Genius: The Transgression
|Genius: The Transgression|
|Rule System||Storyteller System (nWoD)|
|Essential Books||Genius: The Transgression|
"The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it."
- – Dr. Joseph Mengele
Genius: The Transgression is pretty much Sons of Ether: The Game. A fanmade game set in the New World of Darkness, it is about mad scientists inventing gizmos and fighting somewhat madder scientists while trying to avoid becoming solipsistic, uncaring madmen. It runs quite a bit like Mage: The Ascension, but has enough fluff to make it feel distinct as long as you can go along with it.
- 1 Being a Genius
- 2 Laws of Mad Science
- 3 Catalysts
- 4 Foundations
- 5 Axioms
- 5.1 Apocalypsi: The Axiom of Discovery
- 5.2 Automata: The Axiom of Independence
- 5.3 Epikrato: The Axiom of Control
- 5.4 Exelixi: The Axiom of Restoration
- 5.5 Katastrofi: The Axiom of Destruction
- 5.6 Metaptropi: The Axiom of Transformation
- 5.7 Prostasia: The Axiom of Protection
- 5.8 Skafoi: The Axiom of Travel
- 6 Downloads
Being a Genius
Creating a Genius is very much like creating a regular nWoD character: you come up with your stats, note them down and apply the Genius Template. Aside from adding a point to one of your mental stats (can't go above 5), there are of course the game-specific advantages:
Genius' power stat. It is your Blood Potency, your Primal Urge: it determines how powerful your Wonders can be and how powerful you personally can be. As usual it runs on a 1-10 scale and determines the power resource du jour, Mania, how much of it you can spend per turn and how inhuman you become the higher your stat is.
Your inhumanity this time around is represented by Jabir: the inability to communicate with mortals on matters of science. This is represented by a -1 at 1+, -2 at 5+ and -3 at 8+ Inspiration.
On top of that there is the state of Unmada. If a Genius overreaches themselves with scientific effort they run the risk of entering the state of Unmada if they fail an Unmada check. During this a Genius loses their free one point of Mania upon waking up. They also extrude a field much like the Disquiet of a Promethean, except it's SCIENCE! In this field things that clash with the Unmada' worldview start to change or vanish while Manes (things created by Mania) that fit within the Unmada's worldview flock to the Genius to serve and fawn over them. It is possible to escape the state through the use of Willpower-powered rolls, but Manes don't like this and will try to stop the Unmada from becoming a regular Genius again.
If an Unmada triggers an Unmada check they are at risk of becoming Illuminated. Illuminated are essentially the classic amoral enemies that the regular characters of a World of Darkness game try to avoid becoming. Failing this roll allows the Genius to avoid becoming an Illuminated by spending a Willpower point and reducing their Obligation by one: if they hit 0 they automatically become Illuminated. A Dramatic Failure will turn them Illuminated immediately. Success will hold off the change.
The core resource of the game. Mania is that which grants the Genius their ideas and powers their madness. Nobody knows exactly what Mania is, only what it does. Mania can manifest physically in ways of SCIENCE: arcs of lightning between devices, a glow in a test tube, the whine that is paired with the physical strain upon a machine and more. Aside from powering one's Wonders by spending Mania for every use or per day active Mania can be used for the following:
- Enhance Mental Attributes for a +1 bonus per turn. Directors and Navigators can also enhance their Social and Physical Attributes this way, respectively.
- Power mundane technology. Even for all their super-science Geniuses will still need lights, computers, vehicles and so on. By channeling Mania into mundane technology it can function without fuel or power for some amount of time, going from one day (lights in a single room) to 10 minutes (computers, heavy machinery).
- Get a +1 bonus to using mundane technology for one turn. All 10s rolled damage the object for one-quarter of its Structure points, meaning that four 10s will destroy the object in question.
