The Opened Way

An Ecclesiastic cult found an ancient device that enables implanting some kind of artifact in the chosen few. Allegedly, this artifact takes off the limits which bind the uninitiated and bring them closer to the glory of the Empire that was. However, the framework makes you more susceptible to electrocution, heat, and assault by spirits, and makes you dependent on a concoction known as The Serum. Neglecting the Serum partially causes your body’s limiters to lower further as your body kicks into a fight-or-flight response, but neglecting it further causes physical withdrawal as the artifact releases magic into your veins – and eventually death.

The Serum of the Way

An opiate-based solution, with a mix of alchemical components. This prevents the artifact inside Followers of the Way from leaking magic into you and killing you. It has side effects, though.

True Serum is produced by the same equipment that Opens the Way – thus, you can only get it if you’re on friendly terms with someone who owns such equipment. By default, you can claim 1 dose per month. You can claim more with the Serum Fixer merit below.

You can replicate your own with sufficient materials. The materials cost Availability (••••) to crease Improvised Serum and (••) to create Substandard Improvised Serum. This requires an extended Intelligence + Crafting action (1 hour per roll, 15 successes) with a -3 penalty if you don’t have at least (•) in The Opened Way merit. You can make 3 doses with this, with 2 extra doses with every exceptional success.

True Serum: Roll Stamina + Resolve + The Opened Way – 5. If you fail, you’re Drugged for 10 – (Stamina + Resolve) hours.

Improvised Serum: Roll Stamina + Resolve + The Opened Way – 7. If you fail, you’re Drugged for 15 – (Stamina + Resolve) hours.

Substandard Improvised Serum: Treat as Improvised Serum, and also treat as a Toxicity 7 poison (add The Opened Way merit dots to your Stamina + Resolve roll, does bashing damage only).

The Opened Way (• to •••••)

This represents the degree to which you have been implanted. Increased implantation provides more ability to remove bodily limiters, but increases your dependence on the Serum. You need access to physical implantation to take further levels of this, but other augmentations do not require this.

Advantages: Many enhancements have a minimum The Opened Way requirement. In addition, you gain your The Opened Way merit dots as a bonus to resist the negative effects of the Serum of the Way. When Deprived, each augmentation has an extra bonus that kicks in.

Disadvantages: As listed below, you gain increased dependency on the Serum with more merit dots. You take 1 unhealable lethal damage for every listed period of time that passes while under withdrawal and cannot gain willpower from rest. In addition, any attack using electricity or heat gains a bonus equal to your merit dots, any electrocution or heat effect is resisted at a penalty equal to your merit dots, and any electric or heat-based attack that achieves more successes than your Stamina inflicts Stunned for 1 turn or increases any pre-existing Stun effect duration by 1 turn. Any attempts at possession and similar efforts use your merit dots as a bonus.

Awoken (•): 1 month from taking Serum to become Deprived, 2 months to Withdrawal, 1 damage/week.
Augmented (••): 1 week from taking Serum to become Deprived, 2 weeks to Withdrawal, 1 damage/day.
Enhanced (•••): 1 day from taking Serum to become Deprived, 2 days to Withdrawal, 1 damage/12 hrs.
Enlightened (••••): 12 hours from taking Serum to Deprived, 1 day to Withdrawal, 1 damage/6 hrs.
Arisen (•••••): 6 hours from taking Serum to become Deprived, 12 hours to Withdrawal, 1 damage/6 hrs.

Serum Fixer (• to •••••)

Prerequisites: The Opened Way (•)

You have a good relationship with someone who is willing and able to get you more True Serum, under the table or otherwise:

•: 1 weekly dose
••: 3 weekly doses
•••: 6 weekly doses
••••: 10 weekly doses
•••••: 14 weekly doses

You can also use this to purchase extra True Serum – this is an Availability ••• purchase that gets you a number of doses equal to dots in this merit.

If you’re not in a situation where you can reasonably claim from your contact, this can represent asking the right questions to local alchemists to get something useful – roll Intelligence + Science or Manipulation + Persuasion with a -2 penalty if you’re in a settlement smaller than a city, -5 if you’re in something smaller yet. Success represents substandard improvised serum in the amounts listed or half as much improvised serum, exceptional success represents improvised serum in the amounts listed.

Self-Augmentation Merits

These can only be taken if you have The Opened Way. Some are marked with “The Opened Way: Equal Level”, which indicates that you can only take the augmentation merit if you have dots in The Opened Way greater than or equal to the dots you intend to take in the augmentation merit. You don’t have to go in for surgery to take these.

