

Well… I’ll work a shielding darkness spell around you, OK? You’ll have to drive anyway – you’re the only one here with a car and a licence.

Well, that’s a familiar-looking skateboard. Where’s the little thug? Ah. There he is. Flying by overhead headed for the bay. Looks like he’s been fighting the Lizard…

OK, maybe he’s worth something. At least he’s still alive…

So I’ll catch him… What’s with people falling out of the sky around here?

GAAAH! Where did you materialize from your armoured nastiness? (Isn’t it getting a bit crowded in the back seat with three?).

Your – name – is – Solamon – Riser – and – you – call – yourself – “Timewalker” – and – we’re – going – to – invite – you – to – join – in – a – few – months – and you – thought – that – you’d – drop – by – early – and – avoid – the – rush. Here’s – the – invitation – I – wrote.

Riiiggggghhhhhhtttttt…….

The TV is calling me through my talking cell phone. It says to “Look out above you!”???

Whaaaa???

The Lizard is jumping on us? Just step on the gas. He can’t steer while he’s in the air… Robert jumped out? Why?

Now what? We’re barely staying ahead… Maybe I can transform him?

Cool.

Why a dog you ask?

Well… He was chasing the car.

Hey Robert! What are you going to do with him when you catch him?

About then, this glowing blue portal opened up, and a lot of Dr Genos’s guys in power armor came out. They were looking for the Lizard.

They were sort of surprised (and extremely relieved), to find a big mutt with the Lizard’s energy signature.

It still wasn’t easy to put him out. There’d been some sort of accident when they were trying to put him in cyrostasis… He’d just been too dangerous to leave loose.

They thought that Robert was “one of their’s” for a moment or two – (“How did He get loose!?!”) – but were easy enough to straighten out…

While they were taking the unconscious (he fainted) park ranger back to his post, the guy in white and black showed up again, smiled – and put Warlock’s power-flow back under control…

Now what? Him again? What’s he want now?

Well – That solves that problem anyway. Dammit! I’m tired of not having a name for this guy…

From now on, I’m gonna call him “Equinox”… Maybe “Master Equinox”- He does seem to be a master mage…

Anyway, from now on he’s got a name.

After a bit more confusion involving Mask, Desrae’s sentient pet raccoon, the skateboarder’s bag of stolen candy, the gas pedal, and Desrae finding out about her shapeshifting talents while driving on a mountain road at 90 MPH, they managed to stop the car and locate the Warlock’s secret workroom… Desrae was feeling as if she’d “Gotten too much sun”, and a cavern sounded like just the thing…

Besides, his workroom had called to say that it was sorry it hadn’t recognized him before – but his power- aura had been too strong to see through.

Just park it here… I camouflaged the place pretty well and covered the entrance with a sheet of rock – but I ought to be able to spot it’s magical aura…

Cool.

Huh. The rock won’t flow. So how can we… (POP!) Errr… Just touch the wall and it teleports you through guys.

The workroom/base/sanctum seemed to be inhabited by several major spirits now… It seemed that they liked “Squishy Mages” – and there hadn’t been any around for quite some time…

They didn’t like vampires though – but were willing to put up with Desrae as long as she behaved.

Desrae rested… Around sunset, a bunch of japanese ninja types showed up… They were looking for Robert Lee (It seemed that his “school” felt dishonored – and wanted him back for judgement).

Look – guys – he’s a supernatural shapeshifter, and this is a really bad idea.

They didn’t believe it.

Robert (and the Warlock) gave them a demonstration…

They left very quickly, but did say something about “Sending in a special team”.

Well – Hell. At least I can blur the location they remember a bit… Too bad that they’re too many for me to make them forget it entirely.

I wonder if I can get them off his tail somehow?

Maybe fake Robert’s death somehow? But I’d have to convince the school…

Well, I’ll have to think about it.

Hey, Michael! Aren’t you going to take that helmet off?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T TAKE THE ARMOR OFF!? How are you going to eat?

You don’t seem to need to? Errr… Well – maybe we can figure something out later on.

If things don’t slow down a bit pretty soon, I just may collapse… I don’t think it can keep on. At this rate the world would be absolutely insane within a few months.

Warlock spent much of that night fixing up a mystic garage for Desrae’s sports car, reinforcing his spells on Robert, and gathering up the various mystic effects and devices that he’d accidently left scattered around (Luckily, transferring most of them, or at least their mystic essences, back to his sanctum proved relatively simple – for the most part).

Oh boy… Thank goodness that I don’t seem to need as much sleep as I did before… (Maybe it’s some sort of side effect?)… At least I don’t have class until tuesday… Class… Somebody’s going to take over the professor’s classes… I hope it’s not Pr. Carlson… The man’s a pain in the ass… It’s not fair dammit… I’m sleeping out with the most beautiful girl who I’ve ever seen, and we explode if we get together… Maybe an insulation spell would work… Try it tomorrow…

(Sleep)

The Warlock’s Personal Timeline:

  • -3) (Tuesday):    David finds a (Mysterious) cave.
  • 01 (Friday Night):    David holds his regular friday night game at an atmospheric location – the cave… He arrives early to set things up, and finds an interesting ring with a green stone…
  • 02 (Saturday):    Feeling a bit feverish, he doesn’t get out much – although he does take a few calls about the DRAGON! (???????????!!!!!!!???????????)
  • 03 (Sunday):    The odd stuff begins… Some little lapses of memory about what he’d cleaned and so on could be dismissed – but the weird auras was another matter.
  • 04 (Monday):    David discovers his “sensitivity” to cold iron – and begins to speculate.
  • 05 – 07 (Tuesday – Thursday): David’s increasingly dramatic experiments at last lead him to conclude that he can actually cast spells (unless he just needs some therapy). Of course, he has to work between classes…
  • 08 (Friday):    Deciding to consult with Pr. Willams leads to getting entangled in a bank robbery, police – and several other superhumans… Also, being late for his composition class, Michael discovering David’s new magical skills at the weekly game, and more experiments.
  • 09 (Saturday):    David visits home, sets up a small workshop-cavern in the hills behind the house, tries a few shape-shifting experiments – and then gets called to deal with Azrael, The Lizard, Dr. Genos’s secret base, Michael, Douglas, and THE CRIMSON EARRING… He misses his (special) writing-class workshop.
  • 10 (Sunday): Looking for a “prospecting kit” leads to a Werewolf and Adrian the Survivalist. Shopping for clothes for the werewolf leads to Desrae the vampiress – and a mystic explosion. Meanwhile, the Crimson Seer takes a television studio hostage and demands that the Warlock come to him… This leads to a mystic battle, a visit to the realm of the ascension, Michael’s grand entrance as a superhero, the earring zombie, Professor William getting possessed by said earring – and lunch. After lunch, they have to deal with the Lizard in Fern Park, the Warlock’s sentient sanctum, and the ninja…

Next up: Monday!