Dr. Elliott Jason Novatney
by K. David Ladage
Dr. Novatney is, perhaps, the most successful genetic scientist in the world. He has written over two dozen articles in accredited journals from 1994 to present; however, you will find no published work with his name associated after 1986. Were you to find a well-stocked library and do the research, you would learn that Elliott Jason Novatney was born to Amanda Grace and Humphrey Alan Novatney in Rock Island, Illinois on September 7th of 1936. He moved three times before he landed in Alexandria, Virginia, where he graduated High School in 1954 with a C+ average. He tried to join the Navy in 1955, but was turned down after the entrance physical when it was discovered he was a bleeder (hemophilia type-A). Careful not to injure himself, Elliott took several low-impact jobs and worked his way through community college; transferring to the University of Virginia after four years, he graduated from the Pre-Med program in 1960. He then began his post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Novatney's career was exceptional. By 1975, he was published six times, he was the Associate Director of Research at Johns Hopkins and remained the heir apparent, and (in his mind) was very close to a cure for Hemophilia. In 1976 his mother died of complications following a fall; she had simply lost too much blood by the time she reached the hospital. Elliott knew his mother had Hemophilia, as the condition is passed from the mother, although his family never discussed it. Without Amanda in his life, Humphrey died in his sleep 11 months later. Dr. Novatney took this rather hard.
His work suffered. In 1980 he was passed over for Director of Research, and so resigned his position at Johns Hopkins, opting instead to start over at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. By 1984 he seemed to have gotten his life back together. He met, got engaged to, and was ready to marry Helen Victoria Chase, when he was shot to death outside of a Georgetown restaurant. He was killed, according to the police report, in a mugging in which his assailant was angry when he discovered that Dr. Novatney had no cash on him. Helen Chase went back to New York where she eventually married into a wealthy political family. And that would be all that you might find a well-stocked library.
The truth, however, is not quite that simple.
In 1980, Dr. Novatney was approached by several government contacts indicating that he was the top choice to head a secret government research project. He had taken the death of his parents hard, this was true, but it had not effected his work in any significant way. He was still on the fast track to becoming Director of Research at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Novatney, however, had no desire to work for the government (he had some offers from some rather lucrative pharmaceutical companies). He declined their offer.
Those same agents then arranged it so that, despite his record and qualifications, he was passed over for the Director's position. He fought the decision and lost. He was asked to resign after a heated argument with the hospital staff. Suddenly, he found himself almost unable to get work. Eventually, he discovered that this was due to the fact that he suddenly had a police record. After clearing this up, he managed to get a position with Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was again approached to head this secret government project. Realizing that they were not going to take no for an answer, he agreed.
Starting in 1984, Dr. Novatney began working on what was code-named Project: SIX. As a prominent and well-known individual (not only for his medical research but for the fact that he was engaged to marry into one of the wealthiest banking families in the United States), he could not simply disappear from the public eye and continue to work on this project. So his death was faked and he was shuffled off to a top-secret lab in the Mid-West.
As his face was well known, Dr. Novatney did not leave the compound of the project very often for the first few years. By 1989, he was able to travel the Mid-West without much fear of recognition. The project was going very well. They had made many discoveries, advanced in the project's goals, and were no more than 15 years away from unmitigated success in 1990. But by that time, the resources needed to continue Project: SIX had grown beyond the government's ability to obfuscate.
Thus, the solution was obvious. An organization was formed (that had very few government ties) that would act as a front. This organization would siphon money from all sorts of sources and even handle a large portion of the research that was deemed "acceptable" to release into the public domain. It was a success. This front organization is called The Human Genome Project.
The specific nature of Project: SIX is dependent upon the type of campaign you want to drop Dr. Novatney into. Regardless of the campaign, however, SIX is a ruthless organization dedicated to advancing the power and might of the United States government through genetic research. They will (and often do) kill innocent people in the name of scientific advancement. All in an effort to give the US the upper hand.