Uncanny Perception (• to •••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your senses are augmented to a great degree – you can see and hear far more than expected. Add your dots in this merit as a bonus to perception-based roll and any aimed attack rolls.

Deprived: Double the given advantages, but extreme stimuli cause one point of lethal damage and destroy that sense (inflicting Blinded, Deafened, etc) for the rest of the scene.

Augmented Speed (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your fast-twitch muscles and reflexes are superhuman and your body can handle greater stress. For each dot in this Merit, add +1 to your character’s Speed and Initiative scores.

Deprived: Add +2 to Speed instead of +1 per dot.

Augmented Resilience (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your body’s self-healing mechanisms and overall tissue strength are extremely advanced. For each dot in this merit, add one dot to your character’s Stamina. This affects all derived traits and can raise above normal attribute limits (though displays past the equivalent of ••••• may attract attention).

Deprived: Once per scene, you may lower speed and initiative by 3 for the rest of the scene to gain 2/1 armor if wearing no armor, or add 1/1 to an existing worn armor’s rating.

Augmented Potency (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your body’s musculature and bloodflow are uncannily efficient and developed. For each dot in this merit, add one dot to your character’s Strength. This affects all derived traits and can raise above normal attribute limits (though displays past the equivalent of ••••• may attract attention).

Deprived: Once per scene, you may take one lethal damage to add a further dot of Strength for the rest of the scene.

Jumper (• to •••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your legs are extremely sturdy and strong, and can handle jumps and landing far easier than normal.

•: Double your character’s Strength for the purposes of jumping. She takes half damage from falls.
••: Quadruple your character’s Strength for the purposes of jumping. She only takes bashing damage from falls, and that damage is halved.
•••: Multiply your character’s Strength by six for the purposes of jumping. She takes no damage from falls of any height.

Deprived: You may take one lethal damage to add twice your character’s Strength to any single jump.

Invasive augmentation merits

You have to go in for surgery for these. Also they change you to a noticeable degree physically – and possibly physiologically. Side effects may occur.

Voice Box (•)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way •

A vibrating Imperial artifact is installed into your throat – when you speak, it talks instead of your vocal chords. Your character can mimic any voice she’s heard for a minute or more of active listening. This is effectively fool-proof on a technical level. However, she may require Subterfuge rolls to emulate mannerisms, slang, or other identifying bits of the person’s speech.

Deprived: She becomes able to mimic after about 30 seconds of active listening.

Sub-Dermal Armor (•• or ••••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your character has reflexive tissue implanted in his skin which hardens on impact, protecting internal organs. At two dots, this is 1/1 armor. At four dots, this is 2/2 armor. This armor stacks with worn armor.

Deprived: Increase the armor granted by 1/1.

Implanted Interface (••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way ••

Your character has a complex artifact interface laced into her brain. She has the power of a library available at the speed of thought. This is considered +3 equipment, and allows interacting with artifact systems implanted in Imperial structures.

Deprived: The interface can be overclocked to a +5 equipment modifier for the scene at the cost of one point of lethal damage.

Pulse Generator (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: The Opened Way: Equal Level

Your character has artifacts embedded in her nervous system which allow her to create a quick electrical pulse against anyone she touches. Any time she makes contact with another character, she may discharge her Pulse Generator. This causes bashing damage equal to her dots in this Merit, and the Stunned Tilt. This can be combined with an unarmed attack or grapple, or used during more subtle contact like a handshake or when brushing up against someone. It can be used as another character attacks her as well.

She may only discharge the Pulse Generator once per scene. The discharge can also be used to destroy electrical systems; she causes twice her Merit dots in Structure damage in that case, ignoring Durability.

Deprived: Your character may suffer one lethal damage to reflexively recharge the Pulse Generator, allowing it to be activated multiple times in a scene.

Emergency Release Valve (• to •••)

Your character has the ability to trigger an internal fluid purge, causing all foreign quantities to leave the bloodstream immediately – they drip off the body like sweat. When used as a reflexive action, you immediately reduce the toxicity of any poisons affecting you by your dots in this merit, and end any instance of the Drugged condition. In addition, you gain the Deprived condition immediately. If you are already Deprived, you instead begin withdrawal at the end of the scene.

Deprived: Double the toxicity reduction.

The Opened Way

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