Friday, September 2, 2011

Sharpened Hooks: Der Übermensch Schmarotzer

Another thing about Nazis?  Really?

Anyway, this one comes from my long-running Mage game, The Imperial City.  Doctor Ernst Blücher was a former Nazi, current Nephandus, and all-around mad scientist and pulp villain who was a lieutenant for the big bad, Charles Odderstol.  One of his failed attempts at making supermen was the Superman Parasite, an artificial lifeform that gives the infected increased strength and regenerative capabilities, while making them prone to insane rages and requiring magical energy lest the parasite starts consuming their internal organs.  Though a failure, he continued to grow and use Parasites because the infected make cheap, effective shock troops that typically rely on a supplier of magical energy to keep them alive.

I always wanted to infect my players with one, but it never happened.  Obviously, it makes the character much more powerful, but it has a lot of drawbacks.  It's even funnier if you stick one in a non-combat character.

Statistics below are for Mage: the Ascension (directly from my old notes, in fact), but you can easily use the guidelines below to place the Parasite in any system.

As for genre, you can easily shift the origin or the effects.  Maybe they naturally occur in a remote location, or maybe they're still artificial, but they're made by a government conspiracy or aliens.  If magical energy isn't your thing, maybe infected people need more calories to survive, or have to take daily doses of a specific chemical supplement or else the thing eats them alive.

Note that it would be exceedingly unlikely for the Parasite to, say, attain sapience and attempt to take over the host.  Why would you even think such a thing?

Der Übermensch Schmarotzer, the Superman Parasite

A pet project of Doctor Blücher, the Superman Parasite is a strange organism of Qlippothic Life. The parasite appears to be a mutant echinoderm; it is shaped like a small starfish with the leathery hide of a sea cucumber. The parasite must be inserted into a human subject by surgery; the procedure is not long (Blücher can perform the procedure within thirty minutes; assume someone unfamiliar could perform it within two hours). It can be placed anywhere in the body, though Doctor Blücher typically makes the incision just underneath the sternum, so that the parasite is in a central location. Wherever the parasite is placed, it will eventually (over the course of about a day) worm its way through the body, growing tentacles which wrap around the subject's endocrine system. The parasite creates two "nodes" for its consciousness; one wherever it is inserted, and another at the pituitary gland and hypothalumus. However, these "nodes" are not particularly important for its continued existence, as the only way to truly destroy it is to destroy the entire organism, including the tentacles (while a mortal doctor could theoretically do it, the procedure would likely kill the patient or just be unsuccessful; an Awakened healer should just use Life to target the foreign Pattern and kill it). If even a portion of a tentacle remains, the thing will regrow within a day.

As a side note, the entity cannot subsist upon the undead; it requires a human Life Pattern to sustain it. If an undead creature is implanted with the entity, the parasite will wither and die within a few hours. Curiously enough, the entity may be driven from an infected human by ghouling the human; however, this brings its own problems, as one would imagine.

The thing feeds off the victim's bioenergy as well as the emissions within the endocrine system, while giving off its own emissions to replace them. This has the following effects.

Atavistic Madness: If the subject receives a sudden shock (such as embarassment, fright, wounding, threats, or something similar), the change in hormones and neurochemicals may cause the parasite to induce a maddening frenzy. If the victim fails a simple Willpower roll, difficulty 6 (difficulty 8 with the Short Fuse Flaw), the alien hormones flood her system, paralysing her for three turns as her body is wracked by painful convulsions, and sending her into a homocidal killing spree. She will attack everything until she manages to calm down (Storyteller's discretion) or regain control (by rolling Willpower again). She suffers no wound penalties until reaching Incapacitated. Furthermore, the alien hormones cause shifts in mass; the character gains an additional +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity, and +2 Stamina while in this form, as well as a set of claws dealing Str +1 aggravated damage. In this form, the character's muscles become more pronounced and her skin turns a brackish grey while her eyes turn solidly black. Her hair turns stark white and remains this way until it grows out naturally. A botch on the Willpower roll while trying to resist entering this form causes an appropriate Derangement and a frenzy lasting for an indefinite amount of time; usually until everything in the immediate area stops moving. After she calms, she will immediately snap back into her usual form, and will be paralysed with shock for three turns. Beyond that, she will be down three dice on all pools until she rests for a scene or so. After the subject has dealt with this for a few days, she can willingly induce this state with a Willpower point.

Biochemical Stimulation: The person gains +1 to all Physical Attributes and Perception and Wits. This may take the Attributes over five, depending.

Bioethereal Vibrations: The person gains two Entropic Resonance traits (even if mortal). Traits may include Corruptive, Parasitic, Withering, and suchlike.

Etheric Dietary Deficiency: The subject must consume one point of Quintessence per day to feed the parasite. The parasite can feed from personal Quintessence (the Prime stored in the Avatar). If it goes without Quintessence for a day, it causes one Health Level of aggravated damage to the host instead (this damage does not regenerate normally unless the character feeds upon Quintessence). This damage appears as a wasting disease. The parasite can also feed from Tass the victim touches or ingests, and it can also feed in a more physical manner (if the subject, for instance, attacks and eats another person, thusly absorbing some measure of its Quintessence).

Expanded Regenerative Ability: The subject begins to regenerate extremely quickly. The character heals back one Health Level per turn of rest. The character heals one aggravated wound per day of rest. The subject can also soak lethal damage just as easily as bashing damage.

Vulnerability to Paradox Effect: The character gains five permanent points of Paradox so long as the parasite is within her system, and the Subject to Paradox Flaw (Guide to the Technocracy, page 132). Backlashes frequently manifest as Quiet or physical deformities (Paradox Flaws).

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