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KSI 21: The Committee for Special Research, Section 21

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  • KSI 21: The Committee for Special Research, Section 21

    KSI 21
    The Committee for Special Research, Section 21

    I would like to thank Glamourweaver for collaborating with me on this.
    Art by Reaper Verse

    "Yebat vashu mat! Lenkom Theatre? We've been searching for the vector infecting these zadnitza ghosts for over a month, and it was a fucking theatre? Did they want to catch a show?"

    Yulia rolled her eyes. She could not stomach some of these new recruits - hot shots who would rather blast their way through their targets than actually investigate a problem, or read a simple briefing file. In a country built on the graves of so many countless dead, one could not hope to keep the shadows of the past at bay without a sense of history.

    "Dubiina! You think that building has always been a theatre? That was a house of Merchant whites, until the Anarchists took it by force and made it the heart of their power in Moscow - the Black Guard themselves were commanded from Dom Anarchia - until the state sent in the Cheka for them."

    "Anarchists? I thought those ghosts kept to Donskoy?"

    "We've kept them corralled there for years. That's where most of their blood was spilled. It should be where they stayed anchored. But something has infected this place of their power, and turning the more recent dead into their puppets." Yulia, stuck the syringe into the green agent's arm as she continued. She hoped it hurt. "We can't keep covering up these fires. Whatever is in there stops today."

    "Commander - " his voice dripped with resentment. Yulia knew she would never truly hold the respect of the field agents, especially the men - but she expected them to be better at hiding their resentment while she was running a carefully balanced neuro-cocktail through their bloodstream, "I know how to do my job. We enter with the wraiths, and as necessary let whatever is in there believe it can influence us like the others. I was recruited from FSB - my father served for 30 years in the KGB - I know how to run an undercover operation."

    "For FSB you don't seem to have much respect for intelligence. I would have thought Ground Forces."

    "I did my service. As for intelligence - i was trained to hunt down active threats to the state, not bury myself in century old history."

    "We ARE hunting down active threats to the state. That history has no interest in staying buried if we don't keep it there. It isn't all spying on Georgians and vourdalak," Yulia could tell now the agent's eyes were drooping. The monitor showed his heart rate slowing as his skin paled. She opened the cooler to move on the ice as soon as he was out... or she could wait a few minutes... no, brain damage would just make him all the more foolish. "You are all we have to hold back the threats no one else can deal with. We can't move forward with the tendrils of the past reaching up to pull us back into the grave with them. So you go where the rest cannot. Down - down - down...."

    He was out now. She moved the ice onto his body quickly. She'd spent years perfecting the procedure, she could do it in her sleep. She wished, more than anything, to know herself what it was like. To walk on the other side, free of flesh and blood and bone. Well - she'd find out one day. At some point - everyone finds out.

    Bitter Seeds

    The Eastern Front was the bloodiest in human history. Over thirty million died in a conflict that stretched from the top to the bottom of a continent. Lakes of human blood washed away the walls between worlds and the paranormal came to feed upon human destruction.
    If Soviet monsters had any special enmity for the German invaders, this was a cold comfort to the conscripts trying to drown out strange howls from the forest and ominous portents in the sky with moonshine vodka.

    The Kremlin scarcely felt any better about the whole thing. The wild untamable heart of the continent had arisen. Witches, monsters, dead gods and other things that had no place in the worker’s republic had returned. In their presence modern citizens, soldiers and patriots both, were returning to the fear and superstition of their ancestors. And so the Party resolved to tame the untameable, to make supernatural power into the people’s power.

    The Committee for Special Research was created; split into over thirty sections each working on a different supernatural phenomena, divided according to a best guess classification built from often hysterical soldier’s reports. Their most successful results would come from Section 21, which was given purview to research ghosts.

    Rumours of shamans descending into the Underworld, and reassembling themselves in death, led KSI 21 to both Siberia and anthropologists in search of the so-called deathwalkers, they had more luck with the anthropologists. Parapsychological research into near-death experiences provided a modern scientific perspective. Powerful cocktails of narcotics and hallucinogens were used to push the boundary between flesh and the ephemeral for volunteers and conscripts alike. Though KSI was unable to endow agents with the ability to communicate with ghosts, a steady stream of experimental results assured Moscow that progress was being made.

