Vectors [Contagion Chronicle]

Chronicles of Darkness

Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.

— Hippocrates

The Sworn devote themselves to combating the Contagion, acting as healing agents within the God-Machine itself. Like any medicine, they attempt to cure the disease through a variety of means. Some cures require a subtle approach, slowly infiltrating and purifying the infected areas over a long period of time. Others are more aggressive, firmly blocking or destroying the contagion before the rot destroys anything else. A few cures are terminal, killing one site of infection utterly before the disease spreads.

Every member of the Sworn has their own inherent or acquired resources at hand that they can leverage against specific outbreaks, but the overall methodology of the group has led to the discovery or creation of supernatural techniques effective in combating the Contagion. Over the centuries, Sworn members have strengthened or reinvented those methods into useful tools in their eternal fight. These preternatural methods of Contagion control are collectively called vectors.

Vectors are different from most supernatural powers. Once a faction starts collaborating, they learn more about the Contagion as a whole, and that experience leads to the acquisition of effective methods to use against their common enemy. As the faction learns from their successes and failures against the disease, they acquire more powerful vectors. Sometimes these vectors can also be useful in each member’s daily (or nightly) existence, but that’s simply a perk. In general, vectors are tools the whole faction utilizes as part of their duty as Sworn.

Cryptocracy: Authority Vector

Acquiring power is pointless unless it is used. Luckily, we cryptocrats don’t covet power for our own personal gain. Of course not. Instead, we use our power to enforce order, so we can inoculate blooms of Contagion with efficiency. Some would call it ruthless, heartless, or autocratic. We say that homogamy helps our collective cause. Chaotic outbreaks can be more easily found and contained amongst uniformity, and that’s what we all want. But to force conformity, we must have power, and we must exercise it. We wield authority as our vector.

The Cryptocracy favors beasts, demons, mages, and vampires. In addition, groups such as the Winter Court, the Cheiron Group, Task Force: Valkyrie, the Maa-Kep, and the Undertakers flourish as cryptocrats.

• Surveillance

Before you can wield authority, you need information. You must know what is happening before you can step in and control the situation. The first step to becoming a proper bureau is to get access to Caliber, the Cryptocracy’s shadow surveillance and communications network.

Caliber is no mere collection of cameras, microphones, wires, and wi-fi signals. Such things are disrupted, manipulated, and destroyed. Rather, Caliber is a mystical network that piggybacks on existing communication systems, granting access for integrated cryptocrats. Call it magical resonance between items of spiritual connectivity. Call it quantum strings using microscopic wormholes to redirect cell phone signals. Hell, for all you know, it’s run by Sin-Eaters covered in the relics of the dead while they dance to the screams of victims being devoured by evil faeries. But it works, and that’s all that matters.

Because Caliber is a supernatural network, a bureau needs more than a user ID and a password to gain access. They need to personally synchronize with the network, becoming a part of it on a preternatural level. Of course, that also means that the bureau is part of the network now as well. A small price to pay for order, you’ll agree.

A vampire pricks her thumb and smears it on the security monitor, which flicks to the desired camera. A mage arranges for the sticky note with the right computer password to fall off the monitor and into his hands. A demon tricks the God-Machine into looking the other way while the app downloads to her phone.

System: A cryptocrat can tap into any surveillance or communications system, as long as they are touching one component of it. If successful, any barrier to acquiring information conveniently disappears — passwords automatically appear in apps, voice prints recognize the user as authorized, and even text in a foreign language is instantly translated. Such access is receiving only, and the cryptocrat cannot add, remove, or alter any information while using their Caliber access. They can download, copy, or otherwise preserve the information. After the scene is over, their authorization is revoked, and a new roll must be made to regain access.

Cost: 1 Willpower (only paid if the roll is successful)

Requirement: Physically touching one component of the network

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Computer; more successes may be needed if a network is particularly secure

Action: Instantaneous

Duration: One scene

Edges

Beasts, Deviants: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true with networks. On a successful Surveillance roll, a cryptocrat with this edge can spend an additional Willpower to turn off a specific camera, microphone, computer, or other node in the network. For the rest of the chapter, any attempt to reboot or activate the node will fail, and any data it contains will be inaccessible. Next chapter, the node will return to its normal operating status, and its data will be retrievable.

Changelings, Demons, Werewolves: These cryptocrats are used to seeing what others don’t. After a successful Surveillance roll, the cryptocrat with this edge can spend an additional Willpower and use the surveillance or communication network to see and hear things in the area that wouldn’t normally be visible (e.g., spirits, ghosts, goblins in the Hedge, and so on).

Hunters, Mages: Humans naturally observe other humans. It’s a part of their nature. These cryptocrats, being the closest to human, are more able to use social engineering and intuitive guesswork to gain access to central systems. They can choose to use Wits instead of Intelligence for their roll. Either way, they also gain two additional dice to Surveillance rolls.

Mummies, Prometheans, Sin-Eaters, Vampires: The cryptocrat’s connection to death allows them to access otherwise “dead” nodes of a network. If an aspect of the network has gone offline in the past 24 hours (e.g., battery dead, power turned off, or even destroyed), the cryptocrat with this edge can spend an additional Willpower to recover the last data the node had access to before it was “killed.” It’s the technological equivalent of looking into the eyes of a corpse and seeing its last moments.

Specializations

Task Force: Valkyrie: If it’s one thing the military understands, it’s secure information networks. Task Force: Valkyrie has access to a wide variety of backdoors, exploits, and technological weaknesses… all for the security of the nation, of course. For cryptocrats who work for Task Force: Valkyrie, their ersatz access lasts for a story, rather than a scene.


The Contagion Chronicle is currently on Kickstarter.