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Old 06-18-2017, 11:26 AM   #1
Prince Charon
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Default Katalysator-2 worldline

There's also a thread for Katalysator-1, and the Katalysator index/miscellany thread is up.

Katalysator-2 (Q6, current year 1669) has the earliest known development of the catalyst drug, believed to have been invented by Paracelsus around 1530 or 1531. The potion took quite some time to spread, but was well-known among alchemists and other occultists in Europe by the 1570s. Other psi drugs are believed to have begun appearing in the 1550s or 1560s, but Infinity has not been able to narrow it down further.

Early-on, many psi abilities in this worldline were seen as witchcraft in Europe and much of the Muslim world, but power is power, and Princes who ignore a useful form of power will often be replaced by those who do not. Near the end of the 16th century, Pope Romanus II bowed to the zeitgeist, and in 1588 released a bull declaring most such powers to be natural, 'containing no deviltry but what sinful men bring to them.' Several Protestant nations and a few Muslim states had made similar decisions prior to this, with others following. By 1669, the catalyst has spread across the world - few are the nations that still forbid its use, and even fewer that have not heard tell of it. A factor in this may be the fact that without the right kind of healer, or the right kind of healing power, large doses of the catalyst are difficult to survive, which also keeps the levels of power and insanity low.

A small number of alchemists have chosen to work on bioengineering, creating fantastic beasts and plants (and even near-human sophonts) for their patrons, for the advancement of SCIENCE!, or simply for their own amusement. Common examples include gryphons, dragons, owlbears, orks hobgoblins, pixies, and many others. While many more alchemists are simple elixir-brewers and the occasional researcher, 'the mad alchemist and his blasphemous monsters' is a common image in the public consciousness, and one that can make life uncomfortable for the common working alchemist. The 'monster' that is most often imagined (especially by those who have never seen an actual 'monster') is the dragon:

The first 'true' European dragons (as opposed to spirits that manifest as dragons) hatched in 1603, descended from several generations of progressively-weirder crocodilians. These dragons have wings (though they use Levitation to fly, only using the wings for steering and increased speed), appear to breathe fire (Pyrokinesis with a photokinetic hologram), and survive well even in fairly cold places (PK-based Temperature Tolerance), but unless possessed by a spirit, are only a little brighter than normal crocodiles (about IQ 4). They resemble crocodiles with longer legs (still four of them) and neck, a larger, horned skull (protecting a bigger brain), sometimes thicker bodies, and huge, bat-like wings. They can grow to the height of an elephant. A few of these dragons are semi-upright, and have dextrous hand-like talons on their front legs. The earliest known example of this type of mutation is believed to have hatched around 1626 or '27. Some time in the 1630s, icewyrms (white dragons that thrive in even colder environments than usual, and seem to breathe 'freezing black flames') began to be spotted in the mountains of Scandinavia, and later Scotland, Iceland, and northern Russia.

'False' dragons include wyverns (generally made from birds, and having only four limbs: two wings in front, and two legs in back), various offshoots of dragon-breeding experiments (no or too small wings, no psychokinesis or the wrong abilities, et cetra), and natural animals that resemble dragons, but aren't (e.g. large dinosaurs, draco lizards). Spirits that take draconic forms are sometimes classified as false dragons, especially if not recognized as spirits - in much of Asia, the spirits are considered true dragons, and the alchemists' creations are called false. False dragons in general are somewhat more common than true dragons.

Outside of alchemy, other technologies have likewise advanced ahead of schedule, due at least partly to small numbers of precognition- or Probability Alteration-based Gadgeteers. Wheellock or flintlock revolvers, usually multi-barrelled and sometimes loaded with touch-paper cartridges, are found in the hands of those who can afford them, and even in some cavalry regiments (IRL, revolvers did exist as early as the 16th century, but due to technical limitations, were not widespread). A few skirmisher units have begun carrying revolver-action rifles, though most of these use a single barrel and a cylinder containing a few rounds, rather than the pepper-box configuration common among pistols.

