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Pathogen: The Infected

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NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 14th 2010 at 10:48:02 PM

EDIT: No longer for complaining, this thread is now being used for the reworking of Pathogen the Infected, please, donate to us your two cents on how a body-horror game should go! You can still read the just bugs me below if you really want to.

This right here is an interesting little splat for the nWoD, albeit incomplete, but several parts of it just irk the hell out of me. Like the symptom arrangements 'Paedomorphosis' does not mesh well with "Rashes", "Fever", and "Insomnia". Those three make sense for a disease/superpower being, but Benjamen Button syndrome? That makes very little sense to me.

And the Wings, none of them seem very well thought out. The Jagda and the Protectors might work, but the Cambions, Neonates, and Annuki don't seem like player character material and the neonates all seem to be related to the Padeomorphosis thing!


edited 19th Nov '10 7:50:08 AM by NightmareWork

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 15th 2010 at 8:14:25 AM

It is a funny word, but it still doesn't make much sense to me when compared to the other Symptoms

mrsaturn Youkai Serious
Youkai Serious
Nov 15th 2010 at 12:13:46 PM

I Thought It Meant this was going to be a thread about the videogame Pathologic.

They assed first. I am only retaliating in an ass way. -The Dead Man's Life
Nov 15th 2010 at 2:11:03 PM

Hey @NM, wanna set up a troper project to work on this? (Or maybe get involved, they are keen on Wo D-themed forum projects.)

When I found this a few months back I actually seeked out the DA account of the author (linking for the flipping great pictures he makes) and asked if he'd mind if someone picked it up for completion / rework, which he said he didn't mind at all (as he pretty much dropped this one, being still busy with other projects). If I thought I'd get help, I'd have made a forum thread earlier.

I share your sentiment about Paedomorphosis too (I wonder what movie or book inspired that one?), but there's no shortage of ideas for the five selectable groups, I think. (I have some of my own for them, too.)

Anyone here wanna jump aboard with this project?

edited 15th Nov '10 2:13:04 PM by Vree

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 15th 2010 at 4:08:29 PM

Vree, that'd be grand, I'd love to put together a good old fashioned body-horror game and I need something to do with my Tuesday nights! We could probably roll the guys into it too if we really wanted, all the help we could get would be nice.

Nov 18th 2010 at 9:01:10 AM

This thread is for the revival project from here on.

Pretty much just brainstorming and checking for interest at this point, but let's see where it goes. :3

edited 18th Nov '10 9:09:55 AM by Vree

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 18th 2010 at 10:37:45 AM

Quickly! Let's start finding inspiration sources! And discussing how the hell Vectors and Symptoms should work... Are they like Seeming/Kith? I feel it would be a bit better to do this sort of mage Style, you get a 'Path' (In our case a Symptom) and an 'Allegiance' (Though our allegiances may not be actual Wings/Wards/Rooms or whatever, they may just be philosophical ways of dealing with it a la Promethean)

Nov 18th 2010 at 12:37:01 PM

OK, I'll start:

- Another copy of Pathogen (apart from the links in the main article) can be found here.

- Genius The Transgression is probably the most successful homemade Wo D game (at least on this Wiki). It's a good read, very customizable, and also a good example of a game that's more on the side of urban sci-fi than magic fantasy which Pathogen aspires to be.

For a quick primer on what real-life Pathogens are like, these webpages are well written and inspirational:

A previous attempt on on a game revolving around The Virus (though closer to the action movie-esque take of Prototype and similar games) can be found here: link. Note that this a lot less psycholigical in theme than Pathogen, but some of the ideas are interesting.

You can hardly avoid mentioning Wikipedia these days, so here are a handful of links that one might find helpful:








Good fiction:

The original draft already lists a handful. One I want to point up is Hitosi Iwaaki's Parasyte. It contains several good scenes, starting from the initial Orifice Invasion to the ambigous relationship between humans and their "infected" counterparts.

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 18th 2010 at 1:01:27 PM

Genius is a wonderful example of a Fan-Made Wo D, though while it's feel is one of Desperation, trying to find some meaning in the power and responsibility thrust upon you as a Genius (Or Punching Commie-Nazi Gorillas on the Moon), I feel Pathogen already has a nice feel of Axinety and/or Paranoia. No one is safe and nothing is sacred, the Pathogen hits at random and you can only be left to ask "When?" When will the Pathogen tire of paying tithe to your mortal form and mutate you into something far, far worse than you already are?

Prototype and Parasyte are excellent looks into how a pathogen could work, but for sheer body-horror by page inspiration I suggest the bizzarely cute Franken Fran for a few pointers.

edited 18th Nov '10 1:02:28 PM by NightmareWork

Nov 18th 2010 at 2:16:25 PM

Ah, Franken Fran. Can't believe I have missed that one.

