This article originally appeared in Pyramid #12

Three NPCs for GURPS CthulhuPunk

By Chris W. McCubbin

GURPS CthulhuPunk, on sale now, is a licensed adaptation of Chaosium's classic RPG Call of Cthulhu to the GURPS system. As the name suggests, CthulhuPunk takes the world of the Cthulhu Mythos, originally created by H.P. Lovecraft and expanded over the last 70 years by many of the finest horror writers in the world, and projects it into the next century. The game presents a world where future shock and social unrest foment against a background of ancient and inimical alien forces that have oppressed the Earth and its inhabitants for eons.

As a long-time fan of Lovecraft's creation, I was thrilled with the chance to take the Mythos where it had never been before, into the GURPS system, and to provide the first fully-developed, book-length game combining Cyberpunk and the Mythos. Since one of the essential elements of Mythos stories is that most people are completely unaware of the supernatural force that permeate the universe, I used Paul Hume's brilliantly-conceived GURPS Cyberworld as the normal-seeming "front" for the CthulhuPunk world.

Readers of GURPS CthulhuPunk will recognize the three characters who appear below as appearing (or, in Anyadoll's case, conspicuously failing to appear) in the fictional vignettes that introduce each chapter of the book. With only minor adjustments, they can easily be adapted for use in a non-mystical Cyberworld or other Cyberpunk campaign.

Booshk (Dr. Alan G. Gordon)

Age 47, 5' 9'', 150 lbs., sandy blond hair (usually dyed a more exotic color) and green eyes

ST 9 [-10]IQ 14 [45]Speed 5.5
DX 11 [10]HT 11 [10]Move 5
Damage: Thrust 1d-2; Swing 1d-1
Dodge: 5Parry: 6 (Knife or Brawling)

No armor; no encumbrance

Point Total: 150

Charisma +1 [5]
Empathy [15]
Mathematical Ability [10]
Reputation +3, computer scientists, 10 or less [2]

Interface Jack [10]
Chip Slot X 3 [15]

Alcoholism [-15]
Code of Honor [-5]
Social Stigma -1 (openly gay) [-5]

Usually wears an extravagant wig
Almost always dresses in drag
2 additional quirks chosen by player/GM

Acting-13 [1]; Anthropology-13 [2]; Brawling-12 [2]; Carousing-12 [4]; Computer Programming-22 [10]; Economics-12 [1]; Electronic Operation-14 [2]; Electronics-14 [4]; Engineering (Electronics)-14 [4]; Guns 14-[2]; History-12 [1]; Knife-12 [2]; Literature-12 [1]; Mathematics-19 [4]; Meditation-12 [2]; Mythos Lore-14 [8]; Occultism-13 [1]; Physics-13 [2]; Research-14 [2]; Savoir-Faire-15 [2]; Stealth-11 [2]; Streetwise-14 [2]; Swimming-11 [1]; Teaching-14 [2]; Writing-13 [1]

Japanese-13 [1], Russian-13 [1], Latin-13 [1]

Dagger [1d-2], SOG Feder [1d+1]

Everybody on the streets of San Francisco knows Booshk (probably short for "Babooshka," though nobody remembers for sure), the outrageous old drag queen. Hardly anybody remembers that he used to be Alan Gordon, PhD., Professor of Computer Science at MIT and one of the most respected systems analysts in the U.S.

Booshk became aware of his sexuality about the same time that the repressive ProGov came into power, so he was always careful to not be obvious. He went through Marine ROTC and served out his active duty. He dated women (some of them closeted lesbian professionals engaged in the same masquerade as Booshk, some just straight friends). About ten years ago, however, at the height of his academic career, he had the misfortune to become involved with a man with ties to the radical gay underground that Booshk was unaware of until it was too late. The ProGov finally sniffed out Booshk's boyfriend at the same time that it was orchestrating a general purge of "subversive" elements in academia. Booshk was publicly denounced as a homosexual and automatically demoted from C-1 citizenship status all the way down to C-4/M (for "medical" — according to the ProGov, homosexuality is a mental illness). His lover was sent to a federal gulag. Booshk's professional status was enough to keep him out of an institution or mandatory behavioral-modification program, but he could never teach or work at sensitive research projects (at the level Booshk worked at, all research was automatically "sensitive") ever again.

Of all the myriad honors and affiliations Booshk lost in his fall, the one he regretted most was his membership in the Miskatonic Society, the secret international network of academics dedicated to keeping humanity protected from malevolent alien entities (whose existence was scientifically confirmed in the 1920s by scholars at Miskatonic University). He understood that an organization as important and sensitive as the Society couldn't tolerate even the slightest tinge of public disgrace (deserved or not) in an active member, but even if he didn't take his expulsion personally, it still hurt.

After the ProGov took everything away from him, Booshk fell back on the one thing they gave him in return — his honesty. He moved to San Francisco, one of the ProGov's "sin cities" where certain "deviant" behaviors were tolerated, and threw himself totally into the most extravagant stream of the gay subculture there. In addition to becoming promiscuous for the first time in his life, he also started cross-dressing. He started drinking to well beyond excess and over-indulging in certain mood-altering drugs, though his drug of choice was always gin.

Despite his new-found dissipation, Booshk never "hit bottom." In fact, by streetlevel standards he's done remarkably well for himself. There's always a market for skills like Booshk's, if you're not too picky about who you work for, or too insistent to claim all the public credit for what you do.

Ever since his disgrace, Booshk has been making noise about pulling up stakes and moving to Japan or Russia, where his skills would matter more than his dating habits. At first he didn't go simply because the ProGov was watching him too closely to sneak out of the country, but these days the truth is deeper — he's grown addicted to life on the edge. He doesn't want to go back to a lifestyle where he has to trade in his scarves for a tie, his pumps for brogans and wear earrings that don't dangle.

Booshk has not only discovered that he likes the street-life, he's also come to believe that he's needed. He wasn't in S.F. long before he discovered what were, to his trained eye, unmistakable signs of pervasive nonhuman influence among the low-Cs. Booshk has made it his business to control the spread of these forces and the human cults that serve them, and to generally protect more innocent and helpless members of the community from Mythos-inspired predators.

These days he's drinking less (or at least spending less time drunk), and he's more careful in his sex life — he's thinking about finding somebody to settle down with. The kids in the underground hacker community regard him as sort of a guru or godfather (even the straight ones, who know he doesn't lech — not seriously, anyway).

Booshk is a tall, thin man with sharp, aesthetic features. He almost always dresses in drag — anything from a pair of low-heeled pumps with jeans and a t-shirt, to a formal backless evening gown with feather boa and plumed hat. His hair is usually dyed anything from platinum blonde to jet black, but most of the time it can't be seen because it's covered with a cobalt-blue or forest-green fright wig. In conversation, he usually camps it up, but even at his most flamboyant (or inebriated) he's always well-spoken, thoughtful and witty. He always carries a small shiv concealed somewhere on his person, but only carries his holdout pistol in emergency situations.

Anyadoll (Anya Cho)

Age 16, 5'4'', 125 lbs.; black hair, brown eyes

ST 8 [-15]IQ 14 [45]Speed: 6.25
DX 14 [45]HT 11 [10]Move: 6
Damage: Thrust 1d-3; Swing 1d-2
Dodge: 6Parry: 9 (Judo)

No armor, no encumbrance

Point Total: 150

Appearance — Beautiful [15]
Danger Sense [15]
Mythos Awareness [5 Points]
Unusual Background — native proficiency in English, Japanese and Russian [5 Points]

Bad Temper [-10]
Enemy — sought by parents' korp, large group, 6 or less [-15]
Social Stigma — undocumented alien, 9 or less [-5]
Stubborn [-5]
Youth [-4 points]

Deliberately dresses in a "frumpy" style
Sarcastic and dismissive
2 additional quirks of the player's/GM's choice

Acrobat-15 [8]; Dancing-15 [4]; Fast-Talk-15 [4]; Forgery-14 [4]; Judo-14 [4]; Lockpick-15 [4]; Occultism-12 [2]; Pick Pocket-15 [8]; Poetry-13 [1]; Pottery-15 [4]; Savoir-Faire-16 [4]; Sculpting-16 [8]; Sex Appeal-12 [4]; Stealth-14 [2]; Streetwise-15 [4]; Swim-14 [1]; Theology-13 [2]

English-14, Japanese-14, Russian-14 (all free from UB)

Anya Cho is the third child and only daughter of two very important 'zeks in one of the major Russo-Jap korps (GM's choice). Her two older brothers received the traditional administrative/technical education of korpbabies, but Anya was a bit of an experiment. She was systematically trained (and according to some rumors, genetically engineered) to be the perfect trophy wife. In the increasingly feudal world of the korps, it was hoped that Anya could be profitably mated to a business associate or rival in exchange for considerations advantageous to the korp, and the Cho family.

Her parents didn't count, however, on Anya's intelligence, or her talent. She had no taste whatsoever for the pedestrian social life of the korps. She only cared about her sculpting, dancing and poetry. Anya showed a marked gift for art, but while her parents would have been thrilled to see her take up china painting or origami, Anya's work was bizarre and extremely disturbing.

By the time she hit puberty, she'd figured out her parents' plans for her, and like many princesses before her, she rebelled.

On a trip to the U.S. with her parents, she took out on her own. Normally, she would have been rounded up by korporate security within a day or two, but she caught a break. Her parent's trade mission ended very badly, and their company was completely cut off from all U.S. trade. Any efforts to retrieve Anya would have to be indirect and clandestine, and she was worth only very limited efforts in that direction. She's easily evaded all attempts at korporate retrieval.

She made her way to San Francisco, where she hooked up with a young hacker named Jayboy. She took the street name Anyadoll. Jayboy fixed her up with a forged Citcard and kept them both fed and sleeping indoors. After a while, she started making her own money, selling her pots and small sculptures to tourists. More recently, she finally matured enough physically to make a living dancing in clubs. She's fond of Jayboy, in her way, but she's too self-centered and immature to really be in love with anybody.

Ever since childhood, Anya has been prone to terrifying — but fascinating — dreams of horrible alien monsters. She's become convinced that there is something real behind those dreams, and she wants to find out what it is. One of Jayboy's friends, an old queen named Booshk, was able to tell her some things about ancient inhuman creatures called the Great Old Ones, but he always stopped just short of telling her the good stuff. So now she's looking for new sources of information.

Anyadoll is a small, heartbreakingly beautiful young woman of Eurasian heritage. She dresses in a deliberately non-chic dumpster-grunge style and usually wears too much makeup. She doesn't carry or know how to use any weapons. Her Judo skill is actually Tai-Chi, but through a little bit of research and deductive reasoning she's managed to turn her childhood exercise regimen into a viable self-defense discipline.


Age 18, 5' 10'', 150 lbs., brown hair, green eyes

ST 10 [0]IQ 13 [30]Speed: 6
DX 12 [20]HT 12 [20]Move: 6
Damage: Thrust 1d-2, Swing 1d
Dodge: 6Parry: 6 (Brawling)

No armor, no encumbrance

Point Total: 150

Alertness +2 [10]
Appearance — Attractive [5]
Lightning Calculator [5]

Chip Slot X 2 [10]
Environmental Interface [30]
Interface Jack [10]

Code of Honor — friends take care of friends [-5]
Impulsiveness [-10]
Shyness — mild [-5]

Madly in love with Anyadoll
Extremely conscious of looking "street cool"
One additional quirk of the player's/GM's choice

Brawling-12 [1]; Computer Hacking-15 [16]: Electronics-12 [2]; Guns-14 [1]; Intelligence Analysis-14 [6]; Mathematics-12 [2]; Scrounging-13 [1]; Streetwise-13 [4]

S&W 9mm Urban Defender, 2d

Jayboy's been on the street since he was about 11. He doesn't talk about what his childhood was like or where he comes from. The name on his Citcard is "Jay Brown."

When he was 15, some mysterious fellows (Jayboy thinks they were MafInc, but he's not sure) came to him with a business proposal — they would fit him out and train him in the use of a brand new, state-of-the-art Environmental Interface in exchange for a few "errands." They were in no hurry. They sent Jayboy to an extremely private clinic in Singapore and about six months later he came back a genuine decker.

It only took Jayboy about ten weeks to accomplish all his "errands," and by the end of that time he was starting to feel that his patrons regarded him less as a valued junior partner than as a loose end that needed to be cut.

Feeling a sudden need for an ally, Jayboy sought out an acquaintance called Booshk. Much to Jayboy's surprise, Booshk not only agreed to help, but actually managed to convince Jayboy's patrons (Jayboy's never been sure exactly how) that when they left the country they'd be better off leaving Jayboy behind, alive and in one piece.

The patrons took their cyberdeck with them, of course, but Jayboy and Booshk managed to cobble together a replacement (there are about half a dozen people in North America capable of "cobbling together" an environmental interface cyberdeck using mostly street-level tech — Booshk is one of them). Since then, Jayboy's made a good living putting his unique gifts to various discreet uses. He lives with a younger girl named Anyadoll, and is madly in love and fiercely protective of her. Lately, however, Anya's seemed more interested in some kind of weird religious quest than in him, and he's worried he might lose her.

Jayboy is a good-looking, rather soft-faced young man of indeterminate ethnic heritage, with the unruly hair and deep pallor of a true hacker. He dresses self-consciously to match his self-appointed "outlaw" persona, heavy on black denim and black leather. He owns a handgun, but only carries it when he thinks he might need it.

Article publication date: March 1, 1995

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