Saturday, October 5, 2013

278: Psiwire

ENTRY 278: Psiwire

"Psi represents the potential to turn the TITANs' weapons against them. Turned to our use, to the greater benefit of transhumanity."
- Anita Gutenburg, Firewall Researcher

The proposal came in on the heels of the discovery of the Watts-MacLeod strain of the Exsurgent virus, from secret scientist to secret administrator. To their credit, it was initially rejected - but Firewall never throws anything away, and the proposal was modified and resurrected after each discovery, as sleights were cataloged and side effects measured. Until, eventually, the weight of evidence finally gave, under utmost secrecy and discretion, the long-awaited stamp of approval. Resources were directed, labs created, samples and test subjects procured for a project with no name or number.

There followed pain, madness, death, and ego-destruction - but progress enough that the credits and test subjects kept coming. Weeks into months. Incinerators kept busy dealing with the bodies. Now, after a year or more, a field prototype. Stable. Ready for testing.

The secret echelon at Firewall has been told that the aim of the project was to create an augmentation that, in conjunction with infection with the Watts-MacLeod virus, would allow a subject to switch between psi sleights at will - an electrochemical switch of sorts, shifting between nodes in the subject's brain. This was the lie that they bought, and may yet continue paying for, even after they eventually discover the truth.


The developers of the secret Firewall project could not figure out a way to make their "psiwire" system work - so instead, they faked it. Test subjects are multiple forks of the same ego in cloned bodies which are subjected to the Exsurgent virus; those that develop similar or identical sleights are disposed of, and the remaining egos with unique sleights are harvested, subject to psychosurgery to increase suggestibility, and implanted in a single biomorph using a variant of the Multiple Personalities augmentation (Eclipse Phase 301). The disparate egos are conditioned to be unaware of each other, to the point that they believe that they are a single ego switching between using different sleights, when in fact they are separate related egos operating under a shared delusion. The result is far from psychologically stable, and most of the test subject egos have developed schizophrenia, paranoia, or multiple personality disorders (which, in a morph that already has a version of the Multiple Personalities augmentation is really confusing), with quite a few self-destructing and at least one where an ego became positively exhuman. However, while stable the biomorph appears to be able to switch between 2-8 psi-chi or psi-gamma sleights more or less at will, determined by which personality is at the fore. Skill ratings and psi level are typically uniform among all egos, though would probably diverge the longer the test subject exists.

Using Psiwire

Aside from the time-honored tradition of dabbling in things probably better left unknown, Firewall test subjects implanted with psiwire systems present unpredictable and adaptable NPCs without being too overpowered. Rather than a single NPC with a dozen sleights, the NPC is actually a bundle of mini-NPCs that appears to have a lot of psi powers. The mystery as much as the challenge this presents to player characters can provide the impetus for some interesting roleplaying, especially if any of the PCs look to gain similar abilities.

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