Skip to content

Hell Scientist

Hell Scientist. Based on the Psion class per Pathfinder’s Psionics Unleashed.

Description: Hell scientists are those humans who, one hundred million years from 2012, have 1) evolved a new brain lobe called an ultracortex and 2) trained to exercise that region of the brain, which is somehow able to manipulate the natural world in a “paranormal” or “psychic” way. Hell scientists vary from smiling telepaths to weaponless warriors who cause fire to spring suddenly from the friction of the air itself. The one thing that links them all is their time spent studying their craft—a very new craft in Pala, only about as old as the sight of Greens outside the Chasm, or the uneasy peace between the Federation and Empire (a century or so). This time apart from humanity can often change hell scientists in strange ways… And of course it doesn’t help that the gmothi and many others hate the hell scientists passionately, as if on instinct…

Characteristics: Frequently insanely intelligent, thin, and pale, hell scientists tend to accumulate knowledge about and skills related to whatever discipline, whatever particular flavor of ultra-post-human mental ability they are trained/training in. Hell scientists also tend to be well spoken and disdainful of purely martial solutions to problems: Why shoot something when you can command it to shoot itself?  Further, because they are hated and hunted by many non-psychics, hell scientists tend to paranoid.

Why Adventure? Hell scientists are not born—they’re made. Fanned into conflagration from the dull embers of a mere adept, the hell scientist is not a warrior who knows a few mental tricks: She is a force of pure consciousness, floating through and beyond the battle, the intrigue, the romance, the past, and the future. Hell scientists are often driven by a greed for obscure knowledge and political power, but even more often by a yearning for more and more limit-pushing personal abilities. Depending on region and temperament, the hell scientist is either a cold, zen figure at the edges of the “human” (and what is that? what do we share, if some of us are born with—and spend decades exercising—the ultracortex?) or a dynamic and empathetic friend—as in tune with other minds as with the natural force, with the invisible.

Training: A hell scientist requires five or more years of training to use even his first-level powers and to learn on his own. Training is highly specific by region and, since Pala has very few (known) hell scientists, also elitist and expensive.

IN CARVOLIA AND VENNAR – There are two methods of training in the North:  Humans (non-humans are not allowed) may attempt to join one of the twelve armillae (pl. armillae; “circles” or “colleges,” small training centers, more or less permanent) sanctioned by the states of Dravania, Carvolia, Garandis, Vennar, Gilspar, Ripar, and Rosavalee; or, living dangerously, may seek out instead an archonte (pl. archontes) or master—a powerful hell scientist willing to mentor younger adepts… for a price.

IN THE FEDERATION OF UNHUMAN KINGDOMS – Technically, all Federation-born or -dwelling sents capable of learning the hell science, of any species, must report to Divison IX.  (Before the Second War, each unhuman kingdom maintained its own military.  Gazaar’ou didn’t do away with this system per se, but regularlized the armies across the Federation into eight grand Divisions, each of which has the same mandate and high command, regardless of its kingdom-specific costume, protocol, etc.  Divison IX was a rumor for years, recently confirmed.)  Divison IX is headquartered in Kazerat.  Divison IX, however, is old news:  Now all you hear about is the training available to those who seek our or, more likely, are sought/abducted by Divison X

IN THE SASPARADAN EMPIRE – The Empire is the most hell-scientifically advanced nation-state in Pala.  All hell science-capable sents here are scrutinized by the famous Black Legion, and those capable of serving the Blood of the Emperor are pressed into doing so.  Headquartered in the capital, the Black Legion has several divisions, not all known to the public.  The main division of the Black Legion is between the primary, combat-oriented troops—the Black Legion proper—and the spies and elite special forces—the Subtle Legion.