    [Picture: Three conscripts huddle terrified around a bonfire, one looks furtively at a forest in the distance, another is clutching a necklace with both a cross and a suomenusko totem, the third is just drinking. Standing apart are two KSI agents in much better uniforms.]

    The Coldest War

    The seeds sown during the Great Patriotic War would bear fruit decades later during the Cold War, a time period eminently suited for the abilities that were to eventually emerge from KSI's research.

    The first breakthrough, the foundation for all KSI 21's future successes, came not from a sudden stroke of genius or a game changing discovery in the field, but from the decades of patient work. In 1953 Agent Grubozaboyschikov entered a cryogenically induced near death state, and with a cocktail of drugs and powerful magnetic fields reshaping his brain, he emerged as the first man Endowed with the power of Dreaming (Сновидение).

    Though KSI 21's accomplished its goal of creating a medium to communicate with the deceased, scientists and party officials were far more impressed that Grubozaboyschikov did so by projecting his mind beyond his body. An invisible man, the perfect spy for an age of spies.

    [Picture: Stalin is personally congratulating KSI and presenting a statue in their honour. He is shaking hands with the chief scientist before a statue of a scientist standing side by side with a Dreamer, portrayed as a soldier with disks attached to his head.]

    Further breakthroughs followed swiftly. Having demonstrated the ability to mould the human brain and unlock psychic potential KSI 21 used their new clout to absorb KSI 11 and their retinue of naturally gifted research subjects. Within three years KSI was having it's first successes in recreating the gifted's neurological abnormalities within a typical brain; bestowing their Dreamers with the power of Nightmares (Кошмары).

    Among KSI 11s resources were the preserved heads of Nazi psychics. Idiot-savants endowed with the power of Willenskräfte through surgical implants within their brain wired directly to batteries. At first KSI scientists treated the implants as just another form of neural maps which they could follow to discover more Nightmares. But stolen Nazi technology would eventually prove to be the source of KSI’s third and final great breakthrough.

    Decades earlier KSI had speculated that psychic phenomena might be electromagnetic in nature, but after a series of failed experiments that line of reasoning was abandoned. These early ideas were resurrected when scientists looked beyond where the implants connected to the brain and realised just how odd Willenskräfte actually was.

    The Nazi’s had designed their implants to constantly rotate through dozens of different frequencies, a complex piece of engineering with seemingly no purpose. Lacking any theory to explain it, KSI hazarded a guess that the Nazi’s had uncovered the exact frequencies of psychic phenomena and set about devising experiments to test this theory.

    Though the Nazi technology was the product of deranged genius and defied every attempt to figure out the surgical processes that left the... victims alive; as a work of electrical engineering it was decades behind the times and easily replicated. With large enough voltages they discovered that an artificial Willenskräfte machine could create the feeling of a human being present in anyone nearby.

    Lacking any theory to explain why those precise frequencies produced psychic phenomena did not dampen KSI 21’s enthusiasm to use this discovery. The key was to turn random psychic static into controlled psychic phenomena, and the research teams believed that only a human brain had the precision to perform such feats. Experiments during the war had already taught KSI that trying to recreate Nazi implants was a waste of good patriots and so KSI began research a way to use Willenskräfte technology as an external psychic amplifier.

    [Picture: A semicircle of iron sarcophagi wired into a central bank of cold war era radio technology. A group of men dressed for extreme cold are helping a muscular soldier like man wearing shorts into an open sarcophagus filled with water and floating ice. Wires connected to suction cups on his head descend into the sarcophagus.]

    Only a few decades after KSI 21 was founded they unveiled their first amplifier, and with it an Endowment to rival Conspiracies that had spent centuries refining their techniques.

    Necessary Evil

    The 1950s are held as KSI 21’s golden age when scientific breakthroughs came in rapid succession, and for it’s researchers it truly was a golden age but for the Dreamers it was a time of peril and death. Flush with pride in their success at creating invisible spies the Soviet Union became blind to the possibility that their enemies’ occult resources could provide countermeasures.

    Agents spying on the Americans came back with vital intelligence, but sometimes they never came back at all. Their last neural activity, surprise, adrenalin, pain, was dutifully recorded and studied. Grubozaboyschikov himself died while spying upon a British embassy, his brain liquified and leaked out through his nose after his projecting mind was targeted by some horrific weapon. The Church’s militant wing, already defeated and scattered by the red army, still wielded prayers and intercessions that could strike down a lone spy sniffing for survivors.