Medicine is fairly advanced, not only because of alchemists producing healing potions (generally psi boosters for Rapid Healing or Regeneration), but due to the development of an early microscope in Italy in the late 1550s (both Florence and Venice claim to have invented it first), the germ theory of disease was invented in 1593 (the germs are considered very small worms, or bugs). Distilled alcohol is used as both a painkiller (get the patient very drunk before surgery) and a germ killer (hands, surgical instruments, and the wound are washed with it before and after surgery). Some chirurgeons do still make a living as barbers, when not called on to cut into people, while others may work as innkeepers.
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.

Last edited by Prince Charon; 06-23-2017 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Katalysator-2 worldline

Still hating the character limit.

Fluidic and other mechanical computers (mostly Analogue and Dedicated; Complexity 4 maximum, or 2 for computers that are not Dedicated) have become fairly common, especially at universities, on ships or airships, and in the possession of artillerists, bankers, and so forth. As a result, some Cyberpsi abilities exist, but fall under Psychokinesis, rather than Ergokinesis; most or all of them should probably be renamed for setting flavor. Note that there is no Internet in this setting, although small numbers of (quite slow) local area networks may exist in universities and some cities. Automatons are mainly used as toys for the rich, though the useful devices from Fantasy Tech 1 have sometimes been made. Those that are fetishes (which in this context means a Spirit Communicator has talked a thoughtform into binding itself or another thoughtform to the item) tend to be rather more effective, as well as resisting Cyberpsi abilities with the spirit's Will.

King Henry IX (great-grandson of Edward VI and Jane Grey), rules England, Wales, and Ireland in his own right, and Scotland through his marriage to Queen Mary Stewart (an entirely different woman from either Mary Stewart/Stuart those familiar with Homeline history might be thinking of, the latter of whom was never born on this worldline). Through his mother, he claims the throne of France, but many of the French dispute this, most particularly his Huguenot cousin Philip, who also claims the throne of France as Philip VII (though his mother is the younger sister of Henry's mother), and their more distant (and Catholic) cousin Robert, from a cadet branch of the Valois descended from Francis I. War is expected to come soon, though even seers are uncertain how soon, and there is at least some hope for peace.

Pope Stephen X, a cousin of King Charles III of Spain (grandson of this worldline's Charles II, a more stable man than his Homeline counterpart) is attempting to drum up support for a Crusade to restore the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. This business over the French throne is a distraction he neither needs nor wants, but he has written to Henry, promising his support if the king at least converts to Catholicism, and preferably supports his Crusade; this is very unlikely to happen (Henry might support the crusade, but becoming Catholic is not on), and so the Pope is expected to travel to Aix-en-Provence next year, if not sooner, to crown Robert as King Robert III of France. The aforementioned Charles III has even less interest in the approaching war over the French throne ('a land of barbarians pretending to be Christian, even the French Catholics are hardly any better than the British,' in his opinion). He's far more keen on the idea of reclaiming the Holy Land, and seems very confident that it will work this time.

In the Germanies, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian III is quite looking forward to a War of French Succession, as he likes a good war, and hopes it will nicely distract his subjects from their various grievances against him (imagine a sixtyish BRIAN BLESSED playing Robert Baratheon, in German, loudly; quite charismatic in person, but fully capable of really aggravating people, and much better at handling war than peace). He fully intends to support whomever will pay the Empire the most, something even a lot of his Catholic subjects don't object to. He isn't adverse to the possible Crusade, either: he can work to extend his Hungarian territories south and east, and claim he's supporting the Crusade by making the Ottomans divide their forces.

