Zenophilosophy

Is there a global masquerade in place to hide the existence of the Infected?

Vree: No. Invidual Infected may prefer hiding and secrecy, especially once they are at an advanced stage, and some Infected groups like the Cambions choose to keep a low profile. But there has never been a collective effort to hide to existence of the Pathogen (except for maybe one's own). In fact, groups like the Medicals or the Evolutionaries actually work towards raising awareness about the Pathogen.

Nightmare Work: No, no there is not. They are too few, too scattered, collected in the badly organized wings or simply hidden away in some forgotten lab.

Why aren't the Infected more widely recognized?

Vree: Most of them hide the fact that they are Infected, for the obvious reason that they do not want to be institutionalized or banned from doing their jobs.

Nightmare Work: Because for whatever reason, the Pathogen just…doesn't show. Oh yes it's obvious that the person is sick and having auto-immune disorders, but for whatever reason, the doctors look away. They tell you it's nothing. Take two of this shit and two of that shit and call them in the morning. For whatever reason, they don't recognize what's before them.

If this is so in the open, then why hasn't mankind done something about the Pathogen yet?

Vree: Because the recognition of the Pathogen is an extremely recent development. It only happened for the first time fourteen years ago that a case of Infection in a patient was diagnosed to be caused by the same agent as in others, and scientist haven't been able to correctly identify the Pathogen until five years ago. Initially it was believed to be a number of unrelated diseases. It was only with the recent years that the Pathogen's unprecedented ability mutate and change form has come into light. The identification of the Pathogen in a patient is a problem even now: it manifests itself in a different way in each of its victims, making medical diagnosis and scientific categorization nearly impossible.

The exact origin and history of the Pathogen is unclear even today. What can be determined is that it has been with us for the last three decades; but whether it has only appeared then or it has been with us before that, maybe even in ancient times, remains unanswered.

If so many recognize the dangers of the Pathogen, why hasn't it been wiped out yet?

Vree: Part of the difficulty lies in the aforementioned ability to change and adapt. Sometimes changes so quickly that it can not even be identified as the same disease. The biggest problem is that traditional methods to fight an epidemic don't work against the Pathogen. Most other infectious agents rely on only one or a few methods of transmission, and have distinct vulnerabilities that they cannot change over a short time. The rendering previously created vaccines; even if the scientists manage to come up with a vaccine to wipe out a particular strain, the rest are so far removed from it that they remain unaffected.

Perhaps its strangest ability -one that the medical community is still largely unaware of- is to "skip species" by infecting other pathogens. It is unknown how the Pathogen achieves this - most other Pathogens are limited in their ability to affect their host organism, but what the Patogen acheives is a complete hostile takeover. For this reason some have claimed that the name "Pathogen" is incorrect and that the word "symbiote" is perhaps more accurate.

One of the greatest fears of those who are familiar with stronger Infected is that the Pathogen is continously evolving and changing form in the body of either each and every host, or at least a chosen few. If this is true, it is questionable if the virus can ever be stopped until there are Infectedremaining, since a new strain can be created from a single Infected body.

Archetypes

Written by Vree

Zombie Infected:

This trope went through a great change in the past decades; what was originally a dead body brought back to life is now a living being transformed into a monster capable of evolving into various forms. The Virus was also gradually added, no longer laying dormant until death but potent enough to turn people because of a scratch, and granting incredible regeneration and superhuman power. The source of the horror is that the enemy is unkillable, and even returns from the grave. Modern movies sprinkled this with the "assimilation" theme: the enemy army grows with every person who dies, making the unstoppability of the spreading of the condition even more apparent. - Intelligence: Automata. Undead tend to be barely sentient, below even animal intelligence and motivated only by primar urges like hunger (although there are excepions), only capable of mechanical motion, controlled solely by hunger and reflexive actions, but lacking even basic self-protection insticts, and the ability to use tools. - Strenght: Cannot be frigthened (both b to their advantage and disadvantage) and ver difficult to mortally damage. - Weakness: Rotting body. - Trigger: Death, voodoo curse, T-virus. The virus is typically human-created.

Nuclear Mutant:

Popularised by post-apocalyptic movies, the mutant is a disfigured human created by radiation exposure. The source of the horror is the sense that you created them; there is nearly always an enviromental or pacifist message where human irresponsibility brings about their birth. Apart from that, they are basically brutes to be used as stock enemies. Of note is the "kaiju" genre with Godzilla and his ilk: these creatures are born into the present-day as a result of the same pollution, and act as a sort of Gaia's Vengeance as they wreck cities while basically still go about their normal animal business. Hedorah (the "smog monster") and Mothra are some of the best examples. (Regular example: Fallout mutants and ghouls. Irregular example: The Hills Have Eyes, set in the modern era.) - Intelligence: Mutants have only slightly lower than human intelligence, but they are barbaric and immoral. - Strenght: Usually resilient to various form of biohazards (having been born from it themselves), such as polluted or air and water or irradiation. - Weakness: They are often damaged, collectively or each one in a different way (incapability of speech, reduced intelligence, special vulnerability etc.) - Trigger: Nuclear radiation or pollution.

Skin-changer/Shapeshifter:

A person who goes through involuntary changes between human and animal form in the modern werewolf legend. They represent a sort of basic fears of the animalistic side of ourselves. In the early stories the transformation was physically painful, and often final. Nowadays the change instead works smoothly, and the psychological burden of not having control over when the change happens is emphasized instead. (Regular example: werewolf movies. Irregular example: Cat People, where a woman turns into a murderous panther whenever sexually aroused.) - Intelligence: Human/Animalistic. The person usually retains human-level intelligence in both forms, but while an animal the instinctive response to basic urges overrides the normal personality. - Trigger: Sensory/Temporal (depending on the story: either seeing the moon, or once a month) - Strenght: The condition is always temporary, and can usually be reverted, and the animal body is quite capable. - Weakness: The person has no control over when the change happens, and cannot revert to human form until the animal is satisfied (which usually makes them trapped as an angry animal during a crucial moment).

Metamorphosis:

A character who slowly reverts into a different life form, gradual losing of human abilities (speech, hands, looks, and finally intelligence) and apart from the horror of this degradation, this transformation is practically always final. The source of horror is this inevitability and complete loss of control. Notable subtypes are the Atavists, who become some lower life form on the evolutionary ladder; but also popular are the "Tetsuos" whose flesh is replaced with machine parts. (Examples: Kafka's "Metamorphosis", "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream", etc.) - Trigger: Varies; usually an unexplained Karmic Transformation (the character becomes what he hates, or what he loves too much). Fisher Kingdom may also be in effect, where the transformation is a metaphor for the state of the world in general.

Alien Invader

A character either taken and replaced by a clone, or mentally taken over by an extraterrestrial parasite. The source of horror is the fact that the Infected can look and act like normal people, so there is no-one you can trust. - Trigger: Extraterrestrial parasite.

Evolutionary

These people are claimants of the human throne; the source of horror is the fear of one's children, that you are ultimately replaceable and will get taken over by something better. Evolutionary mutants come in two flavors: the transhuman/superhuman is a group of people with new, frightening abilities (an enemy from the inside). The other option is that the old world order with nature ruling over everything is restored, with animals, plants and other life forms catching up to humans who instead of being the rulers become something lower on the food chain again.

The "Infected are rare" proposal

Infected are a minority; most people will turn into Lost Ones immediately after the infection takes a full effect, without a chance to reach some sort of compromise with the Pathogen.

One theory is that the Pathogen is generally benevolent; however, it has a hard time bonding with people and it inadvertedly destroys some in the process, or only changes them half successfully, and this is what creates the Lost Ones and Chimera. The other theory is that normally, the Pathogen would turn everyone into mindless slaves, but does not succeed completely with some people who survive with their sanity intact. A third theory is that it is all part of the Infection's plan: it requires drones and workers as well as sleeper agents or queens.

Why your character got "chosen" should never be quite clear in a backstory - even if your character thinks that he knows the answer - but kept generally vague, or implied. For example, a character may believe that he survived due to the conditions under which they got the infection (eg. while ill, drunk, sleeping, with their pet, etc.). Some may have managed to hinder their Infection in some way (eg. managed to injure the parasite before it invaded them). Maybe the character just had more willpower or personality than most people. Of course, this may be just wishful thinking. Perhaps some people are more naturally more resilient to the Infection than others.

Whatever the reason, the Pathogen affects everyone differently, so what worked for one character may not do it for another.

Crossovers

Vampire
Nightmare Work: Blood of Infected is mentioned in book, shouldn't really cross too much.
Zenoseiya: Vampires and Infected might mistake each other for members of their own kind if they witness the use of Disciplines or Subversions. Vampire blood has mutagenic effects on humans, animals, and plants.

Werewolf
Nightmare Work: Mentioned in book, think we can expound upon it.
Zenoseiya: Werewolves might mistake infected for Claimed. Cannibal werewolves will get sick if they try to eat infected flesh. Infected environments may cause unusually active spirit activity.

Mage
Nightmare Work: Mages what to study, Exarchs' minoins want to control. Or maybe them and their pet MI Bs are behind some of the labs… or maybe they aren't. Paranoia is our central theme, after-all.
Vree: Achmaster Life Mages (level 6+) may well have the power to create a Pathogen in the first place. Also at this level the mage can communicate with lower life forms, meaning that one on one communication with one's body and the parasite inside is possible. It will definitely not result in information about how to defeat it, but the characters may receive clues about its wants and origins.
Zenoseiya: Mages might want to study or experiment on the Infected.

Promethean
Nightmare Work: err….
Vree: The Pandorans are effectively Infected v0.1, (and Promethean contains several ideas integral to Pathogen in general - OK, so does Vampire or Werewolf as well, but still). If nothing else, the Pandoran transmutations are a good example of what sort of mutative decay an Infected can suffer as well.
Zenoseiya: Prometheans might mistake chimeras for Pandorans. They have similar niches.

Changeling
Nightmare Work: Don't see how they could cross, any suggestions?
Vree: The character may believe himself to be a Fetch, a clone left behind to replace a kidnapped human, or a Changeling with a memory loss. This would explain why his body is acting so strange.
Zenoseiya: Changelings might mistake the infected for other changelings or hobgoblins. Certain goblin fruits may have weird effects on the infected. What happens to a chimera in the hedge?

Geist
Nightmare Work: Again, not really seeing much, but I haven't read much of Giest…
Zenoseiya: The Bound might see the infected as abmortals of some sort. The Geist fulfills a similar role to the Infection.

Leviathan
Vree: Surely the rumors that the ancient gods would have a means to morph humans into other beings for their own purposes is hearsay. Are they the alien creators that the Annunaki have been searching for?

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