- Understand a piece of technology, both mundane and wondrous items. This allows a Genius to learn what a particular object is for and what it does, but not any hidden functions or who made it. This does not allow the Genius to operate the object if it would require a skill that they do not have, though.
- Dismantle a technological object. By spending a point of Mania and rolling Dexterity + Crafts (Medicine in case of an organic device) a Genius can deal that much Bashing or Lethal damage that ignores durability but not Defense. With a Merit this can turn into a ranged attack.
Mania can be regained in one of six ways:
- Every morning a Genius wakes up with fresh new ideas. This is represented by the regaining of one point of Mania. Unmada however do not gain this point, for this point is spent on their Unmada Field.
- A Genius can engage in research for up to six hours per day. In these six hours they can either think really hard to regain one point of Mania per two hours, or engage with people or objects. They can talk to fellow researchers, read science magazines, tinker a bit or just scribble down notes to regain one point of Mania per hour. A Genius can opt to research for more than six hours per day, but per hour over six studied per day the Genius will have to take an Unmada check with a cumulative -1 penalty past the first.
- Ranting to a prisoner. The movie trope of telling a captured person one's evil plans before trying to kill them is immensely cathartic. This ranting can be done only once a day, takes at least 30 seconds and requires an unwilling prisoner (so no engaging in kinky foreplay for you!). This regenerates a powerful Inspiration + Presence, but comes at the cost of triggering an Unmada check and the requirement of having to kidnap someone, both of which are Obligation transgressions.
- Destroying a valuable object that disagrees with a Genius' particular worldview. Only Unmada can do this, once a day, to regain Inspiration + Resolve in Mania. This is also an Obligation transgression.
- Storing and draining. This can be a Manes, Beholden or a Capacitor (a device that any Genius can build for the specific purpose of holding Mania) that had the Mania transferred into them at an earlier date. This allows the Genius to store away Mania, rebuild their reserves over the course of days to gather a vast pool of Mania.
- Using the Calculus Vampire Merit to draw Genius from other people. If done to someone with Mania of their own this is done on a 1:1 scale based on the number of successes, while those who have not have their Mental skills targeted and drained instead, again on a 1:1 basis. This requires both physical contact and something science-y happening: hypnosis, draining fluids, mind-reading or something similar all qualify. The Technomancer Merit allows the exchange between Mania and the types of energy used by other splats like Vitae, Mana, Glamour and others, as well as converting them to and from the other type of energy. When combining the two it becomes possible to violently drain metanormal entities.
With great Wonders comes great responsibility. Most Geniuses are aware of their strained link to society, so they focus on that which ties them: their Obligation. Whether this is to improve, protect, heal or punish them is irrelevant: the Obligation is there. Obligation does not allow for rationalization along the lines of "the greater good": if you violate the standards of normal humanity then you violate your Obligation. Geniuses start at Obligation 7 (as is the rough standard), but it can be bought down to 5 in exchange for 5XP per decreased point.
With Obligation 7 or higher the Genius is seen as a Paragon. This means that they are seen as a trustworthy authority by mortals and gains +1 on all Social checks when acting from this authority, and efforts to tarnish the Paragon's reputation is met with a -3 penalty. Meanwhile, the less Obligation a Genius has the more stunted their social skills are. At 3 or 4 Obligation they get a -1 penalty to all Social checks and -2 at 1 or 2 Obligation. If a Genius' Obligation hits 0 they become Illuminated and as per WoD tradition are no longer playable. Illuminated do not get the decreased rolls on Social checks, but they are next to incapable of meaningful communication anyway.
