Fusion, Derangements and parasite

New set-up:

Humanity: Humanity is the morality stat. It starts at 7.
Resonance: Resonance is the power stat. It starts at 1.
Fusion: Fusion is the second power stat (similar to Renown and others). It starts at 0.

Shared body:

Spending ATP:

An Infected's powers work slightly different from the ones presented in other WoD games. While on the surface they are only a matter of ATP expenditure, when and how they activate is not entirely under the character's control.

The Storyteller has the final say on when the character's and the parasite's needs coincide in a way that they both wish for the activation of a power. Self-defense is one such possibility. Such occassions however are rare. Don't forget that ATP is the lifeblood of the parasite through which it has power over the character, and it would be stubborn to give it up except to further its own goals. It can however only exercise its power by forcing the body's cooperation, and the character would not wait idly for that to happen either.

The die pools are follows:

Suppress activation: Humanity plus Fusion minus Resonance
Force activation: Resonance plus Fusion minus Humanity

Resonance:

Resonance represents the parasite's strength. It grows as the parasite learns more about how the host body works. Initially the purpose of a lot of bodily functions is a mystery to the invader, and the chemical reactions that occur when the person is afraid, angry, tired etc. appear random and incomprehensible to the parasite. As its understanding of the host grows so does its control: it learns how to trick the body's immune system into ignoring it, and how to hijack the rest of the body to provide sustenance for it. Finally its influence becomes so great that it can influence the character's actions and thoughts, or at the peak of its power completely alter and reshape the host's body at will.

Humanity:

Humanity is initially the character's only defense against the parasite's influence. As long as the body and mind partially retain their original form, the Infected is still in control, able to suppress the parasite's attempts to take control. Unfortunately, Humanity is fated to wane over time as the character's body goes through change after change and the mind degrades under the strain. Ultimately a character who wishes to retain some control has to develop some degree of Fusion.

Fusion:

Fusion represents an equilibrium with the parasite. Resonance ultimately empowers the parasite, and allows it to push the character to performing actions for the parasite's benefit, so it is only natural for the mind and the body to instinctively struggle against it. However, a body that constantly struggles against itself is ultimately a weak and powerless body. This struggle is the reason for the character's Symptoms. While Fusion is low the parasite is not much more than a simple pathogen that (unintentionally) upsets the body and that the body is trying to destroy, and that causes constant damage by fighting back. Some characters' stories actually end at this point: their deaths only a stepping stone for the pathogen to spread further. Yet it is in not in the parasite's best interest to destroy the host that sustains it, and it attempts to develop a balance, only resorting to destruction when it finds no way around it.

Rather than fighting his own body and eventually losing, a character who seeks a compromise will eventually develop Fusion, a common ground where the host and parasite can work together. The host begins to view the parasite as an ally and may intentionally evoke it to gain power. At high levels of Fusion however the symbiosis between parasite and host is so successful that they effectively become a single creature, just as the cells in the human body operate together to form a single being.

Fusion is increased by spending experience points, but in in game, the opportunity has to be awarded for an occasion when the character and the parasite have successfully worked together to complete a goal.

Infected may share tips on how to deal with the parasite, but every "partnership" is unique and must follow its own rules. A character who absorbed a violent parasite would have an easier time forming a symbiosis if he himself is warlike and violent, but in cases where the person and the parasite had completely different natures they have to search for solutions to satisfy the needs of both without getting in the way if the other.


Shared body:

Suffering Lethal damage, or encountering some other parasite trigger may knock the character into "shared body" mode. His body does not perform its usual automatic functions anymore; the parasite is controlling it. It is essentially two minds, one body.

In addition, if such a trigger occurs when the character is unconscious (sleeping, knocked out etc.) the parasite may jump into the passenger seat without anyone at the wheel, and may decide to attempt to operate the body on its own.

"Shared body" mode effects:

WoD groups actions into two types: instant and reflexive. Some reflexive actions, like perception and Defense, are automatic. Some manouvers, especially in combat, allow a character to sacfirice a reflexive action like Defensive to make the instant action more powerful, or sacrifice the instant action to make a reflexive action more potent.

The moment the character's body "awakens" however, all reflexive actions are lost. The character is split into two separate beings, each controlling the same body. Make a second Initiative roll (with the character's own Initiative stat) to determine the order in which they act.

The character does not automatically get his Defense anymore and loses half his Speed. Advanced actions receive the following changes:
- All Out Attack: Can not be performed.
- Dodge: The character gets his normal Defense for sacrificing his action. (He does not get to double it).
- Run: The character only gets to double his halved Speed (ie., run at his normal Speed stat) for sacrificing his action.

Other actions may also be affected; for example, it may be impossible to Aim if the character and the parasite are locked in a struggle.

Both personalities get their own action, but they are still in the same body: if thee character moves elsewhere on the playing field, or gets knocked prone, grappled etc. it affects both "characters".

Parasite actions:

By default the parasite is a simple creature capable of simple fight or flight responses, and following natural urges like hunger.
As the parasite's intelligence grows, its actions become more complex, and should be roleplayed as a person by the Storyteller, or even by another player:

Fusion
1-3 Automaton (curiosity, flight or fight in battle, respond to basic instincts)
4-6 Animal (some degree of intelligence, responds to character's emotions better, limited tool use and communication)
7-9 Human (advanced problem solving, grasp of scientific laws and societal norms)
10 Transcendent

The parasite gets an action just like the character, but a low level parasite may only use it in battle to attack a character, move towards a character it wishes to attack, or to flee the scene (move away from an opponent that it fears). Outside battle it will only indulge a simple urge (eat, mate etc.), sleep, observe, or satisfy its curiosity (grab an interesting looking object etc.).

Struggling against yourself:
If the parasite wants to do something that the character Handle this as if two separate characters were Grappling, except the Grapple is always established and can not be broken, so all Grapple manouvers can be used against the character himself any time. Dropping prone and trying to keep the body from rising, turning a drawn weapon, Immobilize etc. all work but the character's own rebelling body is the target.

Getting knocked out:

If the character loses consciousness in battle, the parasite continues to control the body. The parasite is never knocked unconcscious, but it the character loses all Lethal health points, the paraiste may force the body into a dangerous "overgrowth" mode where it keeps mutating to overcome the damage [needs to be developed further -Vree].

Synchronicity:

As Fusion grows ot becomes possible for host and parasite to act together more effectively. Since the character can effectively perform two actions, advanced powers may depend on the character and the pathogen working together.

Many reflexive powers (like Adrenal Control or Regeneration) also rely on the ability to command bodily functions to a greater degree.


New derangements (all):

Somniloquy (mild): The character talks loudly in his sleep. Not only does this make it difficult for allies to sleep next to the character, his subconscious mind may also let important secrets slip that he wouldn't share if he was at his senses.

Sleepwalking (severe): When the character is asleep, her body rises and does stuff. The character is not truly conscious, instead repeating automatic actions that he normally does during the day. These can range from harmless (washing hands, cleaning) to a serious risk to the character's and other's safety (trying to drive, attacking an enemy that is not there). The character usually has no recollection of the event, but this does not acquit her of the consequences of her actions.

Mysophobia (mild): The character has a pathological fear of germs and disease. He feels uncomfortable unless he can maintain perfect higiene around herself, and may refuse to touch an object or eat any food that looks unhigienic or that she has not personally sterilized.

Delusional parasitosis (severe): The character believes himself to be infested with parasites, even though he is not. Any natural body noise or condition may be mistaken as proof of this infection. This may lead to the character harming herself in an attempt to rid himself of the parasites.


Parasite triggers:

Infected do not benefit from Lunacy when revealed, and they do not trigger Disbelief. Yet they have something similar. Certain events trigger a fight-or-flight reponse in one's parasite. Fanged mouths and tentacles may pop out of the Infected's body, attacking anyone marked a threat. Or the characters body itself (the parts that the parasite has control over) may begin acting on their own accord.

The character himself is still conscious when this happens, and in fact, he may wrestle with his own body to stop the destruction. On the other hand, if this response is triggered in battle when the character is fighting for his life, he may be able to fight as if he was two people. (Though two people in the same body, so the character still takes severe penalties on his own actions.) The parasite may even continue fighting if the character falls unconscious (such as when he fills his Health boxes up with Bashing damage).

Events that may provoke this response:

- A mortal looking at the inside of an Infected. Any doctor trying to examine the Infected exposes himself to mortal danger as the parasite does not respond kindly to touching and poking. Simply looking a badly wounded infectee is not enough to provoke this response, but you do not neccessarily need to cut him up either: just looking down his throat, or picking at a wound, might be enough. This affect any kind of pathogen research as well: cells under a microscope will go wild and start changing and multiplying rapidly. Even the drained blood of the Infected will respond to poking and prodding by a mortal. One unfortunate side effect of this is that it allows for the identification of the Infected even if their physiology has not been altered so much yet that a difference from a human is decidable.
- Suffering Lethal damage. Bashing damage does not count; an Infected that gets into a fist-fight has to rely on himself until the fight gets rough.
- Annoyance. Whether a jerk standing in front of the character in a cashier's row at the supermarket, or someone else getting the promotion the character wanted, may call for a Resolve + Composure roll. *

  • This can be risky. First, some situations may not be that easy to tear yourself away from. A character stuck in a crowded subway car, a company meeting gone bad, or in the middle of a traffic jam, has to keep rolling even if the first roll was a success. Second, the parasite only has an approximate understanding of the character's feelings and does not always understand the source of the character's annoyance. If the Infected has the person or thing in plain view, that's probably clear enough, but what if he's siting at home, eating himself over some failure, when the bell rings or the dog starts yapping…The parasite does not think too well, it just senses that the character is tense and reacts accordingly.

- Sinning against Fusion. The parasite has a tentative interest in keeping the character's behavior in line with what it wants, and while it will not attack the host that houses it, it will try to remove any obstacle that causes him to behave erratically. It can be like a tyrannical, overbearing parent in that regard In extreme cases, it may even attack loved ones or allies, or whom it barely-sentient mind identifies as the obstacle.

Chimera also possess this trait. Not one farmer tried to remove some odd looking weed from his garden or tried to stomp a strange vermin that crawled in under the door, only to get more he bargained for. In fact, this is probabyl the most common way in which the infection gets passed on to humans.

System:

Simply roll a number of dice equal to Fusion when something threatens to set off this trigger. If at least one success is rolled, the human character remains on top. Otherwise, the parasite takes over part of the body and remains in control until the end of the scene or until the "threat" has been neutralised. (Who is perceived a "threat" is somewhat fickle. A parasite may proceed to slaughter everyone in the hospital except for the screaming nurse standing next to the player, despite the fact that she has seen everything. Once the parasite has gone dormant, the rolling has to start again even if only moments have passed; meaning that the character is usually left to deal with the mess caused.)

Fusion 1-3 parasites are basic, and incapable of anything but fight or flee responses or aimless "zombie" walking. All actions suffer a -3 penalty.
Fusion 4-6 parasites are more intelligent, though often animalistic. They can not speak or use complex tools. They do not understand speech, though they recognize emotions.
Fusion 7-9 parasites are as intelligent as a character, though often alien in mindset with no sense of human culture - they do not understand relationships or Morality, though they can fake and lie perfectly. Treat them as Morality 0 characters.
Fusion 10 parasites are practically no different than the character. At this level, the melding of the character and the pathogen is so perfect that they are practically the same being. The storyteller still controls the character, but he should make it act in more or less how the player would. The parasite also automatically gives control back to the character when she regains consciousness.


Benefits of ATP:

Infected can spend ATP to push their body beyond their limits, in the following circumstances:
- The character can spend 1 ATP to run a mile (or for 15 minutes) and not get tired. This also applies to other forms of physical extertion that'd normally exhaust the character. Doing olympic-level feats for just 5 minutes, or performing difficult physical labor for a few hours. Also, if the character wants to carry more than his usual limit (but still within with what he could lift with Strenght) he can spend 1 ATP to gain a temporary +50 lbs for the duration of a scene.
- The character can fight off hunger and thirst. 1 ATP allows the character to go without food or water for a day. This does not count as actual eating (so, eg. if you already suffered damage from deprivation, it does not begin to heal yet). Also, the character can spend ATP to gain a +2 bonus on a Survival rolls to digest just about any organic material (this does count as a good meal, if successful).
- The character can go without sleep. 1 ATP can be exchanged for one night's sleep. The character still feels exhausted, but can ignore the penalties for a day.
- Defend against temperature extremes. 1 ATP allows the character to withstand for 6 hours the greatest cold or the worst heat. Truly extreme conditions may reduce this to one hour or less, and only minutes in a situation that would normally be instantly lethal to mortals.
- Protect the body against diseases and poisons. one ATP spent gives +2 on a relevant Stamina + Resolve roll. This can be spent in addition to Willpower (the bonuses stack) if the character chooses to spend it also, as well as the Toxic Resistance and Natural Immunity merits.
- Fight off damage penalties. 1 ATP allows the character to ignore wound penalties for one turn. If he already has Bashing damage in his rightmost Health box, this spending also allows him to ignore having to roll Stamina to avoid falling unconscious.
- Bolster mental faculties. 1 ATP spent gives a +1 bonus on a single roll that uses a Mental attribute.

Note that many Symptoms practically force the character to use these powers (or render them useless). A character with Insomnia can spend ATP to temporarily suspend his Symptom, for example. A character who suffers from Hunger can avoid having to hunt for food by just spending ATP. But doing this does not allow them to perform above a regular mortal; at best it allows them to function without their Symptoms showing at the level of a normal person.

(Infected do not have the option to use ATP to boost social attributes, and possess no automatic healing ability.)

—-
The lifeline:

Should the Infected ever find himself at the brink of death (this requires that he has Lethal or Aggravated damage in all of his Health boxes), he can call on the Pathogen to save his life at any cost, sending the infection ravaging through his body, transforming himself further towards the inhuman put healing the damage he suffered in the process. The character recovers some Aggaravted damage in a matter of turns, but loses 1 or 2 dots of Fusion.
Lost Ones retain this ability, but understandably can not lose Fusion any longer. Instead, Lost Ones develop more severe mutations until they run out (see William Birkin).

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