In the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Ibrahim II very much hopes that the Christian powers will exhaust themselves warring over the throne of 'Frankistan,' because while he's pretty sure he'd be able to defeat another crusade, the cost in lives would be rather greater than he wishes to pay. This is also why he has not tried to push further into Southeastern Europe. His brother Mustafa is a more aggressive fellow, but has so far not managed to plan an accident for Ibrahim that he does not worry would be traced back to him - the Sultan's sons, being seven and three, are less of a concern (though honestly, Mustafa isn't sure he could have a child murdered).

This is a TL(4+1)^ world. A few individuals or groups may have Craft Secret perks for some TL(4+2)^ inventions. Psi drugs are the only type of psi-tech common on this Earth; psychically-enhanced bioengineering exists (hence, for example, the dragons), but is relatively rare. At the GM's option, some psi-boosters may be functionally identical to some of the elixirs in GURPS Magic pp213-219 (with some adaptation, e.g. Magic Resistance (p216) instead provides Psionic Resistance (not that the locals know the difference), and I recommend that Resurrection (p218) be either unavailable, or need to be applied within minutes of death, barring any use of suspended animation effects). Also, see the Old-Time Psi box on Psionic Campains p5 for help dealing with psi in lower tech levels, and the World-of-the-Mind that goes with them. Note that a large number of EK abilities are useless here, and thus do not exist. Those Cyberpsi abilities that do exist fall under PK rather than EK.

It is currently believed that Centrum has not yet discovered this parallel. The Cabal is known to operate on this worldline, however the mana level is mostly very low, with only a few areas of even low mana, which somewhat limits both their interest and ability, here.
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Katalysator-2 worldline

Katalysator-2, 1669

Current Affairs
As the War of the French Succession rapidly approaches, Pope Stephen X and the King of Spain seek to head it off in favor of a crusade in the Holy Land, much to the concern of the Ottoman Turks. Meanwhile, alchemists throughout the world bring forth wonders... and monsters.

Divergence Point
Circa 1530 or 1531: Paracelsus invents the catalyst drug.

Major Civilizations
Western (multipolar); Orthodox (Empire with rivals and satellite states); Islamic (Empire with satellite states); Chinese (empire); Indic (multipolar); West African (multipolar); East African (empire with satellite states)

Great Powers
Britain (oligarchy moving slowly toward representative democracy, CR3); Holy Roman Empire (feudal with elective monarchy, CR1-5); Russian Empire (feudal, CR4); Chinese Empire (feudal, CR2-4); Ottoman Empire (feudal, CR4); Spanish Empire (composite monarchy, CR4); Mughal Empire (dictatorship, CR4); Ethiopian Empire (dictatorship, CR3); Gyaaman Hegemony (tribal oligarchy, CR2-3)

Worldline Data
TL: (4+1)^; Mana level: very low to low
Quantum: 6; Infinity Class: Z3; Centrum Zone: Red (if discovered)
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Katalysator-2 worldline

Timeline of Katalysator-2:

1530/1531: PoD: Paracelsus invents the catalyst potion.

1537: The future Edward VI of England is born.

1547: King Henry VIII dies, and is succeeded by his young son, Edward VI.

1549: The Catalyst of Paracelsus is used in England, around this time. One man believed to have used it, though most likely in a small dose, is Dr. James Clarke, later Physician to the King.

1554 (February 12): Edward VI marries Lady Jane Grey.

1555: Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and wife of Phillip II of Spain, gives birth to a sickly boy called Peter. A number of alchemists begin experimenting with the creation of dragons around this time.

1556: Queen Jane of England gives birth to a son named John. Florence and Venice both claim to have invented the microscope this year.

1557: First manned flight of a hot-air balloon, outside Antwerp, in the County of Flanders. A similar balloon flies over London for the First Day of Christmas.

1559: Edward VI dies, and is succeeded by his three-year-old son, King John II of England (and a Regency Council lead by the Duke of Suffolk). A few months thereafter, Jane gives birth to Edward's second son, known at this time as Prince Edward the Posthumous.

1562: Children's War (aka Spanish War, King Phillip's War) begins, as Phillip II of Spain attempts to have his son Peter put on the throne of England by force, in place of the Protestant King John. The war will flare on and off (some historians split it into three to five separate wars) for the next ten years.

