Characters: Genius: The Transgression
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Grimm, the Catalyst of Fury
"I am nanometers from perfection and no longer answer to any mortal authority. They weren't there for me and I won't waste time helping them as I rise asymptotically toward the ultimate virtue. Every corpse I leave should be one less investigation to make, instead of one more open case. But I'm not here for human justice any more. When you see the Paolenti penthouse burn with white fire and the dreams of serpents, you'll know that, and so will every other man-mask-wearing machine-demon in this city. They'll never love me for the things I've done, but I never asked for love. Only for perfection."Defined by anger and a need for vengeance, justice, and/or the need to just plain vent. Naturally, they're the best at building weapons of every kind. They're also prone to being irrational and generally flying off the handle. As one might expect, they tend to take a very... direct approach to problem-solving.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Their chief derangement lends itself to this.
Hoffnung, the Catalyst of Vision
"You've seen it on the billboards and the trash-strewn alleys, amidst the halls of the powerful and in the tenements of the desperate: the Change. It's coming, and soon everything will be different. Our world will transform itself in fire, if necessary, in blood, certainly, and be reborn, fresh and new, to gaze out on the universe with innocent and wondering eyes. And I am the herald of that Change. So forgive me if I cannot hear your words or your screams. They are too small. Do you hear the mayflies screaming tonight? Neither do I."Defined by hope and ambition, Hoffnungs seek to change the world. While this may seem like a good thing on the surface, many of them have a definite consequentialist mentality or unusual ideas of what a better world looks like. Good at change and transformation. They also have a marked tendency to be extremely arrogant. Since they frequently have more contact with Muggles than the other Catalysts, they know better than anyone else what effects mere mortals fiddling with their inventions can have.
- Visionary Villain: When they go bad.
Klagen, the Catalyst of Loss
"When I was in high school my teacher told me that there are more people alive today than have ever lived. Don't worry: she lied, then got cancer. (Not my fault.) We live atop a mountain of corpses. The Earth is swimming in humans, above and below the ground, so when I see you trying to raise the dead, I'm torn. On the one hand, I recognize your despair. On the other hand, do you really want to spend the rest of the week fending off a zombie apocalypse as the Earth vomits up her dead? AGAIN? Come on, man, think this through: every time you try this, we end up fighting zombies. I hate zombies. Just put the syringe down."Defined by sorrow, loss and regret at some personal tragedy, Klagens are often called Cassandras for their tendency to see further tragedy in the offing and seek to prevent it. Sadly, having all the credibility of MAD scientists, they often live up to the name. They make excellent doctors and repairmen, but perhaps understandably have a tendency towards depression. They also tend to be the most down to earth and sensible of the Catalysts (at least, insofar as the term "sensible" applies to mad scientists), and often serve as the voice of reason in the collaboratives they join. This makes it all the more unfortunate that they are the least common Catalyst.
Neid, the Catalyst of Banishment
"First let me tell you that human beings without mathematical souls are transparent to God and thus mean nothing to Him. So you ask, why does God (who is the Equation) care about window-souls? He doesn't, but the Devil, whom I define as our negative thoughts, does, and directs window-soul humans at us to destroy us. These humans think they think and feel, but they are without the highest Number and their feelings are only our self-doubt. Destroy your self-doubt, be free of their hatred. Or destroy them, and be free of your self-doubt. Vengeance is time- and space-symmetrical, like any good equation."Defined by jealousy and bitterness, Neids are driven by the need to "show them all!" When a developing Genius feels rejected by his peers, when he blames his failures on "the man" keeping him down, that's when a Neid is born. They're good at mind control and apparently "psychic" powers—the more "out there" fields of mad science in terms of credibility and morality, in other words—and have a frankly unsurprising tendency to be paranoid and untrusting. Not without good reason, of course; many of them seem like magnets for mockery.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Neids are unshakeably loyal to people who earn their trust.
