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Old 07-12-2011, 06:00 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default [Conversion] [Psionics] [Horror] The impato epidemic

Greetings, all!

Having recently dug up a certain SF story from my childhood, I decided that it would be interesting to make a conversion, just to share it. This epidemic can probably be used in various SF campaigns with a horror element, especially dystopian ones. Frankly, I generally dislike/am tired of settings where psionicists are hunted, but this one seems good. The spelling is deliberate - it is a reverse transliteration of the way Pokrovskiy [mis]spells the word empath/empatho ('импат'/'импато').

The origin of the epidemic is an experiment gone wrong, an attempt to stimulate the human brain with minor doses of a certain [superscience] exotic form of radiation. This resulted in a contagious change, which resulted in increased mental abilities, but also mental disorders and even physical deformities.

Contagion is primarily sense-based: touching and stable eye contact are the most common ways of becoming an empath; at higher stages, being close is enough. Only humans (or, more properly, only IQ6+ entities) can be affected by the contagion.

When contagion occurs, the GM rolls 1d. On a 1, the victim becomes a Stage 0 impat, and doesn't progress further without additional exposure to stage 1+ impats. On 2-5, a Stage 0 contagion occurs, but with an onset delay - it takes 1d squared weeks for symptoms to show fully, and half that for the first symptoms and powers to manifest. On a 6, Stage 1 occurs immediately or nearly so.
Stage 0 and Stage 1 impats that are exposed to a source of contagion from a Stage 3 impat must roll again, and advance to a higher stage/faster progression if the roll indicates so. This reroll only occurs once per each Stage 3 impat encountered.

0
Powers: a couple Psi Perks (Telepathy, ESP and TK are the typical ones).
Symptoms: a couple random Mental Quirks, typically related to minor mood swings or an unexplained constant feeling of happiness or optimism.

Contagion: Not contagious.

Progression: none without repeat exposure.

I
Powers: perks, plus things like Danger Sense, Intuition, Empathy
Symptoms: Euphoria, Depression, Amnesia (Partial/Selective), Terminally Ill (2 years tops)

Contagion:
Touch -3;
Eye Contact at +0;
Victim seen by impat without a veil at +3;
In veil - immunity.

Progression: once the stage gains full effect (the 1d^2 weeks mentioned above), roll HT (max 13); on a failure, progress to stage II; on a critical success, do not progress further, and the victim might become normal again instead of dying (being kept in a special hospital helps, but there is no guaranteed cure - all's in GM's hands) very slowly and gradually.

II
Powers: add Flight, and some of Precognition, Oracle, Telesend, ETS, Compartmentalized Mind, TK.
Symptoms: Occasional Depression; Reduced Appearance (Roll HT to delay onset by 1 week; repeatable) typically mistakeable for aging, Absent-Minded, Terminally Ill (half-year tops).

Contagion:
Touch -6;
Eye Contact -3;
No Veil +0;
In Veil +6.
Metal Helmet and a veil with metal lining or visor - immune.

Progression: after 1d-1 months and 1d/2 weeks, roll HT three times; two Critical Successes in a row mean the progression stops; three in a row mean it is slowly reversed.

III
Advantages: Illusion (Mental), Elastic Skin (Glamour, telepathic), ATR (Mental Only, noncombat speed), Innate Attack (Burning Malediction, affect sentients only).
Symptoms: Reduced Appearance, Distinctive Features (various peculiar deformities), Terminally Ill (2-14 days)

Contagion:
Touch -9;
Eye Contact -6;
No veil -3;
In veil +0;
Metal Helmet and a veil with metal lining or visor +3.

Progression: after 2d days, proceed to next stage.

Trans-III / pre-'cramp'
Powers: old powers get a temporary boost.
Symptoms: Terminally Ill (1d squared + 1d minutes).
Contagion:
All at -9, except a full helmet and visor (+0).
Progression: after the time's up, the impat falls down in a fit ('cramp'), and everybody within visual range not behind a wall must roll for contagion one final time at HT+0, even if in a helmet.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:53 AM   #2
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Conversion] [Psionics] [Horror] The impato epidemic

Detection:

There are two detection methods: the safe method and the accurate method.

The safe method is Volmer's Detector (also known as 'nail', for large nail-shaped poles installed in public places during city-wide quarantine). A Volmer has a potential detection range of up to 200 yards. However, it is very vague - it can only tell that at least one impat exists somewhere within the vicinity.
Game stats:
It has a detection 'skill' of 10 at 2 yards of less, and uses standard range penalties. Reduce the maximum penalty by the twice the highest Stage of an impat in range. Thus, at 200 yards a stage-3 impat will be detected on a roll of 10-(12-6)==4. A roll of 17 failure means a false positive, while a roll of 18 means the sensor will from now on always giving false positives on a failure (yes, they're that unstable).
The GM should be mean, and forbid arbitrarily rerolling the detection attempts by repeated usage - once it starts the siren, it will take some time for the readings to change.

The accurate method is to remove one's veil and look at the potential impat's face (not eyes!). A roll against Expert Skill (Impatology), Professional Skill (Skaf), or an IQ roll for Empathy, reveals the true state; Impat Detection is an Average Technique for either; it takes 10 seconds per use, and Extra Time modifiers can be used normally (but mean an equivalent penalty to the Resistance roll for contagion).

----------------------------------------------

The organization responsible for hunting down rogue (read: non-quarantined) impats is called SKAF (no idea what the abbreviation means, not explained in the story). Skafs (hunters) are specially trained people, comparable to buffed up SWATs, but also having special psychological profiles. Becoming a skaf requires having no living relatives or friends (forging friendships within the organization is seen as a balancing act); skafs are best described in GURPS terms as having Callous, Unfazeable, and a range of Legal Enforcement Powers and Immunities (they can sometimes get away with killing innocents or otherwise infringing on others' rights 'for the greater good', but this tends to stretch their immunity). Skafs are typically armed with an assortment of tranquilizing and lethal firearms, including harpoons for capturing impats. In cities with high numbers of impats, skafs are the only ones allowed to use flying cars/vehicles.

Impats who match the psychological profile may develop Resistant (+3) to Impat Contagion, and Resistant (+8) to all mind influence by impats.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

That's it. Anybody else sees potential in this stuff?
Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Conversion] [Psionics] [Horror] The impato epidemic

That sure seems suitably horrifying.

What's the story called, if you don't mind my asking?
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Conversion] [Psionics] [Horror] The impato epidemic

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Benj View Post
That sure seems suitably horrifying.

What's the story called, if you don't mind my asking?
Dances of men. Vladimir Pokrovskiy. (Владимир Покровский. Танцы мужчин.) You can easily google the original text (things seem like he didn't want to limit who can read the story . . . I think), but it's in Russian.
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Old 07-24-2011, 07:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Conversion] [Psionics] [Horror] The impato epidemic

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Dances of men. Vladimir Pokrovskiy. (Владимир Покровский. Танцы мужчин.) You can easily google the original text (things seem like he didn't want to limit who can read the story . . . I think), but it's in Russian.
Ah well. One of these days I'll have the points to buy Universal Translator.
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