Each corps of each legion is commanded by one Legatus.  The four Black Legati report to the more or less invincible Dux of the Black Legion; the mysterious Subtle Legati report to the nigh-mythical Dux of the Subtle Legion.  Both the Black and Subtle Duces report to the commanders of the Imperial Army, the genetically engineered superhuman twin Consules (Consuls), who report directly to/act perfectly on behalf of the forever unseen Sanguinarch (Emperor) Himself.

The Black Legion has four corps, all of whom are headquartered in the capital.  In game terms, Black Legionaries are Psychic Warriors, most of whom take the mind knight path—they are not Hell Scientists.  The Black Legion corps are:

  1. The Deleometers or Deleters—the psychic army.  Deleters are Black Legionaries of the mind knight or weaponmaster path (except their bonus to attack may apply to either melee or missile weapons; most Deleters use pistols, not swords).
  2. The Stratometers or Expanders—the psychic frontier guards, coast guard, and marines.  Black Legionaries of the mind knight or ascetic path (the Expanders motto is “live to kill again”—and, as an unspoken corollary, “to summon the other corps”).
  3. The Axiometers or Rotators—the psychic torturers and military police (there are no non-military police).  Black Legionaries of the mind knight or brawling path (Rotators are trained in using subdual damage to intimidate and breakdown suspicious individuals).
  4. The Segmentometers or Dividers—the psychic elite palatine guard corps.  Black Legionaries of the mind knight or assassin’s path.

A few cohorts within each corps are trained in the feral warrior path as Luperci, or berserkers.  (A Lupercus within the corps of the Axiometers would be called an Axiometer Lupercus, e.g.)  Likewise, a few cohorts in each corps are trained as malmains, called Venatores in the Empire.  (A Venator within the corps of the Segmentometers would be called a Segmentometer Venator, e.g.)

Members of the Subtle Legion are generally trained as auxiliaries in one of the corps of the Black Legion until they are experienced enough (and brainwashed enough) to safely undergo training for one of the elite Subtle corps.  The Subtle Legion [all members of whom are actual Hell Scientists] consists of at least three corps:

  1. The obsessive Templarchi—or “Time Cops,” managers of the Empires incredible wealth of powerful Late Tephnian artifacta; a prestige class focused on using archaetech and reading the Code
  2. The brutal Depredatori—the Depredators or Snuffers, hunters-of-hunters; they exist to “control” [destroy] rogue Blooders and Hell Scientists; a prestige class focused on ripping the Blood out of Blooders and/or shutting down hell science powers
  3. The terrifying Scissipari—the “Black Sphinxes,” the Separators or Scalpels, brain-spies and secret police; a prestige class focused on Logos and mental theft, somewhat per Inception

Species:  Only humans have evolved the ultracortex necessary for full progress in the hell sciences, so far as anyone knows.

Role:  Your abilities are diverse, impressive, and adaptable.  You are equally capable as a leader or a critical support character, depending on your inclination and powers.

Hit Die:  d4.

Class Skills:  +3 Academics.  +3 Hell Science (INT/CHA), specializing in 1 discipline.  Additional +1 Hell Science (new discipline) every 3 levels.

Starting Skill Points:  2+INTmod.

Skill Points/Level:  1+INTmod.

CLASS FEATURES

Psi Points:  Hell scientists gain psi points per Psionics Unleashed, adding +INTmod points per level as a bonus.  This means they will have more psi than “psions” do in Psionics Unleashed.

Psionic Focus:  There is no such thing.  Any power which requires “maintaining psionic focus” now does not require this.  Any power which requires “spending psionic focus” now requires an additional psi point.

Powers:  Hell scientist gain access to new powers per Psionics Unleashed.  They may gain additional powers due to archaetech, bonus, feats, or mutations.

Disciplines:  You gain access to 1 discipline at 1st level, adding another 1 discipline at 3rd, again at 6th, 9th, and so on until you have access to all 8 disciplines at 21st level.  You cannot use powers in disciplines to which you do not have access.  You simply can’t.  However, you can use power-like abilities (e.g., archaetech devices that have psi effects) that “would be” classed in yet-unlearned disciplines.