    It was said during this time that a Dreamer’s enemy could not see him, but a Dreamer could not survive being seen by his enemies.
    As was typical of the backbiting politics of the era KSI 21’s administrators saw the death of so many agents as an opportunity first and a tragedy second. As the decade progressed and complex technology was created to enhance a Dreamer’s abilities KSI 21 argued that their understanding of a Dreamer’s capabilities meant they alone were qualified support Dreamer operations. The committee was expanded with new divisions dedicated to espionage and counter-intelligence.

    In truth KSI was no better but also no worse than any other department, but research marched on. By the end of the decade research into Nightmares and espionage to uncover their enemies occult capabilities had borne fruit and KSI’s track record began to exceed their predecessors. Spying remained a dangerous game and occult intelligence became renowned for it’s cut-throat brutality, but the Dreamers gave as good as they got.

    [Picture A triptych. A James Bond like MI18 agent draws a circle in the air with an ornate fountain pen. Tentacles, part flesh part metal, emerge from the circle and grab various folders stamped SECRET. A transparent KSI 21 agent floats in the background while American generals and Afghanistani warlords negotiate around a conference table. A TFV agent, dressed in a brown suit and slick hair, prepares to inject something into a prisoner strapped to a chair.]

    The Enemy

    KSI’s strategies have been shaped by their Endowment to an extent few other Conspiracies have seen, after all, most Endowments don’t prevent Hunters from carrying a gun. A Projecting Dreamer can use Nightmares to affect the physical world but telekinetically throwing the nearest sharp object won’t do much in a pitched battle against a vampire or VALKYRIE agents with body armour and etheric rounds.

    Thus KSI Dreamers typically have three strategies: The first is spying. KSI agents are constantly deployed to provide information on foreign governments, domestic political factions, and even to provide a competitive advantage for Russian enterprises in the government’s favour.

    The second is fire support. Dreamers might have limited direct combat ability outside of Twilight, but a telepathic attack makes a flash grenade look like a firecracker. Dreamers often assist physical soldiers with tactical support, environmental control, and of course scouting.
    Thirdly KSI agents perform assassinations. Against a target with no way to perceive a projecting Dreamer it’s only a matter of time until the agent has a situation they can manipulate into a fatially.

    KSI 21’s origins in WWII and the Cold War means that they spent most of their history focused on human threats such as foreign governments and unlawful Conspiracies operating on Russian soil. However since the Iron Curtain fell there have been fewer mortal threats, and the rapid growth of the oligarchy was an open invitation to monsters and Conspiracies looking for a way into the corridors of power.

    Vampire’s and Leviathans are both keen to spread their influence. KSI proved to be an unwelcome surprise to the bloodsuckers and eliminated around 80% of the first generation of social climbers. By the time Russia’s bloodsuckers adapted the window of opportunity had closed.

    KSI learned very quickly why it’s a bad idea to expose the telepathically sensitive to Leviathans, however a Dreamer can spot their psychic tempest from a safe distance, a long distance, and direct conventional heavy weapons to the monster’s location.

    Ghost of course remain a frequent target of KSI-21, but apart from the occasional integration of a foreign agent or silencing of a dead traitor KSI rarely needs to put in much effort into hunting ghosts. Often it’s as little as sending a couple of unEndowed hunters with a truck to grab the Ghost’s anchors and ship it to whatever lab needs a new subjects. Occasionally they send a Dreamer with the appropriate Nightmares to “recruit” a powerful Ghost for the cause.

    Just like Ghosts, KSI 21 also hunts Psychics for research and study. And like Ghosts it doesn't really take much effort. Typically KSI just turns up at their door offering cash in exchange for spending every Saturday in the lab, they usually don't even need to hint that it's unwise to refuse this offer. Psychics with particularly valuable unique gifts may recruited or conscripted for more active duties. Now if a psychic is using their gifts for activies contuary to Russia's interests, well that's another matter entirely but KSI will still try to take them alive just so long as they're valuable to the state.

    Rival Conspiracies keeping tabs on KSI often wonder why they pay such close attention to a group of mere “hooligans and agitators” but the Infected, or Ghostwalkers, have been a high priority for KSI 21 ever since agents began returning from attempts to Endow them with strange passengers.

