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Nightmare Fuel / Genius: The Transgression

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  • The very concept of Geniuses when you start thinking about it. Remember, these aren't just crazy scientists doing strange experiments. These are people with a supernatural form of insanity literally allowing them to bend the laws of physics so the devices they create will work according to how they perceive the universe. This game basically took the Mad Scientist trope and developped it into something that could have come out of Lovecraft. Even in-universe, this is so disturbing Mages perceive Geniuses as outright Humanoid Abominations, because this defies even their perception of reality.
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  • The game really plays up how horrifying becoming Inspired can be to people who were real scientist. Sure, you now gain the ability to create marvelous inventions no regular human could ever hope to build... at the cost of losing your ability to do actual science, because you are now so insane you can't even perceive the world according to it's real laws. Not only that, but you cannot even share what you can now do with normal people: if you try to explain them how they work or how to build them, it will sound to them like a nonsensical Techno Babble coming from an insane person, and actually letting them touch, manipulate or study them will result in your creations either falling apart or turning into monsters and go on homicidal rampages. Is it any wonder Neid end up bitter and hateful toward anyone calling them mad?
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  • The very concept of Havoc. Any time a regular mortal touch or tries to examine a Wonder a bit too close and the Genius is unable to counter the effect with his will, the Wonder is at risk of either turning into a rampaging homicidal monster, or developing a design flaw. The latter might not seem so bad... until you check the sample Faults in the book, and realize said design flaws might include things like causing madness to its user or becoming radioactive.
  • Just for fun, let's take a look at the various Catalysts and see how horrifying they can be:
    • Grimms had their Breakthrough in rage and vengeance, frequently born in violence or personal offenses. Twisted by their wrath, they are prone for Hair-Trigger Temper and Unstoppable Rage, frequently becoming ruthless Vigilante Men who use their inventions to hunt down criminals or berserkers who go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. And they specialize in building Death Rays, Laser Blades, and other weapons meant to obliterate you.
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    • Hoffnungs get their Breakthrough in hope and ambition. Visionaries and narcissistic, they wish to change and improve the world, very often by conquering and ruling it. It doesn't matter how genuine their desire to make things better is— deep down, every single one of them is an egomaniac convinced that he is right, even if his method to improve humanity involves removing free will or replacing everyone with robots. Oh, and they specialize in transforming the world according to their will: they can build devices to turn people they dislike into inanimate substance, disturb the world's economy by turning lead into gold, warp your perception of things with illusions or shapeshift their minions into dangerous monsters.
    • Klagens get their Breakthrough in sorrow and regret. The Inspired's Only Sane Men, they tend to see tragedies coming and desperately try to prevent them... and because they look just as mad as their peers, nobody ever believe them, forcing them to relive new tragedies all the time; most of them are consumed by depression because of it. Their powerset doesn't seem that horrifying, since they specialize in healing and repairing... except that also includes building cybernetic and biological implants. The ones who get desperate enough might end up trying so hard to save people they will end up filling their patients with prothesis— which, given Wonders trigger Havoc, is essentially turning these people into walking time bombs.
    • Neids get their Breakthrough in jealousy and envy. Paranoid and filled with resentment, they are obssessed with proving themselves as brillant and gaining respect... which is somewhat problematic when they look insane to everyone. And do not try to call them mad, because that usually tends to really piss them off. Because they have such a hard time showing their point of view to others, they specialize in control, which they use to force people to see it; they can hijack any of your electronic devices for their own purpose, manipulate objects with their mind, literally take over your mind, or even just brainwash you to their whim.
    • Staunens get their Breakthrough in curiosity and awe; they are obssessed with studying and trying to understand the unknown... including things that really should be left alone (which in the World of Darkness means a lot of things). They will try to study the local Eldritch Abomination, frequently with little regard for the consequences. Oh, and they specialize in building censors of scanners of every kind, including devices to collect data from any computer. There's almost nothing you can do to prevent them from watching you.
  • The Second edition gives us three minor catalysts which can also be pretty scary when looked at from the right perspective:
  • Clockstoppers, or Hollow Men, are seemingly regular humans who lack the spark of creativity all people have, leaving them with a burning hatred not only for Geniuses and Wonders, but also for every form of technology. Among their large set of powers designed specifically to kill Geniuses, they have the ability to stop technology from working. O.K. you're thinking, but some of them see clothes and language as technology, reducing everyone in the area of their influence to cavemen who communicate in grunts (think about what happens to Commander Riker in that de-evolution episode of ' Star Trek: The Next Generation.)