NOTE:  In game terms, the disciplines include both the psionic powers from Psionics Unleashed *and* any arcane spells from the Pathfinder Core Rules that the PCs and DM both agree are “low fantasy”/steampunk/mental enough to make an appearance in 100 M.Y.  Two hell science disciplines, in fact, consist only of these ex-spells [a list of which would be a wonderful thing to generate, eventually].  In terms of psi points, spells cost their arcane casting level+1 to manifest as hell science powers.  How they may be augmented must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

The Disciplines:

  • Aegis (abjuration) – The Shield.  Protection.  Abjuration spells, now thought of as expansions of the mind into the environment (no summoning or banishing, no demons, no angels).  Hell scientists who begin with Aegis as their chosen discipline often go by the name Murices (sing. Murex).
  • Gnosis (clairsentience + divination) – Knowledge.  All the divinatory psychic practices.  Forethought and farsight.  Practitioners are called Farseers.
  • Logos (telepathy + enchantment) – The Word.  Thought.  Communication.  “The Queen of the Hell Sciences.”  By far the most valued, difficult, and potential evil science.  Brainwashing.  Lovemaking.  Logos is the focus of the Empire’s research.  Practitioners are called Sphinxes.
  • Mimesis (illusion) – Imitation.  The Shadow.  Like Aegis, a “minor” (unpopular) science, and one with no phantom-armies-that-are-actually-armies per fantasy d20 games.  Here, all the illusions are a combination of mental tricks (per Logos) with physical shadows and puppets and mimes (per Morphe).  Still, such tricks can reach a grand scale…  Practitioners are called Mazers.
  • Morphé (metacreativity + transmutation) – Change.  The Dream.  Shaping.  A powerful art that can produce great works of art.  The pride of Vennar’s hell scientists.  Practitioners are called Alloyers.
  • Physis (psychometabolism + necromancy) – Nature.  Life.  Death.  The World.  This powerful art can even resurrect the dead, it is said.  Though known better in Latura, Physis is being researched actively in Pala, particularly in the Federation.  Practitioners are called, depending on their ethical bent, Anatomists, Medici, Vivisectionists, Charnelists, Necrologists
  • Praxis (psychokinesis + evocation) – Action.  Mind War.  Explosions and mind bullets.  Currently, the Empire and the Federation know much more about Praxis than the other arts combined.  Curiously, Carvolia’s special forces (the ducal Antrustions or Foreign Guard) have pulled ahead in research on Praxis, in recent years.  Practitioners are called Vectors.
  • Topos (psychoportation + conjuration) – Space.  Transformation.  Teleportation…  The focus of Arakhan psionic excellence.  Practitioners are called Deformers.

Lazzi (Hell Science “Cantrips”):

All characters who can manifest the hell science gain access to “cantrips” or cheap tricks called lazzi (singular lazzo; an old Italian theater term for special effect, clowning routine, joke, or dirty trick).  These tiny mental miracles are “0-level” in terms of power, cost 1 psi, and require 1 standard action to perform.

All characters with hell science powers learn the lazzo of the zanni (minor tricks with no hard game effects).  Hell scientists learn the 3 lazzi of their primary discipline at 1st level and learn the 3 lazzi of other disciplines as they acquire those disciplines.  Snakeheads learn the 3 lazzi of all 3 of their initial disciplines.  Black Legionaries learn 3 lazzi at 1st level but may choose from any discipline.  Zanni learn all lazzi—choosing 3 at 1st level and learning 1 more with each subsequent level indefinitely.

The lazzi listed below are not the only possibilities, based on Mel Gordon’s excellent short study Lazzi.  Invention is encouraged.  But remember that each lazzo is not “unique;” a PC may invent an equivalent lazzo, as long as she understands that others may have the same power.  Each lazzo takes the name “X lazzo” or “lazzo of the X,” depending on which sounds better.