|10||Allowing one's wonder to risk Havoc. Using wonders to accomplish a task when it could have been accomplished just as well with mundane science or skill. Experimenting on animals. (Roll five dice)|
|9||Allowing one's wonder to turn temporarily orphan. Altering oneself or another person with mad science, even temporarily (not including healing). Going a day without human contact. Minor selfish acts. Performing surgery. (Roll five dice)|
|8||Injury to another (accidental or otherwise). Failing to help a victimized innocent in need. Triggering an unmada check in oneself. Emotional manipulation. Grave-robbing, dissection, or making zombies. Allowing one's wonder to turn permanently orphan. (Roll four dice)|
|7||Petty theft (shoplifting). Allowing an innocent to die or be seriously injured without making effort to save the person. Making a person beholden. Mind control. Experimenting on willing human subjects (including oneself) where there is some possibility of harm. Unintentional mass property damage brought about by Inspiration. (Roll four dice)|
|6||Grand theft (burglary). Kidnapping. "Editing" to gather Mania. Going a week without human contact. Creating an intelligent machine (Automata 4+). Body swapping. (Roll three dice)|
|5||Killing an intelligent being. Intentional, mass property damage (arson, most doom cannons). Experimenting on willing human subjects (including oneself) where there is a serious possibility of death or harm. Programming permanent psychological limitations into an intelligent being. (Roll three dice)|
|4||Impassioned serious crime (manslaughter). Sadistic mind control (of the "forcing two friends to fight for your amusement" variety or similar acts of cruelty.) Permanently and significantly altering your physical form (adding two more arms, etc.) (Roll two dice)|
|3||Going a month without human contact. Planned serious crime (murder). Slavery. Experimenting on unwilling human subjects where there is a serious possibility of death or harm. Permanently and entirely altering your physical form (uploading yourself into a computer or becoming a giant caterpillar). (Roll two dice)|
|2||Bringing the dead back to life. Rape or sexual mind control. Serial murder. Spreading massive plague and devastation. (Roll one die)|
|1||Mass murder. Hideous experiments on unwilling human subjects. Scientific torture. Genocide. (Roll one die.)|
Laws of Mad Science
Much like how vampires have a Masquerade, Geniuses have a series of laws in place. This is less of the self-serving nature of not being hunted by angry mobs (though that could still happen), but more to not drive the Genius in question even more insane than they already are. The Laws are rather straightforward, and most Geniuses are content with not horribly violating them.
- The Law of Broken Theory, aka Popper's Little Secret, tells Geniuses to not be a dick to one another and try to disprove one another's Wonders. Doing so would result in a contest of scientific dick measuring and create an environment where nobody gets any science done.
- The Science is Science Law, aka the Anticlark Corollary, states that while Clarke's Third Law might have a point, it is not actual magic. Sure, it is derived from theories that circumvent or ignore physical laws, a Wonder will never ignore the laws of physics. Geniuses practice science, not magic.
- The Black Box Law, aka Goldblum's Diatribe, describes that while a Genius might know what their Wonders do, they do not know exactly how they do this. Some Geniuses believe that the use of Mania allows one to use the path of least resistance to get a Wonder working, but nobody really knows how their Wonders work. Because if they did they would not be practicing mad science, just regular science.
- The Mere Mortal Law, aka Gilligan's Rule, postulates that when a regular mortal gets their hands on a Wonder it will maim/kill/eat them. Giving a Wonder to a mortal is like giving a gun to a chimpanzee: it will go wrong sooner or later, and you should probably be very far away when that happens.
- The Obvious Truth Law, aka Mulder's Lament, differs Geniuses from many of the other WoD games in that there's not some great conspiracy or masquerade in place to protect everyday people. They can see and remember Wonders just fine, and unless specifically shielded in some way a Wonder will show up on camera footage just like any other physical object would. Those who do come into contact with a Wonder and don't either get killed by it or dismiss it as madness might very well become part of the next generation of Geniuses themselves.
It wouldn't be a New World of Darkness game without the omnipresent X/Y Axis splats. In Genius the "racial" splat is the Catalyst, that which drove a normal scientist to become a Genius. The process of Catalyzation, the Breakthrough, is somewhere in between an Awakening and an Ignition: a moment of brilliance followed by a lifetime of potential. The names of the Catalysts are all in German, while other terms pertaining to Geniuses are in Latin, Greek, English and more. Why? Because SCIENCE, that's why!