    • It's much worse than that. At higher levels, they pretty much treat anything man-made as technology. Animals forget their domestication in their presence and grow feral. Buildings made from advanced metal or concrete becomes as easy to break as wood or common metal. Irrigation no longer works, and plants can no longer be seeded. A sufficiently powerful Clockstopper pretty much has the potential to become a Walking Wasteland on par with Prometheans. And unlike the Created, they actively try to reach human society and take away human technology, because they genuinely believe this is the right thing to do.
  • Unmada, AKA Geniuses who lost control over their madness and now believe they are genuine scientists. They are nigh on impossible for Mages to tell apart from Abyssals - they alter the area around them so the physics they believe in is true. (The Creator of Genius has stated they are not Abyssals, but a Mage wouldn't know that.) The bad part is if they end up in a hospital and their physics makes the equipment go wrong or ambulances pass their place of residence and stop.
    • And let's not forget Unmada Manes. See, an Unmada's reality-warping is mostly carried out by creatures made of Mania generated by the Unmada field. The higher the Genius's Inspiration, the more intelligent and numerous the Manes, and the Manes need to keep the Genius crazy if they want to stay alive. They will do anything to make sure he stays that way.
  • An Insane Genius looks like a Mage, and An Insane Mage looks like a Genius. If one takes the wrong training, they can go mad from having the exact opposite philosophy to the one they're meant to have.
    • An Obligation 0 Genius sees everything and everyone in a Measuring the Marigolds way, for example: "I just want to peel your face off, while keeping you alive using this machine, so I can see how your muscles work." Chances are they'd only keep you alive until the experiment was over, and then turn the machine off because they needed the electricity for something else.
  • Wonders will either be destroyed or become Orphans when the Genius who created or owned them dies. In other words, whenever a Genius gets killed, or even just dies from old age, all of his inventions will either explode or turn into rampaging uncontrollable monsters. Now, this is pretty scary of its own, but you must also add the implication that, in the New World of Darkness, the large majority of mortals, including Hunters, are poorly informed on the supernatural and how it works, so they are very unlikely to know about such a crucial information. It's probably all too easy for a Hunter Cell to find and fight a mad Genius, kill him, and then only realize that by offing him, they just unleashed all his mutated Wonders on the world...
  • Being a Beholden. Not only can you become one just by being exposed to mad science, but this essentially turns you into a Genius' personal Yes-Man, unable to have a point of view of your own. Your entire existence depends entirely on your master, and you can only keep a purpose by helping him with his creations. One really disturbing text in the book describes a Beholden trying to murder her Genius in an effort to get her life back, only for the Genius to coldly remind her she can never go back nor forward, because she will be nothing without him, before having another of his Beholden kill her and dispose of the body.
  • The Thule Society might seem pretty cheesy as antagonists thanks to Those Wacky Nazis and Stupid Jetpack Hitler being in full effect with them... until you find out how they regain Mania. Then you probably won't be laughing anymore.
    • It gets worse when you take in account the Fridge Horror of what Mania actually is; based on what Geniuses believe, that thing is raw idea and creativity made into energy. The Thule Society regains Mania this way because they are constantly finding new more creative ways to torture people.
  • Manes survive by feeding on Mania. This isn't that bad as long as they can access to it easily by living in a Bardos, draining it from a Genius or just harvest it from a recently created idea, but if none of these options is available, they can get it by draining people's intelligence, permanently decrease their mental abilities in the process. And all they have to do for that is to touch you.
  • Some Manes and Bardos have resulted in truly horrifying places and creatures:
  • Larvae in general. To put it plainly, these are Wonders who are Powered by a Forsaken Child. This first started when some Geniuses found out they could use the corpses of the dead to fuel their Wonders, but as time went on, they realized anything arcquired through amoral means would work, and got "creative", using things such as the heart of an orphan, a severed head, human sacrifices... as long as they had to do something horrible to do it, they can use it as a power source for their creations, allowing them to maintain it without spending Mania.
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