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Weaponized HMHVV

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SlowDeck

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« on: (00:07:20/05-10-14) »
I bugged my face-to-face group today about being able to borrow Runner's Companion (I wanted to check out the metavariants) and while reading it noticed the section it had on HMHVV. And as I read it, I began to wonder about military applications of simply sticking infected blood inside needles and shooting them at enemies.

And then I thought about the idea of an entire army of ghouls marching upon a city and eating it in revenge for that city's nation turning them into ghouls. So, I promptly started down a different route. The idea is that it has been magically and genetically modified to burn itself out before it can fully turn the target into someone with HMHVV and that the virus feeds on their essence after knocking them unconscious. However, it is not capable of spreading except via bodily fluid contact or injection.

One of the things I am currently concerned about is how to write this up. I am currently looking at a modified form of the toxin rules, but I'm not certain if that is the best path... Anyone got any advice?
« Last Edit: (00:09:47/05-10-14) by SlowDeck »
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AndyNakamura

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« Reply #1 on: (10:02:53/05-10-14) »
My advice is: don't use this against players. This has the makings of a great McGuffin central to a campaign, and would be better experienced by encountering NPCs affected by it. And with those, you can tweak your stats as it suits you.
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Namikaze

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« Reply #2 on: (12:13:21/05-10-14) »
I think you might want to see what Patrick Goodman has to say on this topic.  HMHVV is kind of his wheelhouse within the Sixth World.  Personally, I'd say that this is too dangerous even for a military to try to use.  Most victims of HMHVV go completely batshit crazy and therefore couldn't be controlled which makes it terrible for an army.  And if you decided to use it offensively to turn the enemy population into raving ghouls, you're essentially guaranteeing that when you have to go in with your army, your opposition is now an army of horrid feral ghouls or worse.  Ghouls are like the bottom rung of the HMHVV ladder - you could end up with Wendigo, Dzoonooqua (spelling errors), Banshees, and Vampires.
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Furious Trope

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« Reply #3 on: (12:42:27/05-10-14) »
Namikaze has a point, but I think you might want to play with it anyway. Corps have played looser and faster with safety than this. Remember that time Ares decided it'd be fun to turn bug spirits into obedient watch dogs? This is about as smart and about as doomed to terrible failure. Which is what makes it so very fun.

HMHVV is, let's remember, a magic virus. It doesn't have to play by your rules, whatever those may be.

Which means it's the perfect tool for a corp/military project gone horribly wrong getting the heavy jackboot to sweep it under the rug fast enough. Which therefore makes it the perfect wrench in the lives of your runners.

After all, vampires and their scarier cousins have more raw, "Aww hell naw" power than most of the rest of SR.

I'd recommend starting with inspiration. What did some crazy person look at HMHVV and think, "Hey, we could do ____."

Then figure out what they got it to do instead.

Ex. Olso Wake was a character from the old SR novel The Terminus Experiment. He wanted to use HMHVV to eliminate metahuman disease and death. What he got was a pile of vamps with cyberware and a modified strain of HMHVV without their obvious weaknesses.

Then have them figure out an alternative use for it. And then have some sensible, Namikaze-like, person come in and flip shit. So, obviously, the researchers have to prove it's viable to their other superiors faster than sensible-guy can shut them down.

By the end of this chain of events you'll have a nightmare scenario which will quickly escalate out of anyone's control. I think you'd be well advised to follow AndyNakamura's advice to have this happen adjacent to the players and get them drawn in. Incidentally, you'll also be able to define it as a toxin much more clearly.

Now, laugh with me.
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AndyNakamura

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« Reply #4 on: (22:34:09/05-14-14) »
If your players are not above doing some wetwork, the assassination of the sensible guy (Nice Work Breaking It, Hero) can be a good starting or halfway-point of the campaign, and one of the ways to get the info on the virus into their hands. Alternate starting point can be a culling hunt for suddenly numerous ghouls.

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BetaCAV

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« Reply #5 on: (01:45:20/05-15-14) »
P.S. TVTropes Will Ruin Your Life.
No, it will only occupy your life. But there's probably a list of tropes about lowering it's quality.

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SlowDeck

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« Reply #6 on: (02:27:32/05-15-14) »
The idea is that they're trying to develop a form of HMHVV that drains a person's essence without turning them into a carrier. Basically, they're trying to horrifically kill people, not create an army hungry for metahuman flesh.

However, that doesn't mean they're doing a good job of it, so I could see it being in a prototype stage... and then the runners come along and foul things up... Either removing the guy who's preventing it from being fully developed or, worse, accidentally releasing one of the prototypes.

And, FuriousTrope, I am laughing with you  ;)
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Furious Trope

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« Reply #7 on: (01:52:08/05-17-14) »
The idea is that they're trying to develop a form of HMHVV that drains a person's essence without turning them into a carrier. Basically, they're trying to horrifically kill people, not create an army hungry for metahuman flesh.

However, that doesn't mean they're doing a good job of it, so I could see it being in a prototype stage... and then the runners come along and foul things up... Either removing the guy who's preventing it from being fully developed or, worse, accidentally releasing one of the prototypes.

And, FuriousTrope, I am laughing with you  ;)

Actually... that's scary valuable.

Essence draining on command has to be a near holy grail to any military who doesn't like... well, pretty much anyone. Mages/adepts hate essence drain because that means less magic. Augmented folks hate it because, lol, maybe having less essence in my body than you have in your hand wasn't such a slick move on my part.

The only people who would have their meaningful combat value armored against it would be the goddamn cyberzombies. But even the magic which binds them has limits which would break.

Christ. If you weaponized that the balance of power in SR would take a couple of flips.

Yeah, I take my earlier caution back. This is something which many someone's in SR would pay obscene piles of money to develop. Hell, even if it takes a week to set in you could use it to shaft whole groups of your opponent's special forces or their most powerful ritual casters. This borders on WMD territory. Especially if it's airborne for a bit.

Since even a single point of essence loss is crippling for mages and potentially lethal for low-essence sammys, if I were corp-wealthy I'd basically find a guy with a shot at this and give him whatever money I could beg borrow or steal to make this actually work.

Murphy's law demands horrible consequences for this, of course.

It's like playing Russian Roulette with Thor Shots.
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Lanaya

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« Reply #8 on: (02:17:47/05-17-14) »
The only people who would have their meaningful combat value armored against it would be the goddamn cyberzombies.

And, in a pleasing symmetry, the infected. Go into battle with a full 12 points of essence so you're unlikely to be brought all the way down to 0, then afterwards you can replenish any you lost by feeding.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #9 on: (06:30:50/05-17-14) »
The idea is that they're trying to develop a form of HMHVV that drains a person's essence without turning them into a carrier. Basically, they're trying to horrifically kill people, not create an army hungry for metahuman flesh.

Yeeeees.  That's what they're trying to do.

I have done this, or had this done, in several SR games, almost universally with smashing success.  It helps if there's one character whose first reaction to 'someone pops out of the bushes!!' is to quickdraw and put a few APDS/AV rounds through them.

The Place
Fantasy Island.  No, literally - an island with several 'zones', within which paying customers get to fulfill a large number of potential fantasies, depending on how much the package they bought cost.  Tailor the zones to your players - a Wild West zone for a cowboy/adept-pilot, a Feudal Japan zone for a Japanese street samurai, a Caribbean party zone for the ganja-loving voodoo guy, a Monaco zone for the speed-freak rigger, whatever.  The zones are defined by your PCs, by which I mean each PC has a 'zone' that's just right for them to go vacation in.  (You WANT them to be split up for the first part of it.)  If guns are allowed - even required in some places!! - then they are supposed to be loaded with gel rounds for the shootout-at-high-noon or the gunfight in the A-OK Corral, or the guns-blazing bar-brawl in the saloon, or whatever, and people are NOT supposed to be killed.  (But make sure there's a way for psycho-shooter to smuggle in and load up his APDS.)