    To KSI The Infected represent not a threat, but a gap in the wall between yesterday and today through which all manner of threats can pass. A gap which cannot be filled, only guarded with constant vigilance. KSI can bury a secret along with the man who knew it and his ghost, but they can only scratch the surface of the Underworld.

    [Picture: A group of KSI agents are standing by the banks of an Underworld river. One agent is showing a picture of a woman to a ghost and offering an apple as a bribe. The women looks like a member of Pussy Riot, but with a skull themed balaclava. The ghosts points across the river. Another agent haggles with the Ferryman - a very tall hooded black robe with nothing inside. The other agents hang close, looking very nervous]

    The Infected have free reign to travel beyond KSI’s reach, a frightening prospect for people so used to operating beyond the reach of mortals, and so long as they’re free KSI can never call a job done. Who knows what burnt document or silenced traitor lies in those vast caverns, just waiting to haunt the living once some Ghostwalker comes across it in their obsession to finish business best left unfinished.

    But there is more to the infected than crass behaviour and unburied secrets. One look at Russia’s folklore and history that will reveal just why KSI fears deathless men and priests who build cults around their magical abilities.


    KSI has always used color classification for its missions. Agents' training tends to specialize in one area or another, but there is no guarantee that every mission will correspond to a given agent's color-training; especially as dreamers are in short supply, and many missions skirt the edge of one classification or another.

    Siniy (синий; indigo/blue) - This classification refers to those missions and agents specialized in Section 21's original mandate of disembodied research; i.e. dealing with the restless dead and Twilight. This is also the classification of those agents dedicated to Dreaming research itself. By association, missions involving the Infected (see The Enemy) typically fall under this classification. [Specialty: Occult (Ghosts)]

    Malinovyy (малиновый; crimson) - This classification refers to those intelligence agents and missions, which may once have fallen under other more mundane intelligence agency purviews, but the resource of dreamers is being put to work in said field. In other words, these are covert operatives working surveillance on corporeal monsters and threats - including tangling with VALKYRIE and MI18 through much of the Cold War. [Specialty: Investigation (Espionage)]

    It is often observed that for Siniy Agents, dreaming is about engaging with what would be beyond reach; while for Malinovyy Agents, dreaming is about staying out of reach of that which would otherwise engage them.

    Zheltyy (желтый; yellow) - This classifacation refers to KSI internal security and counter-intelligence. Zheltyy make sure Russia’s secrets stay secret and root out supernatural and foreign infiltration into the russian government, and into KSI itself. As a result these agents are often in a regulatory position over the other classifications. Ironic since they have the least trained dreamers in their ranks (though not none). [Specialty: Intimidation or Persuasion (Keep Quiet)]
    черный, black. This highly classified field of research is an offshoot of Siniy classification, essentially the color chosen for being pitch dark siniy. The Dreamers in this field are actively attempting descent into the Lower Depth, with the hopes of obtaining information and resources of value to Section 21's research and to the state.

    красный, red. During the height of the Committee for Special Research, under the Soviet Union, all operations of the diverse Sections were overseen by the mysterious body known as Section 1. In 1991, when the Union fell, KSI 1 went complete radio silent. In the years that followed, Section 21 officers assumed that like the other handful of sections that survived to disappear when the Union fell, they got gobbled up in privatization, or some enemy took advantage of the chaos to make a definitive strike against them. Then in 2000, the silence broke. Long dead secure lines began transmitting orders to KSI 21 again, with KSI 1's "Krasnyy" designation. These orders are not a constant stream, and tend to be diverse (though are most likely to apply to Malinovyy related actions and rarely Siniy), and all seem to relate to state security, but no face behind the Krasnyy orders has been shown in the last 13 years.

    [Picture: A group of officers cluster around a 1980s era mainframe computer, blinking lights and tape drives but in a big iron frame. They are animately debating a print out. Some distance away modern computer equipment can be seen]

    Belyy, (Белый; white). For the first few decades the process of creating Dreamers placed volunteers at risk of death or infection. Loyal patriots who returned with the infection wielded great power, but many were no longer loyal and even those who were suffered from uncontrollable takeovers by their parasite. KSI 21 tried to control them, then tried to kill them, then finally it cryogenically froze them and threw away the key. Belyy is a tiny division that guards a small Siberian outpost where the infected remain on ice; to the rest of KSI 21 Belyy is a distant memory, and a monthly report saying nothing interesting happened.

