Stockholm

The stockholm virus is a variant of the xenomorph virus (p. 368, EP) that transforms the mind of the victim before it transforms their body. Stockholm characters view xenomorphs as beautiful and perfect beings and wish to aspire to become them. They become willing allies of xenomorph exsurgents, aiding and concealing them as long as possible. Other exsurgents will not kill stockholm-infected characters but they will ignore or abuse them. Groups of stockholm-infected exsurgents sometimes form cults that seek to create as many xenomorphs as possible.

The long infection time of this virus creates an insidious mechanism to subvert an entire community. Patient zero gradually spreads the virus in a slow and subtle manner. By the time they reach stage 4, others should be infected with stages 2 and 3, allowing them to hide and protect the xenomorph, aided by their psi sleights and obsessive nature. As more of thecommunity becomes infected, more will reach stage 4 and become full xenomorphs. Eventually the uninfected will realize what is going, but by then, there is a full-blown exsurgent cell, with xenomorph shock troops ready to attack. Stockholm exsurgents will also help xenomorphs fight against transhumans, although they prefer to use indirect methods, like deceiving security forces or compromising life support systems. In heavily infected areas, like Earth or the TITAN Quarantine Zone, a stockholm character is a pitiable scavenger, clinging to life, ignored by the gods they worship, but no less dangerous. They may seek to prey upon the empathy of intruders, pretending to be victims who need help, while trying to infect others or alert other exsurgents.

This strain of the virus is harder to detect. Apply a −20 modifier to any detection test until the character reaches stage 4 of the infection.

Stage 1

Timeframe: Instantaneous-26 weeks

Upon initial infection, the character gains the Psi trait at Level 1 along with the Enhanced Creativity psi-chi sleight. They may purchase new chi slights at standard Rez point costs. NPCs gain 1 new sleight every 2 to 4 weeks. The victim is also afflicted with the Mental Disorder (Body Dysmorphia) trait, viewing their own morph (and all other transhuman-created morphs) as unnatural and disgusting. They are compelled to create artwork that depicts their idealized body type or seek out cosmetic body modifications that make them appear more alien, though they may resist this impulse with a successful WIL x 3 Test once per month. They also typically become obsessed with the Fall and will voyeuristically watch footage of exsurgents over and over again.

During this time, the victim will rationalize their change as an “awakening,” a realization that exsurgents are not evil, but the next stage of evolution for transhumanity. Infected characters will also suffer from various side effects, which are listed below. The GM has discretion as to which ones affect the character at this stage.

Stress: 1d10

Stage 2

Timeframe: 26 weeks-52 weeks

The character acquires Level 2 of the Psi trait and the Cloud Memory gamma psi-sleight. They also pick up the Mental Disorder (OCD) trait, which manifests as an obsession with protecting and aiding active exsurgents. If the character fails to protect an exsurgent from harm, they suffer 1d10 ÷ 2 mental stress. They must pass a WIL Test to harm an exsurgent and suffer SV 1d10 for doing so. Other exsurgents will not attack the character except to defend themselves

Characters may realize they are infected at this point, but will probably see this as beneficial. They may try to seek help or restore themselves from an uninfected backup, but this requires a WIL Test. Failure indicates that the virus exerts itself and prevents the character from acting out; they suffer an additional SV 1d10.

At this stage, the victim must no longer make Stress Tests from encountering exsurgents, but they must still make a Stress Test if they see an exsurgent attack a loved one or friend. The character may still find it difficult to rationalize violence against their loved ones.

Note that the character has suffered no physical change at this point, except any self-inflicted changes.

Stress: 1d10

Stage 3

Timeframe: 52 weeks

The victim now gains the Mental Disorder (Obsession) trait and becomes fixated on becoming a full xenomorph exsurgent. The longer they go without transitioning, the more they will believe they have failed in some way, perhaps spurring them to spread the virus to others.

Stress: 1d10 per week

Stockholm Exsurgents

Whenever a character’s accumulated stress equals their Lucidity, they become an exsurgent. Over the next hour (nanoplague) or week (bio-pathogen), they will physically transmogrify into a xenomorph exsurgent.

Side Effects

Characters with this strain suffer from unique side effects. The following examples provide some ideas for GMs, or they can develop their own:

Religious Ideation and Fixation: The character develops a personal mythology on how the exsurgents are spiritual saviors of transhumanity. They may be seen as angels, the key to Nirvana, or something even more esoteric. They will create rituals of worship, prayers, holy text, and acts of devotion such as self- mutilation. The character will probably keep their beliefs secret because they will know that praising exsurgents is a good way to get killed and have their backups erased. However, in isolated environments, the character may try to convert others, typically through extreme methods such as psychosurgery, torture, or the use of async sleights.

Hallucinations: The character experiences vivid hallucinations for 1d10 minutes at random intervals. These hallucinations typically depict the Fall as a glorious religious experience and exsurgents as supreme beings worthy of worship. Normal trans- humans become pitiable freaks. A character can hide their reaction from others by making a WIL x 3 Test. If the test fails, then the character noticeably reacts to the hallucinations, which will probably alert others.

Increased Infectiousness: A character with this side effect becomes far more infectious. The virus becomes airborne and contaminates any surface the character touches for 1d10 hours. Anyone who breathes the same air as the character or touches the same surface as the character risks infection. In addition, the character’s exsurgent nature becomes more detectable to biohazard sensors. Tests made to detect the virus no longer suffer a −20 penalty.