The Good Doctor and His Creations
by Bevan Thomas
We live in a technological age, and the mad scientist is the embodiment of technology and science run amok. Dr. Heinrich von Reichtor is a model mad scientist, a horrific reminder of the times that science does not heal, but instead destroys.
A brilliant bioengineer, von Reichtor could not accept the loss of his wife, and is trying anything and everything to bring her back to life. He seeks to recreate the one perfect thing he has ever had, and in doing so he is creating monsters.
Heinrich von Reichtor
Attributes: ST 9 [-10]; DX 11 ; IQ 15 ; HT 10 .
Secondary Characteristics: Dmg 1d-2/1d-1; BL 16 lbs. ; HP 9 ; Will 13 [-10]; Per 15 ; FP 10 ; Basic Speed 5.25 ; Basic Move 5 .
Advantages: Contact Group (underworld, effective skill 15, fairly often, somewhat reliable) ; High Manual Dexterity 1 ; Status 2 ; Wealthy 
Disadvantages: Dependents (his creations, around quite often) [-20]; Insomniac (severe) [-15]; Lame (crippled) [-10]; Loner (12) [-5]; Nightmares (12) [-5]; Obsession (resurrect wife) (12) [-10]; Phantom Voices (dead wife)(disturbing) [-10]; Shyness (severe) [-10]; Workaholic [-5]
Quirks: Careful [-1]; Proud (intelligence) [-1].
Languages: English (Accented) ; German (Native) ; Homeric Greek (Accented) ; Latin (Accented) .
Skills: Area Knowledge (his city)-15 ; Bioengineering (cloning)-18 ; Bioengineering-(genetic) 18 ; Bioengineering (tissue)-18 ; Biology-16 ; Chemistry-16 ; Computer Operation-15 ; Diagnosis-16 ; Drive (automobile)-10 ; Expert Skill (thanatology)-17 ; Games (chess)-15 ; Literature-13 ; Musical Instrument (violin)-13 ; Observation-14 ; Physician-16 ; Physiology-16 ; Research-17 ; Surgery-17 ; Veterinary-14 ; Weird Science-17 ; Writing-14 
Dr. Heinrich von Reichtor is a tall, slim man with haunted gray eyes. Though only in his mid-30s, his long brown hair has become streaked with gray. His troubles have made him old before his time. When at home, the doctor usually wears black pajamas, slippers, and dressing gown. The few times that he deigns to get dressed, Dr. von Reichtor favors rumpled black pants accompanied by black turtlenecks and tweed jackets. Wherever he goes, he leans heavily on his black walking stick.
He met her in university, and from the first time he gazed into her eyes, he knew that he was in love.
Heinrich von Reichtor was the last of a long line of German aristocracy. A shy, retiring man, he had no interest in his wealth nor in most people, but devoted his time to the biological sciences and to a lesser extent, flights of fancy through reading romantic poetry and Greek mythology.
She was Catherine Summers, the most beautiful woman in the school, and the only person who Heinrich had ever met who he found as intelligent as himself. Despite his mangled right leg, plain features, and nervous manner, she was as drawn to him as he was to her.
They decided to wait a year to get married, the day after they would receive their PhDs. That year was heaven for Heinrich. Even his parents' death during that time did little to hurt his spirits. After all, he was engaged to Catherine Summers. How could anything compare to that?
The day they married was the happiest of von Reichtor's life; it was a dream come true. But that night was the beginning of his nightmare. Catherine began to get sick, and over the next few days she got even sicker. No one knew what was wrong with her. All von Reichtor knew was that his wife was dying in his arms, and his vaunted intellect could not save her.
He sequestered himself and Catherine in one of his mansions as he worked feverishly to save her life. After she slipped into a coma, he knew her death was near, and so he placed her inside a prototype he had developed. It was a glass casket, filled with a chemical solution that would place her in suspended animation until she could be brought back from the jaws of death.