In each case, however, the role of Dr. Novatney should be one that rides the line between good and evil; between light and dark. No matter what evil the organization is doing, Dr. Novatney's (primary?) motivation is for the research into cures for genetic disorders -- such as his own hemophilia. He sees this as a win-win situation: The government gets something and the word gets something. Depending upon the campaign, here are a few possible goals and motivations for SIX:
- Aliens Among Us: In a horror or conspiracy campaign, SIX can be an organization studying captured alien life forms. If the Earth is involved in a secret interstellar war, the project could simply be to find weaknesses in the alien life that can be exploited. If not, perhaps the alien life forms have abilities and powers based upon their genetics that the government is attempting to duplicate in humans to build a new breed of super-soldier. SIX in this case could even be an acronym for the Scientific Investigations into Xenobiology (even if this is not the name that the government had in mind, it could be a name the members of the project use when they discuss it).
- Meta-Human Gene: In a super-powered (or psionics) campaign where the powers involved are genetic in nature (such as Wild Cards), SIX can be an organization that is attempting to artificially create the conditions needed to cause the meta-human gene to activate. Destructive testing of the subjects with chemicals, radiation, or what-have-you would not be uncommon. In a game where super-powers are not extant, but you wish to introduce them, this version of SIX could be used as well. Depending upon the level of advancement SIX has made, one could even add minor powers to various members of the team to simulate any stable gene-sequences they have discovered.
- Super-Virus: In a campaign that wants to deal with long-term goals of the characters, the idea of a genetically designed virus becomes possible. Imagine a virus that can target specific genetic patterns. Suppose the patterns that were being targeted were those that are common in the Middle East or Asia. Suppose this virus was being designed so that each batch could be "programmed" to go after a specific person so that a carrier agent could be infected with the virus but have no symptoms; yet by making contact with the target, they would contract a serious illness and die within 48 hours. The possibilities here are endless.
- Thuamaturgy: In a Technomancer campaign, Dr. Elliott Jason Novatney and his SIX organization could very well be the same (or even a competing) organization that ran "Project Umber Regal" (pp. T54 and MO82). This would mean that SIX is involved in Genetic Thaumaturgy (T50); additionally, SIX would be trying to unlock the genetic codes that control or aid in the manipulation of magical energies -- attempting to create genetically engineered magi. If this is the case, then you may wish to add some level of Magery to the good Doctor's stats below.
Dr. Elliott Jason Novatney
Age 68, although he appears to be in his mid-50s; 5'9", 147 lbs.; distinguished gray hair, green eyes; gaunt looking man with long, bony fingers; in his lab he wears a tattered white lab coat, outside of his lab he is most often in faded jeans, simple tennis shoes and a silk shirt.
ST 9 [-10]; DX 10 ; IQ 12 ; HT 10 .
Advantages: Empathy ; High Technology +1 (Bio-technologies and Genetics only, -10%) ; Legal Enforcement Powers (international jurisdiction, not obligated to respect civil rights of others, able to kill with relative impunity) ; Patron (US Government, 12-) ; Strong Will +2 ; Wealth (Wealthy) ; Zeroed (only after 1986, -10%) .
Disadvantages: Duty (US Government, 15-) [-15]; Hemophilia [-30]; Megalomania [-10]; No Sense of Humor [-10]; Secret (faked death) [-10]; Sense of Duty (United States) [-10]; Stubbornness [-5].
Quirks: Overconfidence (mild) [-1]; Reclusive (mild) [-1]; Secretive [-1]; Superiority Complex [-1]; Workaholic [-1].
Skills: Administration-16 ; Area Knowledge (Midwest)-16 ; Area Knowledge (Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas)-16 ; Area Knowledge (New York)-12 ; Biochemistry/TL8-22 ; Chemistry/TL7-16 ; Computer Operation/TL7-12 ; Dancing (formal)-10 ; Detect Lies-15 ; Diagnosis/TL8-18 ; Diplomacy-12 ; Driving (Cars)/TL7-10 ; Electronics Operation (Medical)/TL7 and TL8-18 ; First Aid/TL7-18 ; Genetics/TL8-22 ; Guns (pistols)/TL7-12* ; Law (American)-16** ; Law (international)-12 ; Leadership-12 ; Mathematics-14 ; Physician/TL8-18 ; Physiology/TL8-18 ; Politics-12 ; Psychology-14 ; Research-20 ; Savoir-Faire-16 ; Surgery/TL7-18 ; Swimming-10 ; Teaching-14 ; Writing-14 .
Languages: English (native)-12 ; Latin-12 .
* Includes +2 from IQ
** Includes +4 for being home legal system
Article publication date: May 21, 2004
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