The Time
Immediately after an earth-shattering run for someone who can pay a drekload of cash for them to go to Fantasy Island 'as a bonus for such good work'.  Preferably after the PCs' Public Awareness has shot through the roof, and they have to get out of town for a while, and dammit, a vacation sounds great.  Have the Johnson pay for two weeks for a one-or-two-steps-below-top-grade vacation - not the million-nuyen expense of being the Japanese daimyo, but at least they can take the part of a valued retainer - or a mysterious ronin. 

The Setup
The runners get together every couple of days for lunch, dinner, breakfast - whatever.  They may hang out in different places, but this ain't nobody's home ground, and a smart shadowrun team is going to double-check each other's safety.  If necessary, the GM should take aside one of the players and ask that their PC insists on the team getting together at least that frequently.  Then, one evening when they're walking together (very important!!) down a dimly-lit 'romantic' path towards (or away from) their get-together, somebody clad in dark clothing, armed with an SMG, pops through the bushes right next to them.  Or down the path a ways from them, but raising the gun to point at them.

Then ask for initiative.  90% of the time, your gun-bunny will loose off at least one shot.  If he gets even one hit, the shot connects, and the target goes down like a sack of potatoes.  Security shows up a minimum of two minutes later - tough to track down the target - so the PCs can decide whether or not to take off, or wait for security.

The Sucker Punch
The next time the PCs get together, all hell breaks loose.  It's a zombie outbreak - and not the nice fluffy voodoo-based spirit-inhabitation zombies, but viral-caused gonna-eat-yer-flesh-baby zombies!!  The PCs are armed only with what they happen to have with them - ammo count (and type!) is critical, because y'know, gel rounds are gonna knock that zombie down, but they sure as hell ain't gonna take it out.

The Opposition
There's three types of zombies.
  • Type III, which is your classic zombie - make them shambling Walking Dead ones, with the lunging at the last second if you like, but they infect other people into other Type IIIs.  Dismemberment might put them down, or a heart-shot, but to be smart, aim for the head.
  • Type II, which should only be a few dozen, and should be 'boss zombies' - always run, never tire, dead only with an explosive/evacuating headshot or decapitation - severing spinal cord or destroying the brain.  World War Z or 28 Days Later.
  • Type I, the (potential) number of which is (Number of Players) + 1.  Think of whatever will make a character a seriously scary badass, from +4 to all attributes to Awakening (adept or mage, GM's choice) to regeneration to invisibility (Adaptive Coloration, i.e. the Predator effect) to ... whatever.  Definitely infection - because anyone they kill by biting or with their 'natural weaponry' gets turned into a Type II.  But whatever makes them an oh-shit badass, that's what the Type I gets.  And as the 'event' happens, until one of the PCs dies, there's only one Type I - the person Mr. Trigger-Happy blew away.
Type III and II should not be able to survive underwater; you want this to be a one-time highly-controlled (i.e. not leaving the island) event.  Make them take on weight as well - bonuses to their body and strength mean denser materials, means sinking like a rock and drowning.  As for Type I ... that's up to you.

The Escape
The PCs are, obviously, 'survivors'; the plague should otherwise spread like wildfire though an island population of actors, waitresses, cooks, guests, and service personnel.  A few of the very-rich should flee - or try to flee, perhaps, if you want the PCs to watch the automated systems pop off a couple of SAMs and take out the luxury helo of some rich guy trying to get out of dodge.  The PCs have to find out what the hell caused all this, discover if there's a way out, then make it to that escape boat/sub/helo - without, of course, getting eaten by some damn zombie.  Sure, there's mass panic, especially when conversion takes only ten or twenty seconds.  But since there's only a handful of the Type II zombies (and only one of the superzombies), there's a middling-decent chance of finding pockets of survivors - an exec with his bodyguards holed up in a hotel room, a squad of security keeping on the move, whatever.