Oh, and there exists a Parasite Eve transcript for nWoD that I just remembered. Not sure how much of it is relevant but one should never refuse the opportunity to look at work done in advance that can be stolen. :p

(EDIT: Link fixed.)

edited 18th Nov '10 2:59:19 PM by Vree

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 18th 2010 at 2:46:35 PM

Got a 404 on that Parasite Eve bit, though rebellious Mitochondria would be a wonderful power-source for certain Mutation powers

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 18th 2010 at 9:11:21 PM

Reading the Parasite Eve thing now, but a friend of mine brought up a good point, we can use the Paedomorphisis, but not as a PC choice. As an antagonist monster thing. "When People are infected, they change. This is it's simple law. Sometimes though, it wants a certain change it it's host. A certain strain of the Pathogen has found away around that. It binds it's host in a flesh coocoon and regresses them to an earlier age.... while keeping them infected. A child's mind is an easier thing to influence for the Pathogen, it can then 'rebuild' the host into a better host by 'raising' it" Sound good?

Nov 19th 2010 at 2:39:46 PM

That's not a bad idea actually, too much emphasis on Paedomorphosis might seem strange but Paedophobia is one of the commonplace horror tropes out there.

I think it would be be the most logical to handle underage characters under the Unborn. And make a possibility to handle age and appearance changes as a level of one of the subversions.

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 19th 2010 at 3:48:11 PM

I noticed something, depending on your vector, that's how you spread pathogen. This means that Unborn are kind of... crippled when it comes to trying to create new Infected.

Nov 22nd 2010 at 11:17:12 AM

Well. Er. Depends. If the goal is to have an Infected right here right now, or to convert other players or NP Cs a'la Vampire, then yes, they are not as capable as the rest. I'm a bit in a dilemma on the subject. Personally I think that the throwaway line that states this can safely be ignored or taken only as a suggestion. It wasn't thought out yet and it didn't give mechanics for it, eg. for a Parasite type. You probably notice that Infused would have similar problems too, while Airborne would be unreasonably powerful.

Not neccessarily a problem if they are balanced for it elsewhere, though. (And pregnancy and birth as body horror is a trope, if one to be handled with caution...)

edited 22nd Nov '10 3:16:21 PM by Vree

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 22nd 2010 at 7:56:56 PM

True true, but the fiction already written sort of made me think the main thing the Pathogen itself wants, despite what the host may want is to SPREAD. It's a Virus, an inhuman thing that only wants it's own survival even over that of the host. The survival of it's own Strain comes before anything, ANYTHING else in the world and it will try and FORCE you to spread. This is what I figured caused chimeras and ATP zombies. A miasma of Pathogen that surrounded the Infected. In most people it can't get a good enough foothold. In others it warps and twists them into ATP zombies or even wraps them in a coocoon of flesh and does the Paedomorphic Transformation, turning them into Unborn Carriers, perfect Hosts for the Pathogen.

If any of that makes any sense.

Nov 23rd 2010 at 6:15:40 PM

I'm thinking that a given Infected can transmit through any one of the Vectors. Each Vector works differently: airborne spores, salivary slime, parasite, organ transplant/blood transfusion, procreation (or infecting the mother through one of the previous Vectors), etc. It is unknown whether the Vector requires the production of a sort of "gamete" or simply mutates depending on the method of transmission. The Vector through which a person became Infected affects their Subversion specialization, but they can infect others through any one of the Vectors. This system explains how all the Infected possess the same Pathogen.

However, as written in the game, Vectors are not limited to Infected-to-new-Host transmission. Things like rabid animals, maggots, parasites, plants, rusted metal, zombie attacks, chimera attacks, etc can all transmit the Pathogen. What the Pathogen is and where it comes from is one of the major mysteries of the game, and its ability to spread through any Vector imaginable shows this.

Also, the Wings can be separated into two broad categories: protagonist and antagonist. Similar to the faction groupings in other nWoD games.

Nov 23rd 2010 at 6:19:33 PM

I think taking inspiration from games like Parasite Eve and Resident Evil and Prototype and manga like Franken Fran and Parasyte would be good, but don't forget that the game is about the whole genre of body horror, and there are numerous other inspirations listed in the document itself. Try to make it something that could be used to run a wide variety of body horror-related chronicles.

edited 23rd Nov '10 6:21:20 PM by Zenoseiya

Nov 23rd 2010 at 7:05:14 PM

^Absolutely agree with that; for example, @NW's violently spreading virus type may work well for certain campaigns, say a zombie epidemic one; for others, not so much. (Also we are limited in that not all body horror can be related to infections, but I think we can do it with most stuff still.)

I've had a lot of stuff written up for this so I'll try to throw them up here, if only because I had suggestions for a lot of stuff that'll be brought up and it's much easier for me to discuss if I keep it in order.

Oh, and one more thing: we'll badly need playtesting and feedback eventually. It's one thing to come up with a system but what mechanics work easily in practice, and what people actually find "cool" (whether -we- think that it is or not) can not be determined just by talking about it. So until then, nothing is set into stone ;)

Glad to have you around, @Zenoseiya! smile

edited 23rd Nov '10 8:29:44 PM by Vree

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:20:46 PM

It wasn't necessarily violent all the time infection, as I said, in most people the Pathogen just sort of acts flu. Sometimes it makes you a Zombie, sometimes you just get the sniffles. It all plays into that random paranoia factor. Is that guy on the train just sick? Or does he have the Pathogen? But you can get it from those parasites and fucked up blood transfusions.

But Zen, you've got a good point the Wings. Cambions and Annuki are Antagonists, Jagda and Protectors are Protagonists. We still need more on either side though.

So in the end our basic character is Vector/Symptom/Wing

Am I the only one who really wants to do away with the Unborn/Paedomorphic bits as basic PC stuff? I think it might work better as an Antagonist 'critter' or as a sort of 'prestige class' like an Entitlement or Bloodline

Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:22:47 PM

Here's some stranger ideas: a person might contract the Pathogen after being supposedly abducted by aliens, being used in government/corporate experiments, taking experimental drugs, being exposed to some kind of weird radiation from the television or radio, watching a "cursed" video tape/dvd/viral video, or visiting a certain website/eating at a street vendor that vanishes by the second visit.

I don't really know how to deal with the neoteny splat. You could just drop the idea of age regression period, since it isn't really a disease (rapid aging is, but doesn't make for good P Cs). The Neonate wing should be revised to be more along the lines of a technophile transhumanism group (what would a good new name be? How about just Techno(s)? if Cybersix can use that word to refer to genetic aberrations, so can we), contrasted with the more "traditional" social darwinist Jagda.

What other symptoms are possible? They're all based on categories, right? All characters favor the Mutation subversion, while Vector and Symptom each grant an additional favored subversion. Symmetrical.

But there's should be a explanation for what happens if infected try to have children. Zombie babies, chimeras, chronically ill individuals who begin manifesting bizarre physical features during puberty, stuff like that.

Annunaki and Cambions also need to be more clearly distinguished from each other. Move the religious elements from Cambions and into the Annunaki. Make Cambions more "in the moment" and agnostic/atheistic, drunk on their power. Jagda should be made more "social" and "mental," possibly some sort of modern "nobility?" Jagda could separated into conservative and orthodox, conservative are ambivalent/friendly towards uninfected, while orthodox look down on them. Protectors and Stemmers are the most "human."

edited 23rd Nov '10 8:41:21 PM by Zenoseiya

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:35:57 PM

A few of those are too weird, I feel like Pathogen should be down and dirty. The aliens/Government/Radiation/TV/Radio/Youtube see far too out there, you know? I feel it should be more: "That cut you got hasn't gone away. It's getting worse. Why isn't it getting better. It's starting to look like a mouth. Why would it do that. That isn't what cuts do. Why aren't you getting better. You can feel your insides not working right. You know it's the cut."

EDIT: On a new Symptom, I was thinking Headaches/Sinus problems. It's like your head is going to explode at every hour of every day, there's a pounding that won't stop. You can hear something in your skull. Most people say it's the Pathogen talking at you. You can follow the viral instincts better for bonuses, but you are also distracted by the pounding in your skull. Favored Subversion of Bio Electricity as you know your own synapses firing painfully. And you harvest that to use Bio Elec better.

edited 23rd Nov '10 8:40:48 PM by NightmareWork

Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:41:53 PM

You obviously haven't seen Videodrome or Tetsuo: Iron Man.

I think we could change the dynamic of Vector/Symptom. The subversion assignments seem a little non-intuitive. Perhaps Vector could be dropped as a distinct splat and changed into a character background/prelude element, where the player explains how their character became infected. The two additional favored subversions (after the Mutation subversion) could instead be chosen by the player to fit a particular concept. To put it in line with other nWoD games, we could increase the number of dots at character creation to 6, and maybe increase the number of favored subversions that can be chosen to four plus Mutation.

Furthermore, the Parasite Vector is unique from the others, since an infected could remove and eat the Parasite to regain ATP. "Parasite" could be changed to a merit or flaw that spontaneously manifests in some infected, while some chimeras and zombies will have parasites that can be consumed for ATP. Cannibalism is possible.

The Vigor subversion should be renamed. It has the same name as a Vampire discipline.

edited 23rd Nov '10 8:58:20 PM by Zenoseiya

NightmareWork Nightmare Feitishist from Swamp
Nightmare Feitishist
Nov 23rd 2010 at 8:49:19 PM

I haven't, though I intend to. I just feel that playing it more as an Unknown Disease rather than a Crazy Internet Voodoo Curse works better. But then again I may just be stubborn and stupid, so YMMV


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