Haunting

This strain is the most insidious of the exsurgent viruses. Over time, it rewrites the target’s personality and motivations, slowly but surely subverting and taking control of the victim’s mind. At rst the character is unlikely to even be aware of the infection, and as it progresses the changes the virus makes to the target will at rst seem natural, as if some new aspect of their personality was simply manifesting itself. As the effects grow more pronounced, however, the victim becomes aware that they are being methodically altered but is in most cases unable to act against it. In the end, they are completely transformed into a pawn of the ETI. Their mind is no longer transhuman, but alien.

Stage 1

Timeframe: Instantaneous-12 weeks

Upon initial infection, the character suffers 1d10 mental stress and gains the Psi trait (p. 147, EP) at Level 1 (also meaning they pick up the Mental Disorder trait, as noted on p. 150). They also gain one free psi-chi sleight, chosen randomly or by the gamemaster. If a player character has become infected, they may still be played as normal (see Roleplaying Exsurgents, p. 369) and may purchase new psi-chi sleights with Rez Points. NPCs acquire 1 new sleight per 2–4 weeks.

At this stage, the infection is usually hidden, though the character will suffer from occasional haunting effects (see below). As each week passes, the character’s personality should shift a minute amount, slowly becoming more callous and conniving and changing in other ways as well. If possible, the player should be kept in the dark about what is happening, but the gamemaster should provide them with roleplaying advice to reaect their condition. Likewise, the discovery and initial use of psi sleights should be played out, providing some interesting roleplaying opportunities. Characters and players who know of the exsurgent virus and Watts-MacLeod strains should not know at this point which strain they are infected with—make them sweat.

Stress: 1d10

Stage 2

Timeframe: 12 weeks-24 weeks

The target suffers another 1d10 ÷ 2 (round up) mental stress and acquires the Psi trait at Level 2 (also picking up another disorder). Player characters may still be played as normal and may purchase psi-gamma slights with Rez Points. NPCs acquire 1 new sleight per 2–4 weeks.

Once three months have passed, the character should be aware they are under the influence of something, but this awareness likely comes too late. Haunting effects should occur regularly. At this point a character is likely to consider seeking help, actively encouraging others to interfere, or offing themselves and resorting to an uninfected backup. The infection will actively block and hinder such thoughts and actions, however. To actively overcome this mental control, the character must succeed in a WIL Test. At the gamemaster’s discretion, failure may result in 1d10 ÷ 2 (round up) mental stress as the character realizes they are no longer fully in control of their own thoughts and actions.

Stress: 1d10 / 2

Stage 3

Timeframe: 24 weeks

The victim suffers another 1d10 ÷ 2 (round up) mental stress and acquires the Psi trait at Level 3. The character is now considered an exsurgent and becomes an NPC. It may no longer be played as a player character. The victim also gains a permanent +5 bonus to COG and WIL and acquires 1 new sleight every 1–2 months.

Stress: 1d10 / 2