That was years ago, and since then, Heinrich von Reichtor's sanity has crumbled.
The von Reichtor fortune is dwindling as the doctor spends his time and money hunting for a miracle cure. As his madness grows, von Reichtor's experiments become less and less related to his wife, becoming simply the indulgence of a morbid curiosity. He tried to animate dead bodies to see if it was possible to return the spirit to the flesh, creating the behemoth Atlas. In a moment of desperation, he tried to "grow" a new Catherine, and made Metis. Now he is grafting human brain tissue onto animals, creating creatures like Aristotle the raven. Only von Reichtor knows what his next experiment will be.
As his mind deteriorates, so do his morals. He pays criminals to deliver corpses from graveyards for use in his experiments, and he has started to perform vivisection. These actions would have horrified him a short time ago, but now it is only a matter of time before he targets living humans. He has reached the point that if anyone were a danger to him or his work, he'd consider strapping that person to his operating table to be an appropriate way of eliminating the problem.
The doctor rarely sees anyone. In fact, he almost never leaves the house unless it is on some errand relating to his research. His only companions are the strange creatures he's created, particularly Metis. He treats the homunculus as halfway between a daughter and a pet, and has taught her various things, including how to play chess. One of the only times that he smiles is when she sings or dances in accompaniment to his violin.
Dr. von Reichtor's bed is beside Catherine's casket. However, he almost never sleeps, for when he does, he is beset by hideous nightmares in which his wife dies before his eyes again and again. Even being awake does not allow him to escape her apparition, for he often hears her voice in the back of his mind. Sometimes she is singing or calling gently to him, other times she is a screeching banshee, demanding to know why he is letting her die. Worst of all, sometimes she simply cries out a death rattle that lasts for minutes. When that happens, Dr. von Reichtor collapses to the ground, places his hands over his ears, and begs her over and over to stop.
Even in her demi-death, Catherine von Reichtor is beautiful. She floats in a bath of chemicals, her long black hair forming a halo around her head as her pale, delicate hands are clasped over her still bosom. She is dressed in her wedding gown, though the veil is thrown back in order for her lovely face to be clearly seen. Her eyes are closed, giving the appearance of someone sleeping peacefully. She looks like Snow White in a glass coffin, a resemblance von Reichtor has noticed and draws a grim humor from.
Heinrich von Reichtor often stares at her vat for hours, kissing and caressing it tenderly while he sings to his wife all the songs that she loved.
The mad scientist is a modern version of the black magician, a radical scholar who seeks to know Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Depending upon his area of interest, he may use bioengineering to evolve animals, computer programming to create artificial life, engineering to build a machine to travel dimensions, or something even further beyond the pale. Whatever his motives and techniques, he is as insane as he is brilliant.
Many mad scientists seek knowledge or power for their own selfish ends, but some have noble goals. These scholars may seek to cure world hunger, heal the environment, or eliminate disease, but during their quests, they have lost touch with reality. This sort of mad scientist is the most tragic, for he sought to give hope, and now only delivers terror.
Attributes: ST 9 [-10]; DX 11 ; IQ 15 ; HT 10 .
Secondary Characteristics: Dmg 1d-2/1d-1; BL 16 lbs. ; HP 9 ; Will 13 [-10]; Per 15 ; FP 10 ; Basic Speed 5.25 ; Basic Move 5 .
Advantages: Language (Latin or some other scientific language)(Accented)  and 25 points chosen from among Allies (minion) [Varies]; Cybernetics [Varies]; Eidetic Memory [5 or 10]; Gadgeteer ; Gizmos [5 /gizmo]; High Manual Dexterity [5/level]; Languages [Varies]; Less Sleep [2/level]; Lightning Calculator [2 or 5]; Patron [Varies]; Reputation (respected scientist) [Varies]; Talent [Varies]; Tenure ; Unfazeable ; and Wealth [Varies].