Aegis

  • Bravata lazzo: Subject gains +1 on saving throws for one round.
  • Lazzo of the anvil: Given non-living object gains temporary +2 AC for d3 rounds. Works on artisents (Hannahs, horseheaded men, freemasks, and NPC constructs); does not stack.
  • Doctor’s lazzo: Detects poison or disease (genetic, bacterial, viral, or nano) in one creature or small object. Does not give a prognosis or a diagnosis, beyond “genetic,” “bacterial,” etc. Does not detect mental (or hell science-induced) afflictions. Does not work on artisents.

Topos

  • Unseen hand lazzo: 2.5kg-telekinesis. Open or close small or light things (2.5kg or less).
  • Lazzo of the blow fly: Subject gains +d3 initiative for one round. Initiative drops back to normal the next round.
  • Hilarious lazzo: Subject gains +1 to trip attempts for 1 round.  Stacks.

Gnosis

  • Lazzo of the flying witches: Detects active/undisguised hell science users and items within 20m for one round. Does not penetrate hell science obfuscation powers of power level 1 or greater.
  • Scholar’s lazzo: Subject gains +d3 to checks to read the Code for d10 rounds; does not stack.
  • Octopus lazzo: Manifester (self only) can study a tense situation and guess what will happen next, using this to her advantage: flip a coin; if she wins, choose +1 ATT or DMG, +1 AC, or +1 on one skill check, applying to only one action in the next round.

Logos

  • Lazzo of the sloth: Single humanoid creature with 4 lvls/HD or less loses its next action.
  • Lazzo of the sign: Subject telepathically sends a single word, picture, or sound to a willing target.
  • Messenger’s lazzo: Subject and one target may carry on a whispered conversation at a distance for (lvl/2) rounds. The maximum distance is 3 times manifester level m.

Praxis

  • Torch lazzo: Creates a light source equal to a torch that lasts lvl/2 rounds.
  • Lazzo of the anarchista: Dazzles one creature for one round (-1 ATT).
  • Evil eye lazzo: Manifester (self only) stares at one subject until the friction of its skin/shell/etc. increases painfully, dealing d3 heat damage.

Mimesis

  • Cricket lazzo: Creates figment sounds. Subject gains +3 intimidate checks for one round.
  • Chameleon lazzo: Creates a basic camoflague pattern on a subject’s skin/shell/etc. Subject gains +3 hide for d3 rounds; does not stack.
  • Lazzo of the adulterer: Creates small, short-lived changes in subject’s appearance. Subject gains +3 to disguise for d3 rounds; does not stack.

Physis

  • Spider lazzo: Manifester (self only) spits an orb of acid that deals d3 acid damage to a single target.
  • Lazzo of the leech: Causes a stabilized creature to resume dying.
  • Lazzo of the wisest munkey: Touch attack steals d3 pK from any living subject.

Morphé

  • Unseen hand lazzo: 2.5kg-telekinesis. Open or close small or light things (2.5kg or less).
  • Mender’s lazzo: Makes minor repairs to an object (also adds +3 crafts check for one round; does not stack).
  • Lazzo of the ladder: Assembles a small object out of nanoparticles in the surrounding air. Object supports the mass of an adult human for roughly lvl/2 seconds. Object has 1 hp and an AC of 6 for sundering purposes.

Universal

  • Lazzo of the zanni: Allows the manifester to perform minor wondrous tricks, including:
    • Create very small lights, soft noises, mild sensations, etc., that last for only a few seconds
    • Levitate under 10 centimeters off the ground for a few seconds
    • Jump an extra 10 centimeters into the air, or hang in the air for an extra few seconds
    • Shift your voice an octave higher or lower than is normal for a few seconds
    • Imitate a natural sound better than usual (not well enough to fool an expert/anyone using a divinatory hell science power of power level 1 or greater)
    • Make a joke funnier, a seduction sexier, etc. (no real game effect/+1 bonus on a roll; DM’s discretion)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: