All posts by MojoTripper

Sleeper

Sometimes I think about how easy it would be to sleep for centuries and let this miserable world pass me by. I’d do it … but I’m afraid of what I’d find when I wake up.

Description

While many are fighting a war without any real cause, the Sleepers are waiting for the troubles to pass them by. Sleepers have the ability to place themselves into deep, long sleeps, conserving energy and resources for long periods of time — legends say even centuries. When life becomes to difficult or dangerous, or when they simply want to disappear, Sleepers can set a course for a distant star and close their eyes until they get there. The only catch is waking up. Sleepers often find themselves in new and foreign places when they wake, and have to adapt themselves quickly in order to survive.

Abilities

Plasticity (?)

A sleeper gains 90% of his or her experience back when atropheing or forgetting an attribute or skill, instead of the usual 50%. Over time, this experience can be spent on learning new skills or developing new attributes in place of the old, subject to the usual attribute/skill advancement rules.

Vulnerabilities

Origin

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

Privateer

You play at flight, but your wings are clipped. You dream of freedom, but the reality of it terrifies you.

Description

Nomads in the purest sense, the Privateers roam the galaxy in search of that which is unattainable. They are possessed by a natural wanderlust, questing ever outward from the sprawl of human civilization and striving to reach the end of a great journey whose beginnings have been lost in the mists of time. They seldom maintain solid interpersonal relationships outside of their crew and family, but are almost completely dependant on them. They are uncannily suited for survival in the emptiness between the stars; however, their adaptation to life in space has cost them the ability to live comfortably anywhere else. They are a sober, melancholy people, frail in form but unimaginably quick in mind. Their numbers have never been officially determined, as they tend to avoid agents of authority. Their ability to disappear, whether individually or in groups, is legendary; however, the loyalty they exhibit between they few friends they keep has earned them the distinction as the most trustworthy people in the galaxy.

Abilities

Status Quo (5)

Privateers thrive on predictability. Within their nomadic lifestyle and their constant need to defend themselves against the harsh environment of space, they loathe the unexpected and the unexplained. Therefore it’s not surprising that early in their history, as their people fissioned into today’s Privateers and the ancestors of modern Fringers, they set out to innoculate themselves against the forces of disorder in their world. Specifically, measures they used to protect themselves from the ravages of life in space as well as from the alien virus responsible for the Fringer’s derangement have awakened a kind of anti-entropic force in Privateers. They do not experience the normal degredation seen in human bone and muscle tissue due to long-term exposure to low gravity. Also, they suffer no long term genetic damage from radiation exposure (though they are still succeptible to burns.) Most notably, they are almost completely immune to Entropic paranormal effects. Any Privateer who is either the target or even in the presence of such an effect automatically applies a 10 point penalty to the caster’s effort. This penalty to the caster is cumulative for each Privateer present, but can be waived if the Privateers know of and are in agreement with the intentions of the effect caster.

Privateers are also preternaturally at ease with the demands of life in space. They have a knack for getting around in microgravity, a sense for EVA and a good head about how to conserve resources in the hostile environment of space. They automatically receive a 5 point bonus to any space-living or space survival check (this acts like the spacefaring general skill at an advancement level of 5, or as a 5 point bonus to this general skill if the character has it already.) As they understand the mechanics of space travel, they receive a bonus of 5 point to any spacecraft navigation rolls. They can calculate transfer orbits in their head, and can intuit the mass of any object they can touch to within an tenth of a percent’s accuracy.

Attunement (5)

Privateers generally live their entire lives in deep space, and thus maintain an intimate survival relationship with their equipment. Most privateers become exceptionally aware of their surroundings and possessions, their vehicle, its operations and its maintenance. It takes a period of up to six months for a Privateer to become attuned to her vessel and its systems, but once this happens, that Privateer has an almost preternatural sense of how the ship is operating and how to maintain it and make small repairs. Privateers need no advanced skill in spacecraft maintenance to keep their ships running. The can intuit normal maintenance operations, and can conduct minor repairs proficiently.

Additionally, once a Privateer has become attuned her to vehicle and her day-to-day surroundings, she can navigate them with her eyes shut under just about any adverse conditions. She knows the ship’s systems and its capabilities as well as the knows herself. Thus, she will automatically receive a 5 point bonus to any maintenance or piloting check make with her own attuned vessel as the target. Furthermore, there will be no nook of her spacecraft she doesn’t understand. It’s virtually impossible to hide from a Privateer on her own ship, as she knows all the hiding places inside and out.

Sixth Sense (5)

Privateers have the ability to sense the onset of danger even without the slightest physical cue. This sense bleeds outward through space and time, contunually probing a radius of about ten light minutes around the Privateer like a superluminal radar, instantaneously reporting any event that might endanger the Privateer’s life or long-term well being. As sensitive and far reaching as this pseudo-precognisance is, it can tell nothing about the nature or even the timeframe of the dangerous event. It only alerts the Privateer to the fact that the danger is coming. There is no known way to short-circuit this ability. It manifests as a distinctive sense of anxiety that increases as the probability of the dangerous event increases. Though it may start as barely a twinge of apprehension, as the Privateer grows closer to the danger’s source, her apprehension will grow. In this way, she can use herself as a kind of Geiger counter, mapping out a field of probable death in her surroundings by wandering around and sensing. To do this is to tempt fate, though, and if there is one thing a Privateer knows best, it is that fate never passes up an opportunity.

With this ability during a campaign, the Moderator should give any Privateer character at least ten minutes advanced warning of any life-threatening event. You need not give any details, and keep in mind that the Privateer’s sense is keyed to the probability that her life may be in peril. If a major event happens in which the probability is slim to none that the Privateer or any of her loved ones should come under any mortal harm, the Privateer’s sense may not register. Likewise, Privateer characters should keep in mind that, unless their sense is tingling, they are not about to meet their end.

On the other hand, cockiness is ill-advised. If a Privateer brings about the circumstances of her own destruction, she may get significantly less advanced warning. This sense only registers as long as a threat is material and real. Developing threats do not trigger it unless the development is long term and inevitable. Thus, though the Privateer may get a warning that she is on a collision course with a distant micrometeor or that her sun is about to go supernova, if she pulls a gun on a rival her death is not imminent until her rival draws as well. This is where arises the Privateer adage about tempting fate. It’s better to let bad things come to you and have a chance of avoiding them, rather than charging head long into the jaws of your worst nightmare.

Vulnerabilities

Frailty (5)

Though well suited to life in space, Privateers have paid a price for their adaptation. Though their bones and muscles do not atrophe in microgravity, they are relatively weak to begin with. Privateers suffer double the effects of g forces during hard accelerations and maneuvers, and may have a difficult time getting around under normal to greater-than-normal gravity fields. Privateers fair best in gravity fields of zero to 1/2 g’s. Higher field strength work against them, so that their own increased weight under these fields counts against their carrying capacity and may dog their agility and stamina. Under one, Earth-normal g, half of a Privateer’s body weight counts against her capacity to carry objects. Refer to the human species description for details on how this will affect your character.

Most Privateers keep a set of body braces and strength amplifiers around in case they need to work in high-gravity conditions. Such devices negate the adverse effects of high-gravity fields. These must be worn continuously, though, as long as the Privateer is under the high gravity for their benefits to be felt. As soon as the Privateer removes them, she will experience the crushing force of her environment again.

Origin

Sphere

A strong Privateer presence exists nearly everywhere between the Elderworlds Alliance and the Fringe Worlds. Privateer groups provide the vital links between Elderworlds governmental bodies and their Periphery protectorate kingdoms. They also serve as the driving pioneer force extending the Frontier of the Terran Expansion. In all these regions, Privateers represent a potent social order to be reckoned with.

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

On Elderworlders: “You think you’re so much better than us — with all your toys and money — but ignorance is bliss. Sit high and mighty in your mansions getting fat and rich, while I — I will be great on merit.”

On New Icarians: “Step one foot over the line, Pretty Boy, and I’ll dump you out the air lock. You keep your Mind-Bending out of my head and I think we can reach a rather profitable compromise.”

On Fringers: “I look at you sometimes and think about how we came form the same place — how different are we really? If I go out to far … I shudder to think … will I become like you?”

On Amphioxi: “Have you no mind of your own, dear girl? He has no right to a servant as noble as you.”

On Phantoms: “Rumors, legends circulate about the murderers, assassins really, of the Elder Worlds Illuminati — Phantoms, genetically engineered killing machines. Call them What you will. Are they robots, ghosts, or maybe something else? Do they even exist? Most myths have at least some basis in reality.”

Phantom

We are the architects of dreams.

Description

Phantoms are the stuff of myths and scary stories. While most will never come face to face with one, they do exist in the shadows, waiting for their mark. Phantoms are genetically modified assassins, working solely for the Meridian Society until the day they are decommissioned. They are able to read a person’s thoughts with their tendril like augments and most Phantoms are highly trained as snipers. Many of their marks never even know that they were hit… they simply die. Rumor has it there are a few rouge Phantoms, meant to be decommissioned but still alive and out there… somewhere.

Abilities

Active Camoflage (?)

The surface of a Phantom’s hair and skin is covered with tiny, extraordinarily versatile cybernetic chromatophores. These give Phantoms the ability to alter their hair and skin color at will. Complex nanocybernetic systems can coordinate this ability to produce a kind of active camoflage, whereby the Phantom can conceal himself by producing images of his environment on his skin. Undressed, a Phantom is capable of rendering himself virtually invisible in the bulk of the visible spectrum under ordinary environmental conditions.

The chromatophores can react quickly enough to preserve a cloaking effect against a fairly uniform backdrop even while the Phantom is moving, up to a brisk walking pace (about 2 meters per second). Faster motion, or motion against a backdrop of greater visual complexity, produces artifacts and distortions that may give away the Phantom’s position. Generally, the more complex the visual surface against which the Phantom is being viewed, the slower the Phantom must move in front of it to remain well cloaked. A Phantom’s chromatophores do not have sufficient resolution to accurately render such complex images as fine text or similarly detailed information, but it takes extraordinarily close inspection to detect the inaccuracy of the Phantom’s projections from any appreciable distance.

A Phantom’s cloaking ability relies on the ability of his skin to mimic the colors and details of object that would ordinarily be obscured from a given line of sight by his body. Thus, it is easily defeated by covering the skin by clothing, dust, paint, or any other substance that obscures or alters the skin’s natural appearance. Disruptions of the skin may cause visible disruptions in its active camoflage, so wounds may show up if not covered by another, intact part of a cloaked Phantom’s body. Additionally, the inside of a Phantom’s mouth and the corneas of the eyes do not have the chromatophores required to cloak them, so if a cloaked Phantom opens his mouth or does not conceal his eyes from potential observers, these features can be detected. (The whites and irises of the eyes are capable of cloaking.)

Cloaking takes an extraordinary amount of energy, so Phantoms who make frequent use of this ability have much higher nutritional needs than ordinary humans. It is not unheard of for a Phantom to require in excess of 10,000 calories per day to power his or her cloaking abilities. The more time a Phantom spends cloaked in a day, the higher his or her caloric needs will be.

A Phantom’s cloaking system is generally installed in the laboratory shortly after conception, and develops along with the Phantom’s biological system prenatally. In cases of natural conception and gestation, a Phantom’s cybernetic systems are inherited from the mother. Thus, these systems require no special equipment to install — virtually every Phantom whose development has not been artificially interfered with has them, and is capable of passing these systems on to offspring as though they were natural, genetic traits.

Mind Hacking (?)

From birth, Phantoms are equipped with polymorphic implants in their fingertips designed to be used as neurological probes. These probes can be employed in a variety of ways. Though similar to an Amphiox gauntlet in basic design and function, these probes are far too flimsy to make effective weapons. They are extremely sharp, however, and can easily penetrate flesh, bone and heavy clothing. With some degree of training, a Phantom can use these probes to stimulate sets of nerves in a target to produce a variety of effects. The simplest of these is to provoke simple sensations like heat, cold or pain. More complicated applications can interfere with the body’s natural regulatory systems to temporarily paralyze a target or render him or her unconscious.

A skilled Phantom can even use his or her implants to read and influence the thoughts of a subject. Colloqially known as “mind hacking” within the Elderworlds Alliance, this process requires that the Phantom embed his probes in the subject’s brain. Each probe carries a regenerating payload of nanomachines that, when injected into neurological tissue, rapidly disperse throughout the region and monitor the activity of neurons. Once in place, these payloads can relay detailed information about the workings of a living brain back to the probes from which they were deployed. By interfering with neural signals, they can influence the function of a living brain under directives related through the probes from the controlling Phantom. Information gleaned through this proceedure is as reliable as the subject’s own memory, and posthypnotic suggestions implanted during it can be overpowering even to those with rock solid wills.

A Phantom’s neurological probes are closely tied in with his or her own central nervous system, and can be controlled as thought they were an extension of the body. The information they relay, and the commands they carry out, manifest or originate as the Phantom’s own conscious thoughts. So, when a Phantom reads a subject mind, he literally reads his subjects thoughts and experiences them as though they were his own. This has a number of advantages — immediacy of understanding being one of the most significant, along with the fact that whatever information a Phantom obtains from a neurological probe he will remember later as though that memory had always been his own. A significant drawback to this ability is that it can sometimes be difficult for a Phantom to differentiate between his own memories and those of the subject he has probed. After a probing, Phantoms sometimes have been known to take on personality characteristics of their targets. Some have been known to even lose track of their own identities entirely, believing they in fact are those individuals they have probed. Extensive probing, especially without the proper training, can lead to debilitating cases of identity dissolution.

Mimicry (?)

Using the same system a Phantom can use to cloak him or herself, a Phantom can alter his or her physical appearance. Skin tone can be altered with astonishing precision, across a Phantom’s entire body or only in small, isolated patches. A Phantom can mimic scars, birthmarks, tattoos (within the limits of detail described above), freckles, or virtually any other natural skin feature. To a limited extent, a Phantom can even voluntarily produce swelling in key locations to change the shape of his or her features.

This ability generally allows a Phantom to mimic the appearances of others well enough to fool casual acquaintances. It’s not perfect — individuals who know mimicked targets well can usually see through the subterfuge. But, for purposes of evading attempts at identification or passing a cursory physical comparison with a particular individual, it works extraordinarily well.

Phantoms are also capable of changing the tone and pitch of their voice well enough to pass for another individual (with a bad cold, perhaps). Does this is substantially more difficult than simply mimicking appearance, and often takes a period of study to get right enough to fool individuals who know the target’s natural voice. In any event, this ability will rarely fool any but the most primitive voice recognition equipment.

Phantoms are generally not capable of mimicking such fine details as fingerprints or retinal patterns, and their feature-changing ability will rarely fool advanced facial-recognition technologies. They cannot change their height or weight, and, in any case, there is more to impersonating someone than simply looking like them. So while this ability can give a Phantom a substantial advantage in passing themselves off for someone else, it remains far from guaranteed that any such effort will succeed.

Vulnerabilities

Meltdown (?)

Entanglement (?)

Origin

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

Outlander

It’s the children that stay a safe distance from home that thrive. Haste and defiance will only get you in over your head. Stay in good graces and never forget that you have allies on both sides.

Description

Hearty and adaptable, Outlanders have evolved to thrive, no matter where they reside. They tend to be found more on stations, keeping the proverbial cogs of the space faring world turning, but it is not unheard of for Outlanders to be readily accepted into Privateer families. There tends to be a much closer relationship between the Meridian Society and Outlanders because they maintain the jump point bots. They are about the only Clade that has no negative ties with any other, which makes them the best diplomats and negotiators.

Abilities

Regeneration (?)

Outlanders can regenerate severed limbs.

Resistance (?)

Drugs, toxin and diseases generally affect Outlanders less than many other clades. Difficulties associated with attribute checks against these are reduced by 50%.

Rapid Healing (?)

Outlanders heal damage at twice the normal rate.

Metabolic Efficiency (?)

Outlanders generally require less food, water and sleep than most other clades. Their metabolisms are generally more efficient, able to derive more sustenance from a given foodsource and able to store energy obtained from food in a highly efficient manner. Outlander metabolism kicks into a “crisis mode” in times where nutrition or water is scarce. In this mode, most metabolic wastes are sequestered or recycled. In crisis mode, Outlanders have a dramatically reduced need for elimination, and do not sweat. While this prevents loss of fluids, it does make the Outlander succeptible to overheating, and results in a slow buildup of metabolic toxins. While an Outlander deprived of water will not die of thirst, within about a month’s time he or she will die of slow blood poisoning. Outlanders can last much longer if only deprived of food. In this case, their metabolisms slow to minimal levels. This results in descreased activity, but also greatly extends survivability. After long periods of starvation, an Outlander will enter a “starvation coma,” in which he or she may be able to survive for extended periods, up to a year, without requiring any special treatment on revival.

Cold Tolerance (?)

Outlanders can tolerate subfreezing temperatures up to -10 degrees centigrade without suffering tissue damage. Hypothermia, while not life threatening, does impair activity, to the point that the outlander will not remain conscious if his or her core temperature drops by more than 20%.

Vulnerabilities

Heat Sensitivity (?)

Outlanders are much less tolerant to high heat conditions, and will suffer ill health effects from overheating 50% sooner than most other clades.

Origin

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

Operator

The computational capacity of the human brain is enormous — it is the capacity of the senses to assimilate and transmit data that is lacking. And thus, by continually reinventing ourselves to overcome the limitations of our senses, we postpone human obsolescence for another year.

Description

The technical wizards of the Elderworlds alliance, the Operators represent the quintessential link between man and machine in a world where that line wears ever thinner. Mutilating cybernetic enhancements are only half of what make the stereotypical Operator; most live lives entirely consumed by the machine. They represent the utmost extension of the user — simultaneously the master and the slave of high technology. They are often detached from the affairs of the masses of humanity, absorbed into the artificial world over which they rule. Operators also enjoy a somewhat grayed mortality: Death to them is little more than a liberation from the body, upon which the essence of the being simply slips away into the machine.

Abilities

Womb Mechanics (10)

Even before birth, the physiology of an Operator has undergone extensive cybernetic augmentation and alteration. Many of these enhancements are made without the choice or knowledge of the Operator receiving them — many times the process of artificial enhancement it begun while the Operator is only a small clump of cells in her mother’s womb.

An Operator’s birth-enhancements give her an at-birth bonus of 15 points to spend on any Mental, Physical or Psychological attribute her player wishes, with the notable restriction that no fewer than 5 points and no more than 10 may be spent on any single attribute. Social attributes may also be enhanced, but at double the expense of the other attributes (i.e. two bonus points need be spent to raise the attribute rating by one point.) The expenditure of these points may place the operator’s attributes at ratings higher than 30. Furthermore, the application of these enhancements does not subtract from the character’s adaptability rating.

The points spent above must be ascribed to specific kinds of augmentations. For example, to enhance dexterity, the player may elect to supply his character with prehensile finger extensions; to enhance perceptiveness, the player may choose to give his character artificial eyes or ears; to enhance appearance, the player may give his character form- modifying implants (which, as a side effect, may also allow the character to change her superficial appearance on the fly.) Refer to the section on augmentation for specific types of implants that may be used. Note, also that the use of augmentations here does not diminish the possibility of gaining further augmentations in the future. Operators are not only born with certain enhancements — they tend to continue developing these enhancements throughout their lives, as well as submitting frequently to the grafting of additional implants.

Archival (5)

Operators have the neuro-cybernetic equipment to download skills and memories on their own, without the aid of a neurosurgeon or an “installation technician.” Though failure to physically install the downloaded skill is not possible (this check always succeeds), it is still possible to the operator to fail to integrate the new information into her psyche. When downloading, the Operator acts as her own technician and makes her own installation rolls. She can also remove downloaded information from her psyche at will, simply by making a removal check. The operator is still succeptible to identity dissolution, and still must be careful about obtaining “clean” skill snapshots to download.

Uploading (5)

Operators are capable not only of accepting downloaded skills, but of providing them as well. An Operator may choose to “upload” a skill or memory to a downloadable snapshot, making this information then available for others to download. More than this, an Operator may upload his or her entire consciousness into a machine. Once uploaded, there is virtually no end to what can be done with such a complete snapshot of the Operator’s psyche. It can be reembodied in a human form, much like a Changeling is reembodied. It may be placed in an artificial body, or it may be “run” by a capable machine. In any case, as the uploading process is nondestructive, the original Operator continues to live and function as normal. In effect, this ability allows the Operator to duplicate herself and exist in two or more places at once.

Once an Operator has “duped” one or more independent copies of herself, she may wish to reintegrate these copies into herself. This can be done in one of two ways. The Operator can destructively scan and upload the “target” copy of herself, thereby removing it from whatever embodiment or machine simulator it was “running” in, and download it into herself to integrate its memories with her own. Alternatively, the Operator may have her twin produce a complete upload of itself which she can then download and reintegrate, thereby obtaining all of her copy’s experiences and memories. She can even do the same for her counterpart, effectively “synchronizing” the experience of the two copies. Though in either case the downloading process is the same as though the Operator were downloading another person’s memory or skill, she does not need to spend any will to maintain the information one it is installed. Ordinarily, she is in no danger of suffering identity dissolution.

Unless…

Each copy produced by an uploading can operate as independent individuals. Unless there is a constant synchronization between the original and the copy, the two now self-contained beings will begin to adapt independently to their own separate experiences. The end result could be two individuals who, though they share a common psychological origin, think nothing alike due to their experiences. If either the copy or the original Operator has altered her attributes or skill ratings at all during the separation, the two cannot be reintegrated seamlessly and the Operator immediately receives one point of identity dissolution upon downloading the snapshot of her twin. This is automatic. As before, no will expenditure is needed to maintain the information. It has become a permanent part of the Operator, for better or for worse.

When dealing with characters who have “split” themselves into multiple components, you should handle each “copy” as though it were a character in its own right. Track all attributes and skills, including fixed ratings, backlash and experience, separately for each character. Upon reintegration, average all attribute ratings including those just mentioned and use these attributes as the attributes of the reintegrated individual. The Moderator may wish to make exceptions for physical attributes and attributes that pertain primarily to whatever substrate (body, machine, etc.) a copy is running on.

Ghost in the Machine (10)

When dealing with an artificial intelligence or other computer system “big enough” to contain the sum of an Operator’s psyche, an Operator may temporarily “leave” her body to experience life from the point of view of the machine. She effectively transfers her consciousness into the processing networks of the machine. If there is a resident intelligence already there, she has a couple of options. She may:

  • destroy it (which takes work, and may be bad for the Operator if she fails)
  • she may push it into the background (if the machine’s capacity is big enough to store a dormant copy, and if the resident intelligence lets her or she can overpower it)
  • she may coexists with the resident intelligence (again, if the machine’s capacity is big enough to hold two active psyches and if the resident intelligence is in agreement, coerced or otherwise)
  • or she may bounce the resident intelligence into her vacant body (if her brain can hold it, and if it lets her)

Any resistance offered by the machine is resolved using the rules for virtual combat. Once in the machine, the Operator acts as the machine. No built in safeguards or security systems that are part of the machine can stop her, as it has effectively become her body, over which she has ultimate control. She can not perform any task that exceeds the capacity of the machine, however, and she does not have the capacity to operate more than one “body” (be it that of a machine or her own) simultaneously. On the upshot, if her original body is destroyed while she is “jacked in,” the Operator will not die, nor will she necessarily evenbe aware of her loss until she goes to return to her original state. When “ghosting,” an Operator takes on a mixture of her own attributes and those of the host, depending on whichever attributes are lower. While in a host body, she can not exceed the capabilities of the host, and at any rate cannot exceed her own abilities, regardless of what the host may be able to do with itself.

With the proper equipment, this ability may be used to “jump” onto biological substrates as well as artificial ones. As long as an Operator has an appropriate interface to the substrate she wishes to jump onto, there is nothing limiting her ability to do so beyond the capacity of the target system.

When used in conjunction with the uploading ability above, an Operator who has ghosted into a host may “merge” with the resident psyche of that host, assuming the host is willing. Identity dissolution is almost certain under these circumstances, though. The Operator takes one point of it per every ten points of combined difference between the attributes and skills of herself and her host. Unwilling psyches may be beaten into submission and merged, as well, but in this case the identity dissolution doubles. Bits and pieces of the foreign psyche may be temporarily downloaded and maintained as downloaded skills, but this follows the same rules and conditions as skill downloading. Refer to that section for details.

Vulnerabilities

Meme Hacking (5)

While “ghosting,” an Operator’s psyche may be “hacked” by an ordinary character who has a skill in AI hacking or programming. The Operator may or may not be aware of such an attack until it is too late. How the hacker proceeds and how the Operator may defend herself is determined by the rules for virtual combat. If the hacker wins, he may deal critical damage to the Operator’s mental or psychological attributes. Furthermore, he may implant commands, experienced by the Operator as post-hypnotic suggestions, to be carried out immediately or upon the Operator’s return to her original body. These commands may even be keyed off a period of elapsed time or some other condition to be triggered at the moment of the hacker’s choosing. When setting up the suggestion, the hacker must roll checks to give it a strength and a duration. Each time it is triggered, the suggestion loses a point of duration and must make an opposed check against the Operator’s will. If this check is successful, the Operator has no choice but to obey. When a planted suggestion has exhausted its duration points, it is rendered inert and flushed from the Operator’s mind. Depending on the sophistication of the attack, the Operator may not even be aware that her behavior is out of the ordinary. Additional implanted suggestions may convince her that everything she is doing is justified.

Mind Rot (5)

If an Operator leaves her body for a period longer than a day, the higher cognitive centers of her brain will begin to break down as a result of disuse. The Operator’s body receives 1 point of damage to each of her mental attributes every day that she is continually out of her body. Only when she returns will this damage begin to recover. If the modifiers resulting from this damage reduce her variable attributes to zero while the Operator is away from herself, subsequent days out of her body will degrade the fixed ratings her her mental attributes by one point per day. Though her body will not die if supported (starvation and thirst rules do apply if some kind of support system is not provided to keep the body healthy during its “vacancy”) there come a point where it has degraded so much the Operator has little incentive to return at all. At this point, it’s usually best just to pull the plug and let the body die.

Note that the damage done her and the degredation suffers affects only the body, and not the Operator’s essence in the machine. These attributes must be tracked separately. Only when the Operator returns to her body will she feel the effects of this damage. If the body’s fixed attribute ratings have been degraded, upon returning the Operator will assume these fixed ratings as her own. In the process of transfering back onto a damaged substrate, she effectively “loses” part of herself, never to find it again.

Origin

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

New Icarian

The purpose of technology is to enhance human potential — not adulterate it. If, in achieving your dreams, you have lost that which makes you human, then, in truth, you have gained nothing at all.

Description

Beautiful, athletic, perceptive and enigmatic, the New Icarians are the undisputed “master race” of the Wanderlust universe. Centuries of genetic engineering have made them something just short of the divine — however, near perfection comes at a hefty price. New Icarians are often hunted, seldom trusted, and always acutely aware that they alone may hold the key to humankind’s ultimate salvation. They are looked upon by many as manipulative and haughty. Fringers often kill them upon sight.

Abilities

Immunity (4)

New Icarian physiology is fine tuned to render it immune to most diseases and common toxins. As a result, the influence of harmful organisms, drugs and toxins is reduced by half when applied to a New Icarian character. This ability also allows a New Icarian’s physiology to cannibalize itself to increase the character’s lifespan. When a character reaches her peak age, instead of beginning the ordinary decline into old age, begin transferring points from the four other clade attributes into longevity, at a rate of one point per year. Thus, the New Icarian is able to stave off the effects of old age at the expense of her ability to augment herself and reproduce. Once all other clade attributes have been exhausted, the New Icarian begins to age normally.

Mindbending (10)

A trademark of the New Icarian people, this is the art of subtly altering the psychological states of others through the use of covert hypnosis, non-verbal signals and other, less popularized means. New Icarians cannot directly control the thoughts of individuals through the use of this talent; rather, they can only influence the mood and the emotional stamina of their targets. New Icarians are capable of using this ability immediately after birth; however, formal training makes the use of this talent infinitely more effective.