Grimm, The Catalyst of Fury
The Grimm take to the other meaning of "mad" when practicing their mad science. Their Breakthrough is out of anger at something or someone and now seek things like revenge, justice, retribution or just a desire to fuck shit up. This makes them rather straightforward and rarely swayed by paranoia or sentimentality, for they are filled with nothing but the will to get something done. Despite this the Grimm tend to be rather irrational, wanting to have a go at whoever or whatever caused them to have their Breakthrough without any regard for what is reasonable or sane. Their favored Axiom is Katastrofi, with which a Grimm can build some rather interesting and lethal rayguns.
Hoffnung, The Catalyst of Vision
The Hoffnung are men and women with a Vision. Yes, the capital-V kind. When regular thinkers and visionaries start to form their ideas they might expand their view of the world enough to have their Breakthrough. From here a Hoffnung starts to build Wonders to make their Vision a reality, and woe to those who get in the way. This makes them supremely narcissistic, feeling that they and only they are in the right and that everyone else is wrong for not sharing their vision. Their favored Axiom is Metaptropi, which changes the world much like they want to.
Klagen, The Catalyst of Loss
The edgy Catalyst. Klagen are fully aware of the fact that they live in the World of Darkness and what that means. They have always lost at least one person to madness, obsession or a rampaging Bale Hound. While they mope around all day they do try and make things better though, undoing the damage that was done and healing those who were hurt. This is not out of altruistic purposes though: it's because they seek to make themselves feel better. They are prone to bouts of depression and making the misery they carry around get the better of them. Their favored Axiom is Exelixi, with which they can heal and repair done damages.
Neid, The Catalyst of Banishment
They called me mad! Well, I'll show them! I'll show them all! That's pretty much Neid in a nutshell. They suffered before or during their Breakthrough, filling them with the desire to get even with whomever it was that wronged them. They see others as out to get them, to disprove their perfectly valid creations and mock them for it. As such the Neid want to prove their worth and the truth of their convictions, a volatile mix of insecurity, rage and paranoia. Their favored Axiom is Epikrato, which allows them to control others and make them listen.
Staunen, The Catalyst of Curiousity
Staunen practice mad science for the sake of mad science. Think Doc Brown taken up to 11. Staunen are always hungry for more. More knowledge, more data, more records and more analysis. Staunen either seep into their Breakthrough so slowly it's difficult to tell exactly when the Breakthrough took place, or they are snapped into it by being exposed to something beyond their comprehension and want to learn more. All this curiosity can lead to fixation, an obsession with things no-one else would find interesting. Their favored Axiom is Apokalypsi, which allows them to see more and learn more than they ever could before.
The other axis, the Foundations provide a Genius with the what and the how to complement the why of the Catalysts. The Foundations are groups of like-minded Geniuses who have banded together to pursue a common goal.
Together the five Foundations form the Peerage, which is more or less a scientific take on the Nine Mystic Tradition from Mage. Together they oppose the Baramins of Lemuria, a group of Foundations that act like a mix of the Technocracy and the Sabbat. There are also Rogue Geniuses who are not part of a Foundation or the Peerage.
The International Union of Artifice
Formerly just a bunch of eccentric tinkers, the Artificers have started to make a name for themselves by building top-notch devices, objects and other Wonders. They practice the art of mad engineering, and while simple tools and weapons are within their purview they greatly prefer large, complex devices. Artificiers build because that's what they do, only stopping when they need to find more resources and materials to continue building. They are a poor and loose-knit foundation, accepting anyone who can work with tools regardless of who they are or what their ancestry might be. They tend to keep out of politics as well and would much rather build stuff than engage in philosophical knifefights. Their favored Axioms are Automata and Prostasia, making them the foremost creators of robots and armor in the business.