    Status in KSI 21 is formed from the worst traits of a research institution and a government bureaucracy; it combines academic politics with actual politics and adds a few unique twists of it’s own to spice things up, such as direct lines to… let us call them prominent and patriotic Russian citizens.

    O You’re a fresh recruit, reborn in an iron coffin and able to project your mind beyond your body. You may buy dots in Dreaming, and you also gain a free one dot Mentor representing your commanding officer.

    OOO You’re an officer. You’re still on the front lines, in mind if not in body, but you’re planning your own operations now and if you’re not picking your targets you’re at least in the meeting when they’re chosen. Take two dots in the Staff Merit representing the unEndowed men under your command. You may choose from the following Skills: Computer, Investigation, Occult, Firearms, Intimidation or Subterfuge.

    OOOOO You’re at the top now, a desk jockey with a leather throne. Chances are you haven’t your psychic abilities since you got the job, not unless you like to go on the occasional flight for the joy of it. Running a Conspiracy is a full time job, but play your cards right and you can retire to a much safer and more lucrative life before too long. Split three dots among Allies and Contacts: Your network in the corridors of power.


    *Bogatyrs: The self-styled protectors of the people can all too easily find their way underfoot. Their priorities are small, and even the few who aren't revenge-addled vigilantes will still put their family, their neighborhood, their church before the state. Thankfully, the ins we have with the Church gives us the leverage we need to mitigate most of the damage. As long as they're just patrolling their own streets - leave them be. If they start going after perceived monsters amongst oligarchs and bureaucrats, someone may need to step in - and who knows, there may always be a potential Dreamer amongst them.

    Network 0: Half of keeping things meant to stay buried buried is making sure no one digs it up. The explosion in dashboard camera use has been a nightmare. Thankfully we have dreamers specially skilled in distorting electro-magnetic recordings; and most citizens know better than to push the issue once confronted. After all, the cameras are to protect themselves, not create trouble.

    Ascending Ones: Some early experimental cocktails for dreamers were based on drugs smuggled by cartels in the Caucuses. We've encountered other possible dreamers in the field, that have none of the extensive unlocked abilities of our agents, but do seem less shackled to their bodies. Perhaps further research is in order.

    Task Force VALKYRIE: Our old nemeses. As in most other areas, the Americans attempt to make up for their shortcomings in the realm of paranormal research with overwhelming industrial force. They truly believe there is no problem that they can't throw money at. Now given, it would be nice to have their resources! We stole the secret of their Etheric Bullets decades ago (enough dreaming agents being killed in the field made it a priority), but we don't have remotely the infrastructure necessary to actually mass produce the things, and our friends in the military do not like to share. But the fact remains that all the weaponry in the world doesn't make them any less of a blind giant stomping across the world's anthills.

    The Order of St. Anthony: We are not blind, I will freely admit that the Republics of the Soviet Union made many mistakes and excesses. The suppression of religion should never have happened. However the Church is not without blame, to this day it funds it’s own private militia of fanatics and terrorists. Mark my words, their vows to only fight monsters will only last until they become inconvenient for the Church.

    MI18: Britain is a weak country holding on to memories of old glories, but their spies, the thing’s we’ve seen them use. I would gladly give them the power of Dreaming if in exchange they would return those monstrous devices to whatever pit they crawled from.

    Dreaming (Сновидение) (O – OOOOO)

    KSI 21 has the ability to bestow psychic abilities upon their agents. Recruits are placed in freezing water and given a cocktail of drugs to induce a prolonged near death experience. KSI scientists hypothesize that the recruit’s mind has literally left their body and travelled towards the afterlife, and upon revival some agents remember how to separate their mind from from their body. It would certainly explain why in the early days some agents never came back, and were pioneers met the entities that infected them.

    But these days the procedure is more advanced and far less dangerous. KSI supplements the almost occult process of passing through death with powerful electromagnetic fields to force open the neural pathways associated with psychic abilities. The results are far more predictable, and crucially the process is complete before the recruit remains under long enough to be in mortal danger or infected.

    Once they emerge from the process agents can detach their minds from their bodies. This requires five Successes on an extended Resolve + Dreaming roll, each roll takes one minute. However unless there is a pressing danger or time limit, forgo the roll and assume an automatic success after a few minutes.