1566: Fluidic computer invented, in Athens. Earliest attempts to breed orks date from around this period.

1572: Peter, Prince of Girona (styled 'King Peter of England' by his Catholic supporters), dies of a long-term illness, ending the Children's War.

1574: The Regency of King John II ends, and he begins to rule in his own right.

1579: First reasonably successful attempt at a powered hot air balloon is demonstrated for the Duke of Savoy by its primary inventor, Carlo di Castellamonte. Late in the year, a similar device is demonstrated in Florence by Bernardo Buontalenti, who claims that Castellamonte stole the design from him (90 years later, the dispute remains unresolved). Both are propelled by means of a wood-and-cloth air-screw, resembling da Vinci's helicopter turned on its side.

1588: Pope Romanus II releases a bull declaring most powers granted by the Catalyst of Paracelsus to be natural, 'containing no deviltry but what sinful men bring to them.'

1593: Germ theory of disease developed in Brunswick-Lüneburg, by Dr. Klaus Gwerder. Alchemists in West Africa begin breeding and modifying chimpanzees to produce the race that will be called hobgoblins in Europe

1596: King Phillip II of Spain dies, succeeded by his son Carlos, who becomes Charles II of Spain. Crowning Charles is the last significant act of the 73-year-old Pope Romanus II, who dies three days later. His successor, Alexander VII, is elected just before the end of the year.

1598: Jozef Kowalski invents a form of Stirling engine, called the Kowalski engine in this worldline. The device is intended to propel airships, using the same heat-source as the air-bags.

1603: The first 'true' European dragons are hatched this year. Pope Alexander VII dies. His successor, Pope Victor IV, lives only two months. The next pope elected is a much younger man, Cardinal Francesco Sforza, who chooses to reign as Sixtus VI.

1607: Archduchy of the Netherlands formed.

1610: Late in the year, King John II of England dies, succeeded by his son, Richard Tudor, as Richard IV.

1619: Prince Edward the Posthumous's son Edmund is married to Princess Catherine, eldest daughter of King Francis III of France.

1623: Princess Catherine gives her husband a son, named Henry Tudor.

1625: Princess Catherine gives birth to two children this year, a girl named Louise at the beginning of the year, and a boy named Arthur at the end. Pope Sixtus VI dies near the end of the year.

1626: After three months of discussion, the papal conclave elects Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici as Pope Leo XI.

1633: First reliable sighting of an icewyrm, a ways north of Hoting in the Kingdom of Sweden. University of Amanvi founded in the West African country of Gyaaman.

1642: The Akan tribal state of Gyaaman effectively dominates the Ashantiland paeninsula and some surrounding territories by this year.

1654: The childless King Richard IV dies early in the year, succeeded by his cousin, Henry IX.

1657: King Henry IX marries Queen Mary Stewart, uniting the island of Great Britain.

1659: Prince William, first legitimate son of Henry XI, is born.

1665: Cardinal Alfonso de Girón is elected Pope. He chooses to reign under the name 'Stephen X.'

1667: Scouts from Infinity discover this worldline.

1668: A fire at the Palais du Louvre kills King Francis IV and his son, the Dauphin Louis, prompting a succession crisis.

1669: Present Day.
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.
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Old 06-22-2017, 09:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Katalysator-2 worldline

Would this place have any connections with your Five Earths settings?
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Old 06-23-2017, 03:53 PM   #6
Prince Charon
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Default Re: Katalysator-2 worldline

Originally Posted by warellis View Post
Would this place have any connections with your Five Earths settings?
No, it's something I'm working on because I have too many ideas, and it's difficult to focus on one when the others are clamoring for attention. That said, some of the templates and modified abilities I'm working on for this setting might appear there.
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.

Last edited by Prince Charon; 01-08-2018 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:12 PM   #7
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Not absolutely certain that Oliver is complete, so if you have any suggestions or questions, please let me know.