The Fellowship of Manifest Direction
The Directors are the kind of fellows who sit in dimly lit rooms discussing on how to better rule the world. They are the most organized of the Foundations: they are highly regimented, from the lowest Geniuses all the way up to the Clade, a group of 44+ Directors who do the whole secret council meeting thing. They are the masters of mad psychology, interacting with their fellow Geniuses to see what makes them tick. They are the least likely to break out their Wonders though, instead relying on their interpersonal skills to get what they want. Their devices are the likes of hypnosis, manipulation and control, fitting into their whole men in black shtick. Their favored Axioms are Automata and Epikrato. Directors like to be in control, which they attain by either mind control or being in charge of the individual in question to begin with.
The Navigators are the masters of mad physics, they build machines that allow them to travel at incredible speeds on land, sea and air, as well as through the ground itself, lava and space. They are the most recent of the Foundations, having joined the Peerage some 50 years ago. They left Lemuria because they were sick of being treated as second class Geniuses who were forced to do the heavy lifting with their Wonders instead of being allowed to be researchers in their own right. Because they travel a lot the Navigators are disorganized lot, mostly sticking to themselves while navigating the world on their mobile Wonders. With all their traveling Navigators tend to be tough explorer types, able of dealing with the hardships of the road and the wild. Their favored Axioms are Katastrofi and Skafoi: one to travel the world with, one to defend themselves from attackers with.
The Reformed Society of Progenitors
The Progenitors in their current form have risen from the ashes left behind by their predecessors, the Children of the Demiurge. They were a festering wound in the Peerage, filled with Lemurians and Illuminated who were on a dangerous course. So the Peerage uprooted the Children of the Demiurge somewhere in the early 90s, but were quite surprised when something new arose: a vibrant young group of scholars of the body seeing to give evolution a helping hand. As such, the Progenitors took up the place of the Demiurges in the Peerage and went on their way. Theirs is the way of mad biology: raising the dead, cloning, genetic engineering, creating and eradicating diseases and so on. They are the least worried by morals and ethics of all the Peerage, making them more likely to become Illuminated. Their favored Axioms are Automata and Exelixi, which allows them to create and improve on life.
The College of Scholastic Theory
The Scholastics are all about That What Man Was Not Meant To Know. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that's what they do. They practice mad philosophy, looking to figure out just what Mania is, how Inspiration really works and other wonders of the world. They are often the adventurer archaeologist types, looking to uncover that which was lost and learning from them in an attempt to better understand the world. They have the most internal strife, with Scholastics constantly bickering and trying to make themselves look good. This has created several fields of study that all compete with one another, even trying to get them dissolved for their own gain. Their favored Axioms are Apokalypsi and Metaptropi, allowing them to find lost knowledge and change things according to their whims.
Axioms work much like the Spheres from Mage: The Ascension. You get a rough outline of what you can do with them, from which point on it's all up to you. Fortunately this works a lot better in practice, but building takes some effort: you have to decide what you're going to build, what your Wonder can do, how your stats align with this and so on. This is all a one-time thing though, and once you're done that raygun of yours can be used as normal.
Upon character creation you get three favored Axioms to start with. These cost less to level up and give you a +1 to all attempts to make a Wonder within those Axioms. The first favored Axiom comes from the Genius' Catalyst, the second is one of the two from their Foundation and the third can be any other Axiom. Refer to the chart for all Axioms and who favor them. Rogues get the one from their Catalyst and can pick any two others.
Apocalypsi: The Axiom of Discovery
Creating tools for discovery, revealing, communication and scanners. These can be mundane or natural, detecting anything from data in whatever form it may be (from being on a CD to digital to in a book), scan for supernatural creatures, grant telepathy, see across great distances, predict the future via probability and outright reveal the truth, whatever it may be in past, present and future.