Staunen, the Catalyst of Curiosity
"I'm afraid I don't see things like you do. I mean it: I'm afraid. What if the things I find beautiful drive you mad? What if they hollow you out like clever little squirrels getting nuts for the winter, except the nuts are your eyes, and winter is, I don't know, maybe the Rapture or something? And I'm just smiling while your face gets ripped apart because I think it's beautiful? These things worry me sometimes, when I'm not looking at the night sky. So I spend a lot of time looking at the night sky, and not looking at your face and thinking about squirrels."Defined by curiosity, wonder, and awe, Staunens simply love learning about the universe. They want to know more, they NEED to know more...even about those things that no sane person wants to think about, much less meet in person. As one might expect, they are very good at building scanners and communicators, and prone to fixation and obsession. Of all the Catalysts, they're the most interested in occult matters.
- Forgets to Eat: Considering how obsessive they are, this happens a lot. Their peers usually have to drag them out of this.
- Super OCD: With the emphasis on "obsessive".
Foundations, Baramins and Programms
PeerageThe Foundations as a whole. The "good guys" (in theory), they were originally founded to fight evil snake-people ruling from Lemuria.
- Changing of the Guard: All the foundations are undergoing or have recently undergone massive cultural shifts, from an old generation that favored conservationism and large structures to a fast moving, dynamic even radical younger generation. This shift began when the old generation intentionally dismantled the large social structures of the Peerage. They were being corrupted by power and so they destroyed their own power. For all it's faults the Peerage is dedicated to helping Mad Scientists avoid the perils of their own insanity.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Subverted, the Peerage do believe that the Inspiration comes with responsibility. Responsibility to stay low, keep quiet, and try not to do anything too crazy.
- I'm Not a Hero, I'm... a Mad Scientist: The Peerage encourages it's members to distance themselves for humanity, in their view a mad scientist trying to help is just a disaster waiting to happen.
The International Union of Artifice
The International Union of Artifice
"Good, fast, and cheap: you get all three. And if you talk like that to my people again, you're going to wake up as a collection of spare parts."Originally quiet reclusive Geniuses who just wanted to be left in peace to build their Wonders. They have since radicalized with younger Artificers emphasize a punk DIY ethos as a way to remain free from, or oppose, The Man. Artificers give players a chance to play the mad scientist who builds awesome stuff and represent the fear that we will have to adapt for new technology whether or not we want it to.
- Bungling Inventor:They can slap Wonders together faster than any other Geniuses, but unless they spend an hour testing it out, they won't know what the persistent fault is. This can cause problems.
- Doing It for the Art: Old style artifiers tend to be reclusive humble mad scientists who just want to make stuff. Averted with younger artificers who delight in the communal aspects of creation and are often politicized, angry and demanding.
Fellowship for Manifest Direction
Fellowship for Manifest Direction
"Like even the strongest iron bar, every man has a weak point, and it can be found."Created as a Fellowship to organise the Peerage in the invisible war, the Directors grew to become the Peerages social and organisational experts. Charismatic, skilled and as brilliant as any other Genius they are nevertheless corrupted by naked ambition. Directors let the players be bond villain style masterminds and represent the fear that "the elite" will step on the little guy for their own benefit.
- The Beast Master/The Minion Master: Many prefer to let Beholden or robots do their dirty work.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The younger Directors accuse their elders of this.
- Diabolical Mastermind: A not-entirely-inaccurate stereotype of the foundation.
- The Face: Often in player parties. This is important, since a Genius' ever worsening Science-Related Memetic Disorder causes Jabir, which makes talking to normal humans rather difficult.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Fellowship was explicitly founded to provide the kind of organized leadership Lemuria had. Almost immediately, the Directors became every bit as corrupt, racist, and fanatical as the leaders of Lemuria. The Foundation was extensively reformed in the early twentieth century, but things were looking bad for a while.
- Guile Hero: When they're not outright Manipulative Bastards.
- Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Older Directors love this trope.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Briefly. They've cleaned up their act.
Center for Circumferential Navigation
Center for Circumferential Navigation
"I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Hell, I've seen things I don't believe."The Navigators were formally part of Lemuria, there they faced discrimination for their race and ended doing maintenance, transportation and front line combat for their so called betters. After abandoning Lemuria they eventually joined up with the Peerage, after the invisible war was over. For a while the Navigators were known for being practically a military, but the old generation has given way to rugged independent explorers. The Navigators exist to give players the opportunity to play adventurers and Science Heroes, to saner individuals they represent the fear of being caught in the crossfire of the powerful.
- Appropriated Appellation: The name Navigator is intentionally humble in defiance of people who used to see them as second class Geniuses. The attitude is gone, but the name remains.