This ability makes use of a character’s Charisma attribute. The New Icarian rolls a charisma check against the an opposing will check of the target character. If she succeeds, she may spend one of her variable will points to add or remove a single point from the variable rating of any of that character’s psychological attributes. For each additional 10 points of effectiveness she has on this charisma check, she may add or remove one additional psychological attribute point without any additional expenditure of will. Unless the target is New Icarian, he will be unaware of any manipulation. This does not means he will not be suspicious of such manipulation, however, if he happens to know the reputation of the New Icarian people.

New Icarians can also use this ability to eavesdrop on a target’s current emotional state. If the character knows her target intimately, this eavesdropping is extremely easy, and can be accomplished without any expenditure of will. Otherwise, for strangers and targets the character does not know well, the use of this ability requires the expenditure of one will point. The upshot is that the target cannot resist this ability — he broadcasts his emotional state via unconscious signals such as posture, speech patterns and even his characteristic smell. A New Icarian can pick on on these signals to determine what the general mood of the target character is, whether he is putting on any kind of deception and whether he is hiding information. The ability cannot tell what is causing the character mood or what kind of information he may be lying about or hiding.

Psychosomatic Empowerment (5)

Using this ability, a New Icarian may spend any number of variable Will points to add the same number of points to any physical attribute. Points added to an attribute in this way that drive its rating above its fixed rating will be lost over time at that attribute’s normal recovery rate; however, points added to an attribute that do not drive it above its fixed rating will last indefinitely (or until they are lost through fatigue, sickness or other “normal” means.) This means that a New Icarian may use this ability to recover lost attribute points immediately (at the expense of his or her Willfulness attribute.) This ability may be used at any time, provided its user’s variable Will rating is greater than zero.

Regeneration (4)

New Icarian characters are able to regenerate health points at double the normal rate. Wounds healed in this fashion leave no scarring. This ability can also regenerate severed limbs over a period of several months, with more extensive losses requiring more time to regenerate completely.

Vulnerabilities

Baseline Rejection (4)

Due to their advanced immune systems, New Icarian are notoriously difficult to augment. Though a New Icarian character may still be successfully augmented, she will always suffer the failure effects of any augmentation she receives, even though she enjoys the beneficial effect of the augmentation as well. If an attempt to augment a New Icarian character fails, she will suffer the failure effects of the augmentation twice due to her body’s rejection of the procedure.

Static (3)

A New Icarian’s sensory abilities can be as much a handicap as an advantage under certain circumstances. When a New Icarian is in the presence of a mentally disturbed character for an extended period of time (several days, at least) she will begin to attune to the emotional state of that character. Her psychological attributes will begin to adjust to mirror those of her deranged companion. She may spend will to restore her attributes (at a rate of one will point per one psychological attribute point restored) but as long as she is in the presence of the deranged character, her variable psychological attributes will behave as though their fixed ratings were those of her sick companion.

Origin

New Icaria is the third of eight worlds orbiting Schaffer’s Star, a G7 V main sequence dwarf star that lies approximately 472 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Crux. New Icaria is classified as a true Earth-analog world, meaning that it is habitable to humans without the benefit of artificial support systems. Clear cut as this designation may seem, it will be abundantly clear to any traveler setting foot on the surface of this world that it holds more than a few surprises.

In the seven centuries since its settlement, New Icaria has truly become a second home to humanity. With a population now approaching 2 billion, it is the second most populous world in the Expansion (after Earth).

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

Golem

A vacant residence is still a residence. No sense in letting a perfectly good body go to waste.

Description

Golems are the inevitable result of shifting societal trends driven by new technology. As soon as a reciprocal technique to uploading appeared, the first Golems began to come out of the woodwork. They are biological bodies (human or otherwise) temporarily inhabited by the mind of an upload or AI, created in much the same way as a Changeling, but using an artificial or uploaded mind as a source. Many uploads view Golems as backward abominations — what fool, offered immortality in a perfect transcendental form, would turn back to embrace the fragile meat of his ancestry? Others view them as an opportunity for a good time. Why not spend a week “roughing it” in a biological glove, to gain a better appreciation of your virtual nature? Still some others — many times Golems themselves who have realized, in recapturing their biological essence, what they once lost in abandoning it — recognize the Golems as an important link between humanity’s biological past and its transcendental future. Most biological entities, however, fear becoming the next thrall to a Golem’s mind to view them as much more than a perversion of the natural order — a thing to be shunned and safely hated from afar.

Abilities

Polymorphism (10)

Nightvision (5)

Metabolic Efficiency (5)

Your character has an extremely efficient metabolism, allowing her to go longer without rest, food, or water. She metabolizes food and water more efficiently, but this can unfortunately lead to a state of toxicity, as she will retain fluids and nutrients for considerably longer when her body hits crisis mode. She is also able to enter a sort of survival coma in which she can sleep away long periods of time without food or water. She can revive from this coma without any permanent damage in most cases.

Warm Blooded (2)

Your character can tolerate temperatures as low as -10 degrees C without any permanent damage, but has considerably less tolerance for heat. She starts feeling the effects of heat 50% sooner than other characters. This ability allows her to keep a more efficient ship by not requiring as much heat, with the exception of running the A/C when things get hot!

Plasticity (6)

Your chracter has the ability to forget attrophied skills and retain 90% of the experience points for reuse instead of the usual 50%.

Virtual Interface (10)

Regeneration (6)

Your character regenerates Health Rating damage at double the normal rate. Wounds healed in this fashion leave no scarring, and even limbs that have been completely severed can be regenerated within a matter of a few months.

Vulnerabilities

Timesharing (-10)

EMP Succeptibility (-10)

Cheap Date (-3)

Your character has only half of the regular tolerance for toxins. She is a quick drunk, reacts strongly to all kinds of pharmaceuticals, and is easily poisoned.

Baseline Rejection (-5)

Your character has an enhanced immune system that all but rejects any cybernetics or implants — even organs if they are not perfectly matched. She may not even know about it until she first tries to use one.

Fringer

He just disappeared, you say? Well, I guess I never liked him much anyway.

Description

Strange, unknowable and often psychotic, the Fringers are a class of people embraced by the secrets of the void. They understand that which the common man has never conceived, and the power lent to them by this understanding helps them to bend reality to their wills. Whereas other races often work to build a common goodness, they seek mainly to subvert and to destroy. They are widely mistrusted and feared — often to the point that others would rather shoot at first sight than risk being caught off guard. For this reason and for others, Fringers tend to be very short-lived. Few make it past fifty. Those who do tend to be either very reclusive or very, very dangerous.

Abilities

The Balance of Fate (10)

This ability allows Fringers to exchange points from their longevity into their paranormal caps. In this way, Fringers can “self-agument” to increase their allowed paranormal skill. The cost is steep, however. Fringers pay for their newfound powers with their lives. The first time a Fringer does this marks the moment of her Awakening.