The main encounters will be, first,  a security guy who knows a way out and is willing to take the PCs with - maybe because he can't pilot the escape craft, and the PCs can; second, a scientist who was involved with the creation of the virus; third, lots of zombies, including both Type III and Type II; and fourth, an encounter with the Type I pseudo-zombie.

Key encounter, the last one.  The Type I retains full sentience, and even gets an enhancement to their brainpower.  He or she desires a partner, and has tracked down the PCs in order to identify which one would make the best partner - and be most likely to take the plunge into becoming an elite impossible-to-kill assassin.  Seduction is the key, here; try to get that character alone, so you can take the player aside in an attempt to seduce them to the dark side.  After all, they have cookies.  If the character agrees, great!!  Surrender the character sheet, and off they go.  If they say no, up to you - or them.  I tend to have the Type I pull a fast fade, and figure out his/her own way off the island.

The Explanation
Look, the island was a cover - a very good one, too.  Deep in its heart, it is/was a biowar research facility, trying to create a variant of HMHVV that only drains essence and thus kills the person.  A highly-skilled black ops infiltrator, world-class, broke in, stole the latest iteration, and was in the middle of evading security and heading to his or her extraction point when s/he accidentally came across the runners, wrong place wrong time, and the stupid APDS put a hole right through the frakkin' tank, infecting everyone.  Thing is, the virus only goes to work after you're dead, and it can't survive in the open for very long - which means only the people who were right there (PCs + World Class Black Ops) were initially infected, and only the WCBO died, activating the virus.

Of course, the virus mutated on transfer, getting weaker with each iteration; anyone the Type I killed (with bites and claws) became a Type II, while Type IIs could only create Type IIIs, and that's where the virus's mutation stabilized, so Type IIIs could create other Type IIIs.  But the panic button was pushed, and oh, by the way, not only do the PCs have to escape the island, but they have to do it in X hours - because that's when a series of low-yield thermobaric devices will be launched, blanket the island, and sterilize it of all life.  And, err, unlife.

The Letdown
So you escaped - congrats.  Just in front of the blast wave, ooo, cinematic.  But the parent corporation has sent a ship (or ships) to wait just offshore, and of course they pick the group up a scant hour (at the most!) after the escape.  They take the PCs into custody, isolate them, take samples ... but the PCs are already fighting off the virus, and the only effect on a living person is for the person to ... do something harmless but kinda disgusting.  Shed all their skin and hair, for example.  So Sorry, Umbrella Corp, good luck next time.

The Comeback ... ??
Did the Type I escape?  If the PCs didn't manage to kill him/her - and s/he's an experienced ops agent with lots of evasion know-how and the brains to run away when outnumbered and outgunned - then mmmaaaaayyyybe.  Keep your ear to the ground for a zombie outbreak ...
« Last Edit: (08:15:48/05-19-14) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
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Furious Trope

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« Reply #10 on: (10:24:12/05-17-14) »
And, in a pleasing symmetry, the infected. Go into battle with a full 12 points of essence so you're unlikely to be brought all the way down to 0, then afterwards you can replenish any you lost by feeding.

I stand both corrected and amused.

Pleasing symmetry indeed.
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SlowDeck

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« Reply #11 on: (20:41:00/05-24-14) »
Alright, I have gotten approval to run it tomorrow.

I will be playtesting it and adjusting the initial stats I come up with based upon what we do. Then I'll post final stats here.
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Furious Trope

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« Reply #12 on: (23:20:46/05-24-14) »
Slowdeck, I just want you to know when I mentioned this thread to my GM he just laughed and laughed.

I can't wait to see the final stats.
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SlowDeck

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« Reply #13 on: (12:48:43/06-01-14) »
Still testing it. We ran into a small problem involving paint grenades...
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martinchaen

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« Reply #14 on: (13:11:05/06-01-14) »
Personally, this seems like a horrible idea, particularly since HMHVV requires the use of the Infection power to spread; how do you weaponize Essence drain?