Automata: The Axiom of Independence
Robots, artificial constructs and other things made to move: that's what Automata's all about. This Axiom uses a system of Automation Points granted from two dots in Automata onwards to upgrade your creations. At two dots these points equal to your Inspiration, while at higher levels you get your Inspiration times your dots in Automata. Additionally, Automata allows a Genuis to build factories that produces a specific kind of object (more if you take the Dynamic Factory variable): this can be anything from simple objects from wood, stone or metal to cutting edge technology, simple or complex plants, animals and even humans, with five dots allowing for the automated creation of Wonders. The actual Automata created this way have intelligence matching the levels of the factories: from only basic input/output, intelligence like a zombie/basic program, animal-like intelligence, human intelligence all the way up to transcendent, allowing them to become Geniuses in their own right.
Epikrato: The Axiom of Control
Control, but not just of minds. Sure, it's in there but you can do such more with Epikrato. You can drive cars, unlock a door, control a computer from across the room and so on... and that's just at one dot. Two dots grants you telekinesis, the ability to take over someone's body or just knock them the fuck out. At three it's mind control o' clock, use Jedi mind tricks or even drain someone's Willpower points, something rarely seen in the World of Darkness. Four dots is where things get interesting with control of probability to allow for manipulation of the stock market, control crowds, influence politics and even control the weather. Five dots is flat out alteration of one's personality or their Talents, morality, memories... or just outright remove someone's mind, turn them into a Beholden and back again, or even transfer consciousness between two things.
Exelixi: The Axiom of Restoration
Restoration and repair at low levels, improvement at the medium levels and outright resurrection above that. At just one dot you can restore Bashing or Lethal damage (Aggravated takes four dots), cure disease or create potent life support devices. At two and three dots you can start to mechanically and biologically upgrade yourself and others until you resemble something like a mad science version of a Space Marine. Things like exo-suits are also possible at this point. Four dots gives you the ability to regenerate, reattach severed limbs and act like a general Deadpool ripoff.
Katastrofi: The Axiom of Destruction
Rayguns and missiles and moon lasers, oh my. Katastrofi is the Axiom of blowing shit up for a good reason. Base damage for all weapons is 5, and only goes up from there. One dot is enough for Bashing damage through pain and shock. Two will give you razor-sharp swords, ray guns and other objects of death. At three you get plasma, lightsabers, disintegration and other such Aggravated goodness. Four gives you Vorpal weapons, and high-tech tools of destruction that rips apart the laws of the universe itself. At five you're pretty much weaponizing black holes, suns and spacetime itself. And yes, you can still do Bashing damage when hitting someone with a black hole on a stick.
Metaptropi: The Axiom of Transformation
Change: The Axiom. While it starts off with simple shapechanging at one dot, two can transmute matter and create illusions which can be made to move with Automata. Three dots gives you growing and shrinking rays, which can be used to add and remove health dots for a short amount of time. This can be quite effective in a fight. Four gives all sorts of fantastical transformations like giving wings, altering Attributes, turn into a dragon or a cyborg, grow armor or gain some Physical Merits. At five the real fun begins: change one's phase of matter, become invisible, phase through things or create one's own pocket dimension.
Prostasia: The Axiom of Protection
A rather straightforward Axiom, Prostasia grants protection in the form of armor or base durability, depending on what kind of Wonder it is applied to. It is the counterpart of Katastrofi, being pretty much the only thing whose toughness is not shrugged off by that Axiom. It also grants protection from atmospheric pressure, does not show up on radar, stacks with other types of armor (physical/shielding) and only costs Mania when activated. It can also be used to create tough locks, provide mental shielding, protect servers and be invisible.
Skafoi: The Axiom of Travel
If you want a sick motorbike that can drive up walls, cross the ocean and even go to space, then this is the Axiom for you. One dot is for ground and water vehicles, two is for those in the air, underwater and underground, three for spacecraft and super-submarines, four is for teleporters, superluminal speeds and dimensional travel. Now with free artificial gravity! At five you can distort time to essentially gain super speed, turning fifteen minutes into a second... or you can say screw that noise and build a time machine.