Vulnerabilities

Mark of the Beast (-5)

The process of Awakening takes a heavy toll on a Fringer’s physiology. Physically, the manifestation of the Enslaver virus that gives a Fringer her power causes her eyes and hair to take on a distinctive copper hue, which she will bear naturally for the rest of her life. Artificial means can alter this color, but most such alterations are only temporary. Even genetic alterations of eye and hair color do not last, as the virus continues to ravage and corrupt the Fringer’s genes. The action of the virus also renders a Fringer incapable of having children, so that the moment of her Awakening marks the end of her prospects of having children.

Origin

Little is known about the origin of the Fringer clade. There is believed to be no single homeworld, just as there is no single “ancestor” population of Fringers. Rather, scholars believe that populations of modern Fringers are composites of sub-groups that originated independently on at least half a dozen worlds of the Frontier — many widely separated in space. Fringer populations are most concentrated at the edge of the Far Periphery in the direction of the constellations Sagittarius and Crux. The regions they have since populated are known collectively as “The Fringe” — hence the name given to the modern clade. There emergence here may indicate ties to New Icarian populations — a hypothesis that has been at least partially confirmed by genetic profiling — but it is the general consensus of Elderworld academia that New Icaria is not itself the origin of the Fringer clade.

Fringer populations are characterized by the presence of distinctly alien DNA in the genomes of native individuals. The purpose of these foreign genes is unknown, as are their origins They are readily identifiable, as they are made up of right-handed peptide chains, whereas all Terran DNA consists of left-handed versions of these molecules. A complex “switching” molecule is employed to bind the two incompatible genomes together, and for the most part, this arrangement allows the affected Fringer cells to operate normally. The foreign genes are transmitted from parent to child — no other mode of transmission has yet been observed, raising some question about how they came to be included in the Fringer genome in the first place. They are functionless in all but a very small subset of most Fringer populations. For those in which the alien DNA is active, it seems to take on the characteristics of a parasite, slowly infiltrating and destroying the genetic makeup of the infected individual and replacing the resultant “gaps” with its own gene sequences.

The alien DNA sequences characterizing the Fringer clade are identical in all Fringer populations — even those that are otherwise completely unrelated and separated by enormous interstellar distances. This suggests that, whatever the source of this “infection,” it is not indigenous to any one world on the Frontier. The fact that is is benign (in most cases) offers no comfort to Expansion governments considering further exploration and settlement of the Frontier. Rumors abound that the influence seen in the Fringer genome is ultimately Enslaver in origin. If it comes from Enslaver colony worlds, hidden somewhere in the uncharted expanse of the Frontier, then the presence of such worlds could spell dark uncertainty for human interests in this region.

Sphere

Much of the region currently recognized as the Fringe has been populated by various Fringer sects. This is the dominant clade within this region, though it cannot be said that there is any unifying society binding these populations together. Fringer civilization seems to take a more anarchic approach to social organization. Whereas the Privateer populations in the Near and Far Peripheries have formed some distinct nation-states around the larger colonies, Fringer populations tend to be nomadic and non-cohesive. Thus, they cannot be said to control any distinct territories or spheres of influence.

History

The Fringer “clade” is much less a clade in the same sense that many other Expansion clades fit the definition of the word. There is a great deal of variance in the genetic makeup of modern Fringer populations, and there is even more social variety among them. Fringers are characterized as a clade by a common genetic trait — the presence of alien genetic material interspersed throughout their genomes. Although individual Fringer populations may vary dramatically from one another in the general genetic sense (and therefore cannot be said to be naturally related to one another) all populations of Fringers exhibit these alien genes. The origin of these sequences is unknown, though modern scholars note it bears a remarkable resemblance to latent segments in the genomes of the intelligent Khi’t’tra castes. This has led to speculation that they trace their origins to the Enslavers — though such a chilling possibility has yet to be proven conclusively.

The first recorded emergence of a Fringer population within the Terran Expansion took place in MY 1073, in the Arcadia Periphery, when a crippled Fringer colony ship limped into the Arcadia spaceports in dire need to repairs. From the descriptions of the colony ship’s passengers recorded by the dock attendants who services the foreign vessel, the Fringers then were much as they are today, insofar as their general appearance is concerned. Upon questioning by port authorities, the captain of the Fringer ship indicated that he had come from an uncharted colony world deep into the Frontier, some 47 light-years from the heretofore supposed boundary of human expansion. Given that the badly damaged craft had made it to Arcadia from this distant locale, authorities suspected that the number of jump points connecting the two systems was relatively small. The inclusion of this Fringer colony on the star charts would push the boundaries of the Arcadia Periphery forward through a region approximately 2500 light-years in volume, promising a boon to local mining interests as well as to the academic community. So the Fringer colony ship was sent on its way, fully repaired and restocked and armed with a message of good will from the Arcadian Protectorate. The question as to how the colony ship came to be so badly damaged was never satisfactorily answered.

Six years later, a full diplomatic corps from the Fringer colony world of Alexandria arrived via an uncharted jump point in the Arcadia system. This marked the first formal contact between any Fringer society and a recognized Expansion constituent, and led to the inclusion of over a dozen Fringer colonies in the Arcadia Periphery. This particular sect, it seems, had spent the past 300 years populating the regions between New Icaria and the Chaldean settlements, keeping a low profile as they built up a substantial political authority in the region. Their eagerness to join the Arcadia Protectorate aroused some measure of suspicion then, and only 200 years later can we speculate that their motivation stemmed from their knowledge of the growing Khi’t’tra presence in the region just beyond the Coal Sack. Their sudden change-of-policy concerning foreign relations may have been induced by the need to protect themselves from a clearly hostile presence. Indeed, though the first official encounter with Khi’t’tra marauders was recorded only recently in MY 1292, it is likely that the Alexandrian Fringers knew of their existence (if nothing more) as far back as 713.

Since the inclusion of the Alexandrian colonies, 600 other distinct Fringer sects have been identified throughout a crescent region wrapping nearly around the core-ward half of the Expansion from the Coal Sack through the outlying regions of the Chaldean settlements. Many of these populations have since colonized the full area currently known as the Fringe, some venturing as far as Corydon and the uncharted Rim worlds beyond.

Psychology

A frontier mentality predominates through most Fringer populations, seemingly regardless of other factors. There is a marked difference in the psychology the the Sleepers and the Awakened. Given the effects of the infection responsible for the Awakening, this is not surprising.

The Un-Awakened

Psychologically, un-awakened Fringers tend to be very similar to Privateers. Their exposure to other Awakened Fringers and the reverence their societies often hold for these individuals ingrains a sense of metaphysical wonder in many Fringers. These tend to be more holistically aware, spiritually enlightened or otherwise inspired by the paranormal and the occult. Many organized Fringer societies train un-awakened disciples in so-called “magical” arts, the ultimate goal of these disciples being to achieve “Awakening” and the strange blessing that follows this curse.

The Awakened

For the embraced, the alien infection that ravages their bodies also tends to grant them the extraordinary ability to manipulate subatomic events through the force of concentrated will. Elderworlds scholars have linked this ability to the complex protein structures that grow in the central nervous-system as a result of the alien infection. As these structures proliferate, they destroy existing neurons and, in many cases, supercede their function. They also modulate themselves to produce complex electromagnetic fields in and around the surrounding human tissues. How these are consciously directed by awakened Fringers to influence quantum-scale events in the environment is entirely unknown, but the fact that it happens is undeniable. Hence, the Embraced are afforded immense power over their surroundings by their infections. While the infection progresses, this power only increases. Awakened Fringers tend to survive, on average, for a period of forty years after their Awakening. In this time they slip further and further into psychosis as their central nervous system is infiltrated by the disease. By the times of their deaths, Embraced Fringers have the potential to wield extraordinary telekinetic power; however, they are often so overcome by dementia at this point that they are rendered largely incapable of tapping it.

Embraced Fringers tend to be distant from their peers, seldom lucid, often psychotic and potentially antisocial. Most covet their newfound powers, developing them even though this likely speeds the course of the infection that will inevitably lead to their deaths. Near the end, they either become obsessed with extending their own lives, or by the prospect of “transcending” their physical forms. Many commit suicide; others command their relatives to place them in cold-sleep indefinitely.

Physiology

There is no distinct baseline for the physical appearance of Fringer populations, unlike many other Clades of the Terran Expansion. The influence of the alien segments within a Fringer genome do produce some distinct physical characteristics, however. The degree to which these characteristics are manifested tends to separate Fringer populations into two distinct sub-groups:

The Un-Awakened

The extend of alien infiltration into the genomes of Un-Awakened Fringers (as they are described by the Alexandrian sects) is far less than that seen in their embraced counterparts, and thus the degree of physical manifestation of alien characteristics is much less. Physical appearance varies widely among the “un-awakened.” Some may resemble other clades within the Expansion, while others may share nothing in common with any other racial group. By and large, Un-Awakened Fringers share a majority of traits in common with their likely ancestors, the Privateers. Their appearance can change radically upon the event of their “awakening”, however — which, recent research suggests, may be artificially induced in some Fringer societies.

The Awakened

Awakening usually takes place in adolescence for a limited subset of nearly all Fringer societies. Its essentially random occurrence is marked by a sudden change in superficial appearance. Skin color tends to darken somewhat in fair-skinned Fringers. This skin of darker individuals tend to take on a slightly reddish tint. Eye color changes suddenly and remarkably to a dark, ruddy copper hue. The hair of the awakened either lightens or darkens to a ruddy blond, and the bone structures of most expand slightly at the joints, resulting in a visible swelling of these areas.

Social Characteristics

Fringer cultures tend to be nomadic and loosely knit. They often center around the relationships between the Un-Awakened and the Embraced, as those who have “awakened” are generally revered as holy figures by their un-awakened peers. Fringer societies vary widely in their levels of technological sophistication. Some are extremely advanced, rivaling the Elderworlds in sheer technological sophistication. Others are extraordinarily primitive, having lost all but the most rudimentary knowledge of space flight.

Due to the dispersed nature of most Fringer social units, and due to the radical variation of customs among these, it is difficult to draw many general conclusions concerning how Fringers interact with others of their own clade. Compounding this difficulty, the body of knowledge concerning Fringer social customs is sparse at best. Few scholars have ever studied Fringers up close — those that do are often discouraged from their efforts by an acute, albeit somewhat culturally biased, perception of psychoticism among most Fringer leaders.

Clade Relations

Elemental

We break things.

Description

Bred to be the footsoldiers of the Elderworlds military, the Elementals represent the primeval stengths of humanity. Strong, swift and cunning, these beasts-among-men make fearsome warriors on the field of planetside combat. Frequently enhanced by cybernetics, their carefully refined musculatures and dense skeletal structures make them formidable even without the host of high tech weaponry they commonly carry. They outperform even the most advanced robotic soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. While generally incapable of independent strategizing, the formidable strength and unmatched military zeal of an Elemental soldier makes him a force to be reckoned with in any situation.

Abilities

Regeneration (5)

The character is able to heal damage at 10 times the normal rate. Physical injury does not result in scarring, and the character is capable of regenerating lost limbs within a timeframe of a few months (depending on the extent of the limb lost.)

Berserker (6)

The character can exchange one variable point of will to add one point to the variable rating of any physical attribute. These attributes will begin to recover immediately at the standard conditional rate.

Vulnerabilities

Grunt Ethic (-5)

The same qualities that make Elementals such effective and loyal soldiers also makes them notoriously dimwitted and slow to learn. The intelligence and wits attributes of Elementals are capped at 20, instead of the ordinary 30 for humans, meaning that these attributes cannot naturally exceed these values. Furthermore, Elementals are incapable of betraying the organization that bred them. They are instinctually motivated to remain loyal to their “parents” and will sooner kill themselves than act against whatever group or government gave them life. If faced with an inescapable situation in which an Elemental must betray a group they are “imprinted” to (as in, the Elemental is instinctually loyal to both sides in an armed conflict) have the Elemental character roll a will check against a difficulty of 30. If unsuccessful, the Elemental will incapacitate himself by any means available, even if it may result in his death.

Origin

Sphere

History

Psychology

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations

Elderworlder

They say that knowledge is power and time is money. Nice words, but unless you have the wherewithal to do something with them, you’re really not worth the price of your own skin.

Description

Never to be outdone by his neighbor, the Elderworlder is the epitome of the Renaissance Man. Their great versatility and technological savvy have made them the technological masters of the Terran Expansion. They are the forerunners of scientific progress, economically gifted and academically diverse. Seldom does one find a poverty-stricken Elderworlder; however, in their zealous commitment to progress they are often shortsighted and stubborn.

Abilities

Elderworlders have long enjoyed a nearly symbiotic relationship with their machines. Though not as invasively augmented as their close cousins, the Operators, Elderworlder biology is suffused with nanotech enhancements. Most of their abilities derived from this close kinship with their technology — as ubiquitous in their lives as bacteria have been in the lives of humans since time immemorial. Elderworlders are born with their augmentations — these self-reproducing, self-regenerating technologies are as much a component of their biology as any “natural” organ. They are passed down the generations matrilineally, from mother to child, adapting as needed to changing environmental conditions in the interests of preserving the aggregate organism that is both man and machine.

Halo (?)

One of the most dramatic Elderworlder characteristics is the highly advanced nanotech “halo” that surrounds their bodies. When dormant, the components of the halo cling to their bodies like a second skin. Many Elderworlders wear this halo as their only clothing, customizing its appearance from its natural skin-tight, matte black pattern to any number of intricate configurations. The halo is self-cleaning, self-maintaining and self-healing, like a living extension of the Elderworlder’s body. It can be easily removed, like clothing, but few Elderworlders find need to do this. When “unworn,” the halo can be put to any number of other uses. It can encircle its wearer’s body within a uniform radius of one meter, or can extend in one direction as far as 5 meters (with very sparse coverage everywhere else).

The halo itself is composed of billions of mite-sized robots, the bulk of which are specialized to perform the task of moving the halo around, maintaining its shape and keeping it bound together. Interspersed throughout the halo are specialized processor nodes. These are responsible for coordinating the actions of the halo as a whole, and for interfacing it with its user via noninvasive neurological links. Used feedback from the halo is usually tactile or audio — an Elderworlder can both feel and hear through his halo as though he were hearing or touching the source of those signals himself.