    A projected agent exists in Twilight, simultaneously on the same wavelengths as psychic and ghostly ephemeria. They are able to physically interact with other objects on the same ephemerial wavelength but remain intangible and invisible to material objects. While the agent is projecting he uses Mental Attributes in place of Physical Attributes, and his Speed is increased to a species factor of ten. Gravity is of little importance to a projecting agent, like a Ghost agents can fly at will. However the most important advantage is that while an agent is projecting they may make use of Nightmares (инкуб).

    An agent should not believe himself invulnerable just because he is intangible. He may be harmed by other psychics, ghosts and related phenomena, and a whole lot of other supernatural phenomena. Damage that affects the agent's ephemerial body isn’t particularly dangerous. When the agent is knocked unconscious or even “killed” simply convert all the damage to Bashing damage. When the agent recovers he'll wake up in his body a headache to put the strongest vodka to shame. However there are magical and psychic threats that could truly kill a projecting agent. Techniques that specifically affect Ghosts beyond interacting with their ephemeria will not work on a KSI 21 agent, but techniques that specifically affect Psychics will.

    Technically speaking an agent's mind never leaves their body, they are receiving sensory input and projecting psychic powers across vast distances. Consequently it is rather easy to cut the connection, a Success on a Wits + Resolve roll or Reflexively spending a point of Willpower will return the agent to his body. Unless someone or something holds him in place.

    Because an agent is merely projecting and receiving input over distances their range is limited, they can never travel more than Dreaming times ten yards from his body. To overcome this limit every agent trained in Dreaming is given access to a sleeper pod (спальное место). Each sleeper pod consists of a secure armoured tank where the agent can be kept safely in an induced coma and radio repeater designed specifically to work on psychic frequencies.

    Most KSI 21 sleeper pods are mounted in specially built nondescript vans, an agent using one of these pods has a dreaming range of Dreaming * 100 feet. In key locations KSI 21 builds much larger units, the size of cellphone towers (in fact many are cellphone towers, the signals do not conflict and it makes a good cover) which have a dreaming range of dreaming * 10 miles. Regardless of the pod used an agent can maintain a dreaming indefinitely, though they will require rest and somebody to take care of their body.

    [Picture: An officer in parade uniform and a commissar cap watches as technicians in lab coats check big metal pods. Bulky equipment is everywhere and large cables connect the pods to a central pillar in the room. Insert: a mobile phone tower, with flying soldiers scrambling in all directions.]

    Nightmares (Кошмары)

    Over the years KSI 21 has diligently recorded dozens of different neurological abnormalities that give the Gifted their unique abilities and learned to bestow the ability to wield Nightmares upon their Dreamers.

    Because the procedures developed by KSI 21 use an induced near death experience as their base, KSI agents are unable to access Nightmares unless they are currently projecting. KSI scientists have and continue to try and bypass this weakness, but overall it is considered a small drawback to a major asset.

    An agent may have one Nightmare per dot of Dreaming.

    Sidebar: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

    Dice pool: Intelligence + Medicine + Equipment; if the doctor does not have a specialty in transcranial magnetic stimulation there is a -3 penalty.

    Action: Extended. It requires three times the agent's dots in Dreaming to unlock a new nightmare. Each roll represents one hour of monitoring the patient and making occasional adjustments.

    Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is normally a gentle and safe procedure, however it is not normally used to rip open semi-dormant neural pathways. To unlock psychic abilities requires that the power is increased to dangerous levels. Every two rolls causes one point of Lethal damage.

    Dramatic Failure: The process goes horribly wrong inflicting a point of Aggravated Damage. Until this damage is healed the agent may learn no new nightmares.
    Failure: No progress is made.
    Success: Progress is made towards unlocking a Nightmare. When the target Successes are reached the Nightmare is unlocked. The agent's brain will gradually adapt to it's new abilities, achieving complete conscious control when the last point of damage from (TMS) has healed.
    Exceptional Success: Not only is great progress made but the next point of lethal damage is ignored.
    Special: These rules are meant to be used when the agent needs to unlock a new ability in risky or rushed conditions. Under most circumstances the procedure to unlock a new Nightmare and the recovery takes place during Downtime.