Disadvantages: -20 points to represent the Mad Scientist's insanity, chosen from Delusions [-5 to -15]; Fanaticism [-15]; Flashbacks [Varies]; Low Empathy [-20]; Manic-Depressive [-10]; Megalomania [-10]; Nightmares [-5]; Obsession [-5 or -10]; Paranoia [-10]; Phantom Voices [-5 to -15]; Phobias [Varies]; Sadism [-15]; and Xenophilia [-10] and an additional -20 points chosen from the list above or from Absent-Mindedness [-15]; Bad Sight (Mitigator: Glasses, -60%)[-10]; Bad Temper [-10]; Callous [-5]; Curious [-5]; Enemies [Varies]; Greed [-15]; Hunchback [-10]; Intolerance [Varies]; Jealousy [-10]; Lame [-10 or -20]; Overconfidence [-5]; Proud [-1]; Reputation [Varies]; Secret [-5 to -20]; Sense of Duty [-2 to -20]; Social Stigma [Varies]; Stubbornness [-5]; and Workaholic [-5].
Primary Skills: Weird Science (VH) IQ +2 -17 and one skill from: Bioengineering, Chemistry, Computer Programming (AI), or Engineer, all (H) IQ +3 -18; or Alchemy (VH) IQ +2 -17.
Secondary Skills: Research IQ (A) +2 -17 and 20 points worth of skills that support the mad scientist's primary skill (for example, a mad scientist who focuses on Bioengineering would have Biology, Physician, and Physiology, whereas one who specializes in Computer Programming [AI] would instead select Computer Hacking, Computer Operation, and normal Computer Programming).
Background Skills: Select two skills from: Interrogation, Teaching, or Writing, all (A) IQ-1 -14; or Intimidation (A) Will-1 -12; or Observation (A) Per-1 -14; or Cryptography or Hypnotism, both (H) IQ-2 -13.
The Doctor's Creations
These are the three most prominent creations of Dr. Heinrich von Reichtor. They represent three archetypes of mad scientists' experiments: the forcibly evolved animal, the human behemoth, and the homunculus, and so can serve as simple templates for different creations. Other minions can be added, whether similar to the listed ones (such as Ajax, another product of the experiment that created Atlas) or entirely new (for example, a semi-sapient goo that von Reichtor accidentally created from a piece of Catherine's skin and spit).
Attributes: ST 3 (no fine manipulators -40%) [-42]; DX 14 (no fine manipulators -40%) ; IQ 11 ; HT 10 
Secondary Characteristics: SM -4; Dmg 1d-5/1d-4 ; BL 1.8; HP 6 ; Will 11 ; Per 14 ; FP 10 ; Speed 6 ; Basic Move 2 (ground) [-20].
Advantages: Acute Vision 3 ; Eidetic Memory ; Enhanced Move 1 (Air Speed 24) ; Flight (Winged -25%; Air Move 12) ; Patron (Dr. von Reichtor, present quite often) ; Sharp Beak ; Sharp Claws 
Disadvantages: Curious (12) [-5]; Kleptomania (12) [-15]; Nightmares (12) [-5]; No Fine Manipulators [-30]; Odious Personal Habit (eats carrion) [-10]; Phantom Voices (disturbing) [-10]; Phobia (Triskaidekaphobia) (12) [-5]
Quirks: Distractible [-1]; Uncongenial [-1]
Languages: English (Accented) ; German (Native) 
Skills: Area Knowledge (his city)-13 ; Brawling-14 ; Detect Lies-14 ; Dropping-14 ; Filch-14 ; Flight-11 ; Lip Reading-14 ; Mimicry (speech)-11 ; Navigation (air)-11 ; Observation-14 ; Stealth-15 ; Urban Survival-14 
Aristotle looks like a large, normal raven.
Aristotle is a raven whom Dr. von Reichtor vivisected. The bird has had human brain tissue grafted onto his mind, and so can talk and reason like a human. Immensely curious, as well as being grateful for his new intelligence, Aristotle serves as an informant and spy for his "boss," finding things out as only a bird can.
But recent events have started to unnerve the raven. He has been having strange nightmares and invisible people yelling in his ears. He keeps getting flashes of memories that he has never experienced. He thinks the different parts of his brain are warring against each other, each one trying to gain control. For some reason, Aristotle is now terrified by the number 13. He doesn't know why. He just knows he will never fly over a house numbered thirteen ever again. He's afraid that if Dr. von Reichtor found out about all of this, the doctor might just abort the experiment and turn Aristotle back into a normal raven. So Aristotle has been keeping quiet, and been desperately hoping that the voices in his head will go away.
Attributes: ST 22 ; DX 8[-40]; IQ 6 [-80]; HT 14 
Secondary Characteristics: SM +1; Dmg 2d/4d ; BL 97 ; HP 22 ; Will 6 ; Per 9 ; FP 14 ; Basic Speed 5.50 ; Basic Move 5 .
Advantages: Damage Resistance 2 (tough skin -40%) , Fearlessness 5 ; Hard to Kill 3 ; Hard to Subdue 3 ; High Pain Threshold ; Night Vision 5 ; Patron (Dr. von Reichtor, present quite often) 
Disadvantages: Bad Temper (12) [-10]; Berserk (12) [-10]; Curious (12) [-5]; Gullibility (12) [-10]; Odious Personal Habit (smells of formaldehyde) [-5]; Sense of Duty (Metis) [-2]; Ugly [-8]
Quirks: Humble [-1]; Likes Cats [-1]
Languages: German: Spoken (Broken)/Written (None) [-7]
Skills: Brawling-11 ; Intimidation-11 (includes bonus for size) 
Atlas is a mountain of a man, eight feet tall with rippling muscles and a wide, brutish face. He has no hair of any kind, and his bright yellow eyes reflect an innocence that seems out of place with the rest of his monstrous form. He dresses simply in T-shirt and jeans, and the stench of formaldehyde radiates from his body.
Atlas was Dr. von Reichtor's first semi-successful attempt at life. After various bodies the doctor attempted to reanimate proved too weak for the process, he injected one corpse with a specially treated steroids and hormones. He finally made it powerful enough to survive the process, and laughed with joy as the muscled-up corpse began to slowly move its limbs.
However, the creature he created was not quite what he expected. Though the brute, dubbed Atlas after the mightiest titan in Greek mythology, possesses vast strength and durability, he also has the intelligence of an infant and is prone to dangerous mood swings. The slightest thing can set Atlas off, causing him to fly into a deadly fury which only Dr. von Reichtor and Metis are able to quiet. When Atlas isn't assigned to a task, he is usually in his room sucking his thumb, whistling a nonsense tune, and playing with his toy cats.
Attributes: ST 5 [-50]; DX 12 , IQ 12 ; HT 10 
Secondary Characteristics: SM -4; Dmg 1d-4/1d-3 ; BL 5 ; HP 5 ; Will 12 ; Per 12 ; FP 10 ; Basic Speed 5.50 ; Basic Move 5 .
Advantages: Beautiful , Patron (Dr. von Reichtor, present quite often) ; Single-Minded ; Talent (Smooth Operator) 1 
Disadvantages: Impulsiveness (12) [-10]; Jealousy [-10], Obsession (make von Reichtor love her) (12) [-5]
Quirks: Congenial [-1]; Believes she speaks perfect French and always fakes a French accent [-1]
Languages: English (Accented) ; French (Accented) ; German (Native) 
Skills: Acting-13* ; Computer Operations-12 ; Dancing-12 ; Diplomacy-11* ; Fast-Talk-13* ; Games (chess)-14 ; Gardening-12 ; History (Paris and surrounding area)-12 ; Hobby (fashion television shows and magazines)-14 ; Hobby (French fiction)-12 ; Hobby (romance novels)-14 ; Housekeeping-14 ; Sex Appeal-15** ; Sewing-14 ; Singing-11 ; Stealth-11 
*Includes bonus for Smooth Operator
**Includes bonuses for Beautiful and Smooth Operator
An artificial being created by Dr. von Reichtor in the image of his comatose wife, Metis is a beautiful woman with long silky black hair, deep blue eyes, and a softy creamy complexion. She is also slightly under a foot tall, often giving the impression of an animated doll. Metis dresses in facsimiles of dresses she sees on TV or in magazines. She has the doctor pick up the materials, and then she makes the dresses herself. Metis loves to pretend she is a French debutante, and will almost always speak in a rich French accent. She makes certain she looks as beautiful and glamorous as possible (elegant clothes, makeup, well-groomed hair, etc.) in order to impress Heinrich von Reichtor.
After his problems with Atlas, Dr. von Reichtor decided to create a human from scratch. He used DNA from his wife to grow a variation of the alchemical homunculus, a tiny woman who quickly aged to adulthood. To von Reichtor's frustration, though the creature looked like a miniature of his wife, her personality was completely different: energetic, sensual, and vivacious instead of sedate, demure, and nurturing. He sadly declared the experiment a failure, and (since she proved to be far smarter than Atlas) named his creation "Metis" after the Greek titaness who was the goddess of wisdom.
Metis quickly adapted to her new existence. She fell head-over-heels in love with von Reichtor, and immediately tried to figure out how to win his favor. After he taught her how to read, she started hunting through his library, trying to learn how to be the sort of woman whom he could love. She taught herself how to sing, dance, care for a home, and above all, how to be beautiful. All to no avail. Her beloved doctor's heart is held by a giant, comatose version of herself that floats in a vat twenty-four hours a day.
She spends most of her time looking after the house and garden, doing what chores herself that she can, and directing Atlas for those tasks too big for her little body. In her free time, she reads romance novels and fashion magazines, makes beautiful new clothing for herself, and dreams about how wonderful things will be when she and the doctor get married. Metis is at her happiest when she plays chess with Dr. von Reichtor, or better yet, when he plays his violin, and she sings and dances for him. Only then, for a few precious moments, is she able to forget that he doesn't love her.
When Dr. von Reichtor isn't around, Metis often sits and stares at Catherine. The diminutive woman is shocked by how much she has grown to hate her double. She dreams of somehow switching bodies, leaving her former self lying on some table like a broken doll as she lifts the top of the glass and loses herself in her master's loving embrace. Metis knows that this is a ridiculous hope that will never happen no matter how much she dreams. However another idea has occurred to her. Wouldn't Dr. von Reichtor pay more attention to her if Catherine were somehow made to vanish?
Dr. Von Reichtor and His Creations In the Campaign
There are various ways for the player characters to encounter Dr. von Reichtor. If the doctor is to be an ally in the campaign, the PCs could be employed by him to get or do something that would help his experiments. They might also decide to see him in order to get some advice on a particular scientific project. If he is to be an adversary, they could stumble upon grave robberies and trace the thefts back to him, or discover the nature of von Reichtor's experiments and decide to put a stop to it. Alternately, someone in Catherine's family or the scientific community may ask the PCs to investigate the doctor's strange behavior.
Von Reichtor is not the only person the characters may want to investigate. Perhaps someone has grown concerned about the raven that keeps screaming in German for the voices in its head to leave it alone, or the lumbering brute that is sometimes spotted by the docks. One of Catherine's relatives or friends might see Metis scampering down the street, and wish to discover what exactly that doppelganger was. Metis herself may also try manipulating the characters into getting rid of Catherine or helping her win von Reichtor's heart.
Dr. von Reichtor, Aristotle, and Metis avoid fights. If on their own, they try to talk their way out of problems, and if that fails, they flee. However, if they have Atlas with them, then they will rely on the brute's vast strength and fury to deal with any threats in the quickest manner possible.
If someone finds out too much about von Reichtor's experiments, or he thinks they have become a serious threat, then he will do his best to get rid of them. Nothing is more important than working to save Catherine, and any obstacles that present themselves must be removed as quickly as possible. He will try to lure the threats to some deserted spot and then send Atlas (with Metis to direct him). Depending upon the situation, the person will either end up with a broken neck . . . or wake up strapped to von Reichtor's operating table with the doctor ready to begin his next experiment.
Those that work for the doctor can expect to be well rewarded. He is still wealthy and willing to pay for good service, and as one of the most accomplished scientists in the world, has a lot of information that player characters could find incredibly useful (particularly within the realm of medicine). He also has a massive library that contains not only scientific texts and journals, but also tomes built up from centuries of von Reichtors, each adding their own idiosyncratic reading material to the collection.
If the PCs are von Reichtor's opponents, then they can profit by taking his rare books and finding an appropriate buyer for them. Some are rare and prized, and could be sold for thousands. The PCs could make off with his various formulas and experiments as well, but unless they are very lucky, this sort of tampering with forbidden secrets would cause more harm than good.
Here are some ways to reinterpret Dr. von Reichtor in other situations and settings.
In a campaign with TL 1-4, Dr. von Reichtor is an alchemist instead of a bioengineer. As there are far less science skills in these environments, the doctor has branched out more, studying religion, nature, and the occult in an attempt to find a way of bringing back Catherine. Replace his skills with the following (his point cost remains the same):
Area Knowledge (his city)-15 ; Alchemy-18 ; Broadsword-10 ; Diagnosis-16 ; Expert Skill (natural philosophy)-17 ; Expert Skill (thanatology)-17 ; Games (chess)-15 ; Herb Lore-15 ; Literature-13 ; Musical Instrument (flute)-13 ; Naturalist-17 ; Observation-15 ; Occultism-17 ; Pharmacy (herbal)-16 ; Physiology-16 ; Research-17 ; Riding (horse)-11 ; Thaumatology-17 ; Theology (comparative)-16 ; Weird Science-17 ; Writing-14 
In this version, Metis is a homunculus from GURPS Magic (p. 221), while Atlas may be a homunculus, a golem created from flesh instead of clay, or a strange variation of a zombie.
Von Reichtor could be a wizard as well, delving into magic for a solution to his tragic problem. He would focus on the colleges of Healing and Necromancy in his experiments, and also make extensive use of the college of Knowledge.
Von Reichtor the alchemist could be used in a modern setting as well. In that situation, keep most of his normal skills, but replace the various versions of Bioengineering with Alchemy, Occultism, and Thaumatology.
The Mad Test Subject
Given enough time, Von Reichtor might experiment on himself, whether to boost his own intelligence or to test some techniques that he is thinking of using on his wife. (His insanity may also reach a point where he experiments on himself for the sake of experimentation). There are many alterations he could do, from grafting other people's brain tissue to his own to stimulating his consciousness with special chemicals to attempting to gain psionics.
A particularly deranged possibility is for him to try and recreate Catherine by becoming her. After all, if he was in fact her, then not only would von Reichtor no longer have any reason to feel tormented, but there would be no "he" to be tormented! For the doctor to come to this decision, his sense of self would have to be completely broken, and Metis would do all in her power to stop the transformation.
Mad Science in Spaaaace!
Dr. von Reichtor may be doing his studies on his own space station or private planetoid, creating new life forms and maybe even new ecosystems as his experiments spin further and further out of control. In such a situation, he would probably be proficient in Area Knowledge (his planet or space station), Pilot (spacecraft), and other appropriate extra-planetary skills, and might have decided to branch out into robotics to investigate the idea of creating a mechanical body to house his wife's consciousness.
If the doctor and his creations are on a different planet, Aristotle would probably be created from a life-form native to there, and possibly so would Atlas (unless they had been brought in the spaceship).
Article publication date: December 2, 2005
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