Halo mites themselves are virtually transparent, capable of changing color, and generally do an excellent job of staying inconspicuous when in an environment rich enough in energy to maintain their active camoflaging ability. An Elderworlder’s halo can become almost completely invisible, looking like a sparse white mist enshrouding its user. Alternatively, it can be completely opaque, appearing like a thick, black fog. Since it can selectively transmit light through itself, it can either conceal its user completely, like a Phantom’s active camoflage, or it can simply make it appear as though he is standing there by himself, ostensibly unadorned.

The halo generally powers itself by such sources as sunlight, its wearer’s body heat, energy extracted from its user’s motion and chemical fuels extracted from the environment. It can draw energy directly from its wearer’s metabolism, increasing the caloric requirements of its user but offering significant benefits from the exchange. When powered by an external source, the halo becomes much more than a passive extension of the user’s body — it becomes an augmenting device, capable of performing far more significantly than it can in its passive, unpowered mode.

Elderworlders are fairly unique in the ease at which they adapt to using such complex technology. It is extraordinarily difficult for non-Elderworlders to learn to use an Elderworld halo as easily and effectively as they do, having learned from birth to think of the halo and use it as an extension of their bodies. While others can learn, it takes a specialty skill of at least 30 to use a halo to the full extent of its abilities — something Elderworlders can do by second-nature.

An Elderworlder’s halo is responsible for the manifestation of a number of his more characteristic abilities. These are discussed individually below.

Effective Telekinesis (?)

By using his halo in a nearly invisible state, an Elderworlder can spoof telekinesis by manipulating objects at a distance. Using in this way, an unpowered halo has an effective strength, agility and dexterity of 10, 10 and 5, respectively. A halo using an external power supply can operate with a much higher effective strength and agility of 20, but its dexterity remains unchanged. Objects can be manipulated within a maximum radius of 5 meters, limited in number by the number of “feelers” the halo can extend over that distance. At the full five meters, only one “feeler” can be extended. At half this distance, two can extend. At a third, three can operate, and so on, until the objects to be manipulated lie so close to the Elderworlder’s body that they can all be manipulated without the halo extending itself any further than its natural encircling radius (see above). Any number of objects can be carried within the halo provided their total weight does not exceed the ability of the halo’s effective strength to carry them, and that their total volume does not exceed that of the halo itself.

The appearance of this feat can be tailored to the preference of its user. Most Elderworlders simply use the halo in its natural, mist-like state. Some elect to make a more dramatic show of their action-at-a-distance, mimicking tentacles, barbed whips, chains or even elastic caricatures of human arms. Truly unusual appearances can require additional power to produce convincingly — an underpowered halo will try to match its users expectations, but often end up looking incoporeal, poorly detailed or “fuzzed out.”

Levitation (?)

An Elderworlder can use his halo to lift himself up and “levitate” over a solid surface. There are some important limitations to this ability. First, an Elderworlder cannot really levitate using his halo. The halo simply lifts him onto its own bulk, which is itself resting on the ground. The user of a halo can only lift himself as far off the ground with it as its effective strength can lift him, and, at any rate, he can never lift himself more than 5 meters high. (At this point, his levitation becomes very unweildy — he is essentially balancing on a single “stilt” of halo material, and cannot move very quickly.) Motion along the ground is possible at speeds of up to 10 for an unpowered halo and 20 for an externally powered halo, provided the halo is not levitating its user higher than its natural encircling radius. If it is, speed diminishes linearly as it approaches its 5 meter limit, so that at 2.5 meters high, the speed of the halo is 1/2 of what it would be at baseline height.

An Elderworlder cannot

use his halo to float on water. The halo is too porous, and will easily allow liquid to pass through its volume. Denser versions of nanotech “utility fogs” exist that would permit object using them to float on water, but this isn’t one of those. Once in the water, though, a halo can make a useful propeller, augmenting the user’s natural swimming speed by 5 points unpowered, or 10 points powered.

Combat Augmentations (?)

An Elderworlder can use his halo to deflect blows and even deliver some of his own, using its effective strength and agility attributes. Coupled with his own limbs, an Elderworlder can deliver blows and execute maneuvers with his own physical attributes plus those of the halo. This only works when the Elderworlder’s actions directly make use of a combination of his own body and the halo to accomplish their goals. If only the halo or the Elderworlder’s fist contacts his opponent, for instance, only the individual strength of either is used. Both most connect in coordinated concert for the augmented strength to apply.

A powered halo offers protection to its user equivalent to a full-coverage suit of armor with a body-wide armor value of 2. An unpowered halo offers little more protection than flimsy clothing — most attacks pass through it easily, so it offers no armor protection.

A halo can discharge a static electric shock sufficient to incapacitate an unaugmented adult human. See the rules for electric stun weaponry for details on this. The effective strength of a halo discharge is 20.

Vulnerabilities

Halo Limitations (?)

  • A halo does not provide a sealed, regulated environment within itself. Air and water pass through it easily, and it will not retain pressure in a vacuum.
  • A halo does not insulate its wearer against extremes of heat or cold any more than a light set of clothing. In fact, as its members are superconducting, in extreme environments it can actually work against its wearer by conducting heat away or toward him rapidly. A cold halo can be warmed temporarily by “shivering” or “knotting” to hold in heat, but this requires an expenditure of power.
  • A normal, unpowered halo can only operate for a matter of a few hours at maximum capacity before it has exhausted its energy supplies, and must sit idle for a time to recharge. Recharging rates depend on the available sources of energy in the environment. Under average comfort conditions, a halo requires about 24 hours to fully recharge. External chargers can be employed to recharge a halo faster.
  • A powered halo can operate at full capacity for as long as its power source holds out. Depending on the source, this can range from a few hours, a few days or even years. Some power supplies can even be replenished in the field, extending their useful life virtually indefinitely.

Origin

The Elderworlder clade is perhaps the oldest clade in the Expansion, tracing its origins back to the very beginnings of humanity’s conquest of interstellar space. There can be no doubt that the Elderworlders originated on Earth. Since they are such a multifaceted clade, spanning many, if not all of the archaic races, it is unlikely that they originated in any single region on the Terran homeworld. For the most part, the modern Elderworlder clade is differentiated from others by its psychological and technological characteristics, rather than by any genetic baselines.

Sphere

The majority of Elderworlders live within the Elderworlds Alliance, wherein they represent the dominant clade by a more-than-comfortable margin. Those who venture outside Alliance territories are usually outcasts seeking escape, entrepreneurs seeking opportunities or wanderers, drawn to their pilgrimage by what the Meridian Society terms “the Wanderlust.” These latter individuals make up a good majority of the Elderworlder population outside of the Alliance borders.

History

Psychology

Elderworlders tend to come in two distinct varieties — those who have been touched by the Wanderlust and those who have not. Those in the latter category tend to stick close to home, while those in the former prefer to be anywhere but. Elderworlders on the whole tend to be more independent than communal. It’s unknown whether this is a genetically rooted trait or whether is stems from the social influence of the Meridian Society working to keep Elderworlder populations highly mobile and self-sufficient.

Physiology

Social Characteristics

Clade Relations