    Ephemerial Blizzard: By spending a point of Willpower the agent surrounds himself with an ephemeral nimbus of freezing ice for a scene. This counts as a weapon with Dreaming Damage against other ephemeral beings that the agent can interact with. Roll Wits + Brawl to throw a punch with an ice covered ephemerial fist.

    Once the agent has activated his nimbus he can spend an additional point of Willpower to project it outwards in a ranged attack. The roll is Wits + Firearms, in addition he may trade points of damage for autofire. 1 point grants a short bust, 2 points grants a medium burst, 4 points grants a long burst.

    Gatekeeper (привратник): With this Nightmare the agent may open any Avernian Gate by touching it with his ephemeral body and spending a point of Willpower. Gatekeeper is rarely bestowed upon agents, most of KSI 21’s access to the Underworld is provided by Anya Chaly - the Gifted who provided the original template for this Nightmare, freeing other agents to master more versatile abilities.

    Sidebar: Projecting into the Underworld

    KSI 21 maintains control of several Avernun Gates that they use for access to the Underworld. Most of these are located in remote regions to limit the ghostly traffic through KSI facilities surrounding the gate.

    When KSI 21 first gained access to the Underworld all divisions eagerly began expeditions. Siniy of course were interested in research, but Malinovyy dreamed of finding and interrogating the ghosts of their enemies, while Zheltyy feared that dead secrets would have to be destroyed a second time. Frankly, none of them imagined just how impractically huge the Underworld is and all three divisions have since scaled down their incursions into the great below. Of course, there is always черный.

    Entering the Underworld has a peculiar effect on projecting agents. The moment the Avernun Gates slams shut between an projecting agent and their body, the agent painfully discovers that their mind is truly inhabiting their ephemeria and their physical brain immediately flatlines (Rivers have the same effect). Even though they’re free of range restrictions most agents are rightfully terrified of this, for without a brain they must spend one Willpower every twelve hours to prevent themselves from becoming a ghost.

    In theory an agent with Nightmares to drain willpower or possess living people (at which point they’d be free of the need to feed and may regain Willpower through rest) could use this trick to become immortal. Alternatively if they found their living body they could spend a Willpower Dot to return home. In practice KSI agents with a mission on the underworld just bring the bodies with them.

    If an agent's body is in the underworld the maximum ranges for Projecting are drastically increased. Without a pod he can go Dreaming * 100 feet and with a pod the range is Dreaming * 10 miles.

    Horrific Visions: The agent can telepathically induce visions into their enemies, sapping their combat effectiveness. Mechanically this is treated as a damage 0 weapon with a short range of Dreaming yards, a medium range of twice that, and a long range of four times the short range. Each shot costs one Willpower and can perform a medium autofire bust. Roll Dreaming + Presence - Resolve

    Horrific Visions inflicts no damage, instead each Success inflicts a -1 penalty to all actions. This penalty decreases by one a turn.
    Additional uses of Horrific Visions in a scene do not stack. The greater effect replaces the lesser, so for example if a person had previously taken a -3 penalty and now takes a -5 penalty. Simply increase their current penalty by two. Penalties can go into negative values, but only for the purposes of calculating the effects of future uses of Horrific Visions.

    Mind Control: The Dreamer’s target thinks as he thinks. For a single moment their actions are the Dreamer’s to control. Spend one Willpower and roll Presence + Dreaming vs Composure + Supernatural Advantage. On a Success the agent may give a one word command such as “stop” or “surrender”. Additional words may be used at a calumative -1 to the roll.

    If they fail to resist the target must obey unless they believe that obeying the command will put them in mortal danger. The target also interprets the command in whatever way is most favourable to themselves, so if you command someone to “run” they will choose where they run and what they do when they arrive.

    Due to the way KSI 21 agents are endowed with their abilities, they get a +3 bonus when using this power upon ghosts.

    Possession: The agent climbs into the body of a living mortal, supplanting the original personality. Spend a point of Willpower and roll Presence + Dreaming vs Resolve + Composure. The defender’s roll is a Rote Action.

    If the agent succeeds they gain full control of the body. The host is only dimly aware at best, but may oppose their possessor by spending a of Willpower to subtract 3 dice from any action. However if the agent ever runs out of Willpower, the host may spend a point of Willpower to try and force the agent out of their body, repeating the original possession roll. The host regains one Willpower a day.