Oliver de Bruyn

Age: 39


ST 9 [-10]; DX 11 [20]; IQ 13 [60]; HT 11 [10]

Secondary Characteristics

HP 9; Will 13; Per 13; FP 11

Social Background

Languages: Dutch (Native) [0]; Latin (Native) [6]; Sabir (Accented) [4]; French (Accented) [4]; English (Broken/Accented) [3]; German (Broken/Accented) [3]

TL: 4+1^

Cultural Familiarity: 17th Century Western Europe. [0]

Subtotal: 100


Gifted Alchemist 3 [15]
Wealth (Comfortable) [10]

Danger Sense (ESP, -10%) [14]
Gadgeteer (Specialized (Bioengineering), -40%; ESP, -10%) [12]
PK Sabre (Cutting Attack 1d; No Signature, +20%; Melee Attack 1, 2, -20%; Psychokinesis, -10%; Alternate Ability: Cutting Attack 1d; No Signature, +20%; Melee Attack C, 1, -20%; Psychokinesis, -10%; Alternate Ability: Impaling Attack 1d-1; No Signature, +20%; Melee Attack 1, 2, -20%; Psychokinesis, -10%) [9]


Micro-PK [1]
Signature Gear (Custom wheellock revolver) [1]

Subtotal: 62


Code of Honor (Professional) [-5]
Curious (12) [-5]
Enemy (Elke Knüpfer; As powerful, Watcher, 12 or less) [-5]
Enemy (Pierre du Souhait; As powerful, Rival, 6 or less) [-2]
Insomniac [-10]
Pacifism (Self Defense Only) [-15]

Post-Combat Shakes (12) [-5]


Likes cats. [-1]
Particular about his tea. [-1]
Romantically oblivious. [-1]
Sings while he works. [-1]
Unconsciously flirts with Elke. [-1]

Subtotal: -52


Accounting [IQ/H] [1] 11
Alchemy/TL(4+1^) [IQ/VH] [8] 16*
Armoury (Small Arms)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/A] [1] 12
Astronomy/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [1] 11
Bioengineering (Alchemic)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [4] 16*
Boxing [DX/A] [1] 10
Chemistry/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [4] 13
Expert Skill (Natural Philosophy)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [2] 15*
Expert Skill (Psionics) [IQ/H] [2] 15*
Gardening/TL(4+1^) [IQ/E] [1] 13
Guns (Pistol)/TL(4+1^) [DX/E] [4] 11
Guns (Shotgun)/TL(4+1^) [DX/E] [2] 10
Farming/TL(4+1^) [IQ/A] [2] 13
Literature [IQ/H] [2] 12
Main-Gauche [DX/A] [2] 11
Mathematics (Applied)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [1] 11
Mathematics (Pure)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [1] 11
Mathematics (Surveying)/TL(4+1^) [IQ/H] [1] 11
Musical Composition (Voice Choirs) [1]
Naturalist [IQ/H] [2] 15*
Philosophy (Classical) [IQ/H] [1] 11
PK Sabre [DX/H] [4] 11
Public Speaking [IQ/A] [1] 12
Sex Appeal [HT/A] [2] 11
Singing [HT/E] [2] 12
Staff [DX/A] [1] 10
Weather Sense [IQ/A] [1] 12
Writing [IQ/A] [1] 12


Burning Blade (H) PK Sabre-1 [2] PK Sabre-0

* Includes +3 from Gifted Alchemist.

Subtotal: 58

Total: 168


Nice clothes
sturdy, hobnailed boots
Wheellock revolver, .69 caliber, 7-shot
3x spare cylinders for revolver
Powder horn
Long knife (Reach C, 1)


Gifted Alchemist covers Alchemy, Bioengineering (Alchemic), Expert Skill (Natural Philosophy), Expert Skill (Psionics), and Naturalist. (It should perhaps be noted that in-setting, Expert Skill (Psionics) is called by a number of names, none of which are 'Psionics;' one of the more common is in fact 'Thaumatology,' the study of wonders, but using that term would create confusion with the GURPS skill of the same name.) While this skillset is quite serviceable for breeding monsters, many alchemists have discovered, to their often-brief regret, that it grants no bonuses to controlling them. It does grant a reaction bonus from other alchemists, and anyone you've done work for.

In terms of psychobotanics (see the Old-Time Psi text box on p5 of Psionic Campains), both Alchemy and Herb Lore are useful in preparing them; Alchemy tends to produce more precise and reliable results, though at greater expense, while Herb-Lore is quicker and cheaper, but less trustworthy.

Micro-PK is the ability to manipulate matter at the molecular scale, producing designer proteins and other materials that would be impossible otherwise, without higher technology. It is generally used unconsciously in this setting: people just know that there are some elixirs (psi boosters and sucklike) that not everyone can make.

The PK Sabre skill is akin to fencing with an invisible, weightless sabre. Burning Blade removes the No Signature enhancement, but adds Incendiary.

The revolver is a Fine (reliable) smoothbore with one barrel and a rotating cylinder of seven chambers. It's cycled by step-down gearing attached to the hand-crank, such that when the spring is fully wound, the cylinder has moved to the next chamber, and the handcrank is stopped by a pin; pulling the trigger also releases the pin. It may be loaded with ball, shot, or sometimes stranger projectiles, and may have different loads in each chamber. Cylinders must be removed to load them; changing cylinders requires 2d+12 seconds, modified by Fast Draw (which Oliver doesn't have); this involves taking off the front of the weapon to get the cylinder out. It's a fairly expensive and well-decorated piece of kit, which he is rather fond of. Statwise, it is similar to the TL4 Military Pistol (Low-Tech pp 93-94), but bulkier (Weight 3.5/0.06, Bulk -5), and in a larger caliber (2d pi++ for ball, about 1d(0.5) pi for shot); cost is $1,123.

Oliver is a Dutch alchemist and bioengineer living in the city of Haarlem, in the Archduchy of the Netherlands (roughly what would have been the Dutch Republic at this point in Homeline's history). His bioengineering work involves plants (primarily tulips at the moment), rather than animals, though he makes most of his money from selling elixirs. Like a lot of alchemists, he finds it best to avoid rural areas: while not many of them are bioengineers at all, and even fewer make monsters that go on to ravage the countryside, that's the reputation they have. This often leads to superstitious peasants chasing one around with torches and pitchforks if anything strange is happening in the village, even if that alchemist honestly had nothing to do with it, and arrived well after the trouble started. Thus, if he ever needs to leave the city to track down rare ingrediants, Oliver prefers to hire a few violent types to protect him. Like many educated men of his era, Oliver knows the Seven Liberal Arts (Low-Tech Companion 1, p32, boxed text).

Elke, the daughter of one of Oliver's clients (and a fairly good amatuer alchemist in her own right) is about on the border between Watcher and Rival, but they immediately become practically allies when M. du Souhait becomes involved. It will likely become obvious to perceptive PCs that the two are in love, but getting either to admit it could be an adventure in itself.

Pierre du Souhait is another plant-focused bioengineer, living in Amsterdam (he made too many enemies in Paris). He would quite like to marry Elke, but she finds him more than a little annoying. He is also a business rival of Oliver, and may be after the same materials that Oliver and his hired assistants and bodyguards are looking for.

1/08/2018 EDIT: Added a powder horn to his equipment, after watching some videos of wheellocks being fired, and noting that previous information I'd seen on them neglected to include the rather important fact that the sparks don't just go through the flash-hole on their own, they set off powder in an external pan, much like a flintlock.
"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/29/2018: The Eyes Have It, by maximara, has been posted.

Last edited by Prince Charon; 01-08-2018 at 08:57 AM.
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