- Badass Bookworm or Genius Bruiser: They can use Mania to enhance their physical abilities.
- Defector from Decadence: They didn't leave Lemuria because it was full of evil people who oppress them. They left because it was full of Obstructive Bureaucrats and Insufferable Geniuses who couldn't even do Armageddon right.
- Mildly Military: While still possessed of military trappings, formal organization and protocol have been relaxed in recent years.
Reformed Society of Progenitors
Reformed Society of Progenitors (formerly Children of Demiurge)
"It'll work this time, I promise. It won't hurt anyone."Mad biologists and transhumanists, who recently had to purge their ranks after most of them went insane (more than usual).
- Hollywood Cyborg: The absolute best at making implanted wonders.
College of Scholastic Theory
College of Scholastic Theory
"If it's true, someone wrote it down, even if just to refute it."Respectable, neat academics who believe it is important to manage their own insanity with a dedication to logic and truth. Or at least they used to, older members unraveled mysteries to uncover the truth. Younger members create mysteries and delight in bizarre non-linear thought. Playing a Scholastic is an opportunity to be the mad scientist who knows strange secrets, while to everyone else they represent the fear of things man was not meant to know and the people who publish them.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: A little Schliemannian globetrotting is much more exciting than hitting the books.
- Badass Bookworm: They're the oldest Foundation, and have been fighting Lemuria the longest.
- Master of Illusion: A prerequisite for any would-be conqueror of the human mind.
- Non-Action Guy: Older Scholastics are often content to stay inside and theorize.
- Odd Friendship: The ancient, methodical College of Scholastic Theory gets along pretty decently with the modern, revolutionary Free Council. Well, better than Mages and Geniuses usually do, anyway.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Because puckishness just isn't the same without the odd couplet here and there.
- Took a Level in Badass: They started out as a small philosophy cult who really liked truth and objected to Lemuria's historical revisionism. Now they're the most influential organization of Mad Scientists in the world, led a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to overthrow the Ancient Conspiracy that controlled mankind since the beginning of history, and all Inspired culture (even Lemurian) has been heavily influenced by them.
- Trickster Archetype: A popular persona for younger Scholastics, much to their elders' chagrin.
LemuriaThe "bad guys." ...sort of. They believe that humanity needs to be "fixed," to be put back on track, and will do anything to achieve this goal.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Lemurians believe that the Inspired have a moral duty to set humanity back on track. Pity a different trope is in play
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: By definition all Lemurians believe that human development took a wrong turn at some point, such as the replacement of Platonic philosophy with Aristotle.
- Insane Equals Violent: It's pointed out that not all Lemurians do evil, but their insanity makes it so easy.
"There was so much potential. So much promise. So much that failed us, all those years ago. But not this time."Atomists represent the idea that technology can solve human, social or political problems. They tend to be utterly dismissive of (if not outright hostile to) the proposition that the human element is important or in any way greater than just another number on their spreadsheet.
- Determinators: They are the best at warding off Havoc- it happens sooner or later, but maybe next time...
- Expy: Of the Technocracy. They're also based on some hardcore fans of Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, and Ayn Rand.
- I Want My Jetpack: Or Hovercar/Invisible Zepplin/Robotic Spider/Horde of Gorilla Cyborgs.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: All they ever wanted was to bring us into the future- not that they ever cared about the people who would have to live in it.
- Zeerust: Not a defining trope, but certainly not uncommon, being formally founded in the 50s at the dawn of the Nuclear age means many of their elders have a pre-apocalypse Fallout style of Mad Science.
"Now if you look here, you'll see that this is how things really work. Actually, really, positively work. But ignore that, that part is still being corrected."Etherites are people who care more about "proving" their pet theories than actual science, mixed in with some of the worse cultural attitudes from the Victorian era.
"We're all just cogs in the Great Machine. Whatever we think we choose was actually predestined, part of the process. Part of the Plan."The Mechanists are fatalists who take no responsibility for their actions. Word of God says they don't have any overarching theme, they are merely cool.
"No. No. This is absolutely wrong. Look, just let me fix it. All of it."The oracles represent moral fundamentalism and often dress and act like priests of obscure or antiquated philosophies.
- Instant Expert: Their Grant-if it's scientific or academic, they can spend a point of Mania to know it.
- Sinister Minister: Not all of them, but enough to be worth mentioning.
- The Fundamentalist: They believe in absolutes and are incapable of seeing a middle ground.
- Tautological Templar: Since they define themselves as the "good guys", many Oracles firmly believe all of their actions are moral. Even when they make hallucination dust from toddler bones.
"Hmm. That's an interesting point, but is there really any kind of absolute truth out there? Anything that is immutable?"The Phenomenologists believe that there is no universal reality. Consiquently they choose to live in whatever reality suits them best and act appropriately, even if it's outright harmful to those around them. They are a reference to post modernists and the Science Wars in particular.
- Consummate Liar: And how! They can spend a point of Mania to gain a exceptional success on a subterfuge roll. This is because they aren't actually lying, they genuinely believe anything they say.
- I Reject Your Reality:
- Even more so than other Unmada. Phenomenologists will reject their own reality when it suits them.
- Not all of them do, though. For example, Belinda Czdenk (who is not highly regarded by other Phenomenologists) doesn't so much disbelieve in objective truth as believe that it's irrelevant and/or unknowable. So, while she may reject common reality, she can't substitute it with her own, much to her frustration. Yes, that logic is shot, but remember who we're dealing with.
- Because of this the other Phenomenologists consider Belinda to be a phony.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: They're in charge of Lemuria's intelligence operations.
DharmistsAn extinct foundation.
- Manipulative Bastard: Unlike the Directors, these guys were only good at manipulating beings touched by Inspiration.
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks: The Internet, that is.
- Eternal September: They want to bring this to an end.
- Serious Business: They have very strict beliefs about the Internet, but not a case of Internet Tough Guy as they are a very real danger to people who troll them on the web.
- Troll: They justify their elitist ideology by the presence of online jerks; this may lead to a case of He Who Fights Monsters.
Programs of Note
Formalists (Ten Thousand Fans)The independent Geniuses of Asia.
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: If they didn't know it already, their exelixi can make it so.
- Appropriated Appellation: "Ten Thousand Fans" was originally a Lemurian catch-all term for any non-Lemurian Program in Asia, as the dissenters fanned the flames of heterodoxy. The independent Geniuses of Asia apparently decided not to let such an unintentionally awesome epithet go to waste.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: For about a minute per point of Mania expended. Mania is kind of like air, right?
- Bollywood Nerd: Fewer, because of the Lemurian presence in India, but they do study ancient Indian mathematics.
Thule Society (Revanchists)Nazi Geniuses.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Neatly averted; if the majority of Germans really had faith in Nazi ideology, then these Manes wouldn't exist.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Their science runs on it.
- Evil Is Sexy: Bred to be good-looking, among other things.
- Ghostapo: Their occultists.
- Good Powers, Bad People: They study Exelixi.
Elders of the Third Law
Elders of the Third LawFollowers of Leonardo da Vinci.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: They may look primitive, but they're also passionate hunters of the Illuminated.
- New Technology Is Evil: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, and leery of the trappings of modern technology. They consider steam power to be new fangled devil technology. They like gunpowder, though.
Hermetic Order of the 28 Spheres
Hermetic Order of the 28 SpheresPost-modern Geniuses who style their Wonders as magic, challenging people to prove them wrong.
Phantom FoundationGhost-hunting Geniuses.
- Who You Gonna Call?: They make money by banishing ghosts.
Malcolm T. Washington Fellowship
Malcolm T. Washington FellowshipAfrican-American and African-Canadian Geniuses who specialize in bugs.
Resurrection ConsortiumA consortium dealing with resurrection.
- Immortality Immorality: To enter, you need an Obligation of 6 or below.
Historical Geniuses of Note
Leonardo di ser Piero
- Evil Twin: Don't worry, he's got it covered.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Back then, it was a choice between joining Lemuria or having no resources at all. And it must have been nice to have found a group that actually appreciated his ideas.
Seattle of Tomorrow
Dr. Vienna/Yancy Wolfgang BorcowitzAn Unmada trying to fight back with logic.
- Blue Oni: To Screaming Sam Paluxy's Red Oni.
- Creepy Crows: He owns a maliciously literal-minded corvid automaton.
- Non-Action Guy: Much to Sam's disgust.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In the process of mental decay, sadly.
Screaming Sam PaluxyAn unstable Genius in love with Dr. Vienna.
- All Love Is Unrequited: His unceasingly unstable love/hate feelings with Dr. Vienna might not be romantic, but if they are Sam is in for a long wait. Dr. Vienna is mentioned to have previously been in a fifteen year heterosexual relationship and there are no hints that he could be bisexual.
Captain Joe CalazziA racist Genius of a small band of thugs at his side.
Devon OguraLeader of the Pacific Gauntlet.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's a Mechanist, it comes naturally to him.
- Freudian Excuse: Grew up as The Unfavorite, knowing his destiny was to become a faceless mook. Not hard to see why he snapped.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He was originally slated to become Beholden.
- The Red Baron: They call him the Ogre.
- The Syndicate: He's a respected (and dreaded) leader of the Pacific Gauntlet.
Melantha C. Dranias
Melantha C. DraniasOgura's Dragon, and a dangerous Genius in her own right.
Erin Out-Of-TimeThe last survivor of an alternate timeline.
- Last of Her Kind: She's the only remaining native of her timeline, a "Solitaire".
- The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer: Justified; being a Genius makes any technology easy to understand. She has a blog.
Detective Alice Gotti
Detective Alice GottiA Beholden working for Dr. Vienna.
- Hollywood Atheist: Subverted; she didn't lose her faith because of her many hardships, she just can't sustain religious convictions as a Beholden.
- Iron Woobie: Let's see... through bad luck, she lost her shot at the Ivy League, and her parents want nothing to do with her. She recovered from that and became a police officer. Then she got pregnant and her husband abandoned her. Then she discovered that her superiors were on the Pacific Gauntlet's payroll. Then she was made into a Beholden by Dr. Vienna. Life has not been kind to Detective Gotti, but she's taken everything it's thrown at her.
Hook-Man/David Islington WhittlesworthA superhero who likes using hooks as weapons.
- Sophisticated as Hell: "Hook-Man is here for to put your ass on a hook!"
- Thememobile: Yes, a Hookmobile.
MegiddoA super powerful computer dedicated to amassing even more power.
- Master Computer: Rules over his own private Bardo, and desires more power every day.
- Milkman Conspiracy: The mail-order denture business funds an evil computer mastermind.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast/Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Who names a sentient being "Megiddo" and expects it to be nice? Mad scientists, that's who.
- The Patriarch: Megiddo is very fond of this archetype, and sometimes holographically manifests as various father figures.
- Villainous Breakdown: It started decades ago, and may be ongoing. That doesn't make it any less dangerous
Argentine St. Croix
Argentine St. CroixA powerful and dangerous Genius who is nonetheless on her way out.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Her sons.
- Jerkass Woobie: As her bio says:St. Croix is a bitter, tired woman, touched by sadness at the disappointments in her life. While insane and, when the mood takes her, tremendously cruel, hers is the small, weak kind of human cruelty that encourages as much pity as loathing.
Belinda CzdenkA disrespected Neid Genius.
- Butt Monkey: Even as a Genius, she gets no respect.
- Character Filibuster: Like many Neids, Belinda is prone to bitter ranting.
- Disproportionate Retribution: She once killed a man for revealing her love of machinery.
Erwin TychoA relatively sane Genius.
Rapata/"Mr. Shark"A Genius dedicated to preserving the timeline.
Prof. Partridge Crown
Prof. Partridge CrownA Genius who believes he is essentially Satan. He's not.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Believes he's the "Self-Eating Fire", opposing the Crystal Dragon Jesus figure called the "Metal Peacock God".
Dr. Keiko Takamori
Dr. Keiko TakamoriA tattooed Genius with serious depression issues.
Walking-Man, Peripatetic Dreamkiller
Walking-Man, Peripatetic DreamkillerOne of the few forces that all Geniuses fear, known for brainwashed cults and all-around invulnerability.
- The Dreaded: Just the rumor of his arrival is enough to send most geniuses to flee the area.
- Humanoid Abomination: Possibly. He's described as "less a person now than an elementary force."
- Nigh Invulnerable: He's immune to all non-natural weapons.
- Villain Team-Up: May or may not work with the Phenomenologists.