This article originally appeared in Pyramid #1
for GURPS and R. Talsorian Games, Inc.
ST: 10 IQ 14 Speed: 5.25
DX: 12 HT 9 Move: 5
No armor; no encumbrance.
Point Total: 115
Appearance +1; Charisma +1; Combat Reflexes; Literacy; Magery 1; Musical Ability +2.
Major Vow (repay the demon at some unspecified time in the future); Secret (he's wearing a demon as a tattoo).
Never takes his shirt off in public; Avoids questions about his magical ability; Hurries around more than most elves; Pensive.
Acting-13; Alchemy-12; Area Knowledge-16; Botany-11; Bow-12; Broadsword-13; Climbing-12; Cooking-13; Dancing-12; Disguise-13; Gesture-14; History-15; Occultism-16; Research-14; Survival (Forest)-13.
Beast Soother-13; Conceal Magic-13; Detect Magic-13; Lend Health-13; Lend Strength-13; Light-13; Mammal Control-13; Master-13; Minor Healing-13; Persuasion-13; Purify Water-13; Seek Food-13; Seek Water-13; Sense Emotion-13; Sense Foes-13; Simple Illusion-13; Test Food-13.
Contemporary -- Magill would make an excellent addition to a horror campaign. Unless there are elves in the campaign, he'll be human. Remove Combat Reflexes and one point of IQ. Literacy is no longer an advantage. Replace Alchemy, Bow and Broadsword with Drive (Car)-12.
Near Future -- Same as above.
Space -- A bizarre space alien symbiote could offer Magill the same gift of power. Perhaps, however, it caused him to become psionically adept. Same conversions as above.
Elven culture is deeply infused with magic. The young are taught early how to wield the powerful mana that flows through their veins. Rarely -- not more than once every few decades -- an elf is born without the ability to draw on the magic that he knows is all around him. They're the Empty Ones.
Magill Therinsell is an Empty One, and his life hasn't been easy. Since birth he's been treated as a child, coddled and condescended to, a torture for the proud elf. Early on he resolved to clear the channel that blocked the flow of mana.
Research taught him that he wasn't the first to be afflicted. Elven history tells of several such cases. In all cases, the unlucky victim lived a normal, empty life. In all cases except one.
An arcane book told Magill of an Empty One who somehow overcame the loss and regained his magical ability. Further research revealed the answer as being not on this dimension, but in Jelbal, the elven equivalent of hell. Although he knew the consequences, he paid a human mage to bring forth a demon, one who would be able to fulfill his need.
The demon claimed he could restore Magill's spellcasting, but at a price. In order to use the power, he had to allow the demon to live on his body, in the form of a large tattoo that covered most of his torso. The tattoo took the shape of a dragon which slithered around his body.
The process worked, but Magill now feels that the price was too high. The demon has given him the ability to use magic as well as his brethren, but he knows that if he's ever caught, death can be the only punishment for the deal he made. He lives in constant torment; to fit into elven society he's forced to draw upon its greatest loathing.
"You place too much emphasis on my magical ability. It returned. Who am I to question it?"
"Don't take the wisdom of our elders too lightly. Who knows, some day it may even save your life."
- Magill can't live with his secrets any longer. He needs the demon removed before it exacts its price, whatever that may be. He can't go to the elves, and live. He needs the PCs help, and he needs it soon. The elven council members are beginning to become suspicious, and it's just a matter of time before they figure it out.
- It was a stupid mistake. Magill was sure that he was alone when he bathed in a remote stream, but someone saw him, noticed the tattoo, and told the elven council. Now he's on the run from the very society that he tried so hard to fit into. In desperation, he turns to the PCs for protection, and possibly even amnesty.
Magill is a +3 Magic User/Loremaster (add 1d6+3 additional points, distributed to Melee and Knowledge) or, if you want non-party specific statistics:
Melee Weapon 6 Knowledge 8
Hand to Hand 4 Dodge 5
Tinkering 4 Stealth 4
Athletics 5 Willpower 4
Awareness 5 Wounds 6
Ranged Weapons 4
Attitudes and Traits: Pensive and Secretive
Personal Attributes: Charismatic (2 pts.), Enhanced Awareness (1 pt.), Natural Athlete (1 pt)
Personal Problems: Secret (Demon Pact) (2 pts.), Obvious Marking (Tattoo) (1 pt.)
Advanced Skills: Acting +6, Arcane Lore +7, Botany +4, Archery +5, Dancing +5, Disguise +5, Identify Magic Item +7, Play instrument +3, Research +6, Survival (Forest) +5
Spells: Armor of Thought +4, Animal Affinity (Superpower used as a spell) +5, Charm +3, Create Food +3, Create Water +3, Create Light +5, Detect Sorcery +5, Heal +4, Illusion +4, Mammal Control (Animal Control superpower used as Spell) +4, Reveal Danger +5
Comments: Use the Attributes and Traits listed to represent some of the racial traits of Elves, and this unique NPC in particular, instead of the actor playing him. One should note that his spells are generally of a non-offensive nature, which would indicate an unwillingness to participate in needless violence. Think of him as a gentle, frightened being who fears he has made a bargain that will eventually force him to become something he detests.
ST: 14 IQ: 11 Speed: 5.75
DX: 11 HT: 12 Move: 5
No armor; no encumbrance.
Point Total: 110
Alertness +2; High Pain Threshold.
Bloodlust; Compulsive Behavior (the need to "purify"); Delusion (chosen by some higher power to save the world from computer amalgamation); Intolerance (people with cybernetics).
Extremely meticulous; Destroys any sort of mechanical device if he can get away with it; Very cunning.
Area Knowledge-13; Brawling-11; Computer Hacking-10; Computer Operation-14; Computer Programming-11; Cyberdeck Operation-11; Drive (Car)-12; Guns (Pistol)-12; Interrogation-12; Knife-14; Scrounging-13; Shadowing-12; Stealth-12.
Dars will avoid all technological weapons, choosing instead to bait and trap his prey, or surprising them with pure brawn.
Fantasy -- Dars could be a lunatic hunting down mages. Perhaps at some point he had a curse cast on him and he blames all magic users. Replace all Computer and Cyberdeck skills, Drive and Guns with Cooking-12, Broadsword-11 and Riding-12.
Contemporary -- Without cybernetics, it makes it more difficult to explain his insanity. Still, if the campaign calls for a sociopath, remove Cyberdeck Operation and see what happens . . .
Space -- Dars could be an alien-hating xenophobe. Remove Cyberdeck Operation.
Dars Smyth is purifying the world. It's a large job, but well within his abilities. That's why he was chosen to be the saint that would return humanity from the brink of computer amalgamation. The time before his "birth" is only a hazy memory of fear. This emotion has been replaced with a calm knowledge of what must be done . . .
Dars was a corporate netrunner. He would spend long days drifting through the net in his corporation's node, searching for unauthorized entries. Once an intruder was found, it was up to Dars to attack and destroy the trespasser before they found anything useful. One day, however, he ran into an opponent that he couldn't deal with. The intruder was well prepared for Dars, and unleashed an attack program that sent him reeling, struggling for his life against a killer code that systematically destroyed parts of his brain.
A nearby security guard noticed Dars' frantic flailing and pulled the jack from his forehead before the program kill him. Paramedics were called in as Dars attempted to dig out his interface jack with a pocket knife.
Dars had caused irreparable damage to the jack, and it was removed at the hospital. Soon after, he received the vision that has guided his new life to purification. An ineffective stay at a psychotherapy ward only gave him more time to plan and build up an intense driving fortitude.
Dars has been dubbed the "Cyborg Butcher" by an over-exuberant media. He's been responsible for the atrocious murders of seven netrunners and street samurai. The bodies have been found horribly mutilated, their cybernetics gruesomely removed and piled beside the corpses. People like to think they were taken out after their deaths.
"You are an unholy fusion of humanity and accursed metal. I will purify you."
"The steel matrix stole my soul, but I recovered it. I reached deep into my flesh and removed the metal. There within, I found my humanity and released the steel chains that made me a slave to the machine. Can you not see the truth?"
- The PCs have been hired by a corporation to find a killer who has been murdering its employees. Will the PCs be able to find Dars before he finds them, and they're added to his list of purified?
- Dars has taken his fight to a whole new level and has started a cult that follows his beliefs, but he can't keep his sadistic tendencies down. A worried cult member turns to the PCs to help prove Dars is responsible for several recent killings.
INT 7 LUCK 6
REF 8 BODY 9
TECH 7 MA 6
COOL 8 EMP 4/1
Cybernetics: None, it was all removed. While this would normally allow the higher, original EMP, the nature of his psychosis has resulted in permanent insanity and reduced EMP.
Skills: Interface +5, Awareness +7, Driving +4, Handgun +6, Interrogation +5, Library Search +5, Melee +7, Programming +5, Shadow/Track, +5, Stealth +6, Streetwise +4, System Knowledge +5, Torture/Resist Drugs +6, Urban Survival +6
Outfit: As a man with no cyberware going up against combat-wired street samurai, he is going to have to use some heavy hardware and or set up some elaborate traps in order to even the odds.
ST: 11 IQ: 9 Speed: 4
DX: 9 HT: 14 (20) Move: 4
No armor; no encumbrance.
Point Total: 80
Ambidexterity; Extra Hit Points (6 HP); Toughness (DR2).
Bad Sight; Duty (to follow any command given to it by a human); Gullibility; Honesty; Social Stigma (synthetic).
Extremely faithful; Follows any established protocol to the letter; Suffers the shakes every now and then.
Area Knowledge-10; Beam Weapon (Laser)-10; Computer Operation-12; Cooking-10; Drive (Car)-10; Free Fall-10; Freight Handling-9; Mathematics-11; Vacc Suit-10.
Any four relevant to the adventure, at Level-11.
Fantasy -- Perhaps XN42 is a magically-created golem. Replace Beam Weapon, Computer Operation, Drive, Free Fall and Vacc Suit with Bow-9, Broadsword-11, Riding-10 and Shield-10.
Contemporary -- No conversion.
Near Future -- In the cyberpunk world, the technology may exist to create XN42. No changes.
XN42 is the Model 17A synthetic human assigned to the HFS Denman. Its duties are simple: assist the crew in any way possible. Syntech -- XN42's designer -- claims that the Model 17A is superior to humans in every respect, and no well-run ship should be without one. In truth, however, its abilities fall well below Syntech's boasts.
XN42, like the rest of its model run, is mostly inferior to humans. It's clumsy, slow, inept and seemingly incapable of grasping human syntax. Thus XN42 is seen more as a hindrance to the crew of the Denman than as a skilled crewmate. They've all had to suffer with the android's constant mistakes, making life near the thing unbearable.
Recently, things have begun to change for XN42, thanks to tinkerings from a junior sensors and amateur computer-operator named Simon. He was poking around inside XN42's circuits just to see how it was laid out when he noticed several interesting things. Most of XN42's hardware is redundant. Also, it possesses capabilities that haven't been brought on-line until now. For XN42, the changes have been remarkable. Its intelligence has reached a level that could almost be called sentience.
Already the crew are noticing tremendous differences. Not only have XN42's mistakes dropped to nearly zero, but it's gained what can only be described as a personality.
For XN42 and Simon, life will be heating up very soon. The off-line areas were intended for extremely classified military uses, and once word gets out that a synthetic began to improve, they'll come looking for answers.
"I followed your orders, sir. You requested me to clean that mess up. I incinerated the work table and its contents, promptly and dutifully. Yes, sir, I suppose I did know the ship's instruction manual was in there. Yes, sir. Yes, I do know what ‘trying your patience' means, but all I have tried is to clean up."
"Unfortunately sir, the Three Laws of Robotics do seem to apply to the multi-limbed, gesticulating, very-likely-hostile alien advancing towards you at a brisk pace, so I am unable to comply with your orders to fire my weapon. I may, however, instruct you in how to unjam yours . . ."
- Simon has been tinkering again, and is beginning to get an idea of XN42's true purpose . . . as a spy, and possibly an assassin. It's been equipped with higher capabilities to keep watch on certain individuals on the ship. For XN42, this mission conflicts with its newfound morals, and it turns to the PCs to help it find its way out of a potentially sticky situation.
- For a period of comedy relief, have XN42 assigned by some important authority to join the PCs on an extremely important mission. Above all, the PCs are told they're not to let XN42 be damaged (or damage itself). How long can they go before XN42's inept bumbling drives them over the edge?
INT 4/8 LUCK 3
REF 4/7 ATTR 4
COOL 8/3 MA 4
TECH 5 BODY 5/9
Notes: XN42's first INT and REF stats are before Simon's modifications, the second ones are with his abilities awakened. His first COOL stat represents his ability to resist stress under adverse conditions. His second represents his charisma and limited ability to deal with humans; his first BODY stat is his physical strength, the second is used to calculate his hit points by location.
Skills: Basic Repair +3, Computer Op (INT) +6, Cooking +3, Driving +3, Freight Handling (INT) +2, Mathematics +4, Rifle +3, Zero-Gee Maneuvering +3
Article publication date: June 1, 1993
Copyright © 1993 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.