    If the agent is intending to make the new body their permanent home, especially if it has no mind to resist for some reason (a persistent vegetative state for example) then any Physical Attribute Dots or Physical Merits they acquire must be paid for with experience.

    Subliminal Implant: A KSI agent can slowly worm their way into the subconscious, embedding commands within. The target must be completely relaxed, and attempting to use this power on an alert target not only fails but the target is instantly aware that they’re experiencing an unnatural phenomenon, though they may rationalise it away. Usually KSI targets people as they sleep.

    Mechanically Subliminal Implant is a psychic ability to fast track through Social Maneuvering. Roll Manipulation + Dreaming vs Composure + Supernatural Advantage as an extended action, each roll takes one turn and costs one Willpower. Every success the agent gets over and above the target opens a Door. Because this is a form of mind control the Storyteller should be generous with what’s a reasonable goal, most things that aren’t obviously dangerous should be acceptable, and the Storyteller should avoid offering alternatives. In all other respects the usual social maneuvering rules apply.

    KSI’s mind control abilities are exceptionally effective against Ghosts. Unless there is a clear and pressing danger of violence, or the ghost is already fighting, she may be targeted by Subliminal Implant. While the roll is ongoing the Ghost sinks into a trance, but violence will snap them out of it.

    Telekinesis: The Dreamer can use his mind to affect physical objects, with a Strength score equal to Dreaming and a Dexterity equal to Wits. It costs one Willpower to use telekinesis for a turn, and aside from affecting anything within Dreaming * 10 feet of the agents astral projection it functions entirely like mundane strength. Roll Dreaming + Brawl to attack a person, or Wits + Athletics to throw the documents into the waiting hands of your embodied ally.

    Technopathy: The agent is able to control any technology which they can see. Spend one willpower then roll Wits + Skill + Dreaming. Simple manipulation, like flicking a light switch, requires no roll however trying to seize control of technology that someone else is using will require a contested roll. For example when trying to make a gun eject it’s cartridge roll Wits + Firearms + Dreaming vs Dexterity + Firearms to see if the target notices and holds the cartridge in place.

    When attempting complex tasks with technology, such as hacking a computer or driving a car through a tight spot, a success with Technopathy is equivalent to a mundane success. However the agent ignores penalties for lacking proper equipment, and of course they get the extra dice from Dreaming.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 09-19-2017, 05:48 AM.

    “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
    My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
    Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

  • #2
    Well, this was a long time coming.

    So I'm honestly a little lost. How exactly does an agent "learn" and upgrade their abilities in Dreaming, and how does that upgrade to Nightmare?


    • #3
      Practice and experience upgrades Dreaming. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation grants Nightmares.
      Last edited by The Kings Raven; 07-17-2015, 05:39 PM.

      “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
      My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
      Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers


      • #4
        While I get that you're going for a theme here, nightmares and nightmares would make a beast/hunter game with these guys into a who's on first joke.

        How about terrors, as in night terrors, as an alternative name?

        I imagine what with the nature of their work that dreamers dying and coming back as ghosts, revenants, or sin-eaters.

        Do these guys routinely deal with intruders, revenants, and bhuta that often, or do they prefer their ghosts incorporeal?


        • #5
          I have a different objection to the name in that it has a mystical bent at odds with a Soviet parascientific group. I'd favour calling it something like "Kirlian Aura Manipulations." That said, the name is my only issue.


          • #6
            I'm sure it has some elaborate formal name with Dreamers just being the slang, but some artistic license must be taken. Nor do I particualrly think it's a big deal if they share a name with another power.

            But this is more a question for Glamourweaver than me. The name Dreaming came from the Ascending One steryotype - that bit was Glamourweaver's.

            “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
            My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
            Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers


            • #7
              finally they are here! this is an happy day

              Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

              "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

              I now blog in here


              • #8

                I’m coming across this again for the first time in years, and I’m finding myself really proud of the parts I wrote (and impressed with the parts I didn’t). Would love to work with The King’s Raven on updating it for 2e for a Storyteller’s Vault project! The diametrically opposed agendas of the Council of Bone (who help avenge the dead!) is definitely worth exploring!

                Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow


                • #9
                  Thanks, it always feels amazing to hear that someone thinks I've done their ideas justice.

                  I'm definitely interested in a collaboration on updating it to 2e as well

                  